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The Catholic Church Played Major Role in Slavery

In 2016, Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. offered a public apology after acknowledging that 188 years prior, Jesuit priests sold 272 slaves to save the school from financial ruin.

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The universal church taught that slavery enjoyed the sanction of Scripture and natural law. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) has launched a global news feature series on the history, contemporary realities and implications of the transatlantic slave trade.
(Read the entire series: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5, Part 6Part 7Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11)

By Stacy M. Brown,NNPA Newswire Contributor

“When the missionaries arrived, the Africans had the land and the missionaries had the Bible. They taught us how to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible.” — Jomo Kenyatta, First President of Kenya, Africa

Washington, D.C.- September 4, 2018 – The Catholic Church played a vital role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, according to historians and several published thesiis on the topic.

The trans-Atlantic slave trade was introduced by the coming of the Europeans who came with the Bible in the same manner that Arab raiders and traders from the Middle East and North Africa introduced Islam through the Trans-Saharan slave trade, according to AfricaW.com, a premiere informational website available throughout the continent.

“In fact, the Church was the backbone of the slave trade,” the authors wrote. “In other words, most of the slave traders and slave ship captains were very ‘good’ Christians.”

For example, Sir John Hawkins, the first slave-ship captain to bring African slaves to the Americas, was a religious man who insisted that his crew “serve God daily” and “love one another.”  His ship, ironically called “The Good Ship Jesus,” left the shores of his native England for Africa in October 1562. Some historians argue that if churches had used their power, the Atlantic slave trade might have never occurred.

By the same logic, others argue that the Catholic church and Catholic missionaries could have also helped to prevent the colonization and brutality of colonialism in Africa.  However, according to a 2015 Global Black History report, the Catholic church did not oppose the institution of slavery until the practice had already become infamous in most parts of the world.

In most cases, the churches and church leaders did not condemn slavery until the 17th century.

The five major countries that dominated slavery and the slave trade in the New World were either Catholic, or still retained strong Catholic influences including: Spain, Portugal, France, and England, and the Netherlands.

“Persons who considered themselves to be Christian played a major role in upholding and justifying the enslavement of Africans,” said Dr. Jonathan Chism, an assistant professor of history at the University of Houston-Downtown.

“Many European ‘Christian’ slavers perceived the Africans they encountered as irreligious and uncivilized persons. They justified slavery by rationalizing that they were Christianizing and civilizing their African captors. They were driven by missionary motives and impulses,” Chism said.

Further, many Anglo-Christians defended slavery using the Bible. For example, white Christian apologists for slavery argued that the curse of Ham in Genesis Chapter 9 and verses 20 to 25 provided a biblical rationale for the enslavement of Blacks, Chism said.

In this passage, Noah cursed Canaan and his descendants arguing that Ham would be “the lowest of slaves among his brothers” because he saw the nakedness of his father. A further understanding of the passage also revealed that while some have attempted to justify their prejudice by claiming that God cursed the black race, no such curse is recorded in the Bible.

That oft-cited verse says nothing whatsoever about skin color.

Also, it should be noted that Black race evidently descended from a brother of Canaan named Cush. Canaan’s descendants were evidently light-skinned – not black. “Truly nothing in the biblical account identifies Ham, the descendant of Canaan, with Africans. Yet, Christian apologists determined that Africans were the descents of Ham,” Chism said.

Nevertheless, at the beginning the sixteenth century, the racial interpretation of Noah’s curse became commonplace, he said.

In 2016, Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. offered a public apology after acknowledging that 188 years prior, Jesuit priests sold 272 slaves to save the school from financial ruin.

This is how The New York Times first reported the story: The human cargo was loaded on ships at a bustling wharf in the nation’s capital, destined for the plantations of the Deep South. Some slaves pleaded for rosaries as they were rounded up, praying for deliverance.But on that day, in the fall of 1838, no one was spared: not the 2-month-old baby and her mother, not the field hands, not the shoemaker and not Cornelius Hawkins, who was about 13 years old when he was forced onboard.

