Program seeks ” A Model of Justice and Accountability”
By Debora Timms
JOMC Journal Contributor
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. paraphrased 19th century abolitionist Theodore Parker in speeches when he said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Some residents in Greensboro, N.C. believe steps could be taken to bend it a little faster.
A diverse group of community members have banded together to change what the Rev. Nelson N. Johnson, executive director of the Beloved Community Center, terms a “subculture of double standards and corruption” within the Greensboro police.
There are many problems within the nation’s police departments; misconduct, racial profiling with policies like stop and frisk, and use of excessive force to name a few. Greensboro is no exception. Recent incidents have included the September 2013 shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell, allegations of police misconduct in relation to North Carolina A&T and Bennett College students in April 2013, and the 2006 resignation of police chief David Wray for alleged racial discrimination against black officers.
The desire to change the police culture of Greensboro is not new. Barbara Lawrence, assistant professor of justice and policy studies at Guilford College, recently spoke at a community forum at the International Civil Rights Center & Museum. She explained, “Historically, the issue of police review boards arose out of consistent and persistent police abuse of black people and communities during the 1950s and 1960s.”
During the forum, “Greensboro Police Reform: Creating A Model of Justice and Accountability,” Lawrence and James P. Mayes, interim chair of the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice at North Carolina A&T State University, discussed the concept of civilian police review boards. Such boards have been introduced with success throughout the nation. Although the idea was once considered radical, today more than 100 oversight agencies conduct citizen review processes of one type or another in 80 percent of large cities.
In Greensboro, the Beloved Community Center helped establish an Interim Civilian Police Review Committee (ICPRC) on Jan. 14. The need for its creation was documented in a report titled “Our Democratic Mission – Transitioning the Greensboro Police Department from Double Standards and Corruption to Accountability and Professionalism.”
On April 9, Johnson stood before the City of Greensboro’s CRC Enhancement Committee to ask the city to act to create a permanent civilian police review board. “The ICPRC is not adequate to address the problems of police misconduct on its own,” he said, and it is essential that “the police should not police themselves.”
Speaking to Johnson after the presentation, he was encouraged and hoped reforms would be made by the city council to “reconceptualize” the current review board structure.
Independent oversight was a concept discussed by Lawrence during the community forum. She noted a number of commonalities between successful review boards. To start, they are all established by law and comprised of appointees named by the city mayor and/or city council members. Additionally, boards have a broad scope of operations and, most importantly, hold subpoena powers. The ability to compel parties to supply documents and provide testimony is a critical element to being effective.
Among those present at the April 26 forum were a group of students from Wilson High School in Florence, S.C. Made up of 17 young black men and three teachers, the trip was designed to teach the teens more about their history and provide them with a new perspective on dealing with the law. Some who participated in the trip want a career in law enforcement.
The audience was able to comment and ask questions. Wilson High School teacher Ramonta Lee asked why an appointment process would be used in selecting board members. Many in the crowd nodded their heads and murmured in agreement with Lee’s statement, “Once you give the power to appoint, you have the potential to taint.”
That is why, said Mayes, the structure of the review board must ensure the integrity of the process. There needs to be a high level of independence in the board’s operation. Although members are appointed, diversity would allow for a greater community voice. Education would be given to ensure members have the expertise to fulfill their commission and the board itself must be democratized and operate with transparency. This would avoid even the perception of bias.
One of the Wilson High School students asked if race and discrimination were obstacles that should deter minority officers entering the police force.
Lawrence, a former New York City police officer, replied there is a need for “more people that look like you” to pursue careers in all levels of the law. She discussed the educational project 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, started in 1995 by African Americans in the field of law enforcement.
The museum and the forum impressed the Wilson High School students in attendance. Earl Franklin, an 18-year-old senior, found the visit “educational.” He came on the trip with “preset ideas, but the civil rights exhibits gave me a better, a higher understanding” of the past.
Daniel Edwards, also an 18-year-old senior, said the forum showed him why having “more minority officers doing better things” was so important. Edwards felt “encouraged to step up and follow through” with his aspirations to be a police officer.
Oct. 22 is a national day of protest against police brutality and abuse. It first took place in 1996. Its initial success led to the formation of The Oct 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation
By Arile Barlow
JOMC Journal Contributor
The A&T Jazz Ensemble brought jazz’s roots to North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NCAT) through Jazz on the Yard on Thursday, April 24.
