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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Fr. Moses Berry coming to ATL church for conference

Father Moses Berry, an orthodox priest and museum curator, will be the guest speaker at St. John the Wonderworker Church in Atlanta, August 26, at 10 a.m. The church is located at 543 Cherokee Ave SE in Atlanta, Ga. 

Berry is the co-founder of The Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black. "Moses is known from his interviews, articles, and unique perspective on the relationship of the African American experience and the ancient Orthodox faith," said Fr. Tom Alessandroni, church pastor. "He is a wonderful story teller with a good story to tell that is full of hope and the spirit of reconciliation of all things in Christ."

Berry will be bringing with him artifacts from The Ozarks African American Heritage Museum, quilts made by slaves, and some personal items which belonged to Harriet Tubman.

The first session will begin at 10 a.m. following the Divine Liturgy at 8 a.m. in the church. A continental breakfast will be served beforehand, and lunch including African specialties and American "soul food" will be provided in the church basement. There is no charge for the conference or the meals, although donations are welcomed. 

Attendees are encouraged to register on the church website ( so an accurate count to prepare meals can be made.

For more information on this event, call 404.577.6330 or 678.373.9433, or email

Monday, August 14, 2017

Mike Espy to receive Witherspoon Award

Attorney Mike Espy of Jackson, Mississippi will receive the 16th annual Estelle Witherspoon Lifetime Achievement Award at a fundraising banquet Thursday, August 17 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Interstate 495 in Birmingham, Alabama. The Award is part of The Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund's 50th Annual Meeting Celebration on August 17 to 19, 2017. Arising from the Civil Rights Movement, the Federation/LAF has served low-income farmers and rural people in the South.
Mike Espy with Federation/LAF members in Mississippi in 1990s
Espy, 63, served in the U.S. House of Representatives. While in Congress, he co-sponsored the "Minority Farmers Rights Bill" in the 1980s and helped to get several of its major components, including the Section 2501 Outreach Program, into the 1990 Farm Bill. From 1993 to 1994, he was President Bill Clinton's Secretary of Agriculture. As Secretary of Agriculture, Espy worked closely with the Federation/LAF on efforts to bring greater civil rights concerns to the department. As a lawyer, he worked with Federation/LAF members on the Black farmer lawsuit against the USDA. 
Estelle Witherspoon was the manager of the Freedom Quilting Bee in Alberta, Alabama and a founding member of the Federation/LAF.  Espy has worked closely with the Federation/LAF in all of his professional pursuits.
The organization was founded in 1967 by 22 cooperatives and credit unions.

For more information and to register for event, go to:

Thursday, August 10, 2017

New York Life promotes George Nichols to Executive Vice President

Although this happened in March 2017, we've just learned that a longtime friend has been promoted to Executive Vice President at New York Life.

George Nichols is in charge of the Office of Governmental Affairs at NY Life, which includes all state, federal and international legislative, regulatory and public policy issues at the company. With the appointment, Nichols, who has led the Office of Governmental Affairs since 2007, will take on additional duties on an array of enterprise initiatives in support of the company’s long-term strategic objectives.

Nichols joined New York Life in 2001 as Senior Vice President and Assistant to the Chairman. From October 2001 until April 2003, Nichols was Senior Vice President in the Agency Department, responsible for overseeing standards, communications and technology related to the distribution of New York Life products through its licensed agents in the United States. For the next four years, Mr. Nichols served as Senior Vice President and Profit Center Head for New York Life’s AARP Tampa Operations, the leading direct marketer of life insurance for people ages 50 and above.

“Since joining the company, George’s leadership and expertise have been major contributors to our continued growth and success,” said Ted Mathas, Chairman and CEO of New York Life. Mathas. “He has led key parts of our organization, helping to solidify our leadership position in the industry and ably represented our company on the complex issues shaping the political, financial and regulatory landscapes around the world. I look forward to partnering with him on advancing our strategic agenda moving forward.”  

Nichols is a former Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Insurance, where he regulated the state’s insurance industry and was recognized for his expertise in health insurance reform and financial services integration. He has served as President of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and as Special Adviser to former Kentucky Governor Paul Patton. 

---information from New York Life's website.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Pics for today...

See any similarities???
KKK hood on display inside National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.

Washington Monument near National Museum of African American History and Culture

Street view of National Museum of African American History and Culture and Washington Monument
(Photos and comparison by Tomi Johnson)

Friday, June 30, 2017

Photos for today...

Even amidst extreme wealth and beauty, you can always view people down on their luck.
--- streets of Madrid, Spain 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Thought for today...

"I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men and German to my horse." ---Charles V of Spain
Rooftop view of Madrid by Tomi Johnson

Friday, June 2, 2017

Inspiration for today...