Their panic and desperation would be mostly forgotten for more than a century. But this was no ordinary slave sale. The enslaved African-Americans had belonged to the nation’s most prominent Jesuit priests.  And they were sold, along with scores of others, to help secure the future of the premier Catholic institution of higher learning at the time, known today as Georgetown University.

“The Society of Jesus, who helped to establish Georgetown University and whose leaders enslaved and mercilessly sold your ancestors, stands before you to say that we have greatly sinned,” Rev. Timothy Kesicki, S.J., president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, said during a Liturgy of Remembrance, Contrition, and Hope.

“We pray with you today because we have greatly sinned and because we are profoundly sorry.”

During the early republic, Catholics celebrated the new Constitution for its guarantee of religious liberty while simply accepting its guarantee of slaveholding, according to Blackthen.com.

Internal church politics mattered too. When the Jesuit order was suppressed in 1773, the plantation system of the order in Maryland was seen as a protection for their identity and solidarity.

The universal church taught that slavery enjoyed the sanction of Scripture and natural law. Throughout the antebellum period, many churches in the South committed to sharing their version of the Christian faith with Blacks.  They believed that their version of Christianity would help them to be “good slaves” and not challenge the slave system, Chism said.

“Yet, it is important to note that African Americans made Christianity their own, and Black Christians such as Nat Turner employed Christian thought and biblical texts to resist the slave system. Furthermore, Black and white abolitionist Christians played a major role in overturning the system of slavery,” he said.

Stacy M. Brown

A Little About Me: I'm the co-author of Blind Faith: The Miraculous Journey of Lula Hardaway and her son, Stevie Wonder (Simon & Schuster) and Michael Jackson: The Man Behind The Mask, An Insider's Account of the King of Pop (Select Books Publishing, Inc.)

My work can often be found in the Washington Informer, Baltimore Times, Philadelphia Tribune, Pocono Record, the New York Post, and Black Press USA.

A Little About Me: I'm the co-author of Blind Faith: The Miraculous Journey of Lula Hardaway and her son, Stevie Wonder (Simon & Schuster) and Michael Jackson: The Man Behind The Mask, An Insider's Account of the King of Pop (Select Books Publishing, Inc.) My work can often be found in the Washington Informer, Baltimore Times, Philadelphia Tribune, Pocono Record, the New York Post, and Black Press USA.

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21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Stephanie Jones

    September 16, 2018 at 2:50 pm

    This is certainly ill informed. Someone need to do more homework. Many Popes condemned slavery: Eugenius IV (in 1435 the Papal bull Sicut Dudum), Paul III (1537 bull Sublimus Dei), Gregory XIV (1590 bull Cum Sicuti), Urban VIII (1639 bull Commissum Nobis), Innocent XI (in 1676), Benedict XIV (1741 bull Immensa Pastorum), Gregory XVI (1839 bull In Supremo), Leo XIII (in 1888 and 1890).

    It is a fact that individual Christians have sinned. When will you look at the huge and excessively cruel Muslim slave trade going on in Africa for centuries? In Saudi Arabia, it was legal to own slaves as late as 1960.

    • Deborah

      September 16, 2018 at 5:30 pm

      Thank you Stephanie, you know, this makes feel like it wasn’t a coincidence that this author and this “news” media purposely chose this time to bash the Church once again. Just to kick us while we are down.

    • Black star

      September 17, 2018 at 5:20 am

      Yeah after you all got ricc

    • Edward Griffin

      September 18, 2018 at 8:35 am

      The article was not about the Muslim part in the slave trade, which they took part but the Catholics part in the evil practice.

