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BLU Educational Foundation Opens Thoughtful Dialogue Confronting Issues of Self-Image, Personal Achievement, and Relationships during Women’s History Month Screening of “The Souls of Black Girls”

Panelist Zumar Zamaan (back center) pictured with students who work closely with Dina Walker

Panelist Zumar Zamaan (back center) pictured with students who work closely with Dina Walker

SAN BERNARDINO, CA – – BLU Educational Foundation (BLU) launched a thoughtful dialogue this month with the community screening of the award-winning provocative news documentary, The Souls of Black Girls. The screening was held Thursday, March 24 at San Bernardino Valley College and included a post-screening panel discussion with thought-leaders from the Inland Empire Region. The panel also included local students who work closely with Dina Walker, founder of BLU.

Dina Walker, Founder of BLU, pictured with community leaders (l to r) Hardy Brown II and Jonathan Buffong

Dina Walker, Founder of BLU, pictured with community leaders (l to r) Hardy Brown II and Jonathan Buffong

“Our objective was to provide a safe environment where the community could come together to discuss socially relevant issues facing African American girls and women,” said Walker. It’s important for all women to have a healthy self-image. We’re optimistic that this discussion will extend well beyond Women’s History Month.”

Panelists included Zumar Zamaan, a local writer; Dr. April Clay, a counseling consultant; Faith Ellis, an English teacher; and students Davina Clay, Raihanah Medlock, and Breanna Smith. They each shared personal experiences and how they’ve chosen to navigate issues such as family dynamics, dating relationships and public perceptions of black women.

The screening also served as a precursor to BLU’s Soul Sister’s Leadership Academy and Conference slated for this summer and fall respectively. T-shirts bearing the slogan #BlackGirlsMatter can be purchased to support the Academy and participant scholarships.

Produced by rising filmmaker Daphne Valerius, The Souls of Black Girls raises the question of whether or not women of color may be suffering from a self-image disorder as a result of trying to attain the standards of beauty that are celebrated in media images. The candid piece features interviews with young women discussing their self-image as well as social commentary from Rapper/Political Activist Chuck D, Actresses Regina King and Jada Pinkett Smith, PBS Washington Week Moderator Gwen Ifill and Cultural Critic Michaela Angela Davis, among others.
 

Honoring Woodie Rucker-Hughes, Citizen of the Year

Waudier "Woodie" Rucker-Hughes accepts the Chamber's Citizen of the Year Award from Chairman Bob Stockton and past Citizen of the Year honoree Nick Goldware. Photo credit: Michael Elderman.

Waudier “Woodie” Rucker-Hughes accepts the Chamber’s Citizen of the Year Award from Chairman Bob Stockton and past Citizen of the Year honoree Nick Goldware. Photo credit: Michael Elderman.

By Dr. Paulette Brown-Hinds

She has spent her adult life as an advocate for “the least, the lost, and the last.” She is a champion for social justice. For many she is a beacon of hope, serving simultaneously as a guide, an access point, a connector between what is plausible and what is possible. And last week, as the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce honored her as Citizen of the Year, I joined hundreds of our fellow citizens in tribute to Waudier Rucker-Hughes, known affectionately to most of us simply as “Woodie.”

Woodie is a problem solver. She’s one of the few people I can call with a difficult issue and know she will find a resolution. She never says “no I can’t…” Probably because she grew-up hearing the phrase, “can’t is a lazy animal that doesn’t try,” an adage her parents regularly repeated during her formative years. Many of her parents’ beliefs have been “indelibly imprinted” on her brain, “Your attitude about life will determine how far you get in this life.” Those beliefs inspired her and in turn she uses them to inspire others.

As the longtime president of the Riverside Branch of the NAACP and an advocate for homeless and foster youth with the Riverside Unified School District, the work she does on behalf of others is more than just a job. Like her hero Martin Luther King, Jr. she has the drum major instinct. She is a model of love, moral excellence, and generosity. In his address to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1967, Dr. King outlined those attributes:

“We all have the drum major instinct. We all want to be important, to surpass others, to achieve distinction, to lead the parade…and the great issue of life is to harness the drum major instinct. It is a good instinct if you don’t distort it and pervert it. Don’t give it up. Keep feeling the need for being important. Keep feeling the need for being first. But I want you to be the first in love. I want you to be the first in moral excellence. I want you to be the first in generosity.”

A citizen. A beacon. A drum major. A remarkable woman and community leader. Woodie earns the “citizen of the year” moniker every year through her giving spirit, her love for others, and her understanding that excellence is not a skill, it is an attitude, which is another lesson she learned from her parents:

“Good…Better…Best…Never Let Them Rest…Until Your Good Becomes Better…And Your Better Becomes Best!”

United Nations of Consciousness Volunteers!

(from left to right (front row): Derrick Norwood, Heru Bush, (kneeling) Anaiah Hollis; (middle row): La'Nae Norwood, Nana Kweku, Kimberly Phillips, Akyl Phillips, Kimberly Johnson-Calvin (Back row): John Griffin, Dumisani Phomello (Photo by Wallace J. Allen)

(from left to right (front row): Derrick Norwood, Heru Bush, (kneeling) Anaiah Hollis; (middle row): La’Nae Norwood, Nana Kweku, Kimberly Phillips, Akyl Phillips, Kimberly Johnson-Calvin (Back row): John Griffin, Dumisani Phomello (Photo by Wallace J. Allen)

By Wallace J. Allen

SAN BERNARDINO, CA – Last Saturday, March 19, members of the United Nations of Consciousness (UNOC), a non-profit community based organization, gathered at San Bernardino’s Ann Shirrells Park and picked up about ten large garbage bags of trash. The clean up was part of the group’s, “Adopt a Community Project.” The clean up takes place once per month for two hours from March through November. During that time they pick up trash and debris, do landscaping, clear any safety hazards and meet and greet community residents and share information about their organization.

You are invited to inquire about UNOC and to join in their efforts, one of which is the  “Adopt A Community” Project.  They provide the clean up tools and supplies, including water and refreshments. Bring your gloves, a hat and some “elbow grease!” For more information about UNOC, call (909) 575-8862