Archive | October, 2013

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Malloy, Mayor and Hartford Council to Discuss Crime

HARTFORD — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is scheduled to participate in a meeting on Saturday about measures to reduce crime in the city.

The meeting, which is slated for 9 a.m. at First Congregational Church at 2030 Main Street, is hosted by the Hartford City Council,  members of Hartford’s faith-based community and the Hartford Police Department. Mayor Pedro Segarra is also expected to be present.

Besides focusing on crime reduction efforts in the city, the meeting will also address Project Longevity, which was launched last November in New Haven by Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney David Fein, Malloy and  members of law enforcement, public officials, social service providers, community leaders and researchers.

Officials said Project Longevity uses “a strategy that has shown violence can be reduced dramatically when community members and law enforcement join together to directly engage with these groups and clearly communicate a community message against violence, a law enforcement message about the consequences of further violence and an offer of help for those who want it.”

To accomplish this, law enforcement, social service providers and community members are recruited, assembled and trained to engage in a sustained relationship with violent groups.

The idea is to work together across levels of government and jurisdictional boundaries – to protect the American people from the crime that threatens too many neighborhoods and claims far too many innocent lives.”

The city sought $60,000 from the state to help implement Project Longevity and hired Tiana Hercules, most recently ran Opportunities Hartford — a job program started by Segarra.



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76-year-old South End Car Accident Victim Dies

HARTFORD — A Hartford man has died after succumbing to injuries in a motor vehicle accident early Tuesday morning at the corner of Arnold Street and Hillside Avenue, police said.

Jesus Torres-Colon, 76, of Hartford was in critical at Hartford Hospital with life threatening injuries, police said. On Wednesday, he died at Hartford Hospital.

According to police report, A Ford F250 pulling a landscaping trailer hit a scooter with a Torres-Colon, while he was at the intersection of Arnold Street. and Hillside Avenue. The truck was travelling east on Arnold St  and the scooter was north on Hillside Ave.

Late Wednesday, Hartford Police was still investigating and was working with the Connecticut States Attorney’s Office to apply for an amended charge.

The operator of the pickup truck, Edwin Quijada-Rivera, 25 of Hartford, has already been charged with operating a without a license, failure to renew registration and a stop sign violation. He was held on a $20,000 bond.

Police said that Quijada-Rivera allegedly did stop at the stop sign. However, he failed to yield right of way when he did not see the scooter. Police said Quijada-Rivera is not a US citizen and his status is still pending an Immigration Custom Enforcement investigation.


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Education Department Receives Grant to ‘Lead’ on Teacher Preparation

HARTFORD — Flanked by state officials, local and national educators, the State Department of Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor on Wednesday  announced that Connecticut was awarded a $100,000 grant to participate in a two-year pilot program supported by the Council of Chief State School Officers.

The CCSSO selected Connecticut as one of seven states to participate in the Network for Transforming Educator Preparation to receive technical assistance to support teacher training programs that will gear up to graduate teachers and administrators that are  “learner-ready” on day one of their careers, officials said.

These seven states, officials said “will lead the way and serve as models for other states as they begin similar work.”

“States across the nation have raised expectations for students, and that means that we have a responsibility to ensure that educators are prepared to help all students graduate ready for careers, college and lifelong learning,” said Chris Minnich, CCSSO Executive Director. “These seven states are among those on the leading edge of making substantive changes in the policy and practice of educator preparation.”

During the first year, Connecticut is expected to concentrate on strengthening the educator preparation program approval process to ensure that all program completers are “learner-ready” and equipped with the knowledge, skills and dispositions needed to prepare all students for success in college or careers.  In addition, the state will focus on developing a system for the collection and analysis of data to inform improvements to the preparation of educators for the workforce.

“In order to meet our goal of preparing every student for success in college and career, we must prepare each future educator for success.  Our work regarding the rethinking and enhancement of teacher and leader preparation programs has been a collaborative effort.  I am grateful to all the participants in Connecticut’s process—including classroom teachers and college professors, school superintendents and university presidents—for focusing on this high priority work,” Pryor said.  “The NTEP initiative will assist us in advancing efforts, already underway in Connecticut, that are aimed at positioning preparation program graduates for success as they begin their careers as teachers and school leaders.”

Photo: The Hartford Guardian

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Climate Stewardship Summit to be Held in Hartford

HARTFORD —  People of faith from across Connecticut are expected to gather in Hartford on Nov. 7 for a Climate Stewardship Summit, or what’s deemed “a call to action on the rapidly emerging threat of climate change.”

Held from 8:30 a.m. –5:30 p.m at the Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford, the summit will feature keynote speaker Mary Evelyn Tucker, Senior Lecturer and Senior Research Scholar at Yale, where she co-directs the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology.

