Jamaica gears up to celebrate the joys of reading during Education Week, May 3-9

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Children eagerly participate in Read Across Jamaica in 2014.

Children eagerly participate in Read Across Jamaica in 2014 by raising their hands in response to questions posed about books that were read to them.

Washington, DC, April 30, 2015 – The Read Across Jamaica (RAJ) Foundation, in collaboration with the Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA), will launch its annual Education Week activities, May 3 to 9, 2015 under the theme  “Consolidating the Gains: Collaborating for Growth and Sustainability.” The RAJ delegation will include Tasha T and Asante Amen, musical ambassadors, who will use their talents to highlight reading and writing as well as emphasize the message that “Education is the Key” as they recite in song. The entire team will focus on schools in St. James, St. Thomas, St. Catherine, St., Kingston and St. Elizabeth to close out their annual Read Across Jamaica Bus Tour.

Jamaica's Prime Minister Hon. Portia Simpson-Miller reads to a child during Read Across Jamaica 2013.

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Hon. Portia Simpson-Miller reads to a child during Read Across Jamaica 2013.

Read Across Jamaica, an initiative created and introduced by Ja’nice Wisdom in 2003 to help promote literacy in Jamaica, supports the VISION 2030 Goals set by the Ministry of Education, and seeks to achieve 95 percent literacy at the primary level by facilitating literacy efforts that encourage children of all ages to master basic literacy skills through the act of reading. The growth and success of the RAJ program has sprung up in many classrooms across the island with the declaration of Read Across Jamaica Day, which will be celebrated this year on Tuesday, 5 May 2015.

Participant reads to children as part of Read Across Jamaica.

Participant reads to children as part of Read Across Jamaica.

During Education Week, literacy ambassadors will be joining local volunteers to involve children in creative and interactive forms of reading. These activities encourage children to enjoy literature and to better understand and appreciate family, diversity and global community needs.

“We place a high value on kids reading for fun and having stories that reflect their experience,” said Ja’nice Wisdom, president and founder of the Read Across Jamaica movement.

Participant reads to a group of boys who peer intently at the book being read.

Participant reads to a group of boys who peer intently at the book being read.

Since 2003, the Read Across Jamaica Literacy Project has served over 25,000 students and provided over 50,000 books and supplies to children in Jamaica. This year, Read Across Jamaica Foundation will partner with the Book Industry Association of Jamaica (BIAJ) to include in their distribution 500 brand-new books written by Jamaican authors and feature several of these local authors as “key readers” throughout their journey across Jamaica. Thirty-five authors, six publishers and two booksellers will contribute to this year’s initiative.

Children point excitedly at characters in a book being read by a Read Across Jamaica participant.

Children point excitedly at characters in a book being read by a Read Across Jamaica participant.

To find out more about sponsorship, serving as a local volunteer or literacy ambassador, contact: Ja’nice Wisdom (301) 672-4133, (876) 852-3418 or email: jwisdom2u@gmail.com. Donate books online at www.ReadAcrossJamaica.com and visit our facebook page: ReadAcrossJA. The Read Across Jamaica Foundation (RAJ) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to introduce creative and interactive methods of reading to children and encourage them to enjoy literature as an aid to changing future disparaging lifestyles affected by illiteracy.-OnPointPress.net.

Former NBA player Javaris Crittenton pleads guilty to manslaughter, gets 23 years in prison

Javaris Crittenton accepted responsibility for killing a young woman in 2011 by pleading guilty to manslaughter charges in court on Wednesday.

Javaris Crittenton accepted responsibility for killing a young woman in 2011 by pleading guilty to manslaughter charges in court on Wednesday.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

On Wednesday April 29, former Los Angeles Lakers and Washington Wizards guard Javaris Crittenton pled guilty to manslaughter in the 2011 shooting death of Julian Jones, a then 22-year old mother of four. Murder trial proceedings were just under way this week when Crittenton surprisingly changed his plea to guilty and accepted the sentencing of 23 years for manslaughter instead of taking his chances at trial for murder.

