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GOOD NEWS FROM THE CHURCH AND COMMUNITY

™ December 2020

$2.95

thepositivecommunity.com

FOCUS ON: HEALTH, FREEDOM, AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE

ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE: PREPARING FOR VACCINE DISTRIBUTION

BLUEPRINT CAPITAL’S

Jacob Walthour

GUEST EDITORIALS: REV. DR. DAVID JEFFERSON, SR. AMBASSADOR SUZAN JOHNSON COOK

POSITIVEMUSIC

MATTERS

!


There’s no time like the present to thank you for all you’re doing.

“We’re proud to support The Positive Community for driving the change that makes our communities better. You’ve shown us that when we work together towards a common goal, every day is a giant leap forward. Thank you for being a pillar in our African American community, twenty years of quality service, and taking the steps that help us make strides.” Contact Michelle Abel Community Consultant 732-220-3081 o.abel@pnc.com pnc.com/communitydevelopmentbanking ©2020 The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. All rights reserved. PNC Bank, National Association. Member FDIC CON PDF 0618-0106


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DECEMBER 2020

CONTENTS

SECTIONS HEALTH ...................................14

28

MONEY...................................25 EDUCATION.............................45 CULTURE ................................48

Features Navigating This Season of Sorrow ............................ 14 DiVincenzo Plans Vaccine Distribution ..................... 16 Cover photo credit: Blueprint Capital Advisors

Tips to Make Getting Healthy Easier ........................ 24

ON THE COVER:

John Harmon Joins U.S. Chamber Board .................. 25

Blueprint Capital Advisors Co-Founder and CEO Jacob Walthour exposes the race problem Black-owned businesses have with the State of New Jersey.

Rev. Soaries Posits Hope Is An Option ..................... 26

&also inside

Sisters Making Moves .............................................. 38

Secrets of God’s Investment Plan ............................ 32 Beth Israel’s Award-Winning Care ............................. 34

AACEO Meets to Discuss Issues ............................... 40

Global Black Women’s Virtual Summit ..................... 41 Guest Editorial: Rev. David Jefferson ............................. 8 JBF Honors Frontline Workers .................................. 45 Guest Editorial: U.S. Ambassador Rev. Sujay ............... 10 Pierre Toussaint Virtual Scholarship Gala ................. 48

The Last Word .................................... 54 Harlem Centenarian Casts Ballot ............................. 50 4

The Positive Community December 2020

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R C

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he clergy organizations, churches, community businesses and institutions listed below have committed to the purchase of at least 50 magazines per month at $1.50 each or they support this publication through the purchase of advertising. Find out more by calling 973-233-9200 or email rollcall@thepositivecommunity.com.

Abundant Life Fellowship COGIC, Newark, NJ Supt. Edward Bohannon, Jr., Pastor

Convent Avenue Baptist Church, New York, NY Rev. Dr. Jesse T. Willams, Pastor

Memorial, B.C., New York, NY Rev. Dr. Renee Washington Gardner, Senior Pastor

Abyssinian B.C., Harlem, NY Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III, Pastor

Cross and Crown Christian Church, Orange, NJ Rev. Lula A. Baker, Pastor

Messiah Baptist Church, Bridgeport, CT Rev. James Logan, Pastor

Abyssinian B.C., Newark, NJ Rev. Barry R. Miller, Pastor Aenon Baptist Church, Vauxhall, NJ Rev Alphonso Williams, Sr., Pastor Agape Baptist Church, Newark, NJ Rev. Craig R. Jackson, Pastor Antioch Baptist Church, Brooklyn, NY Rev. Robert M. Waterman, Pastor Archdiocese of New York Brother Tyrone Davis, Office of Black Ministry

Ebenezer B.C. of Englewood, NJ Rev. Preston E. Thompson, Jr., Pastor Elizabeth, NJ Councilwoman-At-Large Patricia Perkins-Auguste Empire Missionary Baptist Convention Rev. Dr. Carl T. Washington, Jr., Pastor Evergreen Baptist Church, Palmyra, NJ Rev. Dr. Guy Campbell, Jr., Pastor Fellowship Missionary B.C., Newark, NJ Rev. Dr. Elton T. Byrd Pastor/Founder

Messiah Baptist Church, East Orange, NJ Rev. Dana Owens, Pastor Metropolitan B.C., Newark, NJ Rev. Dr. David Jefferson, Pastor Mother A.M.E. Zion Church Harlem, NY Rev. Dr. Malcolm J. Byrd, Pastor Mt. Neboh Baptist Church, Harlem, NY Rev. Dr. Johnnie Green Jr., Pastor Mt. Pisgah B.C., Brooklyn, NY Rev. Dr. Johnny Ray Youngblood, Pastor

First B.C. of Lincoln Gardens, Somerset NJ Rev. Dr. DeForest (Buster) Soaries, Pastor

Mount Olive Baptist Church, Hackensack, NJ Rev. Gregory J. Jackson, Pastor

Berean B.C., Brooklyn, NY Rev. Arlee Griffin Jr., Pastor

First Baptist Church, East Elmhurst, NY Rev. Patrick Henry Young, Pastor

Mt. Olivet B.C, Newark, NJ Rev. André W. Milteer, Pastor

Bethany B.C., Brooklyn, NY Rev. Dr. Adolphus C. Lacey, Sr. Pastor

First Baptist Church of Kenilworth, NJ Rev. Nathaniel Bullock Jr., Pastor

Mt. Zion AME Church, Trenton, NJ Rev. J. Stanley Justice, Pastor

Bethany B.C., Newark, NJ Rev. Timothy E. Jones, Pastor

First Baptist Church of Teaneck, NJ Rev. Dr. Marilyn Monroe Harris, Pastor

Mt. Zion B.C., Westwood, NJ Rev. Bernard Glee, Pastor

Bethlehem Missionary B.C., Roselle, NJ Rev. Jeffrey Bryan, Pastor

First Baptist of Jericho, Deptford, NJ Rev. Derek V. Gaitling, Pastor

Beulah Bible Cathedral Church, Newark, NJ Gerald Lydell Dickson, Senior Pastor

First Corinthian Baptist Church, NY Rev. Michael A. Walrond, Jr., Senior Pastor

New Beginnings Agape Christian Center, Freehold, NJ Rev. Dr. Andre McGuire, Pastor

Calvary Baptist Church, Garfield, NJ Rev. Calvin McKinney, Pastor

First Park Baptist Church, Plainfield, NJ Rev. Rufus McClendon, Jr., Pastor

Calvary Baptist Church, Morristown, NJ Rev. Jerry M. Carter, Jr., Pastor

First Baptist Church, South Orange, NJ Rev. Dr. Terry Richardson, Pastor

Canaan B. C. of Christ, Harlem, NY Rev. Thomas D. Johnson, Pastor

General Baptist Convention, NJ Rev. Dr. Lester W. Taylor, Jr., President

Canaan B.C., Paterson, NJ Rev. Barry L. Graham, Pastor

Good Neighbor B.C., Newark, NJ Rev. Dr. George A. Blackwell, III, Pastor

Cathedral International., Perth Amboy, NJ Bishop Donald Hilliard, Pastor

Grace B. C., Mt. Vernon, NY Rev. Dr. Franklyn W. Richardson, Pastor

Baptist Ministers Conference of Greater NY & Vicinity Rev. Dr. Charles A. Curtis, President

Charity Baptist Church, Bronx, NY Rev. Reginald Williams, Pastor

Greater Zion Hill B.C., Harlem, NY Rev. Dr. Frank J. Blackshear, Pastor

New Garden State Jurisdiction COGIC NJ Bishop William Cahoon New Hope Baptist Church, Metuchen, NJ Rev. Dr. Ronald L. Owens, Pastor New Hope Baptist Church of East Orange, East Orange, NJ Rev. Dr. Vernard E. Hinton, Pastor New Hope Baptist Church of Hackensack, Hackensack, NJ Rev. Dr. Drew Kyndall Ross, Senior Pastor New Life Cathedral, Mt. Holly, NJ Rev. Eric Wallace, Pastor New Reid Temple COGIC East Orange, NJ Bishop William Cahoon

Christian Love B.C., Irvington, NJ Rev. Brandon Keith Washington, Pastor

Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement (HCCI) Malcolm A. Punter, President & CEO

Clear View Baptist Church, Newark, NJ Rev. Curtis W. Belle, Jr., Pastor

Imani Baptist Church, East Orange, NJ Rev. William Derek Lee, Senior Pastor

North Selton AME Church, Piscataway, NJ Rev. Dr. Eric and Myra Billips, Pastors

Community B.C., Englewood, NJ Rev. Dr. Lester Taylor, Pastor

It Is Well Living Ministries, Clark, NJ Rev. Kahlil Carmichael, Pastor

Paradise B. C., Newark, NJ Rev. Jethro James, Pastor

Community Church of God, Plainfield, NJ Rev. Antonio Porter, Pastor

Macedonia Baptist Church, Lakewood, NJ Dr. Edward D. Harper, Pastor

Concord B.C., Brooklyn, NY Rev. Dr. Gary V. Simpson, Pastor

Mariners’ Temple B.C., New York, NY Rev. Dr. Henrietta Carter, Pastor

Park Ave Christian Disciples of Christ, East Orange, NJ Rev. Harriet Wallace, Pastor

Pilgrim B. C., Newark, NJ Rev. Dr. Glenn Wilson, Pastor Ruth Fellowship Ministries, Plainfield, NJ Rev. Tracey Brown, Pastor Shiloh AME Zion Church, Englewood, NJ Rev. John D. Givens, Pastor Shiloh B.C., New Rochelle, NY Rev. Dr. DeQuincy M. Hentz, Pastor Shiloh B.C., Plainfield, NJ Rev. Sheila L. Thorpe, Pastor Shiloh B.C., Trenton, NJ Rev. Darell Armstrong, Pastor St. Anthony Baptist Church, Brooklyn, NY Rev. Dr. Walter L. DeLoatch, Sr., Pastor St. James AME Church, Newark, NJ Rev. Ronald L. Slaughter, Pastor St. John Baptist Church, Camden, NJ Rev. Dr. Silas M. Townsend, Pastor St. John B.C., Scotch Plains, NJ Rev. Shawn T. Wallace, Pastor St. Luke Baptist Church of Harlem, NY Rev. Dr. Johnnie McCann, Pastor St Luke B.C., Paterson, NJ Rev. Kenneth D.R. Clayton, Pastor St. Mark Missionary B.C., Jamaica, NY Rev. Owen E. Williams, Pastor St. Matthew AME Church, Orange, NJ Rev. Melvin E. Wilson, Pastor St. Paul Baptist Church, Montclair, NJ Rev. Dr. Bernadette Glover, Pastor St. Paul Baptist Church, Red Bank, NJ Rev. Alexander Brown, Pastor St. Paul Community B.C., Brooklyn, NY Rev. David K. Brawley, Pastor Tabernacle B.C., Burlington, NJ Rev. Dr. Cory L. Jones, Pastor The New Hope B.C., Newark, NJ Rev. Joe Carter, Senior Pastor Union Baptist Temple,, Bridgeton, NJ Rev. Albert L. Morgan, Pastor United Fellowship B.C., Asbury Park, NJ Rev. James H. Brown, Sr., Pastor Walker Memorial B.C. Bronx, NY Rev. Dr. J. Albert Bush Sr., Pastor Welcome Baptist Church, Newark, NJ Rev. Dr. Elijah C. Williams, Pastor World Gospel Music Assoc., Newark, NJ Dr. Albert Lewis, Founder

“The Positive Community magazine does outstanding work in promoting the good works of the Black Church. All churches and businesses should subscribe to and advertise in The Positive Community. Please support this magazine, the only one that features good news about the black community.”—Rev. Buster Soaries, General Baptist Revival, May 20, 2010


In 2021, Economic Justice Must Be the Priority

W

By Pastor David Jefferson, Esq.

hen we talk about economic justice in the Black community, too much of our discourse rests on individual actions versus institutional racism. But economic injustice is not the result of Black people’s personal failings or their lack of drive, talent, or will. It is entrenched racism that harms the individual and annihilates the institution. Economic violence is upheld by racist policies and by leaders who sputter the rhetoric of justice while those around them experience the reality of white supremacy. One of the most egregious examples is playing out in the halls of power in New Jersey in a Democratic administration. Despite Phil Murphy winning 94% of the Black vote when he was elected governor in 2017, his leadership team has done absolutely nothing to remedy the harm it caused or sustained toward Blueprint Capital Advisors. Blueprint is New Jersey’s only Black-owned asset management firm. I point to these actions as evidence that African Americans in New Jersey continue to get minimal and often no economic value for their votes. Blueprint developed a proprietary investment product they took to the New Jersey Division of Investment (DOI) with the hope of doing business with the state. According to a legal complaint, the DOI fraudulently launched the same program with another firm, BlackRock. While Murphy and his team are quick to note this occurred under another administration, they are less forthright about how they upheld and perpetuated racist treatment. Accusations against Murphy and his administration include ignoring Blueprint to prevent them from ever managing DOI funds, dragging out the contracting process, and insisting on contract terms worse than the min-

8

The Positive Community December 2020

imum industry standards. In addition, they have refused to approve any investment from which Blueprint could earn fees and engaged in retaliation by stalling the process, renegotiating terms, rejecting investments, and disparaging Blueprint in the market. Blueprint’s ordeal is a disgrace and a black eye on an administration that claims to favor justice. But sadly, this matter impacts not only Blueprint but also the Black community. Senior Brookings Fellow Hugh Price noted that “Black giving makes an enormous difference in the lives of our people and our nation.” When Black firms thrive, they give back by hiring more diverse teams, donating to community-based organizations, and stabilizing local communities.

www.thepositivecommunity.com


Some may reasonably question why this is such a reasonably question why this is such bigSome deal. may I offer a sobering truth: when Blueprint anda big deal. I offer a sobering truth: when Blueprint and other Black firms detail their experiences with racism other Black firms detail their experiences with racism and economic injustice, we know for every Blueprint, and we know every Blueprint, thereeconomic are scores injustice, of others without thefor resources or capacthere are scores of others without the resources or capacity to tell their stories. It takes a tremendous amount of ity to tell their stories. It takes a tremendous amount of personal and professional grit to withstand such racism personal and professional grit to withstand such racism and abuse and discuss it publicly. One risks retaliation, and abuse and it publicly. One risks retaliation, as Blueprint hasdiscuss endured, and isolation. Many people as Blueprint has endured, and isolation. Many people and firms closed their doors rather than expose the treatand firms closed their doors rather than expose the treatment they suffered. ment they suffered. We learn from these sorts of cases that racism is alive learn from these sorts places of cases thatasracism is alive andWe well, even in unexpected such a Democratic and well, even in unexpected places such as a Democratic administration. As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. suradministration. As Rev. Dr. Martin Lutherthe King, Jr. surmised decades ago, “racism still occupies throne of mised decades ago, “racism still occupies the throne of our nation.” We are accustomed to seeing racism’s manour nation.” We are accustomed to seeing racism’s manifestations in harmful policies that spur police violence, ifestations in harmful policies that spureducation police violence, mass incarceration, unfair sentencing, inequimass incarceration, unfair sentencing, education inequities, housing discrimination, and the like. But racism is ties, housing discrimination, and the like. But racism is wreaking havoc on our prospects for economic justice as wreaking havoc on our prospects for economic justice as well. It is time to make economic justice a gubernatorial well. It is time campaign issue.to make economic justice a gubernatorial campaign issue. 2021, we must force those who profess As we enter As we enter 2021, we must force who profess to care about justice to reckon with those economic justice, to care about justice to reckon with economic justice, too. We must force our friends and allies to account for too. We must force our friends and allies to account for the ways they have perpetuated harm. And while apolothe ways they have perpetuated harm. And while apologies are noteworthy, we need tangible action to remedy gies are noteworthy, we need tangible action to remedy the damage. theAs damage. pastor of a predominantly Black and working-class As pastor of aa lawyer predominantly and working-class congregation, with twoBlack MBAs, and a counselcongregation, a lawyer with two MBAs, and counselor to a host of business leaders, I know the apain that or to a host of business leaders, I know the pain economic injustice spurs. We see it in unemploymentthat diseconomic injustice spurs. We see it small in unemployment disparities and the collapse of Black businesses. And parities and the collapse of Black small businesses. And while opening and maintaining a small business has long while opening andfor maintaining a small long been problematic Black people duebusiness to accesshas to capibeen problematic for Black people due to access to capital and racist policies, the rate of Black-owned small-busital racist policies, the short rate ofofBlack-owned small-businessand closures is nothing a crisis. Ongoing racness closures is nothing short of a crisis. Ongoing racism coupled with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic ism coupled with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have caused nearly half of Black small businesses in the have caused nearly half of Black small businesses in the nation to shutter. nation to shutter. While Dr. King fought for racial justice and inclusion, fought racial justice and inclusion, it isWhile up toDr. theKing rest of us to for finish what he started. We have it is up to the rest of us to finish what he started. We have the right to sit at the lunch counter. Now we need the rethe right to sit at the lunch counter. Now we need the sources to purchase from its menu. We have the right reto sources toestablishment. purchase fromNow its menu. We have the right to enter the we need the path cleared enter the establishment. Now we need the path cleared so we can own the establishment. so we own the Thecan priority ofestablishment. the day must be clearing barriers The priority the day must possible. be clearing barriers so true economicofjustice is finally I encourage so true economic justice is finally possible. I encourage the community to get involved and make our voices the community to get involved make our voices heard. The financial success of theand Black community deheard. The financial success of the Black community depends on it. pends on it. Dr. David Jefferson Sr. is the senior pastor at the Metropolitan Dr. David Jefferson Sr. is the Baptist Church in Newark, NJ.senior pastor at the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Newark, NJ.

