That seismic tremor felt Thursday was not the Earth’s crust shifting, it was the legions of people converging on Deliverance Evangelistic Church, on Lehigh Avenue, in North Philadelphia, to see one of America’s most famous preachers, Thomas Dexter Jakes, Sr., internationally known as, Bishop T.D. Jakes. Jakes is on a national media and church tour to promote his new book, “Let It Go” (Forgive others so you may be forgiven).
Jakes is the senior pastor of The Potter’s House, a nondenominational megachurch in Dallas, Tx. Deliverance Evangelistic Church is the largest church sanctuary in Philadelphia, easily capable of seating several thousand people, and visitors from the tri-state area packed the place to support Jakes. As huge as this audience was, it doesn’t compare to the 30,000 members Jakes preaches to every week at The Potter’s House.
“I have been watching T.D. Jakes for many years, and I cherish his ministry,” said the Rev. Walter Arthur, pastor of Hashem Christian Worship Center in Philadelphia. Arthur and hundreds of other pastors, ministers and evangelists came out in big numbers to support Jakes.
While Jakes was sharing his message of forgiveness, Antoinette Butler stepped out of the sanctuary for a brief moment to buy his book in the lobby. “It’s just an honor and a privilege just to see him in person, just to hear him speak. I read one of his (earlier) books, ‘Woman, Thou Art Loosed;’ (since then) I’ve been attracted to him for years,” admitted Butler.
Jakes’ message of forgiveness obviously resonated with Butler as she shared, “I’m going through a lot of unforgiveness in my own family, so I needed to come here (to receive a word) to minister to my own family." Butler is a proud member of The Church of the Redeemer Baptist in South Philadelphia, where the Rev. Dr. Wayne Croft is the senior pastor.
As Jakes walked across the pulpit, connecting with all sections of the audience, his image was projected on twin jumbo screens, and the enormous mass of people in the sanctuary stayed riveted to his story-telling/Scripture-quoting/psychoanalytical preaching style. Jakes is a multimillionaire and media mogul (i.e., best-selling author, TV and radio personality, music producer and Hollywood movie producer), he’s a bona fide supernova in the galaxy of ministerial leaders.
But as wealthy and famous as Jakes is, he projects a down-to-earth and warm demeanor that comes across as very genuine. He seems to get it. He’s one of those very rich, very powerful and very influential people who have remained grounded, approachable and very grateful for how God has blessed them. And the man is truly funny. He remarked that when he arrived at the church, the parking lot was so packed, “I thought the church was giving away free government cheese!”
E. Steven Collins, director of external relations and Urban Marketing/Radio One, admires how down-to-earth Jakes is on a personal level.
“He’s just real like that, Bishops Jakes is a regular person,” he said. “We truly are blessed, to have in T.D. Jakes (the kind of) leadership to help us…to reinvigorate us, to give us hope…”
Collins also hosts a popular on-air community affairs/news broadcast, “Philly Speaks,” on Sundays at 8 a.m., on 100.3FM/The Beat.
Jeffrey Gilmore, a seven-year member of Deliverance, believes that Jakes’ message on forgiveness was timely, “We need someone (like Jakes) to speak to us…to get to the root of our problems.”
According to Isiaeo Istick, 11, “He’s a good preacher, and I think that he’s spiritual, and he makes me feel the presence (of the Lord).
“People are looking for help,” was Michael Burney’s simple explanation for the capacity crowd in attendance. A 20-year member of Deliverance, Burney worked security detail for the evening.
Jakes’ audience transcended race, socioeconomic strata and age; the capacity crowd included youths, seniors and low-income, affluent, blue-collar, executive, Asian, Latino, African American, white and other diverse people.
During his 90-minute sermon/inspirational message, Jakes dropped many pearls of wisdom; his poignant-thought provoking quotes included:
“Unforgiveness is a useless product, it’s a self-induced affliction!
“Why should the devil curse you, when you’re cursing yourself?”
And there were key moments in between the frequent thunderous bursts of applause and loud praise, when a hush filled the sanctuary, as people were mentally digesting the thought-provoking commentaries that Jake kept hurling like a Cliff Lee fastball. When Jakes made the point about how most people want to genuinely express love toward others, but feel offended when their love isn’t reciprocated, you could hear a pin drop in the eerie silence.
