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Poughkeepsie Adds Seven More Police Officers

HUDSON VALLEY PRESS — The City of Poughkeepsie Police Department has bolstered its ranks, with seven recruits being sworn-in as officers during a ceremony Wednesday.

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City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison with new officers Robert Prince, Kyriacos Kyriacou, Paul Henne, Danielle M. Costa, Kevin Smith, Justin P. Consalvo, and Gregory Schweizer.

By Hudson Valley Press

POUGHKEEPSIE – The City of Poughkeepsie Police Department has bolstered its ranks, with seven recruits being sworn-in as officers during a ceremony Wednesday.

The new officers are: Justin P. Consalvo, Danielle M. Costa, Paul Henne, Kyriacos Kyriacou, Gregory Schweizer, Kevin Smith and Robert Prince.

Mayor Rob Rolison officiated, saying “This is a great day for the City of Poughkeepsie. Public safety is the utmost concern, and we have been able to replenish the ranks steadily in the effort to get us back to full force.”

City Police Chief Thomas Pape said, “These officers will greatly help our department curb crime and keep people safe. With the community’s help, we are making excellent strides, as demonstrated by the most recent statistics on violent crimes in the city.”

Last week, the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services released trends tracked over a10-year period that show many categories of violent crimes have decreased in the City of Poughkeepsie.

Specifically, violent crimes have dropped from 417 in 2009 to 216 in 2018, a 48.2 percent decrease. And robberies, burglaries, and property crimes also have fallen by 50 percent or more during that same timeframe.

Last year, the City of Poughkeepsie also passed measures intended to retain officers and attract them from other departments. The city has subsequently increased its ranks from 79 to 92 officers, including the officers added Wednesday.

The swearing-in ceremony took place in the Poughkeepsie Common Council Chambers at City Hall.

This article originally appeared in the Hudson Valley Press

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#NNPA BlackPress

Schumer: “Any Unnecessary Delays to Honor Harriet Tubman, Especially for Political Reasons, Are Improper and Unacceptable”

NNPA NEWSWIRE — More than three years ago, under President Obama, the Treasury Department announced the redesign of the $20 note featuring Harriet Tubman’s portrait would be released in 2020, but the Trump administration recently announced that the redesign would be delayed until 2028.

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Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer

Washington, DC – Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer sent a new letter to the U.S. Department of Treasury Inspector General formally requesting an investigation into the Trump Administration’s decision to delay release of the redesign of the twenty-dollar bill.

More than three years ago, under President Obama, the Treasury Department announced the redesign of the $20 note featuring Harriet Tubman’s portrait would be released in 2020, but the Trump administration recently announced that the redesign would be delayed until 2028.

Leader Schumer is demanding answers to the official explanation by the Trump Administration about why the bill’s release has been delayed. In the letter, Leader Schumer specifically requests that the Treasury Inspector General examine whether political considerations played a role in the decision to delay the release and why the Treasury Secretary suggested that it would take a decade or more to produce a new $20 bill.

The request seeks a review of the involvement of the interagency process related to the redesign—including the Secret Service, Federal Reserve, and the White House – to ensure that political considerations did not taint the process to recognize Harriet Tubman’s heroic legacy.

Leader Schumer’s letter also comes after he successfully secured the establishment the Harriet Tubman National Historic Park in Tubman’s hometown, Auburn, NY– which was formally established in January 2017. Schumer fought for years to make Tubman Park a reality. He authored, introduced, and passed legislation authorizing the park and lobbied federal officials to secure the establishment of the park.

Full text of Leader Schumer’s letter is below and a PDF is here

The Honorable Eric M. Thorson
Inspector General
U.S. Department of Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20220

Dear Inspector General Thorson:

I write to request that your office investigate the circumstances surrounding the Department of Treasury’s decision to delay redesign of the $20 note featuring the portrait of Harriet Tubman, including any involvement by the White House in this decision. More than three years ago, Secretary Jacob Lew announced that he had ordered the acceleration of redesigns of the $20, $10 and $5 notes, and that the “final concept design” of the $20 note, including Harriet Tubman’s portrait, would be released in 2020.

