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Hardy L. Brown

Remembering Sis. Ida Roberson, The Lady in the Second Row

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Some people called her Miss Ida, Sister Roberson or described her as the lady on the second row wearing a fashionable hat. Some even called her mom because of the special attention paid to them by Sister Roberson. For many she was the clerk of the church as she kept the minutes of business meetings, number of people taking communions, recording births, bapti sm and keeping records of all new members joining church. She was someone the church could lean and count on. She also helped keep the children in line just looking at them as only a mother of the church could do.

To me she was Sister Roberson and more importantly a friend. I first met Sister Roberson in 1972 after I joined St. Paul AME. I was somewhat cautious of her at first because of the way or manner in which she would come across as sharp and straight to the point. I noticed those who knew her would say this is Miss Ida’s way of showing she loves you. I also noticed that if people wanted an honest opinion, accurate information or history lesson, they sought out Sister Roberson, and so did I.

Thi s friendship grew to where Sister Roberson supported and worked in every political campaign of mine or any I was involved in. She would call voters on my behalf or worked in the campaign office. The other thing about Sister Roberson I noticed was when my son, Hardy was sick, she would come to the hospital, to sit and pray silently. She would not interrupt in any way but wanted the family to know we were not alone in this situation. I likened her faithfulness to this duty like the friends of Job sitting with him during his trial. They said nothing but being there showing support in his time of trouble. This is the kind of lady Sister Roberson was and she will truly be missed by all.

So to the members of St. Paul AME and visitors, give her a nod when you pass the second row on Sunday mornings during service.

Again? “Ain’t the Black Voice News” a Newspaper Too

At the last city council meeting in San Bernardino, they were discussing advertising a special message to the public. They wanted the public to be informed so the staff recommended they place ads in the Sun Newspaper and the Penny Saver to reach the public. I could not believe what I was hearing since they know that the Black Voice News has an office in the city and people read our paper. The reason I know they read our paper is because if the circulation manager does not arrive and deliver between 25 and 50 papers to city hall, we get a call at the office from people complaining.

When it came time for public comment, Publisher Cheryl Brown, happened to be at the meeting and reminded them “Ain’t the Black Voice News” a newspaper too. She informed them that she pays taxes and covers news of the city but when it comes to the city doing business with us, they have a lapse of memory.

So to my surprise Chas Kelly made a motion to include the Black Voice News to the motion before them. I want to commend Councilman Kelly for stepping up to the plate and speaking out for us on this matter, once it was brought to their attention. Of course this prompted others to name other publications in and out of the city to become a part of this educational opportunity to the public regardless of known readership.

My concern or issue wi th not only this city but many cities and businesses that advertise services or products to our people is; you come to us with your free public news releases, you seek us out for guidance on some critical issues but hesitate to spend money with us. You even took the suggestion of city attorney Jim Penman to include a paper located in Highland. I have no issue wi th that because you should use credible publications and vehicles to reach the public but to be continuously ignored is troubling and I would like to know why we are always forgotten. Is it because we do not print daily? No, that cannot be the reason because the Penny Saver is not daily. Is it because our corporate office is in Riverside? No, that cannot be the reason because the Penny Saver is located in another county. You and other city elected officials are always touting to do business with local vendors, in other words keep some of the money local to help with the economy. Yet when the opportunity presents itself with our community you forget.

Maybe I will get my staff to make a presentation to government agencies on who we are so we can become a part of the discussion when you spend our tax dollars on advertising to notify the citizens.

SB High School Black Students Need To Seek Higher Ground

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What has happened to Black student pride at San Bernardino High School (SBHS) over the years? When I came to San Bernardino in the early sixties, SBHS was alwaysthe talk of the communityas the school with a rich history of Black pride. There was the families of the Minter’s, Cheryl, Fred and Dexter; the Law’s, Rod and Ester; the Walker’s, Donnie, Lloyd, Melvin, Pattie; Shelly Garrett; the Macon’s, Elvern, Edna, Ella, Samuel and Stanley; Peter Dixon; Karen Mason, the Seldon’s, George and Glen; the Jacquet’s, Roseland, Barbara, Wayne, Wilbur and Andy Brown; Josh Carter, Dexter James, the Bradshaw’s; the Greenwood’s James Sweeney, Leonard Jacks; and James Butts. Later I found a long history with Dr. Howard Inghram, the area's first Black medical doctor serving the county of San Bernardino and Riverside. Then his sister Dorothy Inghram the first Black superintendent in the State of California, both were graduates of SBHS. Then you have upstanding citizens like Carl Clemons as graduates who went on to serve in the navy, work at Norton AFB and serve on many boards and commissions in the city paving a way for others to follow.

