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SBCUSD Students Reminisce About Participating in Local History

Vice President Joe Biden (Photo Credit Angela Coggs)

Vice President Joe Biden (Photo Credit Angela Coggs)

By Angela M. Coggs

How often can someone say they attended an event in their own backyard where the current sitting Vice President of the United States was a speaker? Most people can go their entire life without having such an opportunity. But two students from the San Bernardino County Unified School District had the chance to do just that. On Saturday, November 1st at a “Get out the Vote” Rally at Colton High School, Yonathan Habtemariam (8th grader- Richardson Prep Middle School) and Jonathan Rodgers (9th grader- Cajon High School) were two students in a sea of several hundred adults in the Colton High School gymnasium. Both young men attended the event with their respective mothers, both whom are officers of the SBCUSD District African American Advisory Council (DAAAC), whom were also elated to see history up close and personal.

Vice President Biden was on the campaign trail for then candidate Pete Aguilar. Aguilar, the former Mayor of Redlands, went on to win his election bid for the 31st Congressional District seat held by the retiring Rep. Gary Miller, R-Rancho Cucamonga.  The 31st district stretches through San Bernardino County from Rancho Cucamonga to Redlands.

Joe Biden arriving to event. (Photo taken by Izaiah Frazier)

Joe Biden arriving to event. (Photo taken by Izaiah Frazier)

During the rally, Biden referred to Aguilar’s childhood and being raised in a working-class family in San Bernardino. He also mentioned how Aguilar paid his way through college with two jobs and federal grants and loans. Biden urged the attendees in the Colton High School gymnasium to “pick a son of America who understands what it’s like to work hard, who understands what it’s like to put a family together, who understands what it means to struggle and get through school, who understands that every single solitary child out there deserves the same chance he had.”

“I never thought I would have an opportunity to see the Vice President in person. I didn’t believe it was really happening until he walked on stage. We were so close,” said Yonathan Habtemariam, who was taking pictures on his phone for proof. “Nobody will believe I was actually here. I can’t believe that I’m in the same breathing space as the Vice President”.  When asked what he remembered most about Biden’s speech he stated, “It was sad to hear how he had to move in with his grandfather and his father had to leave the family for a year just to find work. He also could not get a loan to send him (Biden) to college. Even though he was really good in baseball and football, it wasn’t enough to pay for school. That’s why he (Biden) is in favor of Pell grants. Having a Pell grant helped him get through college and he said everyone deserves an equal chance.” Hearing the speakers talk about the future in regards to making college an equal opportunity reality really resonated with Habtemariam who will be a high school freshman next year. “Anyone who wants to go to college should have the opportunity. I look forward to going to college, like my sister, in a few years.”

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Yonathan Habtemariam, Angela Coggs, Jonathan Rodgers, and Gwen Rodgers

For the self-declared future civil rights attorney Jonathan Rodgers, having an opportunity to see Vice President Biden at this time in his life made him think about what more lies ahead. Rodgers was equally impressed with and motivated by what was said during the rally.  He had the chance to hear firsthand what the Aguilar political platform was and how Aguilar plans on achieving it.  “It was a once in a lifetime experience. Knowing that I’m 15 years old, and I got to be in the same room as the Vice President. I think waiting in the rain was worth it for the reward.” Rodgers is planning ahead because he knows that college is in his future. “I’m grateful to have that moment at such a young age.”

Another student on the scene was 10 year old Izaiah Frazier. He was given a “special assignment” from his grandmother, Cynthia Frazier, to figure out where to position himself to get pictures of Biden’s motorcade. After strategically studying his environment, he decided to stand on the corner of Valley Blvd and Rancho Avenue across from the 10 freeway exit ramp. Although he did not know what direction the Vice President was travelling to the event, he believed that the corner he stood on would allow him an opportunity to get a good picture. Frazier was baffled and bewildered that local residents had no idea that the Vice President of the United States was due to arrive in their neighborhood. “It was awesome to see the Vice President and his motorcade. It is something that I will remember when I grow up,” Frazier said. Frazier was correct about is location. Minutes later after an initial police escort, the official motorcade exited the freeway and Frazier was able to take a few good pictures as he waved at the limo in hopes that Biden would see him. Even at such a young age, he knows the importance of voting and that he had a rare opportunity to see a Vice President in his community.

A valuable lesson these three young boys learned is the importance of getting involved in community events no matter what one’s age is. Another lesson they learned is that it is important to allow one’s voice to be heard at the ballot box.  Although the opportunity to attend the rally was not available to many young students, the message conveyed clearly resonated with these three.

“Who Let The Dogs Out?” Woof…Woof!

