All posts by Ural Garrett

Stunna Bam rocks the Senate Lounge

Stunna Bam
Stunna Bam

Houston’s up and coming young rap star Stunna Bam performed at Senate Lounge over the weekend. Opening up for Stunna Bam was rapper Bravoe and Young Ruler of DSD1 (Down Since Day 1).

Stunna Bam gets his rap name from his little brother that was shot and killed a few years ago. That’s his way of keeping his brother close and never forgotten. The crowd packed the club to see Stunna Bam perform his hit songs, Buy what I want, My Ghetto, and Luv My City. By far Stunna Bam is one of Houston’s best young artists that’s on the rise.

Mathew Knowles lectures at Texas Southern about Entertainment, Media Industry

Mathew Knowles and Dr. Rockell Brown Burton
Mathew Knowles and Dr. Rockell Brown Burton

Dr. Rockell Brown Burton, a professor at Texas Southern University invited Mathew Knowles, father of mega superstar songstress, Beyonce, to her classroom to speak to her Radio Television and Film students about entertainment and media analysis.

Knowles, born in Gadsden, Alabama in 1952 said he credits his entrepreneur ways to his dad who ran his own scrapping business. His father worked on a produce truck making $25 a week and his mother knitted and sold quilts.

“I was one of the first Blacks ever to attend Fisk University in Tennessee and you had to be very smart,” said Knowles.

He graduated from Fisk University in 1974 and moved to Houston, TX in 1976. He landed a job at Xerox through a man he met during happy hour at a local bar. Knowles was the only Black in his department where he held his job with high standards until 1988 when it closed.

After leaving Xerox, Knowles helped make his ex- wife’s dream come true. In 1982, he and Tina Knowles opened a hair salon. By 1984 they had made their first million.

“In 1992, I entered the music business and got my former artist Lil’ O his first deal,” said Knowles.

Knowles went on to create Music World and take popular girl group, Destiny’s Child to the top of the R& B chart.

“In this business, the music has to be your passion and your dreams must come before everything,” said Knowles.

With 35,000 albums coming out each year he stressed to the students that only 1% (350) are successful and make a profit.

National Black United Front Houston, New Black Panther Party host Rossalind Wright, takes a stand on racial brutality

At the New Black Panther Party Headquarters in Houston, TX family members of Emmett Till, Kendrick Johnson, Oscar Grant, Marlin Brown, and Trayvon Martin called in to express their condolences to Mrs. Rossalind Wright , mother of Alfred Wright, who was found 18 days after he went missing in a field with his tongue cut out, throat slit, and eyes gouged out in Sabine County.

Rossalind Wright, mother of Alfred Wright, seated center.
Rossalind Wright, mother of Alfred Wright, seated center.

Sabine County Sheriff Tom Maddox called the death a drug over dose but Mrs. Wright said, “this was a hate crime and murder.”

Wright is asking people to come out on April the 7th at 12 noon to the Texas Rangers Office in Sabine County to have them do a new investigation into his death. Also on August 28th in Washington DC at the Dept of Justice another rally will be held for anyone who lost a love one to an unjustified homicide.

Fifth Ward’s Delux Theater gets a facelift and welcomes Texas Southern University students

SunPhoto/ Kenya Chavis Groundbreaking of the Delux Theater.
SunPhoto/ Kenya Chavis
Groundbreaking of the Delux Theater.

Fifth Ward’s Historical Delux Theater gets its third makeover.This time around it is being renovated for Texas Southern University classes and theater productions.

Roughly it will cost between $4 to 5 million to make this project into a reality, with the help of federal grant money and TSU.

TSU President John Rudley said, “classes and stage plays will be held here in the future. With the development of this project it could drive economics back into the Fifth Ward community located near downtown.”

Milton McClelland who grew up in Fifth Ward said, “I was happy to see something being done with The Delux Theater and it was at this theater I saw James Brown for the first time live in concert.”
The theater will seat 125 people when it is completed. The theater first opened in 1941.

“At the time I wasn’t thinking about black history”

Walter T. Brooks did not have childhood aspirations of becoming a firefighter.

However, when Brooks heard the Houston Fire Department was seeking African Americans to integrate their stations, he applied, knowing he had a wife and two small children and needed steady work.

In 1955, the City of Houston annexed Clinton Park, a predominantly black neighborhood located in east Houston. Prior to this, Clinton Park had an all-volunteer fire station operated by blacks. With the annexation, city officials wanted the station’s equipment and building but not the volunteer firefighters. This was intolerable to many of Clinton Park’s residents.

