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Eleanor Jean Grier Leadership Academy Endorses Dr. Gregory Alexander

BLACK VOICE NEWS — The Eleanor Jean Grier Leadership Academy supported one of its graduates, Dr. Gregory Alexander, candidate for the Alvord School Board Trustee Area 1 in Riverside County.

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By Black Voices News

The Eleanor Jean Grier Leadership Academy supported one of its graduates, Dr. Gregory Alexander, candidate for the Alvord School Board Trustee Area 1 in Riverside County.  Katie Greene, Jennifer Vaughn-Blakely, Rose Mayes, Ola Fae Stevens and “The Group” endorsed the alumni and support his efforts to win on November 6, 2018.

Dr. Alexander is a graduate of California State University, San Bernardino where he earned a B.A. in Political Science and two master’s degrees in education. Dr. Alexander earned his Doctorate in Education and Organizational Leadership from the University of La Verne.

He currently is a Special Education Administrator for the Ontario-Montclair School District. He and his wife Melissa have lived in the Alvord School district for 15 years and have two children that attend school in Alvord.

Read more about Dr. Alexander’s background and candidacy on AlexanderforAlvord.com. or visit his Facebook page.

This article originally appeared in Black Voice News

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Vanderbilt Pledges $2M for African American Music Museum

BLACK VOICE NEWS — Vanderbilt University is pledging $2 million for the National Museum of African American Music, which is scheduled to open a 56,000-square-foot facility in downtown Nashville early next year. The university says the gift includes in-kind contributions and direct financial support, and will help expand the museum’s archives, contribute to innovative programming, support the completion of the facility and more.

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NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - JUNE 27: Chancellor of Vanderbilt University Nicholas S. Zeppos and Lydia Howarth attend The Celebration of Legends Gala 2019 at Music City Center on June 27, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for the National Museum of African American Music)

By Black Voice News

Nashville, TN – Vanderbilt University is pledging $2 million for the National Museum of African American Music, which is scheduled to open a 56,000-square-foot facility in downtown Nashville early next year.

The university says the gift includes in-kind contributions and direct financial support, and will help expand the museum’s archives, contribute to innovative programming, support the completion of the facility and more.

Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos said the partnership will help build global awareness of the impact of African American composers, performers and supporters.

The partnership will include collaboration with the university’s Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries to offer their collection of books, scores, recordings and other materials for loan, display and study at the museum.

Vanderbilt and the museum will also team up for a speaker series after the facility opens.

This article originally appeared in the Black Voice News.

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Black Voice News

California’s new budget invests in overlooked piece of health care puzzle: workers

BLACK VOICE NEWS — Is this the start of a new era for California’s health workforce? It sure looks like it. Gov. Gavin Newsom is poised to sign the largest, most comprehensive set of proposals in years to expand California’s health workforce pipeline—tapping $300 million in the 2019-20 budget to address an often overlooked threat to our health care system: a shortage of qualified health professionals.

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(l-r) Dr. Sandra Hernández and Raymond Baxter

By Dr. Sandra Hernández and Raymond Baxter, Special to CALmatters

Is this the start of a new era for California’s health workforce? It sure looks like it.

Gov. Gavin Newsom is poised to sign the largest, most comprehensive set of proposals in years to expand California’s health workforce pipeline—tapping $300 million in the 2019-20 budget to address an often overlooked threat to our health care system: a shortage of qualified health professionals.

Our state has been acting boldly for years now on a variety of fronts to improve health and health care—from cutting the uninsured rate in half to reducing medical costs.

But coverage is not care, and for millions of Californians to access the care they need, we are going to need more workers, particularly workers who represent the communities they serve.

If investments in our workforce pipeline continue to lag behind rising demand, California is projected to face a shortfall of 4,100 primary care clinicians and 600,000 homecare workers by 2030, and will have only two-thirds of the psychiatrists it needs.

These shortfalls are already being felt in regions like the Inland Empire, San Joaquin Valley, and Los Angeles, where 7 million people live in federally-designated Health Professional Shortage Areas.

With these workforce challenges in mind, we were proud to serve as two of the five funders of the California Future Health Workforce Commission, a blue-ribbon panel of 24 experts from across the health system who met in 2017 and 2018 to study this issue.

The Commission’s final report, released in February, offered a detailed set of recommendations for recruiting, training, and deploying a new wave of health workers, especially those coming from and committed to working in underserved communities.

