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Yawu Miller

Stories by Yawu

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Hollywood turns back the clock on Hub

Blacks, Latinos, Asians largely absent in Boston-themed Hollywood hits

Boston is yet again on the silver screen with the films Black Mass and Spotlight the latest in a string of Hollywood hits depicting life in Boston. Yet black, Latino and Asian Bostonians may see little semblance between the city they call home and the Hollywood version of Boston. The bumper crop of Boston-themed big budget blockbusters coming out of Hollywood have few if any people of color, and none in lead roles.

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Jackson convening Roxbury planning meetings

Says city, developers putting projects ahead of process

While the Boston Redevelopment Authority is moving forward with its Imagine Boston 2030 initiative aimed at creating a masterplan for Boston’s future, City Councilor Tito Jackson wants Roxbury residents to plan for their own future.

Trump plays race card, wins support

Appeals to white racial anxiety

One year after Ferguson, Missouri activists drew attention to the issue of police abuse of blacks, the fault lines between blacks’ and whites’ views of race and racism remain as stark as ever. Events over the last week have underscored a continuing deep divide.

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Randolph teacher selected for national prize

When a representative of the Milken Family Foundation announced that a teacher from Randolph High would receive an award, Michelle Ryan had no idea it would be her.

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Activists troubled by anti-Muslim backlash

In the Boston area, the flare-up of anti-Muslim and anti-refugee sentiment has prompted action from local human rights activists. On Friday, hundreds rallied outside the Massachusetts State House, protesting Governor Charlie Baker’s statement that Massachusetts would not accept Syrian refugees.

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Charter school rally

Several hundred charter school students, administrators and parents rallied in front of the State House yesterday to lobby the state Senate to approve Gov. Charlie Baker’s plan to lift the cap limiting the number of charter school seats in Massachusetts.

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African descendants gather in Scotland to discuss reparations

Scholars, representatives of nonprofits and activists from throughout the African diaspora gathered at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland earlier this month to discuss the growing movement to secure reparations from the nations that participated in and profited from the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Vote for next president exposes rift in council

Progressives still lack votes to move agenda

The results of the Nov. 3 municipal election revealed a profound shift in Boston with two women of color — Ayanna Pressley and Michelle Wu — winning the majority of the votes in the city and a longstanding councilor – Stephen Murphy — displaced by female challenger Anissa Essaibi George. That Murphy, a longtime Hyde Park resident, lost by a wide margin on his Ward 18 home turf to Ayanna Pressley demonstrates how much the city has changed.

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Community weighs in on Washington St. planning

Jamaica Plain activists and Boston Redevelopment Authority representatives entered the Boston English High School cafeteria Nov. 4 with a tall order — plotting the future of a mile-long stretch of Washington Street in the face of rising rents, sky-high real estate values and an abundance of vacant and under-utilized land.

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Election upsets reveal new city voting trends

White conservative voter influence seen waning

The center city electoral base of blacks, Latinos, Asians and progressive-leaning whites, which electoral strategists have referred to as the hole in the donut, has grown at the same time the white electoral base on the periphery has declined. Nowhere has the expansion of voters of color been more palpable than in Hyde Park, the neighborhood that once served as Murphy’s electoral base.

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Committee pushes back on student housing plan

Two weeks ago members of the Roxbury Strategic Master Plan Oversight Committee grilled developers over two controversial plans: one calling for Northeastern University student housing on Parcel 3 and another calling for a new Conservatory Lab Charter School building at Bartlett Yard. This past Monday, committee members underscored their opposition to the respective plans, with City Councilor Tito Jackson calling for the de-designation of Feldco Development as a partner on the P3 project.

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Legislators join forces on criminal justice reforms

Five caucuses working on broad spectrum of bills

In an unprecedented collaboration, members of the Black and Latino Caucus, the Women’s Caucus, the Harm Reduction and Drug Law Reform Caucus and the House and Senate Progressive caucuses came together to share information and build support for a coordinated push to change everything from pedestrian stops to the state’s bail system.

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Campbell, George score upset vicories

Challengers Andrea joy Campbell and Anissa Essaibi George secured spots on the city council, sweeping out that body’s two longest serving members: Charles Yancey and Stephen Murphy.

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Puerto Ricans seek debt relief

Local activists concerned about worsening situation on island

Puerto Rico’s long-struggling economy went from bad to worse this year, with Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla asserting that the island’s $72 billion debt burden may never be repaid. Creditors are calling on Puerto Rico’s government to close schools and cut services while Garcia Padilla and others on the island are appealing to the Obama administration to allow Puerto Rico to declare bankruptcy.

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BRA Board approves Whittier St., Melnea Cass Partners projects

Last week the Boston Redevelopment Authority board gave the BHA the green light to begin phase one of its redevelopment of the Whittier Street public housing development — a $44 million tear-down of one of Whittier Street’s eight-story buildings on Cabot Street and the reconstruction of 68 affordable units in two new buildings, to be sited along Melnea Cass Boulevard.

