Stories for October 2013

Wednesday, October 30

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New Visions for the Techmen

Benson principal moves to shore up signature programs

Benson's new principal, Curtis Wilson Jr, says he wants to return the 96-year-old tech-centric institution to a place that has historically been associated with academic rigor and excellence. “I want to bring back Benson to where people are challenged to come here, where they know if I come to Benson I’m gonna work. Because it’s hands on, the courses are very intense, and it’s a very rich tradition school,” he says.

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Hall of Fame Honors

Late Portland Observer publisher inducted into sports group

Late Portland Observer Publisher and beloved community member Charles ‘Chuck’ Washington has been inducted into the Portland Interscholastic League (PIL) Hall of Fame this week.

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Combating a Legacy of Racism

Event remembers immigrant 25 years after his death

On Monday, Nov. 4, the life of Ethiopian immigrant Mulugeta Seraw will be remembered 25 years after his death. Seraw was in Portland to attend college when he confronted by three white supremacists and beaten to death in front of his apartment on Southeast 31st Avenue on Nov. 12, 1988.

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Sickle Cell Fight Draws Support

After a successful “Sickle Cell Buddy Walk” last month, members of the Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation of Oregon are reflecting on their successes while looking to raise community awareness of the dangerous blood ailment.

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Home Going Service Friday

Mrs. Sarah Cason

A Home Going service for our mother and family matriarch, Mrs. Sarah Cason, will be held on Friday Nov. 1, 2013, at Emmanuel Temple Church, 1033 N. Summer St.

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Hear My Train A Comin'

New documentary on famed guitarists, Jimi Hendrix, premiering nationwide on PBS

A new two-hour documentary on the pioneering electric guitarist, "American Masters: Jimi Hendrix - Hear My Train A Comin' premieres nationwide Tuesday, Nov. 5, 9-11 p.m. on PBS (Oregon Public Broadcasting Channel 10).

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Spooky Congress

Ghosts, devils, vampires, nothing seems to scare this guy.

Wednesday, October 23

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Saving Our Boys

Symposium focuses of reframing the narrative

African American parents and other parents of children of color gathered for a symposium Saturday to find new ways to elevate the academic achievements of their seeds. The 5-hour symposium hosted by Black Parent Initiative was held at the disbanded Marshall High School campus in southeast Portland. It was the fourth year the group has sponsored a range of workshops promoting equity and excellence in the classroom through increased parental involvement at school and at home.

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Incense Blamed

Fire damages Muslim Community Center

A fire broke out at the Muslim Community Center on Martin Luther King Boulevard Friday and now leaders of the center are looking to get re-settled.

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Wells Fargo Manager Retires

Laverne Hampton served customers for 49 years

The community said goodbye to Laverne Hampton last week, who retired after a 49-year career at Wells Fargo bank in northeast Portland. Hampton was a service manager at the Wells Fargo branch at 5730 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. She first went to work as bank teller in 1964 at the urging of her husband, Adron.

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The Emergence of a New Jim Crow System

Blocking health care coverage for millions of Americans

" Remember that inspiring 50th birthday party for the March on Washington at the end of the summer? Unfortunately, those moving speeches didn’t slow the emergence of a new Jim Crow system. The Supreme Court kicked off its celebration of the occasion a month early by gutting the Voting Rights Act. Then, several states then showed their disrespect for the eternal power of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech by passing new laws making it harder for black Americans to vote." --Emily Scwartz and William A. Collins

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Washington NFL Team Should Change Name

Time to drop the racial slur

" Last week, as Dallas and Washington revived their annual NFL football rivalry, they also found themselves in the middle of an escalating fight over the name of the Washington football team. In fact, as part of its “Change the Mascot” campaign; the Oneida Indian Nation is running radio ads in Dallas and the other cities where the Washington football team is playing this year calling for DC’s team to drop the “R” word from its name." --Marc H. Morial

Tuesday, October 22

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King School 'Hoodies' Call Mystery

PTA and school clarify position

If someone wanted kids at King Elementary to wear hoodies in solidarity with the family of slain teenager Trayvon Martin, no one is taking responsibility for it.

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Inspired Determination

‘Wadjda’ offers windows into Saudi (and American) life

Our 'Opinionated Judge' reviews a film with a rare window into everyday life for Saudi women and girls

Wednesday, October 16

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Re-imagining the meaning of family

Inspiring film deserves an audience

" "In the Family" (#10 on my list) played in Portland for less than a week. First-time director Patrick Wang, who also wrote and stars in the movie, distributed the film himself and now has self-released it on home video. The lack of a distributor makes me really sad because this careful film so deserves an audience." ---Our Opinionated Judge, Darleen Ortega on the movie "In the Family"

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Relating to Race

Educators convene to learn about culturally responsive teaching

Over 300 educators from across the state of Oregon convened on the campus of north Portland’s Roosevelt High School for the fourth annual Teaching with Purpose conference. Teachers attended various workshops over two days on Friday and Saturday that were intended to increase their ability to instruct students in a culturally effective manner and help students of color excel academically, closing an achievement gap between white and black students.

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Public Safety Advisor Retires

Resignation follows controversy over sexist comments

A long-time African American leader who survived a controversy over sexist comments he made last June, submitted his resignation Monday as a public safety advisor to Mayor Charlie Hales. Artharee said he was looking forward to his retirement and spoiling his grandchildren.

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New Lease on Life

Funding raises hope for ‘Village Market’

A community grocery store in the New Columbia neighborhood of north Portland has a new lease on life thanks to an economic development boost from government agencies. Village Market, operated by the nonprofit Janus Youth, was awarded $75,000 by the Portland City Council on Thursday in the hopes that the store can survive financially and continue to bring healthy food and jobs to low-income residents.

