Category: Top News Written by Abel Ramirez
Throughout the years I’ve read scores of comic books. Countless outstanding and not-so-outstanding comics have been created over the decades. With so many notable comic books that have graced the racks, it can be difficult to choose a favorite. However, after much contemplation, I’d put Batman comics on the top of my list.
Why the Dark Knight? When I was young I wanted to be like him (a part of me still does). It’s the notion of doing what’s right, putting away evildoers with prevailing justice, as all superheroes do. But I knew I would never fly or halt moving locomotives like Superman. I could never stick to walls like Spidey or produce unbreakable, metal claws from my hands like Wolverine.
Batman, however, is different. Him I could be like, or almost if I really tried. Any person could because unlike his hero counterparts, Bruce Wayne has no super powers. As a hero who is merely a man, Batman, in some ways, is an expression of the pinnacle of human achievement. His body is conditioned to a peak physical state. He has trained in the Far East, becoming a master of several martial arts and a formidable warrior. He has even made a full comeback after having his spinal column broken (see the Knightfall saga).
In terms of mental fortitude, the Dark Knight has a superior intellectual shrewdness and will. Many of his cases are solved due to his astute detective work and knowledge of criminalistics. Being well prepared, he has contingency plans for almost any situation. For example, he carries a Kryptonite ring in his utility belt just in case he has an altercation with Superman (yes, Batman and Superman fight on occasion).
Of course, none of Wayne’s exploits could be achieved without financing. Although he was born into money, he has surpassed his father’s wealth and keeps his billion dollar empire successfully running despite his utter dedication to fighting criminal scum. Most of us aren’t born into money, but it is possible to attain a fortune akin to Bruce Wayne’s. Just ask Robert Kiyosaki.
Although Bruce Wayne is an overachiever, his humanityComics legend Frank Miller’s classic retelling of Batman’s gritty, formative days makes its full-length animated debut in “Batman: Year One,” which is now available on Blu-ray combo pack and DVD, On Demand and for download.
“Batman: Year One” is based on the landmark 1987 DC Comics titles from 12-time Eisner Award winner Frank Miller and illustrator David Mazzucchelli. The film depicts young Bruce Wayne’s return to Gotham City in his first attempts to fight injustice as a costumed vigilante. The playboy billionaire chooses the guise of a giant bat to combat crime, creates an early bond with a young Lieutenant James Gordon (who is already battling corruption from inside the police department), inadvertently plays a role in the birth of Catwoman, and helps to bring down a crooked political system in Gotham.
Primetime television stars Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”), Ben McKenzie (“Southland,” “The O.C.”), Eliza Dushku (“Dollhouse,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) and Katee Sackhoff (“Battlestar Galactica”) provide the core voices for “Batman: Year One.” Three-time Emmy Award winner Cranston gives voice to young Jim Gordon, while McKenzie makes his animated voiceover debut as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Fanboy favorites Dushku and Sackhoff fill the roles of Selina Kyle/Catwoman and Detective Sarah Essen, respectively. Alex Rocco (“The Godfather”) is the voice of crime lord Carmine Falcone.
Animation master Bruce Timm is executive producer of “Batman: Year One.” Directors are Lauren Montgomery (“Superman/Batman: Apocalypse”) and Sam Liu (“All-Star Superman”) from a script penned by Academy Award nominee Tab Murphy (“Gorillas in the Mist,” “Superman/Batman: Apocalypse”).
“‘Batman: Year One’ offers fans and newcomers alike an animated perspective on one of the true benchmark works in Batman comics history,” said Hersin Magante, Warner Home video marketing manager, Family & Animation. “Bruce Timm and the Warner Bros. animation team have gone to great lengths to realize Frank Miller’s groundbreaking, influential vision. ‘Batman: Year One’ stands tall as the next DC Universe animated original movie.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 October 2011 17:20
Norman, MSU’s defense suffocate U-M Former Renaissance High star key in Spartans nationally ranked defense
Category: Top News Written by Leland Stein III
EAST LANSING — In one of the more important games in the Michigan State and University of Michigan rivalry in recent memory, both state of Michigan universities met with the Big Ten Legends Division lead on the line.
Coming into the big rivalry, U-M sported a formidable 6-0 record and MSU entered the contest with a 4-1 record in the fight for state’s rights. After the Spartans had outlasted the Wolverines 28-14, that left them with only one blemish on their 2011 season — a loss to Notre Dame in South Bend.
Michigan State entered the game ranked No. 1 in the nation in total defense, and its defensive line gave U-M quarterback Denard Robinson problems all day. Cleaning up the leftovers from the d-line’s pressure was linebacker Chris Norman. The former Renaissance High player led MSU’s domineering defense in tackles with 10.
With the Spartans’ impressive victory at home they jumped from 23th in the national polls to 15, U-M fell to 18 from its high of 11. The Spartans have now won four straight against Michigan for the first time since 1959-62, equaling Michigan State’s longest streak in the series.
Michigan State took the field in special green-and-bronze Nike Pro Combat uniforms. In a surprise move, Michigan showed up in “legacy” uniforms by Adidas that included pants that were white instead of the usual maize. All of that increased the hype of the game.
