Mar06

Wells Fargo Giving Away Money to Angelenos For Home Down Payment

In celebration of the one-year anniversary and the success of NeighborhoodLIFT program, Wells Fargo held a news conference with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to announce the availability of another $4 million in down payment assistance grants for local residents looking to buy a house in the city of Los Angeles.

That’s free money to buy a house.

Wells Fargo will provide $30,000 down payment assistance grants, totaling $4.5 million, to eligible Los Angeles homebuyers through the Neighborhood LIFT program to use towards the purchase of a house in the city of LA.
Last year, about 184 Angelenos received part of $5.4 million in down payment assistance grants. Qualified applicants had only to agree to complete home buyer education training; have annual income not exceeding 120 percent of the median income for the area; and earn down payment assistance grants when they buy and reside in an eligible home for five years.

“Thanks to Wells Fargo’s generous grant donations and community programs, Angelenos from San Fernando to San Pedro can own their own piece of the City and help to revitalize their neighborhoods,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Feb06

Single Mom Goes From Homeless To The Top of The Gospel Charts

BET’s “Sunday’s Best” 2010 winner Le’Andria Johnson is known to be many things: a dynamic singer and performer, a controversial newcomer to gospel, and most notably, a living testimony as to how quickly one’s life can change.

If searching for proof, look no further than the turn Johnson’s life took just one day before she set out to audition for the show that would change her life.  Suddenly homeless and with all her belongings packed up in bags, the then mother of three stood before celebrity judges Donnie McClurkin and Mary Mary’s Tina and Erika Campbell in flip flops that appeared a size too large, white socks, and the clothes so unimpressive the judges almost discounted her as a contender.

“I came like I am,” she said into the camera before going in for her audition, “because it’s all I had.”

By the time she finished “This Is the Day That the Lord Has Made,” she’d brought Erika to her feet.
And as the Orlando-based single mother competed on the show, her story began to unfold. In a conversation with her Sunday’s Best mentor, Kim Burrell, she revealed that she had at one point been so low that she considered suicide.

Twice divorced with three kids and struggling to pay her bills, she admits that some of her trials were of her own making. Not waiting on God, she told Bishop Greg Davis on The Word, caused her not to want to love again after the failure of her marriages.

But it was her relationship with the Lord that got her through.

“The nights that I didn’t give up, in those moments I talked to God in the wee hours of the night to let myself know who I am and whose I am,” says Johnson. “I will always continue to believe in me first. It’s easy to say, but when you realize who you are and you realize you’ve been chosen for this, God chose you for this, you’ve just got to fight it.”

But she had to travel long road before coming to an understanding of how important it is to fight against the despair that told her give up.

In fact, when a friend suggested she try out for the popular gospel singing contest, she was not receptive to the idea. She had just lost her home, her car had stopped working, and couldn’t keep a stable job. She could not see past her downward spiral.

She told God that if she was meant to try out, send five people. Not only did five people come to her aid, but they paid for her travel expenses and made it possible for her to travel to New Orleans for the auditions. She would end up blowing not just the judges, but the audience away.

“I’m able to stand for every black woman across this nation to let them know, don’t give up before He comes back,” says Johnson. “The trial and struggle is what it is. We have struggles, but don’t give up on God. Continue to do your work in Him because He’ll lead and guide you and that struggle won’t be with you forever. So just stay focused and keep moving.”

Now, less than three years later, Johnson has received a Grammy last year for Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance and this year was awarded New Artist of the Year and Contemporary Female Artist of the Year at the 28th Annual Stellar Awards.

“It’s amazing,” says Johnson. “I’m just shocked as all outdoors because with the wonderful Dorinda Clarke Cole, and Kierra Sheard the most loving person I have come to meet, and the wonderful Anita Wilson. It feels great that God allowed me this chance to be able to receive this award and to be chosen. I’m on cloud nine right now. It don’t make sense.”