Fly like an eagle! (Photo taken en-route to Hawaii by Tomi Johnson)
"The American Negro Academy believes that upon those of the race who have had the advantages of higher education and culture, rests the responsibility of taking concerted steps for the employment of these agencies to uplift the race to higher planes of thought and action.

"Two great obstacles to this consummation are apparent: (a) The lack of unity, want of harmony, absence of a self-sacrificing spirit, and no well-defined line of policy seeking definite aims; and (b) The persistent, relentless, at times covert opposition employed to thwart the Negro at every step of his upward struggles to establish the justness of his claim to the highest physical, intellectual and moral possibilities.

"...the history of the world is the history, not of individuals, but of groups, not of nations, but of races, and he who ignores or seeks to override the race idea in human history ignores and overrides the central thought of all history."

--- from The Conservation of Races by W. E.B. DuBois, 1897

LeBron's statement on race and my comment...

LeBron (l) said he thought about Emmett Till (r) when his home was vandalized. Afterwards, his team lost the first game in the 2017 NBA finals.
(Photos by Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA and Mamie Till)

RACISM CONTINUES BECAUSE IT IS ALLOWED TO EXIST and "promoted" in every institution around the globe.

Recently I was asked to comment on LeBron James' remarks about a hate crime perpetrated on his Los Angeles home.

Here are my first thoughts:
Some things remain the same. They will cheer us on at the game because we're their best entertainers, and they get a kick out of seeing us throw balls through hoops! No matter what we achieve, we still don't get the respect we deserve, even from our own people sometimes. If we exchanged the slave, rapist, uncivilized, thief image for an image of entrepreneur, scientist, moralist, etc, it still doesn't "trump" the image of us being low, stupid, lazy, and hated. 

One thing we have to be careful of is speaking in absolutes. When James said, "Racism will always be a part of the world," that tends to make one feel hopeless against injustice. What we CAN do is try everything possible to live our lives as good people who realize that all of us, regardless of race, are headed for the same death call when we will all be judged.

I was recently castigated by a white priest who said that I look at everything through a racial lens. It reminded me of the ministerial response to MLK's activism in Birmingham, Ala. which prompted him to write his famous letter from jail. ( This priest seems to pay no attention to the fact that only three Blacks attend his church and that some whites in his church have REDNECK tattoos on their necks! There's a reason why Blacks don't attend HIS church! I must admit, though, that many religions hint at racism in the United States,  and possibly the most segregated places in America are churches and synagogues!

Now, we have LeBron saying, "Being Black in America is tough, and we have a long way to go for us as a society and us as African Americans, until we feel equal in America." My glasses are not rose colored, and I know the reality of race and power in America and the world. They need to release the video of them defacing LeBron's crib!

LeBron went on to say that he thought about Emmett Till first when his home was vandalized, and that the  most important thing to him is the safety of his family. That is the dread we live with everyday - that our loved ones will be harmed just because they are Black.

Neither WE nor LeBron can end racism; only the racist can end racism. Trump needs to tweet that! Those folks who vandalized LeBron's home (who were probably young and unemployed with nothing better to do) need to be caught and made to take a de-racism class! 

It appears hate crimes are increasing, and Attorney Gen. Sessions is too busy trying to save himself instead of prosecuting hate crimes. Political and religious leaders must ACT against injustice before it can ever be solved, or it will be resolved that they want racism to continue.

I was told by a lawyer last week that they don't take on cases where they know they can't make money... when ending racism becomes profitable, maybe we will get some movement towards justice.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

IU alum leads DNI; FBI director reports to him

Daniel Coats
According to the U.S. Office of Director of National Intelligence website (, the current director is Daniel Coats. Coats attended the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, where he received his Juris Doctor in 1972 and was associate editor of the Indiana Law Review.

Coats, who also served in both the U.S. House and Senate, was sworn in as the fifth Director of National Intelligence (DNI) on March 16, 2017. He leads the United States Intelligence Community (IC) and serves as the principal intelligence advisor to the President.

Wingcom Watchdog contacted Timothy Barrett, Chief of Media Relations, Public Affairs Office of the ODNI and was informed that President Trump did not consult with Director Coats before firing FBI Director Comey. Here is Coats' sworn testimony to the Senate Select Intelligence Committee on May 11 provided by Barrett:

KING: All right, thank you. Mr. Coats -- Director Coats, you're -- you're -- you lead the intelligence community. Were you consulted at all with regard to the firing of Director Comey?

COATS: I was not.

So you had no -- there were no discussions with you even though the FBI's an important part of the intelligence community?

There were no discussions.

Thank you. Mr. Chairman, thank you.