“It’s a big win, a program win,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. “To do that a fourth straight year says a lot about our players. I said all along I thought this is a winner-take-all type of game.”
Said Norman: “We are happy about our recent success over U-M, but this was a new year and we knew we had to prepare and work hard to continue what we started. Our game plan helped us win, but it was the emotion and passion that comes with playing Michigan that kept us focused. The Michigan game was the biggest game of the season. We were playing for bragging rights, recruiting and all my people back home.”
MSU’s defense held Robinson to 78 yard rushing and Michigan to 14 points.
“This is what we expected from our defense,” Norman said. “Coach has been on us since the Notre Dame game to step our effort up and we have.”
The previous week’s 10-7 defensive gem at Ohio State highlighted that the Spartans might finally be over the loss of starting linebackers Greg Jones (New York Giants) and Eric Gordon (Cleveland Browns). Norman, as the only remaining starting linebacker returning to the co-Big Ten champion Spartans, knew more was expected of him. With the offense not quite in sync, the defense has been stepping up and in the middle of it all is junior linebacker Norman.
“We lost some senior leadership in linebackers Jones and Gordon,” Norman said. “So in the off season I tried to take myself to a different level. I worked in the weight room and put on another eight pounds. Physically and mentally I tried to get myself better as a person and player. Also I wanted to come in and help be a leader.”
After six games Norman, a former high school All-State, SuperPrep and PrepStar All-American, is second on the team in solo and assisted tackles. He knows he and his teammates will have to keep it up to harness the explosive Wisconsin offense.
Norman said the Detroit Public School League (PSL) prepared him well.
“The PSL gets a lot of flack because it is in the city of Detroit,” he said. “But I’m thankful for my experiences in the PSL. The toughness that it gave me got me ready for Big Ten football and MSU academics. People talk about character, but I have three former high school teammates on this team and we are all good people. We all want to represent the PSL at MSU.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 October 2011 17:14
Category: Top News Written by Steve Holsey
So many things are said about age. That it’s “nothing but a number.” That “you’re only as old as you feel.” We’ve heard them all.
And lately it’s been popular to espouse the new realities of what age means: You know, “50 is the new 40,” “60 is the new 50,” etc. Which makes sense considering the fact that people live longer today, work with as much zeal as in years past, take care of themselves, look good and do not think of themselves as out of the mainstream.
Each birthday is a blessing, age notwithstanding.
It is surprising how many people in the entertainment industry have reached the big 4-0, or maybe that should be “the big 4-oh!” And they are still going strong, and showing no signs of slowing down even a little bit anytime in the near — or distant — future.
This week we are putting the spotlight on some of the performers who reached the 40 milestone this year, meaning they were all born in 1971.
Remember when ALFONSO RIBEIRO, as a little boy, was featured with Michael Jackson in those popular “Pepsi” commercials, wearing a red leather jacket just like Michael’s? His birthday was Sept. 21.
Forty sure looks good on MARY J. BLIGE (Jan. 11). She started out as a very rough-edged singer with a lot of personal problems, and became “the queen of hip-hop soul” along the way. Today she has herself together and is one of the music industry’s most glamorous stars.
One of hardest-to-believe “new 40s” is the diminutive EMMANUEL LEWIS. There is a tendency to think of the “Webster” star — the show ran from 1983 to 1987 — as still a kid because he is so small, but on March 9 Lewis celebrated his 40th birthday.
REGINA KING (Jan. 15) first came to our attention as the charming and funny Brenda Jenkins on the sitcom “227.” She has since developed into one of the finest actresses in Hollywood, turning in one outstanding performance after another.
There was a time when all rappers were in their teens or early twenties. Not anymore. Nostalgia (“old school”) rap concerts are now common. Hard-core rapper SNOOP DOGG will be 40 by the time most of you read this (Oct. 20).
From the female rap world comes MC LYTE (Oct. 11). To look at the rapper/actress today, you would never believe she is the same person who became prominent in the early ’90s. She is now beautiful, as we saw when she was a regular on the TV series “Half & Half.”
Joining her is MISSY ELLIOTT, who said goodbye to 39 on July 1. Appearing on the national charts for the first time in 1997, Elliott has the distinction of being the only female rapper to have six albums certified Platinum by the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA).
SHAWN WAYANS (Jan. 19) is, of course, part of the first family of comedy. There must have been a lot of laughter in the Wayans household. He was introduced to the public by way of “In Living Color,” the long-running comedy sketch show created by his oldest brother, Keenen Ivory Wayans.
No one could ever accuse JADA PINKETT SMITH (Sept. 18) of riding on the coattails of her husband, megastar Will Smith. She had already made a name for herself long before they married. She is an outstanding actress and has mastered film producing and directing as well.
TAYE DIGGS (Jan. 2) was profiled in last week’s edition as one of the most talented and consistently employed actors in Hollywood, Black or otherwise. He has many and varied movie, television and stage roles to his credit. He is currently a cast member on the popular series “Private Practice.”
