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SOS Community Band provides support–and needs it

From the time he was in elementary school until he created the Sounds of Success (SOS) Community Marching Band in February of this year, Antoine Miller, 29, has been in love with bands. Not stage bands; traditional marching bands. With drum majors. And tubas. The SOS Band has nearly 70 members who range in age from 10 to 40 and they practice nearly every day at the Boys & Girls Club in Riviera Beach. Currently, they play somewhere, every single weekend.

“I don’t know, I’ve always just loved marching bands,” said Mr. Miller, who played for the FAMU Marching 100–of course—and is planning to do a documentary on the subject. “And the more I work with young people, the more I see why: bands keep you focused, active, involved. Plus, you learn stuff and have a lot of fun.”

Some of their upcoming events:

  • The SOS Band will be perform at the MLK Parade in Riviera Beach on January 19, which starts at 10 a.m. They will march with Mayor Thomas A. Masters.
  • Following the parade, the band will also perform in the Battle of the Bands at Suncoast Community High School, which starts at 4 p.m.
  • On January 21, it will perform in St. Petersburg., Fla., at another MLK-related parade.
  • And it will be the only band from the state of Florida at the African-American Day Parade in Harlem, N.Y. on September 21, 2019.

Watch a video report of the busy band below:

From WPTV Channel 5:
Kids, adults make music together through Riviera Beach community marching band.

Mr. Miller said he is also planning a Battle of the Bands in Fort Pierce in September. How can he put an event together with a dozen bands? Because he knows everybody in the marching band industry–from Willie Pyfrom, the Belle Glade resident who “taught pretty much all of us in Palm Beach County,” Mr. Miller said, to Timothy E. Nance, who was a band director at J.F. Kennedy Middle School for 22 years before, in 2011, being appointed an assistant principal. Mr. Miller calls them both ‘maestros.’

And remember we mentioned tubas? They cost thousands of dollars a piece and the SOS Band needs five. Got any to donate? Want to make a financial contribution? Click here, use the band’s code, FBMRRKS, and just follow the prompts. And to reach the hard-working Mr. Miller:

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All things MLK

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Coordinating Committee (MLKCC) is again hosting more than a dozen community events this year in celebration of its namesake iconic leader–including, on January 21, 2019, both its oldest and newest events. The 38th annual MLK Breakfast will be held at 8 a.m. that day at the Palm Beach County Convention Center and, from 3 to 5 p.m., the second annual MLK Day Celebration at the South Florida Fair’s Community Stage. Both are in West Palm Beach; visit the coco calendar for details. This year’s theme: ‘Live the Dream: Allow Justice, Peace and Love to Flow Like Never-Ending Rivers.’

“I cannot tell you how excited I get, year after year, about the support we get from the community and from our co-sponsors,” said Edith C. Bush, MLKCC’s executive director. “We all clearly realize the critical importance of the work Dr. King did and how it made our country a better place.”

A list of all upcoming MLKCC events can be viewed here; some of them include:

  • The kickoff event that starts the 2019 year-long celebration will be at 6:30 a.m. on January 11 at the MLK Landmark Memorial, 2200 Flagler Drive, which was constructed in 2004. A reception will immediately follow at In Time Church of God in Christ, 1025 7th Street in West Palm Beach.
  • The annual ‘Freedom Shabbat’ worship service and reception will be held at 6:30 p.m. on January 18 at Temple Israel of West Palm Beach.
  • Oratorical Contest for students in kindergarten through 12th grades will be held at 9 a.m. on January 19 at Roosevelt Middle School. Other competitions in performing arts and essay writing are also being held at other times, dates and locations.

The MLKCC’s longtime co-sponsors include the City of West Palm Beach; The Cultural Council of PBC; FPL; Searcy, Denny; the School District of Palm Beach County(employees can earn in-service points); and the Palm Beach Post.

The largest memorial to MLK in Florida? On Flagler Boulevard in West Palm Beach.
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We are the product for sale

The New York Times published a hugely important article Wednesday about Facebook and its continued misuse of personal data. The article resulted from an investigation the paper did, which included access to hundreds of internal company documents from 2017 and interviews with more than five dozen former employees and those who work at its corporate partners. Altogether, the investigation learned that the social media giant gave Microsoft, Amazon, Spotify and about 150 other corporate partners (mostly tech businesses)  “far greater access” to the data of its 2.2 billion users than it had previously disclosed. Facebook’s response? None of the terms of those partnerships violated users’ privacy or a 2011 federal consent agreement that barred it from sharing user data without explicit permission, its executives said, even as they acknowledged missteps. Read the damning story here, which has gone viral. Below are five main points of the article (read that piece here):

  • Facebook deals in data. And that data–information about you, your friends, your shares and your likes–has become the most prized commodity of the digital age.  It may not be selling it, but it shares it with those corporate partners in business agreements. 
  • Cambridge Analytica? Facebook’s largest partners got far more access, the investigation found. In March we learned the political consulting firm improperly used Facebook data to help a certain candidate’s presidential campaign. The Times investigation reported Wednesday found that tech companies and business partners today are still getting data on hundreds of millions of users per month. Including, potentially, you. 
  • It never directly told users it was sharing their data. Facebook said in the article that any information a user shared with friends on its site could be shared with those 150 or so partner companies without additional consent. They’re partners. 
  • Facebook was sloppy. It struck so many deals with so many companies, it became hard for employees to keep track of what company had access to what data, the investigation found.
  • Regulators let it happen. Current and former employees of the Federal Trade Commission, which regulates Facebook, says the data-sharing deals likely violate a 2011 consent agreement that required privacy safeguards. 