We have Wilmer Amina Carter a graduate of SBHS now serving in the State Assembly representing thousands in the area of Fontana, Rialto, Bloomington, Colton, and San Bernardino. Mark Seay a professional football player with several teams but has the record for scoring the only two point conversion in a Super Bowl Game as a San Diego Charger. He now works for Stater Bros. owned by Jack Brown, also a SBHS graduate. You have Cheryl Brown an entrepreneur and a 1961 graduate with four children Lynn Renee Brown-Lee, Emergency Room Technician and national labor organizer for the Barack Obama presidential campaign, Paulette Brown-Hinds, PhD, owner of BPC Media Works, a strategic communication firm, Hardy Brown, II, Executive Director of Black Voice Foundation, Inc. and Opportunities of a Lifetime for students. Regina Brown-Wilson, Communications Analyst with the Office of the Secretary of Education Sacramento and three grandsons James, Justin and Jonathan Lee that graduated from SBHS.

SBHS also produced Bryon Russell, a professional basketball player with the Utah Jazz; Virgil Marshall retired Air Force officer; Frank Jewett, San Jose graduate in finance and marketing; and Glenn Bragg, Major League Baseball player for the Reds and Brewers. Andrew Pierson works at Morehouse in Atlanta; Greg Hudson, a computer science engineer, owns his own company; Johnny McGlothen owns his own company Mix Music Mechanic Company; Actor Phillip Michael Thomas, known for his role in Miami Vice and classmate of Dan Frazier, the former city councilmember in San Bernardino are graduates of SBHS. You also have Danny Tillman the current president of SB City Unified School District a graduate of SBHS. The list is too long to account for them all but you can get the gist of SBHS’s long and rich history of Blacks that graduated from the school.

I cite this history because the other day I heard a rumor that for the year 2011 only six African American males will march across the stage to receive a diploma of graduation from San Bernardino High School. This prompted me to seek out and do a profile of SBHS and see what is happening and hope for solutions or spark a discussion from those that walked the halls of this school. Stevie Wonder had a song called ‘Higher Ground’ and this is what needs to be done to turn things around. Stevie sang, “people keep on learning, soldiers keep on warring, world keep on turning’ cause it won’t be too long, till I reach the higher ground.” Then in another verse he says, “Teachers keep on teaching, Preachers keep on preaching,” world keep on turning cause it won’t be long, till I reach the higher ground.” I will add “Parents keep on parenting,” Community keep on giving” for it takes a village to raise our children. Well what do we have to do so our kids can reach that higher ground?

In researching the rumor I heard about the SBHS class of 2011, I found out from Linda Bardere, Director of Communication for the school district that six Black males graduating is a vicious rumor and that the correct number is sixty four Black males who will be graduating this year from SBHS. I am happy to hear the good news but I am going to still ask the question "what has happened to the pride of African American students who attend SBHS?" According to the data compiled for the year 2008/09 by the Department of Education in Sacramento on SBHS, this is what is going on at this school with such a rich history for African Americans.

Black students scored at 534 for the Academic Performance Reporting Index, when it should be 800. This is the lowest score of all groups of students at SBHS. The graduation rate for all students at SBHS was 58.2 percent. Only 5 out of 39 Black students that graduated in ‘09 from SBHS completed coursework required for admission into the UC and/or CSU system of higher education in California. The reported dropout rate of 47.0% in ‘09 for Black students at SBHS is way too high for any group of kids and if they are not in school where are they?