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Trayvon’s Mother Cancels Portland Visit

The mother of slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin was scheduled to be in Portland Saturday, Oct. 19 as the keynote speaker for the Black Parent Initiative’s parent symposium “Breaking the Cycle, Closing the Gap, Saving Our Boys.”

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Inspired by Dance

North Portland dance center reaches out

A north Portland dance teacher who's performed alongside the likes of Madonna, Celine Dion, and Pink, seeks community support for her north Portland dance studio.

Wednesday, October 9

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Multnomah County's New Air Quality Findings

Heat waves, air quality and mosquitoes will worsen

A new Multnomah County report finds heat waves, air quality and mosquitoes will worsen in the Portland-area because of climate change. In the first-ever analysis of how rising temperature and changes in precipitation will affect Multnomah County residents, Health Officer Dr. Justin Denny says there is reason to be concerned.

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On The Brink

Head Start watches the shutdown clock

Leaders at Portland’s Head Start program are worried about the possibility of shutting down for the year if Congress does not soon reach an agreement on the budget and the looming debt ceiling. Ron Herndon, the director of Albina Head Start, said when the federal funding for Head Start runs out at the end of the month, the Portland program will no longer be able to continue serving its preschool children of low-income and poor families.

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‘Hero of the Heart’

College President Committed to Equity

Dr. Andrea P. Cook, president of Warner Pacific College in southeast Portland, has been recognized as one of Adventist Health Foundation's "Heroes of the Heart," a distinction awarded to local community members who are making a difference in Portland through their service to others.

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Edgy works dominate Reel Music Festival

Jazz-themed Films

The Northwest Film Center’s Reel Music Festival has always wrangled together an exciting cross-section of jazz-themed films within the lineup and this year’s festival is no exception. From films on spiritual jazz guru Charles Lloyd and hot jazz drummer Chick Webb to edgy works about blues/jazz pianist James Booker and the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Reel Music 31 promises a multitude of jazzy treats for music lovers of all ages.

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Don’t Play Politics with the Debt Limit

The American people lose with this political grandstanding

" It is also time to set the record straight about the debt limit – what it is, what it does and why it should never be a political pawn in an ideological game (yes, game) of who will blink first." --Marc H. Morial

Tuesday, October 8

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Rose City Connections

Rapper Tech N9ne makes Portland stop

The Portland Observer caught up with recording artist Tech N9ne when he came to town during his current 50 city tour. The “Something Else” tour, entitled after his latest album features hip hop industry heavyweights such as Wiz Khalifa, B.O.B., Cee Lo Green, and Kendrick Lamar, his longtime collaborator Krizz Kaliko and many more. As the founder of his own record label, Strange Music, which currently pulls in more than $20 million annually, Tech N9ne is often labeled as the “the most successful independent rapper of all time”.

Friday, October 4

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Fashion Boutique a Go-to Shop for Women

Portland native opens business

Portland’s first exclusive shoe boutique “Thirty27” celebrated its grand opening this August. “On the day of my opening I felt a deep feeling of happiness,” says Christina White, the Portland native and owner of the shop located at 3519 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. White said she was motivated to open a boutique that carried shoes, dresses, and accessories that women had great difficulty finding in Portland.

Thursday, October 3

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A Strong Force in Portland’s Housing Market

Real estate team excels after humble beginnings

Real estate team Chris Guinn III and Tracey Hicks started Dwell Realty in Portland from humble beginnings. The two began working together in 2005 racking up an impressive record of sales in the housing marketplace before starting their own independent real estate business in 2009.

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‘Sneakerhead’ Turns Love into a Brand

Portland entrepreneur starts own fashion line

Setting foot in the city of sin turned out to be the start of a dream for one Portland man. A 2009 visit to Las Vegas for a street wear fashion tradeshow shifted David Jefferson’s whole career path. Jefferson says the show was the inspiration he needed to take him from being a local retailer of various big name brands in urban fashion to his newfound passion, selling his own clothes.

Wednesday, October 2

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Let’s Get Down to Business

Big personality entrepreneur has advice for the next generation

Entrepreneur and Portland civic leader Roy Jay is synonymous with success in the Rose City. Once considered a prime candidate for mayor, the accomplished Jay is quick to share his insights and open doors for the next generation. “There’s opportunity sitting out here, all people have to do is go and apply themselves. And I’m not saying it’s easy, nothing’s easy"--Roy Jay

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Life is 2Real

Promoter on cutting edge of rap scene

Unfortunately not many can claim a successful transition from the harsh realities of a notorious gangbanging past to true entrepreneurship. Jonathan Norman, also known as Big Smurf, a.k.a. Smurf Lucciano, is one of the exceptions.

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Amber Starks Builds Community Esteem with Business

Salon owner an expert in natural hair styling

As a child, Amber Starks used to “beg” her mother to let her perm her long locks of hair. It proved to be a fruitless pursuit. By the time Starks was a fresh face on the campus of the University of Oregon, wearing her hair chemical-free was only, well, natural. Now, the 32-year-old Starks owns her own salon and is exclusively focused on natural hair styling.

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Making a Difference

Smith honored for job training leadership

Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith was honored at the White House last Thursday for her role in making a positive difference in our communities. Smith was praised for her leadership in SummerWorks, a program that provides local young men and women an opportunity to get their first work experience through a paid, 180-hour summer internship.

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Good for Football and Good for America

Another barrier in sports is falling

"Sports is one of the most race-neutral meritocracies in America. From the record-shattering feats of Jesse Owens to the transcendent accomplishments of Serena and Venus, there is no doubt that African Americans can excel at the highest levels in any sport if given a chance. Historically, that chance has rarely been given to aspiring black professional quarterbacks." - Marc H. Morial