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Donovan M. Smith

Stories by Donovan M.

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School gets a Jump Start

As kids return to the classroom, Rosa Parks already in full swing

The end of the Labor Day weekend meant that Tuesday was first day of school for most children in Portland but not at Rosa Parks Elementary.

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Blue presents: The Tao of Pimpin’

Local author merges unlikely concepts for enlightenment

Uhuru Rahman to some virtually, better known to many in the analog world simply as ‘Blue’ recently published her semi-autobiographical book titled ‘The Tao of Pimpin.’’ Now, she is inviting those willing to discover just how two seemingly different concepts can lead to a journey of fulfillment.

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Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!

Portland voices solidarity with citizens of Ferguson

The police shooting death of a black teenager halfway across the country have Portland residents raising their hands and voices in solidarity demanding justice in the case.

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Look to Your Left!

Bike lane on Williams Avenue switching sides for safety

Crews are set to break ground in the coming days on a project that will move the bike lane on Williams from the right side of the street to the left and bring in a host of other new infrastructure in a city-led move planned to improve safety on the heavily used throughway.

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Stepping Up

Community bike ride a call for peace now and beyond

Hop in your seat, put rubber to the pavement and ride. You’re invited to help take back the streets as the longtime Northeast Alberta Street non-profit Community Cycling Center hosts a public bike ride in response to a surge in violence by local youth and other young men.

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Global Impact

Portland photographer visits Nigeria to produce documentary

Photographer Alex Riedlinger looks to bring the vibrancy of he captured in a trip to southwest Nigeria, that in part saw people trying to hold on to ancient ways of worship and living in the midst of an increasingly globalized world.

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Grow, Portland, Grow!

Impacts on race not studied in population forecast

Portland, you’re growing. Metro’s latest projections see the region swelling to about 3 million people in the next 20 years, an increase of around 400,000 people. For communities of color already impacted by gentrification, low employment and other factors, what does that mean for the future?

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A Falling Taboo

As ‘pot shops’ open nearby, what does it mean for Oregon?

A measure to legalize recreational marijuana will be on Oregonians ballots this November; past efforts to be shut down. With nearby Washington, opening up fully legal 'pot shops' what does it mean for Oregon?

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Silence the Violence!

Youth take a stand to stop the community bloodshed

Youth lead a demonstration in McCoy Park in response to a recent rash of shootings, some fatal this summer to tell the community "Silence the Violence!"

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Dawson Unveiling

Historic park ready for new memories

The $2.7 million city-led move to renovate north Portland's Dawson Park comes with new amenities, and nods to the local Black community in the quick changing neighborhood.

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A Hidden History

Scholar Walidah Imarisha to lead civil rights talk

Local residents are invited to hear PSU Black Studies professor Walidah Imarisha speak on the history of racism in Oregon when the Oregon State Bar Civil Rights Section hosts a public commemoration for the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on Thursday, July 10 at 7:15 p.m. at the Matt Dishman Community Center, 77 N.E. Knott St.

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Revisiting Alberta

Proposed new look at issues comes with racial lens

Two longtime Portland educators are looking to revive a 1992 student-led study of the economy of Alberta Street, for the new millennium.

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Black Girl in Suburbia

Filmmaker explores racial ignorance and alienation of suburbia

“Black Girl in Suburbia” is a documentary exploring the tales of women of African descent, some still in school, some long past graduation, who were primarily raised and educated in mostly white communities.

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Activate Summer!

Opportunities to keep youth engaged

Summer is upon us Portland! How do we keep the young people engaged? The Portland Observer found some great opportunities to help answer that exact question.

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Please, No Labels

Musical couple explores ‘norms’ with debut EP

"Etheral" hip hop duo 7hirdwav3 explores the bounds of music, society, and the 'norms' with their debut EP 'Thirdwave'.

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God’s Prophet in Non-Violence

Local pastor writes book on Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King

Rev. Dr. LeRoy Haynes Jr., a Portland minister who has been on the front lines of injustice issues nearly his entire life has explored Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s life in his new book “God’s Prophet in Non-Violence.” The pastor of Allen Temple CME Church and the chair of the Albina Ministerial Alliance’s Justice and Police Reform committee, Haynes hopes his book drives home the story of King’s own radical methodologies to refresh or enlighten readers in a society still dealing with systematic racism.

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Common Core Rollout

Schools implementing new standards, tests

Oregon is set to begin implementing the new Common State Standard testing, mandatory for all public schools in the district; but how will the new more vigorous standards effect students.

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Fighting for the Innocent

Oregon Innocence Project a lifeline to the wrongly convicted

Oregon is the last of the 50 states to adopt a project solely focused on reversing mishandled convictions.

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Clearing the Space

Artist kicked out of studio after visit from authorities

After a recent visit from authorities that led to his subsequent eviction from his studio space, local artist/entrepreneur DeAngelo Raines is questioning not only why he was visited by the police and fire marshals , but whether the storage company was renting to him under false pretense as well.