Through the lenses of multiple faith traditions, the event will explore the sobering moral implications of humanity’s impact on the earth –especially the impacts of climate-induced storms, floods, fires and droughts, on the poorest and most vulnerable humans and on nature, organizers said.

By grappling with the common principles among religions that demand action in the face of injustice, participants are expected to leave the event “with fresh perspectives on the roots of moral response that unite us.”

Convened by a diverse coalition of faith-based institutions, the event is intended to launch strong local and statewide leadership to reduce present-day climate impacts of our lifestyles and industry, while helping communities to prepare for uncontrollable climate change impacts such as extreme weather and stresses on food production.  Sessions will focus on faith-based reasons to act, and on proven methods of inspiring and activating religious groups to make a difference.

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Hartford to Tackle ‘Historic Inequalities’

By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Hartford is a study in structural inequality and city officials think it’s time to tackle this critical issue facing the city.

That’s why there is a newly formed task force charged with examining one aspect of that inequality: the city’s tax structure. Currently 51 percent of Hartford’s properties are tax-exempt, which significantly impacts the city’s revenue. The city houses the most nonprofit agencies in the region, if not the state. It also houses the state Capitol, the most universities, churches and homeless shelters. A different valuation for residences and businesses also creates an imbalanced assessment, negatively impacting business development, official said.

Last week  Mayor Pedro E. Segarra and City Council President Shawn T. Wooden announced the members of to address these historic inequalities. The task force held its first meeting to establish goals, nominate a chair, and identify areas of study. Their primary responsibility is to make recommendations for legislation to present to Hartford’s State Legislative delegation.

The task force will submit their recommendations to the Mayor and City Council by Jan. 15, 2014 and will then help draft legislation to present to State legislators by Feb. 1, 2014.

City officials said they are seeking feedback from stakeholders so they can ” find a solution that encourages business development without unfairly burdening taxpayers.”  This, they said, is a step toward growing the city’s grand list–or list of corporate entities that pay taxes.

The task force will be assisted by City Assessor John Phillip, and by the professors, staff, and students of the University of Connecticut (UConn) Charter Oak Sustainable Communities Initiative (COSCI), including the School of Social Work, the Law School, and other departments.

The task force consists of seven members; two chosen by Mayor Pedro E. Segarra, two chosen by Council President Shawn Wooden, one by Council Minority leader Larry Deutsch, one by Council Majority Leader Alex Aponte, and one by the MetroHartford Alliance. The full committee is as follows: Denise Best, Community Leader from the Christian Activities Council, President of the Upper Albany NRZ; Rex Fowler- Executive Director of Hartford Community Loan Fund; Oz Griebel, CEO of MetroHartford Alliance; Matt O’Connor, American Federation of Teachers; Migdalia Rivera, Hartford Resident; Gordon Scott, Owner of Scott’s Jamaican Bakery andTimothy Sullivan, Managing Director and Senior Vice President of Wells Fargo Advisors.

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El Diario NY Partners With City College on Bilingual Curriculum

El Diario/La Prensa, News Report

New York City teachers and students from grades 6 to 12 will have a new teaching and learning resource for the classroom: a bilingual social studies curriculum that documents the last 100 years of Latino community history in NYC (1913-2013), as covered through the pages of El Diario/La Prensa, the longest publishing Spanish-language daily newspaper in the United States, which just celebrated its 100th anniversary.

The project is a partnership between El Diario/La Prensa and the City College of New York’s Department of Teaching, Learning, and Culture, with collaboration from the Gregorio Luperón High School for Mathematics and Science, and El Puente Academy for Peace and Social Justice. It was developed by the Fall 2012 graduate “Education that is Multicultural” class at CCNY, under the guidance of bilingual education and TESOL professor and author Tatyana Kleyn. The curriculum was successfully pilot-implemented last spring at Luperón High School in Upper Manhattan, and El Puente Academy, in Brooklyn.

“From the moment that we envisioned our centennial celebration, we knew that we wanted to work with teachers and students toward creating a study-guide for Latino history in New York using materials from the century-old archives of our newspaper”, Rossana Rosado, Publisher and CEO of El Diario/La Prensa said. “I thank Professor Kleyn, the students and faculty at CCNY, Luperón High School and El Puente Academy, for helping make this project a reality.”

The curriculum titled “Social Justice & Latinos in NYC: 1913-2013” consists of seven bilingual lessons that cover areas such as media, health, education, housing, activism, labor, arts and culture, housing, identity, immigration, and language, among others. It includes innovative classroom activities, homework assignments, and comprehensive multimedia supporting materials (appendices) drawn from El Diario/La Prensa’s photo vaults (recently donated to the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library at Columbia University), and the newspaper’s print and online edition archives.