Currently we have 423 (17.2% of the student population at SBHS) African American students with 16 (14.7% of the teaching staff) African Americans on the teaching staff. The latest Academic Performance Index Report shows a base score of 574 which is up from 534 a growth increase of 40 points. On the STAR Test, African American students at SBHS score at or above in English Language Art at 16.5%, Math at 20.3%, Science at 21.0% and History and Social Science at 12.0% this needs much attention. They do not have the current dropout rate or the number of Black students meeting the admission standards for entrance into the UC or CSU institutions.

I am not casting blame on the school district but on all of us that parent, send, teach, provide services and govern the district of these African American children. There are many questions that need or should be asked and answers given by everyone involved. How can a parent not know their child is not in school? Do they ever contact the school? Does the teacher ever notify the parent as to what happened to the child? Does the district policy require any kind of follow upon a student that just falls off the radar screen, so to speak? I know that Dr. Alturo Delgado and his staff have walked the streets and visited homes to encourage kids to attend school with some results. Have the parents and community met them halfway? I do not know. Have the students given their all? I suspect not. Has the teachers and support staff of classified employees done all they can? I don’t know.

The old Eastern Airlines had a commercial that showed they were losing customers. So the president assigned staff members to contact known frequent flyers as to why they were not flying Eastern anymore. The president saved the largest customer for himself to visit and asked the hard question of why? What have we failed to do? What could we have done different? What will it take to win you back? What will it take to bring the pride back and take our children to higher ground.

I am urging the district to contact some of the alumni of SBHS and current parents and have a honest discussion about what should be tried to return the pride of African American students and take them to higher ground.

Neil Derry Wrong; James Ramos for County Supervisor

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Neil Derry is right about one thing, a person cannot serve two masters, so in the case of Derry, he is trying to serve three masters: greed, racism, and the county of San Bernardino as a Board of Supervisor. If you noticed, I did not call him a racist because I do not believe he could or would go that far with his actions but based on his actions and colleagues he surrounds himself with, he seems like one.

Some of Derry’s first actions upon being elected to the board were to hire James Erwin as his Chief Of Staff, a person later indicted by the Grand Jury on 29 counts of corruption. Then Derry hired Joe Turner as his public relations representative, a person on the Southern Poverty Law Center watchlist of hate group activities in the country for racism toward Blacks, Jews and illegal immigrants.

Derry not only ran with greed and racism, he brought them into his office to represent him. Now Derry himself was indicted by the County District Attorney, Michael A. Ramos and State Attorney General, Kamala Harris just a few weeks ago on corruption charges.

Last week James Ramos held a press conference in front of the county building announcing his intention of running for the board of supervisors seat held by Neil Derry.

Before the announcement could be made Derry said, “there are serious legal questions” about San Manuel Tribal Chairman James Ramos’ eligibility to run to replace him  on the board of supervisors. Derry is saying that because Ramos is Native American Whites will not vote for Ramos.

My late pastor Rev. William Jacks used to tell me all the time, you can’t run with the rabbit and buddy with the hound dog. When he told me that the first time, I said, “Rev. Jacks what do you mean?” He said, “rabbits have their own unique smell and when you run with them the smell rubs off on you. Then when you go and buddy with the hound dog, remember the hound has been trained to hunt that smell.” Well Derry has that smell of racism and I know what it smells like and the Attorney General knows what government corruption smells like and it is all over Derry from Erwin and Turner.

With a little forethought on Derry’s part he would have said to himself Ramos currently holds an elected position as a Community College Trustee and was recently re-elected by American citizens. A quick search on the internet would have revealed the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 granting full citizenship rights to America’s Native Americans.

When I think about Derry’s actions of questioning a Native American's eligibility to hold public office over citizenship, I think of the movie “Cry Freedom” starring Denzel Washington and Kevin Kline under the Apartheid Law in South Africa. Steve Biko, played by Denzel went to visit his White friend Don Woods, played by Kevin Kline, in the middle of the night. Don said to Steve, it is against the law for you to be in a White neighborhood in the middle of the night without an escort. Steve replied, this is my country I go where I want to go. That is what Derry is trying to do with Ramos, regulate what he can do as a Native American.

James Ramos will not say it but I am. James can go anywhere, anytime and do whatever any citizen has a right to do. As a matter of fact, Ramos has earned the right to do more based on what his “sovereign government” has done for this area. Ramos and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians have contributed more than Derry has or ever will if Derry lived for a hundred years in San Bernardino. They have done it because that is the kind of people they are.

