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Episcopal Church elects first black presiding bishop

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Bishop Michael Curry, of North Carolina, waves to the crowd after being elected the Episcopal Church's first African-American presiding bishop at the Episcopal General Convention Saturday, June 27, 2015, in Salt Lake City. Curry won the vote in a landslide. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Bishop Michael Curry, of North Carolina, waves to the crowd after being elected the Episcopal Church’s first African-American presiding bishop at the Episcopal General Convention Saturday, June 27, 2015, in Salt Lake City. Curry won the vote in a landslide. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

ASSOCIATED PRESS

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Episcopal Church elected its first African-American presiding bishop, choosing Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina during the denomination’s national assembly Saturday. He will now lead a nearly 1.9 million-member denomination known for its history as the faith home of many of the U.S. presidents.

The New York-based Episcopal Church is the U.S. body of the Anglican Communion, an 80-million member worldwide fellowship of churches with roots in the Church of England.

Curry was elected in a vote by bishops at the Episcopal General Convention, the top legislative body of the church. Curry won in a landslide, earning 121 votes. The other three candidates had 21 votes or less. The decision was affirmed on a vote of 800-12 by the House of Deputies.

Curry will succeed Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who will complete her nine-year term on Nov. 1. She was the first female presiding bishop and the first woman to lead an Anglican national church.

Curry, 62, has been bishop of North Carolina since 2000. He is known for his emphasis on evangelism, public service and social justice.

“This is beautiful,” said Norberto “Bert” Jones, 65, a lay deputy and African American. “God works awesome wonders, man. We’re getting to that point of understanding that it’s not about color and culture, but what you bring to the table.”

The Episcopal Church has been trying to confront its history of racism. The church has asked dioceses to research their links to slavery because many Episcopalians were slaveholders whose donations were used to build churches, cathedrals and schools. In 2008, Jefferts Schori held a national service of repentance to apologize for the church’s complicity with slavery, segregation and racism.

Curry takes charge at a time when fewer Americans are formally affiliating with a particular religious group, contributing to steady membership declines in the Episcopal Church and other liberal Protestant groups.

Membership in the Episcopal Church has dropped by 18 percent over the last decade.

Next week, the convention will vote on eliminating gender-specific language from church laws on marriage so religious weddings can also be performed for same-sex couples. Clergy could decline to perform the ceremonies.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Freddie Allen is the Editor-In-Chief of the NNPA Newswire and BlackPressUSA.com. Focused on Black people stuff, positively. You should follow Freddie on Twitter and Instagram @freddieallenjr.

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U.S. House Prepares Historic Session on Reparations Legislation

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The commission’s mission includes identifying the role of federal and state governments in supporting the institution of slavery, forms of discrimination in public and private sectors against freed slaves and their descendants, and lingering adverse effects of slavery on living African Americans and on society.

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“The markup of H.R. 40 by the Judiciary Committee is a major step toward the creation of a long-overdue national commission to study and develop reparation proposals. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)
“The markup of H.R. 40 by the Judiciary Committee is a major step toward the creation of a long-overdue national commission to study and develop reparation proposals. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, April 14, plans to hold the first-ever markup of H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act.

The 10 a.m. session on Capitol Hill will help advance legislation first introduced about three decades ago that establishes a commission to examine slavery and discrimination in the United States from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies.

“Why is this significant now to have a markup in this historic moment in our history? The bill was introduced a year after the Civil Liberties Act that provided reparations for our Japanese-Americans, and we as African Americans supported it,” Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) said during a news conference with African American media members.

“The bill would allow the country to finally confront the stark social disparities occurring in the African American community today and provide solutions,” Jackson-Lee, the bill’s lead sponsor, stated.

The historic markup of H.R. 40 is intended to continue a national conversation about how to confront the brutal mistreatment of African Americans during chattel slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and the enduring structural racism that remains endemic to American society today added House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).

“Long after slavery was abolished, segregation and subjugation of African Americans was a defining part of this nation’s policies that shaped its values and its institutions,” Nadler remarked.

“Today, we still live with racial disparities in access to education, health care, housing, insurance, employment, and other social goods that are directly attributable to the damaging legacy of slavery and government-sponsored racial discrimination,” Nadler remarked.

“The creation of a commission under H.R. 40 to study these issues is not intended to divide, but to continue the efforts commenced by states, localities and private institutions to reckon with our past and bring us closer to racial understanding and advancement.”

While a specific monetary value on reparations isn’t outlined in the bill, it does focus on investigating and presenting the facts and truth about the unprecedented centuries of brutal enslavement of African people, racial healing, and transformation.

