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Yawu Miller

Stories by Yawu

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Renovations underway on historic Fowler Clark Epstein farmhouse

Since September, work crews have been busy tackling decades of paint that adorns the 18th century face of Mattapan’s Fowler Clark Epstein Farm. They have embarked upon a historical restoration of the building that is expected to be completed later this year. The Fowler Clark Epstein Farm, built between 1786 and 1806, once occupied part of a 330-acre Dorchester estate; over the years, it was subdivided into smaller lots at a time when the Mattapan section of Dorchester was dominated by farms.

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Tito Jackson proposes defense fund for immigrants facing deportation

City Councilor Tito Jackson announced last week that he had introduced legislation to create an Immigrant Legal Defense Fund for the city.

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Neighborhoods battle BPDA on affordability

Housing issues remain a challenge for city agency

Demonstrations and vociferous opposition to planned and approved real estate development projects underscore both the challenges the city faces in promoting construction to meet the growing need for housing in Boston and neighborhood activists’ strained relationships with the city departments that, to varying degrees, keep developers in check.

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Black Masons owe lineage to 18th century Boston pioneer Prince Hall

Throughout North America, the Caribbean and Europe there are freemason’s whose lineage began here in Boston in 1775, when Prince Hall and 14 other freed black men applied secured a charter to join the international association.

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City, neighborhood group at odds over Roxbury housing competition

The housing competition was never given a green light, according to Elisa and other GTNA members. The dispute has pitted the neighborhood group against members of its own housing committee and city officials.

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Senate president supports criminal justice reforms

Interfaith group GBIO seeks support for housing, Affordable Care Act

Last week legislative action seemed imminent when state Senate President Stanley Rosenberg committed to work for legislative fixes supported by the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, including pretrial bail reform, the elimination of mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, the elimination of excessive fees and fines and the elimination of excessive use of solitary confinement.

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Fairmount Innovation Lab expands with new lab space

Entrepreneurs cut the ribbon on expanded Columbia Road office

A year-and-a-half into its operation, the Fairmount Innovation Lab seems to be thriving, with nine businesses and artists employing 15 people in its third startup cohort.

Massachusetts State Representative Carvalho files bill to improve Fairmount Line service

State Rep. Evandro Carvalho last week filed legislation that would reduce the wait times on the Fairmount commuter rail line from 40 to 15 minutes during peak hours and allow riders to use Charlie Cards to pay for their fares. Keywords: Fairmount Line, Evandro Carvalho, MBTA, Mela Miles, Fairmount Corridor

Unified enrollment proposal on the horizon for Boston

City official says plan will soon be unveiled

With those battles of 2016 still smoldering, members of a group called The Boston Compact say they will release a unified enrollment proposal this year, after they work through some of the issues raised last year by parents.

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Jackson announces run for mayor

Stresses income inequality, educational investment

Pledging to fight against income inequality and increase support for public education, District 7 City Councilor launched his mayoral campaign today from the parking lot of the Haley House Café in Dudley Square as a crowd of about 200 looked on.

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Entrepreneur takes high-fashion clothing line to next level

In her early 20s, while Joelle Jean-Fontaine toiled at a telemarketing firm, her heart was in fashion. She spent most weekends in New York City collaborating on fashion shoots with a photographer friend. By 2010 her clothing design pursuits led her to launch her clothing line, Kréyol. Over the last six years, Jean-Fontaine has developed products and created collections for boutique stores.

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City to file anti-displacement bills

Bills aimed at stemming tide of evictions

Tax credits for landlords who maintain below-market rents, free legal representation for indigent tenants facing eviction and the right of first refusal for tenants living in properties subject to foreclosure or short sale are among the legislative bills Mayor Martin Walsh’s administration is backing to combat displacement of moderate- and low-income Boston residents.

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District 7 hopefuls line up as Jackson ponders mayoral run

A quiet storm is brewing while City Councilor Tito Jackson mulls a challenge to incumbent Mayor Martin Walsh. If Jackson runs for mayor he says he will not run for re-election to the District 7 seat he represents.

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Group advocates greater inclusion for Hub Latinos

Activists see disparities in nonprofit, gov’t sectors

The Greater Boston Latino Network, a group of executive directors of leading local organizations, last week launched a new campaign to increase the presence of Latinos in decision-making positions in nonprofits and government. GBLN also is planning a January 15 “counter-inaugural event” at the Boston Public Library and will release a report on the status of Latino-led organizations as part of its efforts to support them.