Local radio celebrity Moshay Laren of 100.3FM/WRNB was in attendance, and it was apparent via her tears and jubilant praise that she certainly received a blessing from Jakes’ forgiveness message, “It was a soul-stirring evening. I feel refreshed, I feel rejuvenated, I feel hopeful, I feel replenished…I feel like I can finally let some things go…I’m cleaning out the residuals…I’m no longer playing in the chicken coop, I’m an eagle, I’m spreading my wings, and I’m flying!” This was a reference to one of Jakes’ analogies depicting God’s people as high-flying eagles and not ground-scavenging chickens.
He Rev. Glen Spaulding, senior pastor of Deliverance Evangelistic Church, hosted Jakes’ Philadelphia visit. He said Jakes’ forgiveness message resonated with so many people because, “Forgiveness is needed in every workplace, it’s (needed in) education, whether it’s in the board room, whether it’s in the church, (or) in the family, forgiveness is something that we all have to do, in order to be able to move on with our lives — in power, and in freedom, (to enable us) to walk in the destiny that God has for us.” Spaulding continued, “(God) doesn’t want us to walk around...with baggage from the past...We got to let it go, and move on, so that we can all be what God wants us to be!”
Commenting about his newest book, Jakes said, “(The book) ‘Let It Go’ was birthed out of a message that the Lord put on my heart about 18 months ago and that I began sharing with my church long before ever putting pen to paper. People need to know that forgiveness is the gift that you give yourself. It is a universal message for an appointed time. We no longer have to let our history define our destiny. It is up to us to take from life’s lessons and hurts what (we) can use, and exhale the rest. It’s time to set ourselves free by simply letting it go!”
The evening was a win-win on many different levels: Jakes’ book sales were hot; the local media got their story; the host church was packed; during the altar call, people came forward to give their lives to Christ; and Philadelphians turned out in show their love toward a preacher who certainly reciprocated in expressing his deep love for a city in desperate need of forgiveness.
E. Steven Collins was 19 years old when he met the famed radio announcer, Joe “Butterball” Tamburro. Like most Philadelphians in the 1970s, Collins faithfully tuned into WDAS FM and jammed to the R&B and soul classics of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.
But when there was an opening at WDAS for a newsperson, at that time, the news director, Dave Shorr, called Collins and asked him to try out.
“I was deliriously happy,” Collins recalled. “And I tried out on Butterball’s show — the midday show from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. And I remember it because I was scared when I got there.”
As a Temple University student, most of Collins’ peers were auditioning for jobs at KYW and other local stations. Having previous radio experience at WHAT for a year and a half, he knew he was ready.
“I wanted to be a journalist, but I wanted to work in Black radio,” Collins said.
Around a quarter of one, Collins entered the studio on Belmont and Edgeley Roads. When he walked in, Butterball was on the phone. Collins sat down and Butterball pointed and directed him where to sit. There was a microphone there and Collins prepared his newscast.
Just as the music began to fade out, Butterball turned to him and said, ‘Alright guy, if you mess up, it’s back to WHAT.’ The two shared a laugh — a hearty laugh as Collins' described it that would spark a friendship lastly over thirty years.
And Butterball’s laugh carried over on air when he announced that it was time for news.
“He said what song had just been playing, Earth Wind and Fire or something. ‘And here’s E. Steven Collins.’ I was on the air. Because I was relaxed, I did a really good newscast. My father heard it and he called me.”
“When I finished, Butterball put a song on and he called Bob Kline — who was the general manager — and he said, ‘This guy is good enough for my show.’
Thus, Collins was hired in June 1978, a summer of memorable firsts.
“In all those years, and the most important thing, Butterball was a constant. I worked at WDAS, later Clear Channel, for 22 plus years and we had a number of different general managers, market managers, field mangers and promoters.”
“But there was only one program director all of those years and that was Butterball. [He]
was an enormously powerful person in the music industry. He was a guy who many people consulted with on what songs to release off new CDs. Kenny Gamble talks about it all the time.”
WDAS radio personality Patty Jackson said that Gamble often praised Butterball’s ability to hear a hit.
