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The ‘anti-sanctuary city’ bill passed on a party-line vote of 93-54.


Austin, Texas – Today, Senate Bill 4 passed to engrossment on a vote of 93-54 after close to 16 hours of impassioned testimony.

Members of the Texas House Democratic Caucus, Mexican American Legislative Caucus, and Texas Legislative Black Caucus proposed numerous improving amendments and raised multiple points of order against the bill, but the course of the debate was largely steered by the Republican Caucus and its overwhelming majority.

State Representative Eddie Rodriguez issued the following statement regarding the debate and vote:

“The young children who testified in opposition to SB 4 before the House Committee on State Affairs returned for today’s floor debate.

“They arrived in the early morning to share their heartfelt stories with members who support SB 4, trying to appeal to their humanity. The children were blatantly ignored.

“I understand that many Republican members face pressure to cast votes in violation of their consciences. Speaking with those children, though, you get a sense of the awesome responsibility that we have as elected members of the Texas House of Representatives.

“Placing one’s selfish interest in reelection ahead of doing the right thing is worse than a good-faith vote for SB 4.

“I feel scared, sad, confused and angry along with all immigrant children tonight. My colleagues voted to condemn them to a life of fear and uncertainty, to hiding in the shadows and dreading the day their parents don’t come home from work. Worse, my colleagues wouldn’t even give them the time of day.

“I’ve opposed SB 4 from the beginning, using my voice to advocate for local control over policing policy from my district in Austin to the national stage. I refuse to be civil or ‘agree to disagree’ on SB 4 because the stakes are much too high.”

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Queendom Come, Inc. Joins with Other Houston Organizations to Launch Awareness and Educational Campaign #ProtectOurDaughters Against Sex & Human Trafficking


HOUSTON – Queendom Come, Inc. (QCI) will host a press conference Thursday, March 30, 2017, at 4 p.m. to launch its #ProtectOurDaughters campaign to address sex and human trafficking in the Houston area. Sex trafficking had become the new “slavery” and has taken national attention when a dozen of black and Latina girls went missing in Washington, D.C. this month. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Houston is one of the largest hubs for human trafficking in the nation and the largest hub in Texas Houston has over 200 active brothels, with two new openings each month. Houston is a popular entryway for internationally trafficked persons due to its two large, international airports and the Port of Houston, which is the largest international port in the United States and the thirteenth busiest in the world.

Age is the primary factor in vulnerability. We are seeing our daughters becoming victims to this modern-day slavery. Pre-teen or adolescent girls are more susceptible to the calculated advances, deception, and manipulation tactics used by traffickers/pimps – no youth is exempt from falling prey to these tactics.  Traffickers target locations youth frequent such as social media sites, schools, malls, parks, bus stops, shelters and group homes. Runaway or homeless youth, as well as those with a history of physical and sexual abuse, may have an increased risk of being trafficked.

QCI has launched an educational and awareness campaign that targets women, adolescent girls and their parents in the Houston and surrounding areas. QCI has collaborated with other organizations in the community and women leaders such as, Green House International Church Co-Pastor Sandra Deckard of Greenhouse International Church, Kathy Griffin Grinan of “We’ve Been There Done That”, Valerie Muhammad of the Nation of Islam MGT & GCC, Calandrian Simpson-Kemp of the Village of Mothers, Jinaki Muhammad of the National Black United Front, Attorney Sadiyah A. Evangelista of the Ministry of Justice Millions More Movement,  Deric Muhammad and Pastor E.A. Deckard of No More Blood Shed Movement and Deloyd Parker of SHAPE Community Center. A town hall meeting will be announced at the press conference.

WHERE:        National Black United Front 2428 Southmore Blvd. Houston, TX 77004

WHAT:           Queendom Come, Inc. Awareness and Educational Campaign #ProtectOurDaughters

WHEN:           March 30, 2017, 4:00 p.m. CST.

WHO:             Queendom Come, Inc.; Greenhouse International Church, We’ve Been There Done That; Village of Mothers, National Black United Front, Nation of Islam MGT & GCC,                                  MOJ Millions More Movement, No More Blood Shed, SHAPE Community Center

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Precinct One youth and seniors programs receive federal grants totaling nearly $150,000

Harris County Commissioners Court on Tuesday approved nearly $150,000 in federal grants for Precinct One programs that assist young people and senior citizens.

 The nonprofit Harris County Precinct One Street Olympics Inc. was awarded a $42,024 Community Development Block Grant for the Harris County Aquatics Program, $28,993 for Discovery Camp and $58,502 for the Summer Games.

The Seniors Drama Program received a $20,000 grant. The program, directed by playwright Thomas Meloncon, provides acting and dance lessons. Seniors participate as actors, understudies and costume designers. Throughout the year, they perform plays that raise awareness of crucial issues affecting seniors.

 Created in 1986, the Street Olympics implements and sustains year-round programs that provide training, support and resources that lead to healthy and productive lives for Houston-area youth.

The Aquatics Program offers swimming lessons and competitive swimming for youth. In July, Learn-to-Swim students compete in a friendly competition at the Harris County Aquatics Center.

 Discovery Camp, which runs through the summer months, offers children ages 6-13 a one-day adventure that includes educational activities, games, crafts and projects that give them hands-on experience to help understand nature in natural settings at Challenger Seven Memorial and Deussen parks.