Crittenton and his cousin, Douglas Gamble, have both been sentenced for death Jones.’ Gamble was the driver while Crittenton was the trigger man in a drive-by shooting targeting a rival gang member who supposedly stole from Crittenton, days before the shooting. Crittenton gave a tearful apology during his allocution to the court expressing remorse for his actions.

Crittenton's (r) NBA stint may be most remembered for his dispute with Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas (l) that led to guns being drawn in the locker room and the ultimate dismissal from the team for both players.

Crittenton’s (r) NBA stint may be most remembered for his dispute with Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas (l) that led to guns being drawn in the locker room and the ultimate dismissal from the team for both players.

The details that emerged from this case are alarming. Crittenton reportedly joined the West Los Angeles street gang known as the Mansfield Gangster Crips for protection when he joined the Lakers in 2007. Crittenton’s association with gang members will draw comparisons to another athlete recently imprisoned for killing someone, Aaron Hernandez. Crittenton for his part, has acknowledged his gang affiliations though that does not diminish his continuous poor choices.

Crittenton may be infamously recognized for being dismissed from the Washington Wizards along with the team’s star player at the time, Gilbert Arenas, because of having guns in the locker room following a personal dispute between the two. Crittenton, an Atlanta native, played high school basketball with Dwight Howard and was teammates with current NBA players Thaddeus Young (Brooklyn Nets) and Anthony Morrow (Oklahoma City Thunder) in his one season at Georgia Tech.

Julian Jones was 22 at the time of her death and was a mother of four young children.

Julian Jones was 22 at the time of her death and was a mother of four young children.

Hopefully today’s court proceedings bring some closure to the family of Julian Jones, who by all accounts was merely an innocent bystander while this senseless shooting was taking place.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a training/benefits consultant. Follow me @GloverIsGood on Twitter.com.

Nikole Hannah-Jones named NABJ 2015 Journalist of the Year

 

Nikole Hannah-Jones

Nikole Hannah-Jones is NABJ Journalist of the Year.

WASHINGTON D.C. (April 29, 2015): The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) announced last week that Investigative reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones is  the 2015 Journalist of the Year. The annual award recognizes a black journalist who has distinguished himself or herself with a body of work that has extraordinary depth, scope and significance to people in the African Diaspora.

Hannah-Jones won for her body of work about the continuing segregation of America’s schools. The stories – which she wrote for ProPublica – offer a critical exploration of access to opportunity and educational equity. Hannah-Jones, who recently was hired by The New York Times Magazine, also has written extensively about housing discrimination and the ongoing litigation of affirmative action, including recent Supreme Court cases such as Fisher v. University of Texas. An “NABJ Baby,” Hannah-Jones participated in NABJ’s internship program and was placed at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., while pursuing her master’s degree in mass communications at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

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Nikole Hannah-Jones, NABJ Journalist of the Year.

“Nikole has done powerful work exploring the fight for all Americans, especially people of color, to achieve the ‘American Dream.’ Educational and economic opportunities are part of that dream,” NABJ President Bob Butler said. “She used her investigative reporting skills to shine light where it was needed most, and to bring the issues of race and impropriety to the forefront. She is most worthy of NABJ’s highest honor.”

Hannah-Jones will be honored with others at the association’s Salute to Excellence Gala on Aug. 8 during NABJ’s Annual Convention and Career Fair in Minneapolis. The gala recognizes journalism that best covered the black experience or addressed issues affecting the global black community in 2015. Her coverage of federal failures to enforce the landmark 1968 Fair Housing Act won several awards, including Columbia University’s Tobenkin Award for distinguished coverage of racial or religious discrimination. Her reporting has been featured in The New York Times, The Atlantic Magazine, The Huffington Post, Essence Magazine, The Week Magazine, Grist, Politico Magazine and on Face the Nation, This American Life, NPR, The Tom Joyner Morning Show, MSNBC, C-SPAN, Democracy Now and radio stations across the country.

Nicole hanna jones

Nikole Hannah- Jones

The impact of Hannah-Jones’s reporting on school segregation was felt in the national debate on race as well as in the relations between two high schools in Tuscaloosa, Ala. It also was felt in scores of school districts across the country, where students and their families were unaware that court orders requiring greater integration of their schools were still operative. In addition, Hannah-Jones’ reporting impacted federal education and civil rights officials who had to concede their oversight of legally mandated requirements for equal educational opportunities were broken.