“Kenny Gamble said Butter had the best ears in the business for picking hits,” Jackson said. “Everyone from Smokey Robinson, The O’Jays, Patti LaBelle, James Brown and Frankie Beverly to Eric Benet, Babyface, Boyz II Men and Teena Marie got their chart topping hits started right here with Butter playing them first in the country on ’DAS.”
“A big part of the success that they had has to do with Butterball,” Collins continued. “Butterball had as Kenny Gamble once said, ‘a golden ear for radio and music.’ It didn’t matter who the artist was. Butterball would hear a song and he would know. Barry White would ask him. Luther Vandross would ask him. And [Butter] would tell them and he would play it on the radio right away.”
“He was so much more because he got Philadelphia. He was an Italian kid from South Philly, but he understood the African-American experience because he lived it. He didn’t see me as a Black kid from West Philly that was coming out of Temple and trying to get a job on the radio. He saw my potential.”
Butterball’s ability to hear talent even picked up Patty Jackson’s voice, which led her to work for WDAS.
“I remember Patty being on an AM radio station,” Collins said. “And I told Butter, ‘She sounds like us, man. You should put her on.’ And he said to me, ‘You don’t know anything about radio. I’ll listen to her.’ He and I went to get a cheese steak and I put on this AM station she was on, WSFJ, and Butter listened to her and said, ‘Hey I like her. Tell her to call me.’ She’s always had an amazing sound and of course Butter had that ear.”
From Collins’ 1978 interviews of Frank Rizzo, Edward Rendell, Hardy Williams and other people making news in Philadelphia, there was an impact in the news department and the Black community’s ability to get information.
“Butter wanted us to be in the community. Late in the summer of ’78, we talked about a way to create something for the community that would bring people together.”
During this time, Klein had been WDAS’ general manager for 30 years and retired. His assistant, Cody Anderson took over and had input into the efforts to have more station presence within the Black community. Even still, it was Butterball who implemented the Unity Day initiative and made it work.
During the same year in 1978, Fat Larry’s Band performed on the Belmont Plateau for Unity Day’s premiere. Collins remembered there were about eight or 10 vendors and people played softball.
“We had a ball,” Collins chuckled. “And 30 or 40,000 people [came] and we couldn’t believe people showed up for our first Unity Day. The city didn’t have an African-American centered event. The next year it became bigger.”
Unity Day eventually was held on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway with several performance areas with varied entertainment including the gospel stage, senior citizen area and children’s area. A highlight was the Unity award — given to someone who preserved and protected Black heritage. It was presented to several national recognized figures like Reggie White, Dr. Leon Sullivan and Julius Irving.
“Butterball was hands-on deck, very instrumental in helping us to get really good entertainment on these stages. Artists like Kool and the Gang, Phyllis Hyman, The O’Jays, The Whispers, and ultimately James Brown and Smokey Robinson. The top names would come in and perform in the dead of summer and give Philadelphia just an amazing day. What I call, ‘Our Day on the Parkway.’ ”
Collins said that Butterball’s impact to the radio station, community and to his personal life was a memorable experience.
“Butter was like a father with all of us at ’DAS then. He was proud of us if we got a new car or house, if we had a baby, if we got married. Butter could tell if you needed a pep talk or if you just wanted a partner to roll with and get a cheese steak. It wasn’t like you went out with your boss. You went out with Butterball.”
Collins now serves as director of urban marketing and external relations at Radio One.
“For all of us, Doug Henderson, Mimi Brown, Patty Jackson, Terry Johnson and Tony Brown and Louise Williams-Bishop, we cry when we think about him not being around,” Collins said. “It’s such a loss. I don’t know if I can find the proper way to express what he was in our lives. He was special.”
It’s another record for Philadelphia — the longest “Soul Train” line — officially noted by Mayor Michael Nutter on Wednesday when he accepted a certificate issued by the Guinness Book of World Records.
“We have a lot going on in Philadelphia,” Nutter said. “But, sometimes we just need to celebrate.”
The mayor, against the advice of all his advisors, he said, took part in the “Soul Train” line last February and noted that it was magical moment for participants.
“It was incredible,” he said. “It really felt like the whole city had come together for one unique moment.”
A crowd of 291 people took part in the “Soul Train” line on Feb. 13, 2012 in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in honor of “Soul Train” creator and host Don Cornelius, who died last year. Philadelphia’s record beat the previous record of 211 people set in by students and staff at Beverly Hills High School.
