9th Annual Antioch Black History Month exhibit begins Feb. 1 at Grace Bible Fellowship

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Publisher @ January 24, 2020

Human Trafficking Awareness event at East Family Justice Center Friday

Posted in: Community, Police & Crime | Comments (0)

Please join the East Family Justice Center for a Red Sand Project and panel discussion on Human Trafficking.

January 24, 2020

12:00 PM to 2:00 PM

3501 Lone Tree Way, STE 4, Antioch

The Family Justice Center in collaboration with Antioch Councilwoman Monica Wilson, Contra Costa District Attorney Office, Contra Costa Human Trafficking Coalition, Love Never Fails, Community Violence Solutions, and Employment and Human Services Department will host a human trafficking event including a Red Sand Project and panel discussion.

Please contact Brenda Solorio at Brenda@cocofamilyjustice.org

The event is free and registration is on EventBrite.


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Publisher @ January 23, 2020

Supervisors hire from within, choose Deborah Cooper as County Clerk-Recorder-Registrar of Voters

Posted in: News, Government, Supervisors | Comments (0)

Soon to be appointed Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder-Registrar of Voters Deborah Cooper at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Photo by Daniel Borsuk.

Long-time Clerk/Recorder Administrator gets nod for $350,000 a year post; Mitchoff withdrew application

By Daniel Borsuk

By leveraging 24 years of experience in the Contra Costa County Clerk/Recorder-Registrar of Voters Office, Deborah Cooper unanimously earned the nod of approval from the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to become the next Clerk-Recorder/Registrar of Voters.

But it wasn’t a smooth ride to convince the five supervisors in selecting the longtime Clerk/Recorder Administrator to the top Clerk/Recorder-Registrar of Voters’ position.

Supervisors instructed County Administrator David Twa to have criminal and personal background checks conducted on the career Clerk/Recorder Office Administrator so that supervisors can put their final stamp of approval on their selection at a meeting on February 4.

Cooper, a Danville resident, outlasted four other candidates for the elected post that became vacant October 30 when former office holder Joseph Canciamilla of Pittsburg, resigned when a California Fair Practices Commission audit uncovered that the former state assemblymember had illegally spent $130,529 in campaign funds for personal expenses. Canciamilla has paid a $150,000 CFPC fine, but still faces potential criminal charges and forfeiture of his state pension.

Bisa French, the interim Richmond Police Chief delivered a speech at the 42nd Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration in the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors chambers in Martinez on Tuesday. Photo by Daniel Borsuk.

Cooper said she is willing to run for the elected office in three years, unless the supervisors change the office from an elected to an appointed post during the interim. The longtime department administrator remarked that expanding voter outreach and relying on current department IT personnel to ensure election security and safety will be among her priorities if she is permanent Clerk/Recorder and Registrar of Voters.

“You currently have someone who has held an important position in the office for 24 years and knows how to maintain control,” said former County Clerk-Recorder/Registrar of voters Steve Weir, who endorsed Cooper for the full-time top post.

Competition for the $350,000 a year post was intense, especially from former California Assemblymember Catharine Baker of Dublin, who, even though she resides in Alameda County, said she “held the keys” to a residence in Contra Costa County that would help her meet the residency requirement by the February 4th date when Supervisors are expected to officially approve the finalist.

“I’d bring a sense of transparency to the office,” said Baker, who ran into a rough patch of questions from District 1 Supervisor John Gioia concerning her interpretation of the State Voter Identification Law. “I support the policy that requires voter ID,” Baker said. But Gioia responded “There is nothing in the voter ID law that discourages people from voting.”

Also in the competition for the top post were former El Cerrito Mayor Mark Friedman, who pledged to use his philanthropic fundraising skills to bolster the Clerk/Recorder Office’s functions; Deputy Registrar of Voters Scott Kopanaseke, who leveraged his extensive elections IT and cybersecurity expertise; and Lafayette resident Kristin Connelly, President and CEO of the East Bay Leadership Council, who said she has the leadership skills to bring changes to the department where voting at polls is on the decline while voting by mail is on the rise.

On the initial vote, District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff, herself a candidate for the position until she withdrew her application on January 16, citing “personal reasons” for pulling out, sided with District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover to appoint Cooper to the post for the next three years. Both Glover and Mitchoff liked Cooper’s experience and knowledge of the department and what needs to be done immediately.

