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Moreno Valley Celebrates Black History Month

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By Jose Corea & Lee Ragin, Jr.

It is known within the Black community that disparities and differential treatment range from education, employment, governmental issues and healthcare. In a series of symposia scheduled at the University of California, Riverside by Dr. Carolyn Murray, healthcare was the focus of Black Voice News columnist Ernest C. Levister, Jr., M.D. F.A.C.P., F.A.C.P.M.,  as he spoke on the topic, "Impacting Health Care Disparities A Case for Diversity:  University of California Riverside."

Ernest C. Levister, Jr., M.D. F.A.C.P., F.A.C.P.M
According to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, health disparities nationally are 886,000. More Blacks died between 1991 and 2000 than would have if equal healthcare had been afforded to them.

Locally, Inland Southern California - the counties of Riverside, San Bernardino and Imperial - face a growing shortfall of physicians. As of 2002, the diverse and rapidly growing region had one of the lowest ratios of generalist physicians per 100,000 population in the state, at less than 60.

This disparity is due partly to the shortfall of training afforded minority students within the medical profession, which is why the James Wesley Vines Medical Society desires to "level the playing field."

The Vines Society, a component of the National Medical Association began a grassroots movement to increase public awareness, frame the healthcare disparity problem, and develop policies to address the unequal care among minorities.

They (Vines) noted striking irregularities in the UC system's program of education, in particular, UCR's seven-year bio-medical science program. 

They called for an investigation that uncovered that UCR's program with its "mandated failure", not only impacted the under-represented, discouraging science and health careers, but impacted all students,  families and the community.

It was also discovered that in a 20-year history, UCR's bio-medical program had one African American and twelve Latino students that finished the program.

"This problem was ignored by officials. They didn't see it as a problem," stated Levister.

He continued: "The 2003 action by the California Legislature closing down the first 3 years of the UC Riverside Haider UCLA Bio-Medical Science program represents the first time in the UC system's 135 year history that the state ordered the restructuring of an UC academic program without the consent, advice, or vote of the University Academic Senate.

A crowd of over 100 students, community members, and educators packed the UCR Olmsted Hall.

"This grassroots effort by the Vines Medical Society, a component of the NMA, led to the radical restructuring of the  UC Riverside Haider UCLA Bio Medical Science program which cleared the way for UCR to create a four year medical school.

"The Vines continues to work with UCR and believes in the philosophy that those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it."

Riverside Loses A Beloved Native Son, McCoy Williams

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By Lita Pezant

McCoy Williams, a lifelong Riverside native, died at home last Sunday, March 2, 2008, after suffering a long illness.  Mr. Williams was 72.

Born in Riverside, CA on February 3, 1936, the oldest son of Trivel Williams and his wife Bernice McCoy, he attended Riverside area schools, and graduated from Riverside Poly High School, having been a star athlete and captain of the school's swim team. 

FIRST PLACE- McCoy Williams is shown here after receiving his First Place CIF medal, earned in 1954, from Nick Tavaglione on February 6, 2008, in a much-appreciated effort to correct a 54-year-old wrong. “Coy” is scheduled to be inducted in the Riverside Sports Hall of Fame at the annual banquet this May. Left to right Gary Taylor, Vice President of the Riverside Sports Hall of Fame: McCoy Williams; Nick Tavaglione; Rich Stallder, former coach at North High School.

McCoy married his high school sweetheart, Nora Bryant in 1957, and the couple raised and nurtured five children.  McCoy earned a Bachelors Degree from California Baptist College (now Cal Baptist University), and found an early affinity and career path for helping people, particularly youth.

After college he started his career as a counselor for Riverside County Juvenile Hall, and then became a probation officer.  He went on to serve 10 years as the Director of Housing Services for the University of California, Riverside from the late 60's through the 1970's.  During that time he was well known for enhancing student's living environments, and gave special attention to married students and their unique family housing needs. Referred to often as "Coy", he was well known and respected both on campus and in the general community for his compassion and support for students, and his tact and diplomacy during politically charged times.

McCoy and his wife Nora, befriended many students.   Many of them have continued to stay in contact with the Williams family and involve them in their lives and the lives of their children throughout the years. He and Nora also cared for dozens of children in their home, and also served as foster parents for many years. After leaving the University, McCoy worked as a State of California parole agent, retiring in 1994 after suffering a stroke. Never one to quit, he fought back and recovered almost completely from the effects of the stroke.

Always active in the community, Mr. Williams also ran for Riverside City Council in 1968, was a life member of the Riverside branch of the NAACP, and was active in various health organizations.  Known as a person who could talk to people on both sides of an issue to help to find solutions, McCoy was a founding member of the Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC) in Riverside, along with DeVaughn Armstrong, and worked closely with the national OIC leader Rev. Leon Sullivan to strengthen the job training and education organization.  Educator Waudier Rucker-Hughes served as the OIC Executive Director for many years and stated, "McCoy was one of the lynchpins, he was at the forefront of addressing the needs of the community.  His mantra was 'Don't talk about it, Be about it!" because he was an activist, not a complainer.  He had a way of doing things that garnered him respect from politicians as well as from the community.  Even through his illness, he occupied every bit of the space he was in and had a commanding presence even if he did not open his mouth.  Many in this community owe their start to his efforts.  He sat on one of the original Equal Opportunities boards here in Riverside."  

"McCoy was part of the city's leadership team, along with Barnett Grier and George Williams, that put Riverside on the map for being one of the first city's in the nation to implement voluntary desegregation, including busing," added Rucker-Hughes. 