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Photo By Maya Sugaman/KPCC

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Hollywood Finally Catches Up With History

By  Salamishah Tillet, The Root

Steve McQueen’s masterful 12 Years a Slave has already changed history in two major ways: It is the first Hollywood-backed movie on slavery directed by a black filmmaker, and based on Solomon Northup’s 1853 oral account, it is the first film ever based on an actual slave narrative.

While the former results from the dearth of black directors who are able to get historical dramas funded and distributed by major studios, the latter reveals a more troubling truth. Despite the fact that nearly 200 narratives were published in the United States and England between 1760 and 1947, filmmakers have almost completely ignored these materials.

The result has been a rigid typecasting of enslaved African Americans as either sambos or superheroes in Hollywood’s most successful films on slavery. In the 1939 box-office smash Gone With the Wind, slave characters like Prissy, Mammy and Uncle Peter humorously submit to their mistress. Inversely, Quentin Tarantino’s hugely successful Django Unchained has both the butler Stephen, who gladly serves his master, and the slave protagonist, Django, who singlehandedly overthrows an entire plantation.

Missing from these flat representations are the complexities and contradictions of plantation life that dominated the slave narratives and actually enabled most enslaved African Americans to survive and, as in the case of Solomon Northrop, outlive their oppression.

That is, until now.

While the turn by 12 Years A Slave to the slave narrative might be new, it lags historians and other artistic mediums by more than 40 years. Politicized by the changing racial climate of the 1960s, American historians began to reject the then widely accepted thesis of historian Stanley Elkins’ 1959 book Slavery, which purported that the institution was so psychologically infantilizing to African Americans, they developed dependent “sambo” personality types.

Believing that Elkins’ thesis willfully ignored the testimonies of former slaves, historians began challenging the longstanding assumption that plantation owners’ records provided the most accurate and objective accounts. By 1972, the first two books that consistently used slave narratives as primary sources — John Blassingame’s The Slave Community and George Rawick’sFrom Sundown to Sunup — were published and changed the study of slavery forever.

At the same time, African-American writers like Octavia Butler, Barbara Chase-Riboud and Ishmael Reed began adapting the first-person slave-narrative form in their novels. Its impact on the literary world was so vast that a new genre — the neo-slave narrative — was born, while the slave narrative continued to serve as inspiration for later works by African-American artists and performers as diverse as choreographer Bill T. Jones, visual artists Glenn Ligon and Kara Walker, jazz musician Wynton Marsalis and most famously for Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer-prize winning novelBeloved.

Why, then, has Hollywood taken so long to catch up? Part of the problem is that unlike the plethora of movies on other historical atrocities such as the Holocaust, there are so few films on American slavery. But unlike movies on the Holocaust, which allow American audiences to understand past trauma and mass violence as a phenomenon that happens outside the U.S., films on slavery reveal the paradox that continues to haunt us — the peculiar marriage of racism and freedom upon which the nation was founded.

Our cinematic amnesia about slavery has also come with a huge cost: The most popular films feature white characters who always outsize slave characters, like the sympathetic slave owner (Scarlett O’Hara), an antislavery statesman (Amistad’s John Quincy Adams) or a charismatic sidekick (Dr. King Schultz of Django).

This preoccupation with white protagonists, which also dominates Hollywood’s treatment of Native Americans (think Dances With Wolves), does so by softening the reality of slavery and purposely denying the lives and opinions of those who endured it the most.

Twelve Years a Slave, on the other hand, begins to do for contemporary Americans what the slave narratives did on behalf of the abolitionists. It rips the veil off the horrors of slavery, while humanizing the enslaved African Americans. It does not portray Northup (brilliantly played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) as either an accomplice to or the sole avenger of slavery. Rather, it zooms in on the ordinary violence of his life, making him a three-dimensional character who simultaneously accommodates and resists his subjugation in order to simply remain alive.

It also shows slavery as America’s ultimate irony. It was both a mundane and menacing institution that produced pathological slaveholders (intensely played by Michael Fassbender and Sarah Paulson) who derived their pleasure and wealth from the psychological and physical torture of slaves. In response, the majority of enslaved African Americans had few options: a slow acceptance of their fate, small forms of resistance, rare escape or death.

Through the characters Eliza (a passionate Adepero Oduye) and Patsey (a poignant Lupita Nyong’o), we are also reminded of Harriet Jacobs’ famous words in the slave narrative Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: “Slavery is terrible for men, but it is far more terrible for women.”

And while 12 Years a Slave clearly builds on the work of a preceding generation of artists and historians, it has also cleared a space of its own. By privileging the testimonies and voices of the slaves themselves, it gives us a new cinematic story of slavery as exceptionally violent and quintessentially American.