The bill would fund a commission to study and develop proposals for providing reparations to African Americans.

The commission’s mission includes identifying the role of federal and state governments in supporting the institution of slavery, forms of discrimination in public and private sectors against freed slaves and their descendants, and lingering adverse effects of slavery on living African Americans and on society.

“Since its introduction in 1989 by the late Chairman John Conyers, and now through its continued introduction, H.R. 40 has galvanized governmental acknowledgment of the crime of slavery and its continuing societal impact,” Jackson Lee maintained.

“The markup of H.R. 40 by the Judiciary Committee is a major step toward the creation of a long-overdue national commission to study and develop reparation proposals.

“Through this legislation, we will finally be able to confront the stark societal disparities occurring in the African American community today and provide solutions.

“By passing H.R. 40, Congress can also start a movement toward the national reckoning we need to bridge racial divides. Reparations are ultimately about respect and reconciliation — and the hope that one day, all Americans can walk together toward a more just future.”

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Historians Celebrate the Black Press ahead of NNPA Annual Convention

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “The Black Press has been able to survive – and thrive – at least since 1827 because of its remarkable ability to speak to the immediate needs and interests of the constituency that it represents: African Americans,” stated Gerald Horne, an American historian who currently holds the John J. and Rebecca Moores Chair of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston, and who authored the book, “The Rise and Fall of the Associated Negro Press: Claude Barnett’s Pan-African News and the Jim Crow Paradox.”

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Registration for the 2021 convention is free, and those interested can sign up at www.virtualnnpa2021.com.
Registration for the 2021 convention is free, and those interested can sign up at www.virtualnnpa2021.com.

This is the first in a series about the Black Press of America.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Dr. D’Weston Haywood did not hesitate when asked about the value of today’s Black Press of America.

The historian of 20th century American history with research and teaching interests in Black protest and protest thought, Black masculinity, Black power, and intersections of Black culture, Black politics, and Black public spheres, Dr. Haywood is himself a trusted voice.

He said the 194th anniversary of the Black Press of America and this year’s National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) summer convention theme – Black Press Matters: Trusted Voice, Resilient Vitality, and Transformative Vision – is fitting.

“The Black Press has remained a resilient, trusted voice, heralding a transformative vision for nearly two centuries precisely because, since its inception, it has remained invested in truth-telling, expanding democracy, and exposing and critiquing the limits of both unapologetically,” remarked Dr. Haywood, who authored the 2018 book, “Let Us Make Men: The Twentieth-Century Black Press and a Manly Vision for Racial Advancement.”

The NNPA, the 81-year-old trade association representing the 230 African American-owned newspapers and media companies that comprise the Black Press of America, will host its annual convention from June 23 to June 26.

While the conventions regularly occur in cities throughout the country, the pandemic has forced the NNPA to hold the event virtually for the second consecutive year.

This year’s theme highlights how significant the Black Press remains, its vitality in the many communities it serves, and the transformative vision that has helped keep the millions of subscribers informed.

“The Black Press has been able to survive – and thrive – at least since 1827 because of its remarkable ability to speak to the immediate needs and interests of the constituency that it represents: African Americans,” stated Gerald Horne, an American historian who currently holds the John J. and Rebecca Moores Chair of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston, and who authored the book, “The Rise and Fall of the Associated Negro Press: Claude Barnett’s Pan-African News and the Jim Crow Paradox.”

From Samuel E. Cornish and John B. Russwurm’s Freedom’s Journal to Frederick Douglass’ North Star to John Abbott’s Chicago Defender, African American-owned newspapers have sparked fires for truth and equality that have burned with the passion of fighting for freedom throughout history.

March 16, 2021, marked the 194th anniversary of the Black Press of America, whose global impact remains undeniable.

It all began with Freedom’s Journal, the first African American newspaper which in 1827, announced its presence with a front page that contained these words:

“We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us.”

The 4-page edition included stories about the struggle to end the horrors of slavery, lynching, and social injustice.

It also informed the African American community of international news of particular interest like Haiti and Sierra Leone events.

The newspaper featured biographies of African American men and women, schools, jobs, and housing opportunities.

Those who have made contributions to the Black Press include Douglass, WEB DuBois, Ida B. Wells, Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah, and former NNPA Chairman Dr. Carlton Goodlett.

“Over the course of its storied history, The Black Press of America has stared down government suppression, defied mob violence, and resisted many a Post-Truth era before it ever had a name, all to report, cover, and construct stories that might move the public, institutions, and historical zeitgeist to forge America into what it should be,” Dr. Haywood concluded.

