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Why We Can’t Wait: Rep. Thierry Urges Governor To Call A Special Session Addressing  Mass School Shootings

Austin, Texas — On Monday, May 21, 2018,  Representative Shawn Thierry (D-Houston) submitted a written appeal to Governor Abbott deeming the issue of gun violence a crisis worthy of calling the Texas legislature back to special session.With 22 national school shootings in 2018 and the Santa Fe High School shooting being the deadliest in Texas since the 1966 UT Tower Shooting, Rep. Thierry stated, “We cannot successfully protect our children, teachers, and families if we continue to operate in a ‘business as usual’ or ‘thoughts and prayers’ mentality.  As a woman of faith, I fervently pray against evil, however, I am also reminded that scripture teaches ‘faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead’. (James 2:17).”

Gov. Abbott recently announced his decision to convene roundtable discussions with diverse stakeholders to discuss more effective ways to protect students from school shootings. Representative Thierry also requested the opportunity to have a seat at the Governor’s roundtable discussions and stated that the legislature must act swiftly, putting politics aside in order to save lives.

As a member of the Texas legislature and a mother of a rising first grader, Representative Thierry has a unique standing and passion to work on legislation to solve the issue of gun violence in our schools.  She shared, “My constituents are fearful about the safety of their children, and I must take action to address their concerns.  In my role as a mom, when taking my daughter to school, I too, now live under the fear of whether my child is going to make it back home to me alive. ”

“This is a pivotal moment in time for the leadership in Texas to set an example for the nation.  We must demonstrate that our great state of Texas has the resolve and the will to provide the necessary resources to better ensure the safety of our children.  We also need action from our federal government, but in the meantime, we must show that Texas will lead the way,” remarked Rep. Thierry.

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Breaking News: Horror at Santa Fe High School

Houston Sun News Service

The 40-year-old neighboring town 30 miles South of Houston started the day with a tragic domestic terrorist attack allegedly by a 17-year old student at his Santa Fe High School of about 1,400 students. The high school serves a population of about 12,200 (US 2010 Census) residents in the rural town of Santa Fe, (Holy Faith in Spanish) in Galveston County.  Police sources have stated that a young man has been placed in custody and nine people are dead while others have been taken to the League City Hospital and the UT Medical Center in Galveston.

Students report that there was a shooting threat in February at the high school and that they were in lockdown mode for two hours. A freshman student reported that he heard two bombs and the gunshots and a weeping 10th graders speaking through tears said that her friend was shot in the leg.

Students were evacuated to the Alamo Gymnasium at 13360 off Highway TX 6.

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TSU Maroon & Gray Affair raises over $1 million to bolster students

 

HOUSTON (April 30, 2018) – Texas Southern University (TSU) held its The Maroon and Gray Affair on Saturday, April 28 at the Marriott Marquis Houston and raised in $1 million in funding for deserving TSU students. More than 1,500 patrons were in attendance. Award-winning journalist Tamron Hall was the keynote speaker, entertainment was provided by R&B group En Vogue and comedian Billy Sorrells, a TSU alumnus, who served as the master of ceremonies along with KHOU-TV’s Great Day Houston host Deborah Duncan.  The Maroon & Gray Affair, a black-tie event in its second year, recognized two top students and two outstanding alumni. The gala was created by TSU President Austin A. Lane and TSU First Lady Loren Lane.

“The Texas Southern family joined together to salute our fantastic students and accomplished alumni. Our stakeholders and friends have partnered with TSU to meet our mission of standing as a comprehensive academic institution to guide our students in obtaining their degree of choice,” said TSU President Dr. Austin A. Lane.

TSU students Aaron Dallas and Camille Mills were honored for their academic and leadership. The Honorable Senfronia Thompson, State Representative D-141, and the Honorable Rodney Ellis, Harris County Commissioner for Precinct One, were recognized as this year’s alumni honorees.

“What a lovely evening as we gathered to support higher education,” said Mrs. Lane. “We know that the generosity of our guests will help TSU support these deserving students on their path to a better life.”

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner welcomed gala guests at the top of the evening. Tamron Hall, an Emmy-nominated journalist, former national news anchor for NBC News and current host of Deadline: Crime on the Investigation Discovery channel delivered keynote remarks. En Vogue, featuring Houston native Terry Ellis, performed a set of their R&B hits, including “Hold On,” “Free Your Mind,” “My Lovin’,” “Give Him Something He Can Feel” and their new Top 10 hit, “Rocket.”

“Our alumni, donors and major stakeholders delivered excellent support to the mission of our gala. All showed their complete dedication to assisting Texas Southern in closing the financial gap for our students,” said Melinda Spaulding, vice president for University Advancement.

ABOUT TEXAS SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY

Texas Southern University (TSU) is a comprehensive, metropolitan institution providing academic and research programs that address critical urban issues, and prepares its increasingly diverse student population to become a force for positive change in a global society. TSU offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs and concentrations – bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and professional degrees – organized into 10 colleges and schools on a 150-acre campus nestled in the heart of Houston’s historic Third Ward. The University’s enrollment has a population of 8,000 undergraduate and graduate-school academic candidates. Texas Southern has been a distinguished educational pioneer since 1927, and the University has become one of the most diverse and respected institutions in Texas. TSU has positioned itself as a proactive leader in

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Ms. Ruth Campbell Stewart is dead

With great regret, the family of Ms. Ruth Campbell Stewart announces the passing.  She was born October 20, 1916, in Savannah, Georgia.  She was preceded in death by her parents,  and her brother. She is survived by her sister, Saramae Richardson, niece, Yvonne Richardson James, great-nieces Sara James and Paige James and nephew James Stewart, Jr.   She has cousins and many life-long friends.

