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George Curry

The Truth about 'Obamacare'

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(NNPA) Major provisions of the Affordable Care Act went into effect on Tuesday and, like all new programs, there was a certain amount of uncertainty and confusion. But making things worse are the deliberate lies that have been told by what some call Obamacare.

To shift through the various charges, I turned to our friends at FactCheck.org for an independent, nonpartisan analysis. Here, in their words, is what they found:

Claim: 8.2 million Americans can’t find full-time work partly due to Obamacare.
FactCheck.org says: False.

This assertion from the Republican National Committee echoes other conservative claims that the law is hindering part-timers from finding full-time jobs. But the RNC’s 8.2 million figure was the total number in June of part-time workers in the U.S. seeking full-time work — what the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls ‘part-time for economic reasons’ — and there’s no evidence from BLS numbers that the law has had an impact on such workers. There were more in this “part-time for economic reasons” category in March 2010, when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law (9.1 million). The latest figure, from August, is 7.9 million.

Claim: The law is a job-killer.
FactCheck.org says: Overblown.

It’s true nonpartisan economic analyses have estimated a “small” loss of mainly low-wage jobs because of the law. But as one expert told us, there hasn’t been much analysis of this impact of the law because, he believes, economists think the impact will be minimal. Still, Republicans have continued to push the idea that the law will have a significant effect on jobs. This claim made our “Whoppers of 2011” list, and it has continued to be pushed in various forms — with the latest being the claims about part-time work.

Claim: Premiums are going up because of the law. Premiums are going down because of the law.
FactCheck.org says: It depends.

Our short answer — “it depends” — may be unsatisfactory to readers, but whether you’ll pay more or less than you would have without the law depends on your circumstances. Are you uninsured and have a preexisting condition? You’ll likely pay less than you would have otherwise. Are you uninsured but young and healthy? You’ll likely pay more (without accounting for any subsidies you may receive). Are you insured through your employer? You likely won’t see much change either way.

Claim: All of the uninsured will pay less on the exchanges than they could now on the individual market, even without federal subsidies.
FactCheck.org says: False.

President Obama made this claim at an Aug. 9 press conference, saying that beginning Oct. 1, the 15 percent of the population that’s uninsured would be able to “sign up for affordable quality health insurance at a significantly cheaper rate than what they can get right now on the individual market.” Obama went on to emphasize that that was before including federal subsidies. “And if even with lower premiums they still can’t afford it, we’re going to be able to provide them with a tax credit to help them buy it,” he added. But even Obama’s secretary of health and human services, Kathleen Sebelius, has acknowledged that young persons would likely pay more and older Americans would likely pay less on the insurance exchanges.

Claim: You won’t be able to choose your own doctor.
Claim: The government will be between you and your doctor.
FactCheck.org says: False.

These claims are variations on the fear that the government will be taking over health care — choosing your doctor, telling him or her what treatment to administer, etc. But the law doesn’t create a government-run system, as we’ve said many times. It actually greatly expands business for private insurance, by about 12 million new customers, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates. And individuals will choose their own doctors, just as they do now.

Claim: If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.
FactCheck.org: Misleading.

Obama has repeatedly made this claim, and the White House continues to use the line on its website. The law doesn’t force Americans to pick new plans or new doctors, but the president simply can’t make this promise to everyone. There’s no guarantee that your employer won’t switch plans, just as companies could have done before the law. And if you switch jobs, your new work-based coverage might not have your doctor as an in-network provider, either.

Claim: Congress is exempt from the law.
FactCheck.org says: False.

Congress isn’t exempt from the law. In fact, members and their staffs face additional requirements that other Americans don’t. Beginning in 2014, they can no longer get insurance through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, as they and other federal employees have done. Instead, they are required to get insurance through the insurance exchanges.

For the complete report, go to: http://www.factcheck.org/2013/09/obamacare-myths/

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.

Selling Out Black College Football to Make a Buck

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(NNPA) I cringed as the scores came in over the weekend. Ohio State 76, Florida A&M 0. Florida State 54, Bethune-Cookman 6. Miami 77, Savannah State 7. Our HBCUs have traded their proud, rich football heritage for money. And I don’t think it’s worth it.

There’s only one reason our HBCUs schedule games against schools whose head coaches make more than their entire athletic budgets: they earn a big payday, even if that means being publicly humiliated along the way.

The irony is that the SEC wouldn’t continue to have a lock on national football championships were it not for their Black players. And it wasn’t all that long ago that Blacks were as unwelcomed in the SEC as they were at KKK rallies. But when Sam Cunningham ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries in 1970 when the University of Southern California routed Alabama 42-21 in Birmingham, the conference got the message that they couldn’t win without Black talent.