  2. Anthony

    September 16, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    After reading all of this information,one would think that our black brothers and sisters would be able to put aside the entertainment of TV, SPORTS, MUSIC to begin to get back to being leaders. We have got to stop being jealous of each other and pull together. That’s goes to the most affluent Black people to the less fortunate. I’m a black father and I take what Jesus gives me and make sure my family is protected and safe. I never stop dreaming on what I can accomplish or if givin the opportunity to do better. All dreams aren’t full filled, but I never stop trying.
    The Catholic church knew it was wrong to enslave African people. What a lot of preachers are not saying is Cannains offspring the Cannites were destroyed. If the Cannites were destroyed how are Black People the Majority on this Planet?

  3. Lisa CATRANIDES

    September 16, 2018 at 2:55 pm

    Compliments on this article. Well done. Thank you.
    Along with the practice of extraction of Africans from their homelands for enslavement on other continents, slavery of Africans IN Africa was brutally manifested under Christian Missionaries who imprisoned and enslaved thousands of Africans during the development of the rubber extraction industry. Christian missionary forces built numerous Stockades to hold and torment Africans forced to harvest rubber trees under direction of Dutch King Leopold with assistance of Christian Missionaries from Great Britian.
    An Irish missionary accompanying the British, named Rodger Casement, was knighted by the king of England for revealing the brutality of imposed slavery of rubber trade within Africa,leading to the cessation of Britain’s involvement in the rubber trade partnership with the Dutch at that time.
    The enslavement of people of color by the rubber trade also continued into South America, with Rodger Casement again exposing the crimes. An excellent historic account of these atrocities is written by prize-winning author Mario Vargas Llosa in a novel entitled “The Dream of the Celt”. It provides astonishing insights into this era, as lived by spirited Irishman Roger Casement, including exerpts from his personal journals.
    No spoilers here.
    The story is quite an exposé.
    A must-read.

    • Deborah

      September 16, 2018 at 5:41 pm

      Thank you Stephanie, you know, this makes feel like it wasn’t a coincidence that this author and this “news” media purposely chose this time to bash the Church once again. Just to kick us while we are down. I also fail to see why the author left out the fact that it was Africans who sold these slaves to the white men. Looks to me that Black on Black crime runs deep! Once again, no one wants to acknowledge that piece of history. Europeans didn’t just take these people, they were sold to them by their brother Africans who wanted to prosper by the sale of their “people. So you can’t blame EVERYTHING for ever on whites or Christians. Start accepting your own part in slavery and the contribution that blacks have had on their own demise. It’s a proven historical fact that even in this country there were Black slave owners…why? Did the author include this in his history?? And why didn’t the title to this article say “Muslim religion also contributed to the enslavement of Africans” ???

      • Ukumbwa Sauti

        September 18, 2018 at 6:39 am

        Always a dodge and never accountability. Where is the insight of moral rectitude of that? Your rhetoric here is that of victim-blaming and gaslighting, totally dismissive and ignorant of the dynamics of African involvement in the European christian colonial slavery trade and the implications of that in creating the context and fuel for so-called Black on Black crime as if the genocidal system set up by European Christians is some sort of equal element. Please stick to what you know and obviously it’s nothing about what’s in this article. Thank you. No. Strike that.

  4. Luis Manuel Castineiras

    Luis Manuel Castineiras

    September 16, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    ☆Democrats, Catholic have been all ways slave keeper’s. That’s we or the most of us are Protestant, and our President Lincoln besides being killed by a Democrat ,is the one’s that gave them there Freedom. ☆VOTE NOVEMBER 6, 2018 FOR THE RED WAVE AND SAVE OUR NATION FROM BEING DEMOCRATIC /SOCIALIST. ☆ BUILD THAT WALL TO BE SECURE FROM ILLEGALS CRIMINALS ☆

    • Chanel Johnson

      September 17, 2018 at 4:47 am

      Republicans had slaves, too. Lincoln had and raped slaves. Let’s be clear he didn’t end slavery;slavery went on well after the emancipation proclamation. So, Fuck racist democrats, racist republicans, the catholic church, the muslims, christianity, and the fake jewish Zionists…. They all had a hand in the enslavement of black people.