Salamishah Tillet is an associate professor of English and Africana studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Sites of Slavery: Citizenship, Racial Democracy, and the Post-Civil Rights Imagination and the co-founder of A Long Walk Home, a nonprofit organization that uses art to end violence against girls and women.

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Panel Urges African-Americans Participation in Immigration Dialogue

WASHINGTON — The Washington Informer, Margaret Summers writes about a recent panel at the Congressional Black Caucus’s Annual Legislative Conference that focused on immigration reform. Panelists urged native-born blacks and black immigrants to work together and combat racism and discrimination.

Participants in a recent Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference panel discussion on immigration, “Bridging the Gap: A Pan-African Approach to Immigration Reform,” said African-Americans and African and Caribbean immigrants must become more involved in shaping immigration policy reform.

Panelists focused on how the political and social concerns of African-Americans and black immigrants intersect, and how black immigrants and African-Americans together could effectively combat racism that affects them both.

“We know this country has a history of exploiting working people of color,” said Dr. L. Toni Lewis, healthcare chair of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Lewis said that federal immigration reform legislation could benefit native-born and immigrants of color, particularly in employment.

Senate Bill S.744, which the U.S. Senate passed in July, addresses employment discrimination relative to immigrants, said Esther Olavarria, the Cuban-born director of immigration reform on the national security staff, Executive Office for the President. “It’s not a perfect immigration reform bill, but it’s consistent with the President’s views that the majority of undocumented immigrants should be able to obtain work permits and not be exploited. It modernizes the legal immigration system, which hasn’t been changed since the 1990s.” The House, which opposes the bill, is scheduled to consider the bill this fall, said Olavarria.

A number of Jamaican guest workers in the audience spoke exclusively with the Informer about their labor situation as one example of immigrant and black labor exploitation. The Jamaicans are part of a group of more than 150 guest workers from Jamaica represented by the Louisiana-based National Guestworker Alliance in a labor dispute.

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Congress Kicks the Can – Americans Turn Blue

By Glenn Mollette–Op-Ed Contributor

Americans can breathe a sigh of relief but not for long. We’ve kicked the financial crisis can down the road for at least three more months.
Our budget deficit, debt ceiling and American leadership crisis reminds me of a game we used to play in the creek as a child. Someone would count while we held our breath under water. It was only a matter of time. We couldn’t stay under forever.
 It seems like the average American is holding his or her breath today. Time is ticking while our faces are becoming bluer by the moment.  How many more trillions of debt can we stand? Our paychecks are shrinking all the more as we are crunched with another trillion dollars in debt. Our sigh of relief is short lived as our heads are actually being pushed under, much deeper and far longer than we can survive as a nation.
glen mollettIn response to this brutal drowning of America we stand back shrugging our shoulders and wagging our heads. What else are we going to do? Many of us made it to the polls to vote and we will be back there to vote next time. We write letters, call our representatives and senators and feel like screaming bloody murder. What good does it do us? Our nation continues to spend what we do not have and cannot afford.
If our outgo exceeds our income then our upkeep will be our downfall.
America needs to make a simple adjustment. We need to spend what we take in and not more than we take in. This simple adjustment works for individuals, families, businesses, and so forth.
When we spend more than we take in we accumulate debt that makes life tougher for us. We have to pay the debt back so this actually gives us less money to live on. Every few months our country is making it tougher and tougher on all Americans because we are accumulating more and more debt which is devouring the income we have.
Average Americans make house and car payments. However, our payments must be based on our income and what we can afford. Our government is incurring more and more debt and it’s not based on the national income nor what our country can afford.
America will take in 2.7 to three trillion dollars over the next twelve months. I would suggest to our leaders that we formulate our budget based on what we expect to receive. In the meantime why don’t we create more income for our nation by creating more good jobs that will in turn create more income for America? We need to stop the flow of jobs slipping away to Mexico and other countries while our government taxes America’s diminishing middle class more and more. It’s time for new leadership in America. We can’t hold our breath any longer.

Glenn Mollette is an American columnist read in all fifty states. Contact him at  Like his facebook page at find his books at 

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ACLU, Groups to Host Racial Profiling Forum

HARTFORD — Federal, state and other agencies and civil rights groups on Monday will hold a forum that tackles the issue of racial profiling.

The groups include the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Council of American-Islamic Relations of Connecticut, the Connecticut Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission.

The event, which will also unveil a public service announcement on racial profiling, is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. in the Unitarian Universalist Church of Meriden. The church is at 328 Paddock Ave in Meriden.

Organizers said the program line up includes expert speakers, the unveiling of a public service announcement about racial profiling, personal stories about racial profiling and public participation.

For more information please contact ACLU of Connecticut Field Organizer Isa Mujahid,, 860-471-8473, or Communications Manager Jeanne Leblanc,, 860-471-8468.

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