ERYKAH BADU, who emerged in 1997 with an attention-grabbing album titled “Baduizm,” has always known that she is not like anyone else and the public learned that quickly. She marches to no one’s band but her own, and that certainly includes her creative attire and often-startling hairstyles. Her birth date is Feb. 26.
From 1992 into the early 2000s, one of the most popular female groups was TLC, who enjoyed a impressive string of hits, including “Creep,” “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg” and “No Scrubs.” One of the members of the trio, ROZONDA “CHILLI” THOMAS, turned 40 on Feb. 27.
Among others sure to remember 1971 at the year they entered their 40s are rock/rap star KID ROCK, actor and former “Soul Train” host DORIAN GREGORY, actress TASHA SMITH (most recently seen in “Jumping the Broom”), actor and former model JASON LEWIS (“Sex and the City”), actor EWAN MCGREGOR, actress and former beauty pageant star KENYA MOORE, Latin singing sensation RICKY MARTIN, rapper/actor FREDRO STARR and actor and former rap star MARK WAHLBERG.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 October 2011 17:10
Category: News Briefs Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
Johnny L. DuPree, current mayor of Hattiesburg, Miss., and its first African American mayor, is on a historic journey and if the political tide is in his favor, DuPree will become the first African American governor of Mississippi.
Already DuPree, a Democrat, has made history by being the first African American nominated by either party for the governorship of a state that sits at the heart of the dark days of Jim Crow. He defeated Clarksdale attorney and developer Bill Luckett in a Democratic primary runoff to face current Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant in the Nov. 8 general election.
But the question remains whether Mississippi can redeem itself from its sordid past by electing DuPree to become the first Black to be named chief executive officer of the state. DuPree said it is more than a redemption question. It is about who can do the best job for the citizens of Mississippi.
“I think Mississippi is ready for change. I think Mississippi is ready for the person that can come in and help effect a change in the state,” DuPree said in an exclusive interview with the Michigan Chronicle during a recent stop in Detroit to galvanize support for his November battle. “I don’t think that people are sitting around saying ‘you know I think I want an African American governor. People are sitting around saying I want a job. I want a house. I want my children educated. If he happens to be Black, hallelujah.”
However, DuPree laughed when asked if his election to the top post in Mississippi will be a public relations coup for the state because of how it could change the perception of outsiders about the southern state’s long and troubling racial history.
He replied, “I would think so. The reality is reality. History is history. There hadn’t been an African American statewide elected office holder although we have more African American elected officials than any other state. There has been a barrier that has not allowed us to be a statewide elected office holder.”
With the sweltering economy and its devastating impact on the lives of ordinary people, DuPree said he wants to make an improvement to people’s lives, and that he is going to go to Jack son to do just that.
“Although I’m proud to be African American, I can tell you that. I’m proud that Mississippi residents chose me to be the Democratic nominee,” DuPree said. “I think Mississippi should be proud. I believe they saw through all of this, the sordid history.”
DuPree said the current state of affairs in Mississippi shows that the state has fallen short on his platform of jobs, education, health care and small business development.
“We are struggling to balance the budget. That is why over the last five years the state has cut education by over 300 million dollars. That should not be cut,” DuPree said. “We have to find ways to increase revenue in the state.”
He said as mayor of Hattiesburg he’s running on executive experience because “states are just a mirror of cities.”
He cited, for example, that his city has gone through devastating economic times including Hurricane Katrina but “we haven’t laid off anybody and we didn’t raise taxes either. That is because we went through every department and found creative ways to sustain and increase services.”
According to DuPree, his state is slipping on the economic index as a job creator and he wants to bring in more small businesses that will help create jobs.
“We have to make sure small businesses, which are the backbone of the economy, get our support,” DuPree said. “These are the businesses that pay the taxes. They stay in our state and they don’t take the jobs out of town.”
DuPree had a stint in corporate America working for Sears and he understands how and why corporations get all the incentives and tax breaks.
“We have to do a better job of giving incentives to our small businesses,” DuPree said adding that the Occupy Wall Street protests ongoing in New York signal a sense of urgency to tackle education, the economy and other hot button issues that are affecting people.
He said a key priority for him when elected will be to ensure that companies that come to his state hire Mississippi contractors and businesses. That, he said, is the way to get the economy of the state sustaining and keeping jobs in the state rather than the jobs being exported.
Given the uniqueness of the gubernatorial campaign, it’s unclear if Democrats in Washington are seizing on the opportunity of the governor’s campaign in a place like Mississippi.
“I’ve spoken with DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. We have a good relationship and she has pledged to do what she can,” DuPree said.
Even though his opponent has a bigger campaign war chest than he does, DuPree said that’s always been his advantage.
“During the primary my opponent spent well over a million dollars and we spent about 400,000 dollars,” he explained. “We received more votes. What we do have is people who believe in a message. We have people who believe that I can’t do worse.”
He said his campaign is a people’s campaign because on the campaign trail voters are looking for somebody trustworthy and with good judgment who will identify with the bread and butter issues they are dealing with.
“We have people who believe it’s time for a change so they voted for us. So I think they are going to vote again. Money is important and I don’t want to downplay that. That is why I’m in Detroit. If I tell people money is not important, they’ll take the check home.”
