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What A Difference A Gun Makes

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By Marian Wright Edelman

On April 16, 2007, our nation suffered its deadliest shooting incident ever by a single gunman when a student killed 32 people and wounded 25 others at Virginia Tech before committing suicide. Five years later, have we learned anything about controlling our national gun and gun violence epidemic? A look at just a few of the sad headlines across the country so far this year suggests we haven’t learned much or anything at all.

In February 2012, a 17-year-old high school senior, who other students described as an outcast who’d been bullied, shot and killed three fellow students and injured two more at Chardon High School in suburban Ohio. Would this have happened without a gun?

In Washington state, three children were victims of gun violence during a three-week period in February and March 2012. A three-year-old died after shooting himself in the head with a gun left under the front seat of the car while his family stopped for gas. The seven-year-old daughter of a police officer was shot and killed by her younger brother after he found one of their father’s guns in the glove compartment of the family van. And an eight-year-old girl was critically wounded at school when her nine-year-old classmate brought in a gun he found at home that accidentally went off in his backpack. Would this have happened without a gun?

In Chicago there already has been a rash of shootings this year including the especially violent weekend in mid-March when 49 people were shot and 10 were killed. One of the victims was a six-year-old girl who was sitting on her front porch with her mother getting her hair brushed before a birthday party when she was killed by shots fired from a passing pickup truck. Would this have happened without a gun?

And in Florida, unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin was shot and killed walking home from the store in February after being followed by self-appointed “neighborhood watch captain” George Zimmerman, who contrary to all generally accepted Neighborhood Watch rules was patrolling his gated community while armed with a gun. Would Trayvon’s death have happened without a gun? Now that George Zimmerman has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder, Trayvon Martin’s family is finally moving forward in their quest for justice.

As a nation we can’t afford to keep waiting for common-sense gun control laws that would protect our children and all of us from indefensible gun violence. It’s time to repeal senseless gun laws like the “Stand Your Ground” laws enacted by 21 states that have grabbed so much attention in Trayvon’s case and allow people in Florida to defend themselves with deadly force anytime and anywhere if they feel threatened. More than two million people have signed online petitions saying they want to repeal these laws. It’s time to require consumer safety standards and childproof safety features for all guns and strengthen child access prevention laws that ensure guns are stored safely and securely to prevent unnecessary tragedies like those in Washington state. And in a political environment where the too secretive and powerful advocacy group American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) pushed “Stand Your Ground” laws in other states along with other “model bills” that benefit some corporate bottom lines or special interests like the NRA, it’s time for all of ALEC’s corporate sponsors to walk away from enabling or acquiescing destructive laws that protect guns, not children.

It’s a tragedy that five years after Virginia Tech so little has changed. How many years must we wait until tragic headlines about school shootings, children dying, and people using the “shoot first and ask questions later” defense to take the law into their own hands go away? When will we finally get the courage to stand up as a nation and say enough to the deadly proliferation of guns and gun violence that endanger children’s and public safety?

Marian Wright Edelman is President of the Children's Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. For more information go to www.childrensdefense.org.

Letter To The Editor

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Dear Editor, When I heard the words “breast cancer” from my wife’s doctor in 2005, my world felt like it was about to come crashing down.

Jamie and I pressed through years of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. I felt helpless as a husband. But last year I decided to do something positive. I became the volunteer chair for the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer®, an inspirational two-mile walk in the Inland Empire to help raise awareness and funds to make strides and end breast cancer. Through my participation, I have met hundreds of other breast cancer survivors and their families and caregivers in all stages of their journey.

Through seven years, Jamie is still battling breast cancer today. I walk for her because I want to live in a world with less breast cancer and more birthdays. Already 2.5 million breast cancer survivors living in America today will celebrate another birthday this year. Imagine what we could do together to fight for even more.

On Saturday, April 28, I plan to walk beside my wife Jamie, friends, family, colleagues and breast cancer patients and survivors at the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk at The Shoppes at Chino Hills. Registration is at 7:30 a.m. and the walk starts at 8:30 a.m. Cancer does not go away in tough economic times, and the money raised will save lives by helping people stay well, get well, find cures and fight back against breast cancer. I urge everyone in the Inland Empire to join our community as we make strides toward a future where breast cancer never steals another year from anyone’s life. To get involved, or for more information, call Shannon Fowler at the American Cancer Society at (909) 203-2747, or visit http://makingstrides.acsevents.org/inlandempire.

