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April was About the Pandemic. May is About Haiti.

Well, that’s how we feel at cocowire, anyway. That’s why we didn’t really write anything last month, why we didn’t send out a digital community newsletter last month, why adds weren’t made to the coco Calendar last month. We prefer to write about news, events and useful information at cocowire that doesn’t get attention.

Haitian Heritage Month isn’t ‘official,’ but it is celebrated in thousands of communities across the United States. It started in Boston in 1998 and then came here to Palm Beach County (PBC) in 2001–where, along with the rest of south Florida, it is celebrated bigger and better each year than just about anywhere else.

There are usually huge annual events happening, such as the 22nd annual Haitian Compas Festival, to be held in Miami May 13-18 (click here for info), and the PBC Library System’s annual celebration, which started last Saturday and runs throughout the month. Click here for its list of events.
The international celebration of Haitian Flag Day is on May 18.

And scroll down to read a bit more, here, about Mora J. Etienne, a Haitian filmmaker recently honored by PBC. He will be next week’s guest on cocochats, our community news-focused radio show on SupaJamz Radio, the Caribbean-themed station at 103.7 FM on the dial.

Filmmaker Mora J. Etienne with his Palm Beach County recognition, which, thanks to the pandemic, arrived in the mail.

But if you do want to learn more about last month’s big hit–that would be the pandemic–and PBC’s steady response to it, click here to read the most-recent Bernard Beat–a twice-weekly, digital publication from County Commissioner Mack Bernard, who is…Haitian.

Even though we at cocowire haven’t covered COVID-19 as you have, we thank you, Mr. Commissioner, for the great, broad, useful information you continually provide. Want to receive it too? Send an email here.

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PBC Govt. Summer Camp Scholarship Program. Apply by March 31, 2020.

Palm Beach County’s Youth Services Program has a list of 120 camps that are everywhere–from Boca Raton to Riviera Beach to Jupiter to Royal Palm Beach to the Glades–and all of them can be attended for free! Just apply for a County Scholarship, which provides full tuition and fees for families that meet certain eligibility requirements. See the full list of camps here and, below, learn about two that teach what many students don’t get nowadays in school: performance arts and music education.

Sounds of Success Music Corp.

The T-shirts worn by the performing SOS Community Marching Band members each have one word on the back: Warrior. That’s because whether they’re playing instruments, carrying flags in sequence, dancing in order–the young people in this band don’t play. Rather, they have so much fun! Whether they perform locally, in other parts of the County or Florida or, in some cases, even out of state, they are music and performance warriors. The summer camp is just an extension, and includes weekly field trips, free transportation and themed classes taught by certified instructors. Click here to get the SOS Band Summer Camp’s full details.
Learn more about the year-round, Riviera Beach-based program here.

Broadway Theatre Camp

This camp is a wow! It is part of a year-round effort to provide training in song, dance, acting–everything that happens on a stage!–by the Palm Beach Children’s Chorus. In fact, each week will have a different theme, including Broadway Musical, video and TV production, film and digital media and focused music genres. Said Sandi Russell, the nonprofit’s founder: “We just want to ensure as many children as possible can attend–especially kids who are interested in what we do: performance.” There’s also free lunch, stage craft and costume design as well as academic classes taught by certified educators.
Learn more about the year-round, Palm Beach Gardens-based program here.

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It’s Annual Meeting is Tonight. On Palm Beach.

The Annual Meeting of the BBIC is this evening, when attendees will learn what the nonprofit has accomplished in the last year and what its goals are for 2020.

Ever heard of it? The Palm Beach County (PBC) BBIC—Black Business Investment Corporation—is one of eight nonprofit investment corporations that was created as a result of the state of Florida’s Small and Minority Business Act of 1985, which sought to ensure the achievement of those types of businesses around the Sunshine State. Each of the BBICs have a sole, distinct responsibility: underwriting loans and investments and providing other services to qualified businesses that are at least 51 percent owned by people of color—African Americans, Caribbeans and native Africans.