Yet DuPree’s campaign has been about volunteers and ordinary people who have trust that he will be a different kind of candidate.
Coming as the first Black to be nominated by a major party in Mississippi since Reconstruction, DuPree has a unique story that gets people’s attention and has endeared him to many voters.
“I’ll never forget my first job. I worked as a newspaper carrier for Ms. Lillie’s Newspaper Stand, who worked for the Hattiesburg American. Ms. Lillie claimed that I was one of the most dedicated paper carriers she had,” he recalled.
“I don’t know if I was the best carrier, but I do know that I tried. I left for work every day wanting to be the best paperboy that Ms. Lillie had, mainly because I was aware that I was representing her. It wasn’t just my reputation that was on the line. If I didn’t perform well, not only did it look bad on me, but it would also be a poor reflection of her and the company that she was trying to build.”
He continued, “Her slogan, ‘Rain, shine, sleet or snow, Lillie’s papers gotta go,’ became a powerful lesson for me, and this slogan has guided many of the decisions that I’ve made throughout my life. No matter the circumstances, I had to be determined to do my best, whether I was mowing yards, bagging groceries, washing cars or working at the slaughterhouse.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 October 2011 16:52
Category: Top News Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
Chancellor tackles color-blind politics
Dr. Curtis Ivery, who has turned Wayne County Community College District (WCCCD) into an education nest where leadership is cultivated since his appointment in 1995, is not your typical education administrator who normally sits at the top of an ivory tower giving administrative directions on how to run the day to day affairs of a college. An encounter with Ivery will reveal a man who in many ways is an education agitator, one who is deeply concerned about the sorry state of affairs in our educational system and wants to see structural and evidentiary change in the system.
That explains why Ivery, who is used to running large institutions such at the Arkansas Department of Human Services which he headed as a member of former Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton’s cabinet, has made Wayne County Community College District more than just a regular college. More than the classrooms and administrative buildings that make up the site of the District.
As Michigan’s largest community college, WCCCD is a lifeline for the 70,000 students it serves, most of whom come from Detroit. From high school graduates and international students to single parents and struggling young people seeking a better future by arming themselves with an education from WCCCD, the college is the center of gravity for these students who will be charged with driving the ship of state tomorrow.
That passion to make a difference is why Ivery has co-edited a new book with Joshua Bassett titled “America’s Urban Crisis and the Advent of Color-blind Politics,” a collection of essays that focus on education, incarceration, segregation and the future of multiracial democracy in the U.S.
“I’ve always been an inquisitive soul. I have always loved and appreciated the power of words and I remember telling my mother when I was nine years old that I would write a book. She often said that is a dream I shouldn’t let die,” Ivery said in an interview last week. “Ultimately my first degree was in journalism. So I’ve always been comfortable with words. I felt the need to encourage and have some conversation about race. Because often it’s the five thousand pound gorilla in the room.”
Ivery said the purpose of the book is to get a constructive dialogue going around issues that are tied to race in America.
“You can’t say to me that the decisions we make today are not informed by some of the social construct we are confronted with on a daily basis,” Ivery said. “For example, what we see on television, the media defines our standards, the criminal justice system, etc. We have a disproportionate number of young Black people incarcerated. If we don’t talk about it, some are going to assume that it is a genetic trait.”
“We have to believe that conscious Black people and White people will join together and talk about what’s good for our children. I think the book does that.”
Ivery said while there are multiple issues in the Black community that need to be dealt with, incarceration is one of the major ones that must be tackled if we are to see any real advancement in our community.
Striking a tone that is familiar in the political debate around incarceration, Ivery said it is time we look at whether first time drug offenders should be given jail time rather than treatment, the latter being what criminal justice reform advocates have always sought.
“We know that if you come from a prosperous community or family with resources, you probably would have gone and sought out some type of counseling as opposed to the criminal justice system,” Ivery said. “Now that the issue is here, would it not be better to talk about those young men we are releasing now, because they have to have somewhere to go. They have to have employment.”
Can higher education do anything to help or service the incarcerated population?
“Maybe it might be identifying employers and saying we have 20-60 ex-offenders and we will provide training for them and are you willing to place them in the job market?” Ivery said.
He noted that in order to create transformation we must begin to think outside the box.
Education in Detroit, he said, must be seen as “a form of constructive urgency, that every decision ought to be one of urgency.”
That sense of urgency means involving “the community in a big way” in decisions that affect the education system in the city.
“I know that it’s difficult. Sometimes we don’t feel that people are listening. They don’t understand when we say we’ve got to close X number of schools. Most parents are not interested in that aspect of education economics,” Ivery said. “Their sense of urgency is what is going to happen to their child? Will their child be safe in school? Will they have good teachers and the opportunity to go to college?”
He said as educators “we have to begin to answer those questions for any parent. The first I’m going to do if I’m moving, to this area as a parent I’d like to know about the school system.”
But he quickly pointed that Detroit is not the only city with a poor school record, and that what is happening here reflects a national pattern.
“I don’t think you are going to go to Chicago and get a better school system in the inner city,” Ivery said, adding that is because “we are talking about one common issue and that is poverty.”
