www.thecommunitypressfla.org / AUGUST 2020 / Volume 6 - No. 8

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Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. Remembers  Cong. Brother John R. Lewis And The  Role Of Black Greek Organizations In Politics

Story - Posted by The Community Press of Florida

What is a “Good” school?  I find it very interesting that people talk about how they want their child to go to a “good school.” Is a good school, like having good hair, a good meal, a good job or a good relationship?  Is it a good school, if you don’t have to do anything but just send your child?

Every parent wants the best for their child.  Every community wants successful schools because it affects the economy.  How do you get your child into a good school? Does it depend on your zip code; the status of the family and the school their children attend; or is it about the schools’ grade?  I recently saw a commercial highlighting a gated community. In the highlight, a current neighbor said to the new neighbor, “and we have good schools”. In contrast, I watched a television interview where a person of color commented, they wanted their children to go to a good school.  

So let’s look at what is considered as being a “Good School.”

As we are getting ready to start the 2020-2021 school year in the midst of challenging circumstances, every parent wants to know their child is in a good school.  I confirmed this in a recent conversation with several parents, asking them to give me their definition of a “good school.” To my surprise, most of the responses had nothing to do with the schools’ grade. No one talked about school grades, or how they are calculated.

The following is an overview of what most parents felt were necessary to be a good school:

1. Good Communication – A school that keeps them informed and ahead of issues with their child.  Not a school that calls them after the fact.  Parents want a school that truly cares about their children.  A good example is when a student is falling behind or slipping in grades; a “good school” would communicate that to parents in plenty of time for intervention and assistance to help the student understand and successfully complete their class work. No parent, student, or educator from a “good school” wants a child to fail. Therefore, communication at a “good school” is encased full circle for the benefit of the student. It runs from parent to school and from school to parent; with the ultimate benefit going to the student who is in the center of it all.

2. Good Understanding – Parents said a “good school” knows how to motivate a child to do their best. To accomplish this, parents believe there must be a lot of listening for understanding on both sides.  I can remember as a teacher, by the end of the first quarter, I was able to tell which student was going to have a day that would be challenging for both of us.  You can only reach that type of understanding by listening with your ears, eyes and your heart.  

One parent said they physically moved so their children could go to a smaller more rural school. They felt a smaller school would have a greater parent-school connection and family feel. The parent explained, the teachers at their “good school” understood each child’s skill level and ability, and taught them accordingly.  One parent disappointed their child was always placed in lower achievement groups that did not challenge or motivate her to do better.  Understanding requires work on everyone’s part; parents listening to educators; educators are listening to parents; and both listening to the children.

3. Safety and Security; Parents have a greater concern now more than ever for the safety and security of their children.  Each parent must stop, evaluate and examine all of the options. This includes listening to the experts when evaluating your choices and your family’s needs.

There were 4 Learning Choices on the recent survey of school attendance for parents to consider. The first 2 gave you direct contact with your child’s school.  

• Face to Face- Just going back to school as usual.

• Lee Home Connect – Digital classes in which your child stays at home and they are taught by teachers at their school. This option is not the same as digital learning that was done in the last quarter.  Your child will be provided all digital equipment to participate in either of these choices. The last 2 choices do not include daily contact with your child’s school.  

    • Lee Virtual is digital learning and requires a lot of self-discipline.  There are teachers that help but not the same as Lee Home Connect.  

• Home Schooling is a family’s s choice to do all instruction for their child at home.

If you have questions on any of these choices please check with your child’s school. You only have one month to prepare for your child’s return to school; regardless of the choice; and one year to be part of the solution in helping make it a “Good School.” Start working with your children now; use the resources on the Lee Schools website; encourage them to read books, or select the closed captions on your TV to provoke reading.  

It is my continued endeavor, to work hard in making sure resources are available and equitable to help all schools be “Good Schools.”

I challenge each of you to help make sure every school is a “Good School” by doing the following:

• PRAY for Good Schools

• VOTE for Good Schools

• VOLUNTEER for Good Schools

•  MENTOR for Good Schools

• VOTE for Good Schools

• STAY in touch with Good Schools

• SPEAK UP for equity at Good Schools

• APPRECIATE Good Schools

• VOTE for all schools to be “Good Schools!”

Story - Posted by The Community Press of Florida

The Lesson Plan AUGUST 2020 Gwynetta Gittens,  Lee County School Board The New Education

Story - Posted by The Community Press of Florida

John Robert Lewis was born on February 21, 1940, just outside Troy, Alabama, the third of ten children of Willie Mae (née Carter) and Eddie Lewis. His parents were share croppers in rural Pike County, Alabama.