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December 2020 The Positive Community

9


Emancipation Day 2021:

Emancipation Emancipation Day Day 2021: 2021: Emancipation Day 2021: “Let My People Emancipation Day 2021: “Let My People Go!”Go!”

“Let People Go!” “LetBYMy My People Go!” “Let My People Go!” AMBASSADOR SUZAN JOHNSON COOK “Let My People Go!” BYAMBASSADOR AMBASSADOR SUZANJOHNSON JOHNSON COOK BY SUZAN COOK BY AMBASSADOR SUZAN JOHNSON COOK BY AMBASSADOR SUZAN JOHNSON COOK BY AMBASSADOR SUZAN JOHNSON COOK

Emancipateyourselves yourselves from mental slavery; nonebut but ourselves Emancipate from mental slavery; none ourselves Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; none but ourselves Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; none but ourselves Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; none but ourselves canfree freeour our minds…—“Redemption Song,”Song,” Bob Marley Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; none but can minds…—“Redemption Song,” Bob Marley can free our minds…—“Redemption Song,” Bob Marley can free our minds…—“Redemption Bobourselves Marley can free our minds…—“Redemption Song,” Bob Marley can free our minds…—“Redemption Song,” Bob Marley erryChristmas Christmasand andHappy HappyNew NewYear! Year! erry erry Christmas and Happy New Year! erry Christmas and Happy NewI IYear! erry Christmas and Happy New Year! Iam amespecially especiallyhappy happyand andlooking looking I am Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook, born Ierry Johnson born am especially happy and looking Iam amRev. Rev.Suzan Suzan Johnson Cook, born and HappyCook, New Year! I am especially happy and looking I am especially happy and looking Iand amIChristmas Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook, born am Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook, born and raised in Harlem, NY where I inin Harlem, and raised Harlem, NY where where Iand am raised Rev. Suzan JohnsonNY Cook, bornII I I am especially happy and looking raised in Harlem, NY where forward to being with you on the day of forward to being with you on the day served as a pastor for 30 years. I was and in I served asasraised aapastor for 30 years. INY forward tobeing beingwith withyou youon onthe theday dayof of served pastor forHarlem, 30NY years. Iwas was and raised in Harlem, where I where forward to of served as a pastor for 30 years. I was called into service representing Presto being youofon the d called into representing served as a pastor for 30IPresyears.forward I was forward called into service representing Presto American being with you onwith the day served as a service pastor for 30 years. was called into service representing Presfreedom, freedom. As your freedom, American freedom. As your ident Clinton and then went on to ident Clinton and then went on to freedom, American freedom. As your ident Clinton and then went on to called intoand service representing Prescalled into service representing Presfreedom, American freedom. As your ident Clinton then went on to serve as US Ambassador for International Religious Freeserve for International Religious FreeserveasasUS USAmbassador Ambassador for International Religious FreeAmerican freedom. As your freedom, American freedom. ident Clinton and then went on to freedom, ident Clinton and then went on to I Iwelcome serve asduring US Ambassador for International Religious Freehost, welcome everyone to The Positive As yo host, everyone to The Positive dom the Obama administration. Today I continue dom during the Obama administration. Today I continue host, I welcome everyone to The Positive dom during the Obama administration. Today I continue serve as US Ambassador for International Religious Freehost, I welcome everyone to The Positive dom during the Obama Today I continue serve asasUS Ambassador for International Religious Freetoserve serve asthe the founderadministration. andCEO CEO ofGlobal Global Black Wom- host, to founder and ofof Black Womto serve as the founder and CEO Global Black WomI welcome everyone toeveryone TheAmerican Positive dom during the Obama administration. Today I continue to serve as the founder and CEO of Global Black Womhost, I welcome to The P Community’s 2nd Annual Great dom during the Obama administration. Today I continue Community’s 2nd Annual Great American en’s Chamber of Commerce. en’s Chamber of Commerce. Community’s 2nd Annual Great American en’s Chamber of Commerce. to serve as theof founder and CEO of Global Black Wom- Community’s 2nd Annual Great American en’s Chamber Commerce. I am especially happy and looking forward to being happy looking totobeing to Iserve as the founder and CEOforward of Global Black Community’s WomIam amespecially especially happyand and looking forward being 2nd Annual Great American en’s Chamber of Commerce. I am especially happy and looking forward to being Emancipation Day Awards Celebration! Day Awards Celebration! with you onthe theday day offreedom, freedom, American freedom. As Emancipation with you on of American freedom. As Community’s 2nd Annual Great Am Emancipation Day Awards Celebration! with you on the day of freedom, American freedom. As en’s Chamber of Commerce. I am especially happy and looking forward to being with you on the day of freedom, American freedom. As Emancipation Day Awards Celebration! your host, I welcome everyone to The Positive Community’s your host, I welcome everyone to The Positive Community’s your host, I welcome everyone to The Positive Community’s Emancipation Day Awards Celebration! with the day of freedom, American am on especially happy and looking forwardAsto being yourI you host, I welcome everyone to The Positivefreedom. Community’s

M M

Emancipation Day Awards Celebrat

2ndAnnual Annual GreatAmerican American Emancipation DayCommunity’s AwardsCeleCele- side sideofof ofthe theUnion UnionArmy, Army,many manyofof ofwhom whomsacrificed sacrificedtheir their 2nd Great Emancipation Day Awards 2nd Annual Great American Emancipation Day Awards Celeside the Union Army, many whom sacrificed their your host, Ion welcome everyone to The Positive with you the day of freedom, American freedom. As 2nd Annual Great American Emancipation Day Awards Celeside of the Union Army, many of whom sacrificed their bration! On January 1st we will join together to rememlives on the battlefields for American freedom. bration! On 1st will totorememlives on the battlefields for freedom. bration! OnJanuary January 1stwe weEmancipation willjoin jointogether together rememlivesof onthe theUnion battlefields forAmerican American freedom. 2nd Annual Great American DayPositive Awards Celeside Army, of whom sacrificed their bration! On January 1st we will join together to rememlives ontheme the battlefields formany American freedom. your host, I welcome everyone to The Community’s ber our people’s sacrifices and enormous contribution to The theme for this year’s celebration is:“God “GodBless Blessthe the ber our people’s sacrifices and enormous contribution to The for this year’s celebration is:is: ber our people’s sacrifices and enormous contribution to The theme for this year’s celebration “God Bless the bration! On January 1st we will join together to rememlives on the battlefields for American freedom. ber our people’s sacrifices and enormous contribution to The theme for this year’s celebration is: “God Bless the side of the Union Army, many of whom 2nd Annual Great American Emancipation Day Awards CeleAmerican progress and world culture. Children!” We must now take a stand on behalf of our American progress and We must aastand behalf ofofour American progress andworld world culture. contribution to Children!” Children!” We must nowtake take standon on“God behalf our sacrifi ber our people’s sacrifices andculture. enormous The theme for thisnow year’s celebration is: Bless the American progress and world culture. Children!” We must now take a stand on behalf of our The observance of Emancipation Day has its roots in children and for the dignity and integrity of our culture, The ofofEmancipation its ininrememchildren the dignity and lives on the battlefields for American freedom. bration! On January 1st we will Day join together Theobservance observance Emancipation Dayhas has itsroots rootsto childrenand and for the dignity and integrity ofour ourculture, culture, American progress and world culture. Wefor now take a integrity stand onof of our The observance of Emancipation DayNight has its roots in Children!” children and formust the dignity and integrity ofbehalf our culture, Black Church tradition called Watch Night that dates values, and traditions—our collective soul! aber Church tradition called Watch that dates values, and traditions—our collective soul! aaBlack Black Church tradition called Watch Night that dates values, and traditions—our collective soul! The theme for this year’s celebration our people’s sacrifices and enormous contribution to The observance of Emancipation DayNight has its roots in children and for the dignitycollective and integrity of our culture, is: “God aback Black Church tradition called Watch that dates values, and traditions—our soul! back to December 31, 1862. The next day, January 1st We will honor three outstanding individuals, our to December 31, 1862. The next day, January 1st We will honor three outstanding individuals, our back to December 31, 1862. The next day, January 1st We will honor three outstanding individuals, our aback Black Church tradition called Watch Night that dates values, and traditions—our collective soul! Children!” Weoutstanding must now take a stand on beh American progress and world culture. to December 31, 1862. The next day, January 1st We will honor three individuals, our 1863 (158 years ago), President Abraham Lincoln’s exTorchbearers: Hon. Jeannine LaRue, educator and activ1863 (158 years President Abraham Lincoln’s exTorchbearers: Hon. Jeannine LaRue, educator and activ1863 (158 yearsago), ago), President Abraham Lincoln’s ex-roots Torchbearers: Hon.three Jeannine LaRue, educator and activback to December 31, 1862. The next day, January 1st We will honor outstanding individuals, our children and for the dignity and integrity The observance of Emancipation Day has its in 1863 (158 years ago), President Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln’s exHon. T. Jeannine LaRue, educatorPrelate and activecutive order, the Emancipation Proclamation, wentinto into Torchbearers: ist;Bishop BishopWilliam William T.Cahoon, Cahoon, Jurisdictional Prelate for of ou ecutive order, the Emancipation went ist; Jurisdictional for ecutive order, the Emancipation Proclamation, went into ist; Bishop William T. Cahoon, Jurisdictional Prelate for 1863 (158 years ago), President Abraham Lincoln’s exTorchbearers: Hon. Jeannine LaRue, educator and activecutive order, the Emancipation Proclamation, went William T. Church Cahoon, Jurisdictional Prelate for values, and traditions—our collective soul! aeffect. Black Church tradition called Watch Night thatist; dates effect. On that day, slaverycame came toan anend endfor forover over 44into miltheBishop NewGarden Garden State Church ofGod Godinin inChrist Christ (COGIC) effect. On that day, slavery to milthe New State ofof (COGIC) On that day, slavery came to an end for over milthe New Garden State Church God Christ (COGIC) ecutive order, the Emancipation Proclamation, went4 into ist; Bishop William T. Church Cahoon, Jurisdictional Prelate for effect. On that day, slavery came to an end for over 4 milthe New Garden State of God in Christ (COGIC) We will honor three outstanding back to December 31, 1862. The next day, January 1st lion of our people in the Confederate states during the and pastor of New Reid Temple in East Orange, NJ and lion our people ininthe states the pastor ofofNew Reid Temple Orange, NJ lionofofOn our people theConfederate Confederate states during the and andNew pastor New Reid Temple inEast East Orange, NJand andindivid effect. that day, slavery came to an end for during over 4 milthe Garden State Church of in God in Christ (COGIC) lion of our people in the Confederate states during the and pastor of New Reid Temple in East Orange, NJ and Civil War, a war that cost over 600,000 American lives. House of Prayer, Plainfield, NJ; and Rev. Dr. W. FrankCivil that cost 600,000 lives. House ofofPrayer, NJ; Rev. Dr. W. Torchbearers: Hon. Jeannine LaRue, educator 1863 (158 years President Abraham Lincoln’s exCivilWar, War, war thatago), cost over 600,000American American lives. House Prayer, Plainfield, NJ;and and Rev. Dr. W.FrankFranklion ouraaawar people theover Confederate states during pastor of NewPlainfield, Reid Temple East Orange, and Civil of War, war thatincost over 600,000 American lives.the and House of Prayer, Plainfield, NJ; in and Rev. Dr. W. NJ Franklyn Richardson, pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Mount lyn Richardson, pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Mount lyn Richardson, pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Mount ist; Bishop William T. Cahoon, Jurisdictional P ecutive thecost Emancipation Proclamation, into Civil War,order, a war that over 600,000 American lives. went House of Prayer, Plainfield, NJ; and Rev.Church, Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, pastor of Grace Baptist Mount OurCollective CollectiveSoul Soul Vernon, NY,National National Board chair forthe theNational National AcOur Vernon, NY, Board chair for AcOur Collective Soul Vernon, NY, National Board chair for the National Aclyn Richardson, pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Mount the New Garden State Church of God in Christ effect. On that day, slavery came to an end for over 4 milOur Collective Soul NY, National Boardofof chair for Union the National AcJanuary 1stisisisone oneofof ofthe themost mostimportant importantdates dateson onthe the Vernon, tionNetwork Network andchairman chairman Virginia Union University. January 1st tion and Virginia University. January 1st one the most important dates on the tion Network and chairman of Virginia Union University. Vernon, NY, National Board chair for Union the National Ac- Orang Our Collective Soul and pastor of New Reid Temple in East lion of our people in the Confederate states during the January 1st is one of the most important dates on the tion Network and chairman of Virginia University. American calendar, especially for African American peoIn addition, we’ll recognize three great organizations: American calendar, especially for African peoIn we’ll recognize three organizations: American calendar, especially for AfricanAmerican American peoIn addition, addition, we’llchairman recognize three great great organizations: tion Network and of Virginia Union University. January 1st is one of the most important dates on the American calendar, especially for African American In addition, we’ll recognize great organizations: House of Prayer,three Plainfield, NJ; and Rev. Dr. Civil War, a war that cost over 600,000 American ple.The The Civil War changed course—from beingaapeoawar warlives. Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce/HARLEM Commerce/HARLEM ple. Civil War changed course—from being Greater Harlem Chamber of ple. The Civil War changed course—from being war Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce/HARLEM In addition, we’ll recognize three great organizations: American calendar, especially for African American people. The Civil War changed course—from being a war Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce/HARLEM to save the Union to a war to end slavery. As Almighty WEEK—Lloyd Williams, president, Voza Rivers, EVP; Churc lyn Richardson, pastor of Grace Baptist to Union end Williams, president, Voza Rivers, EVP; tosave save the Union toaawar wartoto endslavery. slavery.As AsAlmighty Almighty WEEK—Lloyd Williams, president, Voza Rivers, EVP; Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce/HARLEM ple. Thethe Civil War to changed course—from being a war WEEK—Lloyd to save the Union to a war to end slavery. As Almighty WEEK—Lloyd Williams, president, Voza Rivers, EVP; God’s Hand was on Pharaoh in the exodus of the HeBlack McDonald’s Owners/Operators of NY, CT &the Na God’s Hand was exodus the Owners/Operators of NY, Our Collective Soul Vernon, NY, National chair for&& God’s Hand wason on Pharaoh inthe the exodus of theHeHe- Black Black McDonald’s McDonald’s Owners/Operators ofRivers, NY, CT CT WEEK—Lloyd Williams, president, Board Voza EVP; to save the Union toPharaoh a war toin end slavery. Asof Almighty God’s Hand was on Pharaoh in the exodus of the HeBlack McDonald’s Owners/Operators of NY, CT & brew slaves out from Egypt, so too was the mighty Hand NJ—Brian Hairston, president; and the dfree Global brew out Egypt, so was the Hand NJ—Brian Hairston, president; and Global brewslaves slaves out from Egypt, sotoo too was themighty mighty Hand NJ—Brian Hairston, president; and the the dfree Global tion Network and chairman of Virginia January 1st isfrom one of the most important dates theMcDonald’s Black Owners/Operators ofdfree NY, CT &Union U God’s Hand was on Pharaoh the of the He- on brew slaves out from Egypt, so in too wasexodus the mighty Hand NJ—Brian Hairston, president; and the dfree Global of Providence upon an American president in The Great Foundation—Rev. Deforest B. Soaries, founder, Tamika of Providence upon an American president in The Great Foundation—Rev. Deforest B. Soaries, founder, Tamika of Providence upon an American president in The Great Foundation—Rev. Deforest B. Soaries, founder, Tamika NJ—Brian Hairston, president; and the dfree Global brew slaves out from Egypt, so too was the mighty Hand American calendar, especially for African American peoIn addition, we’ll recognize three great orga of Providence upon an American president in The Great Deforest Soaries,All, founder, Tamika Emancipation—“Let my PeopleGo!” Go!”We Weowe owe debt of Foundation—Rev. Stembridge,Esq. Esq.executive executiveB. director. All, whoby by examEmancipation—“Let my People aaadebt ofof Stembridge, director. who examEmancipation—“Let my People Go!” We owe debt Stembridge, Esq. executive director. All, who by examFoundation—Rev. Deforest B. Soaries, founder, Tamika of Providence upon an American president in The Great ple. Thetoto Civil Warmychanged course—from being aplewar Greater Harlem Chamber Commerce/ Emancipation—“Let People Go!” We a debt of Esq. unselfish executive director. All, whoof by examgratitude thedescendants descendants ofthose those whoowe fought on the Stembridge, andthrough through unselfish community service, continue gratitude ofof who fought on the ple community service, continue gratitude tothe the descendants those who fought on the pleand and through unselfish community service, continue Stembridge, Esq. unselfish executive director. All, who by examEmancipation—“Let my People Go!” We owe a debt of gratitude to the descendants of those who fought onAs the ple and through community service, continue to save the Union to a war to end slavery. Almighty WEEK—Lloyd Williams, president, Voza Riv gratitude to the descendants of those who fought on the ple and through unselfish community service, continue