Since its founding in 1987, the Riviera Beach-based PBC BBIC has provided more than $30 million to those targeted businesses countywide. It works with member banks in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties to provide loan guarantees of up to 90 percent to eligible businesses.  It partners with PBC’s Department of Housing and Economic Sustainability to provide business loan guarantees, yes, but also bonding, equity capital and other types of assistance. And it also  provides training and educational programs through partnerships with other organizations, including business plan preparation, marketing strategies and management and accounting training.

The current BBIC President Marlon D. White, left, and former President and Founder John Howard.

Marlon White, the local BBIC’s president, has had a long career in banking and had sat on the BBIC’s executive board for 31 years—while John Howard, its founder in 1987, was president. Mr. Howard, by the way, had been president of Palm Beach Lakes Bank, PBC’s first and only black-owned bank, which had been located at Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard and Australian Avenue in West Palm Beach until it closed in the 1980s. When Mr. Howard retired in 2018 at age 78, Mr. White took the reins.

And he’ll be at the head of the table this evening at the Annual Meeting, which will be held at the U.S. Trust Bank on Palm Beach. Visit its website here to learn more about its work and how it can help.

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It may not be the best video–no sound, really dark–but watch it.

And to think she’s never taken a dance class!

Every Sunday, the Caribbean-themed TikiMarket at the Marina in Riviera Beach happens from 4 to 7 p.m. Last week, we were there at the end of the evening, as vendors were shutting down, carrying their stuff to their cars, and the DJ played a last few songs. That’s when we saw her: the little dancing lady! Nine-year-old Daneeka Howard, who lives in Lake Park, was jooking! Not twerking, not dropping it like it’s hot—but turning, twisting, bouncing, shaking…in a really skilled way. Yet she’s never taken a dance class, according to her mother, Sonia Stone, who owns Simply Stunning Organic and was selling paraffin/soy candles at the TikiMarket. “But she’s always loved dancing, since she was little, like, age 3,” Ms. Stone said, “and she’s always been very confident in herself. If someone said to her ‘oh, you’re so pretty, so nice,’ she’ll be like ‘thank you; I know.’” And when she overheard our conversation, Daneeka said, “Did you know I sing, too?” That’s what we liked about her: her confidence. Even though she’s only in the fourth grade. Even though she’s one of five kids. Even though she never took a dance class. Still. Confident.

The Little Dancing Lady, left, with her sister Deliyah and a friend at the TikiMarket at the Marina in Riviera Beach. Learn more about the event here.
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She’ll Be at the Big Game Today. And So Will They.

People from around the world will be at today’s Super Bowl LIV in Miami—as will several local businesses from Palm Beach County.

And so will at least one local reporter we know: Daphne Taylor of the South Florida Times. Ms. Taylor, who covers primarily Palm Beach County (PBC) for the Ft. Lauderdale-based weekly, found out late last week that she would also write about the big game in Miami. Great assignment, she says, but there’s more to the Hard Rock Stadium association than writing a news story.

“It is indeed an honor to cover the Super Bowl as a reporter,” she said, “but I am especially proud of the local businesses and organizations that will be there also. To me, that’s the big story.”

Besides Ms. Taylor, here are a few locals who’ll also be onsite:

  • Dream Big Sports Academy. The West Palm Beach-based nonprofit is based on a simple notion: that athletes are leaders too. Dream Big was founded in 2006 by Wayne Monroe, a highly educated athlete who is currently the dean of student services at John I. Leonard High School in Greenacres. Mr. Monroe took 35 kids down south from John I. Leonard and Dream Big to participate in a daylong series of workshops on January 30–during Super Bowl weekend–that’s sponsored by the national Player Networking Event, when former NFL players essentially mix with young people in the community, sharing their experiences, their values, themselves during Super Bowl. Mr. Monroe was also a team lead at one of those workshops, which focused on Financial Literacy and was in partnership with Comerica Bank; see the images below. He’s returning today, of course, for the game itself. Learn more about his work here.
Click any picture to hear Mr. Monroe pitch at the Player Networking Event.
That’s him in the red shirt. In all the pictures.
  • Flippy Magz. The Riviera Beach-based company was created in 2016 and makes reversible magnets that primarily promote college sports teams. Team Lead Delano Allen says the young business has partnered to provide products with  a host of colleges in Florida, some churches and several locals running for public office. For the Super Bowl, Flippy Magz was asked to produce more than 1,000 magnets that promotes the City of Miami on one side and the big game on the other. Watch a local broadcast report on the young company below and visit its website here.
  • McCray’s Backyard BBQ & Seafood. No surprise here: McCray’s has been selling its finger-lickin’ ribs at Super Bowl games for the last 14 years and, this year, will provide meals at five official events associated with the big game. Already, McCray’s has done several events—including this weekend’s Player Networking Event—and is scheduled to provide food at the official Super Bowl Miami Host Committee Tailgate Party today at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood.  The restaurant recently opened its flagship location in Mangonia Park and hosts public events there often. Watch a local video about its work below and click here to visit its website.