At press time, Barrett did not respond to additional email asking for Coats to speak to why we should have confidence in the intelligence community for this article.


“In the short time I've been on this job, I have learned that the I.C. is full of dedicated, talented, creative, patriotic men and women who are committed to keeping America safe, we must retain this posture while looking for ways to improve.” – DNI Dan Coats in testimony before Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Trump's chilling effect on investigations scares some but doesn't deter truth

Journalists and investigative civil servants should follow the example of chipmunks who dig in the dirt and digest what they find.
Journalists should investigate by asking pointed questions, gathering information, and reporting their findings. Media organizations at the top level decided what is reported, however. That is why free, independent, investigative journalism is important in a democracy, however, the current presidential administration has numbed reporting and, therefore, what is known by the public is lacking. To further exacerbate matters, Presidential Counselor Kellyanne Conway manipulates the truth to protect her boss which is her job, in my opinion.

I have refrained from blogging recently because I have been watching the fallout around President Trump - his finger-pointing at journalists and "fake news" determinations.  And with the recent firing of FBI Director James Comey and the arrest of Public News Service Journalist Dan Heyman, it is evident that Trump and his employees are not afraid of investigations at any level and will do what it takes to quell truth.

What Pres. Trump and his Trumpettes seem to be doing is suppressing information and making folks fear that if they exercise their freedom of speech or willingness to live up to their employment responsibilities to report what they find, they will wind up fired or incarcerated. Candidate Trump even urged that Candidate Hillary Clinton be locked up for using a private email server. What the???

This is the age of Big Brother on steroids.  George Orwell wrote about government manipulation of truth in his dystopian novel 1984. It is ironic that we seem to be in Orwell's perpetual war, not only in Afghanistan, but in a public opinion battle and mis-reality tug - not knowing what is really going on in our world, either because the information is "classified" or manipulated by powers beyond our control.

Today, if you're a truth-searcher, you may be relegated to pre-existing condition status - poor and neglected. Or you survive to tell the story.

May God have mercy on us.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Minority women farmers to meet in Texas

Texas Women in Agriculture are presenting a Minority Women Farmers Symposium, May 4-6 at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Houston, Texas.

On the agenda will be discussion of future generations of women participating in agriculture and the 2018 Farm Bill.

For more information, contact Dr. Tammy Gray-Steele at (405) 424-4623 or, or go to

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Police community outreach needs improvement

Reporting from King Street near Smyrna, Ga. police department headquarters
"There still is a large gulf between how the criminal justice system is viewed by Black and White Americans. There is no other area where the potential for misunderstanding can have such dangerous consequences...Departments operating under a community policing philosophy (should) endeavor to understand the concerns of the community. This approach requires that line officers move from such narrow functions as writing up incident reports to developing interpersonal skills that enable them to engage people of all  backgrounds, listen to their concerns and to devise collaborative responses to those concerns." ---Community Relations Service U.S. Department of Justice: POLICE USE OF EXCESSIVE FORCE A CONCILIATION HANDBOOK FOR THE POLICE and THE COMMUNITY

I learned first hand yesterday that taking a police report was more important to Smyrna police than talking to a citizen about community policing.

Symbol on wall in police department lobby

Yes, I put my big girl pants on and went over to the Smyrna Police Department to give them some ideas to improve community policing.  I had driven 45 minutes in Atlanta Metro traffic to Smyrna City Hall to attend a press conference which ended up being canceled. The community relations director, Jennifer Bennett, came out with questions about why I was there with my camera, and after I informed her about the cancellation, I went on to tell her about my ideas on a community policing initiative I thought would help citizens and the police - an intiative that wasn't hosting a basketball league or teaching kids to run track (how to run from police)!

Bennett referred me to Louis Defense, supposedly over community policing, events, and public information. So I drove across the way to the police department and sat in the lobby, watching people lodge police reports and pay fines. Defense was not available. I was then referred to Michael Montgomery, training officer, but he was not available either. No one was available. After waiting an hour, I left and decided to write this post.
"An effective police-minority relationship can contribute to the reduction in incidents of excessive police force. However, in the event, an incident of excessive force does occur, the public is more likely to respond with an open mind due to the positive relationships and trust built up with the police through daily experience."--- same report as above

Yes, Virginia, a citizen with a valid recommendation on how to improve community policing cannot walk off the street and get an audience with anyone in the Smyrna Police Department, especially after one of their officers has been accused of murdering unarmed Nicholas Thomas. That's protocol. That's just the way it is without an appointment. And no, I don't think the outcome would have been different if more people had been with me, however, we may have been met with arms!

