Saturday, February 23, 2008

Murphy Goes to the Grammy's thanks to KDKA!

Murphy J. Hickerson (pictured in silver dress), Soul Pitt contributing writer and cousin of the Soul Sis, went to KDKA’s site and entered a contest to go to the Grammy’s on Feb 10th. Well surprise, surprise…she won! Read Murphy’s story about the trip and why it meant so much to win and to take her sister Tanya (pictured in blue dress).

It is a distinct pleasure to write about my recent trip to Los Angeles, California to attend the Grammy Awards. I do not usually enter sweepstakes or contests, but I entered KDKA’s Delta Grammy Sweepstakes through Well much to my surprise I won!

I received a telephone call from a CBS representative informing me that if I could verify who I was within 48 hours, I could be the potential winner of the sweepstakes. The rep informed me that they would fly me and my companion to New York City, New York where we would spend one night. The next morning we would take a charter flight from New York to Los Angeles. During the charter flight we would enjoy a concert by musical artist John Legend. This would be the first time for an in-flight musical concert for which Delta Airlines provided the state-of-the-art airplane. The winners and our companions from nineteen markets across the United States were taped during the concert. After the concert, Mr. Legend entertained our questions and gave many different interviews to the members of the media onboard. When we deplaned Mr. Legend took a photograph with the winners of the contest.

John Legend preparing to perform on the Delta's Grammy Plane

John Legend performing on the Delta's Grammy Plane

Murphy and Sharief, John Legend's guitarist

Tanya, Sway from MTV, Murphy

The next day we were permitted to attend a rehearsal for the awards. We were given a tour of the facility, which was the Staples Arena in downtown Los Angeles. We saw the media center where the awardees are interviewed after they win. After the tour, our ears were soothed by the soulful sounds of Miss Alicia Keys practicing her hit, “No One.” The combination of the carefully blended orchestra, smooth voices of the background singers, passionate strings of guitarist, John Mayer and unparalleled talent of Miss Keys made an unforgettable, musically blessed balmy afternoon in southern California.

Murphy at the Grammy Media Center

The following day was ours to either tour Hollywood or have a relaxing afternoon on our own in preparation for the Grammys the next day. My companion, who is my sister and best friend, and I, chose the latter. So we got our beauty rest for the next day.

After enjoying a delicious breakfast in our hotel, we prepared to meet our group in the lobby promptly at 1:30 p.m. to ride to the Staples Arena for the 50th Annual Grammy Awards. The awards started at 5:00 p.m. We thoroughly enjoyed performances by The Time, Tina Turner and Beyonce Knowles, Herbie Hancock and so many more entertainers who were there to share their gifts. After the awards show we went to the after party and enjoyed more musical renderings. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience to cherish always. I am so grateful to CBS, KDKA, Delta and our coordinators from “Whatatrip.” Pictures from the trip were limited because we were not permitted cameras in most areas.

Murphy, Louis (another winner) and Tanya

This trip meant the world to me because music is such an integral part of my life. But not only that, I was able to take my sister who has done so much for me I cannot tell it all. It was good to be able to return the favor. Further, six weeks ago I was in a coma and not expected to live, let alone, go to the Grammy Awards. My sister saved my life because she found me and got the help I needed. I am so grateful to God for gifting me with my family, but especially my sister, Tanya. However your life seems, just enjoy each moment. If things are going well for you right now just thank God, be grateful and do not take one blessing for granted. If things are not going so well right now, do not lose heart! God has not forgotten you. Look for how God will work problems into peace for you, through Jesus Christ.

Respectfully submitted by Murphy J. Hickerson

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Interested in teaching in Africa?

Teachers for Africa Program

The International Foundation for Education and Self-Help (IFESH) invites applications from school teachers, college and university professors and school administrators who wish to spend one academic year helping to improve the quality of education in Cote D'Ivoire, Djibouti, Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, and Senegal. Since 1992, more than 1,000 American teacher-trainers have been recruited and assigned to African teacher-training colleges, universities, governmental educational agencies, and curriculum institutes. IFESH is a non-profit development organization dedicated to helping to improve living conditions for the poor and the disadvantaged in the Third World, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa in the area of educational and social reform.