  5. Gary Daniel

    September 16, 2018 at 4:52 pm

    Since when has the Catholic Church been known for altruism? The Spanish Empire was started with the Inquisition in place.

  6. THE. MOORS HAVE THE TRUTH

    September 17, 2018 at 9:01 am

    Research The Moor!! This is a very sided depiction and doesn’t present the true history.

  7. Ramon V

    October 12, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    Powerful article highlighting the churches true face and identity.
    In 1493 (the year after Columbus discovered the America) Pope Alexander VI made explicit the rights of Catholics in the Americas. He authorized the King of Spain to enslave non-Christians of the Americas at war with Catholic powers – in other words anyone who resisted the invasion and seizure of their land.

    Like other bishops, the popes themselves owned slaves — Pope Innocent VIII accepted the gift of numerous slaves from Malaga, given by the exceptionally devout Queen Isabella of Castile in 1487.

    To clear up any doubt about who was entitled to own slaves, Pope Paul III confirmed in 1548 that all Christian men and all members of the clergy had the right to own slaves.

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  10. Pingback: The 'Roots' of Slavery and its Lasting Effects | | BlackPressUSA

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#NNPA BlackPress

Memphis third grade reading scores dip as district builds case for retaining students

NEW TRI-STATE DEFENDER — Fewer Memphis third grade students than last year are accomplished readers, according to Shelby County Schools’ annual state test data released is discussing in meetings with parents. About 24% of third graders in Shelby County Schools scored proficient in reading on the state’s standardized assessment TNReady. That’s down from about 27% last year, and in contrast to 36% of elementary students statewide who tested proficient.

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Student read a book during a reading circle at Gardenview Elementary School in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo: Karen Pulfer Focht/Chalkbeat TÑ)
Student read a book during a reading circle at Gardenview Elementary School in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo: Karen Pulfer Focht/Chalkbeat TÑ)

By Lee Eric Smith

Fewer Memphis third grade students than last year are accomplished readers, according to Shelby County Schools’ annual state test data released is discussing in meetings with parents.

About 24% of third graders in Shelby County Schools scored proficient in reading on the state’s standardized assessment TNReady. That’s down from about 27% last year, and in contrast to 36% of elementary students statewide who tested proficient.

The full results from spring testing are scheduled to be released next week, but Memphis district officials shared the statistic this week at a meeting with parents on a new retention policy that will hold back second grade students who aren’t reading on grade level. The policy will begin in the 2021-22 school year.

Antonio Burt, the district’s chief academic officer, declined to speculate on why the scores dipped. Rather, he said the district would be looking to hone existing strategies — such as daily 45-minute small-group instruction and teacher leaders dedicated to foundational reading skills — and equip new second grade teacher assistants.

“The work and the need around K through 2 is so important,” he told Chalkbeat after Wednesday’s community meeting at Gaisman Community Center to explain the district’s retention plan.

“And as a state, we’re still recovering from the standards shift,” he added later about the state’s 2016 change to a new test with tougher requirements.

The news is a blow to the district’s efforts to strengthen early literacy, which has been a priority for the Memphis district. Superintendent Joris Ray and his leadership team often point to the correlation between third grade reading levels and a similar percentage of students considered college-ready on the ACT test.

Antonio Burt, the chief academic officer for Shelby County Schools, speaks to parents and teachers about the district’s upcoming second grade retention policy and strategies to improve reading. (Photo by: Laura Faith Kebede/Chalkbeat)

Antonio Burt, the chief academic officer for Shelby County Schools, speaks to parents and teachers about the district’s upcoming second grade retention policy and strategies to improve reading. (Photo by: Laura Faith Kebede/Chalkbeat)

“We know that if our kids that don’t master reading prior to third grade, they’re four times more likely to drop out of school,” Burt told parents Wednesday evening. “That same student would then be four times more likely to be incarcerated.”


