Thursday, September 17, 2020

Black-owned businesses thrive in the Lehigh Valley

BY YAMELIN JAQUEZ — ; PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 13, 2020, 2:44 PM

Black-owned businesses thrive in the Lehigh Valley

Evan Robinson, the owner and a certified personal trainer at 36E Fitness. Robinson started his own private gym after hearing many athletes complain about the lack of privacy while training in big gyms.

Over the years, the Lehigh Valley has seen a growth in diversity of businesses. There are a number of Black-owned businesses that have sprouted in the Bethlehem and Allentown communities. 


Coal Bethlehem is not a typical casual dining establishment. It aims to provide the customer with authentic West African fusion.

Kofi Armah, from Ghana, is the executive chef at Coal Bethlehem and has been living in the Lehigh Valley for about nine years.

“I’ve worked for a couple of establishments in the Lehigh Valley, like Hotel Bethlehem,” Armah said. “I realized that we didn’t have that much diversity in the dining scene.”

Armah recalls some challenges he had to face when starting this business. However, he was more motivated to teach about what was missing.

“The cuisine isn’t as popular compared to every other place in the area,” Armah said. “It was more of a challenge educating the consumer.”

In its dishes, the restaurant aims to include elements from West African cuisine but mainly focuses on Ghana’s street food.

Menu items include a variety of grilled meats and salads. Armah said there have been some challenges as a result of COVID-19.

“We are not doing as much dining as takeout, which is not the best,” Armah said. “We prepared for our guest to dine in here to have the full experience.”

The restaurant is located at 81 W. Broad St. in Bethlehem and is open Thursday through Sunday from noon to 9 p.m.  Read the full article

Friday, August 21, 2020

Election Controversy Erupts in Allentown Pennsylvania State House's 22nd District Part 2

Judge of Elections Erika Bickford testifies at the Lehigh County Board of Elections hearing on July 29th.
Judge of Elections Erika Bickford testifies at the Lehigh County Board of Elections hearing
on July 29th 2020

 Allegations of voter fraud, suppression, and ballot tampering have been swirling around the recent primary elections for the Pennsylvania State House's 22nd District. Now some are even calling for the primary to be decertified. WDIY's James Johnson has part two of a WDIY News special feature on the election controversy. 

Included in this special report is more from James Johnson's interview with candidate for State House Representative Enid Santiago as well as additional audio from the Lehigh County Board of Elections hearing held on July 29, 2020.

The Pennsylvania State House's 22nd District covers areas of Allentown, PA.

(Original air date : 8/19/2020) 

Friday, August 14, 2020

Lehigh Valley Black News Network Community Survey: Black Owned Eateries or Restaurants in the Lehigh Valley


Black Owned Eateries or Restaurants in the Lehigh Valley

Do you eat out for ambiance (the social aspects of dinning out), taste, health or convenience? 
The Restaurant industry is in a tough situation during these times of Social Distancing.

This survey has been designed to inform and gauge our readers pulse when it comes to where and why we eat out and how we spend our dollars.   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Begin 

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Pa. small businesses’ requests for COVID-19-relief grants outpaces funding available by more than $600 million

Updated Aug 10, 2020; Posted Aug 10, 2020

By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com

Fifteen thousand applications were submitted In just three hours on the day the window opened for receiving applications for the first round of COVID-19 Relief Pennsylvania Statewide Small Business Assistance grants.

That overwhelming response for a share of the $200 million in grant aid to help businesses impacted by the pandemic took the network of Pennsylvania Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), which administered the program, by surprise.


“We did not expect the damage from COVID would have been so great and the need would have been so great. I don’t know anyone could have predicted how many applications it would draw,” said Dan Betancourt, president and CEO of Lancaster-based Community First Fund and chairman of the Pennsylvania’s network of CDFIs.

Receiving close to 50,000 applications during the two-week application period requesting $860 million made the CDFIs realize businesses’ need for help was so great that they decided to distribute all $200 million more quickly in two rounds instead of the original plan to dole it out over four rounds.

On Monday, Gov. Tom Wolf announced the first round would reach nearly 5,000 businesses scattered across all 67 counties. Combined, those businesses would receive $96 million in grants that range from $5,000 to $50,000. Funding for the grant program comes from federal stimulus money provided to the state through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Businesses that were successful in landing a grant will be notified over the coming days following a second review to verify information included in their application, Betancourt said. A full listing of all the businesses that received grants will be available in two to three weeks, he said.  Read more here

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Three Allentown council members call for Gerlach and Siegel to be censured for joining Black Lives Matter protests

By ANDREW SCOTT and JON HARRIS THE MORNING CALL
AUG 01, 2020 AT 6:29 PM

Allentown City council members Ce-Ce Gerlach, left, and Candida Affa look on as residents hold Black Lives Matter and pro-police rallies Wednesday, July 29, outside Allentown City Hall. Affa and council members Ed Zucal and Daryl Hendricks have drafted a proposed resolution demanding a censure and no-confidence vote against Gerlach and council member Josh Siegel, urging them to resign and alleging conflicts of interest in their participation in Black Lives Matter protests.
Allentown City council members Ce-Ce Gerlach, left, and Candida Affa look on as residents hold Black Lives Matter and pro-police rallies Wednesday, July 29, outside Allentown City Hall. Affa and council members Ed Zucal and Daryl Hendricks have drafted a proposed resolution demanding a censure and no-confidence vote against Gerlach and council member Josh Siegel, urging them to resign and alleging conflicts of interest in their participation in Black Lives Matter protests. (April Gamiz/The Morning Call)


Three Allentown City council members say they support a resolution demanding a censure and no-confidence vote against council members Ce-Ce Gerlach and Joshua Siegel, urging them to resign and alleging conflicts of interest in their participation in Black Lives Matter protests.