He said the “unholy trinity: unemployment, under-employment and under-served” account for what is facing our community and why some are unable to get a good education.
“The common denominator is poverty. It’s always going to be how we help others lift themselves up and ensure that they have a way out,” Ivery said.
WCCCD, he said, has offered hope to thousands of young Detroiters and students from around the world who otherwise would have not the kind of grounded education the college provides.
“We’ve always said to people if they come to the college, we’ll make them proud and feel good about themselves,” Ivery said. “We are going to treat you with civility and honor your dignity. We are going to take you where we find you and help you move to the next level.”
While doing all it can to help students prepare for bigger roles in the future, the WCCCD chancellor made it clear that the college will offer no “crutch” to any student.
“We cannot give you a crutch. We will not make this an entitlement community. We cannot make this an entitlement educational setting. We want you to compete,” Ivery said. “We want you to be mentally and psychologically tough.”
In an era of globalization, Ivery said it is key for students from not only from WCCCD, but other institutions in and around Detroit to experience global exposure, along with an understanding of how the world is evolving, and why students in China, Japan, India, Africa and other places excel and are at the center of global education.
But the value of education and seeing it as a weapon to fight poverty, according to Ivery, starts at home.
“So much of it and who we are has to start at home,” Ivery said. “For instance, by the age of three you’ve got a young person with a personality. You are not going to change that personality after three years of age.”
He said at age six children begin to develop an early self-concept that education is key and that is when they should be taught the value of education at home. Otherwise, the children risk falling through the cracks and coming into contact with the criminal justice system by the age of 15.
“By the time they are 18 years old their experience has been with the criminal justice system,” Ivery said explaining further that when those young people, who fell through the cracks come out of prison their only value system is what they learned behind bars. He called the result “a critical mass of dysfunctionality” because most of them are not really rehabilitated behind prison walls.
“Somehow we have to intercede as education advocates,” Ivery said. “Every single day I get up I’m thinking about how to make life better for another person because to be seriously under-educated is a major problem.”
It’s one thing to say what needs to be done in a community where young people for the most part do not necessarily take their cue anymore from their parents, but rather from the glaring and incessant messages of the mass media.
Does Generation Y, the iPod, BlackBerry generation have any obligation to the past or is it the reverse?
“We owe it to our children to give them a better opportunity,” Ivery said. “I think for me it’s a question of whether we are going to be able to deliver a world that will be good for our children and generations yet unborn.
“Are we going to say that now that we elected a Barack Obama that we’ve arrived and no longer should we continue to work hard to create a stronger community and stronger family in a culture we can be proud of? At some point everything I do is about what I’m going to leave behind.”
Recently, Ivery was named to the 21st Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges, an initiative supported by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and The Kresge Foundation to craft a bold vision for community colleges. The Commission, serving more than six million students and 1,200 institutions, will issue a report on how to attain high quality education.
“America’s Urban Crisis and the Advent of Color-blind Politics” should be read by college students, high school students seeking to enter college and everyone who wants to make a change.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 October 2011 16:49
Category: Top News Written by Michigan Chronicle
Fifth Third Bank awarded the Detroit Micro-enterprise Fund $50,000 to help strengthen and rebuild Detroit’s commercial corridors. The Detroit Micro-enterprise Fund is a business task force that supports Midtown businesses and entrepreneurs to help bridge the gap in fundamental bank funding.
A 2002 Community Convention hosted by the Detroit Empowerment Zone Neighborhood and Family Initiative program, identified concerns of residents located in Detroit’s central city. The need for more community-based small businesses to provide goods and services within Detroit’s neighborhoods was identified as a major issue. To better examine the focus resources on the issue, a Business Task Force comprised of stakeholders in midtown Detroit was formed.
The Task Force surveyed the existing business community. A recurring issue was access to available credit for equity, to purchase inventory, business development and other marketing needs.
Several members of the Business Task Force attended a regional training meeting of the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO), a national micro-enterprise trade association in 2003. From there, the idea to start a micro-enterprise loan fund in the city of Detroit was born. While many large American cities had as many as ten to twelve micro-enterprise funds at the time, there were none in Detroit.
Operating with a sense of urgency, the Business Task Force established a Michigan non-profit corporation – The Detroit Micro-enterprise Fund (DMF) in 2004. The Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan awarded a DMF grant of $65,000 for start up operations in 2005. The Detroit Micro-enterprise Fund’s 501c-3 federal tax status was established in 2006, and several of the Business Task Force members formed the corporation’s board of directors.
The Detroit Micro-enterprise Fund officially opened its doors on April 1, 2007, with an office in Wayne State University’s TechTown business incubator center. Remaining true to its intent to respond to the needs of the community, DMF partnered with community development corporations (CDC’s), to ensure awareness and access to the fund was communicated to new, emerging and existing business owners in Detroit area neighborhoods.
“Since its official launch four years ago, the Detroit Micro-enterprise Fund has become a bridge to many barriers in the small business community. The Fund has become a bridge for capital investment, entrepreneurs seeking to bring innovation, talent and new products and services into their communities, and a bridge for sustainable community development,” stated Lorenzo Thurman, executive director for Detroit Micro-enterprise Fund. “The DMF has financed or funded approximately 150 projects, created 150 jobs and created or retained one job for every $2,000 loan disbursement.”