It is these examples of local connectedness that inspire Ms. Taylor.

“Yes, I’m humbled to be among the thousands of great reporters from across the globe to cover this magnificent and monumental occasion,” she said, “but believe me, I am especially proud of the local businesses and organizations that have been selected to participate. My prayer is that having them be a part of such a worldwide event will take their businesses to a whole new level of success.” Read a copy of her bio here. And that’s her press pass, above, and her, below.

Daphne Taylor, longtime multi-media reporter.

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cocochats is Live on SupaJamz!

Heard cocochats yet? The 30-minute talk show airs at 6 p.m. each Wednesday–as in tonight!–on SupaJamz 103.7 FM, a young, Caribbean-themed station that is, in only a year, the most popular station of its kind in Palm Beach County (PBC).

Its hostess? cocowire’s very own team lead, Marian Dozier.

cocochats hostess with her–and Jamaica’s–favorite brew!

The show got started last month, after Ms. Dozier met station owner Junior Blacks. And talked.

“We were on the same page,” Ms. Dozier said. “It was important to both of us that our communities are aware, connected and strong. News helps.”

And those communities? As anyone who knows Ms. Dozier will tell you, they are the communities in PBC that make up the African diaspora—African Americans, Caribbeans and native Africans. A population growing in size, complexity and diversity.

The SupaJamz team! Click here to learn more about the young PBC-based, Caribbean-themed station.

Ms. Dozier comes to the radio station after co-hosting for several years the weekly South Florida Sunday show with former Riviera Beach Mayor Thomas A. Masters on X102.3 FM, the most popular R & B station in PBC. She also has been a legislative aide to state Senator Bobby Powell and to several members of the Riviera Beach City Council and, before that, a newspaper reporter or editor for more than two decades, including at the Detroit Free Press, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

It was at that position in Florida that Ms. Dozier first learned about a focus she had–even though it wasn’t her beat or area of coverage. “No one is writing about what you do,” her editor at the time said, when he learned she was leaving to go to Atlanta.

“I remember thinking ‘huh?’ What is he talking about?’ ” Ms. Dozier said. “But he told me how I always made sure to get other voices in my stories—other black voices—and how I did it seamlessly. He said that was valuable, I remember, and it was primarily why he felt my byline leaving the Sun-Sentinel would leave an empty hole. It was a wow.”

Turns out he was right, though, when she thought later about her work at other newspapers too. Push it forward to cocowire–and cocochats.

cocochats host Marian Dozier interviews Alisa Hall, manager of the TikiMarket at the Marina in Riviera Beach. Learn more about the weekly event here.

So. Please. Tune in. Share story ideas. Tell us what you think. In other words, tell us about our focus: news, events and useful information for communities of color in PBC.

The guest on today’s show will be Anthony Ashe, creator of Rated R Fitness, which combines fitness with nutrition and faith–for a reason. Learn more about him here.

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‘Watch Night’ is Tonight

One hundred and fifty-seven years ago tonight, the enslaved peoples of America and their supporters were huddled together, praying for their freedom. That historic moment has come to be known as ‘Watch Night.’

On that night, December 31, 1862, they were awaiting word that the Emancipation Proclamation had been issued and signed by then-president Abraham Lincoln.

And, primarily, they were in the church.

Though it was signed the next day, the Proclamation still didn’t immediately free any slave—the 13th Amendment would do that about three years later—but those downtrodden people were on watch, praying and hoping for change.

