Thursday, December 10, 2009

NAM Stimulus Watch

Stimulus dollars to help rebuild hospital


Dr. Angela Nossett, Chief Medical Officer of the Martin Luther King, Jr.-Multi-Service Ambulatory Care Center discusses plans for the new hospital during a Dec. 2 community meeting in Watts/Willowbrook. (photo by Charlene Muhammad)


LOS ANGELES-Residents in the primarily low-income Watts/Willowbrook communities have gone without a full-service, ambulatory care hospital for two years now, but a pact by Los Angeles County and the University of California, and federal assistance from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will help to reopen the Martin Luther King, Jr. Hospital.


The county closed MLK in 2007 after it failed a series of federal inspections, but prior to that, a broad coalition of residents, medical professionals, and health advocates across South L.A. held a series of marches, protests and town hall meetings to try to save what for decades had been more than a hospital.


The facility, formerly called the King/Drew Medical Center (in honor of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and blood plasma pioneer Dr. Charles R. Drew) was built in 1966, one year after the Watts rebellion, in response to poor medical services in the area.


King/Drew’s legacy included its historic trauma center and medical school, which helped to train a legion of minority doctors to serve what was then known as South Central Los Angeles.


King/Drew’s highly-skilled doctors also helped to train U.S. Army physicians to treat patients in combat zones.  Many hailed it as a positive symbol of health care and economics for poor, urban neighborhoods across America.


“With the hospital closed, it leaves a whole generation of people uncovered in terms of health services and emergency services, and it disproportionately impacts the region,” said author and columnist Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad.


He experienced the void firsthand recently, when his sister had to be rushed to County General Hospital, which is much farther away than King.


“The fact that we are in the richest and most affluent society in the world yet don’t have health and medical infrastructures in key urban cities to take care of potentially life-threatening situations is the reason we should have hospitals in communities, particularly underserved communities with large populations of uninsured,” Dr. Samad said.


The current MLK, Jr. Multi-Service Ambulatory Care Center houses an Urgent Care Center that treats non-life threatening medical problems such as fevers, colds, and sprains. Its outpatient clinics offer services in HIV/AIDS, cardiology, dermatology, dentistry, geriatrics, neurology, orthopedic and physical therapy.


Under the agreement, the full service hospital will reopen with UC providing the physician staff and developing a graduate medical training program. L.A. County will cover the finances for the project. 


According to Jan Takata, senior manager in the county’s Chief Executive Office, up to $56 million of the government’s $787 billion stimulus plan will help to repay interest on the loans used to construct MLK’s new Multi-Service Ambulatory Care Center, which will cost $145.3 million.


“This is going to allow us to start construction on the new ambulatory care center in 2010, so the community will start to see the effects and the impact almost immediately,” he told The Final Call.


To be eligible for the bonds, designated areas must have a significant amount of poverty, unemployment and home foreclosures or general distress.  According to recent testimony before the House Committee on Ways and Means by William Hobson, president/CEO of Watts Health Care Corporation in South Los Angeles, approximately 96 percent of 23,000 patients at the Watts Health Center have incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.


2nd District Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas told The Final Call the campaign to reopen MLK Hospital began Dec. 2, 2008. “We pushed as hard as we were because there’s a deadline to get all of this in place so that we can qualify for the $56 million in savings,” he said.


Shortly after he was elected in 2008, Mr. Ridley-Thomas began the campaign to reopen MLK.  “Here we are 12 months later with $350 plus million, with the UC agreement, an enthusiastic community, and a responsive local government to restore these services and build a new hospital that will be worthy of replication,” he said.


The new 38-acre campus will feature a 120-bed community hospital, run by a non-profit, 501c3, fully independent board. It will have a community advisory board and be equipped with an emergency room, operating theater, ancillary services, and other hospital services that will be coordinated with local, county, and private health providers.


In addition, Supt. Ridley-Thomas told community stakeholders, the hospital project alone would create some 300-400 jobs on the site, and according to economists, each one would create a job in the community. So roughly, we are looking at creating 600-800 jobs through construction of the hospital alone, he said.


Supt. Ridley-Thomas is pushing for a local hiring policy by the county, especially with regard to construction jobs, to ensure employment for the Watts/Willowbrook community.


