HUB ORIGINAL: Mentors Needed For African American Youth In Foster Care

Recently, as all of my kids are now young adults, I started looking into opportunities to stay connected to youth.  I discovered AgingUP,  a great, new non-profit that’s working to serve kids in the foster care system in Sacramento County. 

A few alarming statistics paint a picture that’s hard for anyone who cares about children to ignore.  Within two years of “aging out” of foster care: 

-Nearly 1/3 of youth will become homeless

-More than 1/2 of them will be unemployed

-1 in 5 will be incarcerated

The disproportionate number of kids in foster care are African American and male. 

For the full article, visit http://www.sacculturalhub.com/item/10913-mentors-needed-for-african-american-male-youth-in-foster-care on SacCulturalHub.com.

THE HUB invites you to take a look at two original features, in observance of Father’s Day this year.

Click here to read our salute to Sacramento’s first black pediatrician, Dr. Vernon L. Walton.

Then, click here to read the feature that was inspired by our chat with Dr. Walton’s daughter, freelancer writer Michael P Coleman’s reflections on his own father, and the lessons Mike learned from him that can be applied to all of our lives. 

Happy Father's Day.

By Michael P Coleman

Dr. WaltonAs we celebrate Father’s Day and honor fathers (and father figures) everywhere this month, THE HUB is proud to honor and remember Dr. Vernon L. Walton, father of four and Sacramento’s first African American pediatrician. 

Dr. Walton, or “Sonny” as he was known by family and friends, was born in 1930 in Wynne, Arkansas.  He spent time in Illinois and Oklahoma, where he attended Langston University.  He then returned to Illinois where he enrolled in medical school.  While he was completing his residency in Chicago, he met his wife, Velma, who was a nursing student at the same hospital.  They married and in 1960 they moved to California.  

After serving two years active duty as a Navy doctor in San Diego, Dr. Walton moved his family to Sacramento and started his medical practice in Del Paso Heights.  His eldest daughter, Stephanie, remembers that time well. 

“Initially he was doing family practice,” Stephanie recalls.  “Back in that day, pediatrics was more of a new specialty. Kids were seen by family practice doctors.  He fell in love with taking care of kids, and went back and did his specialty training in pediatrics.” 

Long before “Take Your Child To Work Day” was a thought in anyone’s mind, Dr. Walton exposed his children to his chosen profession.

“I remember as a small child hopping in the car with him and going on house calls,” Stephanie recalls.  “Sometimes I’d wait in the car, or sometimes on the step of the house.  I remember going from house to house to house back in the day.  When I was old enough, I worked in the office a little bit, and got a feeling for what was going on there.” 

Stephanie got more than just a “feeling” during those years.  She ultimately followed her father’s career path.  Today, she’s better known as Dr. Stephanie Walton, and like her dad did, she practices pediatric medicine in Sacramento.   And all three of her siblings — Vernon L. Jr., Rosemarie, and Kathleen M. — chose careers in public service.  

After 40 years of practicing pediatrics in Sacramento, Dr. Walton retired in 2010.  He remained active in the community and his church until the family and our community lost him after a short illness earlier this year.  He is survived by his four children and his wife of 60 years. 

The Walton family, and everyone else who knew him, will always remember him fondly. 

“He was fun, always busy doing something.  I don’t think he every slept,” Dr. Stephanie Walton wistfully remembers.  “He was very active in the church, and he loved taking care of kids and watching them grow up.  He was a mentor to quite a few young people.”

“I’ll tell you what he would tell every kid that he ever met,” Dr. Stephanie continues.  “If you work hard, you can do anything you want to do. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do.”   

In honor of Dr. Walton, the family has established a scholarship fund to support African American students who pursue careers in the sciences.  Contributions can be made to St. Hope Academy, ℅ the Vernon L. Walton Scholarship Fund, PO Box 5447, Sacramento, California 95817. 

 Connect with Sacramento-based freelancer Michael P Coleman at michaelpcoleman.com or follow him on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP.

As we celebrate Father’s Day and honor fathers (and father figures) everywhere this month, THE HUB is proud to honor and remember Dr. Vernon L. Walton, father of four and Sacramento’s first African American pediatrician. 

Dr. Walton, or “Sonny” as he was known by family and friends, was born in 1930 in Wynne, Arkansas.  He spent time in Illinois and Oklahoma, where he attended Langston University.  He then returned to Illinois where he enrolled in medical school.  While he was completing his residency in Chicago, he met his wife, Velma, who was a nursing student at the same hospital.  They married and in 1960 they moved to California.  

After serving two years active duty as a Navy doctor in San Diego, Dr. Walton moved his family to Sacramento and started his medical practice in Del Paso Heights.  His eldest daughter, Stephanie, remembers that time well. 

“Initially he was doing family practice,” Stephanie recalls.  “Back in that day, pediatrics was more of a new specialty. Kids were seen by family practice doctors.  He fell in love with taking care of kids, and went back and did his specialty training in pediatrics.” 