The total cost of these priority actions was pegged at $3 billion over 10 years, roughly $300 million per year. The commission estimated these investments would entirely eliminate the state’s primary care shortage, while improving diversity and ensuring we have more of the right types of workers, with the right skills, in the right places to meet the needs of our growing, aging and increasingly diverse population.

As we’ve watched Gov. Newsom during his first few months on the job, it’s heartening to see how committed he is to this issue. Declaring that he wants to be known as California’s “health care governor,” Newsom has made it clear the state can’t achieve his increasingly ambitious goals for increasing coverage and expanding access, especially for behavioral health, without closing the workforce gap.

Gov. Newsom has made preventive care, behavioral health, and care for aging Californians, the commission’s three focus areas, all top priorities. He has embraced the task of bolstering an industry that employs 1.4 million skilled workers.

As he put it in May: “I want to lower the cost curve, I want to deliver broader access and I want to improve quality, particularly on wellness and prevention, and move away from acute care and emergency care. I want to see how far we can push it with the state.”

With the support of overwhelming majorities in the Legislature, the newly-approved budget certainly does that. The final spending plan includes more than $300 million in new funding to bolster residency programs, improve primary care education and training in areas of unmet need, and implement a five-year plan for expanding the pipeline of mental health providers.

There is new backing for expansions of medical school facilities at UC-Riverside and UC-Merced, two major potential sources of primary care physicians in parts of the state that need them most.

And the budget also boosts the Medi-Cal loan repayment program by $120 million, increasing our current workforce’s ability to provide care to Medi-Cal beneficiaries.

In addition to this new funding, legislators are advancing more than a dozen substantive bills to address California’s health needs and improve the diversity of the workforce pipeline.

These include proposals to expand eligibility for physician loan repayment, increase the rural health workforce, expand the contributions of nurse practitioners, promote hiring of physician assistants, and engage community health workers, among many other ideas.

All of this attention cannot come soon enough, and we hope this is the beginning of a new era for the state’s health workforce system, one that will require ongoing public and private commitments for years to come.

California’s health needs may be growing, but with the right investments and the right policies, in the right places, we can make sure every community has the people and systems it needs to be healthy.

Dr. Sandra Hernández is president and chief executive officer of the California Health Care Foundation, info@chcf.org.Raymond Baxter is president and chief executive officer of the Blue Shield of California Foundation, Ray.Baxter@blueshieldcafoundation.org. They wrote this commentary for CALmatters, a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s Capitol works and why it matters.

The author wrote this for CALmatters, a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s Capitol works and why it matters.

This article originally appeared Black Voice News

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Democrats in California have all the power—and much of the turmoil

BLACK VOICE NEWS — You might think a political party racked by scandal, facing three lawsuits and riven with infighting would be in a bad spot politically. But, according to plenty of close observers, the California Democratic Party is doing just fine.

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Image by: blackvoicenews.com
By Ben Christopher

You might think a political party racked by scandal, facing three lawsuits and riven with infighting would be in a bad spot politically.

But, according to plenty of close observers, the California Democratic Party is doing just fine.

Fresh off a historic electoral triumph in the 2018 midterms, the party now dominates both chambers of the state Legislature while maintaining a decade-long lock on every statewide elected office. At the end of this month, California Democrats will hold their annual convention in San Francisco, hosting at least 14 presidential contenders.

While in the national limelight, they also have to hold a special election for party chair—the very existence of which speaks to the party’s internal turmoil. Earlier this year, the former chair, Eric Bauman, was forced to step down over accusations of sexual harassment and assault, which he denies. A number of former staff members and party activists have sued.

Accusations of a hostile work environment only compound what was already an acrimonious climate within the party. In the last few months, critics of the party’s interim leader have accused her of “retaliation” and of stacking the staff with her allies. One group of delegates have accused another of trading in “anti-Semitic tropes.”

In short, the party will arrive in San Francisco with a lot of baggage.

“I hope the party gets its act together. The convention will elect a new chair and I hope that they clean house,” said Garry South, a Democratic political consultant. “But in terms of this being any kind of a significant factor in statewide politics, or in the standing of the Democratic Party itself in California, it is, in a sense, less important than what I had for breakfast this morning.”

If true, that’s a remarkable contrast to the state’s Republican Party, which holds virtually no power in Sacramento and whose once mighty House delegation could now easily fit in a minivan. Shackled in the mind of many voters to President Donald Trump, whose approval rating in California sits at around 30%, the party has struggled to appeal to the state’s most rapidly growing demographic groups. That seems to have placed a cap on GOP electoral success in the state, no matter how well-functioning its party operation.