The hospital is a key anchor, but it will benefit three zones on and around campus through proposed projects totaling $400 million.  They include metro station transportation improvements; two health centers (one to be built first in March 2010); a community college health care training academy; the Willowbrook Library; and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Fitness Park, which will replace an existing fitness center in Compton.


--30--

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Day in Washington, D.C.


Anthony Robinson, Esq., President MBELDEF at NAM's Stimulus Fellowship Workshop, University of California Center, Washington, D.C.

New America Media Stimulus Fellowship - Day 1

I arrived in D.C. last night! Beautiful flight, great escorts, awesome dinner, even better hotel.  

New America's coming very strong to help introduce us to or fill in the blanks on the Stimulus and what it may or may not mean for you.

Aaron Glantz, NAM Stimulus Editor kicked off today's workshops with an update on the Stimulus and how to maneuver the many databases for our reporting.

Right now Atty. Anthony Robinson (Minority Business Enterprise Legal and Defense and Education Fund), Devere Kutshcher (United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce) are explaining what the recovery plan means in terms of demographics, contracts, and the real story behind the federal funding.

Khalil Abdullah (New America Media)

The words for today are INFORMATION and ACCOUNTABILITY.  

The discussion's very frank and they're making it plain, so I haven't gotten lost in the terms and numbers.  I like it.  Gotta go.

SCM

















NAM Fellow Christina Fresquez-Pizzaro (El Seminario), Suzanne Manneh (Stimulus Coordinator, Arab and Latino Media Monitor, New America Media, Devere Kutshcher (United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce), Khalil Abdullah (New America Media), NAM Fellow Edwin Buggage (New Orleans Data News Weekly)




















Friday, October 23, 2009

New America Media Fellow


All Praise Is Due To Allah!  This week brought a lot of professional good news, some if being that I won a fellowship from New America Media (NAM), the largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations.  

I was selected with 13 out of 50 applicants from diverse publications across the country.  We will use the fellowships to document the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on the ethnic communities served by our publications.  

More specifically, for the Final Call, I will investigate equity issues in the employment, education, and housing sections of the Recovery Act.
  
I've always considered it a privilege and a blessing from Allah to have a platform from which to produce news and information that educates, enlightens, informs, and uplifts our community.  I believe that winning this fellowship from New America Media will strongly enhance that work.  I am grateful to NAM for spearheading such an important project and for the opportunity to be a part of it. 

This is a time of struggle like our people have never experienced before.  Although the Stimulus Package doesn't hold all of the answers to the issues facing the Black community, it does hold some financial assistance and I look forward to finding out what that assistance is, how it has been used so far, and how it can be accessed.

As part of the fellowship, we will meet in Washington, D.C. next month for an extensive training on the stimulus. We'll meet national policy-makers, leading investigative and business journalists, policy advocates, and researchers.  NAM will disseminate the stories we produce to ethnic and mainstream media partners and non-profit collaborators through its news wire.

The other fellowship recipients are:  Linnie Bailey, Black Voice (Corona, CA), Marcony Almeida Barros, The Brazilian Journal (Boston, MA), Edwin Buggage, New Orleans Data News Weekly (New Orleans, LA), Maya Lolbe Corona, Rumbo (Houston, TX), Charles Ding, Sing Tao (Los Angeles, CA), Christina Fresquez-Pizzaro, El Seminario (Lakewood, CO), Khalil AlHajal, Arab American News (Dearborn, MI), Charles Hallman, The Spokesman-Recorder (Minneapolis, MN), Victor Merina, RezNet (Missoula, MT), Cristina Pastor, Philippine News (New York, NY), Eva Sanchis, El Dario/La Prensa (New York, NY), Mohsin Zaheer, Daily Khabrain (New York, NY). 

More about NAM's Stimulus Watch at www.newamericamedia.org.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

At Day In L.A. at the Taste of Soul


Danny Bakewell, Sr., Publisher, Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper and Taste of Soul creator.

The Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper brought art, culture, business and family together again for the 4th Annual Taste of Soul 2009 Festival on October 17. Taste of Soul is considered the largest block party in L.A.

This year, finally, I was able to attend. Because it takes place usually on the same weekend I'm away for the commemoration of the Holy Day of Atonement, Million Man March.

It was scorching hot but that didn't keep people from coming out. What I liked best about Taste of Soul is seeing the joy on our people's faces. We know it's been rough! Home foreclosures, health issues, youth violence, this and that, but for one day in L.A. on Crenshaw Boulevard, people could forget their troubles and become one.