God’s Hand was on Pharaoh in the exodus of the Hebrew slaves out from Egypt, so too was the mighty Hand 10 The Positive Community December 2020 of Providence upon an American president in The Great Emancipation—“Let my People Go!” We owe a debt of

Black McDonald’s Owners/Operators of N NJ—Brian Hairston, president; and the dfre www.thepositivecommunity.com Foundation—Rev. Deforest B. Soaries, founde Stembridge, Esq. executive director. All, who


The theme for this year’s celebration is: “God Bless the Children!” We must now take a stand on behalf of our children and for the dignity and integrity of our culture, values, and traditions—our collective soul! to impact the lives of young people by highlighting their value and sense of self-worth, A Soul Celebration

You are invited to be part of a soul celebration of our very best in music, spoken-word poetry, and theater. On December 31st, many congregations are asked to include in their virtual Watch Night services the African American Cultural Narrative video, entitled “We’ve Come this Far by Faith!” (See it online at thepositivecommunity.com). Together we affirm past triumphs and future achievements! Visit thepositivecommunity.com and download your free copy of the Cultural Narrative. Or you can order this beautiful 19 x 25 inch wall poster for just $15.99 each, or two for $25.99. Teach the children! Ideally, every church and family should take it upon themselves to instruct young people in the truth about who we really are: Liberated sons and daughters of Most High God; mighty descendents of The Great Emancipation—1863!

Devine Inheritance

On behalf of The Positive Community founders Jean Nash Wells and Adrian Council, we thank each of you for your encouragement and support throughout the years. Special thanks to Roll Call to Progress bulk church subscribers (pg. 7). We are most appreciative of our forward-thinking advertisers and event sponsors—stakeholders of community progress. They are: United Airlines, McDonald’s, PSE&G, RWJ Barnabas Health, dfree Foundation, and Berkeley College. So, on matters concerning the progress of our children and cultural integrity, always remember and never ever forget that we, the people are sovereign (not the person or persons with the most money). Therefore, the only way we can ever be denied of our own blessings— our divine inheritance—is if we deny them ourselves. May the Spirit of Truth speak to your souls; may love dominate our hearts as we share this wonderful Emancipation Day experience. “God Bless the Children!”

thepositivecommunity.com Come to the Website. Featuring TPC Radio. www.thepositivecommunity.com

December 2020 The Positive Community

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NJEDA PPE Access Program Helps Small Businesses Acquire Low-Cost Equipment to Protect Employees and Customers from COVID-19 COVID-19 has created dozens of new challenges for small business owners in New Jersey. One of the most pressing is keeping employees and customers safe when reopening. Everyone wants businesses to be able to run profitably, but that cannot happen unless business owners have the information and equipment to adequately prevent the spread of COVID-19. To help business owners identify and acquire the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other safeguarding supplies they need and purchase it at an affordable price, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) launched the Small and Micro Business PPE Access Program. During Phase 1 of the program, the NJEDA collaborated with the New Jersey Department of Health to create an online PPE Planning Tool that helps businesses understand PPE product requirements and estimate their organizational PPE needs. The NJEDA also identified and vetted “Designated Vendors” who partnered with the Authority to create “micro-

sites” where New Jersey-based businesses can purchase a curated selection of PPE products at a 10 percent discount. Links to the PPE Planning Tool and the Designated Vendor microsites are available at https://covid19.nj.gov/ppeaccess.

ignated as Opportunity Zones can receive up to $500. These grants are applied in addition to the 10 percent discount offered to all businesses, meaning small businesses can save more than a third of the cost of their PPE purchases.

Phase 1 also included incentives for PPE vendors to purchase from suppliers that manufacture their products in New Jersey and from minority-owned suppliers. This is crucial to helping the hardest-hit businesses and their employees recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic.

Small businesses and organizations interested in receiving 25 percent discounts must sign up at https:// covid19.nj.gov/ppeaccess. Once the NJEDA has confirmed their eligibility, they will receive a coupon for purchases from a Designated Vendor of their choice. This coupon will automatically reduce purchases the participating small business or organization makes from that Designated Vendor by 25 percent. Coupons will expire after 14 days.

The second phase of the PPE Access Program makes $20.4 million available to subsidize small and micro businesses’ PPE purchases from Designated Vendors. During this phase, businesses with 100 or fewer full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) can receive grants equal to 25 percent of the cost of purchases made through Designated Vendors. All eligible businesses can receive up to $400 in discounts, and businesses in one of New Jersey’s 715 census tracts that were eligible to be des-

In addition to the PPE Access Program, the NJEDA administers a variety of grant, low-cost financing, and technical assistance programs for small and mid-sized businesses impacted by COVID-19. Comprehensive information about these programs and other State support for businesses impacted by the pandemic is available at https://cv.business.nj.gov.


Health ideas for wellness

Navigating this Season of Sorrow with the Black Clergy

O

ne of the biggest untold stories of this pandemic is the tremendous burden it has placed on the Black clergy. For ministers, it has been a relentless marathon of wakes, funerals, and pastoral care exacerbated by the current world culture of “no-touch” and social distancing. But despite its tremendous emotional toll, COVID-19 is no match for the resilience, faith, and commitment of the Black clergy who –with unparalleled fervor– shepherd their flocks through the treacherous terrain of the pandemic. In doing so, a group of the nation’s renowned Black clergy recently took it to the next level with the launch of an initiative called the Choose Healthy Life Black Clergy Action Plan (CHL). Among the leaders spearheading the charge are Rev. Al Sharpton of the National Action Network; Rev. Calvin O. Butts, III of Abyssinian Baptist Church, New York; and Rev. Jacques DeGraff of Canaan Baptist Church, Harlem. CHL –which comes under the banner of the National Black Clergy Health Leadership Council– will raise awareness, educate the community on preventative measures, and provide access to COVID-19 testing for high-risk communities through the Black church. Members of the Council include: Rev. David Jefferson, Metropolitan Baptist Church, Newark, NJ; Rev. Horace Sheffield, New Destiny Christian Fellowship, Detroit, MI; Rev. Frank Tucker, First Baptist Church, Washington, DC; and Rev. Raphael Warnock, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, GA. Rev. DeGraff is the clergy chair of the Plan and brings sober thought to the mission at hand. “This is an exciting initiative because it energizes the Black Church at this time of a national crisis,” he said. “Historically, the Black Church has been the survival institution for Black

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The Positive Community December 2020

BY GLENDA CADOGAN folks. Together we faced Jim Crow, AIDS, and the crack epidemic; and now we turn our attention to this big COVID-19 pandemic.” Putting the situation into perspective, Rev. Butts said: “COVID-19 is killing our community at substantially higher rates than any other population group in this country. Increased testing and accurate education about the virus are critical to stopping community spread in Black communities that have been devastated by the pandemic.” In reiterating the critical need for this initiative, National Black Clergy Leadership Health Council Chair Rev. Al Sharpton echoed the Black community’s skepticism around vaccinations. “African-Americans have disproportionately been impacted by COVID-19, and given America's history of detrimental experiments on our bodies, we are less likely interested in a vaccine than our counterparts. [Therefore] The clergy must intervene to protect our people and help them make informed decisions.” According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), Blacks are hospitalized from COVID-19 at a rate approximately five times that of non-Hispanic white persons. Additionally, a recent Johns Hopkins University study showed that Blacks in some communities are dying at a rate nearly seven times higher than other population segments. Recently, in its first action step, the Council held a summit meeting with Dr. Anthony Fauci and other science leaders. “As a first critical step, we as clergy need to educate ourselves because there is so much misinformation around this issue,” said Rev DeGraff. “Secondly, there is no denying the distrust in the Black community about the healthcare system. We are quite aware that our health www.thepositivecommunity.com


With funding support from Quest Diagnostics, the Quest Diagnostics Foundation, and Resolve to Save Lives, the flames of the initiative are fanning across five cities: New York, Newark, Detroit, Atlanta, and Washington disparities did not end with Tuskegee but are present today in the current Black maternal mortality rate, diabetes, and high blood pressure.” CHL is modeled after the a similar project initially created by Debra Fraser-Howze, founder of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS. Under her directive, the

HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Black community expertly targeted its most viable resources. “Our communities trust our churches and when the Black Church stepped forward in the past to address a health crisis – the community listened,” she explained. Working in collaboration with implementation partner the United Way of New York City and affiliated local agencies, the historic partnership will also address other health disparities in the Black community. “United Way of New York City is thrilled to be continuing our commitment to improving racial equity in communities through coordinating this important effort to provide increased COVID-19 testing and public health awareness in Black communities,” said Sheena Wright, president/CEO of United Way of New York City. With funding support from Quest Diagnostics, the Quest Diagnostics Foundation, and Resolve to Save Lives, the flames of the initiative are fanning across five cities: New York, Newark, Detroit, Atlanta, and Washington. “I believe that the Black clergy have been at the frontline of this invisible war,” said Rev. DeGraff. “It has taken its toll, but our faith is empowering and together we will get through this season of sorrow.” The final reassurance came from Dr. Tom Frieden, president/ CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies, and former CDC director: “When we recognize that we’re all connected, we can stop the virus.” For more information visit: www.choosehealthylife.org

HELP FIND A VACCINE FOR COVID-19!

NYU Langone’s Vaccine Center is looking for adults aged 18 or older to participate in its COVID-19 vaccine trials recruitment registry. The registry is open to all who would like to take part in COVID-19 vaccine trials. We are especially interested in: ✓ People with underlying medical conditions ✓ People with greater chances of exposure at their job ✓ People over age 65 If you participate in one of our COVID-19 vaccine trials, you will be compensated for your time. You CANNOT get infected with SARS-CoV-2 or get COVID-19 illness from the study vaccine.

www.thepositivecommunity.com

Let us know you are interested by joining our registry: nyulmc.org/covidvaccine Questions? NYU Langone: Manhattan (Tisch Hospital) 877-919-2822 Brooklyn (NYU Langone Hospital–Brooklyn) 718-630-8822 Long Island (NYU Winthrop) 516-663-3890 In collaboration with: NYC Health + Hospitals | Bellevue 212-562-5963 VA NY Harbor Healthcare 212-951-5986

December 2020 The Positive Community

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Image: Courtesy County Executive

Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. (center) announces comprehensive plan to open five COVID-19 vaccination centers throughout Essex County. Elected, public safety, and health officials gathered with the County Executive for the announcement at Essex County College.