Related: Learn more about the English curriculum that was introduced in late 2017


Shelby County Schools is aiming to have 90% of its third grade students reading proficiently by the year 2025. That’s higher than the state’s goal of 75% for that same year.

This year’s kindergarten class would be the first group that could be held back a year because of Shelby County Schools new retention policy, Burt said. The district will require students to meet eight of 12 benchmarks, including minimum report card grades and reading scores, throughout the year in order to pass second grade.

Candace Marshall, a prekindergarten teacher and parent, said she mostly favors the retention policy and had faced resistance at a Memphis charter school when she wanted her niece to repeat first grade.

“I don’t want her to be a statistic. It made me question how many other kids get passed along,” she told Chalkbeat.

The post Memphis third grade reading scores dip as district builds case for retaining students appeared first on Chalkbeat.

This article originally appeared in the New Tri-State Defender

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Duo teams up for food and clothing drive for homeless veterans on Saturday

NEW TRI-STATE DEFENDER — Memphis is experiencing a serious problem with homelessness and poverty among veterans but a new nonprofit is hoping to ease the burden.

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(l-r) Jalissa Marshall and Sequoria Wilson-Chatmon are teaming up to raise funds for homeless veterans. (Photo by: /tri-statedefender.com)
(l-r) Jalissa Marshall and Sequoria Wilson-Chatmon are teaming up to raise funds for homeless veterans. (Photo by: /tri-statedefender.com)

By Destiny Royston

Memphis is experiencing a serious problem with homelessness and poverty among veterans but a new nonprofit is hoping to ease the burden.

On Aug. 10, from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m., Help the Homeless Veterans will hosted a food and clothing drive in downtown Memphis at the corner of Adams Avenue and Main Street.

Sequoria Wilson-Chatmon, who served in the Army for 10 years and went on four combat tours to Afghanistan and Iraq, is spearheading the event that will provide food, clothing and other needed items for the homeless and those who are struggling. Wilson-Chatmon and her husband are both disabled veterans..

Jalissa Marshall, who is the wife of another disabled vet, will be alongside Wilson-Chatmon helping with the event to bring awareness to homelessness.

“Jalissa and I discuss these issues all the time,” said Wilson-Chatmon. “We decided it was time to turn words into actions, and that was the birth of ‘Help the Homeless Veterans Food and Clothing Giveaway.’

Being a disabled vet, Wilson-Chatmon knows the harsh reality about men and women who have served the nation who now face homelessness and hunger.

Veteran or not, people who are in need of items, food and clothing are encouraged to come to the event, as many organizations around the city that assist those in need have strict qualifications that many don’t meet. Their goal is to look out for everyone because homelessness and hunger know no criteria.

The ladies hope to serve at least 50 personnel. Wilson-Chatmon wants to continue sponsoring events like this so that she and her team can become a well-established nonprofit organization that does more than hand out items in Memphis.

She wants to provide shelter and help rebuild communities and cater to everyone, especially those who don’t meet the qualifications of the larger organizations.

“No one deserves to sleep on the streets. As a community, it starts with us,” said Wilson-Chatmon. “We hope to inspire others to act no matter how small.”

Supporters of veterans can donate items such as water and clothing at Watson’s Barber & Beauty Shop on 2236 Pendleton St., until Aug. 9.

This article originally appeared in the New Tri-State Defender

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Push to ban plastic bag sat groceries falls short

NEW TRI-STATE DEFENDER — Plastic bags will still be used in grocery stores, despite some Memphis City Council members’ efforts to ban them. Tuesday, the council rejected an ordinance that would have required grocery stores to ban the use of plastic shopping bags.

