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Pray at City Hall Today

When Rae Whitely decided to host a prayer-vigil-at-city-halls against gun violence today, he thought about the shootings at El Paso and Dayton earlier this month, of course, but more importantly, he thought about the 47 deaths due to guns that occurred in Palm Beach County (PBC) this year so far, between January and the end of June.

His purpose? Essentially to re-connect church and state.

Heal Our Country—Heal our Neighborhood Prayer Vigil will be held at 4:30 p.m. today at local city halls in each of the following PBC cities: Belle Glade, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Lake Worth Beach, Pahokee, Riviera Beach, South Bay and West Palm Beach.

“This has got to stop,” said Mr. Whitely, a resident of Boynton Beach and founder of Black Votes Matter. “The Clergy can no longer sit on the sidelines and watch our neighborhoods deteriorate. We will respond in the spirit of Nehemiah and we will do it with the people making decisions that affect our neighborhoods: city officials.”

Mr. Whitely, you see, is also a pastor. He said he and some members of his church, Healing Hands Ministry in Boynton Beach, will be at Boynton Beach City Hall today, along with City Manager  Lori LaVerriere, among others.

The Rev. Dr. J.R. Thicklin, who is president of the PBC Clergy Alliance, will lead the prayer at Riviera Beach City Hall. Interestingly, newly elected Mayor Ronnie L. Felder had hostedweekly prayers at City Hall for months last year as pastor of Transformation Church of the Palm Beaches. Mayor Felder said he’ll be there today.

Pastor Ronnie L. Felder and members of his Transformation Church of the Palm Beaches pray at Riviera Beach City Hall last year–before he was elected Mayor in April.

“I do think there’s a need sometimes to combine the spiritual with public service, to ensure we have the strength we need to make change,” said Mayor Felder, who is also CEO of JAY Outreach Ministries, a spiritually based recovery program for men located in the city. “The question is how do you do that? A good start to me has always been prayer at city hall.”

Come back here for an update on today’s countywide event.

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Update: free back-to-school events in PBC

The School District of Palm Beach County (PBC) will start the 2019-20 school year on August 12, so let’s get ready! The good news is there’s lots of options for doing just that: free back-to-school events, free places to get necessary or needed health care options, free places to close out summer and have fun! Plus, remember the statewide Sales Tax Holiday that runs August 2-6 and provides tax exemptions for qualifying items such as certain school supplies, clothing, footwear, computers and accessories. Learn more here.

Here’s a few options, all free, all open to the public, all in PBC. Did you receive our digital newsletter listing? There’s even more, now, below!