Consequently, under then-mayor Roy Hofheinz, an end soon came to segregation of the Houston Fire Department with the city seeking to hire African Americans.

“I needed a steady job,” said Brooks. “I wasn’t thinking about making history.”

Out of nearly 1, 000 applicants, 10 black men, including Brooks, were chosen as the first African Americans to participate in firefighter training. The others were Clifford Thompson, Samuel Kemp, James Perry, Willie Bright, Garnet C. Young, Milton Alford, John Hayes, W. D. Cooper and Alfo Craven.

Brooks, 90, joined the fire department after serving in the Navy for three years and going to vocational school on the GI Bill.  He was a government employee, shipping ammunition to Korea, when he heard of the firefighter openings.  Brooks decided to apply for a position because he was concerned about government cutbacks and job security.

“I didn’t know how long I’d be working under the government ordinance,” said Brooks. “I had been reduced in salary two or three different times. The fire department was somewhere where you potentially could never be laid off. I was most interested in a job that would support my family.”

Brooks and the other men were officially hired on August 7, 1955 and assigned to Fire Station 42, the former Clinton Park Volunteer Fire Station. However, amidst the nation’s racial tensions of the time, it would soon become obvious that all were not supportive of a black operated fire station.

“It was something new to them as well,” said Brooks. “You could see white people riding up and down Clinton Drive, slowing down, and looking into the station.

“Some of the firefighters would say when they went to a fire the [white] people would want them to take off their boots to enter their house to put out a fire.”

The black firefighters did not face a great deal of racism from white firefighters but they still heard occasional remarks made by them in the midst of conversation.

“I was driving the grass-wagon on my way to a fire and I heard a district chief say ‘black smoke is coming out of nigger county’ over the radio,” said Brooks. “I don’t know if it slipped but he wasn’t talking directly to us. Three or four years later, that type of talk was cut out.”

After time, many of the original black firefighters sought promotions. Often times, however, they were given the wrong information to study, leaving them ill-prepared for the required exams. In other instances, even with high test scores, they were simply looked over because some people were still uncomfortable with the idea of a black man being in charge of whites.

Brooks described it as a “hard feeling” seeing others promoted when he knew he was equally, if not more, qualified and had similar test scores.

Eventually, through hard work and many hours of studying, Brooks was promoted to Inspector. When Houston adopted a new fire code many business owners were unhappy when Brooks enforced it.

“Today, they still have the same problems I had with violations when I was an inspector,” said Brooks. “People would tell me they’ve been in business 25 years and no one has told them anything. I still wrote them up!”

Brooks would eventually retire in 1984 after 29 years of honorable service with the Houston Fire Department.

Brooks and the nine others who comprised the first group of blacks to integrate the Houston Fire Department did not pursue the job in an attempt to make history. They were men looking for steady jobs and paychecks in order to support their families.

However, their bravery and the obstacles they overcame while working paved the way for equality in the Houston Fire Department.

“At the time I wasn’t thinking about black history,” said Brooks. “The Houston Fire Department has grown to be one of the best fire departments in the nation over the years. I’m very proud to have been one of the first ten blacks in the Houston Fire Department and to serve the great people of this city. It was rewarding for me and a great opportunity. If I had to do it over, I’d do it again.”

First African American woman Major General for the Army

Major General Marcia M. Anderson was honored with the Benjamin L. Hooks Distinguished Service award Tuesday night at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s, (NAACP) Armed Services & Veterans Affairs Dinner at the Grand Ballroom of the George R. Brown Convention Center.

A St. Louis native, Anderson became the first African American woman to earn the rank of Major General in the United States Army Reserve.

“I’m very proud to receive this award and I’m going to use this award to continue my upmost to make the [military] organization that I love very much to move forward,” said Anderson.“ I still have much to do.”

One of Anderson’s goals is to increase diversity within the military which has dropped across the board for all minorities.

“It’s extremely important that you demand that an institution as large and powerful as the military represent the diversity as our nation,” Anderson said. “If the military does not reflect its people, then things can happen in our democracy, and I’d had for that to happen to this country.”

According to Anderson, the reason for the lack of diversity within the military possibly streams from the experience many Americans had during the Vietnam War.