Before going to ProPublica, Hannah-Jones worked at The Oregonian, where she won the Society of Professional Journalists Pacific Northwest Excellence in Journalism Award three times. She also was honored with the Gannett Foundation Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism. Hannah-Jones has gone on reporting fellowships to Cuba and Barbados, where she wrote about race and education. NABJ congratulates Hannah-Jones on this well-deserved honor.

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An advocacy group established in 1975 in Washington, D.C., NABJ is the largest organization for journalists of color in the nation, and provides career development as well as educational and other support to its members worldwide. For additional information visit www.nabj.org.–OnPointPress.net.

After a marathon wait, Loretta Lynch is sworn in as U.S. Attorney General on 4/27

Impeccably qualified attorney Loretta Lynch will be sworn in today as US Attorney General, succeeding Eric Holder who served with distinction and dignity under pressure.

Impeccably qualified attorney Loretta Lynch will be sworn in today as US Attorney General, succeeding Eric Holder who served with distinction and dignity under pressure.

By Carmen Glover

The wait for the impeccably qualified Brooklyn U.S. attorney Loretta Lynch to be sworn in as U.S. Attorney General, the top legal officer in the United States, ends today, April 27 when she is officially sworn in after her confirmation was deliberately held up by intractable Republicans for 166 days, a total of five months. Lynch becomes the first African-American female to hold the office of U.S. Attorney General, succeeding Eric Holder, who was the first African-American male in the position. Holder announced his resignation last fall but agreed to remain in office until his successor is sworn in, at the request of President Barack Obama.

Praising the confirmation, President Obama said that Lynch “has credibility with law enforcement and communities.” New York’s Senior Senator Chuck Schumer said: “I am confident she will be an exemplary attorney general and will bring disparate parts of communities across the country together, just as she did in Brooklyn.”

Citing disagreement over abortion language in a sex trafficking bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to bring Lynch’s confirmation vote to the Senate floor until Democrats came to terms with language over the bill. Mitchell ignored calls from President Obama, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), members of the media, civil leaders and everyday Americans who were disgusted by the political grandstanding that relegated Lynch’s confirmation to the bottom of the Senate schedule.

Out-going US Attorney General Eric Holder has been a champion of Voting Rights, Civil Rights and justice for victims of police brutality.

Out-going US Attorney General Eric Holder has been a champion of Voting Rights, Civil Rights and justice for victims of police brutality.

Journalist Roland Martin of TVOne led a group of African-American men to the Capitol to demand a vote, MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry demanded the vote each weekend on her show, and President Obama spoke out each chance he got.  Finally McConnell heeded the crescendo of calls and scheduled the vote on Thursday, April 23, when Lynch was promptly confirmed.

A relieved outgoing US Attorney Holder, who has been wearing ‘Free Eric Holder’ hand bands, said at a press conference on Friday, “I think we can officially say that Eric Holder is free,” as he threw the bands into the crowd. Addressing the issue of the Justice Department’s role in investigation police brutality and racial cases he said: “We are a nation that incarcerates too many people for too long and through the work of people in this department we are starting to reverse that trend.”

Her swearing-in has been a long time coming for the distinguished legal eagle who has been confirmed by the Senate twice before. Lynch was confirmed with a vote of 56-43, with ten Republicans joining their Democratic colleagues in supporting her. Senator Ted Cruz, who lobbied fellow Republicans to vote against Lynch because she said she supports the President’s executive orders on immigration, skipped the confirmation vote.–OnPointPress.net.

VP Records’ collection of roots reggae music celebrates ‘jah’

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From the opening strains of Buju Banton’s haunting ‘Our Father in Zion’ to the evangelistic delivery of Luciano’s live performance of his classic, ‘It’s Me Again Jah’ there is no mistaking that ‘Reggae Loves JAH’ is a thoughtful collection of hits that is sure to become a favorite for reggae lovers globally. Released on VP Records, the  sequencing of the songs by Dane “Fatman” Bogle, easily captures the essence of the unique relationship between reggae, Rasta, Emperor Selassie the First, revered by many as ‘Jah’ and the island of Jamaica, from which reggae and rasta sprung forth. ‘Reggae Loves Jah’ contains thirteen tracks espousing Rastafarian “livity” in giving praises to the ‘Most High,Jah Rastafari.’