Until then, if Black athletes wanted to play in the South, they had to attend HBCUs. It was never a question of talent. More than 1,200 players from Black colleges have played in the NFL, including 150 who have made it to the Super Bowl. NFL stars from HBCUs include: Jerry Rice (Mississippi Valley), Michael Strayhan (Texas Southern), Walter Payton (Jackson State), Art Snell (University of Maryland Eastern Shore), Ed “Too Tall” Jones and Richard Dent (Tennessee State), Bob Hayes and Willie Galimore (Florida A&M), Donald Driver and Steve McNair (Alcorn State), Deacon Jones and Harry Carson (South Carolina State), John Stallworth (Alabama A&M), Mel Blount (Southern), Larry Little (Bethune-Cookman), Rayfield Wright (Fort Valley State), and L.C. Greenwood (University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff).

Grambling’s Paul “Tank” Younger went to the L.A. Rams and became the first HBCU player to make it in the NFL. Grambling has four players in the NFL Hall of Fame: Willie Davis, Junious “Buck” Buchanan, Willie Brown and Charlie Joiner. Eddie Robinson coached Jim Harris, the first Black quarterback to start in the NFL and be named MVP of the Pro Bowl, and Doug Williams, the first Black quarterback to start in, win and become MVP of a Super Bowl.

Football has always been a part of my life. I played quarterback at Druid High School in Tuscaloosa, Ala., was quarterback and co-captain of my football team at Knoxville College in Tenn., landed my first job in journalism at Sports Illustrated and wrote my first book about Jake Gaither, the legendary football coach at Florida A&M who won 85 percent of his games over 25 years and never had a losing season.

I still love the game and have deep respect for Gaither, Robinson and John Merritt at Tennessee State, the giants of a bygone era.

To fully appreciate the depth of athletic talent at Black colleges in those days, imagine all of the Black football players at the University of Florida, Florida State and the University of Miami on the same team. That’s exactly what Florida A&M had in the segregation era. When Bob Hayes, FAMU’s double-gold medal winner at the 1964 U.S. Olympics and future Dallas Cowboys wide receiver, joined the team, the only time he got off the bench was when they played the national anthem.

Gaither said that because of segregation, the only way he was able to prove the quality of his players was when they turned pro. That was true until Nov. 29, 1969 when Florida A&M played Tampa University in the first game in the Deep South between a Black college and a predominantly White university. FAMU, the underdog, won 34-28.

Unfortunately, most of our Black youth don’t know about the glory days of Black college football. I tried to help fill the gap in 1977 when I wrote, Jake Gaither: America’s Most Famous Black Coach. Recently, Vern Smith, a screenwriter and former Atlanta bureau chief for Newsweek, wrote a screenplay based on my book. We’re in the process of shopping the script, hoping to present the real story about Black college football.

The best known movie about Black college football is “White Tiger,” a made-for-TV movie starring Bruce Jenner as the first White quarterback at previously all-Black Grambling College, now Grambling State University. In the movie, Harry Belafonte plays the role of Coach Eddie Robinson. The fact that a White actor was the star in a movie about Black college football is proof that Hollywood was never serious about telling our story.

According to the Census Bureau, 53 percent of the Black population is under the age of 35. That means that more than half of African Americans were born after 1978. They don’t know anything about Jake Gaither, Eddie Robinson or John Merritt. All they see are the lopsided scores on Saturdays. Vern Smith and I hope to get our movie made if for no other reason than to let them know that it wasn’t always this way.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.

Black Media Slighted as Spending Power Exceeds $1 Trillion

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By George E. Curry
NNPA Editor-in-Chief

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – Although annual Black spending is projected to rise from its current $1 trillion to $1.3 trillion by 2017, advertisers allot only 3 percent of their $2.2 billion yearly budget to media aimed at Black audiences, a new Nielsen report has found.

The study, “Resilient, Receptive and Relevant: The African-American Consumer 2013 Report,” was released at a news conference Thursday at the Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Weekend by Nielsen and the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA). The findings were released by Cheryl Pearson-McNeil, senior vice-president, public affairs and government relations for Nielsen, and Cloves Campbell, chairman of the NNPA and publisher of the Arizona Informant.

“Advertising expenditures geared specifically toward Black audiences reflected only three percent of advertising dollars spent,” the report stated. “Advertisers spent $75 billion on television, radio, internet, and magazine ads in 2012, with only $2.24 billion of that spent with media focused on Black audiences.”

