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Alpha Phi Alpha/Alpha Kappa Alpha Oratorical Contest Deemed a Success

Participants of the 2016 Alpha Phi Alpha/Alpha Kappa Alpha Oratorical contest, with committee members Samantha Dotson, Kevin Eastman, and AKA chapter President, Linda Gaines-Brooks.

Participants of the 2016 Alpha Phi Alpha/Alpha Kappa Alpha Oratorical contest, with committee members Samantha Dotson, Kevin Eastman, and AKA chapter President, Linda Gaines-Brooks.

HEMET, CA- Students from Inland Empire schools converged on West Valley High School, for the 27th annual Alpha Phi Alpha/Alpha Kappa Alpha Oratorical Contest, sponsored by the Mu Xi Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and the Eta Nu Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.  The contest was co-chaired by Kevin Eastman, of Alpha Phi Alpha, and Samantha Dotson, of Alpha Kappa Alpha.

Twenty-five students, in grades 2 through 12, delivered oral presentations on pre-determined topics.  They took full advantage of the opportunity to dazzle the panel of judges, with breath-taking speeches on the importance of education, the effects of bullying, and how modern media affects today’s society.

Members of Alpha Phi Alpha, and Alpha Kappa Alpha served as judges.  The judges were: Educators Linda Gaines-Brooks and Charlotte Black, City of Perris’ Mayor Pro Tem Tonya Burke, and Actor/Author Joseph C. Phillips.  The City of Rialto’s IT and Purchasing Manager William Jernigan served as the Head Judge.  At the competition’s conclusion, Mr. Phillips commended the participants on their efforts, and offered some personal coaching on public speaking.

Each participant received a certificate from California State Assembly Member Cheryl Brown.  The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishers in each grade group each received a trophy and a cash prize.  The winners were: in the elementary school group (grades 1 through 5): 1st place – Aisa John-Niece Ingram, 2nd place – Jennifer Aravelo, and 3rd place – Asia Ingram.  In the middle school group (grades 6 through 8): 1st place – Kiana Martinez (the only competitor).  In the high school group (grades 9 through 12): 1st place – Fiona Monte, 2nd place – Annika Kim, and 3rd place – Cynthia Gould.

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.’s Mu Xi Lambda chapter, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.’s Eta Nu Omega chapter, are community service organizations in the Inland Empire, and are involved in social activities and causes throughout the region, such as voter education and registration, and mentoring programs for young adults.  For more information on Alpha Phi Alpha, visit the fraternity’s website at: www.apa1906.net.  For more information on Alpha Kappa Alpha, visit the sorority’s website at: www.aka1908.com.

Thomas Moorehead, First Black Rolls Royce Dealer, Rolls into the World of Ultra-Luxury

Thomas A. Moorehead
By Eric Easter, Urban News Service

The world’s first African-American Rolls Royce car dealer got there through hard work and perseverance, but only after disappointing his family. Thomas Moorehead’s parents thought the key to respectability was a Ph.D. Both teachers, they lived by an old-school axiom that the one thing you never can take away from a man is an education. Yet, with just a few credits and a dissertation to go, Moorehead abandoned his doctoral program, and his parent’s wishes, for an uncertain shot at learning the automobile business from the bottom up.

It was a leap of faith, an offer from a fraternity brother and mentor, James Bradley of Bradley Automotive Group, who promised to make Moorehead a millionaire in five years — if he took the risk. But it wasn’t the promise that attracted Moorehead: “Teaching was a guarantee of a long career, but I always had a passion for business,” he says.

His road to success required two years of apprenticeship with Bradley, the mortgaging of his home and the depletion of his savings to enter a training program, then eventually owning his first dealership, selling Buicks in Omaha, Neb. Moorehead built a strong reputation as someone dedicated to customer service, an essential value of the Rolls Royce brand. That reputation, and his sales record as owner of Sterling BMW in Virginia, sparked an invitation from Rolls Royce Motor Cars to join the exclusive club of only 33 dealers and 130 dealerships around the globe, an opportunity he accepted without hesitation. The new store, Rolls Royce Motor Cars of Sterling, is the sole Rolls Royce dealership in greater Washington, D.C. and covers much of the mid-Atlantic — from Virginia to southern Pennsylvania. It sits just across from Sterling BMW and Mini, his other successful dealership, a fact that fills him with immense pride.