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When neighbors turn against neighbors

Social media apps give rise to biased crime reporting

Programs that encourage reporting “suspicious activity” to police have revealed widespread racial biases among civilians, as whites frequently report black neighbors for doing nothing more than going about their daily lives. New social media networks and apps like Operation GroupeMe and Nextdoor further have encourage whites to give voice to racial paranoia.

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Elected officials air views on lifting the charter school cap

Education activists and elected officials turned out last week for a marathon hearing on proposals to lift the cap on the state’s charter schools, the opening skirmish in one of the nation’s most heated battles over public education funding.

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Parents discuss school assignment proposal

Boston parents shared their struggles and frustrations seeking school assignments as the Boston Public Schools are considering changes to the current school assignment policy that would allow parents to apply to charter and public schools with one form. The meeting, held last Thursday, was organized by the Boston Compact, an organization that facilitates cooperation between Boston Public Schools, charters and Catholic schools. BPS officials, charter school representatives and education activists joined the parents for a discussion on their experiences with the current assignment system and what they would like to see in a revamped system.

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Roxbury development projects generate contentious debate

Roxbury neighbors express opposition to charter, question plan for student housing

Controversial development projects dominated Monday’s meeting of the Roxbury Strategic Master Plan Oversight Committee, the group charged with delivering community input on major development projects on city and state-owned land in Roxbury. Nuestra Comunidad’s plan to site the Conservatory Lab Charter School in Bartlett Yard, a plan much farther along than the Parcel 3 plan, sparked vigorous opposition at the RSMPOC meeting.

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City officials, activists discuss racial equity

Government officials and activists from the nonprofit sector came together last week to explore ways to combat racial inequality in Boston last week during a day-long conference in Dudley Square. The conference, titled Advancing Racial Equity, the Role of Government, was sponsored by the City of Boston and a coalition of housing, health and civil rights groups.

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BPS parents discuss charters

NAACP forum explores effects of charters on district school funding

With a lawsuit, a ballot initiative and legislation filed by Gov. Charlie Baker all aimed at lifting the state’s cap on charter schools, district school supporters are sounding a note of caution, warning that new charter seats will siphon public education dollars away from Boston’s schools.

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Life at ground zero in Boston's class war

Chinatown being squeezed by luxury highrises

In Chinatown row houses, struggling families are seeing their rents double and triple, as well-heeled professionals seeking proximity to their downtown jobs rediscover city living. Looming above the warren of narrow streets are new steel-and-glass luxury towers, including the Millennium with its $37.5 million 60th floor penthouse.

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Election reveals challenges for new commissioner

The low turnout during the September 8 preliminary municipal election and confusion over precincts in the City Council District 4 are two of the issues newly-appointed Election Department Commissioner Dion Irish will look at in his new role.

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BRA approves Blue Hill Ave. development over protest

Some Roxbury residents are questioning the city’s approval of a 40-unit mixed-income development by The Community Builders at the corner of Blue Hill Avenue and Quincy Street

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Campbell comes out on top in District 4 preliminary

Tito Jackson gets 66 percent of District 7 vote

Newcomer Andrea Campbell and incumbent Tito Jackson finished first in the District 4 and District 7 City Council preliminaries, both with commanding leads in a low-turnout election day.

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After-school program to teach Boston teens music, film industry skills

Kavayah Wright, Richard Smith and Anthony Schultz teamed up to run a program, through Smith’s National Youth Development Council, at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School and at a second location in Cambridge. For three days a week, students enrolled in the after-school program will learn the fundamentals of audio engineering, recording, animation and other cutting edge technologies in the music and film industries. The program is open to all Boston high school students. Smith will serve as the program’s coordinator. Wright and Schultz are among the program’s instructors.

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Which side are they on?

The Boston Police Camera Action Team has made it possible for body cam supporters to track where their councilors stand on the issue.

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Roxbury Rhapsody mural debuts in Bolling Building

Roxbury artist Napoleon Jones Henderson has installed a ceramic mural in the lobby of the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in Dudley Square.

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Obama touts worker protections in Hub visit

Cites state’s leadership on minimum wage, leave time

At a breakfast sponsored by the Greater Boston Labor Council, the president announced he has signed an executive order requiring companies that contract with the federal government to provide seven days a year of paid sick leave for employees.

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Campbell garners substantial lead in District 4 preliminary

Oppressive heat, the first day of school and the day after Labor Day conspired to drive down turnout for the preliminary balloting in City Council districts 4 and 7.

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Artists bring fresh paint, new faces to Dudley mural

Twenty years after creating a mural showcasing Roxbury history in Dudley Square, artist Michael Womble returned to refresh and revise the work.

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Roxbury explodes in color during Caribbean Carnival

New talent emerges with winning presentations

Caribbean Carnival, one of Boston’s largest cultural events, showcased new talent this year, with new band leaders and designers winning awards.

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Meeting moved! Baker administration reschedules

Roxbury voters objected to the Governor's economic development Sept. 8 listening session tour date in Roxbury, which coincides with the preliminary voting for City Council.

