Monday, February 13, 2017

Benjamin Banneker Clock Story Encouraging Youth- Part 2

Continuation of the reposting of the story of Banneker Clocks and Youth

ings, and then learn the inspiring life story of

Banneker through a lesson and a docu-
mentary. The team is in discussions with

Spike Lee to produce and direct that film.

“These are school programs that Derrick

came up with years and years ago, and has

been testing on a small level in a few

schools around the country. We are trying

to inspire kids to stay in

school and not drop out,”

said Dave Herda,

Banneker’s vice president

and COO based in

Chicago. “It’s truly amaz-
ing to see the response,

and how much kids light

up and listen to the famous alumni. When

Snoop Dogg gave away Banneker class

jewelry and watches to 1,413 graduates of

(Long Beach) Polytechnic (High School),

there were tears in his eyes and most of the

students’ eyes.”

To set a financial foundation for its

part in these projects, the Banneker com-
panies will be launching new styles of

watches and developing a line of class-
room clocks. A plan has also been made

to launch a “street team” or affiliate sales

program where independent salespeople

market and sell Banneker products via

their social media pages or through

home party or trunk show sales events.

One of the

most exciting

new watches is

a signature

design made in

honor of Joe

Madison, a

Washington,

D.C.-based

radio talk show

host and civil

rights activist

who is on

SiriusXM Urban

View every

weekday morn-
ing. Madison was

introduced to

Banneker watches by

brand promotion ambassador and

author-actress Denise Nicholas and

has been a longtime supporter of the

Banneker companies.

He lists his reasons for appreciating

the brand as, “Number one: it honors

Benjamin Banneker. Number two: it’s just

a classy product. And three, most

important of all, it’s an extension of

Banneker, the African American who

made the first American clock, is the only

clock made by an African American

clockmaker today, Derrick Holmes.”

Having dubbed himself “The Black

Eagle” and now known by that name to

his many listeners, Madison’s watch is

named the Black Eagle and incorporates

unique black stones that are also named

after the Black Eagle. He has generously

offered to help raise funds for the

Chicago project by selling the limited, col-
lectible unisex watches through his radio

program and website. The watches will

be available Nov. 9, the 285th birthday of

Benjamin Banneker.

Madison was successful in raising

$250,000 for the building of the

Smithsonian’s National Museum of

African American History and Culture,

through a 52-hour talk show marathon.

His entire studio setup and apparel that

he wore during that event, including a

Banneker watch, is now preserved in a

display in that museum.

Sharing his excitement about fundrais-
ing for the planned manufacturing facility

and community center in Chicago, the

radio personality and activist exclaimed,

“The most important thing about the

new watch is that it will be seed money

for what I refer to as training new

Bannekers, young Bannekers. They will

work with craftspeople

who will train them

how to make

time pieces

and

design

time-
pieces,

and give

them

meaning-
ful work

and most

of all a trade that

they could use anywhere

in the world. It gives us a chance to go

into the inner city like the south side of

Chicago and give young people an

opportunity to learn a trade. There is a

mission that needs to be done, and I

think the timing is just perfect.”

Editor’s note: For more information or to

purchase a Black Eagle Watch, visit

www.bannekerwatches.com, email

dave@bannekerwatches.com or call 720-

435-5528.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – November 2016

Benjamin Banneker Clock Story Encouraging Youth!

This very special story is reposted from the promoters of the Banneker Clock as hope for youth!