‘Birth of a Movement’ sheds light on historic Boston protest

A new documentary, “Birth of a Movement: The Battle Against America’s First Blockbuster,” recounts the story of how the film galvanized the modern Civil Rights Movement with its dual strategies of protest and legislative change.

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Developers looking to build 1,100 units in Roxbury

Residents question affordability of new housing

In downtown Boston, cranes and rapidly rising elevator towers herald the arrival of new luxury apartment buildings with rents and condo prices that seem to match the soaring heights of the new structures. In Roxbury, there are no cranes and no tall buildings — yet — but several projects recently approved by the Boston Planning and Development Agency promise big changes.

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Dynamic changes shaped Boston in 2016: A year in review

Rising rents, police violence, school funding battles sparked protests

Boston underwent dynamic changes in 2016 that filtered into every neighborhood. The furious pace of new construction, battles over school budgets that included hundreds taking to the streets, Black Lives Matter protests and low-wage workers demonstrating for a $15 minimum wage — these issues dominated the Banner’s headlines over the last year.

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First Church of Roxbury wears new 19th century paint

For decades the First Church of Roxbury has worn coats of snow-white paint, matching other federal style historic meeting houses in Dorchester and cities and towns throughout New England. All that changed this year, though, when a preservationist applied an historically correct shade of white that more accurately approximates what was available when the church was constructed in 1804: a cream-colored hue with a slightly yellow tint.

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Gloria Fox ends 30-year legislative career

Gloria Fox, who first took office in 1987, gave a farewell speech from the House Floor last week.

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New Hub group organizes parents, teachers, students for education agenda

Newly-formed Boston Education Action Network is affiliated with Teach for America political action arm, taps alumni network

Parents, teachers and students gathered at TechBoston Academy for the first meeting of the Boston Education Action Network (BEAN) to discuss education reform goals.

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Interfaith gathering calls for tolerance, respect at Roxbury mosque

Meeting comes in midst of national rise in hate crimes

An interfaith prayer service at the Islamic Center of Boston's Roxbury mosque drew a crowd of more than 2,600 Sunday with a message of peace and tolerance in the midst of a nationwide spike in hate crimes.

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Boston students take to streets, protest Trump admin.

Show support for immigrants, LGBTQ people, women

Hundreds of Boston students assembled on the Boston Common Monday in protest of Donald Trump's election, demanding that Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and Governor Charlie Baker oppose the new administration's education agenda and publicly declare support for immigrants, Muslims and others targeted by hate crimes.

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Will Trump’s education agenda gain traction here?

Checkered record of education privatization in Massachusetts

The battle over privatization in Massachusetts is by no means over. Both President-elect Donald Trump and his pick for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, are firmly committed to charter schools and school vouchers that would allow parents to use district funding to send their children to private and parochial schools.

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Inspired by young activists, King reprints ‘Chain of Change’

Former state Rep. Mel King reprinted his 1981 book “Chain of Change” with a new epilogue written by members of the group “Young Abolitionists.”

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City officials, residents debate BPDA Plan Dudley goals

Simmering tensions between community residents and city officials boiled to the surface last week when BPDA officials presented design principles aimed at guiding area development. Community residents pushed back, questioning whether the agency’s efforts will displace current Roxbury residents amidst a building boom.

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Mayor increases construction jobs goals for people of color

Mayor Martin Walsh has announced plans to increase the Boston Resident Jobs Policy hiring goals to 40 percent people of color, reflecting the increased percentage blacks, Latinos and Asians living and working in the city.

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City releases Boston 2030 draft

Seeks expansion at neighborhood edges

Boston’s population is projected to make a 20 percent jump to 800,000 residents by 2050 and city officials are planning to absorb the increase by expanding existing neighborhoods while preserving open space according to a planning document released last week. The city’s Boston 2030 plan, a draft of which was released last week, is aimed at managing the influx of residents and the resulting pressures on affordability, transit and quality of life in the city.