For executive producer Eisaku “Selector A” Yamaguchi, this album was made “from the bottom of his heart” as a tribute to Rastafarian principles. He says, “I am not Rasta, but I support Rasta and their “livity,” their view on life and what Rastafari I stand for is similar to how I view life.” Selector A’s previous compilation, ‘Reggae Loves Africa’ was “a reminder about Africa…Reggae is known for its strong message and inspiration, it inspires people worldwide.”

Reggae Loves Jah is right on time, featuring a collection of stand alone hits like  ‘Greetings,’ track #4 from Half Pint; track #5, ‘Jah Is By My Side’ from Tony Rebel; ‘Jah Jah Is The Ruler’ with Garnet Silk on track #11 and ‘Jah Works,’ track #6 from Terror Fabulous. Over the years, many reggae stars have said that they learned about Rastafari, Africa and Emperor Haile Selassie the First through reggae music. Songs like Glen Washington’s ‘Jah Glory,’ track#10 and Bushman’s ‘Lighthouse’ track $12 are prayerful praises being given up to Jah, “the Most High.” The album allows new comers to the genre to have a good sampling in one compilation as a solid representation of Rastafarian praise music. Selector A says, “I made this album, ‘Reggae Loves JAH’ as a Rasta baton from the bottom of my heart, to pass on to the next generation.”

Though the tracks represent a variety of singers and producers, the late Phillip “Fattis” Burrell’s Xterminator label is featured four times beginning with track #2, ‘Praise Him’ with Sanchez, which remains a perennial favorite, followed by track #3, ‘Praise Ye Jah’ with Sizzla. This track reminds us of the sweetly poignant vocals and profound lyrics that made us fall in love with Sizzla in the 90’s. Track #9, ‘Jah Blessing’ features Sizzla and at the time stable mate, Luciano, on a very popular track that scored big for them and Xterminator as they were being mentored by Fattis. The final track on the album is also an Xterminator single, ‘It’s Me Again Jah’ which helped to catapult Luciano, who became known as “The Messenger” into becoming a household name. The song is loved by Christians, church goers, Rastafarians and secular folks alike. Tracks like Fantan Mojah’s ‘Thanks and Praise’ and Jah Cure’s ‘Jah Jah Bless Me’ are fast becoming classics and deserve to be among these established tracks.

There is something to be said about the thought that went into compiling these thirteen tracks and paying homage to the muse of roots reggae music. ‘Reggae Loves JAH’ is chock full of songs that we know, songs that have remained in our consciousness. Like prayers we learned as children that quickly come to mind in times of need, these songs though familiar to the average reggae fan, will be well received by the astute reggae collector for all being on the same album. Selector A is convinced that “with social media we can promote this album to the new generation as articles alone can’t get the youth’s attention; we still need music to carry out the message.”–OnPointPress.net.

 

Jamaican singer Christopher Martin releases debut EP, ‘Steppin Razor’

Christopher Martin

Christopher Martin-Photo Credit Zev Schmitz.

By Tiffany Mea

Jamaican reggae crooner Christopher Martin released his much-anticipated debut EP ‘Steppin Razor,’ on April 21 on VP Records. The 5-song digital-only release balances sweetness, swagger and sex appeal and showcases his versatility and vocal excellence. Martin fires with formidable skill on each of Steppin Razor’s songs.

The upbeat “We Are The Vibes” (produced by TJ Records) and the braggadocios single “I’m A Big Deal” (produced by Troy “Troyton” Hinds) get the party started. On the sultry “Secret Love (Creep)” (produced by ZJ Dymond), Martin sings “nah tell you fi sneak, but if you a go sneak, girl, sneak, come love me…and if your man find out and waan walk out, girl be with me.” His passionate vocals bring a renewed urgency to this well worn and (he admits) somewhat self-centered plea.