With a vision of continued growth through specialized loan funds, the DMF is poised to assist many new and emerging business owners by providing needed capital that will redefine Mainstreet. Their micro-enterprise ventures will offer goods and services most needed and desired by those within their immediate community.
MICRO-LOAN FACTS AND FIGURES
The Micro-loan concept started in the poorest Third World countries, principally Bangladesh, and spread quickly where it was most needed, in Eastern Europe, and Central and South Africa over 30 years ago.
• The recipients of micro-loans are generally individuals with little or no credit history, an unstable job history, and little or no assets to leverage as collateral.
• A micro-loan is $25,000 or less.
• The industry average micro-loan is $12,000.
• The popularity of a micro-loan in the U.S. began approximately 20 years ago.
• Within the state of Michigan, just over 19% of workers are employed by a micro-enterprise.
• There are 869,839 businesses in Michigan. Of that total, 87.46% are micro-enterprises.
• A micro-enterprise is defined as a company with five or fewer employees.
• There are 20 million micro-enterprises in the United States.
·• An estimated 10 million individuals fit the characteristics of the target groups the micro-enterprise industry seeks to serve: women, minorities, low income individuals, individuals with disabilities, and those with difficulty assessing commercial credit markets.
• A survey or micro-enterprise programs found:
■ 59% ( the majority) of micro-entrepreneurs are female
■ 60% are of a traditionally disadvantaged background
■ 68% had incomes at or below the area median income (HUD Guidelines)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 October 2011 16:39
Category: Top News Written by N'Jeri Nantambu-Bell
I had the pleasure of spending time with Virginia Douglas, CEO of the Renaissance Bowling Center, located at 16900 Woodward Ave. in Detroit. (313.368.5123) It is the only Black female owned bowling alley in Michigan. Virginia is the middle child of nine brothers and sisters. The center is operated by her son, Steve Douglas, president; her grandson, Brian Douglas, manager; and her brother Tyrone Douglas, operations manager.
For those of you who don’t know, Virginia is a walking history book. She told me stories of all the businesses she has had since the early 1960s, some we won’t mention to protect the guilty. She has owned several restaurants in Detroit, nightclubs and other venues. Renaissance Bowling Center is formerly State Fair Bowl.
I was amazed of her struggles to maintain her business as a Black female. “Obtaining funding was hard,” she said, so she just kept saving every penny, nickel and dime to get what she wanted.
Her primary goal was ensure her family was taken care of and to give back to her community. Virginia, a single parent, never gave up hope and always maintained a positive attitude even when the tunnel seemed dark.
“I never walked alone, God had my back,” she said. “I never thought I couldn’t do something. My parents always gave me inspiration. I never depended on anyone to help me. You can only depend on yourself. ‘I can’t’ or ‘I couldn’t’ was never something I said or believed in. My mother wouldn’t hear of it.
“After listening to all she had said and done, I had to ask myself, why isn’t this house filled with bowling leagues?”
There are some great leagues there now, such as Monday Morning Trio, Detroit Retirees, 36 District, Second Baptist, Fellowship, World Travelers and Motor City Blind Bowlers, to name a few. But the question remains: where are the rest of the Detroit Black bowlers to fill the 40 lanes during the day?
This house should be full of leagues and fundraisers. I can’t believe we still do not support our own people.
Yes, I’m saying it. Black folks still have issues supporting other Black folks. Are we looking for a better deal simply because we are Black and think we should get “the hook up”? People, it’s time we wake up and understand that Black business owners work just as hard, if not harder, than others. They are in business to make money just like other business owners. They provide good service, the businesses are clean and family friendly, and they have competitive rates. You should be getting something for next to nothing.
There are several Black bowling clubs in Detroit, and there is one that fully supports this center. We have the best fraternities and sororities in Detroit. We have hundreds of churches, block clubs, school groups and corporate groups.
So, I’m calling you out! Come and support Renaissance Bowling Center. Host your next fundraiser, company outing or birthday party there.
Before your group signs another league contract, come out and speak to the staff at Renaissance Bowling. Before your group books another masters tournament, classic tournament, 9-pin no tap or doubles tournament, come out and meet with the Renaissance Bowling staff. You might be surprised at what you have been missing.
Virginia Douglas has been selected as the TNBA Detroit Senate Pioneer of the Year. She will be honored in November at the American Serbian Memorial Hall.
I’m just saying.
Congratulations to Stephen Teart on his 300 game Thursday night at Renaissance Bowling Center. Stephen’s team, “Daddy Gone,” is currently in first place with the World Travelers Mixed.
N’Jeri Nantambu-Bell is the president of NBS, Inc. Marketing and Public Relations. For more information please call (248) 214-7912.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 October 2011 16:28
Category: Top News Written by Steve Holsey
There are some actors and actresses that we see occasionally, others more often. And then there are those who have a constant presence, and in such a precarious profession, that is saying a lot.