“Unfortunately older members of our community still do not trust or believe in diversity or that they have the best interest of soldiers,” explained Anderson who sees herself as the perfect example of what diversity in the military can achieve. “I’m trying to combat that and let people know that it’s not a perfect organization, but there are sincere efforts to remedy that.”

This is where the military goals line up with the NAACP according to Anderson.

“Just as with the NAACP; we strive to have people in the service to be judged on the content of their character, rather than the color of their skin,” Anderson said.

U. S. Supreme Court immigration ruling brings civil rights

<strong>Laci K. Ollison
The Houston Sun</strong>

Implications of Supreme Court’s Ruling on Immigration Law leaves many with questions. Civil Rights Groups to assist Latino community with information.

On June twenty-fifth, the Sup

reme Court struck down three sections of the Arizona law that cracks down on illegal immigration. However, the law’s most controversial element, better known as the “show me your papers” provision remains intact.

Arizona Senate Bill 1070 (known more commonly as just SB 1070) contains 14 sections and dozens of subsections, but only two full sections and two subsections were blocked by a judge shortly before it went into effect in July 2010. Here is a brief summary of what the Supreme Court decided:
• Section 2B (upheld): This part of the bill says state and local law enforcement officers in Arizona are authorized to determine the immigration status of anyone they reasonably suspect might be in the United States illegally. Forms of identification suggested by the bill include an Arizona driver’s license, Arizona ID card, tribal enrollment card or other official ID issued by a US federal, state or local government.
• Section 3 (struck down): This section would have made it a state crime for undocumented immigrants not to carry an alien registration document. The ruling claimed this merely reiterated federal law, and as such was superseded.
• Section 5C (struck down): This section would have made it a state crime for undocumented immigrants to look for a job or perform work in Arizona.
• Section 6 (struck down): This part of the bill would have allowed a state or local police officer to conduct an arrest without a warrant when police have probable cause to believe an individual committed a felony, a misdemeanor or a crime that would make them removable from the United States.

Leaders of Houston United and Pastor’s In Action, two civil rights groups, gathered on July 6th for a press conference.

“These are broad sweeping implications here, and when this law got put before the Supreme Court, we all sat wondering what this will mean,” says Mike Espinoza from Houston United. “Will the courts make sure that police can’t ask us for our papers just because of the color of our skin, or will this open season on immigrants? So, these are part of the questions that everybody is in their homes facing.”

Espinoza says they have an open dialogue with the Houston Police Department. However he admits they’re working on one with the Harris County Sheriff’s Department. He also says they don’t see eye to eye because of its support of the 287G program, the federal law that partner’s law enforcement with ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to intercept, interview and detain foreigners suspected of being in this country illegally.

Houston United and Pastor’s In Action partnered together to produce a forum in hopes of educating the Latino community on exactly what this law means.

Gerardo Cardenas with National Church ID, a member of Pastors in Action, says they want to clarify what the letter of the law states.

“Our people are afraid of being racially profiled,” Cardenas says. “What we don’t want to happen is for law enforcement to think that we are illegal just because we look Hispanic.”

“The population of Latino’s in Harris County alone is greater than the population of the state of Colorado,” says Espinoza.

According to the 2011 Harris County Census, the population of people of Hispanic or Latino origin is 41.4% of the total population.

<strong>Spanish Version</strong>

Implicaciones de la Sentencia del Tribunal Supremo sobre la Ley de Inmigración deja preguntas sin respuesta. Grupos de derechos civiles para ayudar a la comunidad latina con información.

En junio de 25o, la Corte Suprema anuló tres secciones de la ley de Arizona que reprime la inmigración ilegal. Sin embargo, el elemento más controvertido de la ley, más conocida como la “muéstrame tus papeles” disposición se mantiene intacta.