Responsibilities of Teachers: Assignments may include, but not limited to: teacher-training, classroom teaching, in-service workshops, demonstrative teaching, administrative management, developing learning modules, curriculum development, policy development, ESL training, English clubs, development of resource centers, gender equity, training in information technology, HIV/AIDS awareness, and child-centered teaching.

Stipend and Benefits: IFESH provides pre-departure and settling-in allowances, pre-departure orientation, in-country orientation, and flight tickets to and from country of placement, health insurance for one academic year, and an $800 per month stipend while in the field.

Eligibility: To apply, an applicant must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident.
  • Be able to show evidence of good health. Possess at least 1-3 years experience as a teacher, professor or administrator.
  • Education, teacher training, ESL/TOEFL, policy development, gender equity, maternal and child health, and curriculum development.
  • Be proficient in the French language in order to work in Djibouti, The DRC Congo, Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, or Senegal.
Application Procedure includes the following:
  • Cover letter
  • Application form (completely filled out)
  • Resume, transcript
  • Three letters of recommendation; and
  • One or two page typed essay giving reasons

Send Application to: Chair, Selection CommitteeIFESH - Teachers for Africa Program5040 E. Shea Boulevard, Suite 260Scottsdale, AZ 85254-4687

Application Deadline: February 28, 2008
An application form may be obtained by contacting the Teachers for Africa Program at:Phone: (480) 443-1800: Ext. 7488Fax: (480) 443-1824Or by email:
Log onto for more information!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Rally and Dialogue - Feb 17 & 19

Rally to welcome Brother Ron Daniels, President of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW 21) to launch the campaign to organize STATE OF THE BLACK WORLD CONFERENCE II (SOBWC II) New Orleans November 19-23, 2008

Sunday February 17th from 4 PM to 6 PM

Monumental Baptist Church, 2041 Wylie Avenue, Pittsburgh Pa. 15219
Hosts: Rick Adams, SOBWC Chair of the National Planning Committee, Kim Ellis SOBWC National Planning Committee member and Rev Tom Smith organizer of Haiti Youth Brigades Project

Thanks to the Un. of Pittsburgh's Africana Studies Department and CCAC's Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity for making Mr Daniels' visit possible.

Bio: Ron Daniels, Ph. D.
Veteran civil rights/human rights leader. Distinguished lecturer at York College of the City University of New York. Dr. Daniels served as Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights for twelve years. He has experience as a scholar-activist and has convened seminars, workshops, and conferences to offer lectures of relevance to colleges and the community. Dr. Daniels is listed in “Who’s Who in Black America.” He was Executive Director of the National Rainbow Coalition in 1987 and Deputy Campaign Manager during Rev. Jesse Jackson’s bid for President in 1988. Over the years he has played a leading role in some of the most significant social and political movements of the times including the African Liberation Support Committee, National Black Political Assembly, National Black Independent Political Party, National African American Leadership Summit, the Million Man March and he is deeply engaged in mobilizing support for the struggle for democracy and development in Haiti.


Dialogue on Tuesday, February 19, 2008, noon until 2pm at the Student Service Center (SSC) building, Auditorium, 2nd floor
Allegheny Campus northside Pittsburgh
F r e e a n d O p e n t o t h e P u b l i c
“Obama and the Relevance of Race in the 21st Century”

Timothy Egan: Obama and Red AmericaThe University of Pittsburgh's Africana Studies Department and the Community College of Allegheny County's Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity (OIED) invites you to participate in a guided discussion featuring a presentation by Dr. Ron Daniels, syndicated columnist, first Distinguished Lecturer at York College of the City University of New York and founding President of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century with reactions provided by Dr. James Stewart, Penn State Greater Allegheny and CCAC’s own Dr. Ralph Proctor. Q & A session follows.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Plan for High School Excellence.

A+ Schools and the Pittsburgh Public Schools, along with our
co-sponsors, are pleased to present a community engagement process for the continued planning of Excel.9-12, The Plan for High School Excellence.

