2012 Archive

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  • 31 Dec 2012 4:21 PM | Valencia Jowers (Administrator)
    When Tristan Breaux was recently elected the President of the Norfolk NAACP, he became the youngest leader of one of the civil rights organization’s oldest local units in the nation. While some say that perhaps he may be too young for such a high profile role, a growing number of the group’s members are beginning to grasp the idea that his election may help keep the region’s oldest NAACP alive and relevant.

    Breaux has been sworn in at a time when the group has 500-plus dues paying members; yet, only a handful of them show up for monthly meetings. Breaux is 25 years of age. The youngest member is 24. Most of the adult members are over 50 – the oldest being 82-year-old Melinease Hutchinson, who is the organization’s treasurer.

    Hutchinson knows something about stepping into a role and confronting skepticism from the old guard. She was the Norfolk NAACP’s first female president several decades ago. While Breaux confronts the questions of his ability to lead because of his youth, she faced skepticism from long time members of an organization not familiar with a woman leading the way.

    Hutchinson said she has been grooming Breaux, seeking to clear a pathway through the forest of concern, to assure and arrest the apprehension of older members who fear his youth and relative inexperience. Hutchinson has been a stable and visible leader in the organization, tracking the finances, lending a hand in planning the annual events such as the Freedom Fund banquet and keeping the morale of the membership on a positive note.

    “I think his youth will be an asset for us. He is young, but he is energetic, politically astute and knowledgeable and respectful enough of the NAACP’s history to want to move it forward,” said Hutchinson. “I fear that we are just two years from having our last Freedom Fund banquet, if we do not do something to pursue our future."

    “Some of the older members who may have reservations are warming up to the idea of new leadership,” she continued. “A lot of institutions are dying because they push the younger people out or destroy their interest. But a lot of the heads of the leadership of these organizations are wearing black-haired wigs over graying hair and their membership is dying out. Organizations like the NAACP have got to let the next generation step forward or cease to exist.”

    Breaux, a native of Queens, New York, says that generational diversity can be viewed as an asset rather than a distraction. The more seasoned members of the Norfolk NAACP can lend expertise and experience when they interact with the younger ones. Conversely the younger members can help the organization move forward as a voice for discrimination and social-economic justice issues by sharing their energy, technical skills and willingness to work.

    Along with bridging the generational gap within the organization, Breaux said he wants to help steer it into a more relevant position as a voice of the community and make it fiscally viable.

    Fundraising and increasing the level of paid memberships are on the list of ways to achieve it A proposed golf tournament and the scheduling of motivational speakers to address critical community issues are being viewed among ways to foster greater interest in the work of the organization and spur people to join and fill its coffers.

    Breaux is a student of NAACP history and its role and functions. His grandparents raised him and encouraged his participation in the youth branch of the New York NAACP.

    “It gave me an opportunity to observe and learn about community organizing, Roberts Rules of Order and how people develop views on issues,” said Breaux. “At age 12, I got even more insight into the working of the NAACP and the kind of people who developed themselves working inside it. This is why I stayed involved.”

    After high school, Breaux enrolled at Johnson C. Smith College and then Norfolk State University, his alma mater. He joined campus units of the NAACP, learning more about the organization.

    During the past weeks, he has been meeting with members of city council, including the Vice Mayor, City Manager and other high profile leaders, seeking to open lines of communication and lay out his “vision” for the Norfolk NAACP. At the same time he is using the meetings to outline the type of relationship the NAACP should have with the city’s political, business and civic establishments.

    Breaux hopes to encourage constructive and open dialogue on critical issues that “will foster sweeter fruit than antagonism.”

    “We cannot address all of the key issues which need attention, but we will choose the ones we know we have leverage,” said Breaux. "We will work with other organizations to address issues and will dialogue and build accord. If we see no movement we must bring the eyes and support of the community and the media as a means to showing that we are serious about reform, inclusion and action to correct problems facing our community.”

    During 2012, 33 people, mostly African Americans in Norfolk alone, lost their lives to gun violence, the highest number of homicides in any of the Hampton Roads cities. Breaux said that is one issue he wants to join forces in addressing with Norfolk’s Police Chief, Sheriff, City Manager, schools officials and the various civic groups, especially as it relates to youth.

    Economic development is another issue he views as important.