Shortly after the Trump Administration took office, however, all mentions of the Tubman $20 bill were deleted without explanation from the Treasury Department’s website. Then we learned, according to recent testimony by Secretary Steven Mnuchin that a decision had been made to delay the release of the new $20 note until the year 2028. The Treasury Department subsequently refused to confirm that Harriet Tubman’s image would ever appear on the new note – notwithstanding recent reports that the Bureau of Engraving and Printing has already completed extensive planning work on the redesign effort.

We do not know the real reason for these decisions, but we do know that during his campaign, President Trump referred to efforts to replace President Jackson’s likeness on the front of the $20 note as “pure political correctness.” Secretary Mnuchin attempted to explain the delay as necessary to accommodate anti-counterfeiting measures, but it is simply not credible that with all the resources and expertise of the U.S. Treasury and Secret Service, a decade or more could be required to produce a new $20 bill. If the Empire State Building could be completed in 13 months almost 100 years ago, the 21st century Treasury Department ought to be able to get this job done in a reasonable period of time.

Harriet Tubman was an extraordinary American and New Yorker whose story deserves to be shared with current and future generations. She deserves to be honored for her bravery, compassion, and service to the United States. There is no reason to reverse the original decision to recognize her heroic legacy on the $20 note. Any unnecessary delays, especially for political reasons, in redesigning the $20 note in her honor are improper and unacceptable.

For these reasons, I ask that you conduct an investigation into decisions made at the Treasury since January of 2018 regarding the delay of the redesign of the $20 note. I also ask that you review the involvement of other participants in the interagency process related to the redesign – including the Secret Service, Federal Reserve, and the White House – to ensure that political considerations have not been allowed to infect the process for designing American currency.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

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IN MEMORIAM: Sterling Tucker, Civil Rights Leader and Activist Politician, Dies at 95

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Prominent American civil rights activist and Washington, D.C. politician Sterling Tucker passed away on July 14, in Washington, D.C. Tucker was the first chair of the District of Columbia City Council and ran for mayor in 1978. He was defeated by Marion Barry by 1,500 votes.

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Prominent American civil rights activist and Washington, D.C. politician Sterling Tucker passed away on July 14, in Washington, D.C. (Photo: @councilofdc / Twitter)

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

Prominent American civil rights activist and Washington, D.C. politician Sterling Tucker passed away on July 14, in Washington, D.C. Tucker was the first chair of the District of Columbia City Council and ran for mayor in 1978. He was defeated by Marion Barry by 1,500 votes.

Tucker was an active part of the Poor People’s Campaign and organized Solidarity Day, a 50,000 member protest in Washington D.C. on June 19, 1969. The Poor People’s Campaign was started by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), in 1968. It would be continued under the direction of the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Dr. King’s chief lieutenant, after King was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

The Poor People’s Campaign was focused on economic justice for poor people in America. Today that work is continued by Rev. William Barber II. Sterling Tucker worked alongside Reverend Abernathy and Coretta Scott King in what was the first formal activist effort to bring economic justice for African Americans.

Tucker served on the first District of Columbia City Council from 1969 to 1974, as home rule was established and served one term. He was also chairman of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. During the early 80s he began a consulting firm called Sterling Tucker and Associates and in 1990 was chairman of the American Diabetes Association.

“He was fundamental to the leadership of the city,” former city council chairman Arrington Dixon told the Washington City Paper about Tucker. Dixon remembered Tucker as mild mannered but impactful. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter nominated Tucker to be Assistant Secretary for the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Sterling Tucker is survived by his two daughters, Michele Jeffery and Lauren Tucker; four grandchildren and many friends and colleagues.

His body laid in repose in the John A. Wilson Building, where the D.C. City Council meets in Washington and funeral services took place at the McQuire Funeral Home on Georgia Avenue NW. The Tucker family asked that donations be made in his name to the American Diabetes Association, P.O. Box 15829, Arlington VA 22215 and Trinity Episcopal Church Outreach Ministry to the Homeless, 7005 Piney Branch Road N.W., Washington DC 20012.

Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist and writer for NNPA as well as a political analyst and strategist as Principal of Win Digital Media LLC. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke

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PRESS ROOM: 100-year old legendary African-American debate coach awarded 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award from NSDA

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Dr. Thomas Freeman’s 70-plus year resume includes teaching Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during his time at Morehouse, former U.S. Reps. Leland and Jordan, Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, gospel superstar Yolanda Adams, and Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington, who sought out Freeman’s expertise to coach the cast of the Golden Globe-nominated film “The Great Debaters.”