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By Erica R. Williams

Plastic bags will still be used in grocery stores, despite some Memphis City Council members’ efforts to ban them. Tuesday, the council rejected an ordinance that would have required grocery stores to ban the use of plastic shopping bags.

“This is an effort for us to do something different in the State of Tennessee,” Councilman Berlin Boyd, who sponsored the ordinance, said before the vote.

Boyd has continued to push for the ban despite a recent state law barring cities from regulating single-use plastic such as grocery bags. He argues that using them is costing the city too much money.

“If we pass this here, it will give us the leverage to negotiate on a state level,” he told fellow council members.

Some have complained that lawmakers are considering the bans to cater to plastic-industry lobbyists. Boyd said that’s not it, pointing out that the city’s Division of Public Works spends $3 million each year to dispose of the bags.

Last year before proposing the ban, Boyd suggested a seven-cent fee on plastic bags that shoppers take from retail stores. He then reduced the proposed fee to five cents earlier this year.

In other action

* Memphis 3.0 was dropped from this council meeting’s agenda. Last month council members voted on hiring an outside consultant to review the comprehensive development plan. They will delay voting until after the consultant’s review of the plan.

The consultant has until September 17 to present findings.

The Memphis 3.0 plan had been challenged by New Chicago community members who believe the plan excludes some neighborhoods based on race. A $10 billion lawsuit filed against the city was later dismissed.

Mayor Jim Strickland has signed an executive order that allows parts of the 3.0 plan to move forward.

* Council members approved an honorary street name change for Bishop David Allen Hall Sr., longtime pastor of Temple Church of God In Christ at 672 S. Lauderdale. The resolution calls for a street name of East Georgia Ave. between South Lauderdale and South Orleans. Councilwoman Cheyenne Johnson sponsored the resolution.

* The council delayed voting on the third and final reading of an ordinance that would present new rules for public art placement.

This article originally appeared in the New Tri-State Defender

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The African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) TV Honors Winners Announced

LOS ANGELES SENTINEL — Ava DuVernay’s “When They See Us” earned four wins from the African American Film Critics Association, who today, announced the winners of its upcoming AAFCA TV Honors. The highly popular Netflix limited series about the infamous Central Park rape case that resulted in the arrest and false imprisonment of five Black youths, received the following group awards: Best Limited Series, Best Ensemble, Best Writing and Breakthrough Performance for Jharrel Jerome who plays Korey Wise in the series.

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Angela Bassett (Photo by: David Shankbone | Wiki Commons)
Angela Bassett (Photo by: David Shankbone | Wiki Commons)

By Sentinel News Service

Ava DuVernay’s “When They See Us” earned four wins from the African American Film Critics Association, who today, announced the winners of its upcoming AAFCA TV Honors. The highly popular Netflix limited series about the infamous Central Park rape case that resulted in the arrest and false imprisonment of five Black youths, received the following group awards: Best Limited Series, Best Ensemble, Best Writing and Breakthrough Performance for Jharrel Jerome who plays Korey Wise in the series.

Other big wins went to the popular Starz drama “Power,” which begins its sixth and final season August 25th, and the CBS comedy, “The Neighborhood” starring Cedric the Entertainer and Tichina Arnold now entering its second season. Angela Bassett and Sterling K. Brown earned Best Performance Female and Male awards for their respective portrayals in the series “9-1-1” on Fox and “This Is Us” on NBC.

In all, the sixteen-year-old association will give out ten awards during its inaugural event, including honoring mega-producer Ryan Murphy with the AAFCA TV Icon Award and big three network, CBS, with the AAFCA Inclusion Award for its diverse programming and talent.

“It is impossible to ignore TV’s popularity and remarkable influence on America’s pop culture landscape today,” says AAFCA president Gil Robertson IV. “As the stature of the small screen continues to expand, it has become increasingly more diverse and inclusive, a movement that we at AAFCA wholeheartedly embrace and champion. The honorees for our first AAFCA TV Honors represent the very best of television programming. They all successfully put a mirror up to our world to tell stories that are refreshingly diverse and authentic. We feel that this new wave of innovative, thought-provoking storytelling is inspiring and deserving of celebration.”