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Bostonians discuss divisive political climate

Students, officials react to heightened racial tensions

As Bostonians continue to grapple with the shockwaves emanating from businessman Donald Trump’s upset victory in the 2016 presidential election, a group of Bostonians gathered at Northeastern University’s John D. O’Bryant African American Institute to take stock of where the nation is heading.

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Local activists seek support for anti-violence work

Monica Cannon and other anti-violence activists are seeking more resources to deal with what they see as a dangerous increase in the rate of violent crimes in Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan. Monday, the activists gathered in Grove Hall in front of Muhammad’s Mosque No 11 to discuss the need for more services and greater community involvement in violence prevention.

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Pioneering journalist Gwen Ifill dies at 61

Career began with gig at Banner in ’70s

From humble beginnings as the daughter of Caribbean immigrant parents and a graduate of Springfield High School, Gwen Ifill soared to the top of her profession as a political journalist, moderating political debates and hosting “Washington Week in Review” on PBS — the first black woman to host a national weekly news program. Ifill died Monday in hospice care after a struggle with endometrial cancer. Her professional career, which began in Boston, served as an inspiration to many in the field.

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Charter school question suffers defeat at polls

All but wealthiest Boston precincts reject measure

Students, parent activists and teachers took the stage to celebrate the defeat of Ballot Question 2, which called for a lift to the statewide cap on charter school expansion — a victory that Massachusetts Teachers Association President Barbara Madeloni said quashed efforts to privatize public education.

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RARE Moving Company looking to expand statewide and nationally

Making it through the first year of a start-up business is never a sure thing, but by September 1, 2008 Kamaul Reid knew he was on his way to success. That’s when his aunt, sitting in the living room of his Dorchester home, was fielding calls from customers on what typically is the busiest day for movers. The scene outside provided confirmation that RARE Moving & Trucking was ready to meet the demand.

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Students, activists call for free MBTA passes

Students within 2 mi. of schools are now exempt

While the school department provides Boston students — those attending BPS schools, charter schools and private schools — with an M7 bus pass, middle and high school students who live less than two miles from their schools are not eligible. Those students qualify instead for a reduced-cost S pass, which enables them to board a bus or train for $1.10 per ride, rather than the $2.25 it costs to ride with a pre-paid Charlie Card or the $2.75 without. But the $30 monthly cost for the pass is out of reach of many of the 7,000 BPS students who qualify for it, advocates say.

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Bankruptcy court rules against Charles St. AME

After a heated court battle, last week OneUnited Bank won its claim in federal bankruptcy court for repayment of a $3.6 billion loan to Charles Street AME Church. OneUnited sued Charles Street in 2010 after the church defaulted on the loan. Charles Street then filed a counterclaim to that suit, alleging that OneUnited knew the church could not complete its construction project with the funds provided and therefore would not be able to repay the loan.

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Latino activists discuss growth in political power in Massachusetts

Although Latinos make up 17 percent of the U.S. population, they represent only 1 percent of the nation’s elected officials. Latinos have fared only slightly better in Massachusetts, where they occupy 3.5 percent of the seats in the state Legislature, despite making up 9.5 percent of the state’s population. While the numbers of Latino elected officials has been increasing since Nelson Merced was first voted into the 5th Suffolk District in 1988, activists say they want to see better representation for a community many see as a key player in local and national politics.

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For sale: Roxbury ‘estate,’ $2.9m

Listing is Fort Hill’s most expensive

A $2.9 million listing is Roxbury’s highest for a single-family property, but it’s not the only million-dollar property in Roxbury.

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Chinatown residents fighting for building ownership

Mass Pike Towers residents fighting Trinity Financial over 200-unit building

Back when Trinity Financial acquired the Mass Pike Towers housing development in 2000, the deal seemed like a win-win, tenants say. The developers secured $16 million in public funds to purchase and renovate the nearly 30-year-old building complex. They promised to keep the units affordable and to give tenants the right to purchase the development after 15 years. The tenants remembered that option, spelled out in a memorandum of understanding, when things began to go sour in 2003.

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Money key in Question 2 charter school expansion debate

Supporters, opponents dispute costs

Across Massachusetts supporters of Ballot Question 2, which would lift the statewide cap on charter school expansion, are squaring off against measure opponents in school committee meetings, public forums and on the airwaves in what will likely be the most expensive ballot question in state history.

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Money Talk financial literacy conference focuses on wealth building

Entrepreneurs make connections at event

Last weekend, a collection of business leaders, financial professionals, activists and entrepreneurs set about the work of closing that gap during the Banner’s financial literacy conference on, “Money Talk: Building Black Wealth,” held at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center.

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Boston’s building boom coming to Roxbury area

Locals seeking share of jobs and contracts

Although there are few luxury housing buildings planned between Dudley Square and Mattapan Square, $110 million in city- and state-funded projects in the pipeline for the Roxbury area promises to bring the construction boom to Boston’s black community.

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MBTA to begin construction on Mattapan station in spring

The MBTA will begin construction on the Mattapan station of the Fairmount Line in early spring of next year, working weekends and evenings to avoid disruptions in service on the commuter rail line, which runs through Hyde Park, Mattapan, Dorchester and Roxbury. At the end of the two-year construction project, riders from Mattapan Square will be able cut their travel time to downtown Boston in half, according to Desiree Patrice, a project manager with the MBTA.

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Tiny homes coming to Roxbury?

City seeking affordable options

The Urban Housing Unit landed in Roxbury last week, occupying a vacant lot on the corner of Blue Hill Avenue and Gaston Street, the rectangular white unit’s front door facing the street. Visitors could proceed through the glass entryway into the bedroom of the 380-square-foot dwelling, past a small bathroom and into the kitchen/dining/living room area — and be done with the tour in mere seconds.

Competing visions for future of academics at UMass Boston

Amid what many see as uncertain times, UMass Boston Provost Winston Langley removed the chairman of the Africana Studies Department, Robert Johnson, an action that sparked controversy. In an interview with the Banner last week, Langley said he removed Johnson after standard academic quality and development review, during which academics from outside the UMass system evaluated the quality of instruction in the Africana Studies department.

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Affordable housing activists, re-branded BRA at odds over vision for Boston

Complaints of displacement amid building boom

Both the name change and demonstration come as the city is in the midst of a construction boom that has generated luxury high-rises claiming space on the city’s skyline, heightened levels of real estate speculation and displaced working-class renters from gentrifying neighborhoods like South Boston and Jamaica Plain.

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Activists, city officials square off during JP planning meeting

While the city officials have been preoccupied with transportation corridors, activated streetscapes and incremental increases in the required 13 percent affordability for new housing construction, the activists have expressed alarm at the pace of displacement of low-income renters along the Washington Street corridor and fears that the BRA will do little to stem the rising tide of gentrification.

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Mass. SJC ruling takes aim at racial profiling

Justice cites ‘indignity’ of repeated stops

Supreme Judicial Court Justice Geraldine Hines authored a ruling in defense of blacks fleeing the police. The unanimous SJC ruling stated that people fleeing the police may be motivated by a desire to “avoid the recurring indignity of being racially profiled,” and that their flight should not be automatically interpreted as evidence of “criminal activity.”

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Chinatown residents seek say on city-owned parcels

Several dozen Chinatown activists met with city officials at the Quincy School last week to discuss strategies to stem the ongoing displacement residents are facing as pressure from for-profit developers continues to build. The activists want the Boston Redevelopment Authority to adhere to the Chinatown Master Plan, a document neighborhood residents created in 1990 and have amended as recently as 2010, to outline their goals for affordable housing and open space.

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Stopped, frisked and searched

Man says Walpole cops violated his rights

Jean-Paul Wahnon has never run afoul of the law. So when a Walpole police officer rifled through his Toyota Prius on an August afternoon and repeatedly asked whether the car was his and whether he had a gun in his possession, Wahnon was concerned.

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UMass students, profs. protest education funding

Demonstrators call for increased public investment

Massachusetts Education Secretary James Peyser elicited boos from faculty and student activists at UMass Boston’s convocation last Thursday, when he called for the state’s public colleges and universities to operate on a “new business model” and quoted industrialist Henry Ford.

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Storm brewing at UMass Boston

Is univ. shutting down Africana Studies?

A shakeup that sidelined the longstanding chairman of the Africana Studies department at UMass Boston has a group of professors there charging that the administration is seeking to dismantle the department. After nearly two decades at its helm, Professor Robert Johnson was relieved of his duties and replaced by Susan Tomlinson, an associate professor of English, whom Johnson’s backers say has little experience with Africana Studies.