“These are the best cars in the world, and I’m honored to be able to bring them to my customers,” Moorehead says as he looks across the lot.

His dealerships thrive in one of the region’s wealthiest communities, filled with prosperous government contractors, newly minted millionaires from tech start-ups and the Washington Redskins’ nearby training facility. But the opulence that Moorehead markets is a long way from his roots in Monroe, Louisiana, a town of 38,000 with a historic poverty rate twice the already poor state’s average.

During his youth, Monroe Colored High was the sole choice for black students in that segregated city. It was a time when, according to Moorehead, families like his could “offer you their good name, but not money.” That upbringing drives a sense of humility that led Moorehead to keep his own name off the dealership’s logo. “I always say the boss is the customer, not me. I don’t get caught up in having my name on the door,” he explains. “Actually, most customers who come in think I’m just another salesman, and that’s fine with me.”

In a world where demanding buyers have been known to add millions of dollars’ worth of custom details to their cars to reflect their personalities (fur-lined shoe-holders, built-in picnic baskets, crystal cufflink holders), Moorehead’s low-key manner is a studied contrast – a contrast he believes helps him sell more cars. “I can talk about the features of the cars all day but, ultimately, people are buying good service.”

At age 71, Moorehead still relies on the daily advice of mentors, who include Hall of Fame home-run great (now car dealer) Hank Aaron and former National Urban League president John Jacob. He calls them “instrumental” in shaping his business’s success. “They marked their careers by quietly getting the job done, but also being the best at what they do.”

While giving a tour of his office, Moorehead seems slightly embarrassed as he points to pictures of himself with presidents Obama and Clinton and an array of famous business leaders. That changes when he points out two items of which he’s most proud. The Laurel Wreath Award, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity’s highest honor for lifetime achievement. And then something much less distinct: a small cardboard sign that lists more than a dozen vendors who, he says, have contributed to his achievements — architects, decorators, contractors, cleaning-service owners and even the guy who printed the sign. All are African-Americans, and fraternity brothers, people for whom he has paid forward the gift that Bradley gave him.

“This is really what it’s all about, bringing other people up and giving something back.”

Inland Empire Alliance of Black School Educators (IEABSE) Hosts “Meet & Greet” for Inland Empire Black Male Leaders in Education

image3SAN BERNARDINO, CA- On Thursday, January 21, the Inland Empire Alliance of Black School Educators (IEABSE) hosted a “Meet & Greet” to introduce the Inland Empire community to some influential leaders in education. IEABSE invited in the Inland Empire community to meet five prominent African American Male Administrators you may or may not have known existed.

San Bernardino City Unified School District Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Kennon Mitchell, Ph.D., Chaffey College Vice President of Student Services, Dr. Eric Bishop Ed.D., Moreno Valley City College Vice President of Student Services, Dr. Dyrell Foster, Ed.D., San Bernardino Valley College Vice President of Student Services, Dr. Ricky Shabazz, Ed.D., and California State University San Bernardino Vice President of Student Services, Dr. Bryan Hanes, Ed.D all came together to discuss “What it means to be an African American Male in Education, What is being done to support Student Equity, and what can be done to support them in closing the Achievement Gap.” image2

The event located at Azusa Pacific University San Bernardino Campus was attended by over 75 school or college educators and community members. All were greeted by the low hum of instrumental hip hop, the smell of fresh baked “Grand Daddy” macaroni and cheese, Guest Panel and thoughtful conversations surrounding Black Student Achievement. Meriel Anderson-McDade of Riverside Community College remarked, “The energy in here gave me goose bumps, it’s not often we can ask questions of those in such high positions, let alone mingle with so many other educators and parents that are both passionate and positive about helping our youth.”

Keynasia Buffong and Alise Clouser of IEABSE said, “We wanted our communities to know that there are Black male educators in high positions, they are not unicorns, they do exist… we want to show our support while keeping them accountable.” The next IEABSE meeting is scheduled for April. At that meeting influential Black female educators and information regarding the 6th Annual IEABSE High School Black Graduate Recognition & Scholarship Ceremony” will be presented.

IEABSE annually hosts the largest High School Black Graduate Recognition Ceremony in Southern California. The “IE HS Black Grad” will be held this year on May 14th at 2pm on the CSU San Bernardino campus. For more information please contact IEABSE directly at ieabse@gmail.com.