The A&T Jazz Ensemble performed “Jazz on the Yard” for its 2014 spring concert. The performance consisted of 16 pieces performed in part by Grimsley High School and the A&T Jazz Ensemble. The concert was separated into five parts with a brief intermission between parts three and four. Under the direction of Stefan Stuber, Grimsley High School performed three pieces which included songs by Duke Ellington, Doug Beach, and Victor Lopez in part one of the program. Seventeen A&T State University Jazz Ensemble musicians played the remaining pieces which included familiar songs such as “Feelin’ Good” and “Knock Me Off My Feet” under the direction of Mondre Moffett.
The audience crowded NCAT’s Harrison Auditorium at 7 p.m. to hear the two jazz bands play Jazz on the Yard. Excitement to hear jazz music from the student collaborators was evident in spectators.
“We’re all excited about it,” NCAT’s Chancellor Harold Martin said. “We’re always looking for ways in which we can give our students the biggest stage to share their great talents and tonight is one of those opportunities to do that.”
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Throughout the performance audience members enjoyed being serenaded by A&T State University Jazz Ensemble’s vocalist, Knolan Johnson, listening to Grimsley High School’s and NCAT’s great jazz musicians, and even enjoyed a short dance performance. A particular crowd favorite was the “Knock Me Off My Feet” arrangement played by Taylor Williams, a NCAT junior biology student, on the flute.
“I was so nervous but excited!” said Williams. “When I got onto the stage I was especially nervous but I relied on my preparation and played to the best of my abilities.”
The piece was a suggestion of Williams’ that caused the audience to cheer, clap and sing along.
In two and half short hours the crowd enjoyed what took four months of planning by Moffett to achieve. Moffett is the director of the A&T State University Jazz Ensemble. He is also a trumpeter, producer, composer, arranger, and educator. Moffett selected the final pieces included in the performance, recruited the Grimsley High School Jazz Band, created the arrangements for the 13 pieces played by the A&T State University Jazz Ensemble, and was instrumental in the programs marketing efforts.
Jazz on the Yard was only a list of various songs suggested before it became “Jazz on the Yard.” For Moffett, Jazz on the Yard began taking shape when he heard “Blues on the Corner” by McCoy Tyner during NCAT’s Christmas break.
“I knew ‘Blues on the Corner’ was going to be on the concert,” said Mr. Moffett. “I knew it would be a fabulous piece to play and it would be challenging.”
Subsequently, Moffett created the theme Jazz on the Yard. Jazz on the Yard allowed Moffett to bring his diverse list of jazz compositions under one umbrella. “On the yard” of Jazz on the Yard, is a metaphor for the NCAT campus and reaching out in the community.
“This is music you might experience on the campus in the everyday mundane experiences here at A&T State University,” said Moffett. “It also serves as a metaphor to invite a guest, to reach out in the community and bring about those students or those jazz participants or those seeking excellence in music.”
Following the theme of Jazz on the Yard, Moffett reached out to the students at Grimsley High School to participate in the performance. In late February, Moffett was contacted by Grimsley High School’s jazz band director Stuber to conduct a workshop with the young musicians. The workshop focused on improvisation which is the impromptu playing of an instrument without previous practice or planning and a key skill for jazz musicians to develop.
“From that workshop, they had success in various competitions,” said Moffett.” So, I said well you know what how about I invite [them] to perform in the concert.”
The efforts from Moffett, the Grimsley High School Band, and the A&T State University Jazz Ensemble were well received and appreciated. After seeing the success form this year’s concert.
Moffett intends to continue the theme Jazz on the Yard.
“I aspire to have a series of Jazz on the Yard leading to a huge event in the Greensboro Stadium,” said Moffett. “Stay tuned for Jazz on the Yard series part two in the fall.”
Students explore future careers and hidden talents
By Caynan Bufford, Breaunna Carruthers and Tyeisha Newman
JOMC Journal Contributors
North Carolina A&T State University’s Aggie Enrichment Summer Camps soon will be in full effect.
These summer camps focus on academic and enrichment activities that promote interdisciplinary experiences for elementary, middle and high school student.
Carolyn Strachan, Information and Communication specialist for Summer Sessions and also director of the Aggie Enrichment Camp, explains the programs benefit young students.
“The teachers work with them on the areas they are weak in,” she says.
The Aggie Enrichment Summer Camps offers programs such as sewing, television production, theatre, web design, art, robotics, and more. Students are allowed to choose which programs interest them most.
The wide choice of programs allows for a smaller teacher to student ratio and a better learning experience in according to the program’s mission, Strachan says.
“Our programs give students the opportunity to explore possible future careers, discover their hidden talents and excel academically when they return to school in the fall,” says Strachan.