All the more so when the performers are African-American or of some other minority group.
Taye Diggs always has something going on, either on television or in movies, sometimes both at the same time. And let’s not forget his work in the theater. He is talented, fortunate and blessed that way.
Currently Diggs — whose real first name is Scott — is a regular cast member on “Private Practice” and has been since 2007. On the show, a medical drama that airs on ABC and is a spinoff from “Grey’s Anatomy,” Diggs portrays Dr. Sam Bennett. He had the same role on “Grey’s Anatomy.”
In case you were wondering how he came up with the nickname “Taye,” it is based on a playful way of pronouncing Scotty — that is, “Scottay.”
ACTING MAY have been in Diggs’ blood because his mother, Marcia, is an actress and teacher. She and Jeffries Diggs were living in Newark, New Jersey, when they welcomed Scott Leo Diggs into the world on Jan. 2, 1971, the first of five children. However, he grew up in Rochester, New York.
In New York he enrolled at the School of the Arts. Later he entered Syracuse University. There he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Musical Theater.
Eager to get his career moving, Diggs made his Broadway debut as part of the ensemble cast in the revival of “Carousel,” the musical that won a Tony Award in 1994.
That was nice, but bigger things were forthcoming.
Diggs originated the role of Benny, the unpleasant landlord in the long-running, Pulitzer and Tony award-winning musical with serious messages, “Rent.”
He loves the stage and has said, “I’m always up for going back into theater. I jump at any chance.”
Diggs says with certainty that nothing beats the stage for laying a foundation.
“Studying stage acting first makes iteasier to make the transition,” he said. “It prepares you for any medium. You learn the basics.”
It was in “Rent” that Diggs met actress Idina Menzel, who would later become his wife. They have a son, Walker.
DIGGS DID NOT appear on Broadway or in any road company of another famed musical, “Chicago,” but he did, however, secure the role of the Bandleader in the movie version.
After making significant inroads on stage, Diggs began to focus on television and film. The daytime drama “Guiding Light” — many still call them “soap operas” or “the soaps” — was the first TV show he appeared on.
That was in 1997. From that point, things really started progressing for the ambitious actor. His list of credits includes “Ally McBeal” (he appeared in ten episodes), “The West Wing,” “Kevin Hill,” “Will & Grace” and on the reality TV side, “Punk’d.”
Taye Diggs is a staunch believer in an actor being diverse, as comfortable in lighthearted roles as in serious drama. In fact, he has described himself as “an all-purpose entertainer.”
Of his impressive array of films, including “The Best Man,” “Drum,” “Malibu’s Most Wanted,” “Brown Sugar,” “The Wood,” “House on Haunted Hill” and “New Best Friend,” there is one that stands apart.
That movie is “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” from 1998, based on Terry McMillan’s best-selling book. He portrayed Winston Shakespeare opposite Angela Bassett as Stella Payne. Their performances were outstanding and the chemistry could not have been better.
Whoopi Goldberg, as Delilah Abraham, was also great.
In addition to his many acting assignments, Diggs co-owns and co-directs a dance company in New York City, interestingly called dre.dance.
And lest we forget, he also wrote a children’s book titled “Chocolate Me!”
Taye Diggs — actor, dancer, singer, author — could be accurately defined as a man for all entertainment seasons, thoroughly immersed in the arts.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 October 2011 16:14
Category: News Briefs Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
W.E.B. DuBois reminded us in his dictum that the “problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line,” something that is not lost on the memory of a lot of people, but not for those who are living in their own version of George Orwell’s “Sugarcandy Mountain,” depicted in “Animal Farm” as a place with no problems and an abundance of every necessity.
But the rest of us who are not in denial understand and know all too well that racism is the child of America’s birth defect — slavery — and continues to be a major issue in an ever-evolving union seeking to be viewed as colorblind in light of the election of the first African American president.
That is why news of Republican Texas governor and presidential candidate Rick Perry owning an exclusive family ranch in Texas named “Niggerhead” deeply troubles many people. It is a slap in the face of the many honest and diligent people — White and Black alike — who have dedicated their lives to creating racial harmony and fighting to ensure social and economic parity.
After the Washington Post broke the story about how Perry in his early political days took lawmakers and other leaders to the ranch, the Republican candidate offered a very late apology for a word that is innately offensive to African Americans, and a throwback to the dark days. The right wing attack machine, in typical fashion, began attacking the Post reporter, claiming she has a history of writing racially charged stories.
But that’s beside the issue because the ranch exposed to the nation is now part of Perry evolving biography on the national stage and he can’t run away from that. Just as presidential candidate Mit Romney can’t run away from the health care law he created in Massachusetts — that in many ways resembles President Obama’s landmark health law — Perry cannot run away from the “Niggerhead” ranch he’s been enjoying all these years without the scrutiny of the public. It is important to know who else visited that ranch. Maybe as the story continues to unfold, some lawmakers and past guests to the ranch will come forward and confess and tell more about the exclusive hideout with a name that smells of the stench of racism.