As a boy, Lewis aspired to be a preacher; at age five, he was preaching to his family's chickens on the farm.  As a young child, Lewis had little interaction with white people; by the time he was six, Lewis had seen only two white people in his life. As he grew older he began taking trips into town with his family, where he experienced racism and segregation, such as at the public library in Troy. Lewis had relatives who lived in northern cities, and he learned from them that the North had integrated schools, buses, and businesses. When Lewis was 11, an uncle took him on a trip to Buffalo, New York, making him more acutely aware of Troy's segregation.

In 1955, Lewis first heard Martin Luther King Jr. on the radio, and he closely followed King's Montgomery bus boycott later that year. At age 15, Lewis preached his first public sermon. Lewis met Rosa Parks when he was 17, and met King for the first time when he was 18.

Lewis graduated from the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee and was ordained as a Baptist minister.  He then received a bachelor's degree in religion and philosophy from Fisk University. He was a member of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity.

Lewis did not receive a driver license until he was in his 40s and was driven around by Grant Lewis, his younger brother.

John Robert Lewis (February 21, 1940 – July 17, 2020) is remembered as American politician and civil-rights leader who served in the United States House of Representatives for Georgia's 5th congressional district from 1987 until his death in 2020 from pancreatic cancer. Lewis served as the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) from 1963 to 1966.

Lewis was one of the "Big Six" leaders of groups who organized the 1963 March on Washington, and he fulfilled many key roles in the civil rights movement and its actions to end legalized racial segregation in the United States. In 1965, Lewis led the first of three Selma to Montgomery marches across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. In an incident which became known as Bloody Sunday, state troopers and police then attacked the marchers, including Lewis.

A member of the Democratic Party, Lewis was first elected to Congress in 1986 and served for 17 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. Due to his length of service, he became the dean of the Georgia congressional delegation. The district he represented includes the northern three-quarters of Atlanta.

He was a leader of the Democratic Party in the U.S. House of Representatives, serving from 1991 as a Chief Deputy Whip and from 2003 as Senior Chief Deputy Whip. Lewis received many honorary degrees and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

On December 29, 2019, Lewis announced that he had been diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. He remained in the Washington D.C. area for his treatment. Lewis stated: "I have been in some kind of fight – for freedom, equality, basic human rights – for nearly my entire life. I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now."

On July 17, 2020, Lewis died at the age of 80 after a six-month battle with the disease in Atlanta, on the same day as his friend and fellow civil rights activist C.T. Vivian.

Among the distinguished speakers at his final funeral service at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church were former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, who gave the eulogy. Former President Jimmy Carter, unable to travel during the COVID pandemic due to his advanced age, sent a statement to be read during the service. The current President Donald Trump did not attend the service.  Lewis' interment followed the service, at Atlanta's historic South-View Cemetery.

Story - Posted by The Community Press of Florida

Kathy Dupuy-Bruno Hired As  New School Board Attorney Mt. Olive A.M.E Church  Feeds The Community Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity  Distributes 5,000 Masks In Fort Myers

Rep. John Lewis is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and was inducted into the fraternity's Omega Chapter on July 29, 2020. A sea of royal blue and white filled the Georgia State Capitol as brothers of Phi Beta Sigma, Inc. paid tribute to Rep. John Lewis as he was inducted into the Omega Chapter this past Wednesday.

Hundreds of black men gave voice to the fraternity’s hymn echoing through the rotunda urging those to “March on, march on, ye mighty host, nor think the journey done,” marking another important facet of the Atlanta congressman’s life before his funeral Thursday.  Lewis has been called many names over his 80 years, like hero and husband, father and friend.  But members of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity called him brother for more than 40 years, where he was awarded the highest honor as a member of their distinguished service chapter.  

William E. Stanley, Jr., a former international president of the fraternity, said Lewis joined the Lambda Sigma alumni chapter of the historically Black Greek letter organization in 1974, and the ceremony performed at the Capitol was the final step in the lifelong membership process. 

“We believe that when you pass on, when you die, that you go on to our last chapter, which is the Omega Chapter,” he said. “John has been a true Sigma man. … He’s been very active in the organization, and the things he does for social and equal rights is right in step with what we believe in as an organization.”  

Throughout his life, Lewis constantly lived up to the fraternity’s motto “Culture For Service and Service For Humanity,” Stanley said. A legendary leader known for fighting in the trenches of civil rights may not seem with your typical picture of a fraternity brother – but you must understand that Phi Beta Sigma and the other Black Greek organizations that comprise the National Pan-Hellenic Council aren’t the same as the Animal House-style undergraduate partying associated with mostly white fraternities and sororities. 