California Democrats rest on the flip side of that coin. Buoyed by demographic tailwinds and a deeply unpopular president, to many, the party can do no wrong—even when it seems to be doing nothing but wrong.

“California is a solid blue state,” said Drexel Heard, a Democratic delegate. “It will take a little more than internal party politics to shake that.”

The Democrats’ Tale of Two Parties came into focus last November. In the same month, the party rode to a commanding victory at the polls and Bauman was forced to resign.

As first reported by the Los Angeles Times, the former labor leader from Los Angeles was accused of making “crude sexual comments” and engaging in intimidation and “unwanted touching.”

Since then, three lawsuits have been filed against Bauman and the party. The allegations include sexual harassment, verbal abuse, wrongful termination and sexual assault.

The divergence between the party’s electoral success and its interior strife is so stark, a relatively simple question—”what is the state of the California Democratic Party?”—tends to elicit an awkward silence or a strained chuckle.

“There’s much to celebrate and to be excited about,” said Rusty Hicks, president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and one of seven people bidding to replace Bauman at this month’s convention. “At the same time, I think there’s some very serious issues that we should address.”

But, he added: “If not addressed, and Democrats don’t feel safe in engaging with their party, then it could absolutely impact both the energy, the activism and the ability to have real capacity throughout the state.”

The allegations made in the various lawsuits indicate that those issues go beyond Bauman. They depict a boozy workplace environment that allowed harassment, disparagement and assault of its own employes to go on unchecked or unnoticed. Amid all of this, questions have arisen about whether the party that claims to represent inclusion, tolerance and the spirit of the #MeToo movement lacks credibility with voters and donors.

“Of course it wasn’t just Eric,” said Daraka Larimore-Hall, the party’s current vice chair who is also running for the top seat. “The dysfunction is that someone was able to behave that way and get away with it for far too long,”

It isn’t as though the party was trouble-free before the allegations against Bauman rose to the surface.

Following a presidential primary that cleft Hillary Clinton supporters from backers of Bernie Sanders, the state party’s 2017 leadership race went narrowly and contentiously to Bauman. The candidate who came in second, Bay Area progressive activist Kimberly Ellis, cried foul, questioning the legitimacy of the outcome. Many delegates left the convention harboring resentments. Now Ellis is running for chair again.

There are more recent dust ups. Orange County delegates called for Iyad Afalqa, the chair of the party’s Arab-American caucus, to be disciplined for a Facebook post they claimed was appealing to anti-Semitic tropes.

Then last month, Alex Gallardo-Rooker, the acting chair of the state party, kicked a few critics off of a key committee, including Larimore-Hall. Those demoted called it “retaliation;” a party spokesman called that characterization “silly.”

The backbiting was bad before the fractious 2017 convention, but “it feels worse than the last time,” said Heard, who represents part of the San Fernando Valley on the party’s executive board. “It just feels more vicious.”

Still it’s not clear that any of this will imperil the party’s electoral prospects.

“I don’t mean to sound disrespectful,” said South, the consultant. “But if point-two percent of the California population is even aware of who Eric Bauman was or what happened to him, I would be shocked.”

Jackie Moreau agrees. Until recently, she was among that 99.8 percent. Just elected to the party’s executive board, she says the party needs to improve coordination with local activists. But did she worry that the party strife would turn off voters?

“You mean, like regular voters? Regular people with everyday lives that don’t think about party things?” she said. “No.”

But the party’s reputation may matter more with contributors, said RL Miller, chair of the party’s environmental caucus.

“Electorally, we’re in very good shape,” she said. “We simply need to convince donors that the party is healthy despite the dysfunction.”

Thus far, it doesn’t look like the party’s donor base needs much reassuring.

Though the new round of lawsuits are still fresh, the party has received nearly $8 million in contributions since the beginning of the year. That’s slightly less than the party’s haul during the same period in 2017—the last non-election year—but that was a historic high after Trump’s stunning win.

The financial importance of the party is somewhat limited anyway, said Don Perata, former top Democrat in the state Senate. Under California campaign finance law, the party channels much of the campaign cash spent in the state, but elected politicians direct a lot of the raising and spending, he said. And with the rise of well-financed progressive political groups such as Indivisible and NextGen outside the party, the organization’s political clout may no longer carry so much weight.

“The persuasiveness of the California Democratic endorsement has lost a lot of its luster over the last decade or two,” said Perata.