“We figured that was a number we could beat,” said Sheila Simmons, one of the event organizers present at Wednesday’s press conference.
She vowed — as did several others present — that Philly would fight to keep the record, which was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records last month.
“This record belongs in Philadelphia,” she said.
Mannwell Glenn, the man behind the record breaking idea, agreed.
“You can come after this record if you want — but we’re going to keep it,” he said.
More than 2,000 people showed up at the event last winter, many dressed in Afro wigs and bell bottoms to honor Cornelius, host of the long-running TV show “Soul Train.”
He was a music legend, as was the show’s theme song “TSOP” (The Sound of Philadelphia) which ran in the background during the press event.
TSOP was written by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff who recorded it with MFSB, the Philadelphia International Records house band, with the Three Degrees singing the vocal parts in 1974. In just a few months the song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and on the Hot Soul Singles chart.
The 75-year-old Cornelius committed suicide on Feb. 1, 2012. He had been suffering from health problems, a difficult divorce, and had pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor spousal battery charge in 2009.
The circumstances surrounding his death did nothing to change his legacy, said E. Steven Collins, one of the organizers of the “Soul Train” event.
“He was a great person,” Collins said, noting that in his final days Cornelius was in a great deal of physical pain.
Looking poised and confident, Pedro Martinez, who hopes to be Philadelphia’s next school superintendent, met concerned residents, educators and parents at the School District of Philadelphia 440 N. Broad Street on Monday evening.
During the event moderated by broadcaster E. Steven Collins, Martinez had the opportunity to answer questions from the audience about his history, educational philosophy and vision for the Philadelphia school district.
A line of people gathered at the microphone placed in the center of the auditorium for their chance to ask the would-be superintendent pointed questions about his ideas to reform a school district plagued by high dropout rates, insufficient funding and political divisiveness.
“What is your process or plan to engage parents, youth and community and how does it differ from the current plan?” asked Fred Ginyard of Youth United for Change. “How do we reform education in Philadelphia?”
“I feel the direction is clear, but there is a vacuum in details,” answered Martinez, who went on to recall his experiences reforming educational systems as deputy superintendent of the Clark County School District in Nevada.
“How can you be sure that families and children are effectively engaged?” asked Sylvia P. Simms, founder and president of the group Parent Power.
“It’s not negotiable that families be a part of the process,” answered Martinez, who said that such engagement starts with conversations with both teachers and students and said that during his career he visited hundreds of schools and spoke with thousands of teachers, school principals and students.
It is through such ongoing dialogue, said Martinez, that we can get an idea of what needs to be done.
“You are walking into a dysfunctional situation,” said Timothy Hannah. Hannah went on to describe what he considers some of the problems faced by the beleaguered school district, which Martinez would inherit if he was to become the new superintendent.
Martinez pointed to his history in both Washoe County School District as well as Chicago Public School districts where he said he increased graduation rates from 56 percent to 76 percent in a two year period in Washoe County and increased student proficiency rates from 40 to 70 percent in Chicago.
One woman, who identified herself as a retired school teacher, said she attended several of the meetings leading to the public interview and, despite differences among those in attendance, one thing everyone seemed to agree on was that the new superintendent should be an educator.
“Your training is as an accountant and a fiscal manager,” said the retired teacher, who said that she did not question Martinez’s passion or commitment, merely the fact that his educational background was in finance, not education. “How are you qualified to serve the school district when you have no degree in education?”
Martinez, who has a bachelor degree in accounting from the University of Illinois and a Masters from DePaul University in business management, assured that that the question was valid and that he was suitable for the position.
“I been in public education all of my life,” said Martinez, who said that all parts of the educational system, finance, educational standards and performance, go hand in hand.
“There is not a day that goes by where I’m not talking to a principal, or talking to a teacher about the issues.”
As a radio executive with almost 40 years of experience, E. Steven Collins understands the power of broadcast within the urban marketplace.
Collins, who is the director of urban marketing and external relations for Radio One Inc., has played an integral role in helping to shape public opinions.
“We helped to get Wilson Goode elected. We helped to get Barack Obama elected. There is a role so vital in a big city, urban radio space,” Collins said in regard to Radio One’s impact.