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25 Years a Name

Anniversary is a reminder of challenges that remain

Portland will celebrate 25 years of having a Martin Luther King Boulevard at the Blazers Boys and Girls Club April 26th from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.; the commemoration brings to highlight some of the many changes that have come to the boulevard and the surrounding neighborhood since it's renaming on April 20, 1989.

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Texting and Driving Crackdown

Campaign raises awareness to decrease road hazards

Texting and driving is getting more eyes with a new campaign to deter people behind the wheel from become distracted while driving. The U.S. Department of Transportation released its first-ever national advertising campaign this month to increase the awareness of the dangers of driving while distracted from cell phones, text messages and other devices. The tagline is simple: U Drive. U Text. U Pay.

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Sounding off on Texting and Driving

Portland residents offer their views

Some say it's "crazier than drinking and driving" others say people should even do jail time for it, Portland residents offer their views on texting and driving.

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Kidz On Da Track

Coaches look to push appeal of BMX further

Longtime BMX coach is looking to push appeal of sport to more inner-city youth and kids of color in general with a new team he's composing called "Kidz on Da Track".

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Fighting Displacement

Skeptics say housing investment will not cure gentrification

A plan to increase public monies for the construction of more affordable housing units in the gentrified neighborhoods of north and northeast Portland is drawing a mixed review.

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Born For This

Rhymesayer spits purpose through the microphone

Talilo's debut album "Born for This" is highlighted by a style of rap he refers to as "chopping" and frequent moments of introspection.

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Portland Youth Conference Rescheduled

Activist asks for help to make event successful

A winter snowstorm that postponed a youth summit during Black History Month will take place over two days, April 11 and April 12 at Portland State University with a concluding concert at the Blazers Boys and Girls Club. Portland activist Imani Muhammad is looking for help to make the annual event a success.

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Jazz from the Past

Historic neighborhood flickers between the bricks

Blended into the façade of Innovative Housing’s newest housing complex are literal lenses to Portland’s African American history. Between the bricks at The Magnolia, 3250 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., are four iPod Touch units that run continuous loops of historical photos mixed with recent footage.

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Building Community

Business owner and community stalwart Sharon Maxwell launches a campaign for City Council

Sharon Maxwell makes it clear that as a long-time advocate for her community, she has been on the front lines of making Portland a better place both in terms of an improved economy and improving social conditions.

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Hip Hop and the Police

Director of Independent Police Review Board updates investigation

The turmoil that has erupted between the Portland Police Bureau and a community of entertainers catering to the Hip-Hop scene has gained new eyes and ears.

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Jefferson Wins Back-to-Back Titles!

The Jefferson Democrats are once again sitting on the throne, as state champions. The 5A boys team was able to claim victory against Churchill, outscoring them 69-64. The Democrats win came at the heels of the suspension of six players that same-day for what’s being reported as “conduct detrimental to the team” by Jefferson coach Pat Strickland.

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Rose City Women Tell Their Own Stories

Women of Color Zines group fosters self-made publications

Women of color in the city are telling their own stories using a popular self-publishing artform called zines.

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Recasting Trader Joes

Mayor meets with community to revive controversial project

The public outcry that led to specialty grocer Trader Joe’s pullout of a city-negotiated economic development project in the heart of Portland’s historic African American community may get reversed if the mayor and other city leaders are successful in new efforts to recast the project. Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Dan Saltzman met with leaders of the African-American community, neighborhood, and business representatives at City Hall in an effort to bring the popular retail chain back, perhaps with more compromises for all parties at the table.

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“16 Bars” Going WorldWide

Local emcee boasts global exposure following debut release

Rapper/songwriters has amassed a huge following of fans across the states and the world at large following the release of his debut project "16 Bars". This output finds Bars exhibiting his often eclectic range, spinning on the usual braggadocio-train that’s expected from rappers, to moments of humbleness and vulnerability.

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Hip-Hop Shakedown

Show comes to abrupt end after police swarm club

The shutdown of a Hip Hop show in SE Portland sheds light on a longstanding complaint that "Hip Hop is being targeted by the City of Portland".

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The Black Experience

Local author weaves personal tales into fascinating read

A debut book of poetry about the pain of political prisoners and the power of the black American experience intricately weaves personal tales into a fascinating read. The author, Walidah Imarisha, is local activist and professor of Black Studies at Portland State University. The Portland Observer’s Donovan M. Smith sat down with Imarisha at Powell’s Bookstore to discuss the inspirations behind “Scars/Stars” and to dig into the nuances behind her work.

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PCC Men's Basketball Win First Title

Coach shatters losing ways with PCC's first ever post season birth

Portland Community College's basketball squad has earned their first title in school history after defeating Pierce College in a 92-86 bout. The win is highlighted by the fact that just two seasons ago, the PCC basketball squad capped of their season with 0 wins.