DiVincenzo Plans Ahead for Vaccine Distribution

A

Five Sites Ready when Vaccine Becomes Available

ccording to an announcement by Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr., preparations have begun for the dispensing of the COVID-19 vaccination when it becomes available. Residents from Essex County municipalities will report to a specifically assigned vaccination site. Because of the size of its population, Newark residents will choose from any of the five sites to make their appointments. After the vaccines are delivered, residents can make appointments at www.EssexCOVID.org or by calling 973-877-8456. Because the vaccine protocol requires two doses approximately three weeks apart, reservations will be made for two separate dates. It is critical that residents attend both appointments. “Working in partnership with our 22 municipal mayors, health officers, public safety officials, and emergency management personnel, we developed a comprehensive plan to administer vaccines to Essex County residents,” DiVincenzo said. “In addition to wearing a mask, washing our hands, social distancing, and getting tested, we encourage residents to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by getting vaccinated. Our plan provides vaccination centers convenient to all Essex County residents.” The limited amount of vaccine available initially, required the State Department of Health to establish a phased-in approach to ensure fair and equitable distribution until larger quantities arrive. First to be inoculated will be healthcare workers who may have contact with infected patients or infectious materials and those in higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness, including 65-plus seniors with underlying health issues. Others will be phased-in as quickly as possible. The general population is last. There are no out-of-pocket expenses for the inoculations. Medical insurance will cover the $16.94 for the first dose and $28.39 for the second. The Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provide Relief Fund will cover the costs for those without insurance. Each vaccination site is set up in a similar fashion. Residents entering the site will first be pre-screened to verify

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The Positive Community December 2020

they have an appointment. Those who do not have an appointment will not be allowed to receive the vaccine that day. Residents will then proceed to a registration table where they will be provided with their paperwork for their visit and receive a card to remind them about their second appointment. After being inoculated with the vaccine, residents will be required to wait 15 minutes while they are monitored for any side effects. Social distancing guidelines will be followed at every site and areas will be sanitized on a regular basis throughout the day. MUNICIPALITIES AND THE LOCATIONS ASSIGNED • Essex County College, 303 University Ave., Newark, using the gym entrance on West Market Street for residents of Newark, East Orange, and Irvington. • Payne School of Technology, 498-544 West Market St., Newark for residents of Newark, East Orange, and Irvington. To be set up later • Former Kmart building, 235 Prospect Ave., West Orange for residents of West Orange, Cedar Grove, Essex Fells, Montclair, Newark, Nutley, and Verona. • Livingston Mall, former Sears building, 112 Eisenhower Parkway, Livingston, entrance in the back for residents of Livingston, Belleville, Maplewood, Millburn, Newark, Orange, and South Orange. • West Caldwell School of Technology, 620 Passaic Ave., West Caldwell for residents of West Caldwell, Bloomfield, Caldwell, Fairfield, Glen Ridge, Newark, North Caldwell, and Roseland. www.thepositivecommunity.com


Newark Beth Beth Israel Israel Medical Center Newark Center breaksground ground on $100 million breaks million expansion project project expansion Newark, (October20, 20,2020) 2020)——Newark Newark Newark, NJNJ (October Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey hosted a ceremonial Hospital of New Jersey hosted a ceremonial ground breaking for the $100 million ground breaking for the $100 million expansion of its facilities, the largest expansion of its facilities, the largest expansion of the hospital since 1967. expansion of the hospital since 1967. “I am excited about what this project will “I am excited about what this project will mean for our community, our employees mean for our community, our employees and our physicians, said Darrell K. Terry, and physicians, said Darrell K. Terry, Sr.,our President and Chief Executive Officer Sr.,ofPresident and Israel Chief Medical Executive Officer Newark Beth Center and ofChildren’s Newark Beth IsraelofMedical Center and Hospital New Jersey. This will be Children’s Hospital ofin New This will be an inclusive project the Jersey. great South Ward anand inclusive the this great South Ward we areproject hopefulinthat investment and thatencourages this investment willwe beare thehopeful spark that more will be the spark that encourages more businesses to invest in this community.” businesses to invest in this community.” A key component of the project will be the

A hospital’s key component of the project will be the new main lobby, an estimated hospital’s new main lobby, an estimated 17,000-square-foot, glass-enclosed space, 17,000-square-foot, glass-enclosed space, that will move the hospital’s front entrance that willonto move the hospital’s front entrance back Lyons Avenue. The project will alsoonto include expanded pediatric back Lyons Avenue.adult The and project will emergency departments, also include expanded adultnew andhybrid pediatric operating departments, rooms, a dedicated center for all emergency new hybrid cardiac services a brand center new renovated operating rooms, aand dedicated for all maternity unit. and a brand new renovated cardiac services maternity unit. “This is an institution that is not only internationally renowned in fact “This is an institution that isbut notisonly committed torenowned ensuring the internationally butbest is inhealth fact for the community surrounding it. This new committed to ensuring the best health for edifice we are surrounding building which Phase the community it. is This new1 of a complete redevelopment plan for both the edifice we are building which is Phase 1 of a institution and the neighborhood is exciting complete redevelopment plan for both the for everyone,” said Barry H. Ostrowsky, institution and the neighborhood is exciting President and Chief Executive Officer, for everyone,” said Barry H. Ostrowsky, RWJBarnabas Health. President and Chief Executive Officer, In recent years, patients have benefited RWJBarnabas Health. from significant investments made in new In recent years, patients have benefited technologies, physician recruitment and from significant investments made in new clinical programs. With the planned glasstechnologies, physician recruitment and enclosed lobby and entrance, the public clinical programs. With the planned glasswill see the progress the hospital is making enclosed lobby and entrance, the public will see the progress the hospital is making

rwjbh.org/newarkbeth

rwjbh.org/newarkbeth

asthey they travel travel along along Lyons Lyons Avenue. as Avenue. The The transformation will create a more welcoming transformation will create a more welcoming space filled with transparency and natural space filled with transparency and natural light that promises to invoke a sense of light that promises to invoke a sense of wellness and renewal for the hospital’s wellness and renewal for the hospital’s patients, families and the community. patients, families and the community. Background: Background: Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Newark Beth Israel of Medical Centerhas and Children’s Hospital New Jersey been Children’s of New Jersey has been providing Hospital world class care in the South providing world class care in the South Ward of Newark, NJ, for nearly 100 years. Ward of Newark, for nearly 100 years. This $100 million NJ, renovation project will This $100 million renovation project will transform the Lyons Avenue landscape transform Lyons Avenue landscape and createthe a more welcoming space for and a more welcoming space for a the create surrounding community and patients, the surrounding community and patients, a space that reflects the level of care delivered space reflects the level of care delivered as wellthat as the hospital’s commitment as as as the hospital’s commitment as anwell anchor institution in the city of Newark an anchor institution of Newark and the South Ward. in Asthe onecity of the largest and the South Ward. AsWard, one ofNewark the largest employers in the South Beth employers in the South Ward, Newark Beth Israel is committed to spurring economic development in theto community. This Israel is committed spurring economic renovation willinresult in the utilization development the community. This of local and diversewill businesses, as well as localof hiring renovation result in the utilization local of Newark surrounding community and diverseand businesses, as well as local hiring members. of Newark and surrounding community members. This transformation will include:

From left right: Newark City From left toto right: Newark City Councilman Honorable John Councilman Honorable John Sharpe James, South Ward; Sharpe James, South Ward; R. R. Julie Cabaleiro, MD, Medical Julie Cabaleiro, MD, Medical Staff President, Newark Beth Staff President, Newark Beth Israel and Children’s Hospital Israel and Children’s Hospital New Jersey; Francis ofof New Jersey; Francis J. J. Giantomasi, Chair, Newark Giantomasi, Chair, Newark Beth Israel and Children’s Beth Israel and Children’s Hospital New Jersey; Marc Hospital ofof New Jersey; Marc Berson, Chair, RWJBarnabas E.E. Berson, Chair, RWJBarnabas Health; Darrell Terry, Health; Darrell K. K. Terry, Sr,Sr, President and Chief Executive President and Chief Executive Officer, Newark Beth Israel Officer, Newark Beth Israel and Children’s Hospital of of New and Children’s Hospital New Jersey; Barry H.H. Ostrowsky, Jersey; Barry Ostrowsky, President and Chief Executive President and Chief Executive Officer, RWJBarnabas Health; Officer, RWJBarnabas Health; Honorable Mayor Ras J. J. Honorable Mayor Ras Baraka, Newark; Reverend Dr.Dr. Baraka, Newark; Reverend Marilyn Harris, VPVP Community Marilyn Harris, Community Relations, Newark Beth Israel Relations, Newark Beth Israel and Children’s Hospital of of and Children’s Hospital New Jersey. New Jersey.

4,000 nine new 4,000square squarefeet, feet,including including nine new treatment areas in the adult ED, three treatment areas in the adult ED, three new pediatric treatment areas and one new pediatric treatment areas and one new fast-track treatment area. The ED new fast-track treatment area. The ED will also boast new exterior signage will also boast new exterior signage as well as a separate waiting area for as well as a separate waiting area for families who come to the pediatric families who come to the pediatric emergency department for care. emergency department for care. • Renovated Intensive Care Units •— Renovated Intensive Care will Units The Intensive Care Units be right—sized The Intensive Care Units will be rightto accommodate all patient sized to accommodate all patient needs. This includes additional space needs. This includes additional space for clinical equipment and more room for clinical equipment and more room for loved ones. for loved ones. • Cardiac Care: •— Cardiac NewarkCare: Beth Israel is home to one of the —nation’s Newarktop Beth home tocenters, one of the 10 Israel heart is transplant nation’s top only 10 heart transplant New Jersey’s Advanced Lungcenters, New Jersey’s only Advanced Lung Disease and Transplant Program; and and Transplant Program; and aDisease Valve Center that performs complex a Valvevalve Center that performs complex cardiac procedures, including (TAVRs). The renovation project places cardiac valve procedures, including all of theseThe services under one roofplaces (TAVRs). renovation project inalla of center that is easily accessible to these services under one roof patients andthat will include patient to in a center is easilynew accessible consult rooms, exam rooms, cardiac patients and will include new patient catheterization the cardiac latest consult rooms,suites examwith rooms, advanced medical imaging catheterization suites withdevices, the latest and a hybridmedical operating room devices, advanced imaging

This transformation willlobby include: • A new glass enclosed with modern • Brand Maternity Unit room andNew a hybrid operating seating areas, an expanded registration • A new glass enclosed lobby with modern Earlier thisMaternity year, NBIMC area and community meeting spaces. •— Brand New Unitcompleted the seating areas, an expanded registration renovation ofyear, the brand-new Healthcare — The new lobby will transform the — Earlier this NBIMC completed the area and community meeting spaces. Foundation Jersey Motherhospital enclosed brick structure renovation of of New the brand-new Healthcare — The new from lobbyanwill transform the Baby Unit. The unitMotheris a with an obscure, entrance, brick into astructure lightFoundation ofmaternity New Jersey hospital from an enclosed 34-bed private-room unit with all new filled welcoming space with a prominent Baby Unit. The maternity unit is a with an obscure, entrance, into a lightspacious suites. entrance on Lyons Avenue. 34-bed private-room unit with all new filled welcoming space with a prominent • Anentrance expanded Emergency Department spacious suites. on Lyons Avenue. — The ED will increase by approximately • An expanded Emergency Department — The ED will increase by approximately


Innovative valve replacement surgery. Because you can’t be replaced. As New Jersey’s most extensive heart care network, RWJBarnabas Health performs more Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacements (TAVR) than any health care system in the state—and our outcomes far exceed national benchmarks in safety, life expectancy, and risks of complications, too. Available at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, patients usually go home only a few days after the procedure. For more information and to make an appointment with one of New Jersey’s top cardiac specialists, visit rwjbh.org/tavr

We’ve taken every precaution to keep you safe. So if you’ve put off cardiac care due to COVID-19, please don’t delay it any longer.


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The Positive Community December 2020

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NYC, masks and social distancing are working!

WHAT’S NEXT

IN THE COVID-19 FIGHT? NOW, WE ALL NEED TO GET TESTED OFTEN, even with no symptoms, to keep reducing the spread. TO FIND EASY AND SAFE TESTING AT NO COST TO YOU:

VISIT NYC.GOV/COVIDTEST OR CALL 212-COVID19

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10/30/20 7:59 AM


H O LY N A M E M E D I C A L C E N T E R

A Vital Response to Our Community By Michael Maron President and CEO Holy Name Medical Center Community Flu Vaccine Event

This past year has been marked by tragedy and triumph in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Holy Name Medical Center responded to unprecedented challenges with innovation, ingenuity, and dedication to safeguarding the community we serve. Our entire team protected lives selflessly and heroically. We quickly adapted, devising ways to improve our services and reinventing how we deliver healthcare for future needs. Our fight against this deadly virus is not over. We will keep moving forward, thanks to lessons learned, promising new therapies, and the arrival of much-anticipated vaccines. While COVID-19 has been a focal point for all of us this year, routines – although different – continue. The medical center remains safe and clean for patients who need surgeries, emergency care, and screenings. We’ve also welcomed hundreds of babies into the world this year, an important reminder that life goes on.

Our Commitment to Improving Healthcare The crisis has also reaffirmed our commitment to disease prevention and wellness initiatives, as we’ve seen COVID impact people of color disproportionately. Community outreach continues to be an important tool. Whether we’re on the road with our Mobile Education Lab (MEL) bringing health screenings, education, and flu vaccines to people where they live, work, and worship, or offering virtual events and support through our Center for Healthy Living. I am also pleased to share that Holy Name is one of only three hospitals in the country participating in a pilot program with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which focuses on preventing COVID-19 transmission and hospitalization among underserved populations. Mobile testing, treatments, and preventive therapies will go to our neighbors in Teaneck and several Hudson County municipalities.

To book an in-person or telemedicine appointment: HolyNameMedicalPartners.org.

Telemedicine Brings Care to Anywhere Expanding our telemedicine services – which provided critical treatment and monitoring of patients with COVID – increases access for those with transportation issues, limited mobility, children, or work schedules that aren’t the typical 9 to 5. Patients can receive vital care from Holy Name providers on a smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer anytime, anywhere. This Place is Different Holy Name is a family comprising a diverse and gifted group of individuals who care for all those in need of healing. Our team is our most valuable resource; they are why This Place is Different.

THIS PLACE IS DIFFERENT


Health care from anywhere Can’t get to a health care provider right now? Holy Name has you covered with North Jersey Telemedicine. You get the care you need, right from home—or wherever you may be. Not sure if it’s allergies or a cold? Worried that scrape or burn might be infected? Need a medication refill? Our primary care and specialty physicians and nurse practitioners are ready to see you, safely and conveniently.

NORTH JERSEY

TELEMEDICINE P O W E R E D B Y H O LY N A M E

Visit NorthJerseyTelemedicine.com to learn more and link to a Holy Name telemedicine provider.

Holy Name Medical Center 718 Teaneck Road, Teaneck, NJ 07666 - Tel: (201) 833-3000 Copyright © 2020 Holy Name Medical Center, All rights reserved.


Tips To Make Getting Healthy Easier BY MAUREEN SHELLY

H

ealth problems are never easy. But they are even more difficult when you have no experience with the American health care system. Read our guide to dealing with common health situations with confidence so you can stay strong for your family.

• Find a doctor. In most areas, you have a choice of doctors. For general health care, you need a primary care doctor, or PCP, who can treat routine symptoms and injuries. Aetna Better Health of New Jersey (Aetna) members can use the Find a Provider tool. You can filter results by language spoken, handicap accessible, specialty and more. • Get help in your language. If your English isn’t fluent, your doctor may not understand all your symptoms. And you may not understand all the doctor’s instructions. Ask your doctor, pharmacy, or insurance company about translation services. Aetna members can call 1-855-232-3596 (TTY 711) for help. • Get transportation. If getting to the doctor’s office is difficult, ask your doctor or insurance company about free or low-cost transportation options. Aetna members can get help arranging travel through Logisticare. • Prepare for your visit. The day before your visit, write down anything you want to discuss with your doctor, starting what’s the most important. Include your symptoms, when they began, all your medications (including vitamins and traditional medicines), and your questions and concerns. • Answer questions honestly. When you see the doctor, it’s normal for them to ask about personal issues that can affect your health. Your privacy is protected by law; the doctor cannot discuss your health information with anyone without your permission. Aetna members can get help quitting smoking, with drug and alcohol use, and with emotional support. Your doctor can recommend a counselor and other mental health resources. Counseling and needed medication are also covered through Aetna.

