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Black Minds Matter Briefing Addresses State of California’s Black Students

PASADENA, CA – Over a hundred community members attended an informational briefing on California’s nearly one million Black youth, hosted by Assemblymember Chris Holden (AD – 41) and The Education Trust–West at Pasadena City College. The “Black Minds Matter” briefing examined the recently published Education Trust-West report, “Black Minds Matter: Supporting the Educational Success of Black Children in California.”

“Over the past 165 years, court cases and policy decisions have shaped the educational experiences of Black children,” said Assemblymember Chris Holden.  “Despite some progress, the unfortunate reality is that opportunity and achievement gaps continue to persist, leaving California’s nearly one million Black youth under age 25 facing an uphill battle to get the education they desire.”

“Black students are the least likely to graduate high school in four years and the most likely to be placed in remedial, non-credit bearing courses in college,” said Ryan J. Smith, Executive Director, and The Education Trust–West. “We can dismantle the obstacles placed in front of California’s Black students – if we collectively believe it’s possible.”

The panel of experts and guest speakers highlighted the findings and promising practices legislators and educators can consider in addressing disparities and inequities in access, opportunity and achievement.

“I agree with the report. We need to do more, and we need to do better,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson. “We are implementing several specific recommendations in the report, increasing funding, particularly for the neediest students, and increased local control. We are focused on equity, working with stakeholders to ensure high-quality education for all students.

Recommendations for school districts leaders in the report focus on expanding access, improving school climate and strengthening and supporting meaningful authentic family engagement efforts. Black Minds Matter stresses the need to use data to identify gaps in access to rigorous courses and target more resources and opportunities to students who are struggling academically. To further address closing these gaps, districts can build and strengthen formal partnerships between districts and community-based organizations representing African American communities.

“I applaud Assemblymember Holden and Assemblymember Weber for displaying the very type of leadership and firm commitment that we need to close opportunity and achievement gaps for all of California’s students,” said Smith.

Participants in the briefing included Chris Holden, Assemblymember for 41st Assembly District; Ryan Smith, Executive Director for Education Trust – West; Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction; Yvette Gullatt , Vice Provost and Chief Outreach Officer for the University of California Office of the President; Dr. Christopher D. Jimenez y West, Instructor, Social Science Division, Pasadena City College; John Pointer, Student Body President, John Muir High School; Felita Kealing, Pasadena Unified School District African-American Parent Council; Trudell Skinner, Principal, Blair High School; Dr. Mack Hines, Pasadena Unified School District African-American Student Success Initiative; and Darvin Jackson, Monrovia Unified School District, Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources.

Afrowear Launches First Annual Urban Fashion Show in Sunny Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES, CA- It’s Spring time and we’re that much closer to summer, and the go-getters are already amping for the start of fall. In preparation for the next season, Afrowear founder Latanya Alexander will be launching the label’s first annual End of the Summer Fashion Show and Expo, which kicks off on September 3 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at The Reef LA located at 1933 S Broadway in Sunny Los Angeles.

Afrowear was established in 2011 as an urban apparel line that provides quality tees, hats, and accessories that empower the community to triumph through daily obstacles, become resilient, and inspired to reach new heights.

“I’m very excited to put on this wonderful fashion show. My goal is bring communities together to an event that celebrates small business, entertainment, and fashion as they brand their businesses.”

In addition to the message behind the brand, the ultimate purpose of the event is to serve as a platform in bringing together entrepreneurs of the community to celebrate fashion, culture, and music while building new connections in expansion of their own brands. For those that would love to be involved, vendor booths and sponsorship opportunities are available by contacting Latanya Alexander at (323) 842-0549 orafrowear.byladyt@gmail.com; or Shanelle Williams at Shanellebwilliams@gmail.com. For fashion show inquires contact Edna at (909) 586-0079 oreventswithedna@gmail.com. Additional information on Afrowear can be found by visiting www.afrowearapparel.com.


UCR’s African American Family Wellness Center Hosted Successful Reception

By John Coleman

RIVERSIDE, CA-James S Jackson, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan and widely recognized for academic, administrative, research and other accomplishments​ was the guest of honor at UCR’s reception held May 6, 2016 at the UCR Alumni Center. The reception was hosted by the African American Family Wellness Center, UCR African Student Programs, the UCR STEM Academy, and the J W Vines Medical Society.

The theme this year was, “The National Survey of American Life,” and “The Family Survey across Generations and Nations.” It was conducted by honoree Dr. Jackson. Partially freed of responsibilities as Director, University of Michigan Institute for Social Research and other national and international duties, Dr. Jackson expressed interest in developing programs in targeted long-term studies of African American communities and populations in Southern California.  This ‘availability’ makes HIM a ‘Target of Opportunity’ for recruitment by national leaders in academic research institutions (including UCR) in California.