Long before “Take Your Child To Work Day” was a thought in anyone’s mind, Dr. Walton exposed his children to his chosen profession.

“I remember as a small child hopping in the car with him and going on house calls,” Stephanie recalls.  “Sometimes I’d wait in the car, or sometimes on the step of the house.  I remember going from house to house to house back in the day.  When I was old enough, I worked in the office a little bit, and got a feeling for what was going on there.” 

Stephanie got more than just a “feeling” during those years.  She ultimately followed her father’s career path.  Today, she’s better known as Dr. Stephanie Walton, and like her dad did, she practices pediatric medicine in Sacramento.   And all three of her siblings — Vernon L. Jr., Rosemarie, and Kathleen M. — chose careers in public service.  

After 40 years of practicing pediatrics in Sacramento, Dr. Walton retired in 2010.  He remained active in the community and his church until the family and our community lost him after a short illness earlier this year.  He is survived by his four children and his wife of 60 years. 

The Walton family, and everyone else who knew him, will always remember him fondly. 

“He was fun, always busy doing something.  I don’t think he every slept,” Dr. Stephanie Walton wistfully remembers.  “He was very active in the church, and he loved taking care of kids and watching them grow up.  He was a mentor to quite a few young people.”

“I’ll tell you what he would tell every kid that he ever met,” Dr. Stephanie continues.  “If you work hard, you can do anything you want to do. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do.”   

In honor of Dr. Walton, the family has established a scholarship fund to support African American students who pursue careers in the sciences.  Contributions can be made to St. Hope Academy, ℅ the Vernon L. Walton Scholarship Fund, PO Box 5447, Sacramento, California 95817. 

 Connect with Sacramento-based freelancer Michael P Coleman at michaelpcoleman.com or follow him on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP.

By Michael P Coleman

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”  - John 8:32

After 30 years, the legendary vocal ensemble Take 6 has never recorded a more truthful album.  And ironically, for a group that began firmly entrenched in the gospel tradition, their new album only includes one overtly religious song. 

That said, the very aptly entitled Iconic is comprised of 10 songs that are immediately recognizable.  According to founding member Claude McKnight, that was very much by design. 

“Because we have a national and international audience and following, we tried to branch out even farther and say ‘What 10 songs could we go almost anywhere in the world and sing, and people would immediately know them,” McKnight shared during our EXCLUSIVE interview. 

With the wealth of popular songs from which to choose, fans may wonder how the group settled on the 10 included on the new album.  McKnight said that the group’s song selection process was, and has always been, extremely democratic. 

“We vote on everything,” McKnight shared.  “We sat down in a room together and each guy went through in their own mind and hearts literally dozens of songs that could have worked with this album.  We voted on them, and all of the songs that received at least four votes ended up getting another look.  Then, we whittled it down from there.” 

For the full story, visit http://www.sacculturalhub.com/item/10875-legendary-vocal-ensemble-take-6-releases-brilliant-new-album-of-iconic-songs.

 

Connect with Sacramento-based freelancer Michael P Coleman at michaelpcoleman.com or follow him on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP.

By Michael P Coleman

Early this afternoon, I commiserated about the dismal voter turnout that had been reported regarding yesterday’s elections.  Initially, only 16% of registered voters in Sacramento County were thought to have taken part in our democratic process, which included an opportunity to send a strong message to current Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert and County Sheriff Scott Jones.  My head and heart ached for Stephon Clark’s family, and for our entire community. 

Late this afternoon, I got a virtual Advil for THAT headache.  As it turns out, voter turnout had been woefully underreported by major media outlets. 

This morning, Sacramento County Interim Registrar of Voters, Alice Jarboe, confirmed that there are approximately 235,000 uncounted ballots in the Registrar’s possession.  And those DON’T include vote by mail (VBM) ballots that were postmarked by June 5.  Of those 235,000 outstanding ballots, approximately 175,000 VBM ballots were dropped off at vote centers and ballot drop box locations on Election Day. 

Interim Registrar Jarboe estimated that voter turn out could exceed a phenomenal and unprecedented 45%. The Democratic Party, in an official statement, said they believe those ballots “…could change the outcomes of a number of local races, including the District Attorney and Sheriff races.”   It will take some time to verify the signatures of those 175,000 ballots.  The Democratic Party goes on to say that they will keep us advised as new information is available. 

And THE HUB will, as always, keep YOU in the know. 

THIS election is NOT over. 

Follow the Democratic Party of Sacramento County on social media:  @sacdems.

Connect with Sacramento-based freelancer Michael P Coleman at michaelpcoleman.com or follow him on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP.

Jeffrey OsborneYou remember the songs:  “Love Ballad.”  “Shine On.”  “On The Wings Of Love.”  “Stay With Me Tonight.”  “We’re Going All The Way.”  And, of course, “You Should Be Mine (The Woo Woo Song).” 