Registration for the 2021 convention is free, and those interested can sign up at www.virtualnnpa2021.com.

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Five Years After His Death, New Music Arrives from Prince

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Welcome 2 America is a document of Prince’s concerns, hopes, and visions for a shifting society, presciently foreshadowing an era of political division, disinformation, and a renewed fight for racial justice,” Prince’s estate noted in a statement.

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On the title track, Prince sings: “Welcome 2 America, the land of the free – home of the slave.” Prince fans know that track is reminiscent of his 1985 song, “America,” from his “Around the World in a Day” album. (Photo: Prince playing at Cochella, 2008. / Wikimedia Commons)
On the title track, Prince sings: “Welcome 2 America, the land of the free – home of the slave.” Prince fans know that track is reminiscent of his 1985 song, “America,” from his “Around the World in a Day” album. (Photo: Prince playing at Cochella, 2008. / Wikimedia Commons)

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Five years after his sudden death, the icon Prince’s estate is releasing brand new music that is sure to excite his still loyal fanbase.

The new “Welcome 2 America” CD marks the first time Prince’s estate is releasing never-before-heard music from the megastar’s famous Paisley Park vault.

Fans got a preview on CBS’s Minutes, and Prince’s longtime guitarist, Brown Mark, sat for a special interview with the Black Press at 7:30 a.m. EST on Thursday, April 15.

The 12-track disc was recorded in 2010 to accompany a tour of the same name but never released.

The estate plans to debut the new music on July 30.

“Welcome 2 America is a document of Prince’s concerns, hopes, and visions for a shifting society, presciently foreshadowing an era of political division, disinformation, and a renewed fight for racial justice,” Prince’s estate noted in a statement.

Never a big fan of social media, Prince sings about how superficial social media could be, corporate monopolies in music and reality television.

On the title track, Prince sings: “Welcome 2 America, the land of the free – home of the slave.”

Prince fans know that track is reminiscent of his 1985 song, “America,” from his “Around the World in a Day” album.

In that song, the Purple One sings: “Aristocrats on a mountain climb, making money, losing time/Communism is just a word, but if the government turn over, it’ll be the only word that’s heard/America, America/God shed his grace on thee/America, America Keep the children free.”

Songs from the new CD include “Running Game (Son of a Slave Master),” “Born 2 Die” and “One Day We Will All B Free.”

Prince also sings about “Distracted by the features of the iPhone/Got an application, 2 fix Ur situation.”

During the “Welcome 2 America” tour, which lasted for three years beginning in 2010, Prince performed over 80 shows. The estate doesn’t explain why he never released the accompanying CD.

Prince died on April 21, 2016, at the age of 57.

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COVID-19 Pandemic Leads to Drop of Maternal Health Care in Africa, Raising Fears of Increased Mortality

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Globally, and in many African countries, women have borne the brunt of the harmful effects of the pandemic. They have had limited to no access to essential maternal and child health services for a significant time period as a result of COVID-19 restrictions and scarce resources in already overstretched hospitals and health centers,” Eden Ahmed Mdluli, Senior Technical Officer for Maternal, Neonatal, and Child Health at Project HOPE, wrote in the release.

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Project HOPE calls on countries to strengthen qualitative data collection to identify the exact cause(s) of death during pregnancy and childbirth recorded during the pandemic. (iStockphoto / NNPA)
Project HOPE calls on countries to strengthen qualitative data collection to identify the exact cause(s) of death during pregnancy and childbirth recorded during the pandemic. (iStockphoto / NNPA)

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

While almost every country has experienced disruption to its health services since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, several countries in Africa have been severely impacted, leading to the suspension of maternal, neonatal, and child health care.

Project HOPE, the nonprofit that has worked to save women and babies’ lives worldwide since 1985, issued a news release warning that decades of progress made to prevent maternal complications and deaths across the continent could be reversed.

The organization calls on countries to develop public health responses that ensure women’s health services during times of emergency.

“Globally, and in many African countries, women have borne the brunt of the harmful effects of the pandemic. They have had limited to no access to essential maternal and child health services for a significant time period as a result of COVID-19 restrictions and scarce resources in already overstretched hospitals and health centers,” Eden Ahmed Mdluli, Senior Technical Officer for Maternal, Neonatal, and Child Health at Project HOPE, wrote in the release.

In 2020, the United Nations announced that about 10,000 health workers would receive training to support mothers and newborns in Africa.

The training would occur through a partnership between the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, and Laerdal Global Health, the nonprofit arm of a Norwegian company that provides innovative training, educational and therapy solutions for emergency medical care and patient safety.

