Rev. Jim Allen, supreme executive advisory of Fellowship of Christians held his community awards ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 17 at Austin Town Hall. Allen’s group is an affiliate of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), which, since 1954, has been challenging coaches and athletes on the professional, college, high school, junior high and youth levels to use the powerful medium of athletics to promote Christian values. FCA is the largest Christian sports organization in America.

The event began with a gymnastics performance by the Inner City Tumblers who had everyone holding their breath with their high-flying acrobatics. The gymnastics trainer was Tavaris Fletcher Sr., whose young 9-year-old son had everyone watching in amazement. Tavaris said he has been doing gymnastics for 25 years and the group trains every Tuesday for two hours at San Miguel School at Chicago Avenue and Leamington, starting at five years old.

The choir of St. Peter Church sang a capella. The Full Effect dance ensemble performed a range from Hip-Hop to modern dance movements. The group will be performing “The Grinch Dat Done Stole Christmas ” on Friday, Dec. 21 & 28 at the Austin Town Hall. The group’s leader is Dane Campbell; his assistant is Blair Cartridge.

Lastly, a unique poem was recited by Edwin Clayton, titled, “In My Community.”

Awards were presented to: Bishop Ben Anderson; Joyce Edwards, Austin Town Hall Advisory Council; state Rep. Deborah Graham; Dr. Brenda Parks-Johnson; Commander Al Wysinger, 15th District; Cong. Danny Davis; Delores McCain, Austin Weekly News; Ald. Emma Mitts (37th); Ald. Isaac Carothers (29th); Ald. Ed Smith (28th); Supt. Wanda Norris; Pastor Joe Wyrostek; Art Richardson; Brad Cummings, Austin Voice; Coach Dion Powell; Pastor Nick Bitakis; Coach James Bailey; Pastor Clarence Stowers; Atty. General Lisa Madigan .

Delores McCain

Davis ‘Second Chance’ law passes Congress

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (7th) scored a victory last week when his Second Chance Act, which provides services and resources to ex-offenders, passed in the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday, Nov. 13. The measured passed 347-62. Davis had worked for some time to get the law passed.

“The Second Chance Act of 2007 provides a great opportunity for individuals with felony convictions to work their way back into normal life the goal of self-sufficiency,” said Davis is a statement.

The act, Davis said, will provide $360 in CDBG’s (Community Development Block Grants) for such services as drug treatment, career training, and mentoring and transitional services for juvenile offenders.

The senate is expected to pass the law.

“We must keep on pushing, keep on moving, keep on advocating, keep on talking it up, and keep on hoping and dreaming,” Davis said.

School ‘silence’ law silenced by judge

Supporters of the “moment of silence” state school mandate may be saying a little prayer to themselves in hopes of salvaging the now-troubled law.

Last week, a U.S. District judge slapped an injunction on enforcement of the law, which requires school children to have an unspecified time set aside at the start of the school day for a moment of silence.

The injunction blocks the state school superintendent from enforcing the law. Federal Judge Robert Gettleman’s ruling last week stated that the superintendent can’t punish districts that don’t hold the moment of silence. Prior to last week’s ruling, school districts around the state were scrambling to figure out how to implement the law.

The Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act was first put forward in May. State Senator Kimberly Lightford, a Democrat representing Austin, was the lead sponsor of the measure.

The act went into affect in October after Springfield lawmakers overrode Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s veto. The law adapted a current law by requiring that a public school teacher “shall,” rather than “may,” observe a brief period of silence with all students.

Opponents say the law mandates school prayer while proponents say it only requires students to take a silent moment for reflection, which could include a silent prayer.

The law doesn’t specify how long a “moment” would be, and under the law’s old wording, school districts had the option to hold a moment of silence.

Terry Dean