Though her success has been over night, no one can say she hasn’t worked for it. Johnson released four projects in the span of two years. The first of which, “The Awakening of Le’Andria Johnson,” debuted #1 on Billboard’s Gospel Albums.

“It’s been up and down and lot of work, but I’m a mother of four so I gotta keep that in mind. I just had to focus and get it done,” says Johnson who maintains that this experience has humbled her. “And I had to do it for my fans. I know they want the music and I give it to them. I thank God for my fans, Team Le’Andria.”

For all her rising gospel fame, however, she has remained a controversial figure. Last April, the songstress announced that she was pregnant with her fourth child, confirming speculation.

Being unmarried, many in the church community rebuked her.

Standing strong in her conviction that, “God knows my heart and that I do have a relationship with him,” Johnson is the first to admit that she isn’t perfect.

“Of course a lot of people were saying, ‘She’ got a baby out of wedlock’. A lot of people don’t understand, a lot of churches they don’t understand. The challenge is being able to just walk in a room with the so-called perfect and be friends. Or talk amongst each other.

“But hey, that didn’t happen yet so I often say, if I’m going to be the black sheep of the gospel industry, then I’m willing to do that in order to see lives change. To see eye come open and ears come open to those that are transparent and real….the imperfect people changing the game. That’s my new model.”

Lauded by her fans as “real,” Johnson is current working on book that expands on her testimony while addressing life issues and her day-to-day trials and victories.  She hopes that her life can shine as an example for others who might be going through experiences similar to hers.

To that end, she dreams of one day having a reality series, “to be able to let people what see what goes in the blogs.

“You hear a lot about what goes in the blogs, but you can’t see it and I’ve always been transparent. I’ve always been open and honest. So they will see La’Andria everyday life.

“This is something that I would love to see happen. I just claim it. My parents teach me all the time you have not cause you ask not. I want to be able to talk to women of difference races. I really want those woman to understand who they are and whose they are. We are a powerful, powerful people.”

Feb06

Black & Latino Leaders Unite Over Troubling Attack On Black Family

Latino and black community leaders gathered at the steps of the Compton City Hall last week to express their outrage and seek resolution over the recent attack on a black family by a Latino gang that has since been labeled a hate crime.

In an effort to drive blacks out of the community, men identified as members of a local gang shouted racial epithets confronted a young black man, telling him that he and the family he was visiting were not allowed in the community because they were black. When the man made a run for the home, the street thugs chased him down and began beating him with metal pipes. One of the assailants reportedly pulled a gun on the victim and threatened to shoot him.

The gang members left only to return a short time later with another 15-20 gang members, who gathered in front of the family’s home—only the friend, three teen children and their ten-year-old brother were home at the time—shouting that “niggers” were not allowed to live in the neighborhood. One gang member threw a large beer bottle through the front living room window, shattering the window.

In a subsequent raid of more than 11 homes, three arrests were made.

The terrorized family has since vacated their home, which they’d just moved into over the holidays.
The incident is just the latest in a string of anti-black violence by Latino gang members hoping to terrorize blacks—who once dominated the city—into leaving.

Compton’s African American population has dropped from 73-percent in 1980 to about 30-percent today, while the Latino population has risen from 21-percent three decades ago to 65-percent.

“Hate crimes will not be tolerated in this community…We’re gonna stop it, we need to stop it,” said Basil Kinbrew of California Friends of the African American Caucus who called for the press conference.
“Our bottom line is we have to come up with a solution to solve this problem.”

Just last month, a Latino gang leader and his son were sentenced in federal court to lengthy prison terms for their role in a years-long campaign of racist terror and ethnic cleansing targeting African Americans in and around Los Angeles. Some 51 members of their set, the Azusa 13 street gang, have been indicted and convicted since 2011 for terrorizing blacks.