Chris Bravata of Chino Hills
Volunteer Event Chair, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

Can A Game Of Tag Help Combat Bullying?

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New research from Mathematica and Stanford centered on schools in diverse neighborhoods shows a healthy recess can reduce bullying, improve learning time

PRINCETON, NJ — Strengthening recess transforms the school climate, paving the way for less bullying and more focus on learning, says a new study from Mathematica Policy Research and Stanford University. The randomized control trial specifically looked at what happened when schools partnered with Playworks, a national nonprofit that is currently providing healthy recess and other playtime to urban schools in 23 cities nationwide. Playworks schools are chosen for their eligibility to receive free or reduced lunch programs and are typically in urban areas with largely African American and Latino student populations. Researchers found that investing in recess and organized play can prevent bullying, improve students’ behavior at recess and readiness for class, and provide more time for teaching and learning. The study is one of the most rigorous scientific trials to find an effect on bullying in schools, and one of the first that evaluates a recess- and play-based program as a potentially promising school-based solution.

“Our research shows that Playworks makes a difference. Teachers in Playworks schools reported less bullying and exclusionary behavior during recess relative to control school teachers,” said Susanne James-Burdumy, Ph.D., associate director of research at Mathematica. “Playworks also facilitated students’ transitions back to classroom learning.”

The study compared schools using Playworks to a control group of similar schools without the program during the 2010-2011 school year in five cities across the country. Researchers found the following ways in which Playworks improves the school climate: Less Bullying. Teachers in Playworks schools reported less bullying and exclusionary behavior during recess than teachers in control schools; Better Recess Behavior and Readiness for Class. Teachers at Playworks schools tended to report better student behavior at recess and readiness for class than teachers at control schools, and they were more likely to report that their students enjoyed adult-organized recess activities; More Time for Teaching. Teachers in Playworks schools reported having fewer difficulties and spending significantly less time transitioning to learning activities after recess than teachers in control schools. Playworks students were also more likely than control students to report better behavior and attention in class after sports, games and play; Safer Schools. Teachers in Playworks schools perceived that students felt safer and more included at recess, compared to teachers in control schools; Satisfied Teachers. Nearly 100 percent of teachers in Playworks schools reported that they wanted the program in their school again the following year.

AQMD Awards Nearly $5 Million To Replace Dirty Diesel Trucks Servicing Area Ports

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The South Coast Air Quality Management District has awarded $4.8 million to replace 163 older heavy-duty diesel trucks operating at the ports and in other goods movement activities across the Southland with new lower-emission models.

“Heavy-duty trucks are one of the largest sources of smog-forming pollution in Southern California,” said William A. Burke, Ed.D., AQMD’s Governing Board Chairman. “Cleaning up the Southland’s truck fleet is one of the most important steps we can take to protect the health of those living in areas where these vehicles travel.”

The funding will provide truckers up to $30,000 per truck in incentive funding. The trucks will operate at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles and in other goods movement activities. The new diesel trucks are about 96 percent cleaner than the ones they replace and are certified to meet or exceed the state’s strict 2010 emissions standards for heavy-duty diesel trucks. AQMD’s Board approved the funding on April 6.

Since 2009, AQMD has awarded $122 million in state Proposition 1B funds to help replace more than 2,400 older diesel trucks, including about 1,500 trucks that operate as “drayage” trucks hauling containers from ports to nearby rail yards and warehouses. Of the 1,500 drayage trucks replaced, 559 were replaced with liquefied natural gas trucks funded by an additional $27 million in local and federal funds.

On April 6 the AQMD Board also awarded $580,000 to Black and Decker, Inc. and The Greenstation to conduct the 2012 Mow Down Air Pollution program and exchange 4,000 gasoline-powered lawn mowers for new, cordless electric models. Registration for the 2012 lawn mower exchange events opens on May 2. AQMD is the air pollution control agency for Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

A Tribute to Woman’s History Month My Grandmother’s Legacy of Courage

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By Lea Michelle Cash

Nonetheless, after the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot is when my grandmother’s dream begins to become deferred. Her dream went up in smoke and her life was never the same. She was pregnant at the time with my uncle Julius. After the riot, my grandfather also became a different man. Historians have stated, something snapped in the hearts of many Black men directly after the riot. Many Black families lost loved ones and their minds due to the hardship that was precipitated on the Black community after the riot. My grandfather had saved over $45,000 from his boxing earnings, and now it was gone. In 1919, my grandmother was featured on the front page of The Tulsa Star, recognizing colored women. The cutline mentioned her as one of our popular ladies who recently fell heir to an estate of valuable property worth $10,000 from her Aunt Josephine Hurst who recently died in Little Rock. The cutline also mentioned my grandmother was an expert Milliner and Seamstress, having a large trade that she built in Tulsa among her people.