Arizona, la SB 1070 (más conocido simplemente como la SB 1070) contiene 14 secciones y docenas de subdivisiones, pero sólo dos secciones completas y subsecciones dos fueron bloqueados por un juez poco antes de que entró en vigor en julio de 2010. Aquí está un breve resumen de lo que la Corte Suprema de Justicia decidió:
• Sección 2B (confirmada): Esta parte del proyecto de ley dice que los agentes del orden locales y estatales de aplicación en Arizona está autorizado a determinar el estatus migratorio de cualquier persona que razonablemente sospeche que pudiera estar en los Estados Unidos de manera ilegal. Formas de identificación sugeridas por el proyecto de ley incluye una licencia de conducir de Arizona, Arizona, tarjeta de identificación, tarjeta de inscripción tribal u otra identificación oficial emitida por un federal de los EE.UU., gobierno estatal o local.
• Sección 3 (abatido): En este apartado se han convertido en un crimen de Estado para los inmigrantes indocumentados no llevan a un documento de registro de extranjero. El gobernante afirmó que esta se limitó a reiterar la ley federal, y como tal fue reemplazado.
• En la sección 5C (abatido): En este apartado se han convertido en un crimen de Estado para los inmigrantes indocumentados para buscar un trabajo o realizar un trabajo en Arizona.
• La sección 6 (abatido): Esta parte del proyecto de ley habría permitido a un oficial de policía local o estatal para llevar a cabo una detención sin orden judicial cuando la policía tiene causa probable para creer que una persona ha cometido un delito grave, un delito menor o un delito que haría ellos extraíble de los Estados Unidos.
Los líderes de Houston Unidos y del pastor en Acción, dos grupos de derechos civiles, se reunieron el 6 de julio para una conferencia de prensa.
“Estos son amplias implicaciones radicales aquí, y cuando esta ley he puesto ante la Corte Suprema, nos sentamos todos preguntándose qué significará esto”, dice Mike Espinoza de Houston Unidos. “Serán los tribunales de asegurarse de que la policía no puede pedirnos nuestros trabajos sólo por el color de nuestra piel, o la voluntad de esta temporada abierta a los inmigrantes? Así pues, éstos son parte de las preguntas que todo el mundo está en sus casas que se enfrentan. ”
Espinoza dice que tienen un diálogo abierto con el Departamento de Policía de Houston. Sin embargo, admite que están trabajando en una con el Departamento del Sheriff del Condado de Harris. También dice que no ve a los ojos a causa de su apoyo al programa 287G, la ley federal que la aplicación de la ley pareja con el ICE, Inmigración y Aduanas, para interceptar, entrevista y detener a extranjeros sospechosos de estar ilegalmente en el país.
Houston Unidos y del pastor en Acción se unieron para producir un foro con la esperanza de educar a la comunidad latina sobre exactamente lo que significa esta ley.

Gerardo Cárdenas con la Iglesia Nacional de identidad, un miembro de los Pastores en Acción, dice que quiere aclarar lo que la letra de la ley establece.

“Nuestra gente tiene miedo de ser perfil racial”, dice Cárdenas. “Lo que no queremos que ocurra es que la policía a pensar que son ilegales sólo porque nos fijamos hispana”.

“La población de los latinos en el Condado de Harris por sí sola es mayor que la población del estado de Colorado”, dice Espinoza.

De acuerdo con el Censo 2011 del Condado de Harris, la población de personas de origen hispano o latino es del 41,4% de la población total.

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Craig Watkins speaks at NAACP luncheon

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image-249″ />

Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins was the keynote speaker for the NAACP’s Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. Memorial Luncheon last Monday noon at the downtown Hilton Hotel Americas Ballroom.

A graduate of Prairie View A&M University and Texas Wesleyan University School of Law, Watkins made history in 2007 as the first African-American elected to the position of Criminal District Attorney in Texas.

Watkins told attendees that graduating from an HBCU as a political science major, learning the history of civil rights and having an uncle who was a member of the NAACP gave him a different perspective on many issues when he was elected.

One of the most important abilities that Watkins reminded the luncheon attendees that he had was his subpoena power.

“I choose who will come before a jury or a judge to state their case of a crime they may or may not have committed,” said Watkins. “It’s powerful.”

Watkins mentioned the importance of subpoena power to hone in the importance of having more minorities in the DA position since African American incarceration rate and execution rate are disproportionately high.

“I do realize as a person of color that in Texas and every other state in this country we have disproportionately used capitol punishment to execute people of color to seek justice and sometimes we have done it when they didn’t deserve it,” said Watkins.

Though he was never asked his position on capitol punishment in the United States, his opinion changed after seeing his first execution five years into being DA and realizing that a large number of the inmates in the holding chamber were African American.

According to Watkins, the high incarceration rate for African American men is systematic through the underlying correlation between crime and lack of education.

“There’s nothing wrong with people that look like me but the system,” said Watkins. “Those folks that I send to prison for crimes they actually committed are because they’re not educated.”

Attending the prestigious luncheon included civil rights activist Julian Bond, Tx Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-Dist. 27) and Texas Congressmen Al Green.