But it was with the 2006 death of 14-year old Cheryl Green, shot while playing on her skateboard, that officials really began to take notice of increased incidents of violence on blacks by Latino gangs looking to force them. Reportedly, incarcerated members of the Mexican mafia gave their subordinates the green light to murder blacks, at least partially motivated by control of the southern California drug trade.

While some have debunked the assertion as pure myth, the latest findings (November 2011) from the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations showed that while there was a dramatic 29% drop in hate crimes in 2010, signaling a third year of decline, it also found that the majority of hate crimes were racially-motivated (51%). In addition, African Americans were targeted most frequently (53%), with hate crimes between African Americans and Latinos remaining “disturbingly high.” Nearly half of Latino-on-black crimes were committed by gang members.

Just this year the Orange County Human Relations Commission fielded 19 similar reports of discrimination against black families.

Calling Compton a beautiful city, Rev. KW Tulloss Weller Street Missionary Baptist Church stressed that black and Latinos residents have much in common and should be able to find common ground.

“This has not happened here before and we’re gonna nip this in the bud,” said Compton School Trustee Satra Zurita. “We will not let this incident define our community. We will work on the state, local and federal level to eradicate this behavior immediately."

A troubled Assemblymember Isadore Hall, who hails from Compton, was also moved to act.

“No family should live in fear of gangs,” said Hall, “especially not on their own street and in their own home. Over the coming days, I will be meeting with neighborhood and law enforcement leaders in Compton to help formulate a plan to take pro-active steps so that we can prevent incidents like this happening in our community."
Greater dialogue between Sheriff Lee Baca’s office and residents was urged as residents were invited to a peace march scheduled for Saturday. A Day of dialogue is also being planned.

Feb06

Parents and Students Oppose Crenshaw High Restructuring

With soaring dropout rates and the states’ lowest registered scores, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy announced that it would be restructuring Crenshaw High, into three magnet schools.

Characterizing the school—which opened 45 years ago—as one of the district’s “biggest disappointments,” Deasy said the action was being taken to insure that student achievement improves. As it stands the Crenshaw-area campus, with an active enrollment of over 1,300 students, posts the worst scores in L.A. Unified and has consistently lost students.

Said Deasy, "Students are not learning. Students are not graduating. Students are not able to read. It is a fundamental right to graduate — and it is not happening at Crenshaw.”

The conversion of the high school into magnets follows the model set by Westchester High. The campus, which has a majority of African American students, was reconfigured as the Westchester Enriched Sciences Magnets (WESM) in 2011–12 and has continued its trend of dramatically increasing test scores from 589 five years ago to 663.

"We have got to change something at Crenshaw for the better," Board member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, who lives near the school, told a crowd of protesting parents, students, and teachers. "When they go to school in the morning—when I see them passing—I want them to say 'I go to Crenshaw and I'm proud to go to Crenshaw.' "

The school whose notable alumni includes former baseball all-star Darryl Strawberry, Nestle Waters CEO John Harris, actor Ice-T, KABC talk show host Larry Elder and was featured in the UPN series, “Moesha” as well as the films “Boyz N’ the Hood” and “Akeelah & the Bee,” has had its share of troubles. In 2005, the school lost its accreditation in what was termed as a bureaucratic snafu and in 2008, failed to receive a state academic rating when it didn’t test enough students.

Opponents charge that the move will be very disruptive and destabilizing to the efforts in place to turn the tide.
“It eliminates all of the good work we’ve done over the past few years,” said SCLC’s Rev. Eric Lee on activism podcast Voices from the Frontlines, “particularly with the teachers in laying a foundation for what we called the extended learning cultural model. What’s at stake here is the very livelihood of Crenshaw High School as we know it.”

Alex Caputo-Pearl, lead teacher of the Social Justice Academy at Crenshaw High School, explained extended learning cultural model (ELCM).

“We’re working with students on all the state requirements and the standards in the classroom, but doing it in a way that is culturally relevant, that is specifically working with teachers around cultural relevance.” The students also, “go out into the community and do academic projects through internships, community action, studying different policy issues and…business plans. Extending the community into the classroom and extending the classroom out.”