  • New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church: From 10 to 3 p.m. on August 3, there will be free bookbags for the first 300 students, plus games, bounce houses, food, guest appearances and more at the Back To School Block Party in West Palm Beach (WPB). To receive the bookbags, students must first pre-register by sending an email here or by calling 561-307-0548.
  • Mt.Calvary Baptist Church. What’s happening? Lots. Over the entire weekend of August 9-11, Stomp Fest will feature a young adults night on Friday and, on Sunday, a special worship service. But, on Saturday, the focus is on back to school. From 1 to 3:30 p.m., there will be free school supplies, games, food and free haircuts and hairdos. Then, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., the partay starts: step-dancing, spoken word performances and other entertainment. Performers include JFK Middle School’s marching band, Mt. Calvary Dance Nation and Soul Movement Ensemble–young, skilled, dancing ladies! All free, all Stomp Fest!
  • T. Leroy Jefferson Medical Society. The focus is, of course, on physicals, immunizations and health and dental screenings, but there will also be free school supplies. The Community Health Fair will be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. August 3 at the Boys & Girls Club in Riviera Beach. Click here for more information.
  • Mangonia Park. Via its annual Heritage Festival, the little town sandwiched between Riviera Beach and WPB will provide stuffed book bags to its young residents–plus live music and free food to everyone else, including non-residents. The event will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. on August 3 at the Addie L. Greene Park. Who is Addie Greene, you say? Learn more about the public servant and published author here. That’s her in the picture, below, alongside her name.
Madame Namesake: Addie Greene, herself.
  • Pahokee. Sponsored by the city, the annual Putting Children 1st event will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on August 10 at Pahokee High School’s gymnasium. For more information, call 561-924-5534.
  • FoundCare. Several hundred young people will be able to get free physicals, immunizations and other health-related services–plus a free back pack with school supplies. The event theme—Celebrating Community Heroes—will feature local firemen, utility workers, nurses, elected officials and “others who help the community.” Free refreshments start at 8 a.m. and the event an hour later through 1 p.m. For more information, call 561-432-5849. It will be held at FoundCare headquarters in WPB. Visit its website here.
  • Free Immunizations. In order to enroll in public or private school, children must be vaccinated according to state and federal law. Thanks to a coalition led by the PBC Health Department, it can be done for free! Just visit the locations throughout the month where the ‘Immunization Van’ will be. The van travels all over; click here for its August calendar. All children ages 2 months through 12th grade must have the list of required vaccines at certain points in their lives, proof is required for new and transfer students and for entry at some grade levels. See requirements and other details here.
  • Headliners Barbershop. Of course: haircuts. Now, those are $5, but the rest of the events–face painting, food, drinks, music, fun–are free. The 10th annual EdgeUcation First back-to-school drive starts at 11 a.m. on August 3 at the barbershop, located at 1523 W . Blue Heron Boulevard in Riviera Beach. Information? Call 561-429-4765.
  • South Bay. One of PBC’s farthest west cities, South Bay’s back-to-school event will be held from 9 a.m. to 12 noon on August 3 at Tanner Park. Attendees must be South Bay residents and must pre-register. Call 561-996-6751 for more information. The City is host.
  • Nelson’s Outreach Ministries. The event will be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Rodgers Center for Community Development, located at 251 W. 11th Street in Riviera Beach.
  • Valley of Love Ministries. Free haircuts for boys, free manicures and braids for girls! That’s at the top of the list of offerings at this ninth annual event, to be held from 2 to 4:30 p.m. August 11 in Riviera Beach. Attendees must register by August 8 by calling 561-844-2400.
  • Mental Health Awareness + Back to School. The multi-faceted event is focused on both points: awareness pamphlets and experts, backpacks, games, haircuts, music and more. All free. It will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. on August 4 in Riviera Beach. For information: call 561-385-4469 or send an email to sincere2000@outlook.org. The two main sponsors are Riviera Beach City Councilman Douglas A. Lawson and Sincere2000 Foundation, which focuses on mental health and suicide prevention (visit its website here).
  • The R.I.S.E to the Occasion Back to School Bash. Held at Manatee Lagoon, 6000 N. Flagler Drive in WPB, the event starts at 10 a.m. on August 3 and will feature activities for children, photo opportunities with Mia the Manatee, PBC Library System’s Bookmobile, community resources, free food and more. That ‘more’ includes free backpacks filled with school supplies for young residents of zip code 33407, with proof of residency and while supplies last. For more information, call (561) 626-2833  or visit its website here. Manatee Lagoon is an eco-friendly site connected to FPL, which owns the huge power plant next door, and both sit on the Intracoastal Waterway. Why the manatee focus? Check out the website.
  • Community Partners of South Florida. The Back to School Bash will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on August 11 at the nonprofit’s offices in Riviera Beach and will feature the giveaway of drawstring backpacks filled with school supplies. Plus, on a first-come, first-served basis: free haircuts, hairstylings and manicures! More information? Contact 561-841-3500 or sambroise@cp-cto.org.
The scene at Community Partners. Visit its site here.
  • Physician Family Pharmacy. Bookbags, health physicals, food, music, face painting, bounce houses–all happening from 3 to 7 p.m. on August 4 at the pharmacy site, 5869 Lake Worth Road in Greenacres. Everything is free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. Call 561-501-1874 for information; its website is here.
  • Grace Episcopal Church. Located at 3600 N. Australian Avenue in WPB, the Back to School Giveaway will be held from 12 to 5 p.m. on August 3 in the church’s huge parking lot: food, school supplies, bounce houses, games. To learn more: 561-602-5442 or 561-356-4413.
  • In His Presence Deliverance Ministries. Same: bookbag giveaway, free school supplies, free food. One difference: a laptop giveaway. Check it out: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on August 3 at the church, located at 1700 45th Street in WPB.

And for information about the school district and what it provides for its students (lots!), click here to visit its website. Happy School Year!

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…that Cori Gauff is the youngest Wimbledon player ever–and is from PBC?