“Hide Away,” written and produced by the legendary Clive Hunt (whose credits include Stevie Wonder, The Rolling Stones, Grace Jones, Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff and VP Records’ Etana), is the first song Martin has recorded that he didn’t write. However he makes it all his own, incomparably delivering a swell of tender emotions over an irresistible, shuffling reggae beat. “Hide Away” is also featured on the soundtrack to the romantic drama “Destiny” released in late 2013, starring Martin as an aspiring singer attempting to navigate the music industry. The title track, produced by Frankie Music, isn’t the 1977 Peter Tosh classic (written by the late Joe Higgs, a mentor to Tosh and the legendary reggae group The Wailers) although it champions a kindred spirit of invincibility, in this case Martin’s unrivaled appeal to the ladies.

Christopher Martin

Christopher Martin-Photo Credit Zev Schmitz.

“Tosh’s song had a militancy, cutting down inequality but I am saying a steppin razor is sharper than the rest, it is having so much confidence in yourself that whatever you are doing you are going to be sharp in it, whether it is with women, school work or how you dress,” Martin explains. “It has nothing to do with money, it all boils down to the belief in yourself, confidence and high self esteem.”

Martin has done just that with ‘Steppin Razor’ and as the late stepping razor Peter Tosh would say, he is consistently “well sharp.” Born on Valentine’s Day in 1987 in Jamaica’s rural community of St. Catherine, Martin made his mark in 2005 when he won his native country’s top televised talent show competition Digicel Rising Stars. With his tremendous vocal prowess, soaring melodies and proven lyrical ability, he has consistently churned out hit after hit – including “Cheaters Prayer,” Change Me Plans,” Take My Wings,” “Giving It,” “I’ll Be Your Driver,” “Paper Loving,” “Chill Spot” and “Look on My Face” – on local and international reggae charts.

Over the years, Martin has worked with reggae’s premier producers including Robert Livingston of Big Yard, ZJ Chrome of Chromes label, Shane Brown of Jukeboxx Recordings and Christopher Birch. He has a devoted fan base in Japan, where he released his self-titled debut album in 2011 on the Rockers Island imprint. He has also toured North America and Europe, including an eight-nation tour with platinum selling German Reggae superstar Gentleman.–OnPointPress.net.

 

 

Poet/painter/philosopher Dr. Earl McKenzie, opens exhibition at UWI 4/27

 

Dr. Earl McKenzie

Dr. Earl McKenzie, Poet, Philosopher and Painter.

Kingston, Jamaica, April 25, 2015: Dr. Earl McKenzie poet, painter and philosopher will launch an exhibition of his paintings on Monday April 27, 2015 at 6:00pm at the UWI Regional Headquarters Building, Mona. The launch will include poetry readings by friends and colleagues including: Ann-Margaret Lim, Dr. Velma Pollard and Trudy Schoepko. The guest speaker will be Lecturer in the Department of Government and fellow artist Dr Clinton Hutton. This will be McKenzie’s fourth solo exhibition of paintings and poems. He has also exhibited at the Caribbean Literary and Cultural Centre in New York.
McKenzie is retired from the University of the West Indies, Mona, where he taught philosophy. He is the author of eight books including two volumes of academic philosophy and two collections of short stories. In 2012, his multi-genre volume of poetry, fiction, essays and visual art entitled A Bluebird Named Poetry solidified his skill in connecting diverse genres of artistic expression. In her launch of the text, Kim Robinson-Walcott notes that McKenzie “is interested in exploring his own multidimensional creativity with abstract, intellectual curiosity.”

This exploration is evident in his paintings which, according to Edward J. Sullivan, Professor of Art History at New York University, “have the suggestive power of Giorgio Morandi: one of the greatest masters of the simple object.” McKenzie has won numerous awards for his work. In 2000, he was awarded a Silver Musgrave Medal for his contribution to literature, and in 2011 he received a Mico University College 175th Anniversary Award for distinguished service. His exploration of the intersections among genres of expression continues in the forthcoming publications of his first novel, a third collection of short stories and a memoir in 2015. The exhibition, which will be mounted in the lobby of the Headquarters Building, will run until May 8, 2015. The public is invited to attend.–OnPointPress.net.