"A Taste of Soule is for you," said Danny Bakewell, Sr., Taste of Soul Creator and Executive Publisher of the LA Sentinel.




Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Freeway Ricky Ross - New Man on a New Mission

Sis. Charlene Muhammad interviews Ricky Ross during his homecoming celebration September 29 (photo Amin Ali Muhammad)


The Final Call Newspaper goes one on one with Freeway Ricky Ross


Several months ago I got a phone call - three in fact - informing that former 'crack cocaine kingpin' Freeway Ricky Ross was being released from prison. He was utilized as a pawn in the CIA's scheme to distribute crack cocaine throughout urban cities all across America and was sentenced to life in prison for his role.

I received a call inviting me to Ross' homecoming celebration just as my family and I were arriving at our mosque for an address by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan tonight. "We apologize. We meant to call you sooner, but we hope the Final Call can make it," his brother, David said. Hope! Please? This was the call.

After soaking in Min. Farrakhan's prophetic message we rushed to Ross' family's home. I thought we'd be driving far but who knew? It happens to be in the same neighborhood as mine / close walking distance. This gave us more time to talk. Today was a good day.

Ross shared a lot - lessons learned, whether he has any regrets, and why he feels he's on a God-given mission.


I'd never met Ricky Ross before - except through the countless news stories, articles and documentaries that have showcased his life. I tried to be unassuming. I didn't know what to expect.


We arrived and were greeted by a very humble, kind, grounded person, fully at peace with himself and his mission, which he told the Final Call is to save as many young lives as he can.


Check in with the Final Call Newspaper soon to find out how Rick Ross is doing this. (http://www.finalcall.com/).

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Day In L.A...



at the Ebony Repertory Theatre


I received an email invitation to An Evening With Dr. Keith Black from Bro. Wren T. Brown, Founder/Producer of the Ebony Repertory Theatre. The evening was one of the best that I've ever experienced. Thank you Bro Wren! and co-sponsor, the National Black MBA Association, Inc., Los Angeles Chapter.






Dr. Black, a renowned neurosurgeon, recently released his new book, Brain Surgeon: A Doctor's Inspiring Encounters with Mortality and Miracles.

He spoke at length with the audience about what inspired him to be a brain surgeon and how good parenting made a difference in his life. Despite his tight schedule, Dr. Black took questions and greeted as many people as he could during the post reception in his honor. I enjoyed a lot about tonight, but what warmed my heart was his humility and the time he made for the community. I mean, a top expert in his field was here and accessible. And get this: general admission was just $20 and that included his book!






Dr. Black answered my Three Point Probe during his reception - see below - and look for more on why he wrote the book, his perspective on the health care debate, and his passion for the brain in the Final Call Newspaper soon!


Three Point Probe with Dr. Keith Black


Sis. Charlene: You talked about how on your journey, you persevered by turning negative energy that came your way into a positive for you. What has been your biggest challenge on your journey?


Dr. Black: When my research when I moved to UCLA (the University of California at Los Angeles) wasn't working and I really had to understand why, and thinking that basically my career in research would be over. But the persistence of trying to understand that answer actually led to another discovery which opened up another door, which led now to our ability to another discovery, which opened up another door which led now to our ability to improve delivery of chemotherapeutic drugs to patients with brain tumors.

Sis Charlene: What do you make of recent news reports that some 45,000 people die annually because they don't have health insurance?

Dr. Black: I'm not really familiar with those statistics, but I the problem in this country is not really a lack of health care, it's really a lack of health insurance. If someone has an emergency and they go to the emergency room, then the emergency room will treat you. But it's really the chronic disorders, making sure that one has good control of the high blood pressure, the diabetes, getting screening for prostate cancer, getting screening for breast cancer, those are the other areas where I think we can do a better job and improve the quality of care.

Sis Charlene: What do you love most about your career?

Dr. Black: There are a number of things I really like about it. One is I wake up every day and I know that I have the potential of helping someone. That is very gratifying. I have the potential of making a new discovery, which can improve the lives of people. And I work in an area, that I think is extremely fascinating and with the most incredible organ in the universe and that's the human brain. I just feel very blessed and very lucky.

Sis. Charlene: Thank you.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Van Jones "Green Czar" Resigns

Returning from vacation, Beck targeted Van Jones, the president's adviser for green jobs, enterprise and innovation.

Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. Van Jones resigned from his post as President Obama's environmental advisor last night. What would make a man with years of experience in renewable energy, and a staunch advocate for green jobs quit when the country's most in need of this expertise?

Well, he co-founded ColorOfChange.org, the Bay Area-based activist organization that launched an online campaign against right wing Fox talk show host Glenn Beck, immediately after he called Pres. Obama a racist.

Immediately after the petition hit the web, Beck's sponsors started distancing themselves from his show and divisive rhetoric.

Van Jones had been inactive with ColorOfChange.org for some time as (before his job as the White House "Green Czar") he had founded and headed up Green For All, a national organization that strives to build a green economy and lift people out of poverty.

But Beck and the right wing went after Jones (not ColorofChange.org - because the real target is Pres. Obama and Jones' position allowed them to hit two birds with one stone), pulled up some of his past protest activities and lectures that addressed Bush's role in 911 and the Republican Party, and linked Jones' independent views to the President's. Well, the rest is history.

This issue is not just about Barack, Beck and Jones. The American people - especially the poor - stand to lose. Jones possesses the expertise needed to move the country from a wasteful economy to one that both provides the renewable resources it needs and put its people to work developing them.

All in all, Glenn Beck lost dozens of advertisers, but with Van Jones' resignation, the country, in the middle of one of the biggest recessions and unemployment eras in history, loses green jobs and much more.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Glenn Beck's "Obama racist" charge costs more advertisers


Glenn Beck.jpg
  
Glenn Beck, the over-the-top talk show host on Fox News Channel, who called President Barack Obama a racist, is losing advertisers for his Glenn Beck 
Show at this very moment.


But instead of apologizing and repenting, he is attacking ColorOfChange.org, the organization that swiftly and strategically launched an online petition asking advertisers to pull the plug. But he's not going at them head-on.

Beck is instead running negative profiles of Van Jones, the President's "Green Czar."  Remember him?  The Final Call actually featured Mr. Jones and his organization Green For All earlier this year.  Currently he is the special advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.  Mr. Jones co-founded the San Francisco Bay-Area ColorOfChange.org with James Rucker.

At the time of this posting, ColorOfChange.org has yet to hear from Red Lobster and Vonage, but the advertisers that have kicked Beck to the curb so far, or pledged to, are:

Clorox, Lowe's, Sprint, Airware Inc., Ancestry.com, AT&T, Blaine Labs Inc., Campbell Soup, Ditech, The Elations Company, Experian, Farmers Insurance Group, Johnson & Johnson, NutriSystem, UPS Store, Proctor & Gamble, Wal-Mart, and Verizon Wireless.

At least two of the companies said that they didn't advertise on Beck's show but their products were tagged to other items that did and they've taken action to have their ID's removed from the show's commercials.

I'll keep watching...(and not the Glenn Beck Show).

Returning from vacation, Beck targeted Van Jones, the president's adviser for green jobs, enterprise and innovation.


(Photos:  Top/Glenn Beck...Bottom/Van Jones)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Will we see the reopening of King Drew Hospital soon?




God willing, if Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas has his way.  And usually, he gets it.

Right now, I'm  sitting in a filled-to-capacity auditorium at the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas has called out all community activists, leadership and residents, anyone who's concerned about lacking healthcare in the L.A. community and surrounding areas, to support his efforts to reopen the Martin Luther King, Jr./Charles R. Drew Medical Center.  

The Supervisors' regular meeting actually started at 9:30 but he's placed a special item on the agenda just for King Drew.

There are several recommendations, but primarily, we're here to see if the hospital will open for in-patient services.  

This is a hot button issue folks.  Several years ago, the Watts/Willowbrook community was stripped of the hospital for various reasons - I'll post links to past articles in a bit.  The meeting's starting.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

HOT OFF THE PRESS!!! Why is White Right attacking the first Black president?


President Barack Obama recently met over beer with Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Sgt. James Crowley, hoping to diffuse tense debates over racial profiling and racial bias triggered by the arrest of the Harvard University scholar by the Cambridge, Mass., police department officer. Though that racially charged conversation may be over, vicious attacks on the first Black President of the United States are not. Analysts say don't expect the attacks to end anytime soon. » FULL STORY at http://www.finalcall.com/.

Monday, August 3, 2009

NO JUSTICE FOR SUSIE PENA

Remember 19-month-old Susie Pena? How could we forget the plump-cheeked baby Latina that was shot and killed in July 2005 when LAPD SWAT officers stormed an auto sales shop in Watts. Her father, Raul Pena had taken her hostage in a stand-off with police and barricaded them both in the shop. No doubt they killed Mr. Pena, but sadly, Baby Susie was also shot once through the head.

Judge Rolf Treu dismissed the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Baby Susie's mother, Lorena Lopez, saying there was not enough evidence presented during the trial for a jury to find that the officers acted unreasonably.


According to reports, the judge ended the trial on the day the jury was supposed to hear final arguments.

We'll never know what the jury would have decided. But what if ...?

Can you imagine being shackled while giving birth?


Neither could some pregnant women in New York State. I found an interesting piece on the San Francisco Bay View Newspaper's site about a petition supporting a bill that would ban the use of restraints on incarcerated women before, during and after labor.

Toya Murray described it as torture, wrote Jacquie Simone in the article, which posted July 29. She was pregnant when she went into prison for a 15-month sentence for a non-violent crime.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Farrakhan Speaks: "The Crucifixion of Michael Jackson and All Responsible Black Leadership"

Did you know that Michael Jackson was a lecturer? That he was poised to sing "Man in the Mirror" at the 1995 Million Man March, but donated $100,000 to the March instead? That he forgave his father and had mending their relationship? That he was considered an arch angel? I didn't either until Min. Farrakhan revealed a part of M.J. many were unaware of.

Didn't get to view The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan issue his powerful insight into and defense of Michael Jackson this past Sunday? Not to worry. Visit http://www.store.finalcall.com/ for the CD or DVD and visit your local spot, the brother on the corner, or http://www.finalcall.com/ for the Final Call's coverage of his address.


THANKS FOR SUPPORTING THE FINAL CALL NEWSPAPER!



Sunday, July 26, 2009

Deafening Silence on Respecting and Protecting the Black Female


Rochelle Bilal, president Guardian Civic League



With all the uproar, national news and debates about Professor Henry Louis Gates, the esteemed historian who was arrested by a white police officer inside his home...google the details...the death threats against a black police woman in Philadelphia are flying under the radar - cable news that is.

Sure, it's made some national news, but where is the outrage and concern by the pundints- the same ones who are demanding that President Barack Obama apologizes to the arresting officer in Gates' incident for, uhhh, weighing in on the incident, after being asked to by a reporter. What would they be saying if the President said 'no comment?' It hasn't even matched the routine coverage of over-sexed, adulterous politicians.

Oops, i digressed..anyway..

I found the story on
http://www.blackreport.com/, originally posted on http://www.philly.com/.


According to philly.com, Rochelle Bilal works in narcotics intelligence for the Philadelphia Police Department. She is the president of the Guardian Civic League, its black police association. Recently, the League filed a lawsuit against the department over the website Domelights.com, alleging it is a discussion board for hundreds of racist rants.

According to reports, the site is not run by the department, but is administered by a police sergeant. WHAT??????!!!

Since protesting the site as hurtful to her people and divisive to the department, Ms. Bilal has received death threats, including one suggesting that she deserved to be gang raped. WHAT????? !!!!

So far the city and department have blocked access to the site, philly.com reports, but I believe more should occur. From the department, certainly. But really, from our community. We're drawn into a real, frank and even necessary discussion about when, why and how Prof. Gates was arrested and racial profiling dialogues have exploded again, at least in the mainstream, but they've been ongoing in our communities. Why aren't cable news networks on fire with or digging into this issue - and I don't mean a 3-minute story or headline. They are snorting everything out about Michael Jackson (where did he buy his jacket buttons; interviewing seamstresses who hemmed his pants, staking out the home of people who shined his shoes - digging up dirt on this brother).

The local NAACP has gotten involved but the major media networks should investigate and illuminate this issue with the same vigor they go after other stories.

Better yet, Why Aren't We?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Michael Jackson Homegoing


(Look for more on the Michael Jackson Public Memorial in next week's issue of the Final Call!)


Celebration and sorrow filled the air inside the Staples Center during the Michael Jackson Public Memorial Service.

In a few words, the King of Pop's home-going was classy, somber, star-studded, exciting, all at the same time.  Out of millions of people, journalists in the world, Allah blessed me to be inside the center with Ali, my husband and constant Final Call companion.  


The Final Call was not just on the inside, but we were three rows from the floor in the first section from the stage, and slightly elevated, so we could see everyone and everything coming in and going out:  the Jackson Family, Chris Brown, Dick Gregory, Usher, Jennifer Hudson, Lionel Richie, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and his children, Mustapha, Joshua and Maria, Spike and Tonya Lee, Rev. Al Sharpton, Berry Gordy, Sean Combs (P-Diddy), Don King, Mike Tyson, Smokey Robinson, Rev. Michael Eric Dyson, Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, Kyla Pratt, Terry Crews, and on and on.

As you may have witnessed, there were countless, memorable moments during the ceremony but Paris, Michael's 11-year-0ld-daughter, pulled all the reservation and 'keep-it-togetherness' out of the audience when she spoke about her daddy being the best anyone could imagine.
In the section just above us fans began sobbing and weeping loudly, just as they did when Stevie Wonder sang.  

One woman kept reaching out her arm to the child and covering her mouth with her t-shirt to try to control herself, but she couldn't help it.  She wasn't the only one.  We could hear the sobs throughout the Staples Center, just as clearly as we heard the periodic outbursts of "We love you, Michael," and "Thanks for making me a better person, Michael!"


For the record, one news pundit reported that Smokey Robinson false started the ceremony, however, he didn't.  While I was greeting Min. Farrakhan and his family and delegation, the announcer began ushering everyone to their seats and the memorial began.  I'd gotten a text from our son, Askia, that the Jacksons' motorcade was enroute from their private ceremony at Forest Lawn Cemetery.

After Mr. Robinson read statements from Diana Ross and Nelson Mandela, the Jacksons arrived and out of respect, things paused.  The center erupted in applause and recognition of them and once they were all seated, every one of them and their guests, the service resumed.  
The break wasn't a mistake or error.  This was right to do.  It's how we do things.

We noted no  incidents in or outside that could have spoiled the occasion.  As we were driving inside the perimeter, police officers were scolding a few vendors who were walking through traffic, but nothing else.  No one seemed to mind the long lines and wait to enter the Staples Center.  

When we got into the "hot zone," we saw about 300 people in line, leading from the beginning of the LAPD check point, extending under an overpass and nearly to the freeway, but we turned into our parking structure before I could see where the line actually ended.

My husband and I realized that by 9 p.m. we were still reflecting on the day so much that we still had on our wristbands.  "The Staples Center was transformed by the spirit of the people, which reflected the spirit of Michael Jackson.  The magnitude, for me, could only compare to the Million Man March, meaning like the millions of men who wept at the March, I couldn't help but weep during parts of the tribute - when his daughter spoke and when Rev. Sharpton fired up the audience," Ali later shared with me.

I think what impacted me most about the service was the realization that the Jacksons are people too.  We get caught up in their star power, mystique, and fortune, but at the end of the day, they stood on that stage, together, Black, Bold, Beautiful, and unified, to give their loved one his due.

Thank you Jackson Family for letting us share in this moment in such a big way.

RIP Michael Jackson.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

LIVE! From Neverland




While millions of Michael Jackson fans scrambled to win lottery tickets to his memorial service on July 7, hundreds more had a down home celebration of life at the front entrance to his Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara County.


From the time we hit Figueroa Mountain Road leading to the property, we could hear his music blasting from the back of parked cars and sonic boom boxes.  



This crew didn't care about the restricted dance floor.  They still rocked a limited version of the electric slide when P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) came on!






I can't lie, I wanted to bust a move so bad, but you know.  I didn't.   (But Ali and I did take a picture.....)


People had come from everywhere:  Norway, the Phillipines, London, Guatemala.  Although they were sad about his passing, they said they found joy in hearing his songs and just being there with each other.  




We met a lot of interesting fans like Kena Sage from Atlanta.  She just happened to be in L.A. on business when Michael died. 















Wiedjai Sewgobind from London says he's been crying all week and yesterday, when he arrived at Neverland, really was the first time he felt better.

More in the next issue of the Final Call, God willing!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Finally, a farewell






The 10:00 A.M. press conference on the King of Pop's memorial service was a media, and nearly fan, frenzy!

