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The Tuskegee Airmen Soars into The Pasadena Playhouse with the Production “FLY”

(L-R) Terrell Wheeler, Damian Thompson and Brooks Brantly rehearse a scene in “FLY.”

(L-R) Terrell Wheeler, Damian Thompson and Brooks Brantly rehearse a scene in “FLY.”

PASADENA, CA- Preview performances of the West Coast Premiere of FLY begin tomorrow and play through Feb.21, 2016 at The Pasadena Playhouse. The production, which is presented in association with Crossroads Theatre Company, will officially open on Sunday, January 31, 2016 to usher in Black History Month. FLY tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen and dramatizes the historic contributions made by the heroic men to desegregate the American military and further civil rights.

Co-written and directed by Ricardo Kahn, FLY explores themes in overcoming adversity and pursuing dreams. The story follows four main characters’ experiences through training in Tuskegee, Alabama, whose common goal was to defend their country despite the persistent racism they dealt with daily. Unable to express their emotions as military men, director Ricardo Kahn brought in the unique character Tap Griot played by Omar Edwards to express the airmen’s resentment toward racial inequality through the artistic output of tap dancing.

“Trey and Ricardo have conceived of a wonderfully theatrical and exciting way to approach this important chapter of American history,” says Sheldon Epps, artistic director of The Pasadena Playhouse. “Their work will be excitingly brought to life by this fine group of actors and the rest of the creative team.  I know that all of them will bring their artistry to the creation of our production in a way that will truly make the play soar.” The New York Times hailed the play as a “superior piece of theatrical synergy.”

FLY plays from January 26 through February 21, 2016.  Tickets start at $25 and are available by calling The Pasadena Playhouse at 626-356-7529, online 24 hours a day at www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org or by visiting The Pasadena Playhouse Box Office at 39 South El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101.

Uninsured Californians Will Pay Tax Penalty

Though young and in good health, Marcus Sesay of Riverside enrolled for health insurance in 2015 to fulfill the mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Sesay, a 35-year-old native of Sierra Leone, was not motivated by free services like an annual checkup and other health screenings, but wanted to avoid the tax penalty consumers will face if they fail to get coverage in 2016.

“Having insurance is the law, and I obey the law,” said Sesay, a security guard who has a plan with Health Net and pays $65 a month for his coverage. “Insurance also gives me peace of mind. We don’t know what tomorrow might bring.”

Protecting your financial tomorrow is one of the many reasons to sign up for affordable, high-quality health care.

“It’s impossible to predict when or whether someone will get sick or have an accident, which makes purchasing health insurance a wise decision for anyone,” Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee said. “Now there’s another reason to get insured — taxes.”

The “shared responsibility payment” is a new tax penalty that Americans have to pay this year if they can afford health insurance but choose not to buy it. It is called a shared responsibility payment because everyone in the United States is now required to be part of our health insurance system — buying health coverage for themselves and their families rather than relying on others to pay for their care.

Those who do not buy health insurance in 2016 may be subject to the penalty, which is $695 per person in a household or 2.5 percent of their income, whichever is greater. That’s the stick the law can whack you with, but Covered California prefers offering most consumers a helping hand —financial help paying for coverage.

Of those already enrolled, almost 90 percent got financial help to cover their premiums. In 2014, consumers who qualified received an average of $5,200 to pay for their insurance. For more information and to find local, no-cost assistance, visit CoveredCA.com and click the “Find Local Help to Enroll” button in the middle of the page.

Youth Action Project Hosted YAP TALKS: An MLK Event

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SAN BERNARDINO, CA- On Friday, January 15, 2016, Youth Action Project hosted YAP TALKS: A Martin Luther King Jr. event, to commemorate and honor Dr. King’s life and legacy. This event was held at the San Bernardino Valley College Library Viewing room.

YAP TALKS strongly resembled a TED Talks. Four speakers were invited to deliver 15-minute speeches that incorporated the philosophies, teachings and principles of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to current issues experienced by San Bernardino community members and its youth. Each speaker projected a positive message by bringing awareness to these issues and by sharing their insight on how we can resolve them. The speakers consisted of:

Enrique Murillo, Professor at California State San Bernardino and Executive Director of Latino Education Advocacy Days (LEAD); Johnathan Buffong, co-founder of Buffong Consulting and Mental Health Consultant with the County of San Bernardino; Raihanah Medlock (Grand Terrace High School, Junior), Sheba Jennings (Summit High School, Junior), & DeVon Clay (California State University, San Bernardino, Freshman); Lolita Lyles, Professor at California State Long Beach and University of La Verne; and Rev. Dennis Brown, influential speaker who is also known as the “Voice of King.”

The event also featured a special guest, R&B sensation, Abraham McDonald. You may have seen him on The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Voice. He graced everyone with his humorous personality and beautiful voice.

Jonathan Buffong, a speaker for this event, said, “To see the community celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King life’s work and dreams is always a great thing. Youth Action Project went an extra step when they did YAP TALKS, as each speaker not only analyzed King’s memory, but also forced the audience to look at ways to actualize how they can implement Dr. King legacy in their daily life. That’s when you will see true change in the way we engage with each other”.

Eleven-year-old student, Alexis Gallarzo, simply said, “I loved listening to everyone’s speech, especially since I am learning about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in class right now. The best thing about this event were the girls who free-styled their poems. It was so cool!”

Carol Flores, one of the event coordinators, said, “It was an honor working on an event that served as an agent to promote social change. My goal was to construct an event that would make people think about their current predicament and take action by fighting for social justice and equality as Martin Luther King Jr. did.”

Youth Action Project had one purpose in mind when planning YAP TALKS and that was to host a community event that would impact a diverse audience. C.E.O Joseph Williams closed the night with a powerful quote stating: “Youth Action Project was pleased to host this event. Our aim was to see Dr. King’s dream implemented. I believe we did just that.”