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Black Life Texas

Key Candidates Seeking Critical Offices in Texas



In approximately three weeks, the citizens of the state will go to the polls and cast their votes for a number of various candidates in this off-year election. It is considered off-year or mid-term simply because it takes place when there is no presidential election. However, there are a number of particularly important offices on the ballot that are critical to the operation of the state and local governments. Putting aside the glamour of the presidential election, these offices affect the citizens of the state and have a much more direct impact than the national ones. That is why the staff at Black Life Texas chose to commit our feature story to the men and women seeking voter support on November 8 for these various positions.

The most important offices to be filled are those within the plural executive branch of the state government. Texas has what is known as a plural executive because each of the offices within that branch of government is independent and not accountable to the governor. Unlike the national government where the president hires and fires the other executives who make up their cabinet, this doesn’t exist in Texas. The offices and the individuals vying for these positions are as follows:

The governor is the executive branch head and the commander-in-chief of the state’s military forces. This person has the power to either approve or veto legislation. There are no term limits on the position. The two candidates on the ballot are Incumbent Governor Gregg Abbott and his primary challenger Beto O’Rourke. Additional candidates are Mark Tippetts (L) and Delilah Barrios (G).

Lieutenant Governor is the second most important office in the executive branch. This person’s power stems from their position as president of the Texas Senate. According to the senate rules, the Lieutenant Governor has the power of committee appointments, names the chairs of all the committees and assigns legislation for consideration to the committee of his/her choice. The candidates for Lieutenant Governor are Incumbent Dan Patrick (R). His challengers are Mike Collier (D) and Shanna Steele (I).

Attorney General is the chief legal officer for the state, but primarily for civil litigation. Criminal cases are assigned to the local district attorneys where the crime was committed. This person defends challenges to state laws and suits against both state agencies and individual employees of the state. He/she serves as legal counsel to all boards and agencies of the state government and issues legal opinions when requested by the governor, heads of state agencies and other officials. The candidates for Attorney General are Incumbent Ken Paxton (R), and challenger Rochelle Mercedes Garza (D).

The Comptroller of Public Accounts is the chief financial officer of the state. The primary duty of the Comptroller is to collect all tax revenues owed to the state. Comptroller is responsible for remitting the local portion of the tax revenue to the various cities, counties, and special districts throughout the state. That person provides reports on fiscal management and economic forecasts and manages the unclaimed property fund. Candidates for Comptroller of Public Accounts are Incumbent Glenn Hegar (R) and challengers are Janet T. Dudding (D) and Alonzo Echevarria-Garza (I).

The Commissioner of the General Land Office manages state lands, including oil and gas properties owned by the state (which supply funds to the Permanent School Fund) and the Alamo. The commissioner chairs the Veterans Land Board, which administers programs for Texas veterans and is responsible for the environmental protection of the Texas coastal regions. The candidates vying for this office are Dawn Buckingham (R) and Jay Kleberg (D).

Agricultural Commissioner is responsible for matters pertaining to agriculture, rural community affairs and administers the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. The commissioner facilitates trade and marketing of agricultural products, provides financial help to farmers, and helps solve issues related to natural disasters. The candidates include Incumbent Sid Miller (R) and challenger Susan Hays (D).

Texas Railroad Commission consists of three statewide elected officials responsible for the regulation of the oil and gas industry. It focuses entirely on oil, gas, mining, propane, and pipelines, setting allocations for production every month. Each of the members serves a six-year term (one member to be elected in an election per every other year in a six-year cycle). The current Chairman Wayne Christian is up for re-election in this cycle. His challengers are Luke Warford (D), Jaime Andres Diez (I) and Hunter Wayne Crow (G).

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Congressional –There are also some key congressional races that include the following districts: For Congressional District 20 the incumbent is Joaquin Castro (D) and the challenger is Kyle Sinclair (R); in District 21, the incumbent is Chip Roy (R) and the challenger is Claudia Andreana Zapata (D); in District 23, the incumbent is Tony Gonzales (R) and the challengers are John Lira (D) and Frank Lopez Jr. (I); in District 28, the incumbent is Henry Cuellar (D) and the challenger is Cassy Garcia (R): in District 35, there is no incumbent because Lloyd Doggett was re-apportioned to a new district, which is primarily in Austin. The two candidates vying for District 35 are Greg Casar (D) and Dan McQueen (R).