Her family, former students, and friends will gather Saturday, April 21, 2018, to celebrate

 

 her life. While she was a member of Salem Lutheran Church, the Funeral service will be celebrated on Saturday, April 21, 2018, at 11:00 am in the sanctuary of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church.  The eulogist will be the founding pastor emeritus, Dr. William A   Lawson. The viewing will be from 10:00 am, an hour before the funeral service which will begin promptly at 11:00 am. After the service, the motorcade will pass by the Stewart-Rollins Music Building, for a salute by the Ocean of Soul Marching Band, as well as other music students. The public is welcome to be part of the salute. The Interment will be at Houston Memorial Gardens Cemetery, 2426 Cullen, Pearland, TX 77581.

On March 1954, Ms. Stewart arrived to teach voice and become the director of the Women’s Glee Club at Texas State University for Negroes (later to become Texas Southern University). During her 29-year tenure at Texas Southern University, she co-produced several operas, including “Cavalleria Rusticana,” “Madama Butterfly,” “La Boheme,” “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” “The King and I,” “Requiem” (Verdi), and “Messiah” (Handel).

Ms. Stewart entered Columbia University the fall of 1943, studying voice with the late Dr. Robert Wilson. She also enrolled in applied piano sight singing, theory and the History of Music. In May 1949 she auditioned and won a pivotal role in the premiere production of “Troubled Island” by William Grant Hill, presented at City Opera, New York City.   In 1951 she was awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to study at St. Cecelia Conservatory Rome Italy with Maestro Maria Pediconi.

She was voted Regional Governor of the National Association of Teachers of Singing “NATS” including Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico, for two years.  After her first term, she was voted to continue to lead the organization by acclamation.  She also organized with the help of the late Clifford Smith, a Men’s Group – called “The Men of Houston, consisting of 28 men from all walks of life, with one goal in mind – to sing.  During a seven-year tenure, the group gave many concerts, performed on many programs and on television.

Ms. Stewart has many students who have had successful careers in teaching and performing. Among those who have achieved success are Faye Robinson, internationally acclaimed soprano; Gloria Harrison-Quinlan, soprano; the late Lionel Stubblefield, tenor, and April Sloan-Hubert, Houston’s premier soprano. Ruth Stewart retired on May 31, 1983. The modern facility, which now houses the Music Department, has been designated as the Rollins-Stewart Music Building in honor of her tenure. ,

Special thanks to McCoy & Harrison Funeral Home, 4918 MLK, Houston, TX 77021, 713.659.7618

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Commissioner Ellis Applauds Appeals Court Ruling on Bail Case

Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis applauded a federal appeals court that ruled Wednesday the county’s wealth-based bail policy violates the Constitution because it jails misdemeanor defendants simply because they cannot pay money bail.

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals largely ruled against Harris County in an appeal that the county brought in O’Donnell v. Harris County. In an opinion drafted by Judge Edith Brown Clement, the appellate court held, “We are satisfied that the court had sufficient evidence to conclude that Harris County’s use of secured bail violated equal protection.”

The panel also dismissed Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez from the lawsuit and directed U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal to craft a narrower injunction.  However, the appeals court judges held that the county must follow Judge Rosenthal’s injunctive procedures until she crafts new procedures that more directly address the constitutional violations.

“With this decision, the conservative 5th Circuit is telling Harris County that it’s unconstitutional to have two justice systems: one for the rich and one for the poor,” Commissioner Ellis said.  “Yet Harris County has already spent more than $5 million defending a morally and legally indefensible bail system that violates the Constitution and punishes people simply because they are poor. The ruling is a significant victory for justice and offers further proof that it is time for Harris County to settle this lawsuit and enact meaningful reforms that treat all people equally and fairly under the law.”

Judge Rosenthal entered a preliminary injunction against Harris County last April after finding that the county treats indigent misdemeanor defendants unequally solely because they cannot afford money bail.  She further found that Harris County’s pretrial detention procedures for misdemeanor cases lack due process because defendants are not informed of the significance of being able to afford money bail.  Her preliminary injunction required Sheriff Gonzalez to release indigent misdemeanor defendants within 24 hours of arrest if they could not afford to post a money bond.

The bail lawsuit was filed in May 2016 by Maranda Lynn O’Donnell, who spent more than two days in jail because she could not afford $2,500 bond after being arrested on charges of driving with an invalid license.  Her lawsuit was merged with another lawsuit filed by two misdemeanor defendants, Loetha Shanta McGruder and Robert Ryan Ford, who were locked up when they could not afford money bail.

Last year, Commissioner Ellis filed an amicus brief in Judge Rosenthal’s court that discussed Harris County’s history of discriminatory treatment of poor defendants of color and that agreed with the O’Donnell plaintiffs’ assertions that the bail scheme is unconstitutional.

In addition to Judge Clement, the three-judge panel that ruled on the county’s appeal also consisted of Edward Prado and Catharina Haynes.  The county now can seek permission for rehearing of its appeal by that panel or to have its appeal heard by all the judges on the 5th Circuit.  It also can seek permission to have the 5th Circuit’s decision reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Judge Rosenthal stated in her April order that she would schedule a trial on the merits of the lawsuit, but also warned that the plaintiffs have a great likelihood of winning that trial.  The trial is expected to be scheduled soon.

Commissioner Ellis stated, “With regard to the remedy, I am confident that once additional evidence has been presented, the federal courts will implement a bail system in Harris County that protects the constitutional rights of everyone.”