The resolution, which was drafted by council member Ed Zucal and could be presented at Wednesday’s meeting, claims Gerlach and Siegel betrayed the oath of office and “are unfit and not worthy to hold the position of councilperson.” Council President Daryl Hendricks and member Candida Affa said Saturday they support the resolution, agreeing that Gerlach’s and Siegel’s demonstrating raises questions about their objectivity in matters pertaining to the Allentown Police Department. Read the full article here:

Monday, July 20, 2020

Coard: Nick Cannon was mostly but not completely wrong

Michael Coard 7/20/2020



—IMAGE / COURTESY OF FOX

At the outset, I must make one thing crystal clear. I do not and will never judge or condemn any Black person for speaking out against racism. That includes Minister Louis Farrakhan, Elijah Muhammad, Khalid Muhammad, Sister Souljah, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Nick Cannon, or anyone else.

I adamantly and reasonably take that position because any particular statement that was made by any of the aforementioned persons- even if factually wrong, historically imprecise, intellectually misconstrued, or maliciously offensive- was a Black symptom of a white disease. Stated another way, it was a benign Black lesion caused by a malignant white cancer.

And, most important, it was an isolated oral response to a systemic physical assault. Not one of those aforementioned Black persons ever kidnapped or bought or sold or whipped or lynched or sharecropped or convict-leased or Jim-Crowed or redlined or gerrymandered or disenfranchised or miseducated or ghettoized or mass-incarcerated or police-brutalized or otherwise systemically oppressed any white person. And not one of those aforementioned Black persons had or has the ability to do so!

The only thing Cannon (and the others) did was say some words- which alone can’t physically hurt anyone. But systemic racism can and does break Black people’s bones, spirit, educational access, employment opportunities, healthcare options, etc.

That’s why I’m neither judging nor condemning Cannon. And besides, although I’m not a Christian, I do recall hearing about Jesus having said in Matthew 7:5, “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”

Therefore, hypocritically, systemically, historically, currently, and blatantly racist white America can’t tell me a damn thing about what Cannon recently said on his “Cannon’s Class” podcast.

By the way, what exactly did he say that compelled so many white folks to clutch their pearls in contrived outrage? You’ll be surprised to know that, despite his obvious lack of substantive knowledge regarding the topics he discussed, he actually got some things right. Here are two examples: Read the full article here


Michael Coard, Esquire can be followed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well as at AvengingTheAncestors.com His “RadioCourtroom” show can be heard on WURD96.1FM

Sunday, July 19, 2020

The Congressional Black Caucus Calls for Investigation into Allentown Police Department After the Use of a Chokehold

Congressional Black Caucus

For Immediate Release July 18, 2020  Contact Information: Toyin Awesu, 
Director of Communications C: 202.710.0659 E: toyin.awesu@mail.house.gov


(Black PR Wire) Washington, D.C. - Yet again, we have witnessed the use of excessive force, specifically the chokehold, by a police officer in our country. Over the weekend, an officer from the Allentown Police Department was caught on camera placing his knee on the neck of a man, in an attempt to arrest him after the officers noticed the man was vomiting and staggering along the street. In this instance the unarmed man was in need of medical attention but instead was met with force by the police officers. The disturbing video also revealed that the man was distressed and terrified for his life.


Barely seven weeks since the death of George Floyd that sparked a national movement against police brutality, we are seeing police officers deploying the same tactics for an arrest that could have been avoided. The officers opted to use excessive force against a member of the community instead of serving. While this time a life was not lost, a life has indeed been changed forever.


While Allentown’s policy forbids the restraining of a person’s neck unless the officer feels their life is at risk, it is evident that without a national federal ban, there will be minimal adherence. A ban with no repercussions serves no purpose. 

Three weeks ago the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act championed by the Congressional Black Caucus was the first ever comprehensive legislation to reform law enforcement. This bill is a direct response to the moral moment of the time as Americans from coast to coast are demanding for real change that includes prevention, training, a registry of misconduct to eliminate repeat offenders, use of force standards, ending qualified immunity, and making it easier for the Department of Justice to prosecute civil rights violations. If the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act was law, the officers in Allentown involved would be listed in the misconduct registry which will provide insight to violations and in turn transparency to other precincts about officers who desire to transfer to their district.  Read More here

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

There’s so much beauty in being Black from Scranton: Meet the historian who’s now an advocate for her community

By Patrick Abdalla -July 5, 2020

Several hundred people surrounded the Gazebo in Nay Aug Park last month for Scranton's first Juneteenth Jubilee.

They heard several local Black activists and allies speak, including Black Scranton Project founder Glynis Johns and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.

“Can you hear me,” Johns asked, at the beginning of the event she organized.

The park is more than 120 years old. Home to a public pool, museum, gorge, walking trails, playgrounds and gathering areas, it’s a popular institution in the region. Over the years it has been held an amusement park, a zoo, and was even seen in the 1982 film “That Championship Season,” starring Martin Sheen, Robert Mitchum and Paul Sorvino.

Johns’ recent work leading the Black Scranton Project is proving that there is another institution with just as strong and old roots in Scranton, even if it’s too often been ignored: the city’s Black community.

“There’s so much beauty in being Black from Scranton that people just don’t know,” Johns said.
Read full article here