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The Healthy Heritage Movement

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The Healthy Heritage Movement, which strives to educate and empower the African American community to make healthy lifestyle changes, has partnered with Kaiser Permanente to offer Free Community Health Screenings in Riverside County. Healthy Heritage offers free screening to bring access to care to the underserved and uninsured population by bringing the Kaiser Mobile health unit to the area. The mobile health unit is literally a medical office on wheels, completely staff with a medical health team. It gives the community an opportunity to get an update on their vital health numbers.

Over 120 people were served at two recent Riverside outreaches. Rubidoux Missionary Baptist Church, under the leadership of Senior Pastor Terry Starks and the direction of Health Ministry leader Linda William, 55 of their members were screened and received health education counseling. La Joyce’s Coiffures Hair Therapy Center hosted the community screening at the Kmart Center where over 65 community members were screened. The preventative screening is vital in determining your overall health status. The screening included blood pressure checks, body mass index count, diabetes and cholesterol screening and nutrition and emotional wellness counseling.

Phyllis Clark, CEO of Health Heritage said in this slow economy many people are finding it difficult to address their health issues, “I think it is important for everyone to pull their resources together and provide services to those that find themselves without. More and more people need help these days. Healthy Heritage is here to bring resources to the community,” states Clark.

Charles Bibbs Named Official Artist for Leimert Park Book Fair

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The Leimert Park Village Book Fair Planning Committee has named world renown artist Charles Bibbs as the official artist for the 2011 Leimert Park Village Book Fair (LPVBF).

Bibbs unveiled his work, "The Reader II," in celebration of the book fair's fifth anniversary on Saturday, June 25, from 10:00 am - 6:00 pm. “The Reader II” will appear on all LPVBF marketing and event materials.

“Charles Bibbs is a national treasure and we are thrilled to have an artist of his caliber create our signature artwork,” commented LPVBF Executive Director Cynthia Exum. The Leimert Park Village Book Fair will take place in the lot adjacent to the Vision Theatre, 3341 43rd Place in Los Angeles, California 90008.

The LPVBF 2011 line-up includes over 100 authors, exhibitors and vendors, including many of the top African American authors and celebrity speakers.

“Every year we’ve grown bigger and better,” says Exum. “This year, we’re very excited to have many amazing authors and celebrities guests and expect over 5,000 festival attendees. We’ve also organized some very relevant panel discussions that touch on a variety of current issues in our community. There’s definitely going to be something for everyone at this year’s book fair.”

Applications for the author’s tent and vendors are still available online at www.leimertparkbookfair.com or by calling (323) 730-0628.

Bibbs' works displays a unique, strong and stylized quality done in a combination of abstract and realistic interpretations of a contemporary subject. Using his ethnic heritage as inspiration, along with a mixture of realism and fantasy, he has developed a distinctive style. A native of Southern California, Bibbs' exposure to African and Native American art, which both have a distinct spiritual motivation, is strongly reflected in his works. “My most important goal is to make profound aesthetic statements that are ethnically rooted, and at the same time, arouse spiritual emotions within us," says Bibbs.

Mr. Bibbs is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Entrepreneur of the Year Award, presented by the African American Chamber of Commerce; a Community Recognition Award from the National Council of Negro Women; a NAACP Freedom Community Award; an Appreciation Service Award by the California State Assembly.

His work has been exhibited at museums around the country and overseas. A partial list of Bibb’s art collectors are Frankie Beverly, Najee, Steve Harvey, Dr. Bernard and Mrs. Shirley Kinsey, Marc Brown, Earl Graves, Queen Latifah, Drs. Frank and Marsha Glover, Dr. And Mrs. Charles Mitchell, the University of Arizona and Fox Searchlight Pictures. Charles Bibbs will also be on hand at the Book Fair to meet and greet festival attendees. For more information on the event, visit www.leimertparkbookfair.com or call (323) 730-0628.

The book fair is produced by Cynthia E. Exum and Associates in partnership with Los Angeles City Councilmember Bernard C. Parks, 8th District, and in association with the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and City of Los Angeles.

First Bank Helps Jurupa Valley Celebrate Sweet First Birthday

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In celebration of Jurupa Valley’s first anniversary as a city, First Bank’s Riverside branch provided free birthday cakes to the community during the keynote event on June 30 at the Cove Water Park. In addition to members of the community, local business people and dignitaries were on hand for the celebration. Part of a weeklong party, the Jurupa Valley community also celebrated with a 5K walk/run, fireworks, and a parade. First Bank is one of the largest privately owned banks in the country with over $6.92 billion in assets and 149 locations in California, Florida, Illinois, and Missouri.

Community Builders Shine At Black Voice 40th Event

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By Chris Levister

What could possibly get dozens of Community Builders out early on a Saturday morning in the sweltering summer heat?