Fifteen-year-old Cori–also known as Coco (love that!)–reached the second round of the top tennis tournament in the world Monday by beating her idol, Venus Williams. Wimbledon, played annually in London, England, is considered the Grand Slam tournament of the sport. The talented young lady is from Delray Beach and comes from a family of athletes: her father, who acts as her coach, played basketball at Georgia State University while her mother ran track for Florida State University. Both were in the stands, cheering on the daughter who is currently ranked 313 in the world and had also been the #1 junior champion in the world earlier in her career. Did we say she is the youngest player ever to play at Wimbledon?  Today, Coco will compete in the third round of the tournament and, hopefully, she’ll be seen in the finals. Go coco!

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PBC Museum of Black History? Getting closer

When Ineria Hudnell, 97, died last year, one question hung in the air at her funeral: what about the museum?

The longtime educator had taught at the segregated Roosevelt High School in West Palm Beach (WPB) and, over the years, became a self-taught historian as she gathered news articles, pictures and community-submitted documents in an effort to record the history of African Americans in Palm Beach County (PBC). The 300-plus placards that make up her work are what caused the hanging-in-the-air question at her funeral.

“I remember thinking the same thing,” said state Senator Bobby Powell, who presented a proclamation at the service. “So, I asked the audience when I spoke ‘how are we going to make sure this happens?’ We have to respect our history and Mrs. Hudnell’s.”

Today, the effort is a bit closer. A state appropriations request to support the creation of a museum was signed last week by Gov. Ron DeSantis, thanks in part to the work of our state Senator. That funding would join $10 million in local funds that has been pledged already by the Palm Beach County School District (PBCSD) toward the same effort, but expanded, and with its eye on a particular location.  

That location? Roosevelt High School in WPB, where Mrs. Hudnell taught and for which there’s lots of community support for restoration. The School District pledge is to create a campus that has a history museum, yes, but also has a media center, a high-end academic studies program and a multi-purpose cultural arts center. The estimated price tag for all of that is $23 million, according to school district records, and while the state funding commitment is just $150,000 of the $350,000 requested, still.

 “It’s great news!’ said Dr. Debra Robinson, the PBCSD board member who has pushed this effort for years. “Every little bit helps, every little bit gets us closer to the goal.”

And this just in: local media covered the story, too. Read a Palm Beach Post article about plans for Roosevelt here and watch a video, below, from WPTV Channel 5:

The Senator, and others, talk history.

The recent moves also join other significant community efforts to ensure the history of the African diaspora in PBC is told. Consider:

School Board member Dr. Debra Robinson, left, 15th Judicial Circuit Judge Bradley G. Harper and Vernique Williams, FPL executive, at the Historical Society of PBC board meeting in April. The two ladies were installed, joining Judge Harper on the board.
  • Historical Society of PBC. In April, Dr. Robinson and NextEra Energy/FPL executive Vernique Williams were appointed to the society’s board, joining 15th Judicial Circuit Judge Bradley G. Harper. The society’s president and CEO, Jeremy Johnson, said that the society is on the team, too.
  • AARLCC. Members of the African American Research Library and Cultural Center, most of whom attended Roosevelt, were instrumental in preventing the demolition of their high school years ago. Their push now includes converting it to, well, an AARLCC. It recently hosted an event celebrating Mrs. Hudnell and L.A. Kirksey, another longtime educator for whom 15th Street in WPB is named. Read about it here.  
  • Storm of ’28 Coalition. The major hurricane blew across the entire County in 1928, killing thousands. Hundreds of black bodies were dumped in an unmarked grave in WPB but, thanks to the Coalition’s efforts, there’s now recognition at the site. They too seek a museum.
  • The Industrial/Roosevelt High School National Alumni Association and Friends, Inc. The local nonprofit works to ensure the memories, stories and, well, history, of the two schools are saved. Both had been segregated high schools that, despite that official unequal treatment, still ensured achievement for their students. The group discussed their interests Sunday with Dr. Robinson on ‘South Florida Sunday,’ the community news radio show on X102.3 FM. Click below to listen in.

The Industrial/Roosevelt group is also hosting ‘An Evening with the Stars’ on Saturday. Learn more about the event here.

Dr. Robinson is pleased with the forward movement on the museum even though, as she said, tough decisions still have to be made about the path forward. But one thing is clear, she said.

“We all want the same thing: some recognition of our contributions to the growth, development and change in this County,” she said. “We are all on Mrs. Hudnell’s team. We’ll get it done.”

In 1968, with its 27-0 record, the Roosevelt High School basketball team became the first black school in Florida to win the integrated state basketball playoffs.
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Network. Invest. Grow.