While Perry quickly came out and condemned the past name of the ranch, stating that it’s been painted over, his problem is he never came forward to admit it previously, Maybe we may get a race speech from Perry just as candidate Obama was forced to do at the National Constitution Center during the 2008 campaign at the height of the Jeremiah Wright scandal.
Perry cannot deny his past. He has bragged about his upbringing in an exclusive White environment in the South and how that has influenced his strong conservative values.
But to be the president of the United States in 2012, one has to offer more than an exclusive White Southern upbringing. The Southern strategy worked before but America is increasingly becoming more diverse. This is an age where the Southern strategy cannot thrive the way it used to.
That explains why the Republican Party is fretting over the ranch scandal because it is a sordid reminder of conservative stalwarts who unashamedly in the past used racism and the Southern strategy as a trump card for national office.
Though I have no reason to believe that Perry is a racist, he must come clean and admit whatever is in his past and move on. Just as candidate Obama admitted in 2008 in his race speech that his White grandmother had fear of Black men, this is Perry’s moment of truth to not only explain the ranch, but also the latest story about his support of Confederate symbols in the past.
In fact, Texas right now under Perry is considering whether to allow speciality license plates featuring the Confederate flag. The Associated Press reported that the plates have been requested by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a nonprofit organization Perry has supported over the years.
The man seeking the highest office in the land must offer more to the nation than symbols of slavery like Confederate flag license plates. While the politics of the Confederate flag will help Perry get some votes in the deep South, it still makes him appear like a candidate who belongs to the Old South. In essence, the more silent he is on an issue that has been the defining point of America’s struggle for civil and human rights, the more he belongs to the past.
And how can a nation that prides itself as a paragon of the ideals of justice seek to elect a man president who’s allegedly shown tolerance for racially hurtful symbols?
The idea that America has come a long way is bastardized by Perry’s reluctance to tackle this issue head on. And doing so is not just issuing a one-line statement to the media about a ranch that he’s been visiting and hosting guests at.
The Perry campaign tried to diffuse the story by stating that Perry hired more African Americans in Texas government than any other governor. But what does that have to do with owning the “Niggerhead” ranch or getting ready to possibly create specially made license plates showing the Confederate flag?
The Christianity in Perry — he has branded himself the evangelical candidate in the race by organizing a 30,00 strong prayer rally before he announced his candidacy — biblically requires him to defend the poor, the weak and the oppressed.
And in doing so he must identify with the issues that affect the vulnerable and oppressed communities. Structural inequality is still an ever present problem that must not be swept under the rug. There comes a time when you have to stand face-to-face with the truth.
Herman Cain, the lone African American Republican presidential candidate in the race, condemned Perry, calling him “insensitive” when news of the ranch reached him. But Cain, after receiving a verbal whopping from conservative media leader Rush Limbaugh, quickly dismissed the issue, stating he was fine with Perry’s one-line apology statement.
That raises questions about the sincerity of Cain’s original statements and whether he was just politicking the issue, after a week of calling most African Americans “brainwashed” for being loyal to the Democratic Party. Rick Perry should do us all a favor by coming clean on the ranch and the Confederate flag license plate proposal issues. He should man up and step to the podium and give this issues the time and attention they deserve, as would be required of anyone who wants to be the next leader of the free world. It just makes sense.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 October 2011 16:05
Category: News Briefs Written by Sam Logan, Chronicle Publisher
It’s not easy to start a business, let alone manage 15 years of successive organizational growth in today’s economic environment.
That’s why it’s important that we pause to honor ProCare Health Plan CEO Robin Cole and her staff on her company’s many remarkable achievements and the milestone of ProCare Health Plan’s 15th anniversary.
ProCare Health Plan, which provides critical healthcare services to the Medicaid population of Wayne County, has grown to earn the respect and recognition of many of Michigan’s top healthcare, business and political leaders, including the Michigan Chronicle.
As the state’s only female African American-owned HMO, Cole is in a unique position. ProCare Health Plan has proven ability to not only reach the neediest residents of Detroit and Wayne County, but to get them into the healthcare system earlier and keep them on critical healthcare regiments. Her efforts have helped to ramp down escalating healthcare costs and are now serving as an important healthcare model in Michigan. Proactive Leadership
In order to thrive in today’s hyper-sensitive economy, Michigan’s leaders must not only address the many pressing issues of today, but must also look forward and anticipate and take action to address tomorrow’s challenges.
Robin Cole, RN, MSN, MBA, is an outspoken healthcare advocate and has been on the leading edge of community-based initiatives to stem rising obesity rates and associated health conditions in Detroit. And we look to ProCare to continue to be a trailblazer on the many critical health conditions impacting our readers.
We need more leaders like Robin Cole and the opportunity to celebrate more important achievements like this in Detroit. We have become a healthier community due to ProCare’s many efforts. Bravo! Coming: Pictorial highlights from the 15th anniversary event.
Editor’s Note: Professional Medical Center (also owned by Robin Cole) served more than 30,000 residents last year alone through the five medical centers located throughout Detroit. ProCare Plus, the subsidiary of Pro Care HMO, has provided healthcare services to more than 10,000 underinsured, uninsured and indigent Wayne County residents since 2004.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 October 2011 16:01
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