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• Information you need. It’s good to ask questions, express doubt, make your own medical decisions, and expect good communication with your doctors and nurses. Don’t be afraid to find another doctor if you don’t feel comfortable with your first choice. Consider bringing a loved one to take notes. A second set of ears can help you gather information about your diagnosis and treatment. • Learn what to do between appointments. Ask your doctor what the best way is to get in touch – phone, email, or online patient portal – in case you have a question or problem. Aetna can also help you find out more about a diagnosis or treatment. • Manage medications. Contact your doctor if you experience side effects (unpleasant symptoms) from a new prescription. Often, your doctor can lower your dose or change the drug. You can also discuss side effects and alternative drugs with the pharmacist where you pick up your medication. Talk to your doctor before stopping any medication. Some prescription drugs take weeks or months before you feel better. Prescription drugs are covered through Aetna including many over-the-counter drugs. • Be proactive about your health. According to the World Health Organization, 80% of chronic diseases are preventable. That means eating fresh foods, exercising, and not smoking really do help prevent disease. Take advantage of preventive visits and tests. It’s normal to see your doctor at least once a year, even if you’re not sick. This is called preventive care. Aetna covers checkup visits, dental care, eye exams and glasses, and important health tests. Health care gets easier with every appointment. The more you understand about how the system works, the more you realize your doctors are there to help you. www.thepositivecommunity.com


Money

business, finance + work

John Harmon Joins U.S. Chamber Board of Directors strong leadership and support of African American businesses “ His will add to the Chamber’s work to promote the role of business and free enterprise

J

ohn E. Harmon, Sr., IOM, founder, president, and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (AACCNJ), has been appointed to the Board of Directors of the United States Chamber of Commerce. The world’s largest business federation, U.S. Chamber of Commerce represents the interests of more than three million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations. Pleased with his appointment and dedicated to economically empowering and sustaining African American communities and businesses throughout New Jersey, Harmon remarked, “The AACCNJ team is excited about deepening our engagement with the U.S. Chamber. The U.S. Chamber has a unique and critically important role in that dialogue as the voice for a unified, diverse American business community.” Prior to founding the AACCNJ, Harmon served as president and CEO of the Metropolitan Trenton African American Chamber of Commerce. Under his guidance, MTAACC grew its membership substantially, forged alliances with business associations and government, and created stratewww.thepositivecommunity.com

Tom Donohue CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. gic partnerships in the public and private sectors to benefit African American businesses throughout New Jersey. ​Harmon is also the former board chair for the National Black Chamber of Commerce, which has 150 affiliate chapters and over 15 international affiliates. He is also founder and chair of the New York State Black Chamber of Commerce. “His strong leadership and support of African American businesses will add to the Chamber’s work to promote the role of business and free enterprise. Policy solutions can bridge existing opportunity gaps and ensure that Black Americans and people of color have greater opportunities to succeed,” said Tom Donohue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Harmon is a member of the U.S. Chamber’s Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100, a group of the leading chamber executives from around the country. He also serves on the Steering Committee of the U.S. Chamber’s Equality of Opportunity Initiative, dedicated to addressing racial equity gaps in critical areas including education, employment, entrepreneurship, and criminal justice. For more information visit www.aaccnj.com December 2020 The Positive Community

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BY REV. DEFOREST SOARIES

The Times are Challenging… But… We Have Options, If We Have Hope

W

On some levels, we are starting from scratch as a Black community today

e are facing one of the most challenging financial periods of our history. Many of us have never recovered from the Great Recession that technically ended in 2013. Our homeownership rates remain low. Our debt levels remain high. Our unemployment is twice that of white America. And our rate of business failures due to the pandemic is rising every day. The federal government’s unwillingness to extend socalled stimulus benefits beyond their initial funding is an unconscionable act from which ordinary people and small business owners will take years to recover. Policymakers who consider some corporations too big to fail, making them eligible for unlimited public support when in trouble, should also see small businesses as too necessary to fail since they create most new jobs. The current pandemic has devastated Black-owned small businesses. One of the ironic realities about the legal, racial segregation we experienced between slavery and the end of the 1960s is that racial restrictions benefited Black businesses. There was no need to challenge Black people to support Black business because we either had no other choices or had such a spirit of racial uplift that we supported our businesses as a form of resistance to racism. Next year we will pause to review the 100th anniversary of the events that occurred in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921. The Greenwood section of Tulsa, dubbed “Black Wall Street” because of its thriving economy —Black-owned hotel, Black-owned restaurants, six Black-owned private airplanes, Black-owned apartment building. It engendered such hatred among

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The Positive Community December 2020

white racists they burned that Greenwood section to the ground. What is so phenomenal is that the Black community developed such a vibrant Black economy despite the racial hatred that existed in Oklahoma. On some levels, we are starting from scratch as a Black community today. Despite the resurgence of explicit racial hatred and seemingly growing anti-Black animosity, we have opportunities to grow our individual incomes and community economic capacity. In 2021, our dfree® movement will continue to teach people how to achieve financial freedom by beginning with reducing and eliminating personal debt. I am still committed to helping 100,000 Black people pay down $10,000 of debt and producing $1 billion worth of Black wealth by doing so. However, we will emphasize incomeproducing strategies to create immediate benefits for those who understand the need for capital to attain success in a capitalist system. From real estate ownership and development to creating online affiliate strategies, we are not without options if we have hope…. The murder of George Floyd has caused many white Americans and white-led institutions to think new thoughts, make new statements, and take new actions related to their relationships with Black people. The same introspection and discovery process must take place among Black people as we consider the status of our relationships with one another. Reverend Soaries is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens (FBCLG) in Somerset, New Jersey and founder of dfree® Financial Freedom Movement. www.thepositivecommunity.com


For For all all who who bank, bank, For Forall allwho whobank, bank, there’s there’s one one bank bank for for all. all. there’s there’sone onebank bankfor forall. all.

At At Investors Investors Bank, Bank, wewe believe believe banking banking in your in your best best interest interest starts starts with with understanding understanding our our communities communities and and the the individuals individuals we we serve. serve. We’re We’re a part a part of New of New Jersey, Jersey, delivering delivering At At Investors Investors Bank, Bank, wewe believe believe banking banking in your in your best best interest interest starts starts with with understanding understanding the benefits benefits of a oflarge a large bank bank with with thethe care and and attention attention of a ofof local a New local bank. bank. ourthe our communities communities and and the the individuals individuals wecare we serve. serve. We’re We’re a part a part of New Jersey, Jersey, delivering delivering thethe benefits benefits of a oflarge a large bank bank with with thethe care care andand attention attention of a oflocal a local bank. bank. From From ourour convenient convenient locations locations to to responsive responsive customer customer service, service, to to secure secure online online andand mobile mobile banking banking options, options, we’re we’re committed to to meeting meeting not not just just your your needs, needs, butonline but your your From From our our convenient convenient locations locations to committed to responsive responsive customer customer service, service, to to secure secure online andand neighbor’s––and neighbor’s––and the the community community around around you. you. We’re We’re here here for for you you and and ready ready to to help. help. mobile mobile banking banking options, options, we’re we’re committed committed to to meeting meeting notnot justjust your your needs, needs, butbut your your neighbor’s––and neighbor’s––and thethe community community around around you. you. We’re We’re here here forfor youyou andand ready ready to to help. help. * * Open Open a Your a Your Style® Style® Plus Plus Checking Checking Account Account andand youyou cancan earn earn up up to to $350. $350. * * Visit Visit investorsbank.com investorsbank.com orChecking or callcall 855-iBank4U 855-iBank4U (855.422.6548). (855.422.6548). Open Open a Your a Your Style® Style® Plus Plus Checking Account Account and and you you cancan earn earn up up to to $350. $350. Visit Visit investorsbank.com investorsbank.com or or callcall 855-iBank4U 855-iBank4U (855.422.6548). (855.422.6548).

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NEW JERSEY HAS A RACE PROBLEM The inability of Black-owned companies to access capital is a driver of the state’s economic disparity. BY HELENE FOX PHOTOS COURTESY BLUEPRINT CAPITAL

I

n compelling and heartfelt testimony before DOI, BlackRock, Owl Rock Capital Corp., CliffwaNew Jersey’s Joint Committee on Economic ter LLC, and others. An amended complaint filed in Justice and Equal Employment Opportunity, November 2020 exposed a far more pernicious and Blueprint Capital Advisors (Blueprint) CEO damning racial bias, racketeering, and fraud scheme Jacob Walthour, Jr. laid bare a troubling his- playing out in the Governor’s office and the DOI. Walthour’s legal team at Brown Rudnick LLP tory of racial animus and retaliation existing at the New Jersey Division of Investment. For the alleges that Murphy and his aides ran a quid pro second time in a year, Walthour testified before the quo system and systematically discriminated against Joint Committee. In January 2020, he detailed the Blueprint, the only Black-owned asset management “embarrassingly wide” wealth and income dispari- company in the state. The amended complaint ties in his home state. Last week, “For almost 12 years, the NJ alleges racist abuse began he courageously detailed the racist in 2015 when the DOI misabuse he and his firm experienced Divsion of Investment has not had from Governor Phil Murphy’s ad- a single African American or Latino appropriated a proprietary ministration, the Division of Ininvestment program developed by Blueprint, then vestment (DOI), and other former investment officer, and the current and current individual plaintiffs staff threatened to quit if Governor launched the exact same program with BlackRock working for the DOI. Murphy hired one.” in 2016. After being quesAppearing before the commit—Jacob Walthour tioned about the misapprotee via Zoom, Walthour noted: “There is a level of animus that exists in the Divi- priation of Blueprint’s intellectual property, the sion of Investment toward people who do not look complaint alleges, the DOI reportedly: like them. For almost 12 years, that division has not • Ignored Blueprint after allegations of fraud and had a single African American or Latino investment misappropriation were levied. officer, and the current staff threatened to quit if • Intentionally delayed Blueprint’s contract negoGovernor Murphy hired one.” tiations for 18 months. Reportedly, every other His remarks came after a tumultuous five-year fund completes the contracting phase in three battle for equity, fairness, and justice. In June 2020, to five months Walthour filed a racial discrimination, theft, and fraud lawsuit against Governor Phillip Murphy, the cont’d on page Cont'd on page 30

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www.thepositivecommunity.com


Jacob Walthour, Jr. www.thepositivecommunity.com

December 2020 The Positive Community

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Jacob Walhour cont’d from page 28 Jacob Walhour cont’d from page 28

• Used threats to make Blueprint agree on contract terms substantially worse than the mini• Used make Blueprint agree ondispaconmum threats industrytostandards and materially tract terms substantially worse than the minirate from the terms the DOI had and used with mum industry its other funds. standards and materially disparate from theapprove terms theinvestment DOI had and usedwhich with • Refused to from its other funds. Blueprint could actually earn fees, even after a • Refused to signed. approve investment from which contract was Blueprint could actuallypractices earn fees,that even after a • Engaged in retaliatory included contract was signed. making attempts to coordinate redemptions • Engaged in retaliatory practices from Blueprint with other clients.that included making attempts to coordinate redemptions from Blueprint with other clients. Murphy has been quick to point out that the challenges faced by Blueprint at the DOI began before point that the chalhisMurphy tenure.has Yet,been it is quick clear to that suchout challenges perlenges faced by Blueprint at the DOI began sist today in his administration. The nationalbefore heads his tenure. Yet, Urban it is clear that such challenges perof the NAACP, League, and National Action sist today in his administration. The national heads Network have contacted Murphy demanding an exof the NAACP, Urban and National Action planation for his staff’sLeague, conduct. Network have contacted Murphy an exMany Black leaders have calleddemanding for an investigaplanation for his staff’s conduct. tion. They have strong feelings that because Murhave called an investigaphyMany won Black 94% leaders of the Black vote infor2017, he owes tion. They have strong feelings that because Murthis community an explanation regarding the claims phy won 94% of the Black vote in 2017, he owes raised in this case. Murphy has also failed to deliver this community an explanation regarding the claims the disparity study he promised three years ago and raised this case.statistics Murphy on has the alsolevel failedoftobusiness deliver has notinreleased the disparity study he promised three years ago and contracted with women and minority-owned firms has not released statistics on the level of business since his administration took office. contracted women and minority-owned firms Further, with reports of Black people struggling to since his administration took office. start, grow, or maintain a business under his watch Further, people companies struggling to persist. Thereports inabilityofofBlack Black-owned to start, grow, or maintain a business under his watch access capital is a driver of the state’s unemploypersist. The inability of unemployment Black-owned companies to ment disparities. Black in the state access capital is a driver of the state’s unemployis 6.9%, while the unemployment rate for whites is ment unemployment in thebystate 2.6%, disparities. according toBlack the latest figures provided the is 6.9%, while the unemployment rate for whites is Economic Policy Institute. 2.6%, according to the latest figures provided by the Economic Policy Institute.

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The Positive Community December 2020

Even the impact of the coronavirus has been felt mainly along racial lines in New Jersey. In an Octothe impact of the coronavirus hasfound been felt berEven 21, 2020, reported piece, USA Today “At mainly along racial lines in New Jersey. In an Octothe height of the first wave of the pandemic, Essex ber 21, 2020, reported piece, Today found County was among the top 10 USA in the country for“At its the height of the first wave of the pandemic, Essex death rate from the novel coronavirus. It still hovers County was 15 among thelater.” top 10 in the country for its in the top, months death rate from the novel coronavirus. While legal matters must play out It instill thehovers court in the top, 15 months later.” system, Murphy must explain his record, pattern, While legalofmatters must in communithe court and practice engaging withplay the out Black system, Murphy must explain his record, pattern, ty, then failing to deliver for the Black community. and practice of engaging with the Black communiIn the absence of such information, one can’t help ty, then Walthour’s failing to deliver for the Black community. ponder comments: In the…there absence of such information, one can’t help is rhetoric and reality to Phil Murponder Walthour’s comments: phy. He claims to be about fairness. He claims …there rhetoric and Murthat Black islives matter. Hereality claimstotoPhil support phy. He claims to be about fairness. He claims women’s causes. He claims to be about transthat BlackThat livesis matter. He claims to Murphy. support parency. the rhetoric of Phil women’s causes. He claims to be about transThe reality of Phil Murphy is that despite disparency. That is the rhetoric of Phil Murphy. cussing disparity studies as a precursor to poliThe reality –ofhePhil is that despite discy changes has Murphy yet to commission a disparcussing disparity studies as a precursor to poliity study in his first three years. The reality of cy changes – he has yet commission a disparPhil Murphy is that histo13-person front office ity study in his first three years. The reality of staff had no Black employees…six months ago. Phil Murphy is that his 13-person front office The reality of Phil Murphy is that he refuses staff had nostatistics Black employees…six ago. to release on how muchmonths business is The reality of Phil Murphy is that he refuses going to women and minority-owned businessto release and statistics on administration how much business is es before after his started. going to women and minority-owned businessThe reality is that when we uncovered a drinkes his largest administration started. ingbefore water and crisisafter in our city, he boarded The reality is that when we uncovered a drinka plane to India and abandoned the Newark ing water crisis in our largest city, he boarded water crisis. Shamefully however, he came back ato plane to India abandoned the Newark steal credit fromand people who worked hard to water crisis. Shamefully however, he came back fix the problem. to creditwatching from people whosideline, worked hard to Forsteal persons on the it is clear fix the problem. New Jersey has problems. Its race problem is the one For persons watching on the sideline, it is clear that looms large. New Jersey has problems. Its race problem is the one that looms large. www.thepositivecommunity.com


Join Us January 18, 2021 THE QUEST FOR ECONOMIC JUSTICE “Economic Justice is Economic Inclusion”

Strengthening and Scaling Minority Businesses through Economic Reform

Celebrating the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by

Advancing the Dream Newark Virtual Townhall Metropolitan Baptist Church, 149 Springfield Ave., Newark, NJ 07103 2:00pm – 4:00pm | 973-642-2267 or 973-348-9440 | www.mbcnewarknj.org

The First in a Series of State-wide Economic Justice and Inclusion Virtual Townhalls We want to hear from YOU (Small to Medium-sized Business Owners) Areas Where Other Townhalls will occur in February include Trenton, Camden, and Patterson

Registration Begins December 28, 2020 at: www.mbcmetroworks.org You will receive virtual logistics 24 hours prior to the event Featured Guests Include (check the website for the full guest list):

Dr. David Jefferson, Sr., Esq.