Lou Coleman

Lou Coleman

By Lou Coleman

To put it bluntly, there is a lot of Phony Christianity out there. There are those who are deceived and who are deceiving others. There are those trusting more in rituals and church membership than a relationship with Jesus Christ. There are those claiming to speak for God and using their “ministries” to line their pockets with money from gullible people. Not only did the apostle Paul had to confront people who did dumb things in the name of the Christian faith, but God tells us that He doesn’t like it when people do not do the very thing that He has commanded. Exactly! Not only does He “not like it,” He hates it! He hates it when people fake it.  He hates it when people attempt to serve him with self-effort. He hates guile and duplicity. He hates it when people have the audacity to think that they can fool Him! We may be able to fool men – even ourselves- of our bogus piety and sincerity, but are we really so arrogant to think that we can fool God? You know Jesus warned about bogus Christianity many times? In Matthew 7:15 He said, “Watch out for false prophets.” He wasn’t speaking about false prophets in the world but about false ministers in the church. False prophets are ministers who preach a gospel of deception and lies. As agents of Satan, they speak lies and contradict the Word of God at every turn. They are dangerous, like ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing.  In Jeremiah 6:14, God says, “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. “Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace.” False prophets never speak about man’s sin, the wrath of God, or the coming judgment. Their mission is to put Band-Aids on people serious wounds, covering them up rather than dealing with them. Instead of preaching about sin, judgment, hell, the wrath of God, repentance, or saving faith, or saying the cross is necessary for salvation, they say God loves and save all people. But as Jeremiah asked, “To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? I tell you the dogs have been turned loose on folks trying to live for God like never before. Satan and his minions hate believers, and they strive to trip us up, tempting us and trying to lure us into sin and impair our effectiveness in God’s Kingdom. But thank God we were not created ignorant of what sin is and what it would do, (Gen 2:16-17; Romans 4:15; 5:13)

 Listen; regardless of whether you realize it, Satan has targeted you as a victim. He knows your name and address, your strengths and weaknesses. Somewhere in the shadows, he and his forces lurk, even in churches, waiting, planning for the moment they will strike when you’re caught off-guard. He desperately hopes that you will, as many Christians remain ignorant of his reality. But as Jesus said, “whatsoever causes you to forget yourself, even if it is your right eye… then take it out and throw it away.” He is not saying anything that has to be taken literally; it is a metaphor. He is saying that it is better to be blind than to be forgetful of yourself because the blind man who remembers himself is not blind, he has the real eye. But if a man who has eyes forgets himself, what is the use of having eyes? He cannot see even himself; what else can he see? Either we need to hit our knees and pray for spiritual reality in us or assume God has given someone else a message. But I, for the sake of the ‘form of things’ or human convention or pride, WILL NOT FAKE IT!Who Let The Dogs Out?”  Because most of those who claim to represent Jesus actually don’t. Moreover, as time goes on, even more pretenders will arise, however sincere they may be. Jesus said, I have told you beforehand” (Matt.24 25).  So wake-up and smell the coffee! The truth will set you free!

Even though some of what I’ve said may sound critical.  It may sound harsh, even sarcastic.  There are times when truth sounds that way and I make NO APOLOGY.  In Matthew 23 Jesus is speaking out against the religious rulers of His day. His tone was angry.  He was both confrontive and critical.  He even used biting sarcasm several times to make His point and illustrate how far these men had departed from God’s righteousness and truth.  But His heart was pure.  His love and compassion for them was evident.  I’m not Jesus, and I can’t say my heart is pure, even though I’d like it to be.  But, I can identify with Jesus in this one thing: when I see the religious deception perpetrated on people, I grieve.

Some time ago the Lord took me to Jeremiah 5 and showed me that this passage doesn’t just describe the condition of Israel in Jeremiah’s day; it also describes the condition of churches today.  This is what it says:  “And should I not punish them for this rebellion? Declares the Lord! Should I not avenge Myself on a nation such as this?  A horrible and amazing thing has happened in the land: the prophets are liars, telling the people only what they want to hear; the leaders deceive my people, using a false authority that I have not given them; and worst of all, the people want it this way.  But what will they do when the end comes, and they are still bound up in all this deception?”  (Jeremiah 5:29-31

Herein lies my greatest fear: that most people in the Church are happy with the way things are and will not be interested in anything that opposes the truth as they see it.    But all I can say is that I’m confident of the message God has given me, and I know the Word of God can take care of itself. Since most of what God has given me represents a serious departure from conventional wisdom, I can only quote Paul:  “Remember what Isaiah said, God will turn conventional wisdom upside down.  The time will come when the so-called religion experts will be the ones who look foolish.  So where does that leave the one who thinks he’s wise, or the well educated, or the one who understands the ways of the world?  Isn’t God going to expose all this pretentious nonsense?  The world never had a clue when it came to knowing and understanding God.  That’s why He uses the things that the world thinks are foolish or just plain wrong, even unpleasant, to guide those who trust in Him on their way to salvation.”  (I Corinthians 1:19-21)  

I pray that we will examine our Christianity and see whether it is simply empty profession or whether we embrace the kingdom of God and its law. Think it through. Foolishness will never help us, because, according to the Bible, foolishness is rejection of God as King, rejection of His law, rejection of His plan, and rejection of His way. “Who Let The Dogs Out? Woof, Woof!”