The problem Superintendent Deasy has with the plan, according to Caputo-Pearl, is that the model is contrary to Deasy’s preferred model, which Caputo-Pearl says ignores decades of institutional racism and neglect that have fed into the problems of inequities in the school system.

Caputo-Pearl likens Deasy’s “scorched earth model,” which removes a school’s current teaching staff, to dropping bombs on schools.

“There was a major new study that just came out of Annenberg Institute that says these kinds of reconstitutions don’t work,” says Caputo-Pearl. “Of course they don’t work. It’s taking a community school and cutting the school off from the community.”

Only four years into the ELCM, Lee says it’s a matter of timing, “It’s interesting that now as we start to see the uptake in performance that superintendent says yes, there’s an improvement in performance, but it’s not fast enough. So if comes in to reconstitute the performance is already up and it’s going to look like reconstitution is the answer.

“I don’t understand why he isn’t willing, as we’ve laid the foundation and have the partnerships in place, to let the school perform as the extended learning cultural model model has purposed it to.”

Feb05

Rev. John Hunter Sues Bethel AME, Will Pursue Additional Charges Against Kirkland

Late last month, Rev. John J. Hunter, former pastor of First A.M.E. Church, filed a civil lawsuit against Bethel AME Church officials in San Francisco for assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and libel.

The charges stem from actions surrounding his controversial reassignment from First AME Los Angeles to the San Francisco church on November 4 when he maintains officers of the church “did raise their hands in such manner so as to cause Plaintiff (Hunter) to believe he was about to be touched, struck or pushed in a harmful and offensive manner.”

In what was characterized by Hunter as an attack, the lawsuit alleges church leaders maliciously pushed and shoved him, resulting in injuries and damages to be determined at trial as well as extreme mental anguish.
Hunter also charges that the defendants published false and libelous statements about him in their Board of Stewards Resolution rejecting him as pastor, with malice and the intent to cause harm.

According to the court filing, “the resolution included the false statement that Plaintiff had “charges” pending against him that adversely affected his ability or qualifications to become the church’s pastor.

The suit further maintains that the false and defamatory statements will make it difficult for him to obtain work in the future.

Hunter, who lives in Los Angeles, but returned to Bethel San Francisco to preach earlier this month, is seeking both damages upwards of $25,000.

“We do not give up our legal rights as citizens when we’re ministers. We still have rights not to be assaulted, not to be battered, not to be defamed,” Hunter told the L.A. Sentinel.

In November, Hunter filed a three-part challenge with the AME Judicial Council, challenging the move and actions on the part of Bethel AME Church members. The AME Judicial Council subsequently ruled that the officers and members of Bethel AME Church violated the discipline in their behavior in blocking the 55-year old pastor from the church.

On January 31, the Judicial Council of the A.M.E. Church held that Reverend John Hunter must pursue charges against Bishop T. Larry Kirkland" through the enforcement clause of the Minister’s Bill of Rights, before it will adjudicate whether or not the move to San Francisco violated the AME Ministers’ Bill of Rights.
Jasmyne Cannick, a spokeman for Hunter, says that he will more forward.

“Rev. John Hunter intends to continue to vigorously pursue the matter of the violations of his Minister’s Bill of Rights through the processes laid out by the Judicial Council.

Xavier Thompson To Be Installed As President of Baptist Ministers Conference
Upwards of 200 pastors will join community leaders, residents and well-wishers on February 18 when Rev. Xavier Thompson is set to be installed as president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Los Angeles and Southern California.

Those expected to attend include Councilwoman Jan Perry, County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas,  Council president Herb Wesson and  Senator Curren Price.

Thompson beat out incumbent president Marvis Davis on January 7 to become the youngest man ever to hold the position.