For starters, there’s a greater emphasis on continued membership and involvement after graduation, Rhonda Briggins said. “The process for us is to continue a lifetime commitment, the process is to continue working, striving to improve our communities, to provide public service, to be leaders in our community,” she said. Other notable Sigmas include Atlanta civil rights activist Hosea Williams, George Washington Carver and James Weldon Johnson, who penned “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.”

While not all Black leaders are Greek, the mission and service-oriented nature of the organizations often attract Black men and women who seek out change. 

“You know, you’ve heard of the old adage ‘birds of a feather flock together,’” Stanley said. “We like being around like-minded men that want to make a difference.”  

When Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp sued Bottoms over her mask mandate and rollback of the city’s voluntary reopening guidelines to combat coronavirus, members from all nine organizations rallied in support of the mayor’s decision, including a protest organized by Briggins and fellow Deltas.

“This is a new movement, a new resurgence of a need for us to step up,” she said. “We are an organized body of organizations. We all are behind and support the same issues.”

After the Omega ceremony and a group picture with the Sigmas and members of their sister organization Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., current International President Michael Cristal  said that the type of leadership Lewis and Black members regularly demonstrate is guided by the maxim “to whom much is given, much is required.” 

“And when you think about that required part, it recognizes that we have an awesome responsibility to work within our communities and make our communities better,” he said.

On April 7, 2020 the School Board of Lee County, Florida voted unanimously to hire Kathy Dupuy-Bruno as their new School Board Attorney.  

Attorney Dupuy-Bruno brings over twenty years of legal experience to this position.  Her official start date was April 27, 2020.

In this role, Mrs. Dupuy-Bruno serves as the Board’s lead counsel and legal advisor.

She is the first minority woman to serve in this capacity for the School Board.

Photos by Jacquie Matthews Williams.

“Wow! What a Blessing that the Mount Olive AME Church family, the Saint Matthew’s House, the Epsilon Nu Boule Foundation, and the Midwest Food Bank have united for the good of Lee County and the surrounding areas. I believe the Covid-19 has afforded us an opportunity to serve and care for each other as God would have it to be. The Gospel of Mark 10:9 states, “Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.” In my mind this Bible verse is saying to us now is the time that we lay aside all difference and come together. We should be reminded that the word of God says we are put together, joined together, built together, members together, heirs together, fitted together, held together, and will be caught up together. Therefore, we should be willing to serve together.

I am excited about the partnership of this” New Paradigm”. The very idea that the Mount Olive AME Church will serve as the distribution center warms my heart. Every Thursday between the hours of 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. we will distribute food items to assist our brothers and sisters in replenishing their cupboard. It has been my desire for many years that our Zion one day would be given this opportunity to serve the Dunbar Community in a more excellent way, as we stretch our wings to new horizons. Therefore, regardless of race, creed, color, or gender we welcome all persons to stop by the Church. Because we are here to make a difference in the lives of many. This ministry will aid us in carrying out one of God’s Commandments “Loving our neighbor, as we love ourselves.” Once again, Mount Olive is deliciously proud to be able to facilitate this important network and collaboration between our new friends in Kingdom Building.”

Yes, we are the “Church that Cares.”

Your Humble Servant,

Rev. James C. Givens

Photos by Jacquie Matthews Williams.

The Nu Mu Sigma Alumni Chapter (Fort Myers) of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. distributed approximately 5,000 face coverings to City of Fort Myers residents and local businesses on Saturday, July 25, 2020 from 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM at the Dr. Ann Murphy Knight STARS Complex, located at 2980 Edison Ave., Ft. Myers, FL 33916.

In alignment with Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity’s motto, “Culture for Service, Service for Humanity,” the fraternity received a donation of masks from the Hanes Apparel Brand in an effort to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout impacted communities. With its #MaskAround campaign, Hanes is supporting the national effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 by challenging followers to embrace face masks and encourage others to do the same. Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. is one of many non-profit organizations that supports the #MaskAround campaign.

According to a survey commissioned by Hanes, 51% of Americans wear a face mask all the time when outside their homes, while 71% wear a mask to a grocery  store or retail location (Hanes, 2020). The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that cloth face coverings are a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19 that could reduce the spread of the disease, particularly when used universally within communities. Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. encourages Southwest Floridians to #MaskAround whenever they are in public.

For more information about this initiative, contact the Alumni Chapter President, Twaski “TJ” Jackson by calling (321) 831-0858 or twaski79@yahoo.com

Photos by Jacquie Matthews Williams.

Remembering Civil Rights  Icon John Robert Lewis A Message From Rev. James C. Givens,  Pastor of Mt. Olive A.M.E. Church