But as presidential candidates and the national media descend on San Francisco, the party will have things to consider beyond self-analysis.

On Saturday June 1, 14 presidential candidates are slated to speak before the delegates: New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Texas Rep. Julián Castro, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand California Sen. Kamala Harris, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, California Rep. Eric Swalwell and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

“It’s hard to say what’s going to overshadow what: presidential candidates speaking or the chair’s race,” said Andrew Acosta, a Democratic consultant. “The delegates might get more excited about all the other stuff going on than this race for the party chair.”

For average voters at home, the latest soundbite from Sen. Kamala Harris or Pete Buttigieg might be all they hear—if they hear anything at all.

The author wrote this for CALmatters, a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s Capitol works and why it matters.

This article originally appeared in Black Voice News.

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Hennessey Fellows Program Commits $10 million to HBCU’s

BLACK VOICE NEWS — Last month, The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) in partnership with Hennessy & Co., introduced the Hennessy Fellows Program. The new initiative commits an unprecedented $10M to be awarded to high-achieving graduate students. The fellowship awards will be available to students in a variety of undergraduate majors from liberal arts to sciences and engineering. To apply students must be from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

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By S.E. Williams

Washington, D.C. – Last month, The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) in partnership with Hennessy & Co., introduced the Hennessy Fellows Program.

The new initiative commits an unprecedented $10M to be awarded to high-achieving graduate students. The fellowship awards will be available to students in a variety of undergraduate majors from liberal arts to sciences and engineering. To apply students must be from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Participating fellows will receive curated corporate development experiences, as well as financial assistance. The experiences will include online training forums, an immersive boot camp, and networking opportunities to enhance the exchange of ideas and provide direct exposure to interrelated corporate, social and economic systems.

Selected fellows will also receive a scholarship up to $20,000 per academic year in addition to a $10,000 stipend.

Students in their first year of an MBA program currently enrolled at an HBCU with a minimum GPA of 3.25, and who has leadership experience, strong ethical and moral character, academic excellence, and cultural awareness are encouraged to apply.

According to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, “Hennessy has demonstrated its progressive vision and leadership in support of underserved communities since the 1800s.” The corporation was involved early on in what would become the National Urban League, it was the first corporate sponsor of the NAACP, and the only company in its industry to be a founding corporate donor of the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, DC,

Hennessy has a rich history of assisting in the growth of African-American business and socioeconomic status.

To learn more about the Hennessey Fellows Program and/or to apply visit https://www.tmcf.org/our-programs/career-preparation/tmcf-hennessy-fellows-program.

This article originally appeared in Black Voice News

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“I Shall Wear A C.R.O.W.N.” California Seeks to Ban Hairstyle Discrimination

BLACK VOICE NEWS — This week under the stewardship of Senator Holly J. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), the California Senate passed Senate Bill 188 known as the Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair (C.R.O.W.N.) Act. The measure, sponsored by the National Urban League, Dove, Color of Change, and the Western Center on Law & Poverty, and aimed at creating a respectful and open workplace for natural hair, passed the Senate overwhelmingly.

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By S.E. Williams

This week under the stewardship of Senator Holly J. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), the California Senate passed Senate Bill 188 known as the Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair (C.R.O.W.N.) Act.

The measure, sponsored by the National Urban League, Dove, Color of Change, and the Western Center on Law & Poverty, and aimed at creating a respectful and open workplace for natural hair, passed the Senate overwhelmingly.

The Bill now moves to the State Assembly and if successful, California will join New York City as the only state and municipality to address this important issue. The City of New York passed a measure in February which protects the rights of citizens in their city to wear natural hair/hair styles related to their racial, ethnic, or cultural identities.

The subject of discrimination related to natural hair/hairstyles once again exploded in the public arena last year when, during a high school wrestling tournament, a wrestler participating in the event was forced by a referee to cut his dreadlocks in order to participate. The referee’s order was widely condemned.

“I believe that any law policy or practice that sanctions a job description that immediately excludes me from a profession — not because of my capacity or my capabilities or my experience but because of my hairstyle choice — is long overdue for reform.”– California Senator Holly J. Mitchell

“I believe that any law policy or practice that sanctions a job description that immediately excludes me from a profession — not because of my capacity or my capabilities or my experience but because of my hairstyle choice — is long overdue for reform.”– California Senator Holly J. Mitchell

While anti-discrimination laws do protect the choice to wear an Afro, Afros represent just one way and is far from the only way natural hair is styled. The C.R.O.W.N. Act will update California’s anti-discrimination laws and Education codes to expand the definition of race to include “traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles.” The measure prohibits both schools and employers in the state from implementing dress codes that prohibit braids, twists, cornrows and other natural hair styles.