Another thing about Derry is he is taking a page out of his Tea Party section of the Republican Party. I say Tea Party section because the larger Republican members do not behave or believe much of this racism. The Tea Party section uses actions like “show me the birth certificate Mr. Obama” or run a photo with the head of President Obama on a monkey and say this is why there is no birth certificate. In other words, Derry is saying no Indian, African American, Latino or Asian has the right to hold public office in the county. Derry did not want or vote for Josie Gonzales to be Chairman of the Board even though she met all of the criteria set by others who has sat in the chairman’s seat.

Now members of the Republican Party of San Bernardino County have an opportunity to join with Dennis Hansberger, former Senator Bill Leonard, San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris, Redlands Police Chief Jim Bueermann, Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar, Yucaipa Mayor Dick Riddell and San Bernardino Police Chief Keith Kilmer who have said let us get rid of those who practice and use racist actions to get elected in this county. It has no place in a political party that helped President Lincoln abolish slavery in America. Let this county say we cannot control what they do in Orange County or Washington but in San Bernardino we will not tolerate these actions of racism or greed.

Let us elect James Ramos an outstanding citizen of this community. A man of tremendous faith in God and integrity. A man with a demonstrated commitment to serving and helping his fellow citizens. A man with the determination to help us find solutions to the county’s many problems. Ramos has the education and experience to understand the many issues facing a county with its diverse population, education and economic needs.

San Bernardino City Needs New Medicine

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Due to my illness, I have been somewhat confined to take it easy and do most of my news gathering from newspapers, radio, internet, television and other interactions from people. I guess you say, Hardy this is how I gather my information as well but now I process the information differently than I used to. This brings me to my observation of the way the city government operates in San Bernardino. When I used to attend the meetings, I would only stay for the item on the agenda that I was interested in and never for the complete meeting.

Now more often than not, I will observe the entire meeting sitting in my den, including the Redevelopment Agency portion of the meeting where the council presides as the Board of Directors. I have noticed the many competing interests of people and departments such as the treasurer, city clerk, city attorney, water department or redevelopment that the council or mayor has no control or authority over.

The two areas I see where there needs to be great changes is in the redevelopment agency and water department when it comes to city government authority. I cite these two because they take in a tremendous amount of money from water payments and tax increment money and has tremendous impact on the planning of the city.

If the city is going to attract businesses with jobs, which we need, then we need more authority over it as elected officials so it can be better coordinated with other departments within the city. Currently the redevelopment agency operates outside of other departments and so does the water department. This leads to a disjointed or dysfunctional family relationship within the city. The city manager, for example, reports to the mayor and council but has no responsibility to or for these departments.

We as citizens argue with the council members about development and the redevelopment agency goes and does what it wants to do. I remember when John Hobbs was on the council and the redevelopment agency transferred tax increment money from the sixth ward to develop other projects including a golf course and Hospitality Lane in the city all without his knowledge and there was nothing he could do about it.

In the case of the water department the mayor appoints people to serve but has no authority over what they do or how the money is spent, to my knowledge. They can raise our rates and spend the revenues as they see fit.

Now I am not saying they have not done an adequate job but they could better serve the city if there were greater coordination and accountability with other departments under the direct authority of the mayor and council.

To a lesser degree the city attorney, treasurer and city clerk need to be under the direct authority of the council. My observation of the manner in which the mayor limited the conversation of the city attorney on matters not related to legal opinions can reduce that exchange. If the council reminds everyone that this is a meeting of the mayor and council and unrelated political comments by any city staff will not be tolerated, it will go a long way in reducing some of the tension at the meetings. Of course the public can say what they wish during the public comment portion because they pay taxes for that right. To all elected officials who say they are a “watchdog” can go and get a job at a junkyard so they can bark all they want without hindering the public business.

Now the trick is to get the citizens to demand change. The demographics and economic status of its citizens have changed drastically since the charter was put into place and needs to be reviewed and changed to keep up with the needs of the day. People with education and money are leaving the city for other communities. Some of the highest paid city servants, our police and firefighters do not live in the city and spend our tax dollars to improve other communities.

