The 44 Percent: Hurricane Ian, FAMU students sue Florida & Coolio

Hurricane Ian left a trail of uncertainty in its path.

Severed causeways left those on barrier islands stranded. Boats washed through neighborhoods with reckless abandon. Millions of Floridians awoke today without power.

C. Isaiah Smalls II author card
C. Isaiah Smalls II author card

Storms like these — Hurricane Ian slammed Florida’s southwest coast as Category 4 — can leave communities without a clue of what to do next. That’s where we come in. Some of my Miami and Bradenton Herald colleagues are already on the ground, ready to tell the stories of loss, tragedy and, hopefully, triumph. It will take time to assess the total scope of the damages and we’ll be there asking questions to help you better understand the situation.

We are local journalists and part of the Florida community. As you rebuild, we will help keep you informed.

INSIDE THE 305

Members of the St. Theresa Chapter of the Episcopal Churchwomen sit in the pews of the Historic Saint Agnes Episcopal Church in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami, Florida on Sunday, September 25, 2022. Comprised of Black women with the goal of bettering their community, the group celebrated 50 years of service on Sunday.
Members of the St. Theresa Chapter of the Episcopal Churchwomen sit in the pews of the Historic Saint Agnes Episcopal Church in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami, Florida on Sunday, September 25, 2022. Comprised of Black women with the goal of bettering their community, the group celebrated 50 years of service on Sunday.

In Overtown, St Theresa Chapter celebrates 50 years of serving Miami:

“They could have gone and sat down. They’ve all retired. They’re, as the song says, ‘Living their best life.’ But they continued to work. They continued to give.

This statement encapsulates the work of the St Theresa Chapter of the Episcopal Churchwomen, a service-oriented group within Overtown’s Historic Saint Agnes Episcopal Church that celebrated 50 years Sunday. Most St. Theresa members are over 70 years old but have yet to abandon their service to the community, in part because of their heritage: many are descendants of prominent Black Miami historical figures.

The women “were a selected group of children from pioneer families,” said charter member Mildred Kelly McKinney, the daughter of Alonzo “Pop” Kelly, Liberty City’s first realtor who sold lots throughout the neighborhood.

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts is retiring after more than 30 years.
Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts is retiring after more than 30 years.

A ‘fearless’ voice: Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts retiring after 31 years:

Leonard Pitts, the conscience of the Miami Herald for the last two decades, is hanging up his cleats.

“There’s a certain sense of emotional investment that goes into writing a column,” he said. “And I’m emotionally exhausted.”

The Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist has been nothing short of spectacular during his time at the Herald, tackling everything from 9/11 to the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday to the Neo-Nazis in Charlottesville. Pitts’ resume includes the National Association of Black Journalists’ Award of Excellence (3x), the 2008 NABJ Journalist of the Year, GLAAD Media’s Outstanding Newspaper Columnist award (2x), a Missouri Honor Medal, the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary and an induction into the National Society of Newspaper Columnists Hall of Fame.

Pitts’ final column is set to run Dec. 14. He will then transition to a full-time fiction author. On a more personal note, Pitts’ pen has been such an inspiration. His writing is fiery, pugnacious even, as if challenging one’s commitment to making America a more equitable place for everybody.

OUTSIDE THE 305

The Florida A&M University ‘Marching 100’ perform during half-time of the Orange Blossom Classic against Jackson State University at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, Sunday, September 4, 2022.
The Florida A&M University ‘Marching 100’ perform during half-time of the Orange Blossom Classic against Jackson State University at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, Sunday, September 4, 2022.

Florida A&M students sue state alleging history of underfunding the historically Black institution:

HBCUs breed activism.

It’s just something about walking in the footsteps of activists like Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis and Ida B. Wells that makes you want to stir up something.