An impressive list of local, state, national and global leaders, business owners, award-winning communicators, star athletes, public officials–all will be gathering next week for ‘Elevate Now International Symposium 2019,’ a conference that seeks to connect the African diaspora in fundamental ways. It will be held at the Hilton Palm Beach Airport in West Palm Beach on Tuesday and it has drawn some really big names to participate, from state Senator Bobby Powell (District 30) to Nigerian billionaire businesswoman Folorunso Alakija. And you can go too. Event tickets are $129 per person and include continental breakfast, lunch–and networking with lots of really important, really connected, really smart people. Learn more here.

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The iconic Roosevelt High School

Roosevelt High School in West Palm Beach was segregated until 1970–even though the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed school segregation in 1954 with its Brown v. Board of Education decision. This past weekend, the Class of 1959 celebrated its 60th anniversary at Benvenuto Restaurant in Boynton Beach. And they were different. In a good way. They were healthy, lucid, hardworking and respectful. Strong. They told stories about their teachers, those who cussed—not cursed; cussed—at them, or grabbed them by their shirts, or bossed them around with frowns on their faces. But those same teachers also supported them to the extreme, these students said, ensured they understood what to expect as they aged and led them to success. Consider the two men in the picture: Nelson Dozier and Samuel McDonald. Mr. Dozier, a classmate, is founder and owner of Dozier Electric, now in its 55th year of success as a small, family-owned business that provided work for his brothers, his son, his nephews, ex-felons–and college degrees for his three daughters. He was keynote speaker. He and #Team1959 also recognized the 64 classmates who’d passed away of the total 116 who graduated, and one of their teachers, Mr. McDonald. The now-92-year-old Mr. McDonald walked to the microphone on his own. He spoke; they applauded. The respect could be felt in the room. His main point: I sure miss what we had. The response? A standing ovation.

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He impressed us

As we drove in West Palm Beach recently down a certain street in the ‘hood, we saw a young man sitting on a bench outside an apartment building. With gold teeth. And dreadlocks. But as he turned his head, his hair moved. It was beautiful. We slowed. He noticed and walked toward the car. Omg. Is he selling …

‘You need any mattresses? I’ve got all sizes, and they brand new” he said to me, before I could catch my breath. Um, you’re selling mattresses?, I asked. “Honestly, I thought you were…” I began, and he looked at me. He began to nod his head. And roll his eyes. I know, he said; I know. He started talking. Told a couple of stories. Like, one time, he applied for a job. Talked over the phone, got an interview. Then, he showed up. Um, sorry, he was told; the job is no longer available.

“This is who I am,” said Jatory Smith, 30, as his strong, confident hair swung. “If somebody can’t accept that, then they can go on.”

Then, he went back to the pitch. “We have mattresses, pillows…and they’re way lower than what they cost in the store,” he said. “And I deliver for free. Just get my number and call me.”

So, why did he impress us? Because he is not what was assumed. And it held him back not one bit.

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‘Freedom Day’ across south Florida

‘Juneteenth’ refers to that day, June 19, 1865, when slaves in Texas were freed by the Union Army–two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Imagine. Juneteenth is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in 45 states, including Florida. Indeed, there are celebrations of Juneteenth, also called Freedom Day and Emancipation Day, across the Sunshine State. Here’s a few in our area, all free and open to the public:

  •  Spady Cultural Heritage Museum will sponsor a Juneteenth Celebration as part of the Frog Alley Caribbean Festival in Delray Beach on June 8. That celebration will feature the work and hands-on instruction of Mary Graham Grant, below, an artist-in-residence who practices the traditional art form of sewing sweetgrass baskets by the Gullah Geechee people, who were brought to coastal South Carolina from West Africa during the slave trade. Learn more here.
Mary Graham Grant, left, who practices a traditional African art form. She’ll be teaching it in Delray Beach on June 8, thanks to Spady Cultural Heritage Museum.
  • The City of Lauderdale Lakes is hosting its third annual Art of Triumph: Juneteenth Celebration from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at the Multipurpose Auditorium, located at 4340 Northwest 36th Street. The free event includes a traditional dinner showcase and a theatrical performance by Ashanti Cultural Arts. Learn more here.
  • Discussions, networking–and drink specials!–will happen in the name of ‘Emancipation Day’ along with performances in honor of Black Music Month at The Urban in Overtown, 1000 NW 2nd Avenue. The sponsor is the Black Professionals Network. Learn more about the free event here.
  • The daylong, second annual South Broward Juneteenth Festival: Highlighting a Forgotten Holiday will be held from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 15 at the Washington Park Community Center, located at 5199 Pembroke Road in Hollywood. The family-friendly event kicks off with a lively parade led by Junkanoo dancers and stilt walkers, which will then be followed by gospel performances, artists, motivational speakers and a bounce house for children. Learn more here.
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…there’s only five black-owned bookstores in Florida–and one is in PBC?