 

 

Boxing champion, Rock Blackwell, is iconic in both the ring and the community

rock blackwell

By Naomi K. Bonman 

In the world of sports becoming the greatest is more than just being good at a particular sport. Being great goes beyond the skill set that one has and goes deeper within the athlete’s personality traits. Baltimore native and Trea Day Management and Publicity client, Rock Blackwell, is one of those greats. He demonstrates prominence not only in the ring, but within the community.  He is able to remain humble and above all determined when it comes to reaching any goal that he has set. In a recent interview with the boxing champ, he discussed his inspiration for boxing at an early age, his experience in being trained by boxing legends, and his upcoming fight in Minnesota in December where he will defend his WBU America Title.

ROCK COMMUNITY WORK2

Photo Credit: Mike Jon Photography

Since the age of seven, Rock Blackwell knew that he wanted to be a boxing champion. Once he realized that he never gave up on that goal and set out to accomplish it. “I was determined to get it done,” he states. “It was one of those things that I couldn’t walk away from or else my life would feel meaningless if I didn’t pursue it. I kept the faith and stay determined.”

And that determination led him to a few great accomplishments before he went professional. He earned an incredible 156-28 record including becoming the winner of the South Atlantic Championship.

“It was exciting!” Blackwell explained. “It was more so confirmation that I could do this because [at times we’re always questioning ourselves of whether or not we can do something]. Winning that championship motivated me to do more, keep pushing, and work harder.”

Hard work and persistence is what continued to push the rising champ to new heights. As a professional boxer, he joined the International Boxing League (IBL) where he outclassed all challengers on his way to a 15-0 record. By him excelling within the IBL, he was rewarded be being able to travel and box overseas. Although nervous at first, by him being an American boxing in different countries, he quickly adapted after experiencing the support and love shown to him. Blackwell’s favorite place that he has traveled to was Scotland.

“When I went to Scotland that was awesome,” he said. “They showed me a lot of love. Everyone embraced me and made me feel like a Scottish man. It was a very great experience.”

In addition to the countless voyages that the Baltimore native was able to endure, he was also granted the special opportunity to hone his fighting skills while in the IBL from training legends Roger Mayweather, Floyd Mayweather Sr., and Freddy Roach. Each of these individuals taught Blackwell something different. Freddy Roach, who is an offensive coach, taught Blackwell how to sharpen his skills in the ring offensively. On the defensive end, the Mayweather’s showed him how to become better defensively where he worked on his footwork, head movements, and other defensive moves.

“Just to be able to sit and learn boxing from them was amazing!” Blackwell said.

From his numerous accomplishments, trips around the world, and lessons from the legends, Blackwell stated that those things alone does not make him a great. Yes they may make him a good boxer, but he states that, “Personally, I think that being great is what you do for others. It is being a servant to the community.”

rock-blackwell-HTLB

Photo Credit: Mike Jon Photography

During his time away from the ring, Blackwell loves going out in the community and reaching out and feeding the hungry. He recently joined the #HTLB (Hashtag Lunch Bag) movement where he is part of a community of people that pack and distribute 1,000 lunches to the homeless community. While he does his civic duties in the city, he offers nourishment to the body and mind while interacting with the less fortunate. His humble rise to super stardom keeps him forever grounded and devoted to helping others out.

Next up for the rising champ is prepping for a big fight in Minnesota on December 10 where he will defend his WBU America Title. He will be going up against JJ Flint.

While he is preparing for his upcoming fight, he has his iPod loaded with his favorite music to motivate him as he is training to before the big day.

“I’m a music junkie,” he states. “I listen to a mixture of everything from Hip Hop to R&B. My favorite artist is Drake. I think he is amazing and I can relate to his music. But overall, I just love music.”

Blackwell would love to leave everyone with a few words of encouragement and motivation which is:

“If you want to accomplish something stick with it. If you really focus on it during both the good and bad times and give it your all, you will be victorious and accomplish it. A lot of people get discouraged on the road to success because of certain things that tend to hinder them on the way, but if you just hang in there and don’t give up you will get it done.”

He continues, “You are powerful beyond measure. Whatever your most dominant thought is, is what you will become.”

To keep up with Rock Blackwell, follow him on Instagram @RockBlackwell. For more information or to book Blackwell, please contact Trea Davenport with Trea Day PR at treadaypr@gmail.com or by calling (678) 327-8281.