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Hardy L. Brown

If You Don’t Know Your History, You Are Doomed To Repeat It

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There is a saying that we say all the time when we as a people want to make a point of importance: “If you don’t know your History you are doomed to repeat it.” As a matter of fact, a recent report came out last week that stated our students in public education were not taught enough history in school and most did not know how the country was founded. I read a report of a parent who asked his kid, “where is Mississippi located?” and the kid responded, “in Mississippi I guess.”

Even Republican Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, got history wrong in Boston when asked about the famous midnight ride of Paul Revere to warn the citizenry that the British forces were coming. Palin said Revere was firing warning shots and ringing bells and telling the British you are not going to take our guns.

I cite this example because the Riverside Coalition for Police Accountability is requesting that the city do an audit of the six years that Brad Hudson served as city manager. Brad Hudson has moved on to the County of Sacramento as the Chief Executive Officer. The RCPA wants the audit to look at his use of: discretionary funds, awarding of contracts to private businesses and developers, his hiring and firing practices over employees which they refer to as “whiten of city hall”, abuse of the Whistle Blowing Protection Act and to review the budget expenditures for the past six years. I did ask Deborah Wong, Vice Chair of RCPA, why they were requesting such an audit. She responded, “we are looking for more transparency and higher ethical standards in city hall,” as a short answer. One of the ways we can determine what we need to change is know exactly what has happened over the past six years, Wong also stated.

Over the past six years Hudson has bumped heads with the RCPA members with his secrecy of handling incidences involving police investigations. The RCPA was an out growth of the 1998 shooting death of Tyisha Miller, a Black teenager, by four White police officers, that led to a year long national demonstration. There was also the big incident that involved the now retired police chief of driving under the influence and wrecking his car and destroying public property. The RCPA was not involved in the investigation of this incident of special treatment. Another embarrassment was the policy Hudson brought to the attention for council members to get a car for personal use at tax payer’s expense.

Riverside City is a very diverse city compiled of 60.2% Whites, 47.8% Hispanics (a combination of all races), 7.0% African Americans, and 6.2% Asians and a public policy that express inclusion as its mantra for a good government. The RCPA is made up of a very good cross section of highly intelligent citizens that have demonstrated over the past two decades their commitment to the city. One has served as a police chief, another is a professor at the university, another on the board of trustees at the community college, and another president of the local NAACP Branch. These individuals are also heavily involved as leaders in their churches, so their thoughts and opinions are highly sought after and respected.

With the history of uncertainty and suspicion being left behind with the departure of Hudson, it would behoove the city to consider the request of the RCPA and conduct the audit. In doing so it will allow the new manager to confront these suspicions. If not, the new manager and elected officials might repeat and make the same mistakes as Hudson.

One thing I know is the community will not forget nor let an elected official forget what they think Hudson might or might not have done. If they do not see people of color being hired, it will be viewed as continued “whitening” of city hall. If contracts are awarded to questionable or credible vendors that the community is not familiar with, will draw unnecessary inquiries. If a legitimate reason arises for the RCPA not to have information during an investigation of a police incident against the public, under the current suspicion and mistrust, it will be blown out of context.

Let us learn from the lessons of the past and consider the request to have an outside firm conduct the requested audit by the Riverside Coalition of Police Accountability citizens. It will give the new manager a good objective place to start their tenure with the city instead of misinformation.

Has Al Sharpton Forgotten From Whence He Came?

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The Rev. Al Sharpton, denounced traditionally Black owned media as he spoke before a Black Digital Media organization recently. Sharpton implied the Black Press and Black owned radio is a thing of the past and that “the youth do not know when our weekly papers even come out and they get their information from electronic instruments.” He did not consider the great strides Black media has made just like other press into the digital environment. He has tossed the vehicle that brought him over under the bus.

Now mind you it was the Black Press who gave Sharpton his claim to fame by carrying stories on him and his National Action Network organization in New York. It was the Black Media who supported and defended him when the mainstream media described him in unflattering terms whenever a racial incident occurred. It was the Black Press that carried his weekly column in their newspapers at no cost to Rev. Sharpton. It was the Black Press that gave him a podium to speak on issues important to him during their annual conferences. It was the Black Press members of NNPA that would invite him to speak at local events to further his organization.

What Sharpton has done reminds me of the fable of an injured snake lying on the side of the road. A man comes along, picks up the snake, and carries him home to care for him. Then, after the snake returns to full health, it bites the caregiver. The caregiver asks why and the snake replies, you knew I was a snake. We are not calling Sharpton a snake because he has done a good job as a builder of our people. Sharpton once took on Wall Street, when Wall Street said they wanted clients not suspects. But now Sharpton turns and decides to bite the hand that fed him during the time that no one knew him other than those in the Black community who got their news from the Black Press.