The five-year program aims to improve maternal and newborn health in some communities with the highest mortality rates in Eastern and Southern Africa.

UN officials said it would start the program in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Kenya and later expand to other countries in the region.

According to UNICEF, despite recent and promising progress in maternal and neonatal health over the past decades, maternal and newborn mortality rates in the Eastern and Southern Africa region remain alarming.

In 2017, roughly 70,000 women in those regions died due to complications during pregnancy and birth, while in 2019, more than 440,000 newborns died in the first 28 days after delivery, UNICEF officials noted.

Project HOPE officials noted that while more data is needed to fully document the extent of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on women and children across Africa, some preliminary numbers have shown a drop in utilization of essential reproductive, maternal, and neonatal health services.

According to findings by the Global Financing Facility, the number of women who attended the recommended medical visits during pregnancy dropped by 18 percent in Liberia, and the initiation of women seeking medical care during pregnancy fell by 16 percent in Nigeria.

Additionally, a recent modeling study across 118 of the world’s countries estimated that between 8.3 percent and 38.6 percent more pregnant women could die each month.

In countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria, this would add 1,280 and 6,700 maternal deaths to the already staggering 16,000 and 67,000 respective maternal deaths each year, Project HOPE officials noted.

“These numbers echo a recent warning from the World Health Organization in Africa, which reported a rise in maternal deaths in 10 countries with the highest increases recorded in Comoros, Mali, Senegal, and South Africa,” the officials wrote in the release.

They reported that in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, curfews imposed in certain African countries made it difficult for pregnant women to reach clinics and/or hospitals after curfew time.

Many health centers, which offer free or low-cost services, also closed during the pandemic, especially if the virus had infected one staff or more.

Many hospitals also had to rearrange their units to accommodate COVID-19 patients. In many cases, it meant diverting resources for existing medical needs to COVID-19 needs, leaving pregnant women and new mothers without access to adequate care.

“People are extremely vulnerable during a pandemic. That’s why it is even more critical to ensure the continuation of quality and safe women’s health services during times of emergency. Countries must develop a public health response that ensures maternal and child health services in such critical times. Pandemics should not present either-or propositions,” Ahmed Mdluli stated.

Project HOPE also calls on countries to strengthen qualitative data collection to identify the exact cause(s) of death during pregnancy and childbirth recorded during the pandemic.

The organization noted that such action would help ensure the proper steps are taken to prevent similar deaths in the future.

“Before the pandemic, significant strides were made in ensuring healthy lives and reducing some of the common killers associated with maternal and child mortality,” Ahmed Mdluli continued.

“Today, the world’s ability to meet the important Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 requires taking stock of the challenges faced during the pandemic and ensuring equitable health care access for the most vulnerable populations.”

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Wells Fargo Expands Commitment to Black-Owned Banks

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Wells Fargo is really committed to helping foster a more inclusive world, quite frankly, and we want to make sure that we are reaching into the economically disadvantaged communities as well as serving all of our customers and constituents across the footprint of the enterprise,” Georgette “Gigi” Dixon, head of External Relations for Wells Fargo, told NNPA Newswire.

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By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Wells Fargo & Company announced equity investments in five African American Minority Depository Institutions, or MDIs, as part of a 2020 pledge to invest up to $50 million in Black-owned banks.

The banking giant said it is also offering access to a dedicated relationship team that can work with each MDI on financial, technological, and product development strategies to help each institution strengthen and grow.

“Wells Fargo is really committed to helping foster a more inclusive world, quite frankly, and we want to make sure that we are reaching into the economically disadvantaged communities as well as serving all of our customers and constituents across the footprint of the enterprise,” Georgette “Gigi” Dixon, head of External Relations for Wells Fargo, told NNPA Newswire.

“This past year has been a terrible year for all of us, and it makes it extra-special that we can provide this investment at this time,” Dixon, the 27-year banking veteran, stated.

“I’ve never seen this type of approach to ensuring the legacy like MDIs and, more specifically, Black-owned banks to be preserved and promoted nationally the way Wells Fargo is taking with this position,” she continued.

Dixon added that Wells Fargo began working on the initiative one year before the pandemic and before the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“We started meeting with each one of the MDIs, and we partnered with the National Banking Association,” Dixon revealed.

“We had these meetings with the banks and said, ‘let’s walk through your strategic plan and the things you need to stabilize and or grow the institution so that you are better able to serve your constituents.’ When all these banks are thriving and, in a position, to grow, that helps everybody.”