The report said if consumption patterns dictated a company’s advertising budget, then spending with the Black media should be:

44 percent higher on education and career websites;
38 percent higher on streaming websites;
37 percent higher on television (with special emphasis on cable) and
15 percent higher on mobile phone advertising.

“The consumer insights this year are some of the most varied yet,” said Pearson-McNeil. “From store brand loyalty, to top watched television networks, which mobile apps are most popular, a deep dive into how Blacks spend their digital time, and how companies can reach 10 million Black consumers by developing a southern regional strategy – this year’s report is really a compelling read for both advertisers and marketers.”

A 2011 study by Burrell Communications showed that 81 percent of Blacks believe that products advertised in Black media are more relevant to them.

Businesses that bypass the Black media, the report said, limit their potential growth.

“Companies mistakenly believe there are no language barriers, that a general market ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy is an effective way to reach African-Americans” the Nielsen study said. “Just the opposite is true.”

The Nielsen study names the companies that do the most advertising with Black media:

Procter & Gamble ($75.32 million)
L’Oreal ($52.34 million)
McDonald’s ($38.24 million)
Unilever ($31.48 million)
U.S. Government ($28.36)
Berkshire/Hathaway ($27.81 million)
Comcast ($27.69) million)
Hershey ($27.01 million)
PepsiCo ($25.07 million)
Walmart ($24.40 million)
Fiat ($23.60 million)
AT&T ($22.49 million)
Verizon Communications ($22.08 million)
Toyota ($21.43 million)
General Motors ($20.81 million)
Sony ($19.88 million)
Johnson & Johnson ($19.59 million)
Ford ($19.11 million)
Allstate ($19.06 million)
National Amusements, Inc. ($18.92 million)

Advertising by the top 20 companies increased by 2.5 percent between 2011 and 2012. The companies with the largest increases in spending with Black media were: Unilever (40.1 percent), PepsiCo (39.1 percent), Walmart (27.2 percent), the U.S. government (26.4 percent), L’Oreal (19.6 percent), Berkshire Hathaway (15.1 percent) and Comcast (13.2 percent).

Top 20 advertisers with the largest decreases were: Johnson & Johnson (30.7 percent), National Amusements (26.2 percent) and Verizon (24.6 percent).

“Until we do a better job as consumers in the choices we make and invest in companies that invest in us, we are not going to have any changes,” said Pearson-McNeil. Campbell said he hopes the data will help develop “conscious consumers.”

Utilizing Black media makes good business sense, the report said.

“By aligning additional marketing support and more focused strategies using media sources such as Black newspapers, Black radio, Black online sites and other media outlets trusted and relied on by Blacks for their unfiltered information, companies can develop more culturally relevant messages….” the report stated.

It noted that Blacks over index in certain categories, including health and beauty aids, unprepared meat, frozen seafood, feminine hygiene, women’s fragrances, and detergents.

“An examination of African-Americans’ overall category uses reveals some notable and perhaps newly discovered behavioral distinctions between Blacks and the Total Market,” the report found. “Blacks spend 44% more time on Education and Career sites and 21 % more time on Family and Lifestyle sites than Total Market consumers, breaking the myth that Blacks are disinterested in education and the family’s well-being. Additionally, African-Americans continue to be resilient in their role as early adopters of technology as 14% are more likely to spend time on Telecom/Internet Services sites.”

Blacks are also likely to spend far more time watching television.

“Blacks are voracious media users and leaders when it comes to setting pop culture trends. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in Blacks’ television habits where Blacks watch 37% more television than any other group, spending seven hours and 17 minutes per day viewing TV, compared to five hours and 18 minutes of total viewing for Total Market,” the Nielsen study stated.

It continued, “Black women, especially those 18-49, tend to be heavier viewers than their male counterparts. Not surprisingly, media outlets dedicated to Black audiences have a higher composition of Black viewers, which should be of interest to businesses who incorporate media buys into their marketing strategies.”

Blacks outpace Whites in buying smartphones. The Nielsen report found that 71 percent of Blacks own smartphones, compared to 62 percent of the total population. Most African Americans prefer Androids (73 percent) over iPhones (27 percent).

Although a lot of attention is being placed on the growth of Latinos in the U.S., the Black population, which now stands at 43 million people, grew 64 percent faster than the rest of the country since 2000, the study said. The average age is 35, three years younger than the overall population; 53 percent of Blacks are under the age of 35.

Significantly, 73 percent of Whites and 67 percent of Latinos identified Blacks as the driving force for popular culture.