What Sharpton is doing is no different than what other Whites and Blacks have tried over the two hundred years of Black owned media in America. First it was those who described the Black media as yellow journalism and only fit to wrap fish in on a Friday. Companies would not advertise their products or services to our readers, yet we published. They talked about our grammar and sentence structure or words that were misspelled even though the dailies made the same errors, yet we published. They burned our buildings and publications, yet we continued to publish.

What has the Black Press done in America since the Freedom Journal first rolled off the press in 1827 in New York where Sharpton lives? Samuel Cornish and John Russwurm wrote in their first editorial, “we wish to plead our own cause… Too long the public has been deceived by misrepresentation in things that concern us dearly.” This is true today regardless of one’s color who decides to speak out on what the Black Press is or is not doing, as Sharpton has done. The 2002 Miller Brewing Company Gallery of Greats focuses on the remarkable achievements of African Americans in the Black Press. The Gallery of Greats illuminates the success and contributions these honorees have made.

If Sharpton had done just a little research he would have found that many of our publications have websites and most have an online presence with Facebook and Twitter. Black Voice News has had an online presence since 1995 before our local daily paper and we currently have 35,000 unique monthly visitors and more than 500,000 page views with over 2.5 million hits monthly.

Currently our president Danny Bakewell has settled a agreement with Toyota USA to advertise with Black owned media. He was successful in showing Toyota the $2.2 billion that Blacks spend to purchase Toyota automobiles. And Toyota agreed to become a good corporate partner. Our papers can compare to any others. For the past twenty years, we have covered the Olympics around the world reporting on Black athletes. The NNPA sent a delegation to Nigeria and covered their national election back in the 90’s, headed by then NNPA President Dorothy Leavell from Chicago. President Tom Watkins of New York took a delegation of Publishers to Taiwan; Republic of China back in the 80’s to learn about trade opportunities. It was the Black Press that helped Louis Farrakhan pull off the only successful Million Man March in Washington DC when other media outlets did not believe there was even going to be a march. Over a million Black men showed up without any incident or disorderly conduct. In New York the Amsterdam News took aim at and got rid of a problematic mayor.

To my fellow publishers I say, a poisonous snake comes in all colors. We have rattlesnakes that are brownish or tan with diamond shapes on their backs and make a noise before they strike. We have cobras with a glossy black color and a head that flattens, making a growling or hissing sound when in a striking mode. Down south we have a snake called the White Oak and yes it is poisonous too and gives no sound before it strikes. People are like that some times. Those who look like you can get the closest, and the damage they cause, depends on how you react once bitten. Of course we have snake bite kits for those of us who get bit. The best thing is not to get a snake bite of any kind but that is almost impossible in this world where so many live. So when you find or see one you must take preventative action, such as staying clear or making a loud noise so the snake will move on.

As for Sharpton, I say let us keep him out of our papers and let him go into cyberspace with his newly found friends.

See Sharpton’s speech at: http://newsone.com/newsone-original/newsonestaff2/sharpton-black-digital-media/

You can also find more information at: http://www.blackpressusa.com

Redistricting: African Americans Make your Vote Count in the I.E.

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The California Citizen Redistricting Commission is coming to the Inland Empire on Sunday at two o’clock to hear from us on the newly drawn political district lines for congress, senate, and assembly. It is crucial for you to speak up about how you feel or see these lines because they will represent your voice when it comes to public policy on education, business development, transportation, jobs, and healthcare by the ones you elect.

Every ten years new district lines are drawn for us to elect representation in Sacramento and Washington, DC. For the past two or three decades, the Inland Empire has only had one democrat at a time; George Brown and now Joe Baca, representing the two counties of Riverside and San Bernardino in congress. In Sacramento, the same could be said and for the last ten years, Riverside County has had no democrat elected in the senate or assembly. In San Bernardino, it has been different where democrats have represented the citizens of San Bernardino, Colton, Rialto and Fontana in Sacramento holding office as a senator and assembly member. Six years ago, San Bernardino elected its first African American, Wilmer Amina Carter to the Assembly. All of that could change with new district lines to dilute your numbers as a group of people and Carter cannot run because of term limits. Because of the increased number of people in the Inland Empire, we will have some new districts in congress and in Sacramento. These new seats will not have incumbents so every candidate will start from scratch.

What has happened over the past ten years when it comes to African Americans in California? We have moved around internally by leaving the urban cities of San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles and set up housekeeping in Riverside and San Bernardino County. Not only has Riverside County become the state’s fastest growing county for all people but it is the same for African Americans.

According to the U.S. Census these cities of the Inland Empire gained in real numbers for African Americans in: Moreno Valley 32,493, Riverside 20,266, Corona 9,154, Murrieta 4,958, Perris 6,238 and Temecula 3,542 and San Bernardino 32,374, Fontana 13,329, Rancho Cucamonga 13,369, Ontario 13,676, Chino 5,040 and even though Rialto 16,104 is still the third largest city for African Americans in San Bernardino County they lost Blacks for reasons unknown. They were at 20,464 at the start of 2000 census. The total number of Blacks in San Bernardino County stands at 172,125 up 8.9% and Riverside County at 124,960 up 6.1 percent.

