Thousands attend job fair in search of work

More than 5,000 job seekers headed down to the job fair at the Crenshaw Christian Center in South Los Angeles in search of work. The job fair hosted by members of the Congressional Black Caucus, was the last stop on the “For the People Jobs Initiative” ending the five city tour that included stops in Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Miami, Florida; and Atlanta, Georgia.

All day, attendees flocked to the various booths to speak to over 150 employers from various industries such as Technology, Transportation, Education, Government, Entertainment, Non-Profit, Retail, Health, Finance, and Construction.  Among the employers was Skanska/Rados who was recently awarded a $542 million contract by the Exposition Construction Authority for phase 2 of the Expo Corridor light rail.  Clark Construction who was recently awarded a $151 million design-build contract by the Board of Supervisors to renovate the County’s historic Hall of Justice also hosted a booth accepting resumes from job-seekers.

Hawthorne resident Cheryl Maniece noted, “There are too many people out of work.  I’m not understanding why that is.  This is an affluent nation.”

As part of the requirement for participating employers in the job fair, each employer had to have jobs openings readily available.  The crowd of attendees came to the job fair professionally dressed, ready to network, and with resumes in hand.  Job seeker, Micheaux Fortson, captured the sentiment of the day.  “America is in need.  All generations, ages, races, everyone here needs a job.  I definitely need one.”

Mark Ridley-Thomas & Gloria Molina each propose new LA County redistricting plans

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Supervisor Gloria Molina each proposed new redistricting plans today, both of which adhere to the spirit and letter of federal civil rights laws and as a result would create two Latino-opportunity voting districts in the County.

“I have maintained from the start of the redistricting process that our top priority as a Board must be to adhere to federal standards, including the Voting Rights Act requirements,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “These requirements were not created abstractly to promote the political dominance of one interest group at the expense of other groups, but to serve all voters fairly. That the maps submitted today by Supervisor Molina and myself result in the creation of Latino-opportunity voting districts is purely a consequence of our commitment to abide by the civil rights laws that undergird our representative democracy and that have made our County better.”[pullquote_right]“I have maintained from the start of the redistricting process that our top priority as a Board must be to adhere to federal standards, including the Voting Rights Act requirements,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.[/pullquote_right]

“Our new maps simply follow the numbers,” said Supervisor Molina. “By doing so, our new maps honor both the letter and the spirit of the Voting Rights Act, which outlaws voting discrimination based on race and serves as the legal foundation of our modern Civil Rights Movement. If approved, either new map will ensure that no minority group’s voting power is unfairly enhanced or diluted at the expense of another. Our new maps simply follow the law and the legal precedent set by the Garza vs. County of Los Angeles U.S. Supreme Court case. The Garza ruling clearly recognized and acknowledged how generations of disenfranchisement based on race prevented Los Angeles County from achieving the colorblind society we all strive for. We should persist on this righteous path because, in doing so, we propel the spirit of our American Civil Rights Movement into this new century.”

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ proposed map, submitted as the “African-American Coalition Map,” moves the eastern San Fernando Valley into the first District, connecting it with downtown Los Angeles and unincorporated East Los Angeles, among other changes, and designates the I-605 corridor portion of the San Gabriel Valley as the Fourth District.

The map also includes a coastal district that runs from Malibu through Long Beach to Cerritos. It also consolidates the central L.A. county community of Florence-Firestone, an unincorporated area currently divided between two supervisorial districts. Since unincorporated areas receive the bulk of their municipal services from the County, uniting Florence-Firestone is of particular importance and will diminish confusion and promote greater governmental accountability.

Supervisor Molina’s proposal, submitted as the “Voting Rights Compliance Map” is similar to the coalition map, leaving the Second and Fifth Supervisorial Districts largely unchanged. However, it proposes dramatic changes elsewhere. The First District would contain the I-605 corridor portion of the San Gabriel Valley and the Third District would stretch from the San Fernando Valley just west of the I-405 through Eagle Rock and downtown Los Angeles as far south as Lynwood and include communities to the west of the I-710.

Every 10 years, the County is legally required to use data from the latest U.S. Census to redraw district boundaries to ensure equitable distribution of population. It must also, however, avoid even unintentional disenfranchisement of minority voters. The map currently supported by a majority of the Board falls short in this regard: it concentrates Latinos into one district and disperses the rest into four districts, clearly diluting their voting power.

“Three times in 1965, African Americans marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, linking arms to insist that this nation live up to the ideals set forth in the Constitution,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas . “Stalwarts of the Civil Rights movement — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lewis, Rev. Ralph Abernathy and thousands of marchers faced down the opposition and resistance in their way so that all Americans would have equal voting rights under the law.”

With the introduction of these two maps, the Board will consider at least three proposals: one recommended by its Boundary Review Committee called Plan A-2; Supervisor Molina’s VRA Compliance Map; and the African- American Coalition Map introduced by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.

To view the maps submitted by the Supervisors as well as those submitted by the public, visit www.redistricting.lacounty.gov and going to the “Boundary Review Committee” tab and selecting the “Submitted Plans” option.

Hispanic Population & LA County Supervisorial District Maps – 1970-2011 (PDF)

 

Summer Reading Program Ends but the Celebration of Learning and Reading Continues

Laughter, chants, and cheers were heard throughout the lower level of Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area in Los Angeles from Freedom School students and student interns from all four Second District school sites as the children, along with parents and special guests, gathered together one last time to celebrate the end of this year’s program.[pullquote_right] “Keep reading, learning, and expanding your minds. Continue to celebrate the power within you, in school and in life,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.[/pullquote_right]

Throughout the afternoon Freedom School students jumped in the jumper, stopped by the bookmobile and had the opportunity to speak with special guest Antwone Fisher who spoke to the entire group of young scholars about overcoming dyslexia and the connection between reading and being successful.