Making injustice even worse after the riot claims filed by Blacks for damages and losses were never honored. Lives were further destroyed as Black families scattered to points South, North, East and West. For almost two years, the Black families who stayed in Tulsa living in tents and campgrounds started slowly to rebuild their lives. My grandparents remained in Tulsa. Daisy’s political cartoons on the front page of The Tulsa Star had played a huge part in making angry the White folks from 1918-1921. With Smitherman gone, the newspaper gone, and now living with a dominating angry husband, she was forced to become a homemaker, sewing, cooking, cleaning, and giving birth to a child every year. Her dream deferred begins to fester like a sore and my grandfather begins to beat the dream out of her. They are the parents of twelve children—one died as an infant leaving eleven all born and raised in Tulsa. My mother Altamese Marion Scott, the historian of her family is their ninth child. It is unimaginable at times for me to understand what it was like to live under those circumstances with a dream so bright in your heart. As they rebuilt their lives, purchasing land minutes away from what is known now, as the historic “Greenwood District” (Little Black Wall Street), my grandfather built three small framed houses and a small general store. The family lived in one and the other two houses were rented to others. He placed a boxing ring in the yard where he openly trained young boxers.

Many years later, Daisy grabbed the kids and fled from her husband several times. One time, she made it to St Louis, where her mother (Julia Miller) now lived with her second husband, William Young and their daughter Jettie. My grandfather followed her—bringing her back home to Tulsa with the promises of becoming a better man. He never did. To Daisy’s dream, he provided the crust and sugar over- like a syrupy sweet. In time, his children grew up to hate him as they watched their mother suffer in silence at the domination of an angry man. A man larger than life in their world, who had cigars shipped to him from Cuba, idolized heavy weight boxer, Jack Johnson, was always well dressed, top hat, and spoke like a self-taught professor, since he had seen the world in all his boxing glory, and was highly respected in Black circles as a businessman. Some census reports listed his occupation as laborer and/or janitor.

In 1934, my grandmother saw an advertisement in the White daily newspaper from Federal Schools Inc. The Ad encouraged artists to send in their artwork and take the road to bigger things, describing how success may be won through illustrating & cartooning as taught by a master course. This instruction was being taught by over one hundred of the world’s greatest illustrators and cartoonists conducted at Federal Schools, Inc. Daisy sent in her artwork. She received a long beautiful letter filled with encouragement, praise and confidence that she possess enough talent to justify following a course of technical training and enjoying a high salary paid in this most agreeable profession. The letter mentions that only those having the talent like hers, ambition, energy, persistence and determination to succeed can ever acquire the proficiency necessary to enter this profession. This is verified because, I have the letter and through historical searches and EBay, I stumbled on an antique dealer selling a 1934 Federal Schools Inc. legendary “A Road to Bigger Things” literature booklet. I purchased the treasured booklet.

My grandmother was sent that booklet which featured numerous stories about White illustrators and cartoonists. She had also received a certificate for the presence of artistic ability and a good understanding of the elements of drawing, signed by the president of the school. On the first page of the booklet was titled: The Realization of a Dream. My grandmother was dreaming bigger than big. She could do this because the classes were mail order and the school was in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They did not know the color of her skin and Jim Crow Laws had no hold on her through mail order. She had only one enemy—a husband who continued to beat the dream out of her—time and again. To him she would surrender. Most women did in that era of women’s suffrage. Their voices were marginalized and silenced. For this reason, historically, a Black woman’s life has been one of long-suffering and severe oppression as a member of two powerless and exploited classes making her a double victim.

On Sunday evening, August 4, 1946, the five children living at home returned home from 7:00 PM Benediction. They went into the kitchen, and ate most of the rice pudding and the lemon sauce to go over it. Their father asked Daisy, “Where is my dessert? Has everyone eaten it all from me?” She replied, “No Jack, there is some left for you.” She did not know the kids had eaten it. My grandfather gave the kids a beating that night with the razor strap—it was the strap he used to sharpen his razor for shaving. He would hold their heads between his knees and strike the strap at their backsides.