It will be important for Blacks of Moreno Valley and Riverside to ban together as communities of interest. They share many things in common. It would be the same for San Bernardino, Rialto, Colton and Highland when it comes to a singular political voice. We have so many problems needing to be addressed when it comes to educating our children, seeking employment, improving access to healthcare, business loans, and yes electing people to office with our interest at heart.

For our people, this redistricting is the way the political game is played by political parties, business, and cities of interest. I know many of my people especially those who attend church, do not believe in this process but I wish to remind them that when Jesus was born it was all about the census, Luke 2:1. So to them I say re-engage in the game, this is another step in the process to say who will represent your voice and set policies on where to spend your hard earned tax dollars.

Some of the things this commission must take into consideration when drawing the lines is section 2 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act regarding race, contiguous territory, respect for community interest and natural or manmade borders. For example, If district lines for assembly were drawn to split in half the African American voters in the City of Riverside, their vote would be diluted, which might be a violation of the voting rights act. The same would hold true for any city.

According to the commission calendar they will convene a hearing for the Inland Empire area at the San Bernardino County Government Building, 285 N. Arrowhead Ave. (downtown) on June 19, 2011 (Father’s Day) from 2:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. They want to hear from you. For more information visit their website at www.wedrawthelnes.ca.gov. So come out and let your thoughts be heard and make your vote count.

John Longville for 2nd Ward City Council

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The City of San Bernardino is having a special election on July 12th to fill the 2nd Ward council seat vacated by Jason Dejardine who resigned several weeks ago. There are three citizens who have tossed their names into the race: John Longville, the only Democrat, Robert Jenkins, and Jerry Martin, both registered Republicans. The office being sought is non-partisan; however the Republicans have been encouraging members to enter local public office in preparation for higher office. The 2nd Ward has a heavy democratic registration. I must admit I do not know Martin or Jenkins but I have known Longville for many years back in the days when he was on the staff of the late Congressman George E. Brown. I have followed his career in public service as councilman, Mayor of Rialto, assembly member in Sacramento representing our Inland Empire area, and his current service as a community college trustee.

Now I have not always agreed with John on his take on some issues but that has never deterred this loyal Democrat from saying, “sorry Hardy, this is what I believe we need to do for the citizens I serve.” John has an outstanding career of public service to the people he has represented over the years and would do the same for the citizens of the 2nd Ward.

One thing that John will bring to the council is a wealth of knowledge and know-how to access the state and federal government from his years in Sacramento. A city the size of San Bernardino needs to broaden its outreach and influence with these representatives. We have suffered over the years from a council that operates with blinders on hindering their sight from others. When you listen to some members currently on the council, they resent or reject the services we could get from other agencies when the opportunity presents itself.

I asked John if he has the support of the police and firefighter associations in San Bernardino and he responded no. I said you must have not agreed with them wanting all the money while they live in other communities. I told John that is great because they cannot vote anyway but they are seeking a council member to carry their water; meaning someone who will allow them to carry over $30 million dollars from our city and contributing nothing back in the way of taxes. I know they are financing Martin or Jenkins campaign with the money we pay them in their six figure a year salaries. So the citizens of the 2nd Ward need to consider two things before they give Martin or Jenkins their vote and that is their political party affiliation and the mouthpiece of the police and firefighter associations. It has been reported that out of the top 100 highest paid people in the city 75 are police and firefighters.

Another thing Longville will bring to the council is an understanding of educating a workforce with the skills and requirements to meet business needs in the city. His service on the San Bernardino Community College Board will help facilitate any conversation between San Bernardino City Schools, Valley College and employers.

I recall Longville being excited about getting the state to produce information in braille so the blind could read the information for themselves. The 2nd Ward is in need of having someone on the council with such sensitivity. This ward has more powerchair riders per block than any other ward with the worse sidewalk access than any other. Just visit Waterman Avenue to Sierra Way between Baseline and Highland on any day of the week.

I see Longville as a problem solver with the ability to bring people and agencies together to help. I urge the people of the 2nd Ward to Elect John Longville as their council member to help the city move in a positive direction.

What do they have to complain about?

I’ve been listening to national commentators give survey and poll reports talking about how unhappy white citizens are with the way things are going in this country. Then I look at the unemployment rate and theirs is the lowest. I look at the profits made by businesses owned by them and they are setting profit records. I heard one report that over 600,000 Americans traveled to England to witness the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton. All you have to do is add up the airfare, new clothes, hotel costs, food and other related costs to see the money spent.

This they spent without even being invited to the wedding. If we, Blacks, had what they have, we would tell them to get a life.

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.

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