That original African-American ‘watch night’ continues tonight, 157 years later, as a tradition of the historic black church across the United States and here in Palm Beach County (PBC).

Many Christian denominations have watch nights, or vigil services. United Methodists, for example, began observing New Year’s Eve watch nights in this country in 1770–a practice all but abandoned today — and Catholics, most notably, “watch” for the coming of the Messiah on Christmas Eve.

But for African-Americans, the tradition is inextricably tied to their own history in this country–even if today’s community isn’t huddled in fear of what the next day, and New Year, might bring.

Rather, today, it’s about celebration, family and peace. There are Watch Night events at many churches in PBC. Here’s a few:

Trinity United Methodist Church, 1401 9th Street in West Palm Beach. Family friendly, service and communion, free breakfast. To learn more, call 561-832-5662.
Faith Holy Temple Church, 1204 Commercial Street, Riviera Beach. From 10 p.m. to 12 midnight, there will be prayer, song and remembrance. More information? Here.
Palm Beach Baptist Church, 5217 S. Military Trail, Lake Worth. The New Year’s Eve Watch Night Service and Celebration will be held from 9 p.m. to midnight. For more information, click here.
Crown of Prayer Church of God, 1311 Avenue U, Riviera Beach. Event starts at 8:30 p.m. Call 561-946-5738 for more information.

Back on December 31, 2000, an article was published in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel about Watch Nights and it was written by cocowire’s team lead, Marian Dozier. Read the article here—including a quote from then-Bishop Thomas A. Masters, who would become Mayor of Riviera Beach seven years later!

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Nappy Hair Discrimination? No More.

Three states have banned discrimination against nappy hair—and Florida could be the fourth, thanks to bills recently filed for the 2020 Legislation Session.

The other-state laws, and those Florida bills, are part of a national movement known as CROWN—Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural hair—which aims to protect people of African descent who wear afros, dreadlocks, twists, cornrows and other natural hair styles from discrimination in schools or at work.

California was the first state to outlaw nappy hair discrimination this summer, followed by New York and, just last week, New Jersey. Several cities and counties nationwide have done the same, and lots of states are considering it. Learn more about the movement here.

Each of these State legislators wrote a bill that supports banning nappy hair discrimination.

Florida Senate Bill 566 was filed in October by state Senator Randolph Bracy (D-Orlando), who said the bill represents “creating a respectful and open world for natural hair” which he calls essential to acknowledging the culture and history of the people who wear those styles. State Representative Kamia L. Brown (D-Ocoee) filed a companion bill in late November.

And, apparently, it’s needed. According to the CROWN movement,  incidents of discrimination based on hair texture is a huge issue. Well-known examples include the young New Jersey wrestler who had to cut his locks in order to compete and two sisters in the Boston area prevented from wearing braid extensions to their charter school.

And it happened in Orlando last year, when a six-year-old named Clinton Stanley Jr. and his father were told on the first day of class that he couldn’t attend the private school until his dreadlocks were cut off. The family is currently suing the state’s Department of Education and the school, A Books Christian Academy.

His hair prevented him from enrolling at a private school in Orlando last year.

And, it happens here, in Palm Beach County. Jatory Smith of West Palm Beach recalled applying for a job once where he talked over the phone and got the interview. Then, he showed up–and was told the job was no longer available.

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

His hair prevented him from getting a job in West Palm Beach.

Read the language for Senator Bracy’s bill here and, for Rep. Brown’s, here. Both links can be used to track the efforts’ progression. The legislative session begins January 14, 2020.

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Need scholarships, anyone?

Comcast recently announced its annual scholarship program, as have several other providers. All of them offer strong support and belief in local students across Palm Beach County (PBC). Read the list, which we’ll be continually updating, below. And remember: the Comcast application deadline is December 6, 2019.

Comcast Leaders & Achievers

High school seniors from across Florida can apply for the Comcast Leaders and Achievers® Scholarship Program, which recognizes students who have demonstrated outstanding community service, exceptional academic performance and strong leadership skills. The award, funded by the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation, is a one-time, $2,500 scholarship to be used toward undergraduate education-related expenses. Last year, the national Foundation awarded $236,000 in scholarships to 90 students in Florida alone.