“I’m most excited about the opportunity to serve the constituency of this great organization I have longed to be part of since I was a boy. The first thing I want to do is to rally the brothers around the common cause of iron sharpening iron in the context of substantive discussion and actions that will impact our local churches and the communities they serve,” Thompson said.

“We’re looking to do big things together.”

Jan08

“God Will Vindicate Us...” Denise Hunter Sets The Record Straight

The high profile reassignment of Pastor John Hunter from First AME—L.A.’s oldest and most storied congregation—to Bethel AME San Francisco in late October ignited a firestorm of controversy in the AME church. Articles and allegations in the L.A. Times added fuel to the flames. As did harsh words, scandal, a lawsuit, and an official challenge, much of which had been directed just as much to First Lady Denise Hunter as her husband.

Ironically enough, just six months ago, Denise Hunter had been named one of the city’s most fascinating Angelenos in L.A. Weekly’s People 2012 issue and “a rising Democratic darling” relative to her grassroots campaign skills and connections.

It is easy to see why Hunter scored high marks for her tireless community advocacy given her roll in First Lady Michelle Obama’s local “Let’s Move” campaign, the produce market she established as a venue for fresh fruits and vegetables in the community, the key role she played in Kamala Harris’s successful bid to become the state’s first female attorney general, and efforts like First AME’s Annual Back to School Giveaway and Health Fair—which drew over 5,000 attendees yearly.

Not afraid of controversy, she partnered with Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas last year to spearhead an STD prevention program to address the alarming rates of Chlamydia in South Los Angeles affecting black and Hispanic youth. Concerned for the images of blacks and the church on television, she backed Cedric The Entertainer in his letter writing bid for a second season of the TV Land Network’s “Soul Man” TV series.

Today, the image that most concerns her is that of mother, Christian and respected political consultant, which she feels has been mischaracterized in the press.

For his part, Pastor John Hunter has filed a three-part challenge with the AME Judicial Council, which has already ruled in their favor on two of the three causes for action and is awaiting a ruling on the third.

In the meantime, L.A. Focus sat down with Denise Hunter. Her lawyers instructed her not to discuss the December 6 lawsuit First AME Church filed against both she and her husband, and have instead provided a statement. She was free, however, to set the record straight on many of the other allegations and mischaracterizations that had been dogging the couple.

When did you and your husband first learn you were being moved?
We learned we were being moved at the close of the Southern California annual conference—October 29—in a public forum at the same time as everyone else.

What was the reason given for the move?
There was never a reason given for the move, which was most disconcerting for us. The discipline of the AME church requires a pastor be given a 90-day notice he is going to be moved and receive in writing the reason why. This requirement in the discipline was never met. What happened in our case was that Bishop Kirkland basically sent out a form letter to all of the ministers in the Fifth District that said you’re subject to being moved without any specificity.

Did you accompany your husband to San Francisco?
No, I wasn’t feeling well and had planned to go the following week.

What do you think of the treatment of your husband by Bethel AME church members?
For people who call themselves Christians, it is unconceivable to me to treat someone the way they did, particularly in challenging someone’s assignment.

There were any number of ways they could have communicated their concern about his assignment that weren’t so harmful — a telephone call, email. But to know he was coming, pick him up at the airport and then arrange a public meeting in the lobby of a hotel in front of his 12-year old daughter… No one can tell me this was appropriate behavior.

In that sense, I believe it was meant to be a media spectacle to disparage my husband.

What was interesting was that he said they drove him around for what seemed an inordinate amount of time and he questioned what was taking so long only to find out later they were still gathering at the hotel and needed additional time for the others to get there.

Then on the following Sunday morning, to physically block him from entering the church. This is unprecedented for the AME church. We are not a church where members block pastors from entering. That’s not a part of our culture or how we behave.

