Arizona School Called Out for Racist Climate


More evidence recently surfaced in an Arizona school district where white students wearing T-shirts spelling out a racial slur are pictured.The photograph seems to corroborate Dr. Cicely  Cobb claims, filed in a federal law suit earlier alleging discrimination against the Arizona school district. Dr. Cobb who is black,also alleges to have observed and personally experienced blatant racial discrimination and harassment during her tenure as an English teacher in the Tempe Union School District.

Dr. Cicely Cobb began teaching English at Ahwatukee’s Desert Vista High School, which she described as her ‘dream job,’ in the summer of 2012.She’s reported as saying “Since then, she said it’s been a nightmare because she’s been subjected to harassment by both students and administrators.”

Below is the story re-printed as reported by Jason Volentine for CBS 5  News Sunday January 24, in Ahwatukee, Arizona.

Cicely Cobb image800x430 “A former Valley teacher said outrage over a racial slur spelled out on the lettered shirts of six white students at Desert Vista High School is nothing new.

On Friday, the senior class at Desert Vista was taking a yearbook photo with students wearing lettered shirts that spelled out the words “best you’ve ever seen class of 2016.”  Six white female students broke off from the group and posed for a smiley picture with a racial slur spelled out on their lettered shirts.

“I told Desert Vista High School pretty much from the onset of my employment there were issues with race there,” said Dr. Cicely Cobb, who left her job as an English teacher at Desert Vista in 2014.

Dr. Cobb was teaching English in 2013-2014 when she said she witnessed racial discrimination and bullying against minority students – and was a victim herself on many occasions.

“That is a hostile learning environment for these students,” she said.

Dr. Cobb left Desert Vista and filed a federal racial discrimination lawsuit that’s still pending.  She said the administration constantly dismissed her complaints of racist student behavior.

She feels the picture that surfaced yesterday vindicates her feelings but wishes it could have been avoided in the first place.

“Many of the students who were so happy to see me gone now are the ones saying ‘Dr. Cobb talked about this on a daily basis, the racial issues on this campus, and we never paid attention to her.  She was right,”’ said Dr. Cobb, citing social media posts she’s read in the 24 hours since the racially charged picture surfaced.

In this instance, Desert Vista and the Tempe Union School District have come out strong against the behavior of the six students in the picture.

“Outrage, absolute outrage,” said Jill Hanks, Tempe Union spokesperson, responding to a question on the district’s official reaction.  “We will be addressing the obvious need for sensitivity training…  there will be discipline, this will not be tolerated.”

From Dr. Cobb’s perspective, it will take a lot to fix the larger problem.

“This is something, from my perception, that comes from home.  This is a word that these children, from my viewpoint, feel comfortable using amongst their peers and probably in the residence,” said Dr. Cobb.

We have extended interview invitations to several of the girls and/or their parents.  So far one parent declined and others have not responded.”AZ HS Racial Slur w Students

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Remembering Bob Abrahamian Music Preservationist and Historian

I last communicated with Bob Abrahamian on my personal Facebook page where we often  communicated.
We exchanged views regarding the “School to Prison to Pipe-line” issue.As always Bob was passionate in his views and possessed a keen intellect. In fact, Bob Abrahmaian probably was a genius.When I hadn’t noticed his comments on my posts for several weeks,I checked on-line to see what his Chicago based radio show, “Sitting in the Park” on WHPK radio which he hosted weekly, was up to.I sadly learned Bob Abrahamian had committed suicide only a few weeks earlier on June 5, 2014Bob Abrahamian DJ chiI've Shed A Tear 45 in June.
I learned of Bob Abrahamian and his Oldies, R&B vintage record show in 2008. When he discovered that I had belonged to two groups, the Valiants who recorded my song “I Shed A Tear” licensed by Steeltown records to Destination records as well as The Jades of Nashville, “My Loss Your Gain” Poncello records, he sought out and found both groups ‘collectable recordings, a fete I had not been able to accomplish for years! Bob began airing both records on his popular Sunday Show “Sitting in the Park”. After Michael Jackson passed in 2009, Bob sought out a former member of the Valiants, Delroy Bridgeman whom he interviewed on his show.Bridgeman and several members of the group had been involved in recording background vocal over dubs for the Jackson Five’s first record “Big Boy” a regional Chicago area hit on Steeltown Records. A fact I had not known until the 90s. At times Bob and I discussed a book he was writing about Black R&B and Soul groups in collaboration with a Chicago based journalist.The book project was his pet,he had been researching it for years.
Bob Abrahamian,was a Chicago record collector whose passion was preserving forgotten sounds from the golden era of Chicago soul music, as well as the stories of the people behind them, died Thursday. He left behind tens of thousands of 45-rpm records, but to those who knew him, it was the generous spirit in evangelizing the music that made the greatest impact.
“He was trying to bring notice to these people and really celebrate them,” says Kerry Tulson, a friend. “That was his passion — trying to bring recognition to these musicians in Chicago who he felt didn’t get the recognition they deserved. He didn’t do anything half way.”
Abrahamian was 35. His family said his death was suicide. The Cook County medical examiner’s office was to conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death. His sister Jennifer Abrahamian discovered his body in his Logan Square condominium. Besides Jennifer, he leaves behind his parents, Vasken and Frida Abrahamian of Morton Grove, and Aron Pogos, a 103-year-old grandfather, also a Holocaust survivor.
Collecting vinyl was a passion Abrahamian discovered after graduating from the University of Chicago with a degree in computer science and media studies. It was in Hyde Park where he hosted “Sitting in the Park,” a two-hour Sunday evening radio show on WHPK-FM that focused on Chicago area soul music between 1960 and 1980. Through online streaming, the show developed a worldwide audience over a 12-year span due to his comprehensive knowledge of performers, session musicians, label variants, and songs, many of which, despite their incredible artistry, were obscure because, due to various circumstances, were barely heard outside Chicago.Bob Abrahamian had along history of clinical depression. May his soul R.I.P. and may we always remember his valuable contributions to music and music history. D.Day 2014

Dr.King Holiday Observance A Life’s Milestone

Jessie jackson Stevie Glafys NightOne of the proudest experiences of my life thus far has been my personal involvement in the long arduous process of helping make Dr. Martin Luther King Jrs’. birthday a national holiday and New York State’s most community-service based statewide celebration.In New York State, Dr. M.L. King Day encompasses a vast Community Service Initiative involving all 62 counties of the Empire State. I was part of the sequence of marches and led by Stevie Wonder to the grand steps and halls of Congress that culminated in passage of the legislation declaring a national Dr. M.L. King Holiday. Years later, I served on behalf of the citizens and Governor of New York State to help create what is arguably the most comprehensive Dr. M.L.King Day state-wide observance in the nation. Happy MLK Day! D.Day 2016

Pictured with Stevie Wonder at mic, Rev. Jesse Jackson center ,Gladys Knight, other artists present and who participated and marched were Gil Scott Herron, “Third World”, Diana Ross, Peaches and Herb, Stacy Lattisaw, U.S. Congressman John Conyers (D) MI.This is during the period of my musical association and appearances with the award winning Blackbyrds ,also part of the festivities.The photograph above from press conference at Rafu Gallery Washington DC January 15, 1981.

Dennis NYS Certificate_MLK copy