Although some of the camp’s programs cater to middle school students, many of them focus on high school students to help prepare them for college. Such programs include Research Experience for Undergraduates, Trio Upward Bound, Aggie Impact Scholars Program, Sophomore Immersion Program in Research and Academics, and Pre-Matriculation Program.
“These programs help prepare them for college or at the least get them to start thinking about college,” Strachan explains.
” Lights Camera Action,” is one of the camp’s most popular programs that teaches campers how a television studio works. Kenneth DeVanney, who runs the television studio in A&’s Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, has led the camp for five years. DeVanney is preparing for the camp by getting JOMC students to become camp counselors to supervise and help the campers get a better understanding of how the studio works. During this minicamp the campers will watch the counselors use the equipment and demonstrate how the equipment works. At the end of the class the students will put on a final show of what they learn and each student will get a certificate and a copy of the show.
When DeVanney was asked to define the “Lights Camera Action” camp in three word, he replied “fun, enlightening and work.” The campers are able to tell their camp counselors what they want to do for the day and the counselors will demonstrate what to do and the campers will copy. The campers will learn how much work it takes to run a television studio and also how much fun it can be.
The enrichment camp programs also enable students to meet people from throughout the country, thus sparking students’ interest gaining new ideas and perspectives from others
One of the largest camps is the Paul Robeson Theatre group involving children ages 6 to 13 who enjoy acting, singing, and dancing. The program students develop the theatre skills and talents on the stage as well as off. Split up by weekly intervals each week has its on theme and helps bring together the children’s final performance that they will do at the end of the camp period.
Another fun camp that children tend to love is the “Aggie CSI” amp. It targets children from the age 6-13 who are interested in criminal justice. The children will take part in several crime scene investigations and explore other hands-on activities such as uncovering clues, identifying fingerprints, and become more informed about human anatomy.
Triad area parents such as Kimberly Green appreciate what the program provides their children.
“My family and I are from Winston Salem and I have been signing my nephew up at the camp for years,” said Green. “I would recommend the camp to anyone with children from ages 9 and up. It is a great thing”.
The JOMC Journal
Six journalism students from North Carolina A&T State University recently attended a health policy, health equity conference in Washington, D.C. During their “downtime,” the students visited the Newseum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture gallery space at the National Museum of History. Both museums include exhibits of the civil rights movement and depictions of the Woolworth’s lunch counter where, in 1960, four students from A&T sat in protest until they were served at the for whites only dining area.
While in Washington, A&T’s students were thrilled to be given a private tour of the NMAAHC gallery by veteran journalist and museum volunteer Alice Bonner. The NMAAHC will open next year at the Smithsonian. Bonnie Newman Davis, an endowed professor of Journalism and Mass Communication at A&T, led the trip thanks to a generous donation from a Greensboro, N.C. sponsor.
A&T’s journalism students included Kimberly Fields, Ashleigh Wilson, Uniqua Quillins. Porcha Taylor, Mija Gary and Cayla Webster. All of these young ladies spend an inordinate amount of time serving and volunteering in media-related organizations at A&T. We will greatly miss Kimberly and Porcha, who will graduate May 10, but we know that the remaining young ladies will continue to carry the torch!!!
By Ariel Barlow
JOMC Journal Contributor
In the wake of two highly publicized controversial court cases, many question the validity of stand your ground laws.
The first stand your ground law was passed in Florida in 2005. Under the law, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat from an attacker, if the victim reasonably believes such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another. If a person acts accordingly, killing the attacker is considered self-defense.
Since its passage in 2005, legal trials such as those involving George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn have raised concern as to whether or not the law gives the victim added protection or the right to kill at will. In the Zimmerman and Dunn cases, a teenage male was shot and killed after the defendant opened fired during a confrontation in Florida. Zimmerman was in a physical altercation with Trayvon Martin before shooting him and Dunn argued with Jacob Davis before firing at his vehicle which carried him and his friends inside. The defendants claimed to have seen a weapon on the teenager in both cases, but investigations showed no weapon was found on either victim. Neither defendant was convicted of murdering the now dead teenager.
The verdicts of the court cases, have caused Americans to ask law makers to revisit and revise stand your ground laws especially in Florida. According to the July 2013 issue of the Washington Post, after the George Zimmerman case Florida’s state Senate Democratic leader called for a review of all self-defense laws; however, it is unlikely that major change will occur.
Ariel Barlow recently caught up with Carletta Sims, a tax attorney in Georgia who has 20 years of experience as a municipal attorney, prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney, to get her opinion on stand your ground laws.
Barlow: Tell me about your academic and professional experience.
Sims: My undergraduate degree is in business and economics from Fisk University. My graduate degree, my J.D, is from Marquette University in Milwaukee. I have been a taxing attorney for more than 25 years now. I’ve been both a municipal attorney, prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney for more than 20 years.