An integral part of his position at Radio One entails focusing on sales to major corporations nationally.
“What we do is try to figure out what advertisers need, and we create a program that addresses those needs in a way that is unique to our experiences as African Americans,” said Collins, who been an executive with the multimedia company for the last 10 years.
In the external relations aspect of his role, Collins promotes Philadelphia Radio One stations, 100.3 WRNB, 103.9 Praise and Hot 107.9. Radio One Philadelphia reaches 70 percent of the African-American market every week.
“The external relations part of my job is promoting Radio One and letting people know what we are, who we are and our history. I just love that because a lot of people in Philly are just learning what Radio One is and the kind of things that we involve ourselves in — everything from encouraging people to register to vote to teaching our children to understand their sexual behaviors so that if they have a problem they know where to go,” said Collins, who is a Philadelphia native.
Founded by Catherine Hughes, Radio One is a multimedia company that targets African American and urban consumers. The company owns and/or operates 53 broadcast stations in 15 markets throughout the United States.
Collins also hosts “Philly Speaks” on 107.9 WRNB-FM that features a panel of local and national guests on Sunday mornings.
He has experienced many highlights throughout his nearly 40-year career in the radio industry.
One highlight includes his work with the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists to create and develop a televised mayoral debate from the campus of Drexel University that attracted a national and local media coverage.
Collins has appeared on various local and national television news programs including Fox 29’s Good Day Philadelphia, Comcast Newsmakers, MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews and CNN Newsroom with Rick Sanchez.
Collins started out in radio back in 1973 at WRTI at Temple University. Since then, he’s worked for numerous stations including WHYY, WHAT, WBLS and WDAS-AM/FM, Power 99.
Throughout his years in the industry, Collins has encountered a number of key figures in radio and print media. He credits individuals such as columnist Art Peters; radio personalities Joe “Butterball” Tamburro, Mary Mason and Georgie Woods and journalist Chuck Stone as having a significant impact on his career.
“For me, when I think about my career, these are the people who held my hand. These are the people whose shoulders I stood on,” said Collins.
For 12 years, Collins produced the annual African American Greek Picnic in Philadelphia, Virginia Beach, Va. and Long Island, N.Y.
Collins was a part of the team that produced Unity Day, an annual festival that drew millions to the city’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The event, which started in 1978, had a 30-year run.
He says that it’s important for young people who are interested in pursuing a career in radio to have a good command of the English language.
“Words are our business in this industry. The first most important thing that they can do is understand writing and understand English. No one’s going to give you an award for that, but in the end, people are going to recognize the power that you have when you articulate your thoughts powerfully,” he stressed.
He said it’s also important for young people to seek out internship opportunities and mentors early on.
Collins serves as chairman of the Mayor’s Commission on Literacy. He is a board member of Philadelphia Martin Luther King Jr. Association for Non-Violence, the Multicultural Affairs Congress of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Ivy Legacy Foundation. He is also involved with Concerned Black Men of Philadelphia.
Collins is a graduate of Temple University, where he majored in radio, television and film. He is married to Lisa Duhart Collins and has two sons.
In celebration of various leaders and as an effort to raise money for local college students, the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) hosted its 2012 Pathways Awards Celebration on Thursday at the Vie, 600 N. Broad St.
The night entailed cocktails, dinner and awards and speeches from individuals who CCP regards as “civic stars” to share either their personal experience with CCP or ways they feel connected to what the institution does for the city of Philadelphia.
The night opened with event host, E. Steven Collins, director of urban marketing/external relations at Radio One, as he welcomed the crowd and congratulated the college for their commitment to the community and success of the event.
After remarks from the Dr. Stephen M. Curtis, CCP president, Congressman Chaka Fattah gave his personal experiences on attending CCP and how it has positively impacted his life and career.
“Community college has been so much to me — I didn’t get accepted to my first choice college. Later on in my career I got to serve on the board of trustees for a few schools. I got to serve on the board for one of the schools that denied me admission,” he said. “Community College saw me when I had my Converse and jeans on — they saw me before it was clear I would serve on the congress for nine or 10 or more terms.”
Honoree, philanthropist Charles “Charlie Mack” Alston, shared his appreciation for the CCP and what he believes it does for Philadelphia.
