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350 Young Men from Area High Schools to Return for Black-Brown Conference

SAN BERNARDINO, CA– The foundation that was laid at last year’s inaugural Black-Brown Conference will be built upon on Friday, Oct. 28, when Cal State San Bernardino brings back to campus about 350 African American and Latino ninth-grade young men for the second annual conference.

Designed to increase the number of African American and Latino males who enroll and graduate from college, the students, representing five Inland Empire school districts, will receive critical college information, get connected with CSUSB students and have the opportunity to talk about relevant issues facing young students today.

Colton, Fontana, Rialto, San Bernardino and Victorville school districts will be sending youths from about 20 schools to the free conference, which will be held at CSUSB’s Santos Manuel Student Union Events Center from 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. The conference also will provide lunch for the students.

Raising the percentages of black and brown male students who graduate from high school and complete a college degree is vital for the social and economic prosperity of the area and the U.S., say conference organizers.

Only 21 percent of black males and 25 percent of Latino males graduated from high school two years ago in San Bernardino County having met the A-G requirements. At the same time, young black females graduated high school at a rate of 31 percent, Latina females at 33 percent, white males 33 percent and white females 43 percent having taken more challenging courses and being better prepared to attend college.

The National Center for Education Statistics has reported that only 12.4 percent of Latino men and 20.8 percent of black men ages 25-29 have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 37.7 percent of white men.

The conference focuses on this ninth graders because early college awareness and access is critical to improving college enrollment and degree completion for historically underrepresented students. In ninth grade, said Olivia Rosas, CSUSB associate vice president for enrollment management, students are pondering the college prep courses they need to enroll at a university.

CSUSB is nationally recognized for its leadership role in changing the face of U.S. higher education. A reflection of the region’s dynamic diversity, CSUSB, which has the most diverse student population of any university in the Inland Empire, and the second-highest African American and Latino enrollments of all public universities in California, is considered a model of access and excellence in higher education.

For more information about the Black and Brown Conference, email blackbrown@csusb.edu.

Obituary: Rev. Floyd Lofton

Reverend Floyd Lofton

Reverend Floyd Lofton

Reverend Floyd Lofton  who was born on June 2, 1935, in Crystal Springs, Mississippi to Louis and Eliza Lofton. He was the youngest of eleven children. After graduating from high school in 1954, he entered the United States Air Force where he proudly served 30 years as a Security Police Officer.

He received many outstanding awards, one of which was the Outstanding Security Police Officer of the Year. He retired as a Senior Master Sergeant. After his separation from the USAF, he was employed as a Classified Destruction Manager with Northrop-Grumman for 15 years.

In 1968, while station at March Air Force Base, he met Betty, the love of his life. They were united in Holy Matrimony in 1971. With this union, he also married Kenneth, DeJuan and Esther (Betty’s sister). Rev. Lofton and Betty have had a happy and blessed union for 45 years.

He accepted his call to the ministry in 1989 under the late Bishop Dr. Herman Hubbard. in 1994.  He united with New Hope Missionary Baptist Church where it was evident he had a passion for praying, worshipping, visiting and praying for the sick and shut-ins.  His favorite declaration was, “…God will never leave you, no forsake you” Hebrews 13:5. He was appointed the Assistant Pastor at New Hope MBC in 1998, and served faithfully until his retirement in November 2015. 

On September 6, 2016, Rev. Lofton became ill and was hospitalized.  On October 17, 2016, God, in His infinite wisdom, gently and peaceably called him home from his journey as a preacher, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, godfather and friend, to his eternal rest.

He was preceded in death by his parents ,Louis and Eliza Lofton, and all his siblings.

He leaves to cherish his memory his loving and devoted wife, Betty, sons: Kenneth (Wynolia) and DeJuan; six grandchildren: Stephanie (Kenneth), Tanya (Dewaan), Phylicia, Destiny (Edward), Mark (Leslye), and Jol (Bracchell); 11 great-grandchildren: Aaliya, Troy, Josiah, Mycah, Lexi, Angelique, Mya, Kolby, Kylee, Amiah, and Markie; 6 goddaughters: Joi, Tammy, “Starr” (Leon), Krystal, DeNae and DeJahna; 3 sisters-in-lw: Alice Jaqueline and Esther (John); and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, friends and church family.

God sent His Son into the world; God didn’t tell Jesus to be partially committed to His will. God didn’t have His Son embrace only part of the cross or only go part way up Calvary’s hill.  When Jesus came to earth, He gave His life completely for you. There was no holding back, no turning back and no going back in Gods plan or in the obedience of Jesus. Reverend Lofton was obedient to these teachings and faithfully followed Jesus’ example fully in his dedication to preaching, helping and being a true reflection of God’s grace and love.