Supervisors Gioia and District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis initially voted for Friedman and Board Chair Candace Andersen called former assemblymember Baker “my first choice,” and described Koponaseke for “doing amazing things,” wound up voting for Cooper’s appointment as did Gioia and Burgis on a second vote.

Supervisors recognized the 400 county eligibility workers on Tuesday by designating January as Eligibility Workers Month in Contra Costa County. Eligibility workers assist receipients and prospective recipients eligible for a myriad of public assistance programs. Those programs include Medi-Cal, Welfare-to-Work, CalWorks, FosterCare, KinGap, and CalFresh. Photo by Daniel Borsuk.

Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Bisa French, the interim Richmond Police Chief delivered a speech at the 42nd Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration in the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors chambers in Martinez on Tuesday.  French, a Richmond native, spoke about her experiences growing up in Richmond, her ordeal while undergoing police cadet training, and how she rose through the ranks to where she is today.  Also honored at the ceremony were Tamisha Walker, who is co-founder and executive director of the Safe Return Project, a Richmond organization invested in securing the freedom of formerly incarcerated individuals. Concord High School student Christina Mazzi, a 17-year-old Ugandan-American, founded ProjectWOC, an Instagram based community organization working to inspire the younger generation of girls of color. Christina has a 4.1 grade point average at Concord High School.

Make It Easier to Build Granny Units

In other business, supervisors adopted an overhauled ordinance to create regulations permitting procedures for accessory dwelling units and junior accessory dwelling units. The new ordinance puts the county ordinance in compliance with the state ordinance, Stanley Muraoka of the Contra Costa County Department of Conservation and Development said. The updated ADU ordinance aims to encourage residential property owners in unincorporated Contra Costa County to build ADU’s as the state undergoes an affordable housing crisis.

Among some of the changes are the elimination of requirements setting minimum lot size and maximum lot coverage. For the first time, junior ADU’s are permitted of up to 500 feet within an existing single-family dwelling and can be combined with or in addition to a regular detached ADU on the same lot.

Accept Grant for Sheriff-Coroner Forensic Unit

Supervisors also approved a Sheriff-Coroner Office’s consent item to accept a grant of $408,854 for the Sheriff’s Forensic Services Unit to buy a Liquid-Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry Instrument starting October 1. The LC-MS/MS will allow the Sheriff’s Office crime laboratory to provide more information on driving under the influence of drugs and drug facilitated sexual assault cases without the need of outside testing.

The Sheriff’s Office has seen an increase in the number of newer or “emerging drugs” inclusive of fentanyl analogs, designer benzodiazepines, synthetic cannabinoids and “bath salts.” A LC-MS/MS would aid the crime lab to increase the variety of drugs that can be tested and eventually provided the law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution purposes.

Allocate $1.2 Million for Walnut Creek Area Park Landscaping

Supervisors also approved allocations of $1.2 million in total Park Dedication Funds for landscaping projects at two public parks in the Walnut Creek area. The Public Works Department plans to spend $800,000 to install and maintain landscaping at Walden Green along a half-mile stretch of the Iron Horse Trail Corridor. The Public Works Department plans to spend $400,000 at Fox Creek Park, 118 Anthony Way, in Walnut Creek to upgrade the park by replacing some of the landscaping with more sustainable landscaping and increasing American with Disability Act accessibility.

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Publisher @ January 23, 2020

Antioch School Board approves sale of $10.75 million in bonds to improve district’s older schools

Posted in: News, Education | Comments (0)

Approves Human Trafficking Awareness Month resolution for January, and other recognition days, weeks and months including LGBTQ PRide Month for June

By Allen Payton

At their meeting on Wednesday night, the Antioch School Board trustees unanimously approved the sale of $10,750,000 in bonds for improvements to schools most of which are located in the older parts of town. The funds are remaining from a total of $61.6 million in bonds included in the district’s Measure C vote approved by Antioch voters in June 2008. The vote also formed School Facilities Improvement District No. 1. (See details, here: Resolution 2019-20-31 SFID No. 1 General Obligation Bonds)

According to the district’s website, the schools included in SFID-1 and the year they were built are as follows:

Elementary Schools – Belshaw, 1954; Fremont, 1953; Kimball, 1950; Marsh, 1947; Mission, 1973; Muir, 1990; Sutter, 1964; and Tuner, 1968.