“I want to applaud community college. They are people who do the work when the lights are off — these are people that are actually concerned about our community,” he said.
Arlene Yocum, president of the CCP foundation, and Marsha Ray, vice president of institutional advancement and executive director of the foundation, were pleased with the turnout and success of the event. Both Yocum and Ray believe it’s important to spread word of CCP to the community.
“Tonight is for two things; celebrate the awardees, people that make an enormous impact to our community, and the other reason is to introduce people to the community college of Philadelphia,” Yocum said.
Ray is also impressed with how this event has grown, stemming from a breakfast to now an awards dinner.
“We’ve had more people attending than we’ve had and [we are] making a little more money,” she said. “But it’s not about the money – it’s really making the strong connection between CCP and Philadelphia, community is in our name for a reason.”
Alba Martinez, principal at Vanguard, was awarded with the “Bonnell Award” named after the College’s founding president, Allen T. Bonnell, and Alston was awarded with the “City Impact Award.” Additionally, the CCP Foundation presented Bank of America with the Corporate Philanthropy Award and gave special recognition to the Gilroy and Lillian Roberts Foundation and the Kal and Lucille Rudman Foundation.
One of the Foundation’s major initiatives was to gather five “Community College of Philadelphia Champions” who will advocate for CCP across the city and region. The advocates, recording artist and songwriter Marsha Ambrosius; Marc Lamont Hill, author/associate professor of education at Columbia University; Loraine Ballard Morrill, director of news and community affairs for Clear Channel Media; Kijafa Vick, co-owner of PNK Elephant boutique; and Dyana Williams, CEO of influence Entertainment, were recognized at the event.
Vick, wife of Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, was pleased to participate in these efforts.
“I’m really big on education and CCP is like a hidden gem in the city,” she said. “I think this was amazing, CCP has put together a wonderful event — I think it’s going to help so many people out.”
Chanting “Don’t Block My Vote,” hundreds of Pennsylvanians protested the state’s new voter ID law by at a midday rally near Independence Mall in Center City Philadelphia. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) sponsored the event.
“The rally was our way to get the word out about the new voter ID law,” said Angela Foreshaw, spokesperson for AARP. “Many seniors may not have the approved photo ID by PennDot, and we don’t want them to be turned away this November. AARP is continuing to fight for the rights of everyone, including our seniors. We are currently fighting to get the law overturned, but if the law isn’t overturned we will make sure all of our members will have the information that they need to have the appropriate ID.”
As many as 750,000 individuals statewide could have trouble voting this fall because they don’t have a current PennDOT photo ID, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State.
“This law will effect everyone, especially senior citizens,” said E. Steven Collins, director of eternal relations and Urban Marketing/Radio One and the rally’s master of ceremonies. “My 92-year-old mother still lives in West Philadelphia, and she does not have a birth certificate or driver’s license. Her right to vote should not be taken away, especially if she is unable to provide a birth certificate or driver’s license.”
In Pennsylvania in 2008, voters aged 50 to 64 voted for President Barack Obama, favoring him 57 percent to 42 percent over GOP nominee Sen. John McCain. Voters 65 and older were evenly split, with 49 percent voting for Obama and 50 percent for McCain, according to exit polls.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or Democrat. It is about having the right to vote either way,” said AARP member Charlene Williams. “People have been voting for years without any type of identification, so this new law puts people’s voting rights in jeopardy. A lot of people, both young and old, have been misinformed about the voter ID law, but the only way to address this issue is to get the word out about it.”
On May 1, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, the Advancement Project, the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, and the Washington, D.C., law firm of Arnold and Porter LLP filed a lawsuit on behalf of ten Pennsylvania voters and three prominent advocacy organizations, alleging that the state’s voter photo ID law violates the Pennsylvania Constitution by depriving citizens of their right to vote.
A brief was also filed Wednesday in Commonwealth Court by nine senior advocacy organizations supporting a lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania new Voter ID law. Both cases are scheduled for trial on July 25 in Harrisburg.
“This law deprives many eligible voters in the commonwealth — disproportionately the poor, minorities, senior citizens, young voters and people with disabilities — of their fundamental right to vote,” said Marian K. Schneider of the Advancement project, one of the lead attorneys of the voter ID legal team. “If this law is allowed to stand, it will disenfranchise thousands of voters in Pennsylvania who cannot overcome the law’s many hurdles and will undermine the basic fabric of our democracy.”