Barlow: Did you agree with the outcome of the Michael Dunn and George Zimmerman case?
Sims: Absolutely not; I believe the man committed murder. I believe the men should have been convicted of murder.
Barlow: How do you feel about stand your ground laws?
Sims: I believe stand your ground laws have lots of kinks in that it puts society as a whole in danger of people taking renegade actions unnecessarily.
Barlow: Some of those who oppose stand your ground laws say it gives people a license to kill at will, what is your opinion of that statement?
Sims: I agree because often the danger we believe we’re in is a misperception. While they think they are standing their ground the other person may not pose a real danger, may not have a weapon and may not pose a great threat. So yes!
Barlow: Why were stand your ground laws created?
Sims: I’m not sure what the train of thought was with stand your ground. Having the Castle Doctrine and self-defense, I’m not sure. We teach our kids that if you fight in school, you get suspended. Why would you enable adults to kill? It’s contrary to what we teach our children.
Barlow: What’s difference between the Castle Doctrine and a stand your ground law?
Sims: The Castle Doctrine is one where the danger is more defined. You are protecting your home and your property from a danger. [In terms of] stand your ground laws, you are in public and you have no obligation to retreat. In your home you shouldn’t have to retreat. The Castle Doctrine is a more defined arena and more discernable danger with a greater right to protect .
Barlow: If you had to choose between the Castle Doctrine and a stand your ground law which would you choose?
Sims: I would absolutely choose the Castle Doctrine. Even if I am in someone else’s home, I would prefer a version of the castle doctrine.
Barlow: An article about research studying the effects of stand your ground laws in the United States said “…Data suggests that in real-life conflicts, both sides think of the other guy as the bad guy. Both believe the law gives them the right to shoot.” Under the law, at what point do you think the initial assailant becomes the victim?
Sims: I think they become the victim when the individual they’re in a confrontation escalates it beyond the level of conflict that actually existed. They become a victim when they retreat and try to end the conflict but are pursued and killed. They become the victim when the other person has the opportunity to retreat but does not.
Barlow: Any last thoughts you would like to share?
Sims: I believe society has to continue to speak out against equipping people to be vigilantes. Society has to be careful about empowering people to become vigilantes. Imminent danger and the need to truly protect needs to be more clearly defined to be assured that killing is the last option; that you are only empowered to take someone’s life if you are truly in danger. If there is an option to retreat at any juncture that option should be taken. The law should be amended until it reaches that level so that it gives the maximum possibility or opportunity to preserve life.
 ‘Stand Your Ground’ Linked to Increase In Homicides
By Takia Draughan
JOMC Journal Contributor
Music is powerful. It can bring back memories and cause a person to feel different emotions.
There is a song for everything but is music OK to use while studying? Two college freshmen at North Carolina A&T State University recently discussed the pros and cons of studying with music.
Tierra Lancaster, an animal science major, says that she often uses music to calm her nerves while studying or writing papers.
However, Jamel Parker, a business major, says that music is distracting and he often gets more caught up in the song than his actual work.
Music is everywhere. Many students find it easier to focus when they have music playing because it occupies their brain.
Unlike Parker, Lancaster is not as easily distracted by a favorite song or its lyrics. “Most times I don’t even listen to the lyrics,” says Lancaster. “I just use the beat to help me keep a pace while I’m writing.”
Parker has a different view. “Music is distracting.” He says, “I end up singing instead of doing my work.”
Some students find it hard to multi-task in the way that it is necessary to play music and do work. Like Parker these students have to do things one at a time. They are not able to focus on the material.
“When I am studying, I have to ask my roommate to put in his headphones so that I can pay attention to my work,” says Parker
Kase Gregory was also interviewed on his opinion on the subject. Having been a student once and now a freshman studies professor at North Carolina A&T, he knows both sides of the situation at hand.
DRAUGHAN: In your personal experience as a student, was it easier to listen to music while studying or did you prefer silence?
Gregory: [I] couldn’t stand T.V., music, or anything. I needed complete silence.
DRAUGHAN: In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of using music to study?
Gregory: Cons are it can be a distraction. Anything that takes your mind away is a distraction. You can find yourself reading the same thing twice. The pros are it is relaxing and can help with memory. For example, if you have a test and you get to a question and you know you were listening to Rihanna when you were studying. Something said in the song might help remember the answer just because of the music.
DRAUGHAN: As a professor, do you see that students use music more or silence to study?
Gregory: Very seldom do I see a student not have headphones. I don’t know what they are listening to, but I’m sure it’s something.