Middle Schools – Antioch, 1964 and Park Middle School, 1959.

High Schools – Antioch High School, 1954; Bidwell Continuation, 1958; Live Oak, 1978; and Prospects, 1992.

According to the staff report, “The District desires to initiate proceedings for the issuance of bonds with respect to its School Facilities Improvement District No. 01. A new bond series will be issued to finance additional voter-approved capital projects in the District pursuant to the authority of Measure C.

The resolution authorizes the bonds to be issued as traditional, tax-exempt general obligation bonds pursuant to provisions of State law. The bonds will be payable from the levy and collection of ad valorem property taxes on SFID No. 1 properties. The bonds are authorized to be issued as current interest bonds only. Capital appreciation bonds are not authorized.”

Dave Olson of Backstrom, McCarley, Berry & Company gave a presentation on the bond sale. AUSD 1.22.20 Sale of Series E Bonds Presentation

“There are two sides to a bond. There’s the proceeds and the repayment,” he said. “The revenue is going to come in over the first 8 to 10 years and then the payments will last 30 years.”

“The annual property tax will be $60 per $100,000 in value,” Olson stated “This is only going to be another $10 million which will help.” The funds are in addition to the $56.5 million in bonds from Measure B passed by voters in November 2012 for improvements to Antioch High School, and Measure T, the $105 million bond on this year’s March 3rd ballot. (See related article)

Recognition of Special Days, Weeks and Months

The board also approved a resolution recognizing January as Human Trafficking Awareness month, and a variety of recognition days, weeks and months, including African American History, National School Counseling Week, Music in Our Schools Month, National Women’s History Month, Read Across America Day, Cesar Chavez Day of Service and Learning, Autism Awareness Month, National Bilingual/Multilingual Learner Advocacy Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, LGBTQ Pride Month, and Fund Education Now Week. AUSD Resolution – Human Trafficking

Trustee Ellie Householder asked about the LGBTQ Month recognition.

“Why is this coming before us, now?” she asked. “Isn’t this for June?”

“The board wanted to bring this in a timely manner,” said Superintendent Stephanie Anello. “So, we’re bringing half of them, now and half of them later.”

All of the items passed on unanimous votes.

“I just want to let you all know we are all five going to sign proclamations,” Board President Diane Gibson-Gray stated.

Dallas Ranch Middle School Parent Liaison

In other matters, on a 4-1 split vote the board approved a contract between Dallas Ranch Middle School and parent Velma Wilson, who has been a volunteer in Antioch schools. She regularly attends board meetings and has been a vocal critic of both former Antioch School Board trustee Debra Vinson and current trustee Crystal Sawyer-White, who removed the agenda item from the consent calendar.

Wilson will act as a parent liaison to increase parental engagement at Dallas Ranch Middle School. She will work with site administration to foster greater parental involvement so staff can work collaboratively with parents and students to improve student achievement. The scope of work includes forming parent connections with the school, being present during school events and functions, supporting the school’s social media sites, organizing parent town hall meetings and providing information about school and district resources.

“I compared similar positions with other districts,” Sawyer-White said Will there be any kind of data report? It also says cohesiveness with teachers and families. I think that should be with the board.”

“Absolutely,” responded Bridget Spires, principal of Dallas Ranch Middle School. “Every family we work with, we are keeping a comprehensive view of each student. We’re also going to have her update our Facebook. When we have events at the school, she’s there taking photos. She’s documenting some things that are specific to our school.

The funds are being spent out of the school site’s LCAP funds, Anello explained.

“I’m almost embarrassed to say we were only able to offer her $4,000 for this particular role,” said Spires. “She’s been volunteering at our site for several years.”

“I don’t question what you’re doing, I’m really happy what you’re doing,” Trustee Mary Rocha said. “It doesn’t just happen if you open the door and say, ‘come in’. Not all schools can afford this. But this is a start.”

Velma Wilson then spoke on the matter, blasting Sawyer-White.