The American Dream is not dead. A powerful team of businessmen and women from across the nation are stepping up to ensure that inner city youth and their communities have access to the opportunities provided by career education. “I am a poster child myself for the American Dream. I grew up in a family that had virtually no expectations of the opportunity to go to college or accomplish whatever I could dream,” said Jim Keyes, a business executive and philanthropist who was a former CEO at Blockbuster Inc. and 7-Eleven. “I am a big believer in there being opportunities for everyone. Too often there is no awareness and we become products of our environment, rather than allowing any child to create his or her own identity and accomplish whatever they can dream.” Keyes, who founded the nonprofit Texas-based Education is Freedom to help middle and high school students pursue college education, is the visionary behind a project that aims at lifting young adults out of violence and poverty through manufacturing careers and training. He has joined forces with Benjamin Banneker Clock Company CEO Derrick Holmes and a team of successful entrepreneurs and celebrities to develop the project’s first location in the south side of Chicago. The plan is to establish a Benjamin Banneker manufacturing plant where south side residents can be employed in careers and apprenticeships, crafting clocks, graduation jewelry and other trademark products. The plant will also house a community center where high school and college students as well as adults of all ages can study and practice skills from diverse fields such as design, music, film, science and publishing. The project reflects the spirit of Benjamin Banneker, who is the namesake of the brand designed by Holmes. Banneker was an AfricanAmerican astronomer, surveyor, farmer and engineer who built America’s first wooden clock in 1753. He was known for always striving to learn new skills and his never-ending quest for knowledge. “The idea of Chicago fits very well with telling the story of Benjamin Banneker to inspire young people and provide jobs and internships. It seems to be very timely and relevant,” Keyes explained. “Sometimes the universe has a way of conspiring to make things happen. On the negative side, there is the negative spin around the presidential campaign, an increase in the crime rate in inner city Chicago, and increased problems in education. Meanwhile, we have the positive things such as the choice of Chicago’s south side for Obama’s presidential library and the openness of Rahm Emanual to people who want to help make changes and positively influence the educational environment there.” Holmes, who resides in Denver and Los Angeles, agreed. “Chicago is first because it has the biggest problem. Urban kids are hurting the most. We need to take massive action. These kids need some hope; they need someone to believe in and someone to believe in them.” The goal is to find the right building before next March, and gain cooperation from Emanuel’s city administration in acquiring it. “With 40 percent of buildings vacant in that area, we think we can do it. We’re on the fast track, because we all agree there’s a real sense of urgency when kids are getting killed every weekend. If we can reach the children and give them alternatives, we believe that can change. Basically we’re saying by this time next year, we hope to open up – it’s pretty ambitious,” said Holmes, who calls the team the “Rainmakers.” Rusty Walker, a Chicago area native who now lives in Denver, is a key team member for finding the building and developing relationships with major property and business owners. He has 33 years of experience in the warehousing, handling and distribution of numerous products and commodities, and is president of Absolute Logistics, one of the largest warehouse networks in America with 20 million square feet of space. But more than just his business acumen, Walker brings a true passion for helping other people to the project. He is motivated by the opportunity the Benjamin Banneker Chicago project offers to follow in the footsteps of his own father, who had a distinguished career as a leader of YMCA centers near Chicago as well as being a longtime mentor to his employees and youth in the community. “Role models are of the utmost importance. A role model can be just somebody who gives a kid a hug, and says, ‘You matter. You are important,’” Walker said. “You provide positive mentorship and eventually they start taking ownership of small successes that can make a difference between somebody that gets that motivation from a gang or from producing something with their own hands in a manufacturing facility.” “Benjamin Banneker is just the kind of leader that sets a great example. We’re trying to bring back that history, and just how cool it was that he was able to do what he did and under conditions that people would think were absolutely impossible,” he added. Tim Hardaway, president of Banneker Inc. and assistant coach for the NBA’s Detroit Pistons, agreed about the strength of the Banneker story and the importance of starting the project in Chicago. “When I tell people what Banneker accomplished, it really blows their minds away. There’s great history behind it, and everybody should understand it,” said Hardaway who is best known for playing professional basketball with the Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets. “Chicago’s my hometown. I want to do everything I can do to stop violence and create jobs.” His role in the project will be to garner the financial and promotional support of celebrities such as sports personalities and Hollywood stars. “America is the land of opportunity. You just have to take that opportunity and turn it into prosperity. It takes hard work. Sometimes it takes 10, 15 or 20 years. You have to keep the faith, keep believing in yourself, keep positive, keep knocking on doors, and keep at it until you get what you’re trying to achieve,” he explained. Other project team members include Wayne Vaden, the Benjamin Banneker company attorney, who assists with warehousing products in Denver. He would also be involved in a future Denver manufacturing facility and community center. Leslie Kilgore, vice president of engineering for Thomas Built Buses in North Carolina, will assist with developing the career education as well as corporate relationships. She previously worked for General Motors for 20 years, and has strong knowledge in product design, development, launch, innovation and technology management. A related project that relies on collaboration with celebrities is another joint venture by Banneker and Keyes’ Education is Freedom nonprofit. The partners will arrange for athletes, celebrities and Fortune 500 executives to return to their high school alma maters to provide inspiration for students to graduate by offering their own stories as well as the incentive of a Benjamin Banneker class watch and jewelry as a gift for each graduate. Along with the graduation gift program, the partners would provide schools with a Banneker replica clock assembly kit that would be tied to an education unit. Students would build a clock while learning about the inner workDenver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – November 2016

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Post Selection of Leaders in Leadership Roles in the United States