When NAACP members from Cheltenham, Jenkintown and nearby Northwest Philadelphia gather for their July meeting, the focus will be on voter education in the neighborhoods.
The group welcomes new members to join them as they embark on voter registration drives and education about the new Voter ID laws. The next session will be held at the LaMottCommunity Center, Willow Avenue and Sycamore Street, July 16 at 7:30 p.m.
This was the message of the Cheltenham Area NAACP branch when they held their
recent gala. With the theme “Your Power, Your Decision, Vote” the gala took place at the Flourtown Country Club, 150 McCloskey Road in Flourtown on June 23. Radio One executive and Concerned Black Men member E. Steven Collins, of Laverock, served as the master of ceremonies.
One of the highlights of the program was when musician and composer Brian Michael Evans of West Oak Lane sang a new jingle penned by family therapist and local radio personality Lucille Ijoy of Mount Airy. It focused on getting one’s photo identification and culminated with the words, “I got mine, I got mine, I got mine.” The NAACP audience joined in singing the lyrical tune about voter education for this November’s elections.
“Dr. Ijoy came to me with this song about voter identification,” Evans said. “I put some music to it and here is it is. There are people out here who don’t want us to vote. We have our first African American commander in chief and that’s why there is this movement to erode our right to vote.”
Additionally, four community members were honored for their contributions to civil rights and community service. The Humanitarian Award recipient was longtime State Rep. Lawrence Curry of Jenkintown. While David Poindexter received the Educational Achievement Award, attorney Michael Coard was the Social Justice Award recipient. Additionally, educator Bonnie Johns received the Community Service Award for her volunteer efforts with youth.
There were also four $500 scholarships given to local high school students as a result of an essay competition earlier this year. The winners were Jenkintown High School senior Aury Krebs, Springfield High School senior Calvin Speight, Plymouth Whitemarsh High school student Janelle Marie Grace, and Cheltenham High School graduate Francine Marquis.
“Some say that the NAACP was founded in 1909 so it’s old and irrelevant,” said Harvey L. Crudup, branch president of the local chapter, in his welcome. “We still need to fight discrimination. This is the most respected, most effective civil rights organization in America.”
“One of the things I’ve learned is that you have got to be taught to hate,” Curry said. “There is still more work to be done. It doesn’t stop now. Come together to overcome.”
The local chapter is involved in a Voter ID Registration and Education Campaign. They are supportive of the “Protect Our Vote” initiative and are partnering with the NAACP of Pennsylvania in defending voting rights.
To volunteer for this campaign contact John Jordan at the NAACP of Pennsylvania at (215) 715-5681.
Minority business owners were briefed on the importance of forming strategic partnerships during the “Position to Win” business forum.
The forum, presented last Wednesday by the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware Minority Supplier Diversity Council (MSDC), Radio One Philadelphia and Comcast served to facilitate a conversation with Fortune 100 representatives and minority business enterprises (MBEs) on using a go-to-market partnership strategy that leads to growth opportunities.
“This series of forums is one way that we can both promote minority-owned businesses and stimulate the expansion of Black-owned business,” said E. Stevens Collins, director of Urban Marketing and External Affairs, Radio One, who served as the moderator for the panel discussion.
During the discussion, Theresa Harrison, director of Supplier Diversity for Ernst & Young and Frederick E. Davis Jr., tax partner in the New York office of Mitchell & Titus, LLP highlighted the successful relationship between the two accounting firms.
In 2006, Mitchell & Titus became a member firm of Ernst & Young Limited, becoming the only minority owned firm in the U.S. to align with a “Big Four” firm. By aligning with Ernst & Young, Mitchell & Titus have access to the firm’s technology platform and training opportunities. The affiliation allows Mitchell & Titus to maintain its brand, while building its business capacity.
“This is unique in our profession,” Davis said in regard to the partnership between the two accounting firms.
“It’s fantastic for Fortune 500 companies who are looking for a way to increase their diversity spend with a diverse supplier who has the competency to do the work that they want them to do.”