Final point: be careful. And if you want to safely and fully delete, click here to see how. It ain’t easy. 

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The gift of reading…

As the holiday season approaches, what a great time to give the gift of reading to children of all ages! An array of wonderful literature is available online and at your local bookstores. Books that spark children’s imaginations, their sense of adventure and their appetite for information. Check out a few titles below, their covers pictured above:

  • Birth-age 4Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee & Tonya Lewis Lee
  • Ages 4-8Dad, who will I be? by G.Todd Taylor
  • Ages 9-12Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison
  • Ages 14 and upHidden Figures by Margot Lee Shettery

This post was provided by Jonella Mongo, Ph.D., a Detroit-based education consultant who often visits us here in south Florida. Contact her at

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The new Judge Rodgers Center

Everybody was there—from Edward Rodgers Jr., to elected officials to the Alpha Men themselves. There was the ribbon cutting on Saturday for the new Judge Edward Rodgers Center for Community Development in Riviera Beach. The Rodgers Center is being operated by the Alpha Educational Foundation, which is run by the Palm Beach County chapter of the national Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. It will use social events, community discussions and a wide variety of partnerships with community groups and nonprofits, all focused on the same thing: community uplift. Some of those partners, which will be housed onsite: Thrive For A Change of the Palm Beaches, which works on ex-felon re-entry; Suits for Seniors, a nonprofit that provides an eight-week, life-skills training program for high schoolers; Nelson’s Outreach Ministries, which will operate a food pantry on campus; and Florida Fishing Academy, which provides access to the water for the young. The Center’s namesake, Judge Rodgers, passed away in October this year at age 91; he had been an Alpha for nearly 70 years. And he had been committed to finding a place to do the work of the people for years, says Alfred J. Fields, president of the Foundation and the fraternity chapter. “This has been years and years in the making,” he said. “Judge Rodgers had been looking for a home from which we could continue the community service work he, and our brothers, have been doing. Now, we’re here. I just wish he was too.”

On the big day: Alpha chapter President Alfred Fields; Sanjena Clay,  the Judge’s girlfriend; Edward Rodgers, Jr., his namesake; Riviera Beach Councilwoman Lynne Hubbard; and Tinesha Gilbert, his caretaker.
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Free legal help, online

The Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County has a new online intake application system that allows anyone with a computer to be able to apply for free legal services and assistance. The applications are available in three languages and can request help in a host of areas from credit card debt to elder law to wage disputes. The Society does not handle criminal matters. Click here for more information and to apply.

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He’s an actor

Among the characters on StartUp, an internet-streaming series that can be seen on Crackle, Amazon Prime and Xfinity OnDemand, is Gilles, a Haitian-American gangster. That tough guy is played by Jevon White, a committed husband and father of three young boys who is also a skilled, experienced actor, writer and director and lives in Riviera Beach. StartUp began its third season November 1 and Mr. White, who is also a photographer, videographer and model, says he loves it. “It’s different from who I am, so I really get a chance to act,” he said, “which I love to do.” He has appeared in 19 of the series’ 30 episodes thus far, and can also be seen in a few commercials, including one for Post Food’s Honeycomb cereal. Follow him on Instagram: @jevonwhite.

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Career Fair for county residents

On November 28, the Palm Beach County chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity will host a Career Fair in partnership with the Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County. Any county residents looking for work will find out what jobs are available, be able to apply–and the Alphas will track their applications. Why? “We want to make sure that we know what happens, when and why,” said Alfred J. Fields, chapter president. Applicants who have felonies on their records, need training or have been out of work for a while should still come; options exist. Jobs are all related to the marine services industry, which is just blocks from where the Career Fair will be held, at the former Riviera Beach Maritime Academy. It will soon be renamed for Palm Beach County’s first black jurist and prosecutor, Judge Edward Rodgers, also an Alpha, who died October 20, 2018. He was a community icon–and a strong supporter of cocowire. Visit the coco calendar for more details.

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A new connection

On October 26, the Port of Palm Beach entered into its 19th sister-Port partnership–this time, with the Port of Cap-Haitien in Haiti. It happened thanks to state Rep. Al Jacquet (District 88) or, actually, as he said, to his legislative aide, Kesnel Theus. Both natives of the Caribbean island, Rep. Jacquet and Mr. Theus both travel to Haiti often and, as the Representative said, they both hope that a “strong, cohesive, lasting relationship” will occur between the two with streamlined operations, smooth information exchanges and cargo and cruise line growth. To learn more about the Port’s other sister-port partnerships, most in the Caribbean, click here. And to learn more about Rep. Jacquet, pictured, who will begin his second term in the Florida Legislature this fall, click here.

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‘Existing while black’: news and satire

“Have you ever been followed in a store? Have you been pulled over for no apparent reason? Has someone called the police on you because of the color of your skin?” Those are questions the Huffington Post wants answered. The nationally known website has a category of news called ‘HuffPost Black Voices,’ which covers the national black community and has begun an #ExistingWhileBlack project that is seeking stories from black people across the country. Click here to learn more–and to send in your story. Similarly, the New York Times, believe it or not, is doing a parallel, though satirical, project: a hotline for white people to call when they “can’t cope with black people living life near them.” The hotline is a partnership between the iconic paper and comedian Niecy Nash. Watch the funny, tongue-in-cheek infomercial here.