Join us for a series of community meetings to share ideas about new educational approaches to increase the rigor, personalization and choice of programs for secondary students. These meetings will:

-Inform and inspire
-Solicit your thoughts and ideas
-Connect you to the advisory committee members and professionals designing the programs
-Focus on programs and features
-Show you how your feedback matters

The first meeting of the series will be "University Prep 6-12" – Some of the most promising public high schools in the United States are designed as college preparatory schools. Pittsburgh Public Schools is working on a proposal in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh School of Education to open an innovative and rigorous 6-12 school at the Milliones facility in September 2008.

This meeting will be held on Thursday, February 28, 2008 from 5:30 to 8PM at Wesley Center AME Zion Church on the corner of Centre Avenue and Francis Street in the Hill District.

Dinner and childcare (for children over 1) will be provided to registrants. A+ Schools will validate parking tickets for the Mellon Square Garage. To register, sign up online at or by calling 412-258-2660 ext. 101.

Co-Sponsors: Communities in Schools of Pittsburgh-Allegheny County, Community Technical Assistance Center, Education Policy & Leadership Center, Good Schools PA, Negro Emergency Education Drive, Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project, Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development, The Pittsburgh Project, The Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, Urban Youth Action, Wireless Neighborhoods and YouthPlaces,

A+ Schools is an independent community advocate for improvement in public education in Pittsburgh. To learn more visit or call 412-258-2660.

Comcast Celebrates Black History Month With Special On Demand Programming

Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSK, CMCSA), the nation’s leading provider of entertainment, information and communications, today announced special programming for Comcast customers with On Demand service in celebration of Black History Month. “Comcast is proud to honor the rich history of African Americans during Black History Month through our On Demand programming,” said Executive Vice President David L. Cohen. “The African American community has played a vital role in our nation’s history, and we are delighted to bring this special programming to the thousands of communities we serve.” Throughout February, Comcast customers with On Demand service will have access to special programs and music videos celebrating Black History Month. Programming can be found in the “Top Picks,” “History Channel,” “TV One” and “Music Choice” folders in the On Demand menu.

Black History Month programming highlights include:

  • “MLK: Dream Deferred,” a provocative look at the impact of Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream forty years after his death (“Top Picks” folder).
  • “Build the Dream” showcases celebrities talking about the Martin Luther King dream. Viewers can watch Presidential hopeful Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey speak at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Martin Luther King National Memorial (“TV One” folder).
  • “Dogfights”: Tuskegee Airmen” takes a look at the all-black fighter squadron who shattered racist stereotypes and prevailed (“History Channel” folder).
  • In “With All Deliberate Speed,” the Discovery Channel examines the landmark case of 1954, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, which found school segregation to be unconstitutional (“Top Picks” folder).

“The National Urban League commends Comcast for its commitment to improving the lives of African Americans across the country – not just this month, but throughout the year,” said National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial. “Through its On Demand programming, Comcast will bring important programming highlighting the history and struggle of African Americans to millions of people around the country.” Comcast’s overall commitment to diversity is focused in four key areas: attracting and retaining a multicultural workforce, developing a diverse supplier group, offering a wide selection of multicultural programming and pledging significant community investments.

Comcast’s On Demand service has grown to feature a library of more than 10,000 titles per month, available anytime consumers want to watch them, with the ability to fast forward, rewind and pause selections. On Demand offers a wide variety of choices –– from movies, music and top TV shows to Black History Month, the most popular kids, sports and lifestyle programs. Comcast also launched its HD On Demand lineup in 2006, which today offers consumers hundreds of HD choices at their convenience, and by the end of the year will offer more than 1,000 HD choices. Nearly 95 percent of all On Demand selections from Comcast are available at no additional charge.

About Comcast Corporation

Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) ( is the nation's leading provider of entertainment, information and communications products and services. With 24.2 million cable customers, 12.9 million high-speed Internet customers, and 4.1 million voice customers, Comcast is principally involved in the development, management and operation of broadband cable systems and in the delivery of programming content. Comcast's content networks and investments include E! Entertainment Television, Style Network, The Golf Channel, VERSUS, G4, AZN Television, PBS KIDS Sprout, TV One, ten regional Comcast SportsNets and Comcast Interactive Media, which develops and operates Comcast's Internet business. Comcast also has a majority ownership in Comcast-Spectacor, whose major holdings include the Philadelphia Flyers NHL hockey team, the Philadelphia 76ers NBA basketball team and two large multipurpose arenas in Philadelphia.


by Eugene G. Berry, Esq.