Texas State Legislature —There are nine districts that affect the voters within our area.
They are as follows: in District 116, the incumbent is Trey Martinez Fischer and he is unopposed; in District 117, the incumbent is Philip Cortez (D) and the challenger is Aaron Schwope (R); in District 118 the incumbent is John Lujan (R) and the challenger is Frank Ramirez (D): in District 119, the incumbent is Elizabeth “Liz” Campos (D) and the challenger is Arthur M. Thomas IV (I); in District 120, the incumbent is Barbara Gervin Hawkins (D) and the challenger is Ronald Payne (R): in District 121, the incumbent is Steve Allison (R) and the challenger is Becca Moyer DeFelice (D): District 122 is an open seat and the contestants are Angi Aramburu (D), Mark Dorazio (R), and Stephanie Berlin (I); in District 123, the incumbent is Diego Bernal (D) and the challenger is Charlotte Valdez (R); District 124 is an open seat and the candidates are Josey Garcia (D) and Johnny Arrendondo (R); in District 125, the incumbent is Ray Lopez (D) and the challenger is Carlos Antonio Raymond (R).

County Judge and Commissioners Court represents the county in administrative functions and is the managing/governing body for Bexar County. It consists of the County Judge and four commissioners representing a quarter of the population and is elected within their area of authority. The judge is elected county-wide. There are three candidates on the 2022 ballot for County Judge. They are Trish DeBerry (R), Peter Sakai (D) and Edgar Coyle (I). Three of the four Commissioners are up for re-election and it includes Precinct 2 Justin Rodriguez, in which he is unopposed; in Precinct 3, the incumbent is Grant Moody (R) and the challenger is Susan Korbel (D); in Precinct 4, the incumbent is Tommy Calvert Jr. (D) and his challenger is Larry Ricketts (R).

This list does not exhaust all the offices up for re-election during this cycle. There are a number of judgeships that will be on the ballot, however, space prohibited coverage of all those offices. We do encourage you to read and study your ballot before voting and to do as much research as possible because this is one of the most essential functions that you will exercise as a citizen.

Early voting begins on Oct. 24 and ends on Nov. 4. The last day to apply to vote by mail is Oct. 28. The general election date is Nov. 8. We are confident that voters will turnout this year because democracy depends on each and every one of us to exercise our rights as citizens.

Black Life Texas

Power Book II: Ghost Debuts in Starz




The “Power” franchise is back again and adding some Mary J. Blige flair to its latest sequel.

This time, “Power Book II: Ghost” is told through the eyes of young Tariq St. Patrick, the central character, trying to navigate his life to shed his father’s legacy and coming up against the mounting pressure to save his family. Along the way, Tariq gets entangled in the affairs of the cutthroat Tejada family, adding further complications as he tries to balance his drug operations with his education, love life, family affairs, and mounting pressure from Cooper Saxe. He divides his time between school and hustling to pay for his mother’s defense attorney, but Tariq turns to a familiar drug game when he runs out of options.

The “Power” franchise is a television series created and produced by Courtney A. Kemp in collaboration with Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. Upon release in 2014, the series, which airs on Starz, earned positive reviews and is one of the network’s most highly-rated shows.

This spinoff stars Michael Rainey Jr. as Tariq, Shane Johnson as Cooper Saxe, Method Man as Davis Maclean, Mary J. Blige as Moet, Larenz Tate as Councilman Tate, Lovell Adams-Gray as Dru Tejada, and many more familiar characters.

Since 2014, the franchise has spun off into “PowerBook II: Ghost,” “PowerBook III: Raising Kanan,” and “Powerbook IV: Force and BMF.”

Last September, Jackson announced he was leaving Starz. And recently, in February, he announced a multiyear broadcast direct deal with Fox, which is offering him the platform to develop scripted dramas, comedies, and animated series that would air on the network.

