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Firefighter Dies From Work-Related Illness

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Houston, TX — The family of Margaret Roberts, a Black firefighter with the Houston Fire Department who died battling cancer directly caused by her work as confirmed by the fire department chief, has been  fighting to have her pension benefits. Their case is more than a year old, but the city of Houston refuses to compensate them claiming that her illness was caused by her being Black.

For more than 21 years, Margaret was in service as a firefighter for the Houston Fire Department, until she began to suffer from multiple myeloma.

“I had to sit there for almost five years and watch her die daily,” Margaret’s husband, Daniel Roberts, said.

Since her death in January 2017, her family has been dealing with her loss and with the fight for the benefits she has earned but hasn’t been granted.

Houston Fire Department Chief Sam Pena wrote in a letter to the state pension three months after Roberts’ death confirming that it “was a result of an illness sustained in the line of duty.” After that, he also wrote a letter to 100 Club saying that it was “Declared a Line of Duty Death.”

The confirmations made by the fire department chief himself should have entitled Roberts’ family to benefits paid by groups besides the city of Houston. However, the benefits from city funds are ultimately being brought to court.

“The city saw the opportunity to re-dispute the claim starting all over again, said Roberts attorney Mike Sprain.

The city has already lost the case for Roberts’ health benefits when she was alive but they’re trying to fight again on a similar issue now that she’s dead, claiming that her multiple myeloma was not caused by her work as a firefighter, but instead of her weight, family history, and race.

Meanwhile, Robert’s occupational doctor declared in 2013, “In my professional opinion, Margaret Roberts’ multiple myeloma is work-related.”

The International Firefighters Union, as well as four states in the US, specifically recognize the connection of firefighting to multiple myeloma. There are also studies that confirmed an “increased” or “significantly elevated” risk for firefighters getting multiple myeloma.

Yet Texas ignores all these and instead decides to follow the recommendation from United Nations that doesn’t categorically link cancer to firefighting.

“I guess they don’t want to pay the benefits that me and my kids have coming,” Daniel Roberts said.

The city didn’t make any comment about the lawsuit.

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Remembering the 19 Soldiers of the 24th Infantry Regiment

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Nineteen black soldiers were hung on Dec. 11, 1917 in San Antonio. In spite of their military service, racial tensions took over their fate. However these men won’t be forgotten by the Bexar County Buffalo Soldiers Association.

The local organization recently voted to pay homage to the 19 soldiers of the 24th infantry regiment by placing a commemorative plaque or monument in the Buffalo Soldier Peace Park at 1602 Wyoming Street – not too far where the soldiers faced death.

Famed actor, author, and former Army Reserve Ambassador James McEachin and Civil Rights leader Pastor Kyev Tatum teamed up to get approval from the Bexas County Buffalo Soldiers Association to collaborate on erecting a monument in recognition of the century old court-martial of 113 black soldiers and 19 hanged in the Alamo City – the largest in military history.

According to the Texas Historical Commission, the condemned men were not told their fate until two days before their execution, nor was time permitted to appeal for clemency. Instead, the execution was hastily carried out before dawn at a secluded edge of Camp Travis along Salado Creek. Their request to be shot had been denied. The gallows upon which they were hanged were gone by the time the news broke to the public. To read the full story of what happened, go here.

“This unique opportunity to recognize and remember the black soldiers lost because that resisted tyranny, rejected injustices and revolted against mistreatment at the hands of law enforcement in Houston, Texas over 100 years ago is a dream come true,” says Pastor K.P. Tatum, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Fort Worth and Pastor of the New Mount Rose Missionary Baptist Church, also in Fort Worth.

Pastor Tatum and McEachin, a Korean War Veteran and Purple Heart and Silver Star recipient, are also working together to produce an event at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington DC for next July 2019 in honor of the Buffalo Soldiers of America with special recognition given to the brave soldiers of the United States Army 24th Infantry Regiment.

“The US Senate and President George H.W. Bush declared July 28, 1992 as Buffalo Soldiers Day in America and it is only fitting that we honor them with a day at the new Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African-American History and Culture in 2019,” Pastor Tatum said.

The two events are designed to continue the journey towards justice for the black soldiers that will lead to a presidential pardon.

“We believe these soldiers were protecting the fundamental fairness of freedom for all of us very similar to the brave Americans who fought at the Alamo in San Antonio. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was right, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ You can not call the soldiers at the Alamo hereos without calling the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment heroes. They both stood up and resisted brutality, one foreign and the other domestic. Injustice is injustice. We are excited about the possibilities of honoring our faithful forefathers both in San Antonio and in Washington DC,” says Pastor Tatum.

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Free Luncheon and Parade to Honor Veterans

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To honor area veterans, District 1 City Councilman Roberto Treviño has organized the fourth annual free Veterans Day luncheon at the historic VFW Post 76 at 10 Tenth St downtown on Saturday, Nov. 10 from 1 to 3 pm.

All veterans and their families are invited to attend after the parade for an afternoon of leisure. VFW Post 76, considered “The Oldest Post in Texas” will host the luncheon.

Residents are encouraged to show their support for veterans by attending the Veterans Day Parade which will take place along Houston Street from N. Alamo and end at Milam Park. The parade will begin at noon and end approximately at 1:30 pm. Prior to the parade, there’s a drill team competition at 8 am next to the Alamo, and a wreath ceremony at 10 am in front of the Alamo. The parade is presented by the U.S. Military Veterans Parade Association.

Visit https://www.usmvpa.com/ for more information.

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Urban Camp Festival (Fall 2018)

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Imagine the gathering of all of your friends at the livest house party of all time… and then add tents, a raging river waiting for you all to tame it, laser tag, different tastes from all over the country, games that might have your children look at you differently, and lastly an open bar that’ll help you forget your antics of the evening.  Once your vision is realized, you will now be walking amongst Urban Camp Weekend, the best camping event in the world, hosted at Mount Breeze of New Braunfels, TX!

Urban Camp Weekend is the largest camping trip in the country, hosted by Urban Camp Weekend and Urban Events Global!  This camp enthralls a large community of eager travelers from all across the country to indulge in a highly entertaining activities, ranging from yoga, to river rafting, during the scheduled weekend.  Intertwined during the duration of the event are mixers for professionals eager to network while still having their fun.  This event was established by Kevin Knight, who had the vision to develop unique and non-traditional experience that allows participants to relax and make lasting connections all while in a territory never explored!

I never knew that drinks, tents, and laser tag could fit together so well.

Upon arriving, we received a warm greeting from campers all across the campsite.  All were participating in games, with laughs bellowing across the site, and immediately incorporated us into the fun!  The atmosphere of the site put people at ease, allowing them to commune with people they had never prior to that day.  The DJ curated songs from all decades, playing them in a way that younger and mature audiences could equally enjoy.  I never knew that drinks, tents, and laser tag could fit together so well.  Overall, the experience was beautifully organized, and the participants had an awesome time.  We cannot wait until next year.

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