Were there any conversations between your husband and Bishop Kirkland precipitating the move or in advance of the move?
Each of us had an independent conversation with Bishop Kirkland. My husband had to show up at Bishop Kirkland’s office because there were rumors of him being moved and he was concerned Bishop Kirkland was not returning his calls, so he went to his office to have a conversation. It was during that conversation that Bishop Kirkland said he was praying about the future and would sit down with he and his presiding elder about my husband’s future. At no point in his or my conversation with Bishop Kirkland did he ever say we were being moved.

I understand that you have a contract with FAME Corporation?
Yes, I do have an employment contract with FAME Corporation.

Your husband filed a challenge with the AME Judicial Council—what was he hoping to accomplish?
Since the move was in violation of the AME doctrine and discipline, the challenge was to have the move vacated.

The AME Judicial Council has partially ruled in your favor, what does it mean?
The AME Judicial Council ruled that the officers and members of Bethel AME Church violated the discipline in their behavior as it relates to blocking Pastor John from being able to exercise his ministerial duties, to have access…keys. The Judicial Council said there actions were out of order and not consistent with the regulations of the AME church.

They also ruled Presiding Elder William Finney was out of order. He had basically supported the church by saying Pastor John could enter the church, but not the pulpit and would have to sit in the sanctuary.

The third part is Pastor John’s challenge of Bishop Kirkland for violating the Minister’s Bill of Rights as it relates to the 90-day notice, the personhood and dignity of a pastor statute and his moving my husband to a church that was not comparable or equal to the one he was moving from as required. On that they have not ruled.

What does the ruling mean?
It affirms the fact that what they did was wrong and puts us in a position to be able to seek further remedies and other avenues of recourse.

What is the most difficult part of this transition period for you?
One, having my 12-year old child observe people who call themselves Christians behave badly and to be willing to do it in front of her. It’s most disappointing that we’ve gotten to a place where we don’t even realize how our actions affect children —no sense of modeling Christian behavior at all.

Secondly, with so many lies and misrepresentations, that people who know the truth have been silent. There have been a few who have had the courage to stand up and speak what is true, but for the most part, we’ve had people tell us in private that they know what’s being said is not true, but won’t say it publicly.

More than anything, it hurt that we never got a chance to say goodbye to people we worked and labored with for the last eight years—people who we’d become very close to us. That was just egregious to me.

What of the reports you were fighting to keep the church owned house?
Absolutely untrue. Normally, the pastoral family is given 30 days to move out of the residence.  Because of the sudden way we found out we were being moved, we asked for —and were granted—an additional 30 days by the trustees of FAME voted on and we operated within that timeframe. Despite that, someone came out and posted a 30-day notice on the gate— taking pictures of it in a very dramatic nature. Even as we were moving out there were members sitting outside watching us move and monitoring our actions. It’s just a very hostile and unchristlike environment that has been created.

How much of what’s being said do you believe is tied to past allegations of sexual harassment, improper use of the church credit card and a federal tax investigation?
I think all of this is a rehash of false allegations and it’s unfortunate anyone would feel—as they take over the helm of a church—the need to disparage the character of the previous pastor instead of moving forward with an agenda of their own. Bashing the character of John and Denise Hunter is a short-lived ministry.

The L.A. Times has referred more than once to a federal tax investigation into your finances—which you have stated did not happen…
I have no knowledge of a federal investigation into our finances. This is a rehashing of back taxes that were due and things being blown completely out of proportion to further an agenda of those who keep making these allegations.

What of the apology the L.A. Times reported your husband made for charges put on the church’s credit card for personal items?
My husband never apologized as an admission of wrongdoing. What he was sorry for—and the apology related to—was all of the negative press that came about because of these allegations. How much he regretted the negative attention it brought to the church.

Was there a demand made of the L.A. Times for a retraction of past inaccuracies?
Yes, there was, and in fact one of the things that happened was the church took out a full page ad in the L.A. Times where they refuted what was being said and gave their support to my husband, saying that they were very satisfied with his leadership and that there had been no wrongdoing. To this day, the L.A. Times refuses to acknowledge that or at least include it in their stories. I have no idea why.

