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NAACP announces new direction, accountability
PRNewswire/ -- The NAACP was founded more than a century ago in response to the rampant and violent lynching of black Americans. Over the past 100 years, the black community and communities of color as a whole have experienced tremendous advancements. Yet, as we continue to march towards the arc of justice, additional barriers have been placed in our way in the forms of voter suppression: increased police brutality, over criminalization of black bodies, income inequality and inadequate health care as well as anti-immigrant sentiments.
  The NAACP intends to aggressively and nimbly respond to the current climate of political unrest, as well as the assaults upon human and civil rights that threaten our very democracy, as only it can. To do so demands that the Board of the NAACP ensure that organization has the right plan and the right leadership to address these 21st-century challenges.
  In keeping with its longstanding history, and legacy, the NAACP Board announced a transformational, system-wide refresh and strategic re-envisioning. The objective is to best position the respected national organization to confront the realities of today's volatile political, media and social climates.
  Board Chairman Leon W. Russell and Vice Chair Derrick Johnson, who were elected to their current positions in February 2017, will manage the organization on an interim basis until a new leader is named. Current CEO and President Cornell Brooks, will remain at the organization until June 30th, the end of his current term.
  "Our organization has been at the forefront of America, making tremendous strides over the last hundred years," said Leon W. Russell, chairman of the Board of Directors. "However, modern day civil rights issues facing the NAACP, like education reform, voting rights and access to affordable health care, still persist and demand our continued action."
  "In the coming months, the NAACP will embark upon a historic national listening tour to ensure that we harness the energy and voices of our grassroots members, to help us achieve transformational change, and create an internal culture designed to push the needle forward on civil rights and social justice," said Derrick Johnson, vice-chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors.
  In their announcement, the NAACP Board made it clear that everyone will have a place at the table, including its invaluable staff, the new movements for social change, local organizers helping to rebuild our neighborhoods, the faith leaders and other traditional and historic African-Americans organizations that provide much needed services to their communities, social justice advocates tackling income inequality, the millions of marchers who have taken to streets for women rights and immigrant rights, the activists who are fighting for equality for the LGBTQ Americans, business leaders and philanthropists lending private sector support, and the long-time civil rights guardians who have spilled blood so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have today.
  As part of that commitment, the NAACP Board also announced today that they will embark on a listening tour, for the first time in its history. As the organization reimagines ourselves, it is determined to be formed in the likeliness of the people whom it serves – and to do so, the Board will work to see, meet and listen to them.
  "These changing times require us to be vigilant and agile, but we have never been more committed or ready for the challenges ahead. We know that our hundreds of thousands of members and supporters expect a strong and resilient NAACP moving forward, as our organization has been in the past, and it remains our mission to ensure the advancement of communities of color in this country," said Russell.

Detroit to host 2018
National Association of Black Journalist
convention and career fair
PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- After a 25-year absence, the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) will return to Detroit August 1-5, 2018 for its Convention and Career Fair at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center.
     NABJ national office personnel and the Detroit Chapter of NABJ hosted a pre-convention reception at Chrysler House in downtown Detroit yesterday to announce Detroit as the 2018 host city. A group of corporate executives were in attendance to learn about preliminary plans and opportunities for partnerships for the 2018 convention.
  "Having the reception now, even as we are less than 100 days away from our 2017 convention in New Orleans, is important to building critical relationships for our stay in the Motor City," said Drew Barry, NABJ executive director. "Detroit presents a plethora of unique and exciting opportunities."
     NABJ Region II Director Vickie Thomas recalls serving as Vice President, Broadcast of the Detroit Chapter back in 1992. "It was a spectacular convention with our beloved former Detroit Chapter President, the late Angelo Henderson at the helm," said Thomas. "We welcomed then presidential candidate Bill Clinton, filmmaker Spike Lee and former tennis star, the late Arthur Ashe. We know the 2018 convention will be an unforgettable experience for attendees!"
      The convention will attract thousands of professional and student journalists, public relations professionals, as well as news makers and other leaders from across the country and around the world. NABJ's last convention in Washington, D.C. attracted 4,000 attendees and generated 217 million social media impressions.  
  "Hosting this influential media group gives us the perfect opportunity to enhance the city's image on a worldwide scale," said Larry Alexander, president & CEO of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau. "We look forward to showing off the comeback city to the thousands of NABJ attendees and creating long-lasting positive impressions of the city."
     According to Alexander, the 2018 convention is expected to generate $1,338,270 in direct spending. 
     To begin the countdown to the 2018 convention, the Detroit Chapter of NABJ will host a fundraising celebration at this year's convention in New Orleans on Saturday, August 12, 2017. This grand event, called Motown and More, will feature a sampling of made-in-Detroit items and Motown music to get attendees excited to come to Detroit in 2018.
     For more information about NABJ, go to www.nabj.org.

Thirteenth DPS principal convicted of bribery
By Valerie D. Lockhart
    The thirteenth former Detroit Public Schools principal, who was recently convicted of bribery and accepting kickbacks, was sentenced to 2 years in federal prison and must pay back $45,775.
     A federal jury found Josette Buendia, 51, guilty on one count of conspiracy and two counts of bribery. Buendia was principal at Bennett Elementary School.
     "Following years of investigation, the FBI’s Detroit Area Public Corruption Task Force was able to expose and end a disturbing culture of corrupt activity involving 13 Detroit Public School Principals to include an Assistant Superintendent, said David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge, Detroit Division of the FBI. “These principals, including an Assistant Superintendent, used their positions as educators and leaders to enrich themselves at the expense of their students and the Detroit Public Schools system. (The) sentencing of Principal Josette Buendia, the last in this investigation, should provide a sense of closure for the parents, students and the honest and dedicated DPS employees and underscores this community’s commitment to integrity in the operation of our schools”.
     Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is also seeking closure by announcing that he will file a suit to take away Buendia’s state-paid pension contributions. 
     “These principals were entrusted as leaders to look out for the welfare of their students and teachers,” said Schuette. “By stealing money, they not only broke that trust, but robbed the children of better opportunities. I am proud of my team for their diligence in returning these funds back to the people of Michigan.”
     Evidence presented at trial revealed that the principals plotted with Norman Shy, owner of Allstate Sales, to submit payments with DPS for fraudulent invoices for school supplies. The scheme cost DPS about $2.7 million, which Shy paid kickbacks to principals involved. Buendia received about $46,000.
     Three principals convicted last year had their pensions forfeited.
Gerlma Johnson’s pension was reduced by $546.50 per month or $6,558.00 per year and re-payment of $47,314.78 to the State in over-payments as a result of the forfeiture
Tonya Bowman’s pension reduced by $1,310.81 per month or $15,729.84 per year
Nina Graves-Hicks’ pension reduced by $1,229.27 per month or $14,751.24 per year and re-payment of $53,088.65 to the State in over-payments as a result of the forfeiture.
  “     No matter what your position, it is unacceptable to help yourself to other people’s money and violate their trust. If you commit a crime, status as an educator or leader will not protect you from federal prosecution,” said Manny Muriel, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. “(This) action demonstrates our collective efforts to enforce the law and ensure public trust.”