As the artist grew artistically, he made forays into jazz, covers, and even holiday music.  As great as those projects were, fans of true R & B missed him. 

As if guided by some divine divining rod, Osborne has just released an excellent collection of new, old school R & B.  With his brand new Worth It All album, Osborne is solidly back where he belongs and sounding as good as ever.  But during our EXCLUSIVE interview, he told THE HUB that his long-awaited return to old school R & B almost didn’t happen.

“Originally, it was not supposed to be this kind of an album,” the 70 year old icon said by phone.  “My last record was an album of jazz standards, and on the merit of that album, I was asked to do a smooth jazz record.  As I sat down and started writing songs for the album, I realized that my writing was taking me back to my roots, back to old school R & B.  I’m extremely happy with how it turned out.” 

Find the full story at http://www.sacculturalhub.com/item/10763-jeffrey-osborne-releases-first-old-school-r-b-album-in-years-and-the-wait-is-worth-it-all

By Michael P Coleman

Beginning with her initial smash, the gorgeous, ethereal “Free” from her 1976 debut album, This Is Niecy,  Deniece Williams’ girlish, multi-octave voice enchanted R & B and pop music fans.  More often than not, she casted that spell from the very top of the charts, filling the gap between Minnie Ripperton and Mariah Carey. 

Williams’ piercing, rafter-raising voice almost defied description.  She started her professional career singing background for Stevie Wonder.  She had gone to an audition in Detroit, and showed up along with a few dozen other singers…but with no sheet music, and not having rehearsed anything to perform for the Motown legend. 

“Well, I will tell you: ‘green’ is the word to describe me that day,” Williams recalled during our EXCLUSIVE chat, with that trademark, still youthful giggle.  “I had no idea what the audition would be about, or details about what I should bring or anything.  I just felt so bad. There were a couple of people who actually showed up with their keyboard players, and their music, and I showed up with just me.” 

Click here to read MPC’s full feature and how Williams ultimately got that first gig with Stevie Wonder.  Williams tells how her biggest hits, “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late” and “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” almost never happened, talks about her upcoming shows in Oakland, and gives us the scoop on her upcoming album: her first ever jazz project!  The legend also shares how she’s always put God first, even when that decision threatened to end her recording career. 

Connect with Sacramento-based freelancer Michael P Coleman at michaelpcoleman.com or follow him on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP.

by Michael P Coleman

Ruben StuddardThe wait is almost over.

Grammy nominated R&B, pop and gospel singer Ruben Studdard, who was hailed as “the next Luther Vandross” during his triumphant American Idol run almost two decades ago, is finally releasing an album of Vandross covers.  Ruben Sings Luther: A Tribute will be released March 16. 

Studdard teased this project a few years ago, with a fantastic cover of “If This World Were Mine,” with Lalah Hathaway standing in for the original’s Cheryl Lynn, and he covered Luther’s “Superstar” years ago.  But to take on an entire album of Vandross covers?  Studdard deserves a standing ovation just for giving it a go, as Luther was unquestionably a peerless vocal powerhouse. 

“My goal was to not only pay tribute to Luther but to add my own passion on top of Luther’s brilliant songs,” Studdard said of the new album.  “I often sang different Luther songs during my live shows.  But people always asked when I was going to do an album of Luther’s songs.  Happily the day has arrived.” 

“I am so proud of this record,” Studdard continued.  “It was a thrilling experience selecting the songs from Luther’s different albums and putting my own interpretation on them.”

I’ll take Studdard at his word that recording this new album was “thrilling,” but I can attest to the fact that listening to it was absolutely so.  Ruben Sings Luther: A Tribute delivers 10 almost reverent Vandross covers.  Stunningly, in at least a couple of cases, Studdard improves upon the originals.

And for those in northern California, the news is even better:  Studdard has added a Sacramento stop to his 22 city tour in support of the new album.  Always And Forever: An Evening Of Luther Vandross Starring Ruben Studdard comes to Sacramento’s Crest Theatre on Sunday, April 8. 

I’m one of the Luther fans who never got to see him in concert, and friends have always insisted that I missed quite a show!  Luckily, Studdard is ready to recreate that experience during his upcoming tour. 

“We are not only recreating some of the production elements, musicians, background singers, wardrobe and lighting that were ever present when Luther took the stage, but my heart and soul will be in every note I sing as I honor one of the greatest vocalists we’ve ever had.” 

After listening to this new album, it’s easy for me to take Studdard’s word for that, too! 

Click here for tickets to Studdard’s upcoming Sacramento show. Tickets for the Sacramento show and all other performances are available at Ticketmaster.  

Look to The Hub next week for more information on the upcoming Ruben Sings Luther: A Tribute album, including our EXCLUSIVE interview with Ruben Studdard!  

 Connect with Sacramento-based freelancer Michael P Coleman at michaelpcoleman.com or follow him on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP.