Community starts AP African American Studies course in Audobon Park

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Audubon Park community is banding together to host an AP African American Studies Course open to people all over the country.

What You Need To Know

  • The AP African American course is no longer taught in Florida schools
  • A local pastor of a church decided to offer a similar course at her library
  • People of all ages can sign up

The idea came after discussions earlier this year about how American American history was to be taught in Florida. 

Sarah Robinson, pastor of Audubon Park Covenant Church, has a deep love of books. She grew up the granddaughter of a librarian and earned a bachelor’s in elementary education. That is why when certain books started to get banned or challenged across the state, she decided to start the Right to Read Audubon Park Community Library, housed at her church.

“To me, access to knowledge is vitally important and so this seemed like a logical thing as part of the community and helping community thrive that we could do,” Robinson said. 

She said the support for the library took off with many people wanting to get involved. She explained there was a growing frustration among them around knowledge being limited in the state.

Earlier this year, Governor DeSantis rejected the framework for the College Board’s AP African American studies course and The Florida Department of Education told the College Board it would bar the course unless they made changes. According to the College Board, no public school in Florida is currently offering the pilot program of the course. So the Right to Read Community Library decided to offer a version of the course themselves.

“We said well we’ve got lots of of knowledgeable folks and we have access because it was put out to the curriculum of what the topics were, lets see if we can develop a community course where people can still have access to the information,” Robinson said. 

They began to sign up people for the course, and the response was overwhelming.

“There is clearly a lot of interest. We’ve had just hundreds and hundreds of people sign up, way more people than we expected,” Robinson said.

While they can not offer the AP tests and many of those signed up are adults, she said they will read source materials, answer questions to reflect on the topics and host discussions at the church for those that are local. Robinson is taking the course and can’t wait to get started.

“The first couple are actually African, the continent of Africa, African history and that is a history I know so very little about,” she said.

Robinson is hopeful this will fill in gaps in education for those wanting to learn more.

“That will only enrich us and empower us as well as the students taking these courses to understand more about the world and therefore be able to continue to make it a better place,” she said.

Robinson said if the course goes well, they plan on running a summer intensive course next year.

Community Briefs: SRVHS homecoming parade | Dr. Edwards speaking in Dublin | Walk-and-talk with Rep. DeSaulnier

SRVHS homecoming

Students, staff and alumni of San Ramon Valley High School, plus the Danville community at-large, are preparing to celebrate the school’s football team on Friday, with planned street closures scheduled to accommodate homecoming festivities.

The San Ramon Valley Wolves are set for a home game against Brentwood’s Liberty Lions at 7 p.m. that evening, with celebrations set to kick off with a rally at 1:51 p.m. ahead of a homecoming parade at 2:41 p.m. along Danville Blvd. and through downtown.

The parade will kick off from the high school at 501 Danville Blvd., proceeding south through Hartz Avenue before turning west on West Prospect Avenue and returning to the campus along Railroad Avenue.

Traffic control measures and rolling street closures are planned throughout the parade, which is set to conclude at 3:10 p.m.

“Motorists are asked to use caution in the area and expect delays,” town officials said in an announcement Monday.

The Wolves have played four games so far this season, with a record of 4-0 ahead of Friday’s game.

A thoughtful leader

The Dublin Chamber of Commerce is launching its inaugural “Thoughtful Leadership Speaker Series” next month, with civil rights activist and educator Harry Edwards, Ph.D., serving as the first keynote speaker.

“Dr. Harry Edwards has a long and storied history of activism focused upon developments in racial equity in America and around the world,” chamber officials said. “The combination of his experiences as an African-American, as an athlete; and his training in sociology led Edwards to propose America had become very complacent about the issue of race in sports. He ultimately called for a Black athlete boycott of the United States 1968 Olympic team in large part to dramatize the racial inequities and barriers.”

“Views on America’s Future with Dr. Harry Edwards – American Sociologist and Civil Rights Leader” is set to run from 5:30-7 p.m. Oct. 19 at Regal Hacienda Crossings in Dublin.

Go to for tickets and more information.

Measure X Committee opening

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors is recruiting members for its Measure X Oversight Committee according to a Sept. 18 announcement, with applications open until the positions are filled.

The committee is responsible for reviewing and verifying revenues and expenditures from the county’s Measure X funds, as well as producing an annual report.

Applications are available here.

DeSaulnier walk-and-talk

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) is taking to the trails for his next town hall discussion on Saturday (Sept. 23), set for Castle Rock Regional Park.

In addition to providing a congressional update and talking with constituents and community members, DeSaulnier will be joined by naturalists and other guests from the East Bay Regional Park District, who will offer insight about the wildlife and vegetation on view during the walk.

The walk is set to kick off Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. from 1700 Castle Rock Rd. near Walnut Creek, with check-in starting at 9 a.m. To RSVP, email

Library book sale

The San Ramon Library Foundation kicked off a Mega Library Book Sale on Thursday in the upstairs portion of the San Ramon Library at 100 Montgomery St., which continues through Saturday.

The first day of the book sale was open to SLRF members only, who received a half-off discount.

The sale is set to be open to the public on Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The final two hours on Saturday will offer materials at a discounted rate of $10 per full bag, regardless of contents.

Bound for Books auction

The Town of Danville’s latest public art project — the “Bound for Books” benches that are on display throughout downtown — is in its final days through Monday (Sept. 25).

While they won’t be on display publicly after that, the benches are set to be showcased again at the Village Theatre Art Gallery next Thursday (Sept. 28) at a closing reception from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

They will continue to be displayed on the gallery’s back patio through October, with an online auction from Sept. 29 to Oct. 2 that will determine their new homes. Proceeds from the auction will go towards future public art projects in Danville.

‘Bridging the Gap’

The Tri-Valley Nonprofit Alliance is hosting the Anti-Poverty Collaborative’s “Bridging the Gap” on Oct. 5 at Hacienda Business Park in Pleasanton.

“‘Bridging the Gap’ is more than just an event; it’s a critical effort to confront and address the community’s multifaceted challenges surrounding poverty, health care, education, affordable housing, food security and economic justice,” organizers said.

The event will feature panel speakers sharing their experiences in combating poverty, homelessness and food insecurity. Other topics will include the newly revised TVNPA data report, basic income pilot projects, and the recent California homelessness report, organizers said.

For more information or sponsorships, visit

Value of exercise

The Alan Hu Foundation, a Pleasanton-based nonprofit, is holding a webinar presentation next week by professor and psychiatrist Dr. John J. Ratey, “The Positive Impact of Exercise on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention”, as part of its free public Mental Health Lecture Series.

Foundation reps said Ratey will discuss “the positive effects of incorporating exercise into a comprehensive mental health treatment plan, with help from mental health providers, such as therapists, psychiatrists or counselors.”

The webinar will run from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesday (Sept. 26) via Zoom, with a 15-minute Q&A session with Ratey to follow. RSVP is required. Learn more at

For the people in the nosebleed section: the Hilltop Hoods’ The Calling at 20

On September 22 2003, Adelaide hip-hop group the Hilltop Hoods released The Calling.

They had been making music for over ten years, but this, their third full-length album, would be their first to have mainstream success.

They hoped to sell 3,000 records. Those expectations were quickly eclipsed.

The album was launched with a sold-out show at Planet nightclub. Two tracks (The Nosebleed Section and Dumb Enough) gained significant radio play. The Hoods used this publicity to grow their fanbase through touring.

They became the first Australian hip-hop artists to reach gold status, selling 35,000 copies. By 2006, it was platinum: 70,000 copies sold. Since 2003, all of the Hoods’ albums have reached platinum or higher.

Twenty years since its release, The Calling is still a mainstay on “best of” Australian hip-hop lists.

Rapper Briggs describes the album as “the icebreaker”:

This opened the door for the possibilities. It wasn’t a piss-take, it wasn’t anything but real hip-hop music.

Read more: Hip-hop at 50: 7 essential listens to celebrate rap’s widespread influence

Bringing hip-hop to Australia

Today, the Hoods are one of the most successful music acts in Australia.

In 2022, they were the third-most-streamed Australian artist on Spotify behind The Kid Laroi and the Wiggles. This year, they have toured Australia, the UK and Europe with many shows selling out – as have all their upcoming shows in Aotearoa New Zealand. In January, they had their 23rd entry into the Triple J Hottest 100 – taking the mantle for most entries ever from Powderfinger and the Foo Fighters.

Rewind to the 1990s. The Hoods were performing at parties and small venues as part of Adelaide’s underground hip-hop scene. Hip-hop was decidedly unpopular. Australians (especially white Australians) who produced or consumed it were often the target of jokes both from peers and in the media.

Hip-Hop was created by people of colour in New York in the 1970s. The genre had a short boom in Australia in the early 1980s, when young people learnt about it through American media, travel and migration.

Australians were introduced to hip-hop culture as a package made up of the “four elements”: MCing (or rapping), DJing, breaking and graffiti. Breaking and graffiti were immediately taken up in Australia, but it took more time for young people to start recording music.

Still, the culture was often defined by the media as a novelty and dismissed as “too American”.

Def Wish Cast from western Sydney was established in 1989. They were one of Australia’s first major hip-hop groups and their pioneering music inspired others – including the Hilltop Hoods when they formed in suburban Adelaide in 1996.

Forging a path

By the early 2000s, there were signs the cultural cringe connected to Australian hip-hop was lessening. The first ARIA awards for hip-hop music went to 1200 Techniques’ Karma in 2002, two years before the ceremony had a category for Best Urban Album.

But hip-hop music still struggled for support from major record companies, radio producers and the general public. Artists had to hustle to promote themselves. Hip-hop practitioners took on roles as managers, journalists and record label owners to create their own opportunities.

The Calling was the Hoods’ first release through independent label Obese Records. It ranges from politically conscious to party anthems. The title track compares hip-hop to a religious vocation: the lyrics suggest the Hoods have been called to be hip-hop artists in the same way that other people are called by their faith.

Other tracks on the album are more light-hearted. The battle-rap-inspired Dumb Enough calls out anyone “stupid” enough to challenge the Hoods; The Certificate is a rowdy posse track involving the Hoods and other members of Adelaide collective Certified Wise.

The Hoods’ breakout song was The Nosebleed Section, which came ninth in Triple J’s Hottest 100 in 2003 and 17th in the Hottest 100 of All Time in 2009.

Producer and DJ Rob Shaker said the song “changed the landscape of hip-hop in this country”. Mark Pollard, founder of Australian hip-hop magazine Stealth, told me the Hoods were “national icons” who “helped turn an amateur industry into a cottage industry into a professional industry”.

As well as paving the way for future artists, the song and the album were an entry point for new fans, who then learnt about other local artists, such as Muph & Plutonic, Bliss n Eso, Layla, Drapht and Downsyde.

Following the calling

The success of The Calling meant the Hoods could quit their day jobs and concentrate on music full-time. In turn, other artists were able to imagine a future where hip-hop was their career.

But the band wasn’t without controversy. For some commentators, their success signalled how hip-hop was being connected to a white patriotic Aussie identity. Radio host and record producer Hau Latukefu says this new wave of hip-hop fans did not “understand – and respect – that hip-hop is a Black art form”.

Australia’s hip-hop industry has also been called out for racism within the scene. It is only now that hip-hop artists from diverse backgrounds – who have always played a key role in Australia’s hip-hop community – are achieving more mainstream success.

The industry is changing in other ways. Journalists and artists themselves are now having open conversations about the historical marginalisation of women, non-binary and trans artists.

In the past few years, new podcasts, autobiographies, graffiti books and documentaries have emerged telling hip-hop stories from different perspectives.

Members of the scene are looking back on the past and thinking about what the future of hip-hop in Australia might be. The Hoods themselves continue to release new music, including songs like Show Business that reflect on their experiences in the industry. Hip-Hop culture in Australia continues to thrive as new generations are answering the calling.

Read more: How hip-hop learned to call out homophobia – or at least apologize for it

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

The Steve Fund’s New CEO Paves the Way for Mental Health Support

In a pivotal move aimed at tackling mental health disparities among young people of color, The Steve Fund (TSF) has named David R. McGhee as its CEO. McGhee, a seasoned Black leader with a diverse professional background, assumes this role in an organization that is widely acknowledged as the foremost nonprofit dedicated to bolstering the mental health and overall well-being of young people of color.

TSF’s core mission is to empower both individuals and communities to address the multifaceted challenges linked to mental health. This appointment not only marks a change in leadership but also serves as a significant testament to the critical role of diverse leadership in addressing mental health disparities.

The Steve Fund, founded in 2014, was established in memory of Stephen C. Rose, a young man of color who tragically lost his life to suicide while pursuing higher education. Since its inception, TSF has been unwavering in its mission to promote mental health and emotional well-being among young people of color. It has recognized the unique challenges that this demographic faces, including systemic racism, discrimination, and a lack of access to culturally competent mental health resources.

Mental health disparities among young people of color are a pressing issue in the United States. The stigma associated with mental health issues, coupled with limited access to mental health care, exacerbates the problem. TSF has been at the forefront of addressing these disparities, working tirelessly to provide support, resources, and advocacy for young people of color struggling with mental health challenges.

McGhee’s appointment as the CEO is a landmark moment for the organization and the broader mental health advocacy landscape. McGhee brings a wealth of experience and a deep understanding of the challenges facing young people of color, having worked in both the nonprofit and corporate sectors. His leadership will undoubtedly bolster TSF’s efforts to bridge the mental health gap among marginalized communities.

McGhee’s diverse background, which includes executive roles at organizations like the American Heart Association and the Children’s Defense Fund, equips him with the necessary skills to lead TSF into a new era of mental health advocacy. His expertise in organizational management, fundraising, and strategic planning will be invaluable as TSF continues to expand its reach and impact.

“I am thrilled to take the helm of The Steve Fund as it expands its reach and achieves a greater impact on the lives of young people of color,” said McGhee. “I look forward to leveraging the organization’s programs, partnerships, and communications to transform growing numbers of educational, organizational and workplace environments and to deepening understanding of mental health for these young people and those who support them. Our work is critically important to the wellbeing and future success of millions of America’s adolescents and young adults. I’m proud to lead the strategy, facilitate new conversations, and work with our team to deliver innovative approaches to promote mental health, emotional wellbeing, and belonging.”

McGhee’s appointment is not just about filling a leadership role; it represents a bold statement on the importance of diverse leadership in addressing mental health disparities. Diversity in leadership positions brings a unique perspective and the ability to relate to the experiences of marginalized communities. It fosters a sense of trust and inclusion, making it more likely that young people of color will seek help for their mental health struggles.

Erin Clifford, a mental health specialist based in Metro Detroit who specializes in community mental health and trauma, strongly believes that the presence and active participation of men in mental health environments are crucial and indispensable.

“Through my research I have found that a lot of African Americans do not believe that mental health is real. They think that it is something that is made up, especially the older generation, like our grandparents. I’m 38 years old, so my parents and my grandparents believe that it’s ‘the devil.’ They will say just pray about it and that’s becoming a concern. I was told to go to church, not go see a doctor,” Clifford continued, “I have nothing against religion. Yes, pray about it, but also go out and get some help. Go to therapy.”

The Steve Fund collaborates with a diverse network of stakeholders, including young individuals, families, educational institutions, mental health professionals, nonprofit organizations, researchers, and employers. Together, they work to advance initiatives and approaches aimed at enhancing understanding and providing support for the mental and emotional well-being of young people of color across the nation. The organization is committed to guiding young individuals as they transition from adolescence to higher education and subsequently into the workforce. This guidance is designed to enable them to achieve personal growth, academic excellence, career success, and ultimately, to reach their fullest potential.

As the Black community increasingly gains insight into the significance of mental health and the importance of maintaining control over it, it becomes imperative to have influential figures who consistently advocate for this awareness. TSF comprehends the ramifications of overwhelming stress, excessive pressure, and being unheard. By initiating these efforts with young people of color, they are normalizing discussions surrounding mental health, with the expectation that these conversations and support will lead to broader transformative change.

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University of Minnesota gets $54 million federal grant to hasten medical treatments to Minnesotans

The University of Minnesota announced Thursday one of the largest federal grants in its history, $54 million, that will transform how it can hasten medical research into everyday clinical use.

The U’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) has subsisted on federal funding for a decade, but the renewal application was different this time — requiring that recipients make deeper connections with surrounding communities, and evaluating their success by whether they improve health in those communities.

“This is different,” said Dr. Bruce Blazar, CTSI’s director. “We have to measure impact. It’s not the number of publications anymore. It’s, ‘How have you impacted health?’ That is one of the fundamental criteria.”

The institute is one of 60 in the United States supported by federal funding to expedite research discoveries into clinical care.

Blazar said the institute will use the new direction to build on its successes, which include the recent discovery of metformin as an available, low-cost therapy for long COVID-19.

Researchers at the institute also piloted a telemedicine support option for kids with autism, and developed immune-boosting therapies for patients with colon cancer.

Federal grant money will fund coordinators to connect with minority and rural communities with limited health care access to identify their needs and gain their trust and participation in research.

“How do we figure out what the rural communities need?” Blazar said. “How do we give them a voice … so they can be heard and we can tailor our approach to their needs?”

The funding also provides an opportunity to “course correct,” he said, and address the history of institutional racism and research abuses that has discouraged minority interest in preventive health care and medical research.

Problems such as the elevated stroke rate among African Americans have persisted because of this disconnect, he said. Blazar also recalled how the discovery of the genetic predisposition to gout in the Hmong community was slowed by the lack of connection between researchers and members of that community.

“Why would they trust us?” Blazar said. “So building this up is important.”

In addition to the seven-year grant, U leaders expect to receive another $10 million for postdoctoral and other training, as well as a K-12 program to inspire youth interest in scientific careers.