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The National Speech & Debate Association has honored Dr. Thomas Freeman’s 70-plus year legacy with the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award.
The National Speech & Debate Association has honored Dr. Thomas Freeman’s 70-plus year legacy with the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award.

100-year old legendary African-American debate coach Dr. Thomas Freeman has been awarded the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Speech & Debate Association.

Freeman’s 70-plus year resume includes teaching Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during his time at Morehouse, former U.S. Reps. Leland and Jordan, Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, gospel superstar Yolanda Adams, and Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington, who sought out Freeman’s expertise to coach the cast of the Golden Globe-nominated film “The Great Debaters.”

Freeman was the Texas Southern University debate coach for six decades before his retirement in 2013. Freeman recently celebrated his 100th birthday on June 27, 2019.

“The National Speech & Debate Association is deeply honored to award Dr. Freeman with our 2019 lifetime achievement award,” said J. Scott Wunn, Executive Director of the National Speech & Debate Association. “Our members, board members, coaches, and students hold Dr. Freemen with such high esteem – he’s like a celebrity within our organization. Freeman is the epitome of who our members hope to become – someone who defies the odds and uses the power of words to propel change. His words of encouragement at our National Tournament in Dallas will always echo through our hearts.”

About the National Speech & Debate Association

The National Speech & Debate Association is the largest interscholastic speech and debate organization serving middle school, high school, and collegiate students in the United States. The Association provides competitive speech and debate activities, high-quality resources, comprehensive training, scholarship opportunities, and advanced recognition to more than 150,000 students and coaches every year. For 90 years, the National Speech & Debate Association has empowered nearly two million members to become engaged citizens, skilled professionals, and honorable leaders in our society. For more information, visit www.speechanddebate.org.  

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Empire Star Taraji Henson Speaks on Suicide and Mental Health on Capitol Hill

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “It breaks my heart to know that 5-year-old children are contemplating life and death, I just…I’m sorry. That one is tough for me. So, I’m here to appeal to you, because this is a national crisis. When I hear of kids going into bathrooms, cutting themselves, you’re supposed to feel safe in school,” Henson told the members of Congress and those in the audience in a hearing room on Capitol Hill in Washington.

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Award-winning actress and Empire star Taraji P. Henson testified before members of Congress on mental health issues in the African American community. (Photo: YouTube)
Award-winning actress and Empire star Taraji P. Henson testified before members of Congress on mental health issues in the African American community. (Photo: YouTube)

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

“I am here using my celebrity, using my voice, to put a face to this, because I also suffer from depression and anxiety. If you’re a human living in today’s world, I don’t know how you’re not suffering in any way.”

Award-winning actress and ‘Empire’ star Taraji P. Henson testified before members of Congress on mental health issues in the African American community.

The Congressional Black Caucus launched a task force on mental health issues in April of this year. They have held hearings on mental health and the increasing number of suicides among black youth. The CBC Emergency Taskforce on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health is chaired by Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ).

The members of the task force are Reps. Alma Adams (D-NC), Emanuel Cleaver II (D-MO), Danny Davis (D-IL), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Barbara Lee (D-CA), John Lewis (D-GA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Frederica Wilson (D-FL).

“I’m here to appeal to you because this is a national crisis,” Henson said. Henson founded The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation in 2018 to eradicate the stigma surrounding mental illness in the African American community with a specific emphasis on the suicide rate among Black youth.

“I really don’t know how to fix this problem, I just know that the suicide rate is rising,” she said. “I just know that ages of the children that are committing suicide are getting younger and younger,” the actress added.

“It breaks my heart to know that 5-year-old children are contemplating life and death, I just…I’m sorry. That one is tough for me. So, I’m here to appeal to you, because this is a national crisis. When I hear of kids going into bathrooms, cutting themselves, you’re supposed to feel safe in school,” Henson told the members of Congress and those in the audience in a hearing room on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Every year, 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experience a mental illness, but a National Alliance on Mental Illness study discovered that black adults utilize mental health services at half the rate of white adults.

Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist and writer for NNPA as well as a political analyst and strategist as Principal of Win Digital Media LLC. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke

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A champion of the people: Josie Johnson still finds hope in the struggle

MINNESOTA SPOKESMAN-RECORDER — Josie Johnson. The term “living legend” might well understate her stature in the community. She is a beloved lady with a warm hearted smile and serious political clout who has made history, indeed helped shaped it, as chronicled in her book Hope in the Struggle: A Memoir (University of Minnesota Press).