People all over the United States took to the polls, or chose candidates within the privacy of their homes. One thing that certainly plays a key role is that justice, equity and treatment of all with respect has to be the from henceforth forward.
Some people feel the need to eliminate friends, withdraw from some past contacts or to continue to let life serve it's purpose as deemed appropriate.
I still have concerns for the children and youth who are trying to make sense out of everything that they have seen and heard over the past year. Confusion looms as they wonder what their roles are. Confusion looms as they hear adults saying words that it appears their actions are not representing. Confusion looms as they are being taught to respect their peers and treat others as they want to be treated.
But when it gets down to the end, it seems like everything that was stated went out of the window, when things did not go the way some anticipated!

But after a few months delay, I am back to attempt to complete this important message about how our actions certainly can impact children as well as others around us. Being an adult, I know of the confusion I felt and still feel as I still am trying to grasp what is happening in our society today. Sometimes I stop and think, I am not going to think about all that is going on around me and then common sense tells me that is not the best approach. Those who ignore what is happening around them seem to be uninvolved, disinterested and often appear to be withdrawn. Well I am not of any of those characteristics and hope that I never get to that point.
So as we move forward, we struggle about the struggle to save our unions especially on the university campus. To be honest for all of the years that I have been on campus, I do not believe that we faced legislative actions in regards to the operational status of unions. 
But I like many others must admit I was lost, devastated and confused when a ban was implemented banning immigrants, refugees and those of the Muslim group from seven designated countries. Well,  have no idea of how those families felt whether citizens or those on special visas, undocumented and of course our university's international students. I went in my secret closet, said a prayer of hope for something better to come forth. Little did I know about constitutional rights that a judge could overrule or override an executive order implemented by the president of the United States.
  Being Black in America and living in Iowa, a state that openly accepted and welcomed immigrants, refugees and others making the state a more diverse population for sure. So denying some entry and others challenged, some locked out, families divided and separated made me think about the slave movement. Wow, Blacks were denied the unalienable rights to use the same water fountains as others or to use the same bathrooms as others. Listening to some of the past speeches of top US officials and some who were deemed leaders in this land, there were so many speeches about why it was beneficial to keep Blacks and Whites separated. They shared about the value and greatness of segregation rather than integration. But with all of these trends of thought and the non-violent messages of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., what was so wrong about the promotion of unity, harmony, peace and love? Why is it that some of us would rather promote hatred and evil rather than to spread love. 
  Yet we tell children, "no bullying" yet we bully others in so many different ways. We tell children to share and cooperate, when we refuse to do so ourselves. How many of us learn of school themes of the "Leader in Me." While we see children reaching out to help friends in need in the classroom as well as outside!
  So let's let the leadership qualities in us as educators and adults shine through so that we can . be good role models of United States citizenry! It will definitely pay off! 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Supporting Positive Messages for Children and Families

Listening to and observing some of the actions and behaviors of people who are responsible for assuring our children of positive role models, has been disturbing to me lately. I feel like so many people feel angry, hurt, confused or not really knowing how to feel or what to think. I shared with some students in my class after a post-election discussion that I am so glad that I had. There was a video that was surfacing all over social media and in the media about a young African American male child who had participated in a mock election at school. The little boy voted for Trump during the mock election.

 I am not sure what transpired when the child got home, but whatever was said, did not set too well with his mother. Viewing the video was rather disturbing because it was real and certainly attested to the fact that there are some confusing life experiences for our children. We must realize that these matters can affect them for a lifetime. So you are free to view the video for yourself. The mother was using an upset-sounding tone of voice as she told the young child to pack his suitcase and get out because of who he voted for at school.
 The telling the child to get out and that he could no longer stay there may have appeared to viewers at first as a mom chastising her child because he went against her beliefs. But the more one continued to view the video was when there was the realization of the seriousness of the matter. One could see the child outside of the home crying, begging and pleading. I have thought about the thoughts of this child many nights and just wondered what he must have been thinking about his mother's seemingly
out of control behaviors.
  I thought about what it must have felt like that to the child who innocently at such a young age engaged in an early process of what the voting process could be like. In all fairness to the child, and since we were not in the classroom, it might be a little difficult to examine what happened without knowing how the teacher set the stage for the election, whether the students really had a choice in their candidate or whether it was just a mere process of voting, regardless of the candidate chosen or assigned.