Social Justice Ministry established at Zion Baptist Church

PRESS RELEASE - Rev. Eric Beckham, Senior Pastor of Zion Baptist Church, has charged Dr. Benjamin Williams, longtime educator, community activist and current President of the Cobb County Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the Rev. Dr. Barbara Gurnell, Associate Minister at Zion, with launching a Social Justice Ministry. This ministry will seek to educate and mobilize residents, churches and others to work together to engage public and private leadership in social justice issues, including, but not limited to, criminal justice reform, mass incarceration, the school-to-prison pipeline, education, employment, racial reconciliation, and affordable housing and homelessness.

“We recognize that this important work cannot be done by organizations that operate in a silo. If any organization could do the work alone, it would have been done long ago,” said Dr. Williams. “Our Social Justice Ministry here at Zion plans to partner with other community entities to make an effective, positive impact here in Cobb County to help ensure that justice is provided to all. There are ample data that argue the case for change, and folk of good will can no longer afford to sit idly by and watch poor people and people of color continue to be abused.” Dr. King reminded us that “what affects one directly affects all of us indirectly.” 

The ministry’s inaugural event, “Criminal Justice Reform: Lawyers, Advocates & Returning Citizens,” scheduled for Tuesday, April 4, 2017, from 6:30-8:30 p.m., at Zion Baptist Church, 160 Lemon St. NE, Marietta, GA 30060, will be a community forum. Religious and civic leaders, citizens and members of the legal profession have been invited to serve as panelists and will field questions from the audience. The entire community is invited to participate in constructive, solution-oriented dialogue.

“It is the moral and spiritual responsibility of the church to engage and partner with the community in addressing the current societal challenges,” Rev. Beckham said. “Jesus traveled far and wide to spread the gospel of love in action to the lost, the weak, the disenfranchised, the incarcerated, and those ignored and abused in society.”

Pastor Beckham, Dr. Williams and guest panelists will be available to the media from 6:00-6:30 p.m. The forum is free and open to the public.

Question of the day...

How can we be led by Trump who called Obama "founder of Isis... born in Africa", Mexicans "criminals", Hillary "bigot", Rice "bitch", and women ripe for "pussy" grabbing?

Is this the kind of man we can follow?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Nicholas Thomas lawsuit against Smyrna police moving forward


Smyrna, Georgia –Ms. Cajun Snorton, fiancĂ©e of Nicholas Thomas (killed by Smyrna Police, March 24, 2015), and mother of Thomas' child, filed a Federal Lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, on Wednesday, March 22, 2017.  

The lawsuit is Snorton vs. Owens, et al 17-CV-103.
Named in the lawsuit are the City of Smyrna, Smyrna Police Officer Kenneth Owens, Cobb District Attorney Victor Reynolds, and Kennesaw State University Police Department as defendants responsible for violating the civil rights of Nicholas Thomas leading to both his wrongful death and the subsequent cover up of the facts relating to his wrongful death.

According to a letter to Former President Obama from Thomas' father, Huey, Nicholas was executed by Smyrna Police as a result of an outstanding traffic warrant for probation violation.  Media reports confirm that Nicholas Thomas, 23, was shot in the back at his job at Bob McDonald's Goodyear while police were serving a warrant for his arrest for a $175 violation. According to a police statement, Smyrna Police Sgt. Kenneth Owens fired three times into a customer's Maserati being serviced by Thomas because he was placed "at risk to receive serious bodily injury or death." 

A press conference related to the filing will be held today at Smyrna City Hall, 2800 King St. SE, in Smyrna at 2:30 p.m. For more info., contact Rich Pellegrino, Nick Thomas Justice Coalition, 404-573-1199; or Dr. Ben Williams, Cobb SCLC, 770-876-2070.

UPDATE: Since the press conference was cancelled, I posed these questions via email to organizer Rich Pellegrino: 
Why has lawsuit been filed?  This is filed for several reasons: a) to secure damages and therefore some degree of financial security for (Nicholas Thomas') child; b) to secure justice; c) to send a message to law enforcement everywhere that the people are tired of such abuses of power which more often than not go unchecked an unpunished.
How do you think a pro se case can be won against the government?
It was filed pro se to beat the two-year deadline however we will obtain legal representation, and the pro se complaint was prepared with legal guidance.
Ironically, City Hall is located where M. L.King St. intersects with W. Spring St. in Smyrna.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Business Expo to be held in East Cobb, Ga.

The Northeast Cobb Business Association is holding a Business Expo at the Parish Hall and Atrium of Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church, 3431 Trickum Road NE, Marietta, Ga., Thursday, March 30, starting at 4:00 pm until 7:30 pm.

Light hors d'oeuvres and admission to the expo is free and for information on the event or to become an exhibitor, please contact JRM Management Services, at 770.423.1330, or visit the NCBA website, at

For more information, go to: