Texas Round-Up: What’s Happenin’ around Texas?

COVER11AUSTIN-The City of Austin unveiled 22 new portraits bordering the existing public art at the African American Cultural and Heritage Facility and announced more portraits will be added each year. The unveiling of the annual African American Portrait Project was part of a standing-only reception for honorees and their loved ones commemorating “Portraits of African Americans Who Made A Difference” that took place in front of the “Reflections” mural. The celebration highlighted African Americans who have made a long-lasting impact in the city and who were—or continue to be—pioneers in their areas of service. The African American Resource Advisory Commission oversees the portrait profile selection process. The “Reflections” mural, unveiled in March 2013, pays tribute to many important people, places and events in Austin’s African American community. Learn more at www.austintexas.gov/HeritageFacility.

AUSTIN- Austin ISD’s Cultural Proficiency & Inclusiveness, in the Office of Academics, has earned the designation as the largest No Place for Hate® district in the nation. The AISD’s Whole Child / Every Child is a district-wide focus, which includes a plan for integrating the Anti-Defamation League’s No Place for Hate® campaign. The campaign highlights student coalitions that plan and implement projects and activities, resulting in students owning the projects and being responsible for enforcing the campaign’s main beliefs. No Place for Hate® was developed to organize schools to work together and develop projects that enhance the appreciation of diversity and foster harmony amongst diverse groups. The campaign empowers schools to promote respect for individual and group differences while challenging prejudice and bigotry. Linder Elementary School, with more than 480 students, was the first elementary in AISD to implement No Place for Hate® and have continued to earn the designation for the last seven years.  The school, which is a dual language school, promotes inclusiveness and strives for individual respect. Social and Emotional Learning is an initiative that the school has embraced and has implemented for the last two years. Since then, Linder’s academic data has improved.

BEAUMONT- In the letter Beaumont Independent School conservator Fred Shafer sent to Superintendent Dr. Timothy Chargois and school board members, Shafer is directing the superintendent to create a second round of reduction in force list, that is made up primarily of central office professional positions. That would expand the number of positions on the chopping block coming from the central office and administration. The conservator says the total personnel cost savings should amount to about $2.5 million, according to a report from the district’s financial consultant. Earlier, the board delayed a vote on the superintendent’s plan to cut more than two hundred jobs, primarily teaching and other staff positions.

DALLAS- The Kung Fu Saloon is under fire for its alleges discriminatory actions against an African-American man. De Andre Upshaw was turned away from the arcade bar for violating a then-unposted dress code. He started a petition online and now has the Dallas City Council reviewing the incident. On his site Upshaw is calling out the restaurant bar for its practices. Hundreds have joined him signing his petition and calling for changes.  A 26-year-old Black man, Upshaw believes the dress code was merely a cover for racial discrimination. He pointed out to the council that Dallas City Code requires that public establishments post their dress codes and apply them universally to all potential customers. The city council has promised a full review of the situation and any others that may violate the city’s expectations for its eateries, bars and restaurants.

Fort Worth ISD board approved paying ex-superintendent Walter Dansby more than $900,000 in severance payments. The board voted unanimously to pay Dansby after he resigned from the district last week. He will get $906,000 over the next year from the district in payments. Dansby, who is Black, had been the superintendent for more than two years and with the district for 41 years. The former superintendent will be considered the district’s Ambassador of Public Relations from June of this year until  the end of January 2015, then officially retired from FWISD. Board members also selected Dr. Patricia Linares as the interim superintendent. A nationwide search begins this summer to find the new superintendent.

JASPER - The Citizens of Jasper Demand Unity, Freedom from Poverty and Prejudice for Juneteenth and on June 19, Juneteenth, the people of Jasper along with their partners and guest speakers will speak of freedom, equality and unity as the core values of American Democracy, our Constitution, Declaration of Independence and Emancipation Proclamation during a ceremonial burial of “Poverty, Prejudice-The Ugly Face of Jasper.”

The event will be hosted by the Jasper Pillars of Community committee from 10:30 am until 11:30 a.m. on Juneteenth at Jasper Court House, 121 North Austin Street, Jasper, Texas  75951.

SAN ANTONIO- San Antonio- More than 1,500 H-E-B vendors, suppliers and Partners gathered in San Antonio for H-E-B’s 29th annual Tournament of Champions, which took place June 9-11. This year’s tournament raised over $7.9 million, an increase of $1.1 million from last year, to benefit more than 300 Texas nonprofit organizations. Since its inception in 1986, the H-E-B Tournament of Champions has raised a total of $73.4 million for over 600 Texas nonprofits, many of which reside in the Central Texas region.  An annual tradition, The H-E-B Tournament of Champions is one of the largest charitable events of its kind in the nation. The program was created to provide an opportunity for H-E-B’s suppliers to partner with the company to support nonprofit organizations focused on youth, children and education across the state of Texas.

SOUTHLAKE- A Muslim Physician responded to anti-Muslim statements made by a newly elected school board member. New Keller Independent School District Trustee Jo Lynn Haussmann made some disparaging remarks about voter turnout and stating it was “shameful” having a Muslims on city council. Haussmann is White. Shahid Shafi felt the comments were unfortunate and inappropriate, but made it clear on his Facebook page that they are not a true reflection of this great society. Shafi noted that the pilgrims came to the New World to escape religious persecution.

WACO- A McLennan County Grand Jury has returned multiple indictments against six Black men accused of sexually assaulting a young girl. Douglas Demond Canada, Lamont Tray Davis, Dejuan Oshea Degrate, Devoric Javon Evans, Cory Darnell Hall, and Daytron Derrell Smith were all indicted on at least 15 counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child. All six suspects were arrested May 8, after police investigated and found that the six men had sex with a girl under the age of 16 and allegedly against her will.

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