  The seemingly irate behaviors of the mother caused alarm from the neighbors and since it did not appear that the mother was using a temporary scare tactic with this young child, someone called the Department of Human Services. The call was supposedly made for concern about the safety and protection of the child, being left alone to the streets to fend for for himself.

  So as I watched the video, it seemed like the arrival of DHS did seem to bring some sanity back into the thoughts, behaviors and actions of the mother. This was rather disturbing and sad to realize that this mother's actions were real and serious.

  So in my university students post-election discussion, they shared some similarities in the behaviors and actions of some of their immediate family members and friends. Once there was a revelation of choice of who voted for who, there were family disputes, no more communicating, no more coming over to each other's houses, and many students shared about them unfriending friends and relatives or them unfriending them. Some felt like that was the best resolution rather than spending time on social media arguing and expressing anger with one another. So as we begin to forge ahead we must realize that children still expect us to be the real role models for them.

One message or hint to the wise, that I believed for 30+ years of teaching and I still stick with it today that when you get your own classroom and start teaching, "Never ever tell children who you voted for or plan on voting for." I realize the seriousness of students beginning to form their opinions about candidates especially based on what they have heard others say and did not want to interfere with their thinking. Also, since I had good relationships with most of my parents I did not want any differences of opinion to influence or impact our main goal and that was providing the best education for their child! We've got to move forward POSITIVELY!

Black Lives Really Do Matter

                     BLACK LIVES DO MATTER
                                             DR. GLORIA KIRKLAND HOLMES

  As we venture into our 6th Annual Conference on African American Children and Families, we could not choose better speakers/presenters than those who will be joining us in February 2017.
  Last year, I had he privilege of hearing out keynote speaker do a presentation on why "Black Lives Matter." I am sure that there are many of you who will read this and also wonder why people are making a distinction between Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, Children's Lives Matter, etc. Not until I really listened to the historical context and rationale for why this message surfaced nationally within the last year for certain.

  Once one studies and seeks answers to questions as to why this issue of Black Lives Matter seem to cause some to cringe in their seats. This message of thinking there is a blatant racist prompting to deter from the need for us to respect all people, is far from the truth. I am very hopeful that those who join us at the 6th Annual Conference will learn and turn over a new leaf in life in better understanding the plight of many African Americans who came before our time.

  Growing up in Charleston, South Carolina in all Black elementary and high schools, little did we know that years later there would be a public outcry for why Black Lives Matter. Our teachers, administrators, counselors and all were Black. So for some us we were shielded from some of the walls of racism and segregation because of the safety net of protection built around us that allowed us to not fear some of the things that are definitely on some of the radars of children and families today. Well, I really can't truly say that, but it just seemed as though that because our teachers lived among us, knew our families, knew each of us and we felt like we had the support from those in the village. Then as life would have it I was able to matriculate to one of the best historically Black colleges and universities in the world, Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee. Fisk's small, private, 99% Black student and faculty population again seem to have built a wall of protection and support for those of us who were privileged and honored to be enrolled there. For me, it was especially special since my counselors told me that I wouldn't be able to go there. Yes they were Black and told me the truth. But God had something different to say about my future and where I would be destined to go. So, yes I would not have been able to go there because my parents like many today could not afford to send me to college for one day if there were to ever have been such a thing. But I was blessed that a recruiter came to my hometown and some family and friends from the "village" encouraged me to go. What a blessing, I took my transcript and the person looked at it and said, "I am going to go back and get you a scholarship." Wow, I thought is he really telling the truth? Well he told the truth and three days later I received an official letter offering me a four-year full scholarship! Wow, was I blessed and wow was I forever grateful and wow, did I want to go to college, do well and make my family, friends and teachers at my schools happy if I succeeded!
  But little did I know that all of those experiences and more were among those that would become real experiences today that brings abut the message of Black Lives Matter. Like when I went to the Woolworth Store, not knowing anything about segregation from a different perspective than those shared in our neighborhoods, schools and churches, I learned quickly there was another side to why Black Lives Matter. When I asked the lady at the Woolworth food counter, "could I get a hotdog?" (I had the money that mama had given me) I had never heard the "N-" word before when she told me that they didn't serve "N-s", I just thought she couldn't understand what I said as a young child, so I repeated the request, which seemed to anger her even more, then I think she called me a double "N" and for me and my friend to get away from there. Too young to understand that "Black Lives Didn't Matter" when segregated lunch counters throughout the south refused to serve Blacks.
  But then as I left the counter and we ventured to the back of the store where the water fountains and the restrooms were, I saw what has never left my mind from my childhood days until now. I am sure that the images will follow me to my grave- because they can not be forgotten, when I remembered this other horrid time, when "Black Lives Didn't Seem to Matter." Some how at a very young age, we had learned to read the words, "Colored" and "White." I can not recall if our teachers and parents made sure that those were among our first reading vocabulary words or not, but I sure am grateful that I learned them and never forgot them. But that's when I realized that Black Lives Didn't Matter when our great-great grandparents and grandparents were denied the right to an education and that it was against the law for Blacks to learn to read. 
  So what I am about to share in that I was so young to be a brave soldier and help fight a battle that I did not know was a real battle for Black people until I witnessed it first hand. When we arrived at the back of the Woolworth Store, there was an elderly Black man and I am sure he was very thirsty because it was a very hot and humid day like so many days in South Carolina. While we had learned to read the words "Colored" and "White" especially for water fountains and restrooms, I'll call him Mr. Ferguson, had not. I'm sure when he saw those what seemed like cold, icicles coming from the outside of the "Whites only" water fountain that he thought about how he could get a cool drink of water. During that time the stores had security guards or police officers working there. As soon as Mr. Ferguson drank from the wrong water fountain, two officers were right there and they started beating him over his head with what we called a "billy club." Mr. Ferguson started to bleed so much that on impulse and without any fear, I ran in the "Colored only" bathroom and grabbed some paper towels and started cleaning his face and head. Only when I got older did I realize that "Black Lives Didn't Matter" if you drank out of the wrong water fountain or mistakenly went in the wrong restroom. Or that I could have been hurt by running to Mr.Ferguson's aide.
  But if you come to the Conference, you won't hear my story about "Why Black Lives Matter" when we take a retrospective view about what brought the real issue to the forefront.