With that, Wells Fargo decided to provide what Dixon called an injection of equity that gave the MDIs opportunities to maintain their positions as majority owners.

Wells Fargo then created a relationship management team that focused on understanding what the MDIs needed.

Throughout the process, Wells Fargo remained engaged by providing resources from various factions of the banking organization.

“We reached across all our lines of business and said, ‘we have these great MDIs who are sustaining, stabilizing, growing, and expanding, and we want to make ourselves available through subject matter expertise,’” Dixon recalled. “I’m so excited about this.”

Wells Fargo’s latest announcement includes investments in Carver State Bank in Savannah, Georgia; Citizens Trust Bank in Atlanta; First Independence Bank in Detroit; Liberty Bank in New Orleans; and Unity National Bank in Houston.

The investments follow Wells Fargo’s Feb. 8 announcement regarding its investments in six African American MDIs and take its total investment to 11 MDIs overall.

Additionally, Wells Fargo plans to make its nationwide ATM network available for customers of the 11 MDIs to use without incurring fees.

The company announced that its financial commitments are in the form of critical equity capital, which is foundational to the MDIs’ ability to expand lending and deposit-taking capacity in their communities.

“The thing that impressed us the most is that these are solid institutions,” Dixon voiced.

“They all unequivocally, across-the-board, have a huge mission to provide financial help to their community and customers. These communities are disproportionately not in the banking system and are not necessarily taking full advantage of the wide range of financial products and services available.

“These MDIs are trusted, and that’s important for all to realize that, when you have trust and credibility, you are going to be able to reach communities that others cannot. Their mission is focused, and it’s all about the financial health in the community and about expanding access to financial products and services.”

Click here for the full announcement from Wells Fargo.

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COMMENTRY: The Floyd Case May Change The Worldview Of America

FLORIDA STAR — America is not immune to police misconduct. Since the Rodney King videotaped beating in 1991, the camcorder, now the (Cell Phone) has been critical in showing questionable police tactics throughout the country. There has been an outcry from black communities for decades that this is normal behavior by police when dealing with minority suspects. But video recordings have somewhat leveled the playing field of evidence.

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The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act establishes a Department of Justice task force to coordinate the investigation, prosecution and enforcement efforts of federal, state and local governments in cases related to law enforcement misconduct.
On May 25, 2020, Officer Dereck Chauvin was recorded with his knee in the neck of a handcuffed, face down George Floyd for over 9 minutes, while two other officers assisted in the restraint and one stood to watch.

By Reginald Blount

The George Floyd case is not just a case against officer Dereck Chauvin, it’s a case that could redefine how America is viewed across the globe. On May 25, 2020, Officer Dereck Chauvin was recorded with his knee in the neck of a handcuffed, face down George Floyd for over 9 minutes, while two other officers assisted in the restraint and one stood to watch. Several bystanders including medical professionals were pleading with the officer to allow Floyd to breathe. Chauvin continued with his knee on Floyd’s neck even after he appeared unconscious. The incident sent shock waves throughout the world. Paramedics arriving on the scene attempted to feel for a pulse in the unresponsive Floyd while Chauvin continued with his knee in Floyd’s neck.

America is not immune to police misconduct. Since the Rodney King videotaped beating in 1991, the camcorder, now the (Cell Phone) has been critical in showing questionable police tactics throughout the country. There has been an outcry from black communities for decades that this is normal behavior by police when dealing with minority suspects. But video recordings have somewhat leveled the playing field of evidence. It would appear that police and their legal teams have adjusted to recorded evidence by demonizing the victim’s credibility with the common explanations that drugs were in the victim’s systems giving them unusual superhuman strength or the Police feared for their life, thus causing further police aggression to control or kill the suspect.

The U.S. Supreme court’s 1985 decision that the perception from a police officer to use deadly force is squarely in the hands of that officer. This has proven problematic in the use of deadly force and has further complicated any reasonable means of justice for victims and their families by police actions.

An exoneration of Dereck Chauvin could have worldwide implications as America may be viewed as a nation of unfairness, unjust laws, and rules of engagement stacked heavily against its citizens, especially people of color. Evan a guilty verdict will not erase what the world saw on that May 25th evening, as a handcuffed defenseless George Floyd died in real-time at the hands of law enforcement.

Reginald Blount is a former city council candidate, retired military veteran, public policy analyst for the newly formed National Frontline (Jacksonville), and Adjunct Professor at FSCJ. He holds a master’s degree in public policy and is a graduate of the Naval Post Graduate School SSDCO program.

The post The Floyed Case May Change The Worldview Of America first appeared on The Florida Star | The Georgia Star.

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