The honorees will be feted at AAFCA TV Honors during a private brunch on Sunday, August 11, 2019 at the California Yacht Club in Marina Del Rey, CA.

AAFCA TV HONORS 2019 Winners:

Best Drama – “Power” (Starz)

Best Comedy – “The Neighborhood” (CBS)

Best Limited Series – “When They See Us” (Netflix)

Best Performance Female – Angela Bassett (9-1-1) FOX

Best Performance Male – Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”) NBC

Best Ensemble –– “When They See Us” (Netflix)

Best Writing – “When They See Us” (Netflix)

Breakthrough Performance – Jharrel Jerome, “When They See Us” (Netflix)

AAFCA TV Honors Inclusion Award – CBS

AAFCA TV Honors ICON Award – Ryan Murphy

This article originally appeared in The Los Angeles Sentinel.

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Linsey Davis Teaches Celebrating Diversity with Her Second Children’s Book ‘One Big Heart: A Celebration of Being More Alike Than Different’

LOS ANGELES SENTINEL — Linsey Davis Teaches Celebrating Diversity with Her Second Children’s Book ‘One Big Heart: A Celebration of Being More Alike Than Different’ ABC News Correspondent, author, and mother Linsey Davis returns to the bookshelf with her second children’s book titled, “One Big Heart: A Celebration of Being More Alike Than Different.”

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Linsey Davis (Courtesy photo
Linsey Davis (Courtesy Photo)

By Saybin Roberson,

Linsey Davis Teaches Celebrating Diversity with Her Second Children’s Book ‘One Big Heart: A Celebration of Being More Alike Than Different’

 

ABC News Correspondent, author, and mother Linsey Davis returns to the bookshelf with her second children’s book titled, “One Big Heart: A Celebration of Being More Alike Than Different.”

Inspired by her son’s life and growth, Davis began writing books as love letters and life lessons to her son, with an emphasis on creating characters that looked like him. “One Big Heart” focuses on highlighting how our differences bring us all together.

“I felt like for him growing up during this time it was essential to affirm what kids already know, which is basically that they have this ability to find common ground,” she says of her new book. Understanding that children know what makes them different, but not the mindset of placing labels on individuals.

“I think kids are better than adults in that way of setting aside differences and just looking for what we have in common.”

Based on a foundation of love, Davis’s intentions to bring peace and inclusion are prominent within her books. “God gave us all this one special gift, he gave us each a heart and that’s the most important part because that’s where love starts.

As a mother of a five-year-old, fulltime news reporter, and author, Davis wears many hats working around the clock feeding each aspect of her life. Writing both “One Big Heart”and her first, “The World Is Awake: A Celebration of Everyday Lessons,” Davis says brought her closer to her son as he grew, both teaching each other ways to do life.

“I think so much about the theme of this book is that the students can become the teachers, adults can really learn from children,” she states. Noting the differences between children having no preconceived notions of what is bad or good based on appearance. Believing children are taught and observe how to respond to dissimilarities, this book is a reminder to continue growing with a nonjudgmental attitude.

“I think that as life hits, you have to respond and respond right away,” Davis says, believing children should know the truth of the world they live in, adding, “I also think it’s important to let children direct the narrative.”

“It is important for all of them [children] to see each other,” believing that lack of information is what creates fear, it is important to show diversity to promote unity, rather than exclusion, she goes on to say, “it’s about seeing every race.”

“This is just a conversation that really needs to be had about exposure and embracing diversity.”

Growing up, Davis dealt with being one of the few Black girls in her school and she understands the importance of inclusion and the isolation she felt during her years. Expressing her biggest hope is that children who read “One Big Heart” continue to search for common ground as they grow and experience the world.