    “It would be great to create dialogue with the city’s officials to help bring more people to the table to get involved with Norfolk’s economic development,” said Breaux. “Especially in terms of procurement and expanding the number of minorities to compete and secure contracts and other business with the city. I am doing my research on ideas to effectively address that issue.”

    The level of crime committed by youth can be linked to the proportion of them who are dropping out or being pushed out of public school classrooms. Breaux said he would like to engage the city’s School Superintendent and the school board to lower the level of youths dropping out the local school division’s classrooms.

    Further, he wants the NAACP to help address the issue of academic achievement among minority youth in the city’s schools. He said that increasing the level of parental participation in the educational experiences of their children is a key element.

    “ I am part of the generation which did not sit in the back of the bus. We did not attend segregated schools or march for civil rights,” said Breaux. “But we appreciate the people who did because they paved the way and created the privileges my generation enjoys today."

    “All of the barriers are not gone. But my generation is more inclusive in our view toward race; at the same time realizing we have a lot of work to do to resolve problems related to it.”

    He continued, “My generation asked the question ‘what have you done for me now’. How can I reach across the table and create dialogue so that we all can move forward on an equality footing?

    Written by Leonard E. Colvin, Chief Reporter, New Journal and Guide, January 2, 2013.
  • 16 Dec 2012 7:16 PM | Valencia Jowers (Administrator)

    The Hampton Roads Committee of 200+ Men hosted Mr. Anthony A. Lewis, President Verizon Mid-Atlantic Region at its Samuel Dewitt Proctor Forum on Saturday, December 8th, at the Fort Norfolk Plaza Medical Building in Norfolk, VA. The forum, sponsored by the organization’s Economic Justice Committee, was entitled: “The Board Room, C-Suite, and The Front Door-The Disparity Crusade Continues!”. Mr. Lewis emphasized in his remarks that keys to success are exercising good judgment, willingness to take risk, going the extra mile and recognizing customer needs and the changes in technology that can meet those needs.

    Mr. Lewis participated in a panel that included Ms. Brenda H. Andrews, New Journal & Guide Newspaper Publisher & Editor-in-Chief, Mr. JR Locke of the Hampton University Business Incubator and Project Inclusion and Mr. Jerrauld C. “Jay” Jones, II, former analyst with Goldman Sachs. They provided a riveting discussion regarding the disparities in terms of African Americans in corporate board participation, executive management positions and municipal contracting. Details of the organization’s Economic Justice master plan to combat these disparities were also presented.

    Although more African Americans, women and other minorities lead major U.S. Corporations, occupy board of directors’ seats, and hold various mid- to upper-level corporate positions, they remain woefully under-represented,” said Vincent Carpenter, organizer of the forum. “In a tight economy, our community continues to be “the last hired and the first fired” and corporate spending with our businesses continues to lag.”

    In late 2011, 200+ Men launched its Municipal Disparity Initiative Strategy by issuing a resolution to elected officials in 15 municipalities in Hampton Roads. The resolution strongly encouraged them to follow the example of the City of Hampton and Portsmouth Public Schools by conducting third party studies to measure the level of procurement disparities in their purchasing practices with minority and women owned firms. This type of study is required to devise legally defensible strategies to correct disparities where identified.

    The organization’s Municipal Disparity Initiative Strategy continued in this last election cycle. In the Virginia Beach and Portsmouth city council elections, support for conducting procurement disparity studies was a campaign issue. Most of those elected or reelected indicated support for such a study individually or in cooperation with other cities.

    “Having each city in Hampton Roads conduct disparity studies is crucial to obtaining true economic justice in the use of our community’s tax dollars in the acquisition of goods and services,” said Bruce Williams, 200+ Men Economic Justice Committee Vice President. “We will be encouraging each council, city-by-city, to adopt and implement these studies.”

    Portsmouth Public Schools, which just completed such a study, has recently issued policy changes designed to reduce the procurement disparities it discovered in its purchasing practices with minority and women owned firms. The City of Hampton has approved ordinances designed to reduce disparities its study discovered and is in the process of conducting a new study.

    “This event and our initiative are part of our organization’s Strategic Plan which includes our Scholars Breakfast, Brother 2 Brother Camp, Caravan to Richmond, and our Scholars Academy program Booker T Washington HS designed to provide economic opportunities for our youth,” said James Gray, 200+ Men President.

    “Dr. Cornel West has stated: “When we make Black America better, we make all of America better”. The Economic Justice Committee has tailored this mantra for our region with the sentiment: “We make all of Hampton Roads better when we improve the quality of opportunity and the quality of life for African-Americans within Hampton Roads,” said Williams.