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Submitted photo (l-r) Carolyn Holbrook, Josie Johnson and Arleta Little
By MSR News Online

Josie Johnson. The term “living legend” might well understate her stature in the community. She is a beloved lady with a warm hearted smile and serious political clout who has made history, indeed helped shaped it, as chronicled in her book Hope in the StruggleA Memoir (University of Minnesota Press).

On the dust cover of the memoir, Walter Mondale attests that Johnson “has always been a champion of fairness and decency, and this book shows us that while there is still work to be done, with her help, there will always be hope.”

Her friend and comrade Mahmoud El- Kati, Twin Cities historian, scholar and community griot, told Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder that Hope in the Struggle “is timely and it’s important. Many people are going to find it very, very useful because of the time and context she addresses.”

Just a partial listing of Johnson’s pedigree as a person of the people notes that she has remained active in civil rights since a teenager when she and her father canvassed to gather signatures on an anti-poll tax petition.

In the early 1960s, Johnson professionally lobbied for fair housing and equal opportunity employment. A member of the Minneapolis Urban League, she served as acting director between 1967 and 1968, after which she became a legislative and community liaison as a mayoral aide in Minneapolis during a time of turbulent racial unrest that had swept America. She co-chaired Minnesota’s delegation to the momentous 1971 March on Washington.

She is also a recipient of the Committed to the Vision Award from the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights, and the University of Minnesota established the Josie Robinson Johnson Human Rights and Social Justice Award in her honor.

In her living room, you can get a glimpse of how her life has spanned African American progress. On a wall there are artifacts from the Jim Crow era — signs reading, “Colored seated in rear” and “We serve colored carry out only.” And not far from an end table sits a framed photo of Josie Johnson and Michelle Obama together, radiantly smiling.

On June 27, Johnson enjoyed a book signing at UROC in North Minneapolis. “I was very happy to have an opportunity to [be] with our community,” she said, “and talk about what my team [Carolyn Holbrook and Arleta Little with whom she crafted the memoir] was trying to do in the book. That was the purpose.”

Asked why, when, and how she came by her lifelong commitment to making a difference, Johnson said, “I grew up in an environment where it made a difference. My dad wanted to be a lawyer, but there were no schools for Black graduate students.

“So, he became employed by the Southern Pacific Railroad and was a dining car waiter. He organized [fellow] waiters. Mother got involved in programs educating Black children, and I grew up with a community that believed in us as a people being engaged in the well-being of all.”

That principle, a strong theme in Hope in the Struggle, is an abiding aspect of what she terms the “transition of values to future generations.” In the chapter “Making Our Way,” Johnson attests, “North Minneapolis was a close-knit community before the problems of the ’60s broke out. Just like the families of my childhood in Houston, North Side families knew and looked out for one another.

“Neighbors knew the names of the children, whether they lived in the projects or in modest or middle-to-upper-class homes.” She goes on to note, “Black-owned barber shops and beauty salons, restaurants, bars and cafes, dry cleaners, grocery stores, and clothing stores thrived. The Givens Ice Cream Bar was also a mainstay in the community, owned by Archie Givens Sr. and his wife Phebe. Archie and Phebe grew up in North Minneapolis and remained there with their children while he grew his career as a real estate developer building new homes for Black families.”

Speaking with MSR, she added, “Our children need that, now. The sense of living in a close-knit community…talking to our kids about their history and who they are. Give them a sense of pride.”

She added, “The society has created an environment now [that has] made Black adults afraid of their own. They don’t stop them in the street anymore to correct them when they’re doing something to misbehave. We have fallen into that trap.”

Johnson continued, “I had an experience that was so rewarding. I was on a department store escalator one time.  Three young Black ladies, girls, were talking in [foul] language. Not what this old lady wanted to hear. I said, ‘Young ladies, you are too beautiful to talk like that.’ They turned around, covered their mouths and apologized. Wasn’t that something? I wasn’t afraid of our children.”

Johnson is troubled by the state of things not only for those children but the nation, period, since Barack Obama left office. In the Hope in the Struggle epilogue, she observes that today’s White House is far from a friend of social progress; in fact, it stands counter thereto.

