<![CDATA[NBC 6 South Florida - ]]>Copyright 2018https://www.nbcmiami.com/feature/voiceshttp://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC+6+LOGO+GOOGLE.pngNBC 6 South Floridahttps://www.nbcmiami.comen-usThu, 22 Feb 2018 10:08:59 -0500Thu, 22 Feb 2018 10:08:59 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations<![CDATA[Fins Host Youth and Police Conference at Hard Rock Stadium]]>Tue, 20 Feb 2018 18:19:23 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*126/022018+Miami+Beach+PD+at+Fins+Event.jpg

A powerful meeting played out at the Hard Rock Stadium between black youth and dozens of law enforcement officers. The 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project teamed up with the Miami Dolphins Tuesday to host a police and youth conference. The event is designed to promote a positive interaction between young black men and law enforcement.

More than 600 high school students, who are members of the program, attended the conference along with officers from different police agencies, including Miami Gardens Police, Miami Beach Police, FBI and DEA.

The group assembled also took a moment to honor law enforcement and first responders for the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine's Day.

Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, founder of the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project, works with community leaders to help black teen boys get on the path to success. The teens are mentored by prominent leaders in South Florida’s black community, including NBC 6 anchor Jawan Strader. Strader spoke at Tuesday’s event, encouraging students to continue their education to ensure a bright future. “Education is the key to success,” Strader told the mentees.

The teens participated in workshops and demonstrations with officers. 

“In these workshops, the police and youth reverse roles to learn each other’s responsibilities, and how to respect each other and cut that tension," said Congresswoman Wilson. "To have the Dolphins, our hometown team, involved as well, and have them teaching a lesson to the children is just phenomenal.”

 The program is part of the Dolphins’ RISE initiative – which is supported by a yearly fund for social justice programs. Several Fins players have been vocal about police brutality and racial inequality since the kneeling protest spread throughout the NFL last season.

Players Kenny Stills, Michael Thomas and Julius Thomas have worked with the team to create events that serve to bridge the gap between the black community and law enforcement. The Dolphins host CommUNITY Tailgates at every home game, allowing members of the 5000 Role Models and other members of the community to bond with players and law enforcement officers.

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<![CDATA[Making Kids Feel Safe After School Shootings]]>Mon, 19 Feb 2018 11:19:37 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Making_Kids_Feel_Safe_After_School_Shootings.jpg

NBC 6's Jawan Strader sat down with licensed psychotherapist Isabel Rodriguez to discuss how parents should talk to their kids after tragic shootings.

<![CDATA[How to Prevent School Shootings]]>Mon, 19 Feb 2018 09:43:29 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/How_to_Prevent_School_Shootings.jpg

Jawan Strader sat down with Larry Lawton, the founder of the Reality Check Program, to discuss how school shootings can be prevented.

<![CDATA[Bridging the Cultural Gap: African Americans vs Caribbean]]>Tue, 13 Feb 2018 15:37:39 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Bridging_the_Cultural_Gap__African_Americans_vs_Caribbean.jpg

Is there a cultural divide between African Americans and blacks from the Caribbean? NBC 6 Voices host Jawan Strader sits down with a panel of blacks from various backgrounds to discuss the topic.

<![CDATA[Hollywood Man Fought to Rename Confederate Streets for Years]]>Mon, 12 Feb 2018 12:47:36 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/217*120/BenjaminIsrael.jpg

Before the nation turned its attention to remove Confederate symbols with protests that turned violent, 80-year-old Benjamin Israel, a black Orthodox Jew, was quietly leading a battle in Hollywood to replace three streets named after Confederate leaders.

“We have a concept known as Tikkun Olam, which means we have a responsibility to make the world a better place,” said Israel.

The activist says a friend asked him to take on the issue since he served on the city’s African-American Advisory Council. But, some within the council dismissed the so-called problem that Israel brought to their attention.

“They said, N-word you crazy! We don’t have time for this kind of nonsense. We got more important things to do,” recalled Israel.

So he decided to take his fight before the City Commission and that went on for three years.

“It took a while to get their attention, because they were not concerned. When the new Mayor came, that changed the situation. That changed the dynamics,” Israel explained.

Finally, commissioners started to hear the soft-spoken New York native –who now calls South Florida home. He had done his homework on all the Confