Mental health in the Black Community is a topic that many advocates say doesn’t get enough attention. During the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference, families and advocates joined forces to share a powerful message. NewsVision’s Bria Patterson reports.
Capital Bikeshare, D.C.’s bike rental system, has added electric bikes to its fleet this week. Beginning Wednesday September 5th, 80 new Capital Bikesure Plus e-bikes will be available in its system and the addition is part of a plan to diversify the line by about 4,300 bikes in the Washington region, according to officials with the District Department of Transportation. In an era of ride sharing apps and electric scooters, Capital Bikeshare has struggled to remain competitive. Transportation officials anticipate e-bikes will make biking a more enticing option for commuters.
Unlike conventional bikes, the Plus bikes feature a motor that assists with pedaling. Users engage the motor by pedaling, unlike conventional motorbikes that feature a throttle. The bikes can go up to 18 miles per hour, but faster speed is possible by pedaling harder, making the bikes a good alternative to short commutes on ride hailing apps.
The e-bikes will run through November and are expected to work seamlessly with the existing bikeshare system. The bikes, black and sleek, are distinctly different from its signature red bikes. Much like the electric scooters that have gained popularity in the city, Capital Bikeshare hopes the bikes will become the transportation of choice for longer trips or for those who need the extra assistance to get around on two wheels.
However, electronic bikes have shaky regulations and were banned in New York despite their popularity overseas and in other parts of the country. The bikes have become synonymous with reckless driving on bike lanes and sidewalks, making them the bane of pedestrians and drivers alike. However, commuter and CityLab reporter Sarah Hilder, has different ideas.
“We’ve seen e-bikes in the city before with Uber’s JUMP bikes and I don’t think it’ll be a problem adding more,” she said. Uber’s JUMP bikes haven’t seen much popularity growth since being absorbed by Uber earlier this year, but the ride hailing app itself has played a big part in Capital Bikeshares new rollout. “It will be interesting to see if there is any opposition to it.”
“Cities like New York crack down on congestion formed by all the cars on the street,” Kim Lucas, manager of Capital Bikeshare’s system, referring to Uber and Lyft cars. “We always encourage Bikeshare as an alternative to calling a car, and hopefully this will give even more incentive.”
Capital Bikeshare is one of the oldest bikeshares in the country, and, despite regulations hindering their use on some suburban sidewalks throughout Maryland, many residents have come to depend on Bikeshare for commuting. Bikeshare is also a staple for tourists in the metro. “These bikes are going to add a level of excitement to our fleet and that’s what really matters,” said Lucas.
From mass shootings at public schools to violence in the streets of America’s largest cities, the issue of gun violence was a focal point at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 48th Annual Legislative Conference.
NewsVision reporter Jenae Addison reports from the panel, “Our Schools, Our Communities, and Our Responsibility: Protecting Our Students from the Gun Violence Epidemic.”
Each year during the Congressional Black Caucus Forum’s Annual Legislative Conference, youth are provided the opportunity to discuss the issues that matter most to them.
This year, they focused on the importance and impact of receiving a higher education. NewsVision’s Bre’onna Richardson has the story.
To an outsider, it might seem as though today’s politics are backed by the church, but what church is speaking? On Thursday morning, the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church organized a rally for the Black church in front of the White House to address certain concerns affecting the African American community.
“The black church, historically, has been the voice of the community. It has been where most of the major accomplishments in the black community have begun. We think back to Martin Luther King and some of the others – it all began in the Black Church,” said Bishop W. James Thomas of Calvary Baptist Church in Dover, Delaware.
The goal of the rally was to not only unite the second district AME, which is comprised of churches across the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, but also the Black community as a whole behind these issues. These issues included criminal justice reform and economic equality.
“I know a lot of people say that the church is the most segregated organization in the land, however you feel better with your people. You can act better and work better with people who have gone through the same struggles as you,” said Sylvia Reed, the president of the Women’s Missionary Society at St. Paul AME Church in Columbus, Georgia. To further unite attendees, there was a wider variety of music. From live bands, to mainstream recordings, to hymnals.
Bishop Thomas believes it is crucial that the Black church takes time to address and include both the church and the Black community. When it comes to division within the church and the community, “most of those challenges are internal. I think we do have to come up with better ways to reach across different demographics. We have to come up with a better way to even address the concerns of our millennials,” said Thomas.
For many, like Arelis Davis, the wife of a bishop in the AME, next steps start at home. “First of all I am going to start with my family, and that is trying to inspire and motivate my grandchildren to know that when they get to the age of 18 they must register and vote…I would like for them to have a consciousness of the problems, of the ills of the society. And although they are one, one person can make a difference,” said Davis.
Hundreds stood in long lines to pay their respects to who they saw as a “true American hero” outside the Capitol Friday afternoon. Veterans and families with small children were among the diverse crowd who stood for hours in the sweltering heat waiting to pay their respects to decorated war hero, John McCain.
Once inside the Rotunda, small groups gathered around his flag-draped casket to say their final goodbyes. Flowers, sealed envelopes and other offerings were not allowed; but Everett Wills, a retired Gunnery Sergeant, brought something small yet special that built a common thread between both military veterans.
“I have a Montford Point Marine 75th anniversary coin. The Montford Point Marines are the first African Americans to join the Marine Corps between 1942 and 1949. The Marine Corp was the last branch to integrate and it was forced to integrate by Franklin Delano Roosevelt,” said Willis
The public deemed the six-time Arizona senator a hero who–like former president Barack Obama said had the “courage to put the greater good above our own.” D.C. resident Antoinette Robinson had similar sentiments as she waited in line with her family.
“I love John McCain because he is an American hero. When he was given the chance to be released as a POW, he chose not to. He made sure that all the men were released before him. He was a true true service person and served this country for over 60 years of his life. He should be honored and rewarded for that,” said Robinson.