And of the claims that you insisted on living in a $2 million home in Encino rather than closer to the L.A. community, why did you choose to live in Encino?
When we came to L.A. there was no housing and no housing preparations had been made. A committee was assigned to find housing for us and we tried everywhere …Ladera Heights, Baldwin Hills, but for various reasons, they fell through. When we moved to Encino, we were at our wit’s end. We had been in temporary housing for close to ten months and just wanted to settle down. Not knowing anything about Los Angeles, we didn’t have a certain neighborhood in mind. The home we chose was voted on and approved by the church board in what was a transparent process.

Why do you believe people have mischaracterized you and your husband?
Most people only know what they’ve seen in the L.A. Times or heard from people rehashing what they read in the L.A. Times. People who don’t really know anything about Pastor John or me.

I also believe as I’ve said that there are those who have an agenda. When we came to Los Angeles, I felt like members felt they had to choose between John Hunter and Chip Murray. That there wasn’t the opportunity to be able to embrace both and that there were those who were fueling that fire. I think that started a lot of this and set the foundation for a lot of the negativity you’ve seen play out.

What of the reports of declining membership under your husband’s leadership?
I don’t know of any decline in numbers. I always felt like we had very good attendance at FAME. No one mentions the fact that over 3000 people joined the church during the tenure of Pastor John and that’s documented with names. Nor that politicians were vying to get there and speak to the congregation, which wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t have numbers.

How was the church doing before the move?
The recession was affecting it, just as it was every church in America, but the church was holding its own and on an up tick.

How do you believe you moved the church forward—what were you and your husband’s biggest accomplishments during your eight-year tenure?
Our annual back-to-school initiative drew upwards of 5,000 every year and close to 40,000 kids have been given school supplies and shoes during the time we were there. We started a produce market and when the recession hit, we did our own stimulus program for church members and gave out more than $50,000 to FAME families in order to support them through their crises. Whether it was helping them to hang onto their homes or keeping their utilities on, it was about meeting the needs of our members.

How is all of negative press affecting you and your family?
Obviously, it takes an emotional toll on you when people are saying things that aren’t true and mischaracterizing who you are, particularly in this electronic age when whatever is being said about you is all of a sudden around the world and there is little opportunity for you to be able to tell your own story.

What would you like to see happen?
Truth, justice, fair treatment for my family, but also for people to remember the commitment we made to this community. That we invested our heart and soul into the work we did. Finally for people to judge us by our deeds, not L.A. Times articles.

What do you think is the biggest misperception people have of you and your husband?
That we are takers and not givers. We are givers and I am very proud of the fact we are givers.

How is your husband handling this?
He’s handling it as well as he can but I know the spiritual and emotional toll it’s taking on him. For the record, he is still the official pastor of Bethel AME, but presently has health restrictions that limit his travel. But he certainly misses ministering to people and leading worship on Sunday morning.

For someone who has been a member of the AME church for his entire life (his father was a bishop), it has been a mainstay in his life and to see this happen this way has impacted him negatively. We go to church every Sunday, but it’s with pain recognizing that he’s currently not able to do that which he has done for almost 30 years.

How would you like people to see you?
As someone who first and foremost loves God more than anything (she breaks down crying) and has served Him to the best of my ability.

First Ladies High Tea
November will mark the 20th Anniversary of our Annual First Ladies High Tea, honoring the contributions of female leaders and women of faith to the Los Angeles community. For more information, visit www.firstladieshightea.com
Avatar02
Dubbed the "Bible of the gospel music industry", the gospel roundup is the most comprehensive resource for information on the business of gospel, from exposure and where to find it to gospel’s top 100 artists, producers, radio stations, megachurches and navigating the gospel network. For more information, click here or visit www.gospelroundup.com.
Click To View Our Latest Issue!