Speculation about when, where and how Michael Jackson would be memorialized were put aside this morning when a Jackson Family representative and City of Los Angeles officials  confirmed that his memorial will take place Tuesday, July 7 at two venues Downtown L.A.
Tim Leiweke (President of AEG (Jackson's concert promoter) and owner of the Staples Center), Jan Perry (Councilmember and Acting L.A. Mayor through Tuesday), Ken Sunshine (Jackson Family representative) and Earl Paysinger (LAPD Assistant Chief) gave no other details about the memorial's line up or expected performers or guests, but they did say without a doubt that there would be no viewing of Michael Jackson's body.

11,000 lucky fans will witness the event live in the Staples Center and 6,500 more will view it simulcast on three big screen theaters across the street in the new Nokia theater at LA Live, a new mega-entertainment center.


photos by Charlene Muhammad (l-r) LAPD Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger, Ken Sunshine (Jackson Family rep), Councilmember Jan Perry (podium) and Tim Leiweke, President AEG - Staples Center owner).

Media trucks and reporters flooded both parking lots at the intersection in front of the Staples Center.

The highly anticipated event will also be distributed via a world wide pool feed for free.

Within minutes of the announcement, eager fans caused www.staplescenter.com to crash.

Fans have until tomorrow at 6 p.m to register for two each of the 7,050 tickets on hand.  Between 11 A.M. and 8 P.M. Sunday, fans selected from a random drawing will be notified how to pick up their mandatory tickets and wristbands.
Without them, Chief Paysinger said, people will not be allowed in the perimeter. 

Easily, he told the Final Call, they are expecting 500,000 people or more to converge on the area. 


Ken Sunshine stressed respect for the Jackson family during what is still a very difficult time.  Chief Paysinger and Councilmember Perry stressed public safety, and Mr. Leiweke stressed that absolutely no tickets would be sold, per the family's request.

LISTEN, if you're in L.A. on other business, do yourself a favor and avoid these streets, which will be hard boundary closures on Tuesday:

Flower east,
Olympic north,
Pico south
Blaine street west.

More in the upcoming Final Calsoon, God willing!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

BET AWARDS - The Stars Shined for Their Brightest - Michael Jackson



Within 3-4 days BET worked to transition their long-planned 2009 Awards Show into a special tribute to Michael Jackson, who passed away at age 50 on June 25.

The Final Call was among hundreds of reporters on hand to capture the moment.

"When we heard the news about Michael Jackson's passing on Thursday, we knew immediately that we were going to have to change the nature of this show...Michael Jackson has been so important to the world, our network and our country," said BET Chairman and CEO Debra Lee.

 

BACKSTAGE AT THE BET AWARDS...

photos:  Charlene Muhammad


Michael Jackson's father Joe Jackson.  His sister, Janet, appeared briefly on stage.






















Also:  Ciara performed "Heal the World."  During interviews she became fearful when she told reporters that Michael was her inspiration, especially since she entered the industry without any formal training.   


Mary Mary tore it up with Queen Latifah!   

Members of Guy (center is Teddy Riley, who wrote top selling hits for and with Michael Jackson).   

Best Actress Taraji P. Henson.   

Actress Keke Palmer sang "Loving You".    

Ralph Tresvant, Johnny Gill and Bobby Brown, branched off from New Edition with new group, "Heads of State".

























































Thursday, June 25, 2009

Remembering Michael Jackson



Michael Jackson made his transition today after going into full cardiac arrest. 


I was shocked and knew I had to get to work right away on coverage but for a moment I was paralyzed by all of the text messages and phone calls I received either for confirmation or to alert me.


When my husband Ali and I arrived to gather news at his home, we encountered numerous fans waiting to cross police tape to get to his house or get a glimpse of some of his family members.  


When we left the neighborhood at about 9:30 PM his fans were still walking up Sunset Boulevard, carrying flowers, posters and candles.


One fan told TV reporters this was the day that music died.




My 11-year-old daughter, Ra'eesah, planted this poster board near our front door today.  She was two years off the mark, but she understood the magnitude of his life and his passing.
















L.A. Coroners with LAPD escorts to Michael Jackson's Holmby Hills home.





















LAPD Officers guard front entrance to Michael Jackson's home.