Whether music should be played or not depends totally on the student. The study habits of the student will determine whether music works for them or not. Music can be beneficial. It just needs to be used for the right reasons. If it helps a person focus or keep their thoughts in order it is helpful. On the other hand, if a person is easily distracted, it is not in their best interest to use music. It is the responsibility of the student to know what they are capable of handling
“Make the access to health information easier for both the providers and the patients”
By Kimberly Fields
JOMC Journal Managing Editor
Seventy-three percent of Internet users are on social networking sites. Twenty-two percent are on Twitter, 56 percent are smart phone users and 29 percent own tablets.
What demographic is this?
Citing statistics from the Pew Research Internet Project, Sherri Williams, a Ph.D. candidate at Syracuse University, said the percentages reflect Internet and social media usage within the African-American community.
Williams studies media diversity, social media, social TV and how people of color use social media and how they are represented on social networks. With a small audience using the simple hashtag #NABJHealth14 during the April 10-12 NABJ Media Institute on Health: Health Policy and Health Inequities Conference, Williams said that more than 146,000 people saw the tweets on the first day of the three-day conference in the Kaiser Family Foundation’ Barbara Jordan Conference Center in Washington, D.C.
NABJ ‘s Media Institute on Health: Health Policy and Health Inequities focuses solely on health disparities among people of color, including Latinos, African Americans, Asians, Native Americans. It has gained the attention of newsmakers for bringing awareness to health disparities and inequities in health care. The Media Institute provides broadcast, digital and print journalists with necessities to adequately report on topics such as the Affordable Care Act, disparities in testing and technology within communities.
Speaking of technology, how can the health industry get in touch with these technology users?
In the session “Technology Connecting Communities to Reduce Health Disparities,” Gillian Barclay, vice president of Aetna Foundation, says one approach is to keep in mind average people.
The point is to make the access to health information easier for both the providers and the patients, she said. Grantees of the Aetna Foundation, Unity Health Care, Inc., and the Institute for E-Health Equity have created health access initiatives available through computer and mobile devices.
Silas Buchanan, CEO at the Institute for E-Health Equity, an interactive, information-sharing website that strives to improve health care services to communities of color and the underserved population through the adoption and use of technology, says that while the health information is out there, the way it is accessed is key.
“It’s not always the message that’s important, it’s also the messenger,” said Buchanan.
That belief is why Buchanan’s institute uses faith ministries to help spread information. Buchanan says that often times pastors are seen as community leaders, so if information was disseminated via those community leaders, more people would listen.
The two mobile health services that the Institute provides are the Text 4 Wellness and Mobile-ize 4 Fitness. Through Text 4 Wellness, users will text HEALTH to 30644, answer a few questions about the church they attend, if they have insurance, and so forth, and receive timely and actionable information about healthy lifestyles, disease prevention, general wellness and active living. By texting FIT to the same number, users will access Mobile-ize 4 Fitness which will provide mobile reminders to fitness class members about staying active and engaged in healthy living through fitness, nutrition and wellness tips.
Angela Duncan Diop, vice president of health and information systems at Unity Health Care, Inc., wants to help make accessing care at Unity Health Care, a Washington, D.C.-based primary health care agency, a bit easier for its patients. Through the Unity Health Care app, a free app available on iOS and Android systems, patients are able to find health centers, request an appointment, and access their medical history and record. This makes it easier for, not only patients, but providers to exchange information if the patients decide to or, for some reason, see another provider. Diop says that patients have been pretty open to electronic record keeping and exchange, but patients can opt-out.
“Patients have the chance to opt-out, but the providers will then inform them of the importance of and how helpful the record exchange is,” says Diop.
However, everyone isn’t technology-literate or may have no interest in its use. Others do not have access to technology. According to the Pew Research Internet Project’s article, “African Americans and Technology Use,” of the 80 percent of African Americans who use the Internet, 45 percent are age 65 or older, but only 30 percent of that population has broadband at home. Barclay reiterated that it’s all about keeping people in mind with the addition of eliminating the digital divide. This is possible by giving access to individuals the way they want it, i.e. outreach in the community.
Buchanan and Diop use traditional methods of communication such as distributing printed materials while also providing information to people who want to access health information through technology.
UNIQUA QUILLINS SLIDESHOW:NABJ Media Institute on Health: Health Policy and Health Inequities Conference
North Carolina A&T State University students recently discussed the highs and lows of reality television and its impact on African Americans. The March 31 program was hosted by the JOMC Journal, an online news site produced in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at N.C.A&T. JOMC Journal contributor Kayla Jackson and Ashleigh Wilson captured the conversation.