“One Big Heart” will be available August 6, 2019 at bookstores and online for purchase. Follow Linsey Davis on Instagram @linseytdavis and Twitter @LinseyDavis for updates on her life and career.

This article originally appeared in The Los Angeles Sentinel.

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Organization uses art to teach developmentally disabled

WAVE NEWSPAPERS — Located on Pacific Coast Highway, one of the busiest highways in the Los Angeles County sits an inconspicuous three-story building. Looking at the front of the building, the perception is it’s a typical office space for some paper-pushing company. But, step inside the first floor and the camouflage of the building disappears to reveal what Able ARTS Work is all about. 

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Able ARTS Work (Image by: ableartswork.org)
Able ARTS Work (Image by: ableartswork.org)

By Bria Overs

LONG BEACH — Located on Pacific Coast Highway, one of the busiest highways in the Los Angeles County sits an inconspicuous three-story building. Looking at the front of the building, the perception is it’s a typical office space for some paper-pushing company. But, step inside the first floor and the camouflage of the building disappears to reveal what Able ARTS Work is all about.

Every morning, clients, one by one, are dropped off by buses and vans coming from their homes. To start the day on a good foot, they’re greeted by the big, bright smiles of the staff and a welcoming “good morning.”

Within one room, there are people with a variety of different disabilities with varying levels of ability. Some may have an autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, intellectual or developmental disabilities, neurodegenerative disorders or other socio-emotional disorders. No matter their circumstance, they’re all ready for a day of activities.

“If you talk to our students here, they don’t view [being disabled] like a bad thing or a hindrance,” Art Instructor Ellen Bae said. “They think about it as something that’s just a part of them and they’re not ashamed to say it. They’re very aware they have a disability and they’re proud to be themselves, and I think that’s really important.”

Able ARTS Work started in 1982 in a Long Beach parks and recreation building with one music therapist, Helen Dolas, the founder, and was later joined by an art therapist and five students.

Dolas founded the program while completing her master’s degree in special education. From its humble beginnings, the organization’s services have grown and are now offered at four different locations in the Long Beach and South Bay areas.

To add to its uniqueness, each location provides different opportunities for their clients, but has overall become a safe space for the disabled with their philosophy of “love before learning.”

The Long Beach location, also known as the Achieving Results Together (ART) Center, operates on a six-month semester schedule and works a community center with each student signing up for a class or two, and then attending that class for a few weeks.

The icing on the cake is Able ARTS Works has its clients suggest classes. What they suggest, the teachers sometimes make.

“A lot of times we create them because we do something in a class and find that there’s a huge interest in it,” Katie Fohrman, program and community inclusion director, said.

“For example, we decided to do a marionette and [chose] to do a dog. So, I did the dog marionette with them and they named him Snoop, like Snoop Dogg,” Fohrman said with a laugh. “And it was so popular and they loved it so much and I found that it was so beneficial that I created an entire semester class on marionette and shadow puppet making.”

But their classes aren’t only about having fun and creating something to show people. Able ARTS Work is a program that has board-certified music and art therapists, like Fohrman, who is an associate professional clinical counselor for the program as well.

When clients are at Able ARTS Work they work on building skills and courage to do things out of their comfort zones.

Staff members like Bae and Fohrman love what they do. They’re passionate about the company’s mission and love helping their clients broaden their horizons every day.

It’s not just about art and music for them, it’s about how their clients can benefit from working with them in the long-run.

“I think they definitely gain a fellowship; they gain a partnership; and they also gain the confidence to chase their dreams and pursue what they really want to do,” Fohrman said. “A lot of our clients want to be professional artists and we provide that avenue for them. We provide that avenue for them to believe in themselves and follow their dreams.”

INFORMATION BOX

Organization: Able ARTS Work

Founder: Helen Dolas

Social Media: www.facebook.com/ableartswork

This article originally appeared in the Wave Newspapers

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