The panel discussion also featured, Wade Colclough, president and CEO of PA-NJ-DE MSDC; Michael Maloney, vice president for Business Services, Freedom Region, Comcast and Ajamu Johnson, senior director of Supplier Diversity and Strategic Procurement for Comcast and David Groomes, senior vice president of Business Services for U.S. Facilities.
Some of the panelists provided insight on how firms can determine how to choose the best business to partner with in forming a go-to-market strategy. The panelists said it was important for companies to conduct homework on the firm they are interested in partnering with before they enter into a relationship to seek out contracting opportunities.
During the event, Colclough addressed the role that the PA-NJ-DE MSDC plays in providing a connection between corporate America and minority-owned businesses. The council represents more than 135 corporate members and 400 MBEs with total revenues of $14 billion.
Civil rights activists, organizers, elected officials, and community stakeholders gathered at the Sheraton Hotel at 17th and Race streets for the 30th annual awards and benefit luncheon of the Martin Luther King Jr. Association for Nonviolence on Monday.
Hundreds attended the event, presided over by broadcaster E. Steven Collins. Several people were recognized for their work to elevate humanity. Among them was actress and AIDS activist Sheryl Lee Ralph, who received the Drum Major for International and National Humanitarianism award for her work in the fight against the AIDS virus.
“I accept this award in the spirit of C. DeLores Tucker,” said Ralph, who burst into song when accepting her award. She also brought up the late Tucker’s famous battle against vulgar and violent rap lyrics. “C. DeLores Tucker was right then, because we are feeling it now. When you turn on the radio you feel like you are being sexually abused.”
Ralph told the audience that she cried for both sets of children, those of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.
“On a day like today, with an audience like this, we are the people we have been waiting for. With an audience like this, there is no reason why they should call Philadelphia ‘Killadephia’,” said Ralph.
The award of Drum Major for Global Human Rights was presented to Malaak Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X, who built three schools in Ghana and serves as a board member of the Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz Memorial Center.
Shabazz accepted her award while posing a question to the members of the audience.
“How many of you knew that 2011 was the international year of people African descent?” she asked. One hand went up, at which Shabazz instructed the audience members to use their computers to seek out such facts, as opposed to downloading video games.
She was followed by her sister, Ilyasah Shabazz, who received the Drum Major award for International and National Youth Development. Ilyasah, an author and lecturer, also produces training programs for at-risk youth.
“My premise is very simple: I believe that every child should have an opportunity to feel good about him or herself − that every child, regardless of race, creed or gender, should feel safe and secure,” said Ilyasah after receiving her award.
She spoke proudly of her mother, who witnessed the execution of her husband, raised her children on her own and continued to fight for the rights of her people against incredible odds.
Other awardees included Independence Blue Cross CEO Daniel J. Hilferty, who received the Drum Major for Corporate Cooperation award; Red Cross CEO Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes, who received an award for ‘Community and Civic Responsibility, and Rosalee Smith, who received an award for ‘Equal Rights, Equal Justice and Equal Opportunity’.
During a ceremony held earlier that day, both daughters of Malcolm X were given the honor of ringing the Liberty bell during the National Bell Ringing Ceremony, held each year in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Surrounded by local dignitaries, elected officials and a crowd of onlookers, Malaak and Ilyasah Shabazz were greeted with applause as they stood, one on each side of the Liberty Bell, for the ceremonial ringing.
The sisters were introduced by broadcaster and talk show host Thera Martin Milling, who said it was the late Mrs.Coretta Scott King, who personally commissioned the Philadelphia Association’s founder C. DeLores Tucker to launch the celebration of her husband’s birthday.
“Every time we get to celebrate Dr. King, it is a great day,” said Milling.
While reflecting on King’s Dream, Mayor Michael Nutter took the opportunity to address the problem of violence on Philadelphia’s streets.
“What better place is there to talk about love than in the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection,” said Nutter. “We have had our challenges in recent times, not just economically but also civilly.”
Nutter said that all Philadelphians need to check themselves to see that they are living up to King’s legacy.
“We must be a more peaceful city, a more loving city and a less violent city. That is my hope every day,” said Nutter who has had to address the growing problem of violent crime on the cities streets.
Nutter was joined by Sen. Vincent Hughes, Congressman Chaka Fattah and U.S.Sen. Pat Toomey during ceremonial ringing of the Liberty Bell.