The following morning, Monday, he was still fussing, but this time it was about his breakfast oatmeal. He headed off to work. My grandmother stayed seated in her favorite yellow and brown sewing chair. My mother says that her mother was very quiet. She was fully dressed and sitting in the chair straight up like a lady, with her hands folded in a prayerful position. The kids began their day without disturbing her. It was Monday, washday. They knew what their mother’s routine would be, while they played outside all day. In their frontyard, was a playground with a sandbox and see saw. There was an open area large enough to play baseball, and ride their bikes. There were four big trees and one had a tire swing. They played hide and seek, and red light green light. In the back yard, was a lot of land. They had three out houses, two vegetable gardens, chickens and a rooster running around. Three peach trees, grape vines and two round brick kennels to burn rubbish and garbage. There were two blessings to the landscape, a hill to slide down on a cardboard boxes and a neighbor with a farm nearby who had plenty of horses to ride.

By late afternoon, sunset, my grandmother had not moved from her chair. My Aunt Jonetta, their tenth child, age 13, begins to get scared. She finds my mother outside playing. The sisters checked on their mother. The two conclude that it was odd that mom had not prepared the supper for them and their dad. Daisy did not respond to their voices. The girls were frightened. They decided to call their parish priest Father Lyndon, the assistant pastor to Father Daniel Bradley, a catholic priest that the entire Black community of Greenwood’s Catholics dearly loved from St Monica Church in Tulsa. St Monica Catholic Church was built in 1930 off Greenwood Ave to serve the Black Catholic community. My mother and her siblings attended school there. Father Lyndon came promptly in his automobile. He put his ear to Daisy’s mouth and said that she was praying. He told the girls to pull back the covers on the bed in the living room and he carried her there, and placed her in the bed. Father Lyndon instructed the girls to make sure their mother did not move, while he went to get Father Bradley. Shortly after Father Bradley arrived, he was going to take, Daisy to St John’s Hospital. He asks, “Where is your father?” At that moment, my grandfather walks in the door. My grandfather asked, “What’s going on? What are you doing here?” Jack replies, “We don’t need any charity. I can take care of things here.” He orders, Father Bradley and Father Lyndon out of his house. Father Bradley states, “Daisy is sick and needs to go to the hospital.” The priests leave. My aunt Jo starts crying and just before my mother places a cloth, soaked in icebox water on their mother’s forehead, my grandfather begins hitting her, about why she called Father Bradley.

The frightened children tended to their mother overnight. It’s Tuesday, early dawn, my grandfather takes his wife to Moton Memorial Hospital. Moton is the first African American hospital in Tulsa. The hospital operated as a segregated medical facility until 1956. Today it is known as the Morton Health Center. The children wanted their mother to go to St John’s, the White people’s hospital — not Moton where people always died there. On Thursday, the kids visited their mother. She was awake and told them to be good and listen to their father. That night she slipped back into a coma. Two days later, on Saturday, August 10, 1946, at 2:40 pm, the day before my mother’s 14th birthday, (the eldest girl living at home), while outside washing clothes, her father told her that their mother had passed. The lives of Daisy’s remaining five children, Guy age 15, Altamese age 14, Jonetta age 13, Benjamin age 11 and Toussaint age 8, had forever changed. The older siblings, grown had left or run away from home always with the hope of rescuing their Mom and younger siblings. They were Juanita, Julius, Eloise, Panchita, Sidney and Pauline. The cause of death listed as a cerebral hemorrhage and heat exhaustion. My grandmother died at age, 48. Although, many people came to the funeral and my grandmother’s obituary and picture was published in the Black newspaper, The Oklahoma Eagle, no one rescued the five younger children. They remained with their father who at times showed compassion but yet continued to beat them.

Overtime my grandfather’s anger turned into depression and sadness, then bitterness. He began to withdraw, and dry up like a raisin in the sun. Although he had women, he never remarried or brought another woman near his children. Instead, he would tell people, “My wife was a pearl.” Today, at the Greenwood District Cultural Center lie a Black Wall Street Memorial. My grandfather’s name is inscribed on the granite cenotaph and his losses in the 1921 race riot’s destruction. My grandmother’s dream was deferred but it lives on in her legacy of courage, in artifacts found in libraries featuring early Black newspaper publications.

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