The answer lies in Luke 12:48: “to whom much is given, much will be required.” The Black Voice News 40th anniversary celebration held at Riverside Grier Pavilion Saturday recognized “40 Community Builders” for their outstanding contributions to community outreach in the Inland Empire.

“To the 40 household names and everyday people who have had the courage to make community inclusivity their mission, we salute you,” Black Voice News co-publisher Cheryl Brown said in welcoming the 2012 honorees and event guests.

Retired Health Educator Dr. Lula Mae Clemons, activist Thelma Winkler-Beach, Vine Life Christian Fellowship Church pastor Dr. Robert L. Wilks Jr., author Laura Klure, Lake Elsinore Mayor Brian Tisdale, community volunteer Sara Garcia, Fontana City Councilman Matthew Slowik, Keynasis Buffong, Rialto High School counselor and co founder of Project Action, Inc., and Mark and Robin McKay co-founders of McKay’s Family Mortuary were just a few of the honorees recognized. “None of us could have gotten to where we are if not for the support, mentorship and achievements of those who came before us,” Black Voice News co-publisher Hardy Brown told the crowd seated in the open air space dedicated to the legacy of Riverside community builders Barnett and Eleanor Jean Grier.

Brown paid tribute to 2012 Community Builders recalling how in the late 1970’s, in an era of rampant racial and employment discrimination, he stood on the “shoulders of giants” at his former employer Kaiser Permanente as he struggled to realize his dream of buying the Black Voice Newspaper. “Honoree Rev. Arthur Forbes the first management executive at Kaiser Steel and Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program hired a staff of Blacks and Latinos to deliver healthcare services to a diverse population while fighting racial discrimination within the organization,” Brown said. He recalled Forbes’ staff including his secretary a Latino, was moved from the 8th to the 6th floor while he was in Washington on company business, without his knowledge. He pushed for equality at Kaiser. He fought for and got a diverse board of directors at the United Way in San Bernardino. He founded the Inland Empire Community Health Care Program 20 years ago. That program exists today,” said Brown.

He credited Forbes with hiring honoree Rev. John Woods, Kaiser’s first Regional Equal Employment Opportunity Program Administrator. Woods became the first African American to serve on the San Bernardino Board of Education. “John took a lot of guff when he tried to convince managers and doctors to integrate the Kaiser workforce. He rallied management to hire Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Indians as Affirmation Action officers at all of its medical centers in Southern California,” Brown said. “Minority personnel hired after 1973 stood on the shoulders of these courageous giants,” he added. “With the support of Kaiser President Jim Vohs and Dr. Raymond Kay of the Permanente Medical Group’, Art and John’s bold leadership as well as those individuals who worked behind the scenes to promote equality ultimately ensured my employment thus allowing me and my family to buy the newspaper and nurture it into a self sustaining instrument for justice and social equality,” said Brown. Similarly honoree Charleta (Charly) Marshall, RN fought for inclusivity. She helped found the United Nurses Association at Kaiser Fontana now the largest union of nurses in the state. She also started the first Medicare certified hospice program at the Fontana facility. Because of her exceptional writing skills, recalled Brown, she was once called an “arrogant Black woman.”

“Forty years ago in a climate of resistance and oppression, the Black Voice News, was born. Dedicated to independence and permanence, thanks to community builders like you, the Black Voice continues to both serve and be a part of this rich community,” added Cheryl Brown. Title sponsors of the celebration and Community Builders reception were General Motors, Macy’s, Wells Fargo and UC Riverside.

Dr. Ruth Jackson the first and only African American university librarian in all of the University of California schools recognized the Black Voice News which was started at UCR in 1972 by Ardess E. Lilly Jr. then-president of the campus’ Black Student Union.

“It makes me proud to salute you and be part of a community where all members have an opportunity to be knowledgeable about issues that shape their lives and prepare them for a better future,” said Jackson.

Other salutes included a resolution from 2012 honoree, Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge who was unable to attend the event. The presentation made by City Councilman Mike Gardner lauded the newspaper’s achievements and contributions often in the face of injustice and adversity. “You have not only reported the news, you have been a tireless advocate on behalf of civil rights, and a force in shaping policy and bettering this community.”

“Dignitaries and ordinary people, I believe that it takes a village to create and sustain communities,” said honoree Keynasia Buffong. “We are many voices with one mission, our attitudes and actions serve to expand equality and opportunity for all people.”

“We in the community are like the human body,” said honoree Carl Clemons, the first Black chairman of the San Bernardino Planning Commission. “We all have different parts – together those parts make one viable body. If we neglect one part, there’s a vacuum. If we don’t fill that vacuum, pretty soon we become dysfunctional. We all have a responsibility to keep the body functioning properly.”

“Our commitment to human dignity in times of loss is to never turn away a family due to a lack of funds,” said honoree Mark McKay founder of McKay’s Family Mortuary. “Celebrating our humanitarian efforts in this way serves to strengthen and empower us as Community Builders.”