 The Summer Games gives youth at participating agencies a chance to compete in traditional street games such as kickball, jacks, hopscotch, Hula Hoop and foot races. The best participants at the agencies – which include Houston Parks and Recreation Department sites, YMCAs, churches and other youth centers – earn the right to compete at the Final Event in August at NRG Arena, where they can win medals. For more information, call 713 991 6881.

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Houston Selected to Participate in National Initiative to Increase Equity and Build Local Pathways to Higher Education and Employment

The National League of Cities (NLC) selected Houston as one of six cities that will take part in a two year project to explore and build equitable pathways to post-secondary and workforce success. The mayors of each participating city have made a commitment to increasing access and decreasing barriers that prevent youth from succeeding in higher education and gaining meaningful employment. Houston’s efforts will focus on the Hire Houston Youth (HHY) program.

“Workforce programs and summer employment can decrease the likelihood that a youngster will drop out of school, they help ensure we have an able and ready workforce and set youth on the path to long-term careers,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner.  “Despite these benefits, less than a third of American teenagers held a job last summer and their participation in the workforce is at an historic low. This year’s goal is to provide 5,000 summer jobs for local youth. I’m calling on our business community to help us get to this goal by hiring and paying a HHY summer applicant. If you don’t have a spot, you can pledge $2,500 to sponsor a youth’s salary, training and benefits at a government agency or a nonprofit organization.”

HHY provides local youth ages 16-24 with at least a seven week summer job or internship experience from mid-June through the first week of August.  In preparation for job placement, applicants will attend workforce readiness training one week prior to their start date.  Students will work up to 40 hours a week for seven weeks, earning at least $8 an hour.  The program is part of the mayor’s vision to create complete communities in historically underserved neighborhoods.

Cities are the economic engines of our nation. In understanding this role as economic drivers, mayors and other city partners – including representatives from city workforce, economic development and education – will be working together to ensure access to education and employment for all citizens with the ultimate goal of building vibrant local economies. To reach this goal, cities need clear pathways to college and postsecondary programs that are responsive to regional workforce needs. The value of a college educated community brings both personal and city-wide benefits.

Through its Institute for Youth, Education, and Families and with support from The Kresge Foundation, and LinkedIn, NLC will bring together city leaders from the government, education and business sectors and national experts that will help Houston develop strategies and expand the city’s efforts. The city will also have access to labor market trends in hiring as well as insights on education pathways and key skill sets leading to employment from LinkedIn. For more information, call 832.393.0800.

The six cities chosen to participate as NLC cohort include Austin, Texas; Charleston, South Carolina; Corpus Christi, Texas; Houston, Texas; Jacksonville, Florida and Nashville, Tennessee.

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Memorial Park Receives Lone Star Legacy Designation From Texas Recreation and Park Society

Memorial Park became one of five Texas parks honored with the designation as a Lone Star Legacy Park by the Texas Recreation and Park Society (TRAPS) during a ceremony at the association’s annual institute in Irving, Texas, on March 1, 2017.

“Memorial Park becomes the fourth park in our system to receive the Lone Star Legacy designation. It joins Hermann Park, Emancipation Park, and Sam Houston Park in receiving this prestigious acknowledgement,” said Joe Turner, Director, Houston Parks and Recreation Department. “We are honored that Memorial Park’s historic significance has been recognized by the Texas Recreation and Park Society.”

A Lone Star Legacy Park is classified as a park that holds special prominence in the local community and the State of Texas. To qualify for consideration, the park must have endured the test of time and become iconic to those who have visited, played and rested on its grounds. Nominated parks must be a minimum of 50 years old and have to meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • The property represents distinctive design and/or construction.
  • The park is associated with historic events or sites.
  • The park is associated with events specific to the local community/state.
  • The park is home to unique natural features.

Memorial Park was established in 1924. Its 1,503 acres were sold at cost to the City of Houston by William and Mike Hogg, sons of James Stephen Hogg, the former governor of Texas. The Park’s creation was in response to letters to the editor of the Houston Chronicle, first from Ilona Benda and later from Catherine Mary Emmott, beseeching the City to consider a park in tribute to the soldiers who trained at Houston’s Camp Logan and the many who died in World War I.

At the behest of philanthropist Ima Hogg, sister to the Hogg brothers, several stalwart protectors of park lands (Terry Hershey, Frank C. Smith, Jr., Sadie Gwin Blackburn, Dr. John D. Staub, and Sarah Emmott) were charged with protecting Memorial Park from encroachments and development concepts ranging from a fish hatchery to the Astrodome to oil drilling. This group of advocates, through efforts led by Claire Caudill, morphed over time to become the Memorial Park Conservancy, a 501c3 that works in conjunction with the City of Houston to care for the Park.

The five parks receiving the honor in the sixth year of the Texas Recreation and Parks Society statewide program include Parque Zaragoza, Austin; Kiest Park, Dallas; Tandy Hills Natural Area, Fort Worth; Kempner Park, Galveston; Memorial Park, Houston; and Cypress Bend Park, New Braunfels.

About the Texas Recreation and Park Society (TRAPS)
TRAPS is a non-profit 501c3 professional and educational organization founded 75 years ago with a membership of over 2,000 professionals. TRAPS is committed to advancing the field of parks, recreation and leisure services in Texas, while advocating for enhanced recreation opportunities and the increase of public green space for Texans.

About the Houston Parks and Recreation Department
The Houston Parks and Recreation Department (H.P.A.R.D.) stewards and manages over 37,851 acres of parkland and greenspace for the City of Houston and develops and implements recreational programming for citizens of all abilities. For more information on the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, call (832) 395-7022 or visit