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Author Archives: WSS News

IEABSE to Award Scholarships to Students across the Inland Empire

Black GRAD

FONTANA, CA- In honor of our local youth, the Inland Empire Alliance of Black School Educators (IEABSE) presents “It Takes a Village” 2016 Scholarship Celebration, sponsored by Black Voice Foundation and New Life Christian Church. The scholarship celebration will take place on Saturday April 16, 2016 from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Jessie Turner Center located at 15556 Summit Avenue in Fontana. This event is open to the public with a $20 donation, but seating is limited. The Scholarship Celebration foreshadows the IEABSE annually hosted Inland Empire High School Black Graduation Recognition Ceremony (I.E. Black Grad).

The I.E. Black Grad is the largest High School Black Graduation Recognition Ceremony in Southern CA and will be held this year on May 14 at 2 p.m. on the CSU San Bernardino campus where over two thousand individuals are expected to be present. The Scholarship Celebration offers family members, educators and community members an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of local African American students. The scholarship donors are comprised of local organizations and businesses as well as individuals who desire to see Inland Empire students thrive in their educational aspirations.

Seniors from all districts throughout the Inland Empire were invited to apply for our “It Takes A Village” Scholarship Contest where winners will be awarded from $500 to $1000. Each application was evaluated on academic merit, community service, perseverance and leadership.

This year’s special guests include 47th District Assemblymember, Cheryl Brown, and Fontana Mayor, Aquanetta Warren. There will be representatives from each donor organization and the high schools of the scholarship recipients. An anticipated highlight of the ceremony will be “The Reveal” where students will make final decisions on their college/university choice. For more information please contact IEABSE directly at ieabse@gmail.com.

Inspired By First Lady Michelle Obama Bennett Student Creates Exercise Program

Ka’la Hill, during the Bodies by Bella Program.

Ka’la Hill, during the Bodies by Bella Program.

GREENSBORO, NC — Bennett College Junior, Ka’la Hill is stretching her way to the top with her program “Bodies by Bella.”  She was inspired to start the program by First Lady Michelle Obama.

Hill, who is from Upper Marlboro, Maryland, started this program as a way to encourage her fellow students to become more physically active and maintain healthier lives.

On September 29, 2014, Hill scheduled her first Bodies by Bella class.  At first, attendance was very inconsistent.

“I kept showing up, even if no one was there, but that gave me time to learn new things to contribute to my workouts,” she said.

This year, her class popularity has grown from 12 to 20 students in attendance.

Aside from just wanting to help her sisters, Hill attributes her inspiration for starting her program to First Lady Michelle Obama’s, Let’s Move Campaign.  The First Lady’s campaign seeks to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity.

“I would love to get the chance to say thank you to the first lady for inspiring me and teaching me the importance of being physically active,” she said.

Hill is also grateful for the Bennett College experience she has had thus far.  “Bennett taught me how to be a leader. The support of professors and the encouragement of my sisters has helped get me where I am today.”

Now that Hill is a junior, she has been thinking about her plans after Bennett College.  She wants to earn a master’s degree in social work and start a community-based program to target childhood obesity.  She also wants to implement nutritional programs for low-income people.

Until then, she is focusing on how to continue fitness programs for Bennett College.  “By the time that I leave [Bennett], I would like to have several fitness programs in place for my sisters.”

She says that one of the most rewarding experiences from her program is when she hears her sisters say that they have lost weight or that they are seeing a difference.

Bodies by Bella is offered every Monday and Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m., in the Gym at Bennett College.

Former Detroit Gang Member Now A Gang Peacemaker

Youth

By Michael H. Cottman, Urban News Service

Ray Winans, once affectionately known as “Killer Ray,” is helping reduce gun violence in Detroit — one gang member at a time.

The 37-year-old former gang member is an unconventional activist who mediates among gangs, police and federal prosecutors while encouraging young black men to end their lives of crime and hand their guns over to officials.

Winans explained he has attended too many funerals for young black men killed in violent confrontations. He has persuaded 10 young men to stop associating with Detroit’s gangs since 2014, according to Winans and police. 

“I never thought I would ever work with the police and it changed my whole view of law enforcement,” he told Urban News Service. “Now I’m working with friends in gangs and their children in gangs.”

A former member of the Head Banger Bloods, Winans and his wife, Shaelon, co-founded Keeping Them Alive in 2012. This non-profit agency is dedicated to ending gun violence in Detroit.

Winans runs his initiative on a modest budget through donations, his own money and a $10,000 grant he received in 2013 from the Knight Foundation’s Black Male Engagement project.

Winans faces tough odds in his quest: Homicide is the leading cause of death among American black men between the ages of 15 and 34, the Centers for Disease Control reports. And only 50 percent of black youth feel confident they will live to age 35, according to the American Sociological Association and the Journal of Health and Social Behavior

The challenge, Winans said, can be summed up in one word: Trust. Gang members can relate to him because of his own violent past.

When he was 15, Winans was convicted of manslaughter following a fit of anger in Detroit, according to both him and police. Winans said he was charged as a juvenile and served three years in jail for beating Chester Bownes to death with a hammer. Winans said he was freed at age 18 from High Plains Youth Center in Brush, Colorado.

(Winans’ juvenile court records are sealed, a police source said, so he could not identify the victim nor confirm the spelling of his name.)

After his release, Winans was in and out of jail until 2009. But six years ago, his life changed. 

“I told God, ‘I am willing to get a job and not hurt anybody anymore,’” he said. “In 2010, I gave my life to Christ and started working in a local grocery store. The news spread like wildfire and gang members were coming to the store to see for themselves.”

Today, the father of five tries to quiet Detroit’s guns. There were 295 homicides in 2015 and 1,035 non-fatal shootings in Michigan’s largest city, according to police data. Detroit is America’s most dangerous city, according to FBI crime statistics for 2015.

Winans’ partnership with Detroit police is a “highly unusual relationship, but very effective,” said Sgt. Edward Brannock, head of the department’s gang intelligence unit.

Winans joined Brannock recently to teach community mediation and gang intervention to 25 Detroit police officers, community outreach workers and the department’s chaplain.

“I’ve called on Ray in high-stress situations,” Brannock  said. “We’ve been on shootings together. He’s pulled gang members out of school and helped us locate an AR-15 assault rifle and a 9mm Glock that a suspect was hiding in a dope house. And he’s helped me close cases.”

“Who would ever think that a guy who was in prison for manslaughter would be working this closely with law enforcement?”

Saul Green, a former Detroit deputy mayor and former U.S. attorney for  Michigan’s Eastern District under President Bill Clinton, said Winans’ work with police and gang members is remarkable.

“I’ve been around public safety in Detroit for a long time and I have not met another person who is bringing this kind of positive change to this community,” Green said. “Ray works with young men morning, noon, nights and weekends. We need 1,000 more Rays in Detroit.”

Gang members, meanwhile, say Winans offers them a second chance to succeed in life.

Anthony Crews, 18, quit the East Warren gang after meeting with Winans in 2013. Since then, he has enrolled in a jobs program for people on probation.

“I trust him,” said Crews. “He has never lied to me and he’s always there for me. I don’t know where I’d be without him.”