“I really do want to address…because Crystal brought up cohesiveness on our school sites,” she said. “How many parents are really coming to our school board meetings? None. This really isn’t about you. I have invited you on a variety of occasions. I’m at every last school site doing a lot of work. Mary Rocha has been a proud supporter. I’m bilingual. I make the effort…to address them the way they feel comfortable. This isn’t about cohesiveness with you. All the other school board trustees I have a good relationship with. One day you’ll get it. One day you’ll understand this is about the schools. It ain’t about the money, to me. It’s about the work and it’s about the lives of these students. I break my back to try to do what I can for these kids, and they don’t even belong to me. So, it ain’t about you Crystal. It’s about these kids.”

“I’m going based on comments from parents. It’s not about me,” Sawyer-White responded. “I do have a son in special education. Other parents are asking me, can we all just work together. Not attend board meetings where someone is coming at someone else negatively. I just had some questions about this position. But, if you’re going to be friendly with the parents, let’s all get along. It’s a new year. I just believe that we should all be able to get along as a whole.”

The board approved the item on a 4-1 vote, with Sawyer-White voting against.

Copies of this school board agenda and its attachments are located on the Internet at www.antiochschools.net. Click on http://www.boarddocs.com/ca/ausd/Board.nsf/Public. To watch the entire school board meeting visit their YouTube page.

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Publisher @ January 22, 2020

Contra Costa Television to broadcast local election forums January 21 through March 3

Posted in: Politics & Elections | Comments (0)

Contra Costa County voters can watch local “Election Preview” forums on CCTV and the Contra Costa Television YouTube Channel beginning Tuesday, January 21, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. through Election Day. This programming offers Contra Costa voters a chance to be informed on candidates and issues before casting their ballots.

Bob Butler, KCBS reporter, is the moderator for the Measure J, State Assembly District 14 and County Supervisorial District 5 forums.

KTVU’s Claudine Wong will serve as moderator for races including State Assembly Districts 15 and 16, State Senate District 7, and County Supervisorial District 3.

The broadcasts will air on Contra Costa Television (CCTV), Comcast Channel 27, Astound Channel 32, and AT&T U-verse Channel 99. They will also live stream on the County website at www.contracosta.ca.gov. Contra Costa County Elections Division partners with the County’s Office of Communications & Media and Contra Costa Television (CCTV), the League of Women Voters of Diablo Valley, and the League of Women Voters of West Contra Costa.

More information about “Election Preview” is available on the Elections Division website at www.cocovote.us/Election-Preview and the County’s website at www.contracosta.ca.gov/7097.


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Publisher @ January 21, 2020

Enjoy a Rock & Roll Valentine’s Dinner at Lone Tree Golf & Event Center Friday, Feb. 14

Posted in: Arts & Entertainment, Dining | Comments (0)

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Publisher @ January 21, 2020

Park District’s hands-on Youth Job Fairs engage youth from throughout the East Bay

Posted in: Jobs, Parks, Youth | Comments (0)

For the sixth consecutive year, the East Bay Regional Park District will host two Youth Job Fairs designed to raise awareness of employment opportunities for youth in the East Bay. The fairs are scheduled in Hayward on Saturday, January 25, 2020, and in Pleasant Hill on Saturday, February 1, 2020. Both events offer attendees an opportunity to learn about the specific Park District jobs available and interact with current employees to get insight into what it’s like to work for the Park District. Positions include: Interpretive Student Aides, Public Safety Student Aides, Recreation Leaders, Lifeguards, Gate Attendants, Park Services Attendants, Student Laborers, Field Interns, and Interns.

The Youth Job Fairs also include general information sessions on resume writing, application submittal, and job interviewing for youth looking to enter the workforce, whether at the Park District or elsewhere.

The East Bay Regional Park District is the largest employer of youth in the East Bay, hiring over 400 Bay Area youth each year to work in the District’s 73 regional parks and ten visitor centers. The Youth Job Fairs are key to filling seasonal summer positions, especially Recreation Leaders and Lifeguards.

2020 Youth Job Fair Details

The East Bay Regional Park District is a system of beautiful public parks and trails in Alameda and Contra Costa counties east of San Francisco Bay, established in 1934. The system comprises 121,000 acres in 73 parks including over1,250 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and nature learning.


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Publisher @ January 21, 2020

Read and listen to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech

Posted in: History | Comments (0)

Dr, King delivering the speech on Aug. 28, 1963. Photo: National Archives and Records Administration.

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, today, following is the complete text of his famous “I Have A Dream” speech, given on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. (Listen to the audio, by clicking here.)

– I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

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Publisher @ January 20, 2020