Clemons: “Charter Not The Problem”

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So says former San Bernardino Charter Review Committee member

Chris Levister

Carl Clemons, who served as a longtime member of the San Bernardino Charter Review Committee under Mayor Judith Valles (1997-2006) says ongoing efforts to repeal or radically change the city charter are more about assessing blame for the city’s bankruptcy than focusing on real financial solutions.

“It’s the finances. We’re broke. The ship is sinking,” says Clemons. He says to dedicate hours of partisan debate to the charter as the city faces a fiscal cliff is irresponsible and sends a troubling message to the citizens that their elected leaders are out of touch with the serious reality of bankruptcy.

Proponents of the change to a general-law city say the city’s bankruptcy filing highlights an “outdated” “antiquated” charter that can only be changed by a citywide vote. Clemons argues some in the administration have convinced many in the city of an upside-down account of what the authors of the charter were doing – “and timid members of the City Council have let these false impressions harden into conventional wisdom.”

“The charter is one of many city documents that beg review if not change”, he said. “But not in the midst of a financial and public relations maelstrom.” Clemons said the past 25 years have brought unforeseen, astounding and alarming changes in the city. “We have a city “unraveling” with its more than 210 thousand people in various stages of polarized engagement or numbed complacency.”

He said the swirling vortex has stained San Bernardino’s once enviable reputation and sent employees and businesses fleeing the city in droves. We’re scrambling to protect our assets from creditors, struggling with persistent high unemployment, dwindling housing stock, cuts to schools, potholes, darkened streets and rising crime. “What are the priorities? Where is the accountability?” said Clemons. “Shouldn’t we be more concerned about righting the ship than repealing the charter?”

But the message isn’t resonating with Mayor Patrick Morris and others at City Hall. “This is a government in habitual chaos - the word `ungovernable' comes to mind,” Mayor Morris said, blaming the charter for much of that chaos but saying it might be best if residents led the charge.

Sixth Ward Councilman Rikke Van Johnson and others members of the council claim repealing the charter would ultimately save money by allowing streamlined services, consolidated elections and other benefits.

“All of your rules are made in Sacramento. You can't make your own rules,” countered City Attorney James F. Penman, who wants San Bernardino to maintain its status as a charter city and whose position has been at the center of the city's recent charter debates. Penman claims San Bernardino's charter could be improved, but said City Hall needs to work its way through bankruptcy before attempting charter reforms. Ironically Penman has been at the center of past efforts to change the charter says Clemons. In 2004 he authored a proposed charter change that roiled the city’s black community. Clemons then chairman of the Social Action Committee of St. Paul AME Church recalls the dust up over voting disenfranchisement issues of Blacks and Latinos. The unsuccessful effort sought to reduce the authority of the Mayor’s position and change the ward system of electing council members.

“This was the issue that started the uproar in the Black community and led to protests and forced the NAACP to threaten a lawsuit if the proposal pushed forward,” said Clemons in a July 2004 interview.

Three citywide elections have been held since 2000 to change parts of the charter. Voters rejected two, both of which would have made the city attorney post appointed rather than elected. Referring to the City Council’s 4-3 vote Monday not to put the charter measure on the November ballot Clemons says the citizens are better served if the council re-establishes the Charter Review Committee.

He admits given the political vitriol of the last several years, it too will probably be marked with heated discord of division and partisanship. “I’m all for reviewing the charter. But to simply hand the question of repeal directly to a mostly un-informed electorate based on superficial exposure, sketchy beliefs, myths and assumptions, demonstrates the kind of poor leadership that got us into this bankruptcy mess in the first place.”

Clemons, 88 who became the first African American chairman of the city’s Planning Commission and currently serves as a contributor to the San Bernardino Oral History Project says he has tried to stay away from the finger pointing that shackles City Hall. Instead he says he wants to shine a historical light on a time when the 46-page charter was treated as a remarkable working document much like the U.S. Constitution.

Like the Constitution the city charter has evolved with time, he said. “Take the case of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The three amendments made slavery illegal and freed Americans who had been held as slaves. The amendments taken together were intended to eliminate racial discrimination in the United States.” Similarly when African American residents in San Bernardino leveled charges of unequal employment opportunities in 2001, committee members collectively reviewed the charter in a decent and orderly fashion.

“Our first order of business was to leave politics at the door. We listened to the opposing sides. Then we gathered the facts before recommending solutions that served the city and all of its citizens, not just a chosen few,” said Clemons. “We insisted on accountability.” Clemons said given the current acrimonious political landscape, it is crucial that citizens be better informed about the city’s charter — and not only about our founding documents but about San Bernardino history. “But to meet that desirable goal, we must do the required homework.” “In these times of fiscal emergency and uncertainty as citizens, our hope is that we can all put our differences aside and move forward together,” he said. “The sidebar debates that continue to divide us ignore the 900 pound gorilla in the room and ultimately tip the tide toward even greater financial instability.”

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