Black Woman Thrives in Washington’s World of Cigars

By Michael H. Cottman, Urban News Service

Negest Dawit, a savvy businesswoman from Ethiopia, steered her 1998 Mercedes Benz past a vacant building on 9th Street near downtown Washington, D.C. and gazed into her future.

“I looked at the building and said ‘This will be my store,’” Dawit told Urban News Service.

That was 10 years ago. Today, Dawit — affectionately called TG — owns a cigar store. TG Cigar Lounge is at 1118 9th Street, NW.

But her journey from Ethiopia to entrepreneurship was not easy.

She moved from that East African nation to Canada in 1996 and worked as a housekeeper. That job paid the bills, she said, but not one she wanted for long.

“I only had $50 when I got to Canada,” she said. “My mother gave me the money.” Dawit sat in her modest apartment, talked to her sister, and, during meals, discussed her future.

In 2000, Dawit packed her bags and moved to Washington, D.C. seeking better opportunities. She spent four years at an Ethiopian restaurant on U Street.

Even as she waited tables there, she planned her next move, next job, and next challenge.

“It was very hard moving here,” she said. “I had to learn the streets, the Metro, driving. It was a lot to learn. I moved here and started from scratch.” 

And there also was the language: Dawit learned English at school in Ethiopia and speaks it well. But her thick accent reveals her African heritage.

Dawit took a job at Presidential Cigars at Union Station in 2004, and it changed her life.

“They taught me everything I know about cigars,” she said. “I worked in sales, and I learned the business. And the owner encouraged me to open my own business.”

And that’s just what she did.

“I was a housekeeper, a waitress, a cigar saleswoman, and then I opened my own cigar store,” Dawit said. She now is Washington’s only female cigar store owner. 

“Customers ask if they can speak with the owner, and they are surprised when I tell them I’m the owner,” Dawit said.

Dawit opened her business in 2006 after standing inside the dusty storefront building and imagining what how her operation would look after she renovated. 

“It was formerly a T-Mobile store,” Dawit said. “It was dirty, and it needed a lot of work. But it was mine.” 

Mark Jackson, Dawit’s store manager, recalls meeting Dawit as he strolled through Presidential Cigars.

“I was checking out local cigar shops, doing research to launch my own line of cigars, ‘Blacksmoke,’ which I eventually did,” he said.

Jackson said he was immediately drawn to Dawit.

“She was absolutely beautiful and very knowledgeable about cigars,” Jackson said.

But opening her own store had its unique challenges, Dawit said. She required inventory — $30,000 to start — and needed people to vouch for her, tough things for someone just getting started. 

“They were asking me for referrals, but I didn’t have any,” Dawit said. “It was a challenge. I built relationships with sales people and wholesalers, and they helped me build my inventory, and some gave me credit.”

Dawit now has a $500,000 inventory and is arranging to buy the property, which she now leases. She has more than 3,500 customers, some of whom pack into the shop seven days a week to smoke cigars, sip Scotch, and network with other smokers.

“My customers include businessmen, politicians, and cigar club members,” Dawit said. “One third of my customers are women.”

She said the three cigar clubs that loyally meet at her store help her business flourish.

“They feel like they are at home,” she said. 

Dawit proudly points to the 2,000 cigar brands for sale inside her state-of-the-art glass-case humidors

The aroma of cigar smoke fills Dawit’s spacious location. Next to the well-stocked bar is a roomy lounge with comfortable seats and a large flat-screen TV.
While nearly 13 billion cigars were sold in America in 2015, according to the Center for Disease Control, Dawit is not the typical cigar store owner: She doesn’t smoke.

“I don’t smoke cigars, and I don’t drink,” Dawit said as she walks through her stylish venue, and cigar smoke hangs in the air. “But I do offer my customers a great deal of knowledge about cigars.”

Dawit is friendly, attractive and formidable. She has a sly smile, long black hair that flows over her shoulders, and a sultry accent that hints of mystery.

“TG’s gift is certainly her personality,” said Jackson. “She hugs people, shakes hands, it’s a genuine passion for her business and it brings folks back.” 

Dawit agreed.

“I haven’t had a vacation in 10 years,” she said. “I work seven days a week; I’m always here.”

Dawit says her store also offers a full-service tobacco shop with house-blended tobaccos, cigar lighters, novel ashtrays, vaporizers and hookah pipes. 

And she drives to work in her 2017 Range Rover.

“I know everything there is to know about cigars,” Dawit said. “I can smell cigars, roll them, merchandise them, and sell them. I just don’t smoke them.”