The abundance of hugs given out by the young scholars told the story of a bittersweet ending to a summer of fun; the tight bonds formed between the children and their older mentors will not easily be erased.

When asked what she liked most about Freedom Schools, Zarian Watson, age nine, from Inglewood, said,” I loved Harambee, jumping around, and reading my new favorite book Whatever Happened to Humpty Dumpty.”

Her mother, Cheryl Watson, added “My daughter couldn’t wait to go to Freedom Schools. One Monday morning, I wasn’t feeling well enough to drive and she cried to go to Freedom Schools.”

The Freedom School Program is rooted in the work of the Civil Rights movement, specifically the work of college-age youth during the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Project. Freedom Schools apply an intergenerational approach in which college students are trained as “Servant Leader Interns” who work as reading tutors and role models, motivating children to develop positive attitudes about themselves and their abilities.


Established in 1992 by Children’s Defense Fund founder and children’s advocate Marian Wright Edelman, Freedom Schools provide rigorous, quality summer and after school instruction to children in urban environments. The programming, which is both challenging and entertaining, includes reading, arts and crafts, dance, music, field trips, sports, and community service. Students begin the morning with Harambee, a time of informal sharing based on the Kenyan tradition of community, during which students cheer, chant motivational songs and make announcements; it closes with a moment of silence.

Throughout the summer, Freedom Schools hosted over 200 student scholars. These scholars attended sessions at one of four Second District sites: First Church of God in Inglewood; First New Christian Fellowship in South L.A.; Bethel A.M.E. Church in South L.A.; and Community Coalition at Foshay Learning Center in South L.A.

After a final chant was recited and the applause stopped, the Supervisor offered these words to the young scholars:

“Keep reading, learning, and expanding your minds. Continue to celebrate the power within you, in school and in life.”

Last summer, the Children Defense Fund Freedom School program served over 9,600 children in 84 cities and 29 states, and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, worked with Edelman to introduce the program to the Second District.

Speaking Up and Out About Redistricting

“Unbelievable.” “Ridiculous.” “That map doesn’t make sense.” These words were uttered from the crowd of onlookers who attended a press conference organized by the African-American Redistricting Collaborative. Stakeholders gathered in front of the California African American Museum in Exposition Park to voice their opposition to the redistricting maps proposed by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.

At the press conference, current and former African-American political figures from federal, state, and local government voiced their outrage of the proposed maps which would cut out African-American political representation by dividing the African-American population in the 33rd, 35th, and 37th Congressional Districts.

Political figures expressed how redistricting plans would transfer the California African-American Museum and Leimert Park to unrelated districts such as Tujunga Canyon.

“If you don’t speak up, you will be left out,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “Our descendants fought, bled, and died to have a right to participate in the political process and we are not going to start sitting down now.”

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission is scheduled to release a final version of the map for public input and review Friday, July 29. The California Citizens Redistricting Commission is made up of five Democrats, five Republicans, and four individuals who are not registered with either party.

Contact the California Citizens Redistricting Commission by writing, emailing, or faxing the commissioners:

Citizens Redistricting Commission
901 P Street, Suite 154-A
Sacramento, CA 95814
Fax: (916) 651- 5711

Email: votersfirstact@crc.ca.gov

Reading out loud and celebrating the power within at Freedom Schools

There were laughs, smiles, and cheers from the group of about 50 students, ages five to 13 years old, who sat mesmerized as Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas flipped the pages and read Dylan Pritchett’s The First Music aloud at First Church of God’s Freedom School summer literacy program in Inglewood.

Students shared their favorite types of music with the Supervisor, sang and chanted motional songs and even showed off their acting and vocal skills by narrating the book through sound effects as the Supervisor read out loud. It was a morning filled with joy and the love of learning.

View more videos at: http://www.nbclosangeles.com.

Throughout the six-week literacy and enrichment program, the Supervisor will be visiting and interacting with students at each of the four Freedom School sites in the second district: First Church of God in Inglewood; First New Christian Fellowship in South L.A., Bethel A.M.E. Church in South L.A. and Community Coalition at Foshay Learning Center in South L.A. To date, over 200 students have enrolled into the second district summer program.

As part of the Freedom School Curriculum, all students read books, participate in arts, crafts, dance, sports and music, go on field trips, and engage in community service in a nurturing environment that fosters growth and development.

[pullquote_right]”This program uniquely integrates reading, learning, and civic engagement,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.[/pullquote_right]Freedom School’s were established in 1992 by Children’s Defense Fund founder and children’s advocate Marian Wright Edelman. They provide rigorous,  quality summer and after school instruction to children who live in urban areas. The programming, which is both challenging and entertaining, is based on the belief that all children are capable of learning and achieving high standards.

The program is rooted in the work of the Civil Rights movement, specifically the work of college-age youth during the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Project. Freedom Schools apply an intergenerational approach in which college students are trained as “Servant Leader Interns” who work as reading tutors and role models, motivating children to develop positive attitudes about themselves and their abilities.

Last summer, the Children Defense Fund Freedom School program served over 9,600 children in 84 cities and 29 states, and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, worked with Edelman to introduce the program to the Second District last July.

“This program uniquely integrates reading, learning, and civic engagement,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.”  Not only do the children have a wonderful time — I didn’t see a single child today who wasn’t fully engaged and enthusiastic — but the Freedom School curriculum instills tools that are essential to lifelong personal and community empowerment.”

General Press Release (PDF)
First Church of God Freedom School (Photo Slideshow)
Bethel AME Church Freedom School (Photo Slideshow)