On Wednesday, February 19,the NAACP San Diego Branch will join San Diego Chapter of the Black Political Association of California (BAPAC SD) in hosting a voter education forum featuring candidates for the four open seats on the San Diego Superior Court.
The forum will be held at the Educational Cultural Complex in southeastern San Diego. Convening partners include the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association, NAACP San Diego Branch, Central Black Chamber of Commerce and the ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties.
Black San Diegans are overrepresented in the criminal justice system and underrepresented on the bench. In this race, there are no Black candidates and little discussion of issues of importance to justice-impacted communities. For these reasons and more, it is critically important that people of color are informed and engaged in this election and vote their entire ballot.
All eleven Superior Court Judge candidates were invited to participate in the February 19 forum. Eight have confirmed as of this date (in bold): Michelle Ialeggio, Shawn McMillan, Stephen Miller, CJ Mody, Mike Murphy, Peter Murray, Tim Nader,Alana Robinson, Mark Skeel, Paul Staritaand Roberta Winston.
WHAT: San Diego Superior Court Judge Candidates Forum
WHEN: Wednesday, February 19, 2020, 6pm to 8pm. Doors open at 5pm.
WHERE: Educational Cultural Complex (Common Ground Theatre)
The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) San Diego hosted a gala where four deserving students received scholarships to further their education at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). Though our ACT-SO students were not eligible for the scholarships, we were able to send Eryn Bell as a VIP attendee thanks to the generosity of Ms. Senior California USA 2019, Mari Lewis!
Eryn is very thankful she was able to attend the UNCF Gala. She had the opportunity to meet District 4 Councilmember Monica Montgomery, received writing advice from Starla Lewis, and speak with other students who are just as driven to succeed as she is. This experience has offered her the chance to practice her elevator speech and learn more about how programs like UNCF and ACT-SO are funded. She was moved by the bonds exhibited from HBCU alumni and their families so much that she’s considering attending one herself.
Mari Lewis, the current Ms. Senior California USA 2019 is a 50-year veteran of the performing arts. In her teens, she performed in several theater and musical theater companies. In her 20s, she was principal soloist in 2 regional ballet companies and a showgirl with Ringling Brothers/Barnum & Bailey Circus where she learned the time-honored skills of trapeze and contortion. From then through her 40s, she performed and toured the United States and Japan with her own trapeze act (“Aerial Exotica”) and contortion act (“The Serpentine Feline”) in the 1st All-Black American Circus (“UniverSoul Circus”). Mari Lewis currently shares her skills and experience as a performance coach, choreographer, and lifestyle speaker and inspiration. ACT-SO is grateful to have such a talented person support our talented students. Thank you Mari!
In 2020, NAACP San Diego continues fighting racial segregation through its lawsuit against San Diego Housing Commission.
The lawsuit challenges SDHC’s discriminatory and segregationist policy of setting the Section 8 voucher levels prohibitively low in predominantly white neighborhoods. SDHC’s policy effectively steers families with Section 8 – disproportionately racial minorities – to segregated, high poverty neighborhoods with lower performing schools and fewer employment opportunities.
SDHC initially responded to the lawsuit with a claim that its setting of payment standards is “protected activity” made in furtherance of SDHC’s “right of free speech or petition.” SDHC, which is a government entity, claimed that if NAACP San Diego’s lawsuit was allowed to move forward, it would “chill” SDHC’s “valid exercise of the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and petition.”
In its initial response, SDHC also alleged that the lawsuit was not brought “solely in the public interest” because the relief the lawsuit seeks – to enjoin SDHC from perpetuating racial segregation – will not benefit the public but will benefit only non-white Section 8 recipients. SDHC’s position reflected a disturbing misunderstanding of how segregation adversely impacts all members of the community, not just racial minorities. SDHC’s position also reflected a flagrant misunderstanding of how its own program works since the relief sought will benefit all voucher recipients, not only racial minorities.
In addition, in its initial response, SDHC claimed that its CEO’s repeated use of “social engineering” to derisively describe an Obama-era desegregation policy could not be used in the lawsuit to show discriminatory intent. SDHC claimed that its CEO’s statements were protected speech.
In November, the court held a hearing on SDHC’s free speech defense and a demurrer it had filed. The court rejected SDHC’s free speech arguments, finding that NAACP San Diego’s lawsuit is brought in the public interest, and the statute protecting free speech does not apply to SDHC’s actions. The Court also rejected the vast majority of SDHC’s arguments regarding whether the lawsuit could move forward based on state and federal fair housing and civil rights law. The Court gave NAACP San Diego the opportunity to include additional facts (data) regarding how SDHC’s policy disproportionately adversely impacts racial minorities. NAACP San Diego immediately requested the data from SDHC, but SDHC is still refusing to provide its data.