According to the African-American Literature Book Club, a national compilation of these stores,  there are only four bookstores in the Sunshine State owned by people of African descent and they’re located in Longwood, Tampa, Pensacola and St. Petersburg. There’s a new one, though, which is as-yet unlisted on the book club site, and it is titled Our Third Eye Bookstore and it is in West Palm Beach (WPB). Opened in April, the bookstore is owned by Brother Carl Muhammad, who has been pushing equality in education for decades; just ask the School District of Palm Beach County (PBC), whose meetings he attends monthly. He launched the bookstore as part of that larger push and hosts education-focused events there every month. Next one: newly elected WPB City Commissioner Richard Ryles will discuss public service and community support from 10 a.m. to 12 noon on Saturday, June 15. Besides Our Third Eye, Florida is also home to:

  • Dare Books in Longwood, which relocated there from New York
  • Best Books, Rich Treasures, Tampa, which relocated from Virginia
  • The Gathering Awareness and Book Center, Pensacola
  • Cultured Books, St. Petersburg

Until June of last year, there had been another ‘sole’ diaspora-focused bookstore in PBC: Pyramid Books in Boynton Beach, which had been owned by Akhbar James Watson and still sells books online here. Indeed, there’s a couple of other online-only black-owned book retailers based in Florida: Kizzy’s Books & More sells online here and has plans to open a retail location this year in the Orlando area, while The African Bookstore was borne after its bricks-and-mortar shop closed in Plantation. It was founded in 1994 by Horatio Harrison, a Jamaican who died in 2017, and his daughter remains in charge. Visit its site here. “Education is the new civil rights struggle,” Brother Carl said, “and we all have to get in that fight.” Learn more about his work, his goals and the bookstore here. And watch the video, below, of him discussing the bookstore and his plans.

Brother Carl talks books at his new spot, 411 Rosemary Avenue in WPB.

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Another published PBC author–who also cares, responds

Yes, there is another published author in Palm Beach County (PBC) and, this one, for sure, has a story to tell. Stacey Nails had been homeless, on drugs and, while a child, molested by her stepfather—a man she had called Daddy. That’s the title, by the way, of one of her three books: I Called Him Daddy. Her other two books—Corners of My Mind and A Ruined Life: How I Became Who I Am—are also about her very rich story.

Why is it rich? Because, despite what happened to her—decades living on the street as an angry, yet sorrowful crackhead—she has achieved. She has thrived. And she’s helping others. Ms. Nails created Stacey Nails Footwork Project in 2018, which seeks to help people who are where she had been.

The Project is hosting its second Picnic in the Park from 11 am. to 3 p.m. this Saturday, June 1, at Gaines Park in West Palm Beach, which is a benefit for the Footwear Project. The event is free and open to the public and has a simple goal: for families to spend time together. That’s what troubled her life, she’s learned through her growth: her family didn’t talk. They didn’t listen. And she grew up without a voice.

“People who are homeless don’t need clothes and food; they get that all the time and from just about anywhere,” said Ms. Nails, in a very knowing way. “What they need is human interaction. They need to talk and connect and be listened to. That’s what we all need. And, then, as they change, they need support.”

And, she says, they then need to get involved. That’s why, when they start to rise, Ms. Nails ensures they join the team, so they can also help others with the knowledge of those similar experiences. Just as she’s helped them.

Learn more about her here, on her website, and about Saturday’s event and her books. They’re all available on the site; Ruined Life is also available here on Amazon. And listen to her tell her story, below, in her authentic, aware voice on last week’s South Florida Sunday radio show on X102.3 FM. And be inspired.

From left, Lavida Johnson, marketing guru; the author; and Mz. Millionaire, WJFP radio show personality, on the set of ‘South Florida Sunday’ for a talk about ‘A Ruined Life.’

Lastly, if you or someone you know in PBC is a published author, let us know! We’ve got a running list. Check it out here–and in the story above!