McCoy Williams
McCoy Williams loved to play golf and poker with a passion.  But his true love was swimming.  Back in 1954, while captain of the Riverside Poly High School swim team, McCoy won First Place in the 50-yard free-style, during a CIF statewide swim meet competition.  For some unexplained reason, McCoy received a "paper medal" and a letter stating that he would receive his medal later. 

Earlier this month, on February 6, 2008, 54 years after his championship win, McCoy finally received a CIF First Place medal, due in part to the efforts of life-long friends Dell Roberts and Doriella Anderson.  To commemorate this special honor conferred 54 years after his championship efforts, prominent Riverside businessman and Riverside Sport Hall of Fame President Nick Tavaglione, accompanied Rich Stallder, the former coach at North High School, and Gary Taylor, the Hall of Fame membership chair, to McCoy's home to actually place the coveted medal in McCoy's hands.

According to family members, it was an "emotional and bittersweet moment" that McCoy cherished.  Mr. Tavaglione also handed McCoy his own Hall of Fame medal, assuring McCoy that he could keep it until after McCoy received his own engraved induction medal at the Hall of Fame annual banquet scheduled for May of this year.  According to Vice President Suzanne Ashley, "We are so proud that he was able to receive his medal after so many years of wanting and imagining it, and were proud to play a part in his receiving this honor."

McCoy leaves to cherish his memory, his wife Nora Williams and their children, son McCoy Williams, Jr. of Corona, CA; and daughters Cay Williams, Shelley Smith (Michael), Kimberly Williams, all of Riverside; and Maya Williams of Atlanta, GA.  Mr. Williams was a loving grandfather to Randi, Georgina, Felix, Aaron, Ryan, and to great grandson Brandon.

He was preceded in death by his brother Trivel Williams and his sister Carol Bullock, and is survived by his sisters LaVell Byrd of Oakland, CA, and Lora (Curtis) Davis of San Diego, CA, and numerous nephews, nieces and cousins.  He is also survived by host of friends, including very special life-long friends, Marshall and Doriella Anderson, Pete Anderson, Glenn King, and Dell Roberts all of Riverside, CA, and Jack and Mona Reed of Corona, CA who gave their faithful friendship and support through all challenges.

Visitation will be held on Sunday, March 9, from 5 p.m to 8 p.m., at Miller-Jones Mortuary and Crematory, located at 23618 Sunnymeade Blvd. in Moreno Valley, CA. 92553. Memorial Services for McCoy Williams will be held the next day, on Monday, March 10, 2008, at 11:00 a.m. also at Miller-Jones, (951) 485-4542.  Repast will be announced at the service. Friends may consider donating to the American Cancer Society.

Bloomington High School "Unity Day Celebration"

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Assembly Member Wilmer Amina Carter, the featured speaker at Bloomington High School "Unity Day Celebration" is flanked by Courtney Young, president of the Black Student Union, which hosted the event, and Everett Richardson, a BSU member. Both students were recognized at the event for outstanding achievements.

Education Collaborative Helps Young Women Leap into Mathematics and Science

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This is a "leap" year, and area colleges are making good use of the extra day. The University of California Riverside, San Bernardino Valley College and the Alliance for Education will hold "Celebrating Women in Math & Science" from 9:30 a.m. until noon at San Bernardino Valley College. The annual event combines lectures and panel discussions to illustrate to young women the importance of leaping into careers related to mathematics and science.

More than 150 students from Eisenhower High School, Rialto High School, San Gorgonio High School, Bloomington High School and Middle College High School will be in the audience. Attendees will meet role models with science backgrounds, who will tell their stories of challenges and success.Image

"Women represent 57% of the nation's college population, but less that 1/3 major in science, technology, engineering or mathematics - better known as the STEM fields," said Pamela Clute, Assistant Vice Provost Academic Partnerships and Executive Director of the ALPHA Center at the University of California, Riverside. "Research shows they have the ability but they lack the interest."

Clute pointed out that the U.S. Department of Labor reports the fastest growing and highest paying job opportunities require mathematical and scientific savvy including areas related to: computer science, engineering, multi-media communication, energy and medicine.

Image"Research still indicates that women are under-represented in careers with strong mathematics and science background," said Haragewen Kinde, Dean of Mathematics at San Bernardino Valley College. "We need to reverse this gap by educating young girls about mathematics and science-related career choices and opportunities that would enable them to participate in a competitive global employment market."

High school students will receive the benefit of experiences shared by mathematics professors, a science dean, a medical doctor and other education experts during the half-day event.

"This is one of dozens of programs offered through UC Riverside to reach out to K-12 students in the Inland region to ensure that more get accepted to college," Clute said. "We want our young women in the Inland Empire prepared and motivated for these opportunities."

Moreno Valley Celebrates Black History Month

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The weather  was cloudy and cool, and may have discouraged some from  going to the Moreno Valley Black History Parade, 3-1-08, but others came early  to set out seats or blankets along the parade route.

Parade participants included parade Grand Marshall, Dell Roberts; Michelle Park, Member, State Board of Equalization; the Mayor Pro Tem of Moreno Valley; and Judge Fields.  Always a family event, the Black History Parade features local church, school, youth and other community groups often involving parents with their children and their friends. Some will be participating in the parade, but others may be pushing a stroller or carrying a child while walking along the sidelines accompanying their group.

This year's M V event began at Moreno Valley High School and continued at the Moreno Valley mall with an afternoon of programs, awarding of prizes, and time to visit food and other vendors and community service organizations, and - of course - time to visit with each other.

Click here to view pictures.

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BVN National News Wire