When the city was discussing the budget crisis neither the water department nor the redevelopment agency was at the table to participate in the solutions. I think a change would go a long way in helping the city spend more time on long range planning to bring businesses, jobs and a cleaner city to our area.

Another thing for us citizens to do is demand some kind of code of conduct in how elected officials treat one another at public meetings. I know when they seek office there is a code of conduct statement one must sign regarding how they run their campaigns so it could be extended after the election.

When a person is sick they go to the doctor and sometimes the doctor prescribes medicine that does not taste good but it is necessary if you want to get well. Well San Bernardino City is sick from a lack of civility at the council meetings and with a city charter that has granted power to agencies and departments outside the authority of the mayor and council. This needs to be corrected and the citizens need to demand the appropriate medicine by changing the charter.

Call To Action: What Are Black Parents To Do To Get A Good Quality Education For Their Children?

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It is my understanding that in February, the Sacramento County Office of Education made a decision on behalf of over 33,000 African American students that are failing under their jurisdiction by granting the authority to Fortune Charter Schools to educate a portion of these students. In doing so they are admitting that they are committed to finding alternative ways to ensure that this population is getting what taxpayers are paying for which is a good quality education. I want to commend the board for recognizing a problem and taking action to correct this nagging problem, that is also a similar problem around the state.

Now it is also my understanding the California Teachers Association (CTA) is threatening to sue the county board for approving Fortune School's charter school petition. To counter, the elected board is considering a proposal to tax the charter school petitioners (a non-profit organization and 120 parents, all taxpayers) in the event that the board has to defend its own decision to improve the quality of education for a segment of their student population they are currently obviously failing. This, in my opinion, is placing the parents in a position of having to foot the bill for a system that is failing their children and when they seek a proven alternative like Fortune Charters Schools they are saying pay for that too.

To borrow a statement from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) recently "Evidence Matters". Let us take a look at some of the evidence as it relates to African American students in Sacramento County. We have 33,988 or 14.3% of the students seeking an education while we have only 420 or 3.6% teachers in the classroom that look like them out of a teaching staff of 11,743. We have 36.9%, over a third of Black students, dropping out of school each and every year under the current system as compared to 17.1% for white students dropping out. The appropriate question for the board is, what have the parents of these Black students been paying for?

I do not know why the CTA would want to sue the board for trying to secure a good education for African Americans, unless it is getting more money for teachers. To that I say more power to them but not at the expense of Black children. Many educators believe students have too many excuses -- "the dog ate my homework...the lights were turned off...I was hungry...my mom was sick" and the list goes on. While no one accepts the children's excuses, we often accept the excuses our adult educators give as to why they are failing our kids - " We need more money...we can't discipline incompetent staff...the kids just aren't smart enough...their parents don't care,"and that list goes on. Teachers and managers want us to accept their excuses as validation for not educating Black students. On the farm that I grew up on in North Carolina, we were taught what was good for the goose was also good for the gander.

I say the decision to approve Fortune Charter School is a good one for African American students and would welcome the opportunity to tell our story of how our education system in Sacramento County treats Blacks in a court of law. I want our public to know where and who gets the money and who is not currently getting educated.

I served twelve years on the San Bernardino City Unified School District Board of Education and know how pressure is applied from employee and management groups but the board is elected to do what is right for parents, students, and the taxpayers. I was also a union member of the United Steel Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers so I am not against unions but for kids.

While I do not know the legality of the board to be able to pass off the liability of their decision to approve Fortune Schools, it baffles me because they are acting on the behalf of students, taxpayers and the public, while the CTA is acting out of a selfish position of its members and the detriment of African American students.

I think the board's decision to approve Fortune School was a good one based on the early test results of the students in Hardy Brown College Prep in San Bernardino. I am also cautious of most charter school operators because some are out to make some money at the expense of children and naive board members. I caution the board to be careful but do not be intimated by groups and people wanting to take you to court. You know why you are seeking to provide these African American students with the best possible education so they can become productive citizens in our society, maybe even president. So my question to the board is what are Black parents to do to get a quality education for their children?

Thank you for your consideration not to pass this proposal.

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