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Drawing to a Final Verdict

Ancer L. Haggerty reflects on journey to and from the bench

Judge Ancer L. Haggerty seems to prefer to let his distinctions and accomplishments shine for themselves. The journey that saw him go from just another face in the Marines to making history as both the first African-American federal judge and first black circuit court judge in Oregon was not necessarily what he envisioned for himself early on.

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Oregon as ‘Whitelandia’

Film examines the state’s racial dealings past and present

Two Oregon filmmakers looking to examine the state's tumultuous racial dealing with documentary "Whitelandia".

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Trader Joes deal collapses after public outcry

It's back to the table for PDC and the community

After Trader Joes decision to pull out of a deal that would have brought the specialty grocer to a prime piece of land in the heart of of Portland's historic African-American community, leaves the community, leaders, business owners, and the city questioning what is next for what has one of the most complicated and controversial sites in town.

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And Then There Was 4

Bridge name finalists rooted in cultural significance

After a fierce search for the right name for the new light rail bridge under construction over the Willamette River, a committee of 10 has finally narrowed the list of possibilities to four names that meet criteria for cultural and geographic significance.

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Running for County Commissioner

Teressa Raiford kicks off election campaign

Teressa Raiford kicked off a new political campaign to the backdrop of heavy nostalgia, and promises of a stronger community should she be elected Multnomah County Commissioner this year. Raidford, a civil rights activist and north Portland business woman who ran for the Portland City Council two years ago, announced her candidacy for county commissioner on Wednesday, Jan. 15, Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.

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Black History and Hip Hop Culture

Educator brings mobile museum to Jefferson

Scholar Khalid el-Hakim brought his Black History 101 Mobile Museum to Jefferson High School Thursday to help shine a light on how black history plays into the lyrics and images of hip-hop culture.

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Purveyor of African-American Pride

Joyce Harris reflects on King; service to the community

Decades ago, Harris left her African-American hub of Harlem, N.Y., for Portland, a town she had barely even heard of because of a free-ride scholarship at Reed College. Her review from the initial Rose City landing, “I hated it,” she says, pinpointing blame on culture shock, Reed students’ bohemian lifestyles, and the distance from her family. As she actively looked for a way to escape, she was stopped in her tracks by Portland activist Ron Herndon, currently the longtime director of Albina Head Start who was then working on another Portland project, the Black Education Center.

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Building Support for Revolution

Activist furthers Black empowerment tactics

In a land where sunny days and black bodies are sparse in numbers, California-bred activist Ahjamu Umi sees 35,000 rays of opportunity. The Portland transplant is leading a civil rights campaign in his new hometown with the recruitment of members to the All African Peoples Revolutionary Party (A-APRP).

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Fighting for Justice with Police Reforms

Portland Activist follows path of Martin Luther King Jr.

Too many lives have been cut short by violent confrontations with Portland Police and a northeast Portland activist has made it her mission to reform police department policies to bring about a change in the way police deal with the public, especially members of the African American and other minority communities. JoAnn Hardesty is a former state lawmaker whose mission of justice is to prevent any further officer-involved deaths while also keeping those who’ve passed alive in the hearts of their loved ones and the community.

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East County Uplift

Prominent youth programs coming to Gresham

The Rockwood neighborhood in Gresham will soon become home to two of the most prolific youth-service programs in the country.

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Elevating Portland

Gymnast helps kids, adults soar

What’s that flying in the air? Well, it very well could be you, momentarily denying the laws of gravity, if only for a moment once you become engaged in a sport coached by a Portland gymnast. Meet, Saidah Wilson the energy-charged founder of Bridge City Acrobatics, a new acrobatics and tumbling school that operates out of the Peninsula Park Community Center in north Portland.

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Healing Hurt People

Trauma-informed program assists males of color

How do you heal hurt people? Dr. Alicia Moreland-Capuia would like to think she has an answer for young men of color who have been scarred by traumatic injuries and need help to escape a life of recurring violence and retribution.

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Holiday Rush Hour

Watching your dollar as the holidays close-in

Spending money is a familiar scene from one of America’s favorite past times. But shopping for Christmas in an economy that is still far from healthy, with many-a-pocket hollowed out, also raises concerns. How do you make sure that when the spell of the holidays where off on Jan 1, you are not left with unsavory ends?

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NorthBound

A collage of news reports detailing shootings in north Portland with a haunting chant of “bang! bang! bang!” is how Glenn Waco, an upcoming young rapper in the city’s hip-hop scene introduces listeners to his second project, fittingly titled “NorthBound”. Untrained ears may hear glorification in such a chant, but a closer listen to the entire project reveals the tale of a 21-year-old man balancing the struggles and joys of coming from what was once treated as a forgotten part of town.

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