Fortune 100 companies not ranking in the top 20 advertisers with Black media included: General Electric, Citigroup, IBM, Philip Morris, AIG, Home Depot, Bank of America, Fannie Mae, J.P. Morgan Chase, Kroger, Merck, State Farm Insurance, Hewlett-Packard, Morgan Stanley, Sears Roebuck, Target, Merrill Lynch, Kmart, Freddie Mac, Costco, Safeway, Pfizer, J.C. Penney, MetLife, Dell Computer, Goldman Sachs, UPS, Prudential Financial, Wells Fargo, Sprint, New York Life, Microsoft, Walt Disney, Aetna, Walgreen, Bank One, BellSouth, Honeywell, UnitedHealth Group, Viacom, American Express, Wachovia Corp., CVS, Lowe’s, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Coca-Cola.

“Too often, companies don’t realize the inherent differences of our community, are not aware of the market size impact and have not optimized efforts to develop messages beyond those that coincide with Black History Month,” said Campbell, chairman of the NNPA. “It is our hope that by collaborating with Nielsen, we’ll be able to tell the African-American consumer story in a manner in which businesses will understand and, that this understanding will propel those in the C-Suite to develop stronger, more inclusive strategies that optimize their market growth in Black communities, which would be a win-win for all of us.”

1963 was the Pivotal Year for Civil Rights

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(NNPA) In the modern civil rights era, no year stands out in my memory more than 1963. I was a sophomore at Druid High School in Tuscaloosa, Ala. and living in McKenzie Court, the all-Black housing project on the west side of town. After a life of second-class citizenship, I finally saw the walls of segregation crumbling.

Tuscaloosa provided me with a front-row seat. My stepfather, William H. Polk, drove a dump truck at the University of Alabama. Although our taxes went to support what was even then a football factory, African Americans were barred from attending the state-supported school.

On Feb. 3, 1956, Autherine Lucy gained admission to the University of Alabama under a U.S. Supreme Court order. But a mob gathered on campus three days later. Instead defending the Black graduate student, the university suspended Lucy, saying officials could not protect her. When she sued to gain readmission, Alabama officials used that suit to claim she had slandered the university and therefore could not continue as a student.

But things would be different on June 11, 1963, which is not to say there wouldn’t be resistance.

Vivian Malone and James Hood, armed with a federal court order that the university admit them and segregationist Gov. George C. Wallace not interfere, sought to enter Foster Auditorium on campus to register for classes. They were accompanied by Deputy U.S. Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach.

Instead of complying with the federal order, Gov. Wallace, who had pledged “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” in his inaugural address, staged his “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” to block to the two students from entering.

Katzenbach left with the students and placed a call to President John F. Kennedy. The president nationalized the Alabama National Guard. When Malone, Hood and Katzenbach returned to Foster Auditorium that afternoon, Gen. Henry Graham told Wallace, “Sir, it is my sad duty to ask you to step aside under orders of the president of the United States.”

After uttering a few words, Wallace stepped to the side and Malone and Hood walked inside and registered.

It was exciting to see the drama being played out on our black and white TV. At last, I thought, the walls of segregation would be forever shattered.

President Kennedy gave an eloquent televised speech to the nation that night. He said, “Today we are committed to a worldwide struggle to promote and protect the rights of all who wish to be free. And when Americans are sent to Viet Nam or West Berlin, we do not ask for whites only. It ought to be possible, therefore, for American students of any color to attend any public institution they select without having to be backed up by troops.”

The euphoria of a victory in my hometown was short lived. Within hours of Kennedy’s speech, Medgar Evers, who headed NAACP field operations in Mississippi, was shot to death in Jackson, Miss. after parking his car in his driveway and exiting to enter his home. Byron De La Beckwith, a member of the Ku Klux Klan, was arrested for the crime. However, he was acquitted by an all-White, all male jury. It wasn’t until 30 years later, when new evidence surfaced, that Beckwith was finally convicted for murdering Evers.

Of course, 250,000 gathered Aug. 28, 1963 for the March on Washington. Much has been written about the March as part of the 50th anniversary celebration, so I won’t devote much space here except to note that the news media was fixated on the possibility of the March turning violent. But, as the Baltimore Sun noted, only three people were arrested that day and “not one was a Negro.”

Like the desegregation of the University of Alabama, White racists were eager to “send a message” that the March on Washington would not change their world.

