NEW YORK, NEW YORK
There were two major New York stories last week. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul was sworn in as Governor of the state of New York. A day later, Governor Hochul surprised New Yorkers and media alike when she announced that Senator Brian Benjamin was her Lieutenant Governor choice. The announcement was made on West 125 Street State Office Building Plaza. It was more like a coronation than an LG announcement. Governor Hochul said that Lieutenant Governor Benjamin will not be a ceremonial post. He will have portfolios, possibly economic development. Who knows, maybe that sky’s the limit.
Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin, 44, is a Harlem native son whose parents are from the Caribbean islands of Guyana and Jamaica. He graduated from Brown University and from Harvard’s B-School, where he earned an MBA. He is a Brown University trustee. He worked as an investment banker at Morgan Stanley for three years before navigating the Harlem real estate development terrain and engaging in community service, which culminated with his election to Community Board 10 Chair. That was his life before becoming NYS Senator Benjamin and an advocate of criminal justice reform and affordable housing. He was the Chair of the Senate Budget and Revenue Committee before getting the promotion to LG. Congrats, Mr. Benjamin.
A day after the Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin announcement, Harlem Intel circulated names of candidates who will pursue Benjamin’s Senate seat. They comprise a motley group of Harlem community leaders and politicos, including NYS Assembly members Inez Dickens and Al Taylor; Athena Moore, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer’s Northern Manhattan Lieutenant; District leaders Cordell Cleare and William Allen; Community Board 10 members Joshua Clennon and Delsenia Glover; Keisha Sutton-James, Percy Sutton’s granddaughter and campaign manager for Al Bragg, Manhattan DA contender; Robert Rodriguez, Mario Rosser, Yasmin Cornelius; Robert Kyle Ismael, a Keith Wright Lieutenant; and Shana Harmongoff. In its infancy, it’s already a crowded field. To be sure, more names will be forthcoming.
SUMMER IN AMERICA
The week beginning August 23 was arguably the worst during the Joe Biden Presidency. The US is experiencing extreme heat; a national Delta virus surge; recalcitrant Republican governors averse to virus protocols; and the hurricane season. Ida touched down on the Gulf Coast as a Category 4 hurricane on the 16th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, flattening many areas of Louisiana which will have to endure power outages for about three weeks. Internationally, Biden had to contend with the rapid, dangerous US evacuation of Americans and Afghans, who worked for the USA, out of Afghanistan by the 8/31 deadline. That was complicated by a suicide bomber, poised outside the Kabul airport security check point, who took the lives of 13 American soldiers and injured hundreds. On August 31, the evacuation was complete, signaling the end of the 20-year Afghanistan War.
The New Orleans based Liberty Bank & Trust Company acquired the Tri State Bank of Memphis, in an all-cash deal, making it the nation’s first Black owned bank with $1 billion in assets. Liberty celebrates its 50th Anniversary next year. Tri State celebrates its 75 anniversary this year. Since George Floyd’s tragic death in Minnesota last year, Black owned banks received about $150 million in equity capital and are directing that money back to African American communities.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is the Greece-born NBA super star, Milwaukee Bucks forward and recipient of the 2021 NBA Most Valuable Player Award. That surname is Nigerian. He recently renewed his contract with the Bucks, for five years at $228,200,420. He bought a stake in the local Major League Baseball franchise, the Milwaukee Brewers.
Congrats to the 15 Pelham Fritz Basketball Scholarship Fund, PFBSF, “Class of 2021” students, each a recipient of a $500 award which is distributed in August to deserving NYC college bound HS seniors. The following lists the scholars and their college destination. Avery Lagredelle, St. John’s University; Yashik Delal, Hofstra; Derrell McClain, Morgan State; Dashon McClain Morgan State; Yannick Doumade, Lehigh; Bayame Bah, CCNY; Destiny Ashley, Pace; Kayla Brown, Delaware State; Yaanie Bell, NYU; Nellshalys Camacho, Mercy College; Krisha Aquino, Barach, CUNY; Jebbel Sampson, City Tech, CUNY; Imani Washington, Delaware State; Sydney Streeter, Pace University. Fund named after the late Trinidad-born Pelham Fritz, former NYC Department of Parks Assistant Commissioner of Recreation.
Headed by NYS Appellate Court Judge Sylvia Hinds-Radix, the Brooklyn-based CALA, Caribbean American Lawyers Association, has 80+ members, including jurists, lawyers and law school students. CALA fosters unity and congeniality with a vision to educate and mentor the Caribbean legal community. It will host its First Anniversary with a Virtual Scholarship Gala, on September 9 at 6 pm. Everyone is invited. Visit CALA-NY.ORG.
GOSO, Getting Out, Staying Out, an East Harlem re-entry program for justice- involved young men , ages 14 to 24, is one of the NYC’s most unheralded success stories. GOSO serves 1000 NYC participants annually, most of whom are Black men who boast positive outcomes. The GOSO recidivism rate of 15% is low compared with the 67% rate typical of most national re-entry groups with similar demographics. The GOSO model should be replicated, at least statewide.
Last week, NYS Governor Kathy Hochul anticipates changes in NYS re-entry programs which she said should begin during incarceration. Founded in 2004 by Mark Goldsmith, a white businessman, GOSO appointed Dr. Jocelynne Rainey, EDD as CEO last year. The GOSO Annual Benefit Gala will be held on October 27 at Chelsea Piers. Visit GOSONY.ORG
MIPAD, Most Important People of African Descent reports that a 2020 UN resolution identified August 31, 2021, as the first International Day for People of African Descent, a continuum of its earlier resolutions, “The International Year for People of African Descent” in 2011” and the International Decade for People of African Descent, 2015-2024. MIPAD hosted an 8/31 Webinar. MIPAD convenes a forum, Who’s Who’s On Global 100 List, “Amplifying Global Black Narratives” on October 1-4. Visit MIPAD.org.
September 11, 2021 is the 20th Anniversary of one of the worst terrorist tragedies that America has encountered. Special memorial services are planned all over the nation.
September 22: The autumnal equinox. Yes, the first day of Fall.
September 26: The last 2021 Retrograde Mercury begins on September 26 and ends on October 18. Retrograde Mercury occurs 3x a year, a period when communications matters go awry willy nilly. Mercury is the god of communications in Greek mythology.
The Annual US Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference convenes September 12-17 as a virtual event. Visit cbcfinc.org/event/2021