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Boston gears up for Caribbean Carnival

Parades and competitions this week

Carnival Parade comes to Boston this Saturday with a parade of mas bands. Contestants will compete against each other before a panel of judges who are flown in from Trinidad. The parade, which regularly draws tens of thousands of participants and spectators, is the largest cultural event in Boston’s black community and one of the largest in the city. Several other parades and competitions will happen this week.

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MBTA police beating of 911-caller caught on video

Roxbury woman suing T for civil rights violation

Last week, the ACLU of Massachusetts announced a lawsuit against the MBTA Police Department for police brutality and posted its webpage video recordings of the 2014 beating of Mary Holmes by officers Jennifer Garvey and Alfred Trinh. Holmes was facing charges of assault and battery on a public employee, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, but the bus station videos showed clearly that Holmes did nothing to warrant the attack. This is the type of abuse many in the black community have complained about for decades.

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Mayor: cop didn't choke teen

A video of a Boston Police officer choking a teen has angered activists. The mayors response to reporters' questions about the video seems to have fanned the flames.

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Video footage contradicts MBTA cops' assault charge against Roxbury woman

At a time when the City of Boston has been seen resisting a proposal to outfit BPD officers with body-worn cameras, the case of a woman beaten by MBTA officers underscored how effective cameras can be at countering embellished police reports.

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Rox. development projects get green light from city

While the steel and glass luxury apartment towers going up downtown have come to typify Boston’s building boom, the city has greenlighted several smaller projects in and around Roxbury that show a different side to the city’s expanding housing market. The projects promise to bring a mixture of market-rate and affordable housing units to the Roxbury area, as well as ground-level retail space that could contribute to the revitalization of long-vacant commercial areas.

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Hub’s growing Dominican community celebrates culture in downtown Boston

Festival is 30th held in Boston

Over the last 30 years, the city’s Dominican community has grown from a few thousand families centered in Jamaica Plain to one of the city’s largest ethnic groups. With more than 38,000 Boston residents claiming Dominican heritage, Dominicans have surpassed Puerto Ricans as the largest Latino group in Boston.

Black cops suing department over ‘false positives’ in hair tests

The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice has filed lawsuits alleging the hair testing the Boston Police Department uses to determine whether officers have used drugs is scientifically unsound and more like to generate false positives among blacks than among white officers.

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Rights groups take aim at anti-terror program

Say Muslims unfairly targeted

Activists in Boston, Minneapolis and Los Angeles spoke out last week against the Obama administration’s Countering Violent Extremism program, calling for more transparency and denouncing what many see as an unwarranted focus on Muslims.

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Candidates are many, campaigns are few in City Council districts 4 & 7

Early Sept. 8 preliminary could see scant turnout

With the date of the city’s preliminary election moved to Tuesday, Sept. 8 — the day after the Labor Day weekend — turnout is expected to be light in Roxbury’s District 7 and Dorchester’s District 4 races. And while both races feature a range of candidates — four in District 4 and six in District 7 — the bounty of candidates will not necessarily translate into an electrified electorate.

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Activists, councilors and cops debate body-worn cameras

During a City Council hearing held by the Committee on Government Operations councilors questioned police officials and members of the Boston Police Camera Action Team on an ordinance that would require police to be outfitted with body-worn cameras.

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Black labor group opens Hub office

Local black labor activists have opened a Boston chapter of the A. Phillip Randolph Institute, a national group aimed at forging alliances on civil rights and labor issues.

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Advocates backing bill that would end RMV license suspensions

Massachusetts state senators, representatives and sheriffs were among dozens who turned out to a State House hearing July 23 in support of Senate bill 1812, which would end the legal requirement to suspend driver’s licenses for people convicted of non-violent, no-vehicle-related drug offenses for up to five years.

Boston Olympic bid is scuttled

Calls for city to tackle real problems

As the dust settled on the Boston 2024 bid Monday afternoon, elected officials in Boston’s black community reacted with a mixture of relief and optimism.

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Radius building, five acres of Rox land to be auctioned

A court-appointed receiver for the former Radius Hospital on Townsend Street is seeking bidders for an August 13 auction to sell the 159,000-square-foot facility and the five acres of prime Roxbury land on which it sits. Possible uses for the site include a health care facility, a school, dormitory space or housing.

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BRA seeks support for urban renewal

Push for public support comes as report finds fault with agency

The Boston Redevelopment Authority seems to be making good on its pledge to be more transparent and accountable, seeking public support for its urban renewal districts amid revelations the agency is lacks critical planning staff and has potentially mismanaged finances.

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Five acre Roxbury site goes up for auction

Former Radius hospital to be sold

For sale: 159,000 square-foot hospital building complex on five acres of prime Roxbury land. Bids due August 10.

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Civil rights activists calling for police dept. reforms

A group of civil rights activists, elected officials and attorneys will soon call on Mayor Martin Walsh to settle longstanding discrimination complaints filed by black officers in the Boston Police Department, reform the system of exams used for hiring and promotion, and take affirmative steps to end police profiling.