Pastor, Metropolitan Baptist Church NJ State/Board Member, NAN

Vivian Cox Fraser

President Urban League of Essex County

Senator Cory Booker

(Invited) United States Senate

Ryan Haygood

President/CEO NJ Institute for Social Justice

Hester Agudosi, Esq.

Dr. Randal Pinkett

Steven J. Van Kuiken

Jacob Walthour, Jr.

Co-Founder/Chairman/CEO Chief Diversity Officer BCT Partners NJ Office of Diversity & Inclusion

Senior Partner McKinsey & Company

Co-Founder/CEO Blueprint Capital Advisors, LLC

Sponsored The National ActionChurch Network and Sponsored by: The National Action Network and Theby: Metropolitan Baptist Economic Development Ministry, MetroBiz 26245 8.5 x 11 4c

The Metropolitan Baptist Church Economic Development Ministry, MetroBiz


Secrets to God’s Investment Plan nd the world, I have hing the Bible arou ac te s ar Dear Reader, ye 30 d an e financial viciss on Wall Street protect you from th lp he ll wi After nearly 50 year at th ng sti gh money at the itical secrets to inve and not having enou , ns io ict ev , ss discovered some cr lo b tures in the Bible —food insecurity, jo the over 2,300 scrip in ar pe ap s et situdes of COVID19 cr se e blical instructions make ends meet. Th es between God’s bi nc re ffe di t end of the week to nc sti di e scriptures illuminat about money. The Commercial . ch oa orary Doctorate in secular appr on s ’ H an y m m d d an an rs n te io at at m of life and many ancial hool educ ever, after 76 years for dealing with fin ow arvard Business Sc H H . y lly m t sfu gh es ou cc th su I e en the financial sucfinancial lif There was a time wh ared to accomplish ep ion to manage my pr at un rm ly fo ul in ef te wo ua e eq tm me ad cular education lef Science had given nvinced that my se co am I gives us direction s, ur ho ive experience today. It contemplat ise. us at of tre y is an th m a of ch er aad ch each re ancial holes in our money cess that I wish for ates the current fin y, there seem to be in an m um o ill i to ga far ag r H Fo . of ok about yours? iorities Chapter 1 of the bo ite some time. How by changing our pr qu es r liv fo l et cia ck an bu fin r ey ou on ent of been a hole in my m rience today. for better managem ear Liza.” There has at many of us expe “D th n et ea ck m bu e Lord’s house. n’t ey do I on d m e an buckets... t come to rebuild th e hole in th ye th t es no s rib sc ha e de 6) tim e :2i (1 s to be living in your le say, ‘Th The book of Hagga e for you yourselve ty says: “These peop tim a igh it m s Al )“I (4 rd i: Lo ga at ag het H ys: “Give careful (2)This is wh e Lord Almighty sa me through the Prop th ca at rd wh Lo is e is th th of ow rd gh. You drink, but ? (5)” N (3)“Then the wo use remains a ruin but never have enou t, ho ea is u th Yo ile . tle wh , lit es d te us with holes in it.” t harves own paneled ho ly to put in a purse ve planted much, bu on ha s, ge ou )Y wa (6 . rn ys ea u wa Yo . thought to your , but are not warm l. You put on clothes g what we should be never have your fil l buckets! unts, while forsakin co cia ff ac an nk fin r ba n ou in ow r le ild ou the ownership of stu Now there is the ho our time trying to bu proof statement for d l en o ica sp bl wh bi us all e of d y Th an , an rs. m rld ou e wo , not God’s word says that e earth is the Lord’s d everything in it, th an Th . s ’ od rd im G Lo H — ­ e t th ng pu is hi to yt rth er ed ea ne r of ev are with you: 1“The hing and, as such, we doing for the owne ancial secret I will sh at God owns everyt fin th st d fir an e th rst :1, de 24 un s we is in Psalm ccessful until ver be financially su y situation. to that question is live in it.” We can ne with His stuff in ever The Biblical answer ff. do to stu ” is us s H nt th wa wi e H do what be added unto you. nts us to first by asking Him k God what He wa all these things shall as d ld an m ss ou fro sh ne ive us we ct eo re w ht di ho ides a d His rig You might wonder tures. John 5:39 prov kingdom of God an e rip th e sc e th st s ’ th fir at g ye in Th k ” ch e. ee ar “S M 3: d by se stify of clear in Matthew 6:3 and He can be foun e are they which te t, es ris th d od Ch G s an su of e; Je lif rd l is na wo od e er th of G u think you have et ng, you must study The righteousness tures, for in them yo nership of everythi rip ow sc s ’ e od th G ch ed ar pt se ce ou ac Jesus: “Y e you have aring with you. Onc God’s stuff. that if you declare second secret I’m sh u should do about ne. Romans 10:9 “… yo alo at n wh sio es on e lies the y nf rit co d cla t ge d by faith an will be saved.” Ther ise u yo om , pr ad e in the scriptures to de ar e we th e m lif fro is the eternal that God raised Him God’s wealth for us lieve in your heart be d an ’ , rd Lo is s su decisions. But, study with your mouth ‘Je r to make the right of God resides. de h or alt in ok we e od th G e of er rd wh life the wo of God is in the bo promise of eternal is necessary to study t to study the word it en at ing em th t vid ag es di ur gg ly co su ht en d rig e di , be ashamed tement for th t sta no f h And, by the way, I oo et pr ed e ne Th o s. re wh ading the scriptu to God, a workman is more than just re thyself approved un ow sh to dy tu “S 5 2:1 owns everything. of Second Timothy pt the idea that God ce ac , st rst Fi e: ar far ff. Third, for the be ed thus the word of truth.” to say about His stu l success I have shar ng cia rdhi an ga et re fin m r so ns fo s ve tio et ha uc cr ld str ng God’s in ng, He shou di hi yt fin In summary the se r er fo ev ce of r ur ne so st ow fact that, as the scriptures are the be Second, accept the first. Know that the ns tio uc str in l ica bl Bi rd to gain clarity. results, seek God’s nally, study God’s wo Fi . ns sio es ss po is H ing what to do with meone. treatise will help so f ie br is th pe ho I See you next time, Obie L. McKenzie ist The Bible Econom

Obie L. McKenzie - The Bible Economist 32

The Positive Community December 2020

www.thepositivecommunity.com


Expanding economic economic Expanding Expanding economic opportunity for the opportunity opportunity for for the the Black community Black Blackcommunity community

Our Path Path Forward Forward to to Advance Advance Racial Equity Equity Our How JPMorgan JPMorgan Chase Chase is is working working to to create create How How economic opportunity opportunity for for Black Black communities economic opportunity for Black communities communities economic By Brian Lamb, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion at JPMorgan Chase

ByBrian BrianLamb, Lamb,Global GlobalHead Headof ofDiversity Diversity&& &Inclusion Inclusion at JPMorgan Chase By Brian Lamb, Global Head of Diversity Inclusionat atJPMorgan JPMorganChase Chase By

This This year year has has been been one one of of the the most most tumultuous tumultuous chapters chapters in in recent recent history history for for Black Black Americans, Americans, and and over over the the last last seven seven months months we’ve we’ve seen seen

numerous reminders that brings devastating consequences for individuals, families and communities. This year has has been one one ofsystemic the most mostracism tumultuous chaptersininrecent recent historyfor forBlack BlackAmericans, Americans, and over thelast lastseven sevenmonths monthswe’ve we’veseen seen This year been of the tumultuous history and over the numerous reminders that systemic racism bringschapters devastating consequences for individuals, families and communities. 1 numerous reminders that systemic racism brings devastating consequences for individuals, families and communities. numerous reminders that systemic racism brings devastating consequences for individuals, families and communities. The COVID-19 pandemic is tearing through Black communities across the country, killing Black people at twice The COVID-19 pandemic is tearing through Black communities across the country, killing Black people at twice the the rate rate of of White White Americans Americans1,, while while

leaving a of and Black-owned businesses in its wake along with the of George Floyd and so 2tearing 3. This, The COVID-19 pandemic throughBlack Blackcommunities communities across the country, killing Black people twice therate rateof ofWhite White Americans , while The COVID-19 isistearing through across killing Black people atattwice Americans ,1while leaving a trail trailpandemic of lost lost jobs jobs and shuttered shuttered Black-owned businesses inthe itscountry, wake . This, along with the killing killing ofthe George Floyd and so many many 1others, others, has an outpouring of corporate support Black Americans in months, and we’ve seen numerous examples of companies 33 has sparked sparked an outpouring ofshuttered corporateBlack-owned support for for businesses Black Americans in recent recent months, andthe we’ve seen numerous examples ofmany companies leaving trailof oflost lost jobs22and and shuttered Black-owned businesses itswake wake This, alongwith with the killing GeorgeFloyd Floyd andsosomany others, leaving aa trail jobs ininits . .This, along killing ofofGeorge and others, stepping up up to to make make concrete concrete changes changes to to the the way way they do do business business in in an an effort effort to to advance racial racial equity equity around around the the world. world. stepping has sparked an an outpouring outpouring of of corporate corporate support supportthey for Black Black Americans recentadvance months,and andwe’ve we’veseen seennumerous numerous examplesofofcompanies companies has sparked for Americans ininrecent months, examples As the the largest largest bank in the United United States, it’s long past time for us us to to in own our part in creatingracial economic opportunity and inclusion for for communities communities As bank the States, for own part creating economic opportunity inclusion stepping up concrete changes to the way they do effort totoin advance equity around world. stepping upto tomake makein concrete changes toit’s thelong waypast theytime dobusiness business inan anour effort advance racial equity aroundthe theand world. that have been historically marginalized. Systemic racism is a tragic part of history. It’s defect of our society that’s resulted that been historically marginalized. Systemic racism a us tragic partour of America’s America’s history. It’s a a congenital congenital defect ofinclusion our society that’s resulted As the largest bank ininthe States, long time for part economic opportunity and for communities As thehave largest bank theUnited United States,it’s it’s longpast past timeis for ustotoown own our partinincreating creating economic opportunity and inclusion for communities in in racial racial gaps gaps across across virtually virtually every every walk walk of of American American life, life, including including wealth, wealth, homeownership, homeownership, educational educational outcomes, outcomes, healthcare, healthcare, incarceration incarceration that have been historically marginalized. Systemic racism is a tragic part of America’s history. It’s a congenital defect of our society that’s resulted that have been historically marginalized. Systemic racism is a tragic part of America’s history. It’s a congenital defect of our society that’s resulted rates rates and and life life expectancy. expectancy. in racial gaps across virtually every walk of American life, including wealth, homeownership, educational outcomes, healthcare, incarceration inReal racial gaps across virtually every walk of American life, including wealth, homeownership, educational outcomes, healthcare, incarceration Real lives lives that that matter matter are are impacted impacted by by these these gaps, gaps, and and it’s it’s our our responsibility responsibility to to do do something something about about it it given given the the role role of of banks banks in in the the financial financial rates and life expectancy. rates and life expectancy. health health of of the the communities communities we we serve. serve. Real lives that are by Real lives that matter matter are impacted impacted bythese thesegaps, gaps,and andit’s it’sour ourresponsibility responsibilitytotodo dosomething somethingabout aboutititgiven giventhe therole roleofofbanks banksininthe thefinancial financial How JPMorgan Chase is combatting Howofof JPMorgan Chase combatting the the racial racial wealth wealth divide divide health the we serve. health thecommunities communities weis serve. 2

3

Over Over the the last last few few months, months, we’ve we’ve reviewed reviewed our our business business practices, practices, products products and and the the role role we we play play in in communities communities across across this this country country to to understand understand

the we to to largest drivers of racial wealth How JPMorgan Chase isiscombatting wealth How JPMorgan Chase combatting theracial racial wealth divide the changes changes we need need to make make to address address the the the largest drivers of the the divide racial wealth divide. divide. We’ve We’ve been been especially especially focused focused on on developing developing ways ways to to

expand affordable lending and housing, increase credit and capital for Black-owned small businesses, and improve access to tools that will help

expand affordable lending and reviewed housing, credit and capital for Black-owned small businesses, and improve access to toolstoto that will help Over the we’ve our practices, products and we across this understand Over thelast lastfew fewmonths, months, we’ve reviewedincrease ourbusiness business practices, products andthe therole role weplay playinincommunities communities across thiscountry country understand Black people save money and get on to sustained financial health. Black peoplewe save money and to get on a a path path tolargest sustained financial health. the changes need to the drivers ofofthe racial the changes we need to make make toaddress address the largest drivers the racialwealth wealthdivide. divide.We’ve We’vebeen beenespecially especiallyfocused focusedon ondeveloping developingways waystoto This led a billion commitment over the next five years to provide opportunities in underserved communities— with a special This work work led to to us us make make a $30 $30 billion commitment over theand next five years provide economic economic inand underserved communities— with awill special expand affordable lending and housing, increase credit for small businesses, improve tototools help expand affordable lending and housing, increase credit andcapital capital fortoBlack-owned Black-owned smallopportunities businesses,and improveaccess access toolsthat thatwill help focus on Black and Latinx people. These commitments include loans, equity and direct funding to promote homeownership and affordable housing. focus on Black and Latinx people. These commitments include loans, equity and direct funding to promote homeownership and affordable housing. Black Blackpeople peoplesave savemoney moneyand andget geton onaapath pathto tosustained sustainedfinancial financialhealth. health. We’ve set a goal of originating an 40,000 home purchase loans for and households. To we’ve committed $8 billion We’ve set a to goal of originating an additional additional 40,000 home loans for Black Black and Latinx Latinx households. To do do this this communities— we’ve committed $8 billion This work led aa$30 billion commitment over the next five years totoprovide economic opportunities ininunderserved with aaspecial This work led tous usmake make $30 billion commitment over the nextpurchase five years provide economic opportunities underserved communities— with special towards mortgages. We also want underserved communities to be able to take advantage of historically low interest rates, and we’ve committed towards mortgages. We also want underserved communities to be able to take advantage of historically low interest rates, and we’ve committed focus on and people. These commitments include loans, equity and direct focus onBlack Black andLatinx Latinx people. These commitments include loans, equity andloans. directfunding fundingtotopromote promotehomeownership homeownershipand andaffordable affordablehousing. housing. $4 billion towards helping Black and Latinx households refinance their home $4 billion towards helping Black and Latinx households refinance their home loans. We’ve set of an 40,000 We’ve setaagoal goal oforiginating originating anadditional additional 40,000home homepurchase purchaseloans loansfor forBlack Blackand andLatinx Latinxhouseholds. households.To Todo dothis thiswe’ve we’vecommitted committed$8 $8billion billion Creating pathways to financial health Creating pathways to want financial health towards mortgages. We also underserved communities totobe able tototake advantage ofofhistorically low interest rates, and we’ve committed towards mortgages. We also want underserved communities be able take advantage historically low interest rates, and we’ve committed Through our our own own research, research, we we know know that that Black Black households households tend tend to to have have lower lower savings savings and and higher higher debt debt burdens burdens than than other other groups. groups. Historically, Historically, Through $4 billion towards Black and households refinance their home loans. $4 billion towardshelping helping Black andLatinx Latinx households refinance their home loans. Black Americans have been forced to grapple with less access to credit, and often have to pay higher financing fees. Nearly one-in-five Black Black Americans have been forced4 to grapple with less access to credit, and often have to pay higher financing fees. Nearly one-in-five Black