Such is the case at Florida A&M University, where students are suing the state of Florida. The lawsuit alleges state officials reworked FAMU’s agriculture department then proceeded to award the University of Florida, a primarily white institution, “primary control over many of the research, education, and extension services in the state, which resulted in more funding going to the University of Florida,” according to CNN. Dilapidated university housing is only one of the many issues that occurred as a result:

FAMU has been forced to close buildings due to issues such as flooding damage, pest issues and normal wear and tear, the suit claims. And funding to repair the school’s infrastructure was put on hold due to lack of funding, according to the lawsuit.

Bobby Brown, an attorney representing the students, told CNN that the differences between Florida State and FAMU are night and day.

“Being on Florida A&M’s campus and walking across the tracks seeing … where Florida State is, to feel the difference between that and to understand the historical ramifications across the tracks, I’m just really proud to be standing up with these students,” Brown said in an interview with CNN.



Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre, a Southern Mississippi alumnus laughs with reporters prior to his induction to the Mississippi Hall of Fame in Jackson, Miss., Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015. Favre joins a group of distinguished Mississippi athletes and coaches including former NBA player Clarence Weatherspoon, also a Southern Mississippi alumnus in this year’s class of inductees.
Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre, a Southern Mississippi alumnus laughs with reporters prior to his induction to the Mississippi Hall of Fame in Jackson, Miss., Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015. Favre joins a group of distinguished Mississippi athletes and coaches including former NBA player Clarence Weatherspoon, also a Southern Mississippi alumnus in this year’s class of inductees.

The Brett Favre situation explained:

The largest public fraud case in Mississippi state history is currently underway and hall-of-fame quarterback Brett Favre, along with several other athletes including “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, are smack dab in the middle. Reporting by Mississippi Today outlined Favre’s alleged role in a scheme which purportedly diverted federal welfare funds to a variety of projects. Favre has not been charged and the three-time NFL MVP and other parties have denied any wrongdoing. Here are some of the allegations surrounding the case:

  • “If you were to pay me, is there any way the media could find out where it came from and how much?” is a text message that Favre sent in 2017 about a $1.1 million proposal for speeches that he never gave, according to The New York Times. Favre paid back the $1.1 million, however, the state alleges that $228,000 worth of interest has yet to be paid.

  • Favre was also involved in helping to move more than $5 million in welfare funds towards the construction of a new volleyball stadium at the University of Southern Mississippi, where his daughter played volleyball, according to Mississippi Today. The hall-of-fame quarterback also attended Sourthern Mississippi.

  • The state is seeking a repayment of more than $24 million, according to the lawsuit filed in May that accuses 38 individuals and organizations of using the federal welfare program Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) as “a slush fund for pet projects and personal gain,” The New York Times reported.

  • Favre’s charitable organization, Favre 4 Hope, which supports underprivileged kids and cancer patients, gave more than $130,000 to the University of Southern Mississippi Athletic Foundation between 2018-2020, the same period that the three-time NFL MVP was trying to finance the school’s new volleyball facility, according to The Athletic.

  • Mississippi is the poorest state in the nation and, according to senior policy analyst Aditi Shrivastava, ranks 47th in the U.S. when it comes to the amount of money spent on basic assistance. The state also has the highest relative population of Black Americans in the country.

HIGH CULTURE

Coolio performed Saturday during the I Love the ‘90s tour, which stretched to more than three hours for the 3,500 fans on hand at Rupp Arena in Lexington.
Coolio performed Saturday during the I Love the ‘90s tour, which stretched to more than three hours for the 3,500 fans on hand at Rupp Arena in Lexington.

Coolio, the Grammy Award-winning rapper of “Gangsta’s Paradise,” dies at 59:

My introduction to Coolio wasn’t through “Gangsta’s Paradise.” It wasn’t through “Dangerous Minds.” It wasn’t through the Weird Al Yankovic parody “Amish Paradise,” either.

My introduction came through “Kenan & Kel,” a Nickelodeon fixture in the late 1990s for which Coolio crafted the theme song. Only later did his classic “Gangsta’s Paradise” line “As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I take a look at my life and realize there’s nothing left” – and truly the song in general – really resonated. Rest in power, Coolio.

Where does “The 44 Percent” name come from? Click here to find out how Miami history influenced the newsletter’s title.