Many individuals want to do good for others, but they do not have the resources. They often call us and ask us to establish a not for profit corporation also referred to as a non-profit corporation as a way to achieve this worthy goal and this is the general advice that we have given them over the years. First, there are for profit corporations like EXXON that are in business solely to make a profit. The not for profit corporation is in it to accomplish a charitable purpose. They can make a profit, but the accomplishment of a charitable goal rather than attaining profit is the prime motivation. UPMC is a non-profit that comes to mind that serves a charitable purpose, but makes a profit. Tax exemption is the ultimate goal but this does not mean the taxes are not paid or that there are no tax filings. There are many. Too numerous to address here.

The individual seeking to establish a not for profit should seek like minds and hearts who demonstrate a willingness to serve as volunteers, directors, officers and once funding is obtained employees. In the meantime the incorporator should be prepared to do it all. They should be lining up a team of consultants (Attorneys, Accountants, CPAs, Proposal/ Grant Writers, and a host of other professionals). They should assemble a proposed Board of Directors even before they begin the process of incorporation.

The incorporator will have to file articles of incorporation with the Pennsylvania Department of State, Corporations Bureau and will have to do the necessary Advertisements to be a legal entity entitled to operate in Pennsylvania. They will also have to undertake all of the registrations/filings required by the Bureau of Charitable Organizations, obtain state tax exemptions and obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN). After your State Chartered non-profit operates for a time, develops budgets, programs etc. and raises funds, perhaps under another friendly non-profit’s umbrella, your non-profit will have to complete the onerous 1023 Federal Form which must be completed to obtain Federal 501 (C)(3) tax exempt status-the brass ring. Once you obtain the Federal Tax exempt status you can raise monies and the donors can get a deduction. Paperwork will be created and the paperwork can be overwhelming, but must be done.

This process is not for the squeamish and requires an understanding of business, knowledge of funding sources, knowing people who can make it happen, creating revenue raising techniques and being in contact with the people who know how to bring in the bucks and having on staff the people to do the things to achieve the very goals the non-profit was established to accomplish in the first place. This must all be done while taking care of the business side and the program side. This is not a simple task and my best advice is to first do your homework and learn all you can about your area of charity/service and then get a team of professionals who can help you through this process which will take your lifetime and others as well. Do not start this process if you do not have the passion and are not willing to do the impossible. By all means, get a lawyer!

Send any questions or comments to]

Eugene G. Berry, Esq.
Berry & Associates
Attorneys at Law
River Park Commons
2403 Sidney Street, Suite 245
Pittsburgh, PA. 15203
Phone: (412) 255-4445
Toll Free: 1-888-379-4545
Fax: (412) 255-6423

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Steeler Season is Over

Well the Steeler season is over. One and done. The Jaguars advance to the next round against the New England Patriots and the Steelers have gone home. There was not much hope for the post season, the way December panned out. However, it is planning for next season. It will be an interesting free agency period: how much will Big Ben get on this contract? have we said good bye to Alan Faneca? will Willie Reid return for another season? (I believe we should all know the answer to that question? who else will get the axe? What about at fullback? Will they depend on Carey Davis or will Dan Kreider be back?

End of April will be the drafts (and I will be in attendance once again). Since so many teams are looking seriously at special teams players, do ya think we could get a return man? When Santonio Holmes and Willie Reid were drafted a couple of years ago, both were slated to be book ends as return guys which never came to fruition. Holmes was put on the first team receiver and Reid just stunk up the place. And I hope to heaven Tomlin doesn’t put high stock in linebackers. Although there is some age in the linebacking core (Farrior, Haggans), this will be the second year for Timmons and Woodley. We need a run stuffing DE to back up Aaron Smith (Kirscke and Eason stink).

The off-season will give Tomlin and special teams coach Ligashesky time to work on special teams play.

2008 is the second year of the new regime and another year to work on OC Bruce Arians offensive schemes.