“Since his election, Donald Trump has defined his presidency in his own way. He has borrowed strategies from past presidents — for example, Nixon and Reagan — that fit his definition of his presidency. And in so doing, he has created a world of confusion.”

Asked to expound on that point, she said, “Trump came in and said it was alright to be racist.  It’s alright to be sexist and treat women the way he did. Alright to make fun of people that are handicapped, have various disabilities.

“And America told him he was right. It elected him President of the United States. They still allow him to get away with that. That’s the harm he’s done to America. I wonder what that says to children still trying to develop a sense of right and wrong.”

To order purchase your copy of Hope in the Struggle: A Memoir, go to bit.ly/JosieJohnsonHope.

This article originally appeared in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

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‘Mindful Beauty’ health program to launch in salons

WAVE NEWSPAPERS — Kaiser Permanente has teamed with Charles Drew University to launch a new mental health program called Mindful Beauty. Depression impacts the lives of more than 12 million women in America annually, according to Mental Health America. African-American women, as stated by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, are at the highest risk for experiencing major depression.

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Young woman consoling her friend. Los Angeles, America. (Photo by: wavenewspapers.com)

By Sarah Jones-Smith

LOS ANGELES — Kaiser Permanente has teamed with Charles Drew University to launch a new mental health program called Mindful Beauty.

Depression impacts the lives of more than 12 million women in America annually, according to Mental Health America. African-American women, as stated by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, are at the highest risk for experiencing major depression.

Attending bi-weekly salon appointments, one could argue that women are visiting the hair salon more often than a therapist. Despite the commonality of depression and anxiety, stigmas surrounding mental health within the black community often deter women from seeking help.

According to the executive director of the Black Beauty Shop Health Foundation, Margot LaDrew, the beauty salon is the one place that black women literally let their hair down and discuss their greatest struggles. In agreement with LaDrew’s sentiments, Kaiser Permanente prompted her health care organization with a two-year, $80,000 grant to launch the Mindful Beauty program.

“Mindful Beauty is an innovative mental health program that allows us to smartly and safely start the process of reducing the stigma behind mental health,” LaDrew said. The five-week program will leverage the special hairstylist-client bond to provide the health outreach and education required to aid in reducing depression.

Janae Oliver, the founder of the Mindful Beauty Initiative and community health manager for Kaiser Permanente, said, “This program is about starting a real conversation through interventions that get women well before they reach the doors of our health care system.”

The program is a collaboration among South Los Angeles medical school Charles Drew University, Black Beauty Shop Health Foundation and the California Black Women’s Health Project.

Oliver thought of the program when she was a student at Charles R. Drew University. Growing up in South Los Angeles, her sister was a hairstylist. She shared client stories with Oliver and expressed that she was, “like a therapist.”

With her sister’s stories in mind and after doing research, Oliver noticed that black women typically were not represented in data about mental health. She also noticed that many people within the black community do not trust that they can visit a mental health specialist without being seen as “crazy” because of stigmas surrounding mental health issues in the black community.

Oliver and a group of classmates decided to make that the focus of their class project and Mindful Beauty was born.

Cynthia Davis, assistant professor at Charles Drew University College of Science and Health, is looking forward to launching the program, as she feels it is long overdue.

“Our hope is that the results will be very positive and that Mindful Beauty can be replicated across the country,” Davis said. Charles Drew University’s resources will be used to capture and measure the program’s outcomes.

“As a hairstylist for over 20 years, I have often found that I am one of the few people outside of a close friend, family member, intimate partner or physician that has knowledge of the issues that women who sit in my chair face on a daily basis,” said Maisha Oliver, celebrity hairstylist and program champion.

Oliver believes that Mindful Beauty is likely to have a positive impact on African-American women. At the end of the program, stylists in South Los Angeles beauty salons will receive certificates and will have the opportunity to their knowledge to assist black women in the community.

The program will be geared toward women 18 and over. Maisha Oliver and others will participate in training led by the California Black Women’s Health Project.

Other stylists are still going through a recruitment process and, if picked, will participate in a seven-module training. Through this training, they will learn to recognize signs of depression as well as cultural factors that should be taken into consideration.

Each case will be confidential and client referrals will take place through community clinics such as UMMA Community Clinic and ROADS Community Care Clinic. The Mindful Beauty program is expected to launch this summer.

This article originally appeared in the Wave Newspapers
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