Black Lives Do Matter- We have rights like everyone else, but are we treated equitably, fairly and respectfully as if our Lives Do Matter?  
You can read more about some of my experiences as an educator and other facets of life in some of my published books:
Kirkland Holmes, Gloria. Diversity Initiatives: Social Justice Matters
Kirkland Holmes,Gloria. Child, Family, Schools, Community Relationships
Kirkland Holmes,Gloria. Effective Strategies and Approaches to Use With African Americans and Students of Diverse Backgrounds
Kirkland Holmes, Gloria. Elementary Classroom Management

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Are You Really, Seriously Promoting Justice, Equality and Opening Doors to Education?

As a long time faculty member at the University of Northern Iowa, it still amazes me each year how students freely and openly share about the Conference on African American Children and Families as well as the African American Read-in. There is one gap as they share- "I wish my other professors either allowed us to attend or encouraged us to come. Surely they admit how they dread coming to some events because of the unknown, but once they get there, what an awesome learning experience they have.
One of my early childhood majors shared, "I am so glad that I attended this conference. I learned so much and wish all future teachers could attend a conference like this." She referenced how the keynote speaker motivated her to go out and do more to promote a positive learning experience for her students at her field site.
All over the United States, students are crying out to be accepted, recognized and treated fairly. Furthermore, they want equal rights as others and want to be heard when there is an expressed need. They look forward to that lifelong journey of going to college- for all too many a lifetime dream come true. But once they make it to their respective campuses, they do not appreciate meeting up with too much disappointment and the opposite of what college was supposed to promise them.
Being the first out of generations of family members to be able to attend college was such a big thing in one student's family that three generations saw her off to college wishing her well! She wanted to do well, represent the family, be a strong force for those who came behind her. So when she endured her first challenge at college and being called the "N" word, she quickly had to get it together and decided to use the approach that I am bigger and better than that "N" name than anyone could ever call her. So she used the approach of how beautiful she was and that she was going to be a teacher someday. She was going to be a teacher who:
1) Promoted justice and equality throughout her curriculum 
2) Advocated on behalf of all of her students regardless of their family's background
3) Promised to stand up against bigotry, racism, bias and unjust treatment of students
4) Planned to incorporate integrated multicultural curricula in an ongoing basis
And now,
are we really seriously promoting justice, equality and opening doors to education for all?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Cedar Rapids School District and the Civil Rights Commission Take A Look At School Discipline

Living in Waterloo, Iowa, I was able to capture the Cedar Rapids news on September 23, 2014. The information was not new, but the process was different for now. Meetings were being held because leaders wanted a change in the data that was being provided:

African American students are treated differently when being disciplined in the Cedar Rapids School District! Well, unfortunately their data was corresponding with data from so many cities, counties and states in the United States.

  So what is the next step-- we will find out!