Americans is completely unbanked 4 as well, which increases the likelihood of turning to predatory alternative financial services like check cashing as well, which increases the likelihood of turning to predatory alternative financial services like check cashing Americanspathways is completelyto unbanked Creating financial health Creating pathways to financial health and payday lenders.

and payday lenders. Through our Through ourown ownresearch, research,we weknow knowthat thatBlack Blackhouseholds householdstend tendtotohave havelower lowersavings savingsand andhigher higherdebt debtburdens burdensthan thanother othergroups. groups.Historically, Historically, To this we aim one million people open low-cost checking and accounts. To this, we build To combat combat this challenge, challenge, we aim to totohelp help onewith million people open low-cost checking and savings accounts. To accomplish accomplish this, we must mustBlack build Black Americans have been forced grapple less access totocredit, and often have totosavings pay higher financing fees. Nearly one-in-five Black Americans have been forced grapple with less access credit, and often have pay higher financing fees. Nearly one-in-five Black stronger connections to underserved communities, and so we’ve committed to hiring 150 new community managers. We’re also planning to open 44 stronger connections to underserved communities, and so we’ve committed to hiring 150 new community managers. We’re also planning to open as well, which increases the likelihood of turning to predatory alternative financial services like check cashing Americans is completely unbanked as well, which increases the likelihood of turning to predatory alternative financial services like check cashing Americans is completely unbanked new Community Community Center Center branches in in the the areas areas that that need need them them most, most, and and increase increase our our marketing marketing outreach outreach to to our our Black Black and and Latinx Latinx populations populations to to new and payday and paydaylenders. lenders.thesebranches raise raise awareness awareness of of these efforts. efforts. To combat challenge, To combat this this challenge, we we aim aimto tohelp helpone onemillion millionpeople peopleopen openlow-cost low-costchecking checkingand andsavings savingsaccounts. accounts.To Toaccomplish accomplishthis, this,we wemust mustbuild build Leaning in entrepreneurship Leaning in on on Black Black entrepreneurship stronger connections to underserved communities, and so we’ve committed totohiring 150 new community managers. We’re also planning totoopen stronger connections to underserved communities, and so we’ve committed hiring 150 new community managers. We’re also planning open If we we are are to to make make any any meaningful meaningful progress progress in in closing closing the the racial wealth wealth divide, divide, entrepreneurship entrepreneurship must must be be a a key part part of of the the equation. equation. We’re We’re If new Community Center ininthe that most, our outreach Black populations toto new Community Centerbranches branches theareas areas thatneed needthem themracial most,and andincrease increase ourmarketing marketing outreachto toour ourkey Blackand andLatinx Latinx populations committed to the job committed to helping helping the job creators creators in in Black Black and and Latinx Latinx communities communities get get access access to to the the credit credit they they need need to to launch, launch, grow grow and and scale scale their their raise awareness of these efforts. raise awareness of these businesses. As part of thisefforts. effort, we’ve committed to delivering $2 billion in loans, and to spend an additional $750 million with Black and Latinx businesses. As part of this effort, we’ve committed to delivering $2 billion in loans, and to spend an additional $750 million with Black and Latinx

companies supply products companiesin that can supply products and and services services to to JPMorgan JPMorgan Chase. Chase. Leaning on Black entrepreneurship Leaning inthat oncan Black entrepreneurship

also going to expand our of Color to more Black and business owners nationwide. We’re also expand our Entrepreneurs Entrepreneurs Color Fund Fund to support support more Black and Latinx Latinx small smallmust business nationwide. IfIfWe’re we to make meaningful progress the wealth divide, entrepreneurship ofofthe we are are togoing maketoany any meaningful progress ininofclosing closing the racial racial wealth divide, entrepreneurship mustbe beaowners akey keypart part theequation. equation.We’re We’re As we move forward with these efforts, we know we must hold ourselves accountable if they’re going to achieve their intended impact. We are committed to helping the job creators in Black and Latinx communities get access to the credit they need to launch, grow their As we movetoforward efforts, in weBlack knowand we must ourselves accountable if they’re going to achieve intended impact. We are committed helpingwith the these job creators Latinxhold communities get access to the credit they need totheir launch, growand andscale scale their going how performing and adjust when necessary. Ultimately, we know that no single company businesses. As this we’ve committed delivering $2 ininloans, totospend $750 with and Latinx going to to continually continually assess how these these commitments are performing and will will adjustand when necessary. Ultimately, we million know that noBlack single company businesses. Aspart partof ofassess thiseffort, effort, we’vecommitments committedtotoare delivering $2billion billion loans, and spendan anadditional additional $750 million with Black and Latinx can close close the the racial wealthproducts gap, but but and it is is our responsibility to try—and try—and work with other companies and policymakers along the way. can wealth gap, it responsibility to companies that can services totoJPMorgan Chase. companies thatracial cansupply supply products andour services JPMorgan Chase.work with other companies and policymakers along the way. We’re We’re owning owning our our part part in in this—and this—and we’re we’re just just getting getting started. started. We’re We’realso alsogoing goingto toexpand expandour ourEntrepreneurs EntrepreneursofofColor ColorFund Fundtotosupport supportmore moreBlack Blackand andLatinx Latinxsmall smallbusiness businessowners ownersnationwide. nationwide. Visit JPMorganChase.com/Pathforward to learn more about our efforts to advance racial equity, Visit JPMorganChase.com/Pathforward to learn more about our efforts to advance racial equity, As we move forward with these efforts, we know we must hold ourselves accountable if they’re going to achieve their As we move forward with these efforts, we know webusinesses, must hold financial ourselveshealth, accountable if they’re going tomore. achieve theirintended intendedimpact. impact.We Weare are which include include affordable-housing, affordable-housing, minority-owned minority-owned businesses, workforce diversity diversity and and more. which financial health, workforce going to continually assess how these commitments are performing and will adjust when necessary. Ultimately, we know that no single company going to continually assess how these commitments are performing and will adjust when necessary. Ultimately, we know that no single company JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. Member FDIC JPMorgan Chase N.A. Member can close racial wealth gap, but our can closethe the racialBank, wealth gap, butititisisFDIC ourresponsibility responsibilitytototry—and try—andwork workwith withother othercompanies companiesand andpolicymakers policymakersalong alongthe theway. way. National Urban League, “The State of Black America 2020”; Propublica.org, “What Coronavirus Job Losses Reveal About Racism in America” July 20, 2020; We’re owning our part this—and we’re just getting started. National Urban League, “Thein State of Black America 2020”; Propublica.org, “What Coronavirus Job Losses Reveal About Racism in America” July 20, 2020; We’re owning our part in this—and we’re just getting started. JPMorgan Chase Institute, “Small Business Financial Outcomes during the Onset of COVID-19” July 2020; “FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households” 2017 1 1 3 3

2 2

4

JPMorgan Chase Institute, “Small Business Financial Outcomes during the Onset of COVID-19” July 2020; 4 “FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households” 2017

Visit VisitJPMorganChase.com/Pathforward JPMorganChase.com/Pathforwardto tolearn learnmore moreabout aboutour ourefforts effortstotoadvance advanceracial racialequity, equity, which whichinclude includeaffordable-housing, affordable-housing,minority-owned minority-ownedbusinesses, businesses,financial financialhealth, health,workforce workforcediversity diversityand andmore. more. JPMorgan JPMorganChase ChaseBank, Bank,N.A. N.A.Member MemberFDIC FDIC


Award Winning Care

Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey Receive National Recognition

I

n 2020, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, an RWJBarnabas Health facility, received national recognition for its commitment to world-class care. Newark Beth Israel received its second consecutive World’s Best Hospital-USA designation from Newsweek. Newark Beth Israel ranked among the top 250 U.S. hospitals and is one of only five New Jersey hospitals on this prestigious list, which also includes The Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins, and Massachusetts General. “It is truly an honor to receive these awards and recognitions. Newark Beth Israel remains committed to delivering world class, high quality, safe care and an excellent experience to all of our patients and their families,” said Darrell K. Terry, Sr., president and chief executive officer of Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey.

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The Positive Community December 2020

“The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has made clear, among other lessons, that having first-rate frontline care can be a matter of life or death. It has never been more crucial to know where to turn for health care for yourself or a loved one when confronted with a health crisis or a frightening diagnosis,” said Nancy Cooper, global editor in chief of Newsweek. Newark Beth Israel also received Newsweek’s Best Maternity Care Hospital designation. Newark Beth Israel is one of 231 hospitals across the country that demonstrated excellence in maternity care, including nine New Jersey hospitals. The distinction recognizes facilities that have excelled in providing care to mothers, newborns, and their families, as verified by the 2019 Leapfrog Hospital Survey. In addition, Newark Beth Israel received its fifth consecutive “A” safety score from the Leapfrog Group, a Healthgrades 5-star rating for Women’s Care, and a Patient Safety Excellence Award from Healthgrades. Only 13 hospitals in New Jersey earned this prestigious recognition, placing Newark Beth Israel among the top 10 percent in the nation for patient safety.

www.thepositivecommunity.com


PSEG, through philanthropy and corporate citizenship initiatives, supports, PSEG, through philanthropy corporate citizenship initiatives, empowers and invests in theand people, economy, environment and supports, infrastructure empowers and invests in the people, economy, environment and infrastructure of the communities we serve. of the communities we serve.

The tragic death of George Floyd revealed systemic challenges faced by people The tragic death of GeorgeaFloyd revealed systemic people of color and has provided platform for people fromchallenges all walks offaced life toby have of color and has provided platform for people from of all walks ofsupports, life to PSEG, through philanthropy and justice. corporate initiatives, open conversations about asocial In citizenship the wake this tragedy, wehave began empowers and invests in the people, economy, environment and infrastructure open conversations about social justice. In the wake of this tragedy, we began a “Relevant Conversation Series” where employees could share stories and of the communities we serve. aengage “Relevant Conversationabout Series” where employees could share stories and in conversations race. engage in conversations about race. The tragic death of George Floyd revealed systemic challenges faced by people

In of June, announced Powering Justice colorPSEG and has provided its a platform for Equity people and fromSocial all walks of lifeInitiative to have In June, PSEG announced its Powering Equity and Social Justice Initiative conversations about socialfor justice. In the wake of work this tragedy, we began to open provide philanthropic support organizations that to confront a “Relevant Conversation Series” where employees could share stories to provide philanthropic support for organizations that work to confront and address systemic racism and advance social and economic equityand for engage in conversations about race. and address systemic racism and advance social and economic equity for the communities of color. The initiative includes a $1 million commitment from communities of color. The initiative includes a $1 million commitment from the PSEG Foundation. In June, PSEG announced its Powering Equity and Social Justice Initiative PSEG Foundation. to provide philanthropic support for organizations that work to confront

and address racism andalso advance socialthe andimpact economic equity for in the PSEG and the systemic PSEG Foundation recognize of COVID-19 communities of serve, color. The initiative includes a $1the million commitment fromthis the PSEG and thewe PSEG Foundation also recognize impact of COVID-19 in the communities many of which are overwhelmingly diverse, and PSEG Foundation. communities we serve, of which are overwhelmingly and this spring announced a $2.5many million philanthropic commitmentdiverse, to pandemic relief. spring announced a $2.5 million philanthropic commitment to pandemic relief. PSEG and the PSEG Foundation also recognize the impact of COVID-19 in the

At communities PSEG, diversity and inclusion are among our Core Commitments. we serve, many of which are overwhelmingly diverse, andThe this At PSEG, diversity and inclusion are among our Core Commitments. The spring announced a $2.5 million philanthropic commitment to pandemic relief. company has focused heavily on developing inclusive leadership through a company has focused heavily on developing inclusive leadership through series of workshops, trainings and hands-on experiences to allow leaders ato At PSEG, diversity and inclusion are among our Core Commitments. The series of workshops, trainings and hands-on experiences to allow leaders to create an inclusive environment for all employees. company has focused heavily on developing inclusive leadership through a create an inclusive environment for all employees. series of workshops, trainings and hands-on experiences to allow leaders to create an inclusive environment for all employees.

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Aisha Glover Joins Audible Global Center for Innovation Launched

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isha Glover joined Audible as vice president of Urban Innovation on October 5, 2020. In her role, Glover will help establish the strategic direction of the the company’s new Global Center for Urban Development and lead a team dedicated to advancing equitable economic development solutions in cities worldwide. Glover joins Audible from the Newark Alliance, where she served as president and CEO for the past two years. A seasoned economic impact executive, Aisha Glover has a proven track record of spearheading equitable economic development programs throughout the region. Glover has more than 15 years of experience as an agent for economic empowerment and social justice. At the Newark Alliance, she worked closely with Mayor Ras Baraka to push for inclusive economic growth, helping to align dozens of corporations and private institutions with Newark’s needs, attracting billions of dollars in real estate development, and advancing citywide economic empowerment initiatives, including workforce training and women entrepreneurship programs.

“Aisha Glover’s commitment to, and success in, improving the lives of the people of Newark makes her uniquely suited to help carry out the vision of our Global Center for Urban Development,” said Audible Founder and Executive Chairman Don Katz. “Aisha’s experience bringing together public, private, and community-based organizations to create and sustain equitable economic development will be critical as we double down on our efforts on behalf of the city we call home, and other communities in which Audible operates.” “I commend Audible for embracing its role in Newark, advancing its economic and social impact and investing in and launching initiatives that are aligned with my vision for an inclusive and equitable city,” said Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “Aisha is the perfect leader to continue this work. Aisha remarked, “My commitment to developing deep community, corporate and government partnerships has generated strong results for Newark. I am energized to bring similar innovative and inclusive solutions to bear in Newark that not only help the city recover, but ensure that it thrives.”

Cheryl McKissack Daniel Newly Elected New York Building Foundation Chair

C

heryl McKissack Daniel, honored as a “Hero of Liberty” for her support of humanitarian initiatives and for promoting the responsibilities of a free and diverse America, is the newly elected chair of the New York Building Foundation. President and CEO of McKissack & McKissack, the oldest black-woman owned design and construction firm in the country, McKissack Daniel has blazed a trail for other women, especially Black women in the construction field. Cheryl represents the fifth generation of the McKissack family’s century-old business. Moses McKissack, her great-grandfather and a former slave, laid the foundation for the business having learned the trade of brick-making from his owner. He passed knowledge on to Cheryl’s grandfather and great-uncle, who incorporated the business in 1905. When Cheryl’s father, who had taken over the business from his father, suffered a stroke in 1982, her mother, Leatrice B. McKissack, stepped up to run the company. Following in her mother’s footsteps, McKissack Daniel took over the reins in 2000 and moved the

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The Positive Community December 2020

company from Nashville, Tennessee to New York. Among the company’s outstanding New York projects are Coney Island Hospital, The New Terminal One at JFK, the World Trade Center Oculus, and many more. “I’m thrilled to continue working toward implementing positive and impactful change within the building industry and the greater New York community as chair of the Building Foundation,” Ms. McKissack Daniel said upon accepting the position. “I look forward to using my experience working across the business and on MWBE issues, as well as my passion for philanthropy, to ensure the success of the organization.” New York Building Foundation, the charitable arm of the New York Building Congress, is a nonprofit organization that promotes the long-term growth and well-being of the New York City building industry and the wider community. —TPC Staff www.thepositivecommunity.com


Next Issue

Director, Center for Black Church Studies Princeton Theological Seminary Princeton Theological Seminary is conducting a search for the first full-time Director of its recently renamed Betsey Stockton Center for Black Church Studies. The Director will provide administrative and programmatic leadership for the center, develop theological critical research initiatives, coordinate seminars and workshops, and enhance the formative experiences of Princeton Seminary students (particularly those who are of African American heritage). This administrative position will also include opportunities for adjunct teaching. The ideal candidate will have both M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees and will have experience both as a pastor and as a teaching scholar. Qualified candidates should send their cover letters and resumes and the names of three professional references to: BlackChurchStudies-Director-Search@ptsem.edu. The deadline for the receipt of resumes is February 15, 2021, or until a new director has been selected.