In the wee hours of Sunday, Sept. 15, four Klansmen – Bobby Frank Cherry, Thomas Blanton, Herman Frank and Robert Chambliss, planted a box of dynamite with a time delay under the steps of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., a rallying point in the city for civil rights activities. At 10:22 a.m., the bomb went off, killing four young girls – Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair – and injuring 22 others.

Although the violent message was supposed to remind Blacks that there were no safe places for them, not even church, Blacks sent a more lasting message by continuing to desegregate public facilities in Birmingham and across the South.

The enormous sacrifices of 1963 were not in vain. They provided the groundwork for passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. It was a year worth remembering.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.

'Never' Say We Haven't Made Progress

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(NNPA) Selma, Ala., the county seat of Dallas County, was a bastion of White supremacy in 1965. At the time, of the 15,000 potential Black voters, only 300 were registered. In response to chants of “We Shall Overcome,” by civil rights protesters, Sheriff Jim Clark wore a button on his uniform declaring, “Never.”

That did not stop Rev. C.T. Vivian, a close aide of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and workers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) from leading daily marches to the courthouse in an effort to register Blacks. On February 5, 1965, Clark blocked the entrance to the courthouse with his deputies.

“If we’re wrong, why don’t you arrest us?” Vivian said.

Instead of arresting Vivian, Clark hit him so hard in the face that he fractured a finger. After being knocked down the steps, a bloodied C.T. Vivian rose to his feet and said, “We’re willing to be beaten for democracy, and you misuse democracy in this street. You beat people bloody in order that they will not have the privilege to vote.”

Vivian and other activists persisted. Though John Lewis and others were pummeled by Clark’s deputies and Alabama State Troopers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on what became known as “Bloody Sunday,” Blacks did overcome after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

When Sheriff Clark sought re-election in predominantly Black Dallas County in 1966, newly-empowered Black voters said “Never” and kicked him out of office.

Surely, President Obama had Vivian and others like him in mind when he said at the Aug. 28 commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington: “To dismiss the magnitude of this progress – to suggest, as some sometimes do, that little has changed – that dishonors the courage and the sacrifice of those who paid the price to march in those years…”

Obama recently announced that he is awarding Vivian, one of the most courageous figures of the Civil Rights Movement, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Vivian joins other movement veterans, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (posthumously), James L. Farmer, Dorothy Height, John Lewis, Benjamin L. Hooks, Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., Joseph Lowery, Clarence Mitchell, Rosa Parks, Bayard Rustin (posthumously), Roy Wilkins, Andrew Young and Marian Wright Edelman in receiving the distinguished honor.

Because so much work still needs to be done, sometimes we neglect to stand back and appreciate just how much America has changed in the past 50 years.

The Census Bureau provided the following comparisons:

INCOME

1963:

$22,266 (in 2011 dollars)

The median family income for blacks was 55 percent of the median income for all American families.

$25,826 and $14,651 (in 2011 dollars)

Median income of black men and black women who worked full time, year-round

2011

$40,495

The median family income for the Black-alone population was 66 percent of the median income for all American families

$40,273 and $35,146

Median income of single-race black men and black women who worked full time, year-round.

POVERTY

1966

41.8 percent

Poverty rate for Blacks (1966 is the closest year these statistics are available to the historic speech). Nationally, the poverty rate for all races was 14.7 percent.

2011

27.6 percent

Poverty rate for single-race Blacks. Nationally, the poverty rate for all races was 15 percent.

HOUSING

1970

41.6 percent

Homeownership rate for Blacks (the earliest this information is available for race).

2011

43.4 percent

Homeownership rate for Blacks.

HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION

1964

25.7 percent

Percentage of Blacks age 25 and over who completed at least four years of high school.

2.4 million

Number of Blacks 25 and over with at least four years of high school.

2012

85.0 percent

Percentage of Blacks age 25 and over who completed at least four years of high school.

20.3 million

Number of Blacks 25 and over with at least a high school diploma.

COLLEGE STUDENTS AND GRADUATES

1964

234,000

Number of Black undergraduate college students.

3.9 percent

Percent of Blacks age 25 and over who completed at least four years of college

365,000

Number of Blacks who had at least a bachelor’s degree.

2012

2.6 million

Number of Black undergraduate college students in 2011 — More than 10 times as many as 1964.

21.2 percent

Percent of Blacks age 25 and over who completed at least four years of college.

5.1 million

Number of Blacks who had at least a bachelor’s degree.

Yes, we have made progress as a direct result of the modern Civil Rights Movement. And instead of denying that fact – preferring to see the glass as half empty instead of half full – we should celebrate that progress let it be proof that with our efforts, we can continue to make progress over another 50 years.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.

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