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Black Life Texas

American Red Cross: On the Right Side of History




On June 1, 1921, over 7,500 angry white Tulsan, armed with weapons and a determination to destroy, crossed the Frisco Railroad Tracks into the segregated Greenwood section of North Tulsa, also known as Black Wall Street. They slaughtered over 300 men, women, and children within seven hours while literally burning down all the businesses and homes within a 33-block area. 

After the State National Guard finally arrived in the city and ended that savagery, over 7,000 Black American citizens were left without homes, no food, and their hospital had been destroyed. At that time in the country’s history, it was the worst single-day massacre of fellow citizens and their property.

In 1921 no organizations were willing to assist the 7,000 distraught, homeless men, women and children, except the American Red Cross. Founded in 1881, the organization had never assisted victims of a manmade disaster, especially when those victims happened to be Black. However, Maurice Willows, director of the Southwest Division of the Red Cross, insisted that the organization come to the rescue of what he considered his fellow citizens of the country. He called on his workers to respond as a matter of human life and led a team of volunteers from across the area into the ravaged community to assist what he termed the Black “riot victims.”

Willows’s first act was to order “the incumbent city officials to abdicate power to him for a 60-day period.” He then set up his operating headquarters at the Booker T. Washington High School. For some reason, the high school was not torched. He also set up a makeshift hospital inside one of the classrooms. With the extreme possibility of disease spreading due to the number of dead bodies lying in the streets, Willows obtained vaccines and inoculated 1,800 people against tetanus, typhoid, and smallpox. According to the Red Cross records, 163 operations were conducted in the make-shift hospital, saving a considerable number of lives. The Red Cross also attended to 763 lesser wounded men, women, and children.

The Red Cross workers set up tents throughout the community for the residents whose homes had been burned to the ground from turpentine-soaked explosives thrown from low-flying airplanes. Many of those residents lived in tents throughout the winter of 1921-22. One special tent was erected and filled with sewing machines. The women were put to work making clothes, quilts, cot pads, sheets, and pillows, while the men helped to erect the tents. 

The Red Cross stayed in Tulsa for seven months and spent over $100,000 in its sustained relief effort. Along with the material necessities, they also provided the angry and often depressed residents of Greenwood with a much-needed psychological uplift. When it appeared that all was lost, Willows and the other white volunteers showed up and immediately gave the distraught residents hope. They were extremely grateful for Willows and the others that accompanied him to Tulsa. In a letter sent to him years later by a collective assembly of Black Tulsa residents, they wrote, “Thank God for the Red Cross helping us to shut out of our lives that what is evil.” 

No doubt that early in its existence, the American Red Cross was on the right side of history.

Red Cross Black History Facts (from the website of the American Red Cross)

Frederick Douglass, a prominent abolitionist, orator, and author, first met Red Cross founder Clara Barton shortly after the end of the Civil War. During the war, Barton risked her life to bring supplies and support to soldiers, including the all-Black Massachusetts 54th Regiment, which Douglass recruited. The story of the 54th Regiment formed the basis for the 1991 film “Glory.”

Douglass offered advice and support to Barton in her efforts to gain American acceptance as a member nation of the global Red Cross network. Douglass signed the original Articles of Incorporation for the Red Cross, which later documented the creation of the American Red Cross.

Frances Reed Elliott Davis was the first officially registered African American nurse to be accepted into the Red Cross Nursing Service, where she provided medical care for the families of service members during World War I. 

Mary McLeod Bethune was an advisor to the U.S. president. She was invited to two American Red Cross wartime conferences to discuss African American representation within the organization. As a result of these conferences, the “Committee on Red Cross Activities with Respect to the Negro” formed. Bethune was one of five committee members who made recommendations on the blood plasma project, the use of African-American staff in overseas service clubs, the enrollment of African-American nurses and the representation of African Americans on local and national Red Cross committees and staff departments.

Dr. Jerome Holland became a member of the American Red Cross Board of Governors in 1964. President Jimmy Carter later appointed him as chairman of the American Red Cross Board of Governors in 1979. He was the first African American to hold this position (one of the highest-ranking positions at the Red Cross). Because of his commitment to the Red Cross, he was appointed again in 1982. While serving on the board, Dr. Holland showed a passion for blood research and took the lead in consolidating growing laboratory operations for the Red Cross Blood Services program. After his death in 1985, the organization named its biomedical research facility in Rockville, Md., the Jerome H. Holland Laboratory for the Biomedical Sciences.

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Black Life Texas

Game, Match, Set – Part Five 




A Mother’s Justice – A Short Story by Caleb Alexander

“There’s been a lot of strange things happening around this case, your honor!” Defense Attorney Gabe Kline said, standing next to his client. He had been hired by the Fraternal Order of Police to represent the man who killed my son.  

“We have mysterious USBs showing up at the police station, at the local and national news stations, at the district attorney’s office, and God knows where else. I find it mighty disturbing that police body camera footage, footage that was completely lost, was somehow found and then distributed in this manner. 9-1-1 calls that were lost have magically turned up and somehow found their way to the media. Don’t you find this a little strange, your honor?”

“Make your point, counselor,” Judge Phillipa Bass ordered.

“My point is, judge, my client has rights,” Gabe Kline argued. “This body cam footage is highly prejudicial and misleading under the best of circumstances. It doesn’t convey the full picture of what happened that day. And having it spread all over the news is going to deny my client his Constitutional Right to an unbiased jury and thus a fair trial.”

“To my understanding, in every single similar case, where there has been an officer-involved shooting, the police departments themselves have released incident footage to the public,” Judge Bass replied. “Why would it not be in this case? The media has been highly opinionated in this case from the very beginning. When they were insinuating drug involvement before the autopsy report was made public that showed that narrative was false, I didn’t hear a peep about public scrutiny or potential bias.”

“Judge, I move for a mistrial,” Kline stated. 

“On what grounds?”

“The release of the body cam footage.”

“Denied,” Judge Bass said. “Take it up with SAPD.”

“They aren’t the ones who released that footage!” Kline said forcefully.

“They’re the only ones who had access to it,” Judge Bass told him. “If it came from anywhere, it came from there.”

“Judge, I move for a motion to suppress the body camera footage and the 9-1-1 tapes,” Kline said.

“Let me get this straight,” Judge Bass said, leaning forward and peering over the spectacles resting on her nose. “You want to suppress evidence that the world has already seen, and that came from the police department?”

“It shouldn’t be considered, it’s misleading and prejudicial.”

“Oh, I think it’s very relevant, and I think that the jury should see it as part of the truth-seeking function of the trial process,” Judge Bass said sternly. “Your motion is denied.”

“This is bull crap!” Officer Vincent Mayorga shouted. “This whole thing is a setup! It’s rigged!  The whole thing has been rigged!”

I stared at the monster who killed my son. I wanted to run to the defense table and choke the life out of him. I knew that I was squeezing the blood out of my husband’s hand. 

“Order! Order in the court!” Phillipa shouted, banging her gavel. “Counselor, control your client, or I’ll find you both in contempt!”

“This is a setup!” Officer Mayorga shouted. He rose from his seat, causing the bailiffs to rush to his table and constrain him. “How could I have an all-Black grand jury? How? In this city? How?  And then a Black prosecutor? And a Black judge?”

“You have a problem with my ethnicity?” Phillipa asked, peering over her glasses.

“No, your honor!” Kline said, grabbing his client. “He’s just a little distraught right now!”

“This system is rigged!” Officer Mayorga shouted.

“Bailiff, remove him from my courtroom!” Phillipa said, banging her gavel. “Officer Mayorga, you are hereby in contempt of court. Your bail is hereby revoked. All motions are hereby dismissed.  This trial is set for Monday! I will have you restrained and gagged if you try this on Monday, Officer Mayorga. And if that is the way you want to sit in front of the jury, that is fine with me! Court is dismissed!”

Assistant District Attorney Genevieve Kingston gathered her materials and then walked to where I was seated. “I have this, you can stop now.”

“Vivi, what are you talking about?” I asked.

“Really?” she asked, tilting her head. “Girl, stop. I don’t want anything coming back on appeal. I got him.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“The 9-1-1 call? The body cam footage showing up at my office?”

“Not me.”

“Then you tell Tenayson that I’m going to kill her!” Genevieve winked at me and walked off. “I got this, girlfriend! Trust me, I got this!”

To Be Continued ….

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Read Part 3

Read Part 4

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