    Published in The New Journal & Guide, Norfolk, VA
  • 24 Nov 2012 9:36 PM | Valencia Jowers (Administrator)
    Jack L. Ezzell, Jr. is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Zel Technologies, LLC (ZELTECH),one of the nation's premier professional services and engineering firms. Mr. Ezzell is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University and holds an MBA degree from the Ohio State University. He is a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel who was recognized as a leader in applying advanced technology solutions to critical defense problems. Colonel Ezzell served in a number of significant military posts in the United States and Asia.

    ZelTech has grown from a small consulting firm into a multi-faceted engineering, manufacturing and Information Technology corporation and is a recognized leader in the introduction of leading edge technologies to support critical national and homeland security activities. Headquartered in Hampton, Virginia, ZELTECH has operations in multiple locations throughout the United States and abroad.

    Mr. Ezzell has received numerous awards. He was Virginia's Small Business Person of the year, the state's Outstanding Industrialist and the Daily Press newspaper Distinguished Citizen of the Year. Old Dominion University awarded him an Honorary Doctorate Degree and its Distinguished Entrepreneurial Award. He has received Community Service Awards from local and national organizations, the prestigious Darden Award for Regional Leadership and was a 2011 inductee into the Hampton Roads' Business Hall of Fame.

    Active in many civic and community organizations, he has served as a two-term Rector of the Norfolk State University Board of Visitors, Chairman of the NSU E2F Foundation, Chairman of the Hampton Roads Partnership, Chairman of the Hampton Industrial Development Authority, Chairman of the CIVIC Leadership Institute, Vice Chairman of WHRO, and Vice Chairman of the Jamestown/Yorktown Foundation. He currently serves on the boards of several public and private sector enterprises. Mr. Ezzell is a strong advocate for individuals with disabilities and chairs the Arc of the Virginia Peninsula. He is passionate about early childhood issues and established an innovative technology laboratory geared to children from kindergarten through fifth grade and to senior citizens. Mr. Ezzell spends a considerable amount of his personal time mentoring small business owners.

  • 19 Sep 2012 10:59 PM | Valencia Jowers (Administrator)
    At its September 2012 membership meeting, 10 new members were administered the 200+ Men Oath of Membership by parliamentarian Fred N. Quarles. New members are sworn-in each quarter. Those inducted were: Rev. Joseph B. Fleming, Christopher Gethers, Ronald Gray, Dr. Samuel King, Samuel Lymon, Wendell Patrick, Mozell Person, Rev. William Marcus Small, Charles Smith and Michael Taylor. After taking the oath, each inductee received the “Handshake of Fellowship” from those members in attendance and a 200+ Men gift bag. Two additional new members, Errick Jennings and Tony Rowlette, could not attend the induction.
  • 31 Aug 2012 10:11 PM | Valencia Jowers (Administrator)

    Rickey L. Ross is the new president of the Norfolk Federation of Civic Leagues, an umbrella organization that supports local neighborhood groups and pursues its own goals.

    Ross, a member of The 200+ Men membership committee, told The Virginian-Pilot's Cherise M. Newsome that he wants to see the federation get involved in a supportive way with Norfolk Public Schools. A graduate of Norfolk State University (BS in industrial arts education), Ross teaches computer-assisted drafting at Lake Taylor High School in Norfolk. He is also treasurer and website administrator of the Meadowbrook Woods Civic League, which his wife, Deborah, heads. Ross became involved with the federation in late 2008 as a delegate from his civic league.

    What's the most pressing need or issue facing civic leagues? "Civic engagement and involvement," Ross told Newsome. He said that individuals should get involved in civic organizations "to exercise their most basic civil rights as citizens of this country beginning at the local level of government."

  • 22 Aug 2012 9:55 PM | Valencia Jowers (Administrator)
    Del. Kenneth C. Alexander of Norfolk  is on track to fill the Virginia Senate seat of the late Sen. Yvonne B. Miller. A five-term Democratic delegate,  Alexander faces no opposition in a special election September 4 to fill the unexpired 5th District seat.

    A longtime Miller friend and supporter, Alexander carries the endorsement of the late senator's family. Miller, who died July 3 of cancer, was the first black female in the Virginia General Assembly and the first to head a Senate committee.

    "Senator Yvonne B. Miller encouraged me at every step, reminding me that service is a journey and membership is repaid by giving back," Alexander has said.
    Alexander, whose campaign motto is "An Experienced and Proven Leader," was first elected to the House of Delegates in 2002. He is a former chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.
    A 200+ member, Alexander has been a table sponsor of the annual 200+ Scholars Breakfast. He has also helped to facilitate the itinerary of our annual Caravan to Richmond, which affords  high school students and others an up-close-and personal view of state government in action.

  • 16 Aug 2012 10:14 PM | Valencia Jowers (Administrator)
    The Rev. Dr. Todd C. Davidson,  the featured speaker at our 15th Annual 200+ Scholars Breakfast, is the new pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio.

    Davidson, 34, has also resigned his at-large seat on the Virginia Beach School Board. First elected in 2006, becoming the panel's youngest member, he was re-elected in November 2010. He was he panel's lone African-American and minority member.    

    Davidson's departure is a "tremendous loss," for Virginia Beach Public Schools, board chair Daniel D. Edwards told WAVY News. He said that Davidson was "a stabilizing force on our School Board, always keeping us focused on the greater good of children."   

    A Norfolk native, Davidson taught at Granby High school for a year and was then dean of students at James Blair Middle School before assuming the pastorate at Piney Grove. He holds a bachelor's degree in government  and elementary education from the College of William and Mary and a master of divinity degree (magna cum laude) from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University. He earned  a doctoral degree in educational policy, planing and leadership at William and Mary.
  • 11 Aug 2012 9:20 PM | Valencia Jowers (Administrator)

    Gary T, McCollum, a 200+ member and former Scholars Breakfast honorary chair, has resigned from the Norfolk State University Board of Visitors.

    In announcing his exit, the board's rector revealed that he and his wife, Cookie, are expecting a girl in September. "We're excited and overjoyed," said McCollum, who has an adult daughter from his first marriage.

    McCollum told the board that his wife wanted him to reduce his non-job responsibilities. He is on several boards and is involved in myriad community-betterment efforts. 

    Senior vice president and general manager of Cox Communications' Virginia System, McCollum was appointed to the NSU board in 2007 by then Governor Timothy Kaine. He said that Norfolk State is moving ahead, thanks to NSU President Tony Atwater and a strong board.

  • 09 Aug 2012 10:29 PM | Valencia Jowers (Administrator)

    Phillip D. Adams, a 200+ member, is now vice president for university advancement at Savannah State University in Georgia.

    Adams left Norfolk State University, where he was vice president for university advancement and executive director of the NSU Foundation since 2007, to assume the new post in mid-June.

    He will direct all university programs related to fundraising and oversee the offices of Alumni Affairs, Marketing and Communications, Development and Development Services. He will also be the university’s chief advancement officer and orchestrate comprehensive capital campaigns; cultivate and solicit major gifts; perform prospect research and management; and manage the affairs of the SSU Foundation.

    Adams, who joined NSU in 2000 as associate vice president for  development, previously was vice president  for institutional advancement at LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis and development director at Saint Louis University in St. Louis. He holds an undergraduate degree in human resources management from Saint Leo University in Tampa, Fla., and a master's degree in human resources administration from Golden Gate University in San Francisco.

    Established in 1890, Savannah State is the oldest public historically black college or university in Georgia. It enrolls 4,500 students.
  • 09 Aug 2012 8:05 PM | Valencia Jowers (Administrator)
    Jordan was the 200+ vice president for economic justice until he chose recently not to stand for another term as an officer or director. A digital inclusion visionary and technology consultant, Jordan was one of three new recent members appointed to open board seats in Norfolk. The Hampton University graduate (computer science) was among 10 candidates interviewed by Norfolk City Council in closed session prior to the new selections.

    In his interview, Jordan said that the school district has "kind of lost our way a little bit" since successes in the past decade netted it the prestigious Broad Prize for Urban Education. Jordan said NPS should strive to be the top in the country, with children graduating with "work-ready skills."

    In Portsmouth, the School Board appointed Fleming, assistant pastor of Third Baptist Church, to temporarily fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Ernest L. Reid, who left to take a job out of state. Voters in November will elect a replacement to serve the balance of Reid's four-year term.

    Fleming is the youngest son of Rev. Joe B. Fleming, Third Baptist's pastor. He holds an undergrad degree in English from Virginian Union University, and a master of divinity degree from that institution's Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology.
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