When Mitchell introduced the bill in the senate on Monday, she spoke about the importance of the measure serving as an impetus for schools and businesses to create dress/grooming standards conducive to inclusion and diversity.

“I believe that any law policy or practice that sanctions a job description that immediately excludes me from a profession — not because of my capacity or my capabilities or my experience but because of my hairstyle choice — is long overdue for reform,” Mitchell declared.

The C.R.O.W.N. Act addresses the paradoxical struggle lived by African Americans and so aptly described by Mitchell as the effort, “to maintain what society has deemed a—professional image—while protecting the health and integrity of their hair.”

#THECROWNACT #CROWNCOALITION #SB188

This article originally appeared in the Black Voice News. 

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Los Angeles Black Worker Center and Local Community Organizations Lead #LocalEnforcementNow Movement in Support of Senate Bill 218

BLACK VOICE NEWS — The Los Angeles Black Worker Center (LABWC) is leading the #LocalEnforcementNow movement to give Black workers a voice in support of the new legislation, Senate Bill 218, introduced by Senator Steven Bradford (D- Gardena).The legislation is focused on the exponentially high unemployment of Black workers and the increase of racial discrimination claims. SB 218 aims to expand worker’s civil rights by localizing the enforcement of workplace discrimination laws.

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Photo courtesy of http://www.lablackworkercenter.org.

By Andrea Baldrias

The Los Angeles Black Worker Center (LABWC) is leading the #LocalEnforcementNow movement to give Black workers a voice in support of the new legislation, Senate Bill 218, introduced by Senator Steven Bradford (D- Gardena).The legislation is focused on the exponentially high unemployment of Black workers and the increase of racial discrimination claims. SB 218 aims to expand worker’s civil rights by localizing the enforcement of workplace discrimination laws.

It affords municipalities the authority to enforce civil rights protections for workers employed within their municipal boundaries.The Los Angeles Black Worker Center combines systemic and collective approaches to engage employers directly and give workers more structure and power to gain access to quality jobs and challenge/remove systemic barriers to employment. The LABWC holds programs that promote access to quality jobs, racial equity in hiring and retention, discrimination-free job sites, and prepares Black workers for employment in high-wage, career-track jobs. They are one of the eight National Black Worker Centers across the nation.The LABWC broke down each component of SB 218, and why it is a good thing for Black workers and workers as a whole.

First, the role of SB 218 is to remove state authority over all employment discrimination claims and sanction the local enforcement of employment discrimination claims. This means that workers can file through their local governments directly and through a free administrative process. The current process only gives workers the option to file online with state and federal agencies, which often leads to workers experiencing a costly and drawn out legal process.Second, it is beneficial for cities to have the power to investigate and provide solutions to employment discrimination claims. The local governments have a different relationship with local businesses and residents, which are the people who can best gauge community needs in regard to fair hiring practices. In that sense, it is important to shift the power to protect local workers into the hands of locals themselves.

Third, under SB 218 workers are still allowed to file with both the state and local offices. The worker has the option to find solutions through their local offices; however, this does bar workers from the ability to seek judgements rom both offices on a single complaint.Last, it is important to emphasize that the purpose of SB 218 is not to strip workers of their rights but expand existing rights. The local office will be able to seek solutions under state law.

The Los Angeles Black Worker Center commented, “All workers in California deserve employment opportunities and a fair and dignified workplace. But, the promise of opportunity hasn’t been the reality of Black workers. Black workers are being systematically pushed out of their jobs and careers…The underemployment of Black workers in professional jobs are direct effects of discrimination,” they continued. “Black workers are more educated than ever before, yet they still face persistent employment and pay gaps. Whether working full or part time, Black workers earn only three-quarters of what white workers earn.

For Black women, the wage gap is even more severe.”SB 218 was up for vote during the state senate’s judiciary committee hearing on April 23. On that day, the #LocalEnforcementNow movement caravanned to Sacramento to show support for the bill’s approval.

The measure will be an important first step in California’s localization of enforcing workplace discrimination laws and ensuring better protection for workers.For more information, or to find out how you can get involved, visit online at www.lablackworkercenter.org or email info@lablackworkercenter.org.

This article originally appeared in Black Voice News.

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