High school seniors who meet the eligibility requirements can learn more and apply here. Questions? Call 800-537-4180 or send an email to

And did we say the deadline to apply is Friday, December 6, 2019?

At Title 1 Schools, Countywide

Teamwork USA Education Foundation is a Palm Beach Gardens-based nonprofit that provides a series of scholarships to any eligible PBC students who attend Title 1 schools. Only. Here are two currently available:

  • 12th Grade Scholarships. The $4,000, scholarships will be awarded this season to 20 high school seniors across PBC. Applications are being accepted now through January 31, 2020. Students must plan to attend a Florida-based college, university or trade school and the scholarships can only be used for tuition, books and fees. Students must have a 3.25 GPA, community service, financial need, two recommendation letters and a 500-word essay on a topic of the student’s choice. Click here for the application.
  • Renewable College Scholarship. A new lineup addition, it allows an awarded student to continue to receive one of up to 15 more $4,000 scholarships to support that student’s continuing attendance at college, university or technical school. If awarded, the additional funds may be used for tuition, fees and books, but only at a two- or four-year college, university or technical school in Florida. Learn more here.

For more information about TeamWork’s good work, click here.

More Than 100 Local Scholarships

The Community Foundation of Palm Beach and Martin Counties is one of the largest providers of established scholarships in the two-county region. Since 1983, it has awarded more than $10 million in scholarship grants and helped nearly 2,000 students. All scholarships are based on need, unless otherwise noted, and can be seen here. (Note: there are four parts, each of which has lists of scholarships, for a total of 100 scholarship categories.) The deadline to apply is January 2, 2020. Questions? Call 561-659-6800 or send an email to There is also a list of external scholarships, which are those provided by outside, private organizations; see the list here.

For ‘Dreamers’

TheDream.US is a scholarship for DACA- and TPS-eligible immigrant students that opened earlier this month for applications and closes on February 27, 2020. Graduating high school seniors as well as community college graduates are eligible to apply. ‘Dreamers,’ by the way, are undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children and are covered by federal legislation called DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) that was meant to provide a pathway to permanent legal status. Students with TPS—Temporary Protected Status—are those nationals from countries, such as Haiti, experiencing issues that make living there unstable or unsafe. There’s lots of specific information available on its website, here, about focus, intent and eligibility.

A Four-Year Focus

The USDA/1890 National Scholars Program is a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and historically black 1890 Land-Grant Universities in an attempt to increase the number of minorities studying agriculture, food, natural resource sciences and related disciplines. The scholarships are awarded annually and must be used at one of the 19 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in that category around the country, including Florida A & M University in the Sunshine State. Selected students will receive each year for up to four years a scholarship that covers full tuition, employment, employee benefits, fees, books and room and board. The list of schools can be found here, along with eligibility requirements, a program overview and links to applications for new high school applicants and rising college sophomores and juniors. Deadline to apply: January, 31, 2020.

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…that Riviera Beach has been nominated for an Emmy Award?

Well, its story was nominated, thanks to On The Town in The Palm Beaches, a series of 30-minute TV shows that celebrate the municipalities of Palm Beach County (PBC), with each episode focused on a particular city’s history, people and happenings in a fast-paced, fun taping.  

The show launched in 2017 and, in that time, has visited nearly a dozen cities, including Palm Beach Gardens, the Glades and Wellington. The Riviera Beach/Singer Island episode though, which aired in June, is the first to be nominated for the prestigious award.

Show host Frank Licari with Mayor Ronnie L. Felder.

“It was my favorite episode I worked on,” PBS Producer Cindy Hing said, “because of the city’s diverse history, its friendly community and the unique adventures available in the area.”

The nomination was one of 21 made by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS)’s Suncoast Chapter, which covers the entire state of Florida, Puerto Rico and parts of Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia. Click here for the full list of the Chapter ‘s Emmy nominees.

The series is a partnership between South Florida PBS (WPBT and WXEL) and the PBC Film & Television Commission. Learn more about the series here–and about those images in the collage. Winners will be announced December 14. Watch the award-nominated episode below.

Emmy Award winners will be announced December 14, 2019. Check here for more.