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December 2020 The Positive Community

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Photos: Raymond Hagans

Councilmember Brad Lander

NYC Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo

AACEO Vice President Congressman Hakeem Jeffries

Councilmember Robert E. Cornegy, Jr.

AACEO

O

n Friday November 6, the African American Clergy and Elected Officials held their monthly coalition meeting with a monthly theme YES WE ARE! AACEO Vice-President, Chair of the Democratic Caucus Congressman Hakeem Jeffries provided a special leadership message and update on the 2020 election providing everyone in attendance with the hope we need going into 2021.  There was also a special health and wellness presentation provided by VillageCare Max and Watchful Eye. The meeting was well attended by clergy, city and state elected officials, NYPD and community stakeholders. AACEO President  Rev. Dr. Robert Waterman

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez

L–R: Councilmember Justin Brennan, Councilmember Brad Lander, NYC Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, AACEO President Rev. Dr. Robert Waterman, Councilmember Robert Cornegy, Assemblymember Elect Stefani Zinerman, AACEO Vice President Latrice Walker, Judge Robin Sheares, Senator Roxanne Persaud, and Senator Kevin Parker

L–R: Brooklyn District Attorney's Office Deputy Director Shelton Jones; Deputy Inspector Timothy Skretch, 79th Pct. Commanding officer; Assemblymember Elect Stefani Zinerman; and 79th Pct. Community Affairs officers

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The Positive Community December 2020

L–R: Guests, Councilmember Justin Brennan, Rev. Dr. Robert Waterman, AACEO President Councilmember Robert Cornegy, NYC Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo, AACEO Vice President Latrice Walker, and guest www.thepositivecommunity.com


State of Global Black Women Virtual Summit A Huge Success

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he Global Black Women’s Chamber of Commerce, founded by CEO Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook (Sujay), is the only chamber solely dedicated to Black women business owners and intergenerational wealth creation worldwide. Founded the week before COVID hit, “we found opportunities to pivot and created 25 new Black women distributorships of PPE equipment, partnering with EBW.” The virtual summit on December 4, 2020 –the first in a four-part series– attracted nearly 1,000 registrants from six countries and12 states. More than 684 people participated on the YouTube livestream, and an additional 300 people have viewed the event since its original showing.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James, Delta Sigma Theta’s Rev. Shavon Arline-Bradley, fifth generation media owner Rev. Toni Draper, and CNBC’s Personal Finance Correspondent Sharon Epperson joined a dozen other leaders and influencers on the various panels moderated by Ambassador Sujay. Black women energetically discussed the business of politics, the business of finance, faith-infused and faith-based businesses, and new and emerging businesses and markets. The next State of Global Black Women Virtual Summit takes place on Friday, March 19, 2021 for Women’s History Month. Jean Wells, co-founder and editor of The Positive Community, along with women from around the world, will explore Mayors, Millennials Moguls— women of all ages—influencers and leaders in politics, entertainment, and media. —TPC Staff Reach Ambassador Sujay at CEO@gbwcc.org and learn more at GlobalBlackWomenCC.org Sponsorships and partnerships are still available, and membership is welcome.

Holiday Lights!

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he 125th St. Business Improvement District (BID) Annual Holiday Lights! Harlem's main thoroughfare, the fabled 125th St. continues to make holiday shopping a heartwarming, festive experience with one of NYC's most extensive holiday lighting displays! www.thepositivecommunity.com

Photos: Seitu Oronde

December 2020 The Positive Community

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The Positive Community December 2020

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Education the art + science of learning

Jessie Banks Foundation Donates to Frontline Workers

T

www.thepositivecommunity.com

COVID-19. The JBF students rallied FirePit Barbeque and Bergen County Sheriff Anthony Cureton, to support a much-needed community service. The  impact of JBF scholars on the community past and present is significant. JBF youth model the life and work of Mrs. Banks,  becoming the community leaders and influencers of today.  These contributions to our community are nothing less than priceless. Please visit the organization’s website for more information: https://jessiebanksfoundation.org—TPC staff Photos Courtesy of Jessie Banks Foundation

he Jessie Banks Foundation (JBF) provides educational and financial assistance to college-bound students. Founded in 2002 by Dr. Sharon BanksWilliams, daughter of the beloved Jessie Banks, to perpetuate her memory and service to humanity. The foundation provides college tuition assistance to high school seniors and college freshman who have demonstrated strong academic achievement and given back to the community through volunteerism and youth development. The Jessie Banks foundation is committed to helping young people realize their educational goals. Former and current scholarship recipients work to fulfill her mission. The effort  to fuel and support first responders in healthcare, along with encouragement of JBF board members and volunteers, has been a major project this year. Recently,  a  group of JBF scholars,  led  by alumnae Nyla Thomas,  partnered  with Pit Fire  BBQ  Restaurant in Hackensack, NJ to provide  delicious and healthy meals to  emergency  room healthcare workers at Hackensack Meridian Health—frontliners in the fight against

December 2020 The Positive Community

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CLASSES START JANUARY 19 Web & In-Person Registration Currently Underway

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The Positive Community December 2020

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Culture

music, art + literature

Pierre Toussaint Scholar Keith Guerrant served as the host of the cocktail reception.

Special guest performer, Awardwinning Singer and Actress, Vanessa Williams brings greetings for the evening.

Photos Courtesy Office of Black Ministry

L–R: Cardinal Timothy Dolan; Honoree Keisha Sutton-James; her husband Michael James; and their daughters, Nola and Shelby.

L–R: Executive Director Brother Tyrone Davis, C.F.C., Office of Black Ministry; Keisha Sutton-James; and Cardinal Timothy Dolan

Pierre Toussaint Scholarship Fund Virtual Gala Scholarship Students Share Fundraiser Proceeds

I

n addition to the 85 undergraduate and graduate students receiving scholarship funds from the proceeds of the Pierre Toussaint Scholarship Fund Virtual Gala on November 2, a portion of the money raised helped support parish food pantries in the Archdiocese of New York provide for others on Thanksgiving. “I’m proud and excited for my fellow peer scholars,” Keith Guerrant, a 23-year-old parishioner of St. Charles Borromeo in Harlem told Catholic New York (CNY). Guerrant, a graduate student at Teachers College, Columbia University; has been a Pierre Toussaint scholar since 2015. “I’m proud of their selflessness. It stuck out to me and makes me proud because a lot of individuals suffered due to the pandemic and what happened in 2020.” Multi-Platinum Recording Artist, Actress, and Author Vanessa Williams was the special guest performer; and Carla Harris, vice chairman, managing director, senior client

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The Positive Community December 2020

advisor at Morgan Stanley, was the mistress of ceremonies. The event, organized by the archdiocesan Office of Black Ministry, honored Keisha Sutton-James, chair, Percy Sutton Foundation; and remembered Percy Ellis Sutton, political leader, entrepreneur, civil rights activist, and attorney. “That theme is something that has really energized me,” explained Brother Tyrone Davis, C.F.C., executive director of the Office of Black Ministry. The scholars came up with the idea to donate to the food pantries. “The other important part about this to us is that we have turned over the primary responsibility for this to our young adults,” he said. The Archdiocese of New York’s Office of Black Ministry administers the Pierre Toussaint Scholarship Program. Established in 1983, it is a program of mentorship and support for college student-leaders of diverse ethnic, cultural, and national backgrounds. —TPC Staff www.thepositivecommunity.com


www.thepositivecommunity.com

December 2020 The Positive Community

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Harlem Centenarian Casts Her Ballot Dr. Thelma C. Davidson Adair Voted Early Photos: Bruce Moore

Dr. Thelma Adair arrives at Voting site

N

oted advocate for human rights, peace, and justice issues; writer, guest speaker, educator, activist, and an elder at Mt. Morris Ascension Presbyterian Church in Harlem, Dr. Thelma Adair took advantage of early voting days and cast her ballot in the presidential election on Sunday, November 1, 2020. A resident of Harlem since 1942, Dr. Adair has a vivid memory of history. She lived through the 1918 pandemic and has survived this one as well. When presented with the option to vote by absentee ballot, Dr. Adair was resolute; she would vote in person. “I wanted people to recognize that this is the person that we can be in our lives at this moment. I have power and this is my way of speaking,” she said.

Assemblywoman Inez Dickens greets Dr. Thelma Adair

Accompanied by her son, Family Medicine Practitioner Dr. Robert Adair; New York State Assemblywoman Inez Dickens; Chairperson of the HCCI Board Dr. Joan Dawson, PhD; and others, Dr. Thelma Davidson Adair cut quite a figure wearing her bright colored “I Voted” mask as she exited the Jackie Robinson Education Complex after performing her constitutional right and her civic duty.  —TPC Staff Visit www.thepositivecommunity.com to learn more.

Job well done and a new mask to show it!

HCCI Board Chair Joan O. Dawson, PhD

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The Positive Community December 2020

www.thepositivecommunity.com


E

PRESENTS THE THEPOSITIVE POSITIVECOMMUNITY COMMUNITYMAGAZINE MAGAZINEPRESENTS PRESENTS

RIENCE AA TOTAL TOTAL MUSIC MUSIC EXPERIENCE EXPERIENCE

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A

The African American Cultural Narrative

frican Americans are a unique people with a peculiar history in this land. Brought to these shores in chains from Africa in the early 1600s, our people toiled and suffered as captives in brutal bondage for a quarter of a millennium (250 years). On January 1, 1863, two years into the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by President Abraham Lincoln, became law, signaling an end to slavery. On that day, the African American community of the United States of America was born. One hundred years later in August 1963, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial, as he led hundreds of thousands to a March on Washington, seeking an end to discrimination and 90 years of Jim Crow segregation in the South. It was a demand for full and equal citizen’s rights for the people in what has been called “the Second Emancipation.” Forty years after Martin Luther King Jr.’s tragic assassination in 1968, America elected its first black president, the Honorable Barack Obama (2008). In the 100 years between the first and second emancipation, in the midst of bitter persecution, humiliation, lynching, and enduring the denial of basic human rights, the resiliency of the African American spirit continued to shine brightly in religion, business, education, medicine, invention, sports, and in the creative arts—music, fashion, dance, language, literature, and theater. Indeed, original American art forms and a popular culture which has become the envy of the world were founded upon the souls of a forlorn people! And that is our story—the Truth, Beauty and Goodness of a loving and gifted race—revealed!

An Extraordinary History Ours is an extraordinary history of trial, tribulation, and triumph that we must never, ever forget! This is the very story we must tell our children and ever be remembered for all future generations. We the people, descendants of the Great Emancipation must tell our story and sing our greatest songs to each other and to the entire world! We must remind ourselves over and over again of the noble struggle, human dignity, sacrifices and wisdom of our torch-bearing forefathers; of our goodly heritage, our divine inheritance; our great music legacy—Positive Music Matters! This is our story—the cultural narrative—a new language of freedom; a springboard toward a great and prosperous future; a spiritually enlightened ideal. A vision of hope, opportunity, and progress; liberty and happiness; health and wholeness—peace and goodwill! WE’VE COME THIS FAR BY FAITH…!

© 2019 The Positive Community Corporation. All rights reserved. Graphic Design: Penguin Design Group, Newark, NJ

—Adrian A. Council, Sr.


Merry Christmas Happy Kwanzaa Happy New Year Celebrate Freedom (Emancipation Day January 1st)

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December 2020 The Positive Community

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GOOD NEWS FROM THE CHURCH AND COMMUNITY

thepositivecommunity.com

The Last Word

December 2020 

BY R.L. WITTER

Vol. 20 No. 7

Publisher

Adrian A. Council, Sr.

Editor-in-Chief Jean Nash Wells

Associate Editor R. L. Witter

Sales

Angela Ridenour Adrian Council, Jr. Marc Williams Burton Waddy NGS Communications, Inc. Satori MPR

Contributing Writers Patricia Baldwin Glenda Cadogan Fern Gillespie Derrel Jazz Johnson g.r. mattox Mwandikaji K. Mwanafunzi Rev. Theresa Nance

Photographers

Vincent Bryant Risasi Dias Regina Flemming Bob Gore Raymond Hagans Bruce Moore Wali Amin Muhammad Seitu Oronde Karen Waters Rev. Dr. William L. Watkins, Jr.

Art Direction & Layout Penguin Design Group Maishman Media, LLC

Production Assistant April Davis

The Positive Community Corp. 133 Glenridge Avenue Montclair, NJ 07042 973-233-9200 Fax: 973-233-9201 Email: info@thepositivecommunity.com Website: thepositivecommunity.com All contents © The Positve Community Corporation. All Rights Reserved. This publication, in whole or in part, may not be reproduced, stored in a computerized or other retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means whatsoever without the prior written permission of The Positive Community Corporation. Any opinions expressed herein are solely the opinions of the writer(s) and not necessarily those of The Positive CommunityTM its management or staff. The Positive CommunityTM reserves the right to retain all materials and does not assume reponsibility for unsolicited materials.

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The Positive Community December 2020

IT’S STILL CHRISTMAS

I

t’s been a tough year. So many of us are dealing with uncertainty, grief, loss, financial insecurity, and then there’s the loneliness and separation fatigue. I am blessed to live around the block from a couple of family members so I’ve seen them as my husband and I have passed their driveway on our evening walks. We’re grateful to have the opportunity to wave and chat for a few moments from a distance before continuing on our way; but it’s nothing like the laughter we used to share over card games and dinner. And we haven’t hugged each other in so long. As if the pandemic wasn’t enough, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery were heavy on our minds this year. Their deaths were a stark reminder that Black America experiences all of the hardships the rest of America faces, and then some. Their deaths, particularly Floyd’s, struck a nerve with the rest of America, too. And the timing was seemingly serendipitous as we took to the streets in protest—something undoubtedly bolstered by the fact that so many were unemployed and schools were closed because of the pandemic. We watched protective masks become a political issue, saw a rise in the boldness of white supremacist/terrorist groups, and many of us scratched our heads and tried to figure out how $1,200 was supposed to last the average American six months. Oh, and there was an election, too! The current administration tampered with the U.S. Postal Service, discredited mail-in voting, sued to try to overturn the election re-

sults, and STILL hasn’t conceded the race despite losing the popular vote by almost 8 million votes. It’s surreal. This holiday season has been decidedly different. The traditional joy of the season has widely been replaced with a sense of austerity. Many of us are struggling to deal with the empty seats at our tables whether due to people not traveling, or the harsh reality of loss. For many of us there will be neither a gathering of loved ones nor a sumptuous, holiday meal. There might not be any presents underneath the tree; there might not even be a tree. But it’s still Christmas. It’s a message we all need to hear and appreciate. Christmas isn’t about the presents, food, gatherings, or holiday lights. This year is a great reminder of the true blessing of Christmas: the gift God gave is in our salvation through His son, Jesus. Sure, it’s easy to focus on what we lost or what’s missing this year, but it won’t change anything or make our lives more joyful or meaningful. Of course, I like the other holiday stuff, but I need God, His Grace, and my faith to make it through. May His grace and mercy comfort, strengthen, and bless you and yours this holiday season, and always. www.thepositivecommunity.com


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