George Nejmeh, a D.C. resident whose grandparents fled from Syria, praised McCain for his character which spoke to his integrity and strong moral principles.
“He was a man of all people. He had no prejudices. He loved everybody and that’s what we need in the world today. Tell me where you can find a lot of people like that? What people are willing to do that today? Not many. Not many. We need men like him.”
Mourners admired McCain for his bravery, patriotism and dedication to Americans.
Public and private memorial services celebrating the life and legacy of John McCain took place across the nation where he lied in state in both Washington D.C. and Phoenix ending with his burial at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland on Sunday.
He died last Saturday of brain cancer at age 81.
HairOnPurpose hosted a day-long conference aimed to, “engage, educate, and empower girls between the ages of 8-17,” through “hair education, activities, dynamic speakers, coaching sessions, and a styling suite.” On Saturday, August 25th, they brought its annual health and beauty conference to Washington, D.C., under the theme “The Eye of the Beholder.”
According to HairOnPurpose young girls today are met with over 5,000 advertising messages each day, enforcing the industry’s standards of beauty. Over time, research has shown that 66 percent of teens have begun to internalize these messages, and find themselves inadequate in comparison.
Although these messages might be coming at the youth at a higher rate, this quest for a beauty regimen and a positive self-image has been an issue for young girls across generations.
“The conference celebrated all black hair types from relaxed to natural. It was beautiful to see all all hair types being recognized and labeled as beautiful,” said Na’ima Jenkins, a volunteer with HairOnPurpose.
Many of the adult volunteers identified with the young girls and would have appreciated a conference like HairOnPurpose for themselves when they were younger. In fact, one of the driving inspirations behind the non-profit organization stems from the founder’s own difficulties growing up.
“It’s something that I definitely needed when I was young. I grew up with just my dad who didn’t know what to do with my hair, or with me or with me, or with anything,” said Olubunkola Ojeifo, founder and executive director of the organization.
Hair types vary greatly from one person to the next, and young girls often lack the hair care guidance they need. With the time and money this trial and error process consumes, it is common for young girls to struggle throughout their adolescence while they learn how to properly manage their hair. This frustrating journey can be discouraging to young girls and their self-esteem.
“Comparison is a real big thing. When I was a teenager, if I got bullied, I got to disconnect and go home…Unfortunately, teens nowadays don’t get to disconnect and it follows them. If they did something embarrassing after school, chances are somebody got a video,” said Ojeifo.
HairOnPurpose believes, “education is the key to power” and giving girls the “power” to embrace their hair encourages them to walk confidently in their journey. Anique Hameed, a board member for HairOnPurose, is proud of the organization’s growth. “We have a lot of community support, and we’re hoping to do more work locally,” said Hameed.
Attendees met with professional hairstylists in ‘The Empowerment Styling Suite’ to gain valuable and honest information from licensed stylists about their hair and how to care for it. With Do it Yourself (DIY) hair mask stations and tutorials, the girls learned things they could do on their own this upcoming school year.
After creating a safe space and grabbing the girls’ attention with beauty tips, they opened the floor for some deeper conversation centered around the social issues they face. In this conversation the girls touched on bullying, and feeling inadequate.
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The Peter Bugs Shoe Repair Academy in Southeast D.C. is full of history, life, and opportunity for anyone who comes in.
A native to D.C., John “Peter Bugs” Matthews is like the modern-day sShoemaker who continuously gives back to his community.
Matthews did not have it easy early in life. He struggled in school and developed a stutter. He said he was mistreated by teachers and brushed aside.
“I could have been the president but I’d be the first person on the short bus., I had a stutter and they took us and put people like us in the basement,” he said.
Matthews said he felt like this for most of his grade school experience until high school when he said he thought he caught a break. Bugs was placed in regular classes only to be told by his counselor that he had to attend a trade school.
“Not even 17 years old and I’m being discriminated against because of their mentality,” he lamented.
He may not have wanted to attend a trade school, but he went on to attend Phelps Vocational High school where he ended up in the shoe repair shop. He studied under Guy Panofino, a retired cColonel and an Italian shoemaker.
Immediately they connected, and Matthews said he didn’t feel so alone because Panofino also had a stutter. In the 12th grade, Panofino helped him get a two-year scholarship for shoe repair and boot making at the University of Oklahoma.
He later attended Federal City College, which is now known as the University of the District of Columbia. Graduating with a degree in sociology and anthropology, Matthews says that life after college was difficult at first because he couldn’t find a good paying job.
Matthews found a few jobs but said he knew he never wanted to work under anyone again. In May of 1977, he opened the Peter Bugs Shoe Repair Academy where he taught young men in the neighborhood how to make and repair shoes and work with leather.
Matthews stated, “this was also a rebirth for me, that’s where the name Peter Bugs came from.”
Mike Banner, a former student, expressed his love for the program and how it pushed him in all aspects of life to become the absolute best version of himself. He said that working under Matthews, “deals with your soul and your potential.”
Matthews made such an impact in his community that a block on 13th Street Southeast was renamed as “Peterbug Matthews Way” in recognition of his work.
“He’s very education oriented and always looking to help the youth in any way that he can. It’s the way we were raised, he had adults that helped him and he’s carrying it on,” said Sandra Owens, an old friend of Matthews.
His alumni group Shoe Shop Boyz, now Men of Matthews Way, helped him throw the Peter Bugs Day Festival to raise money for children. Some students still come back to visit him and keep in contact.
“If you look a wheel, there are several spokes in the wheel and the hub (center). Peter Bugs has been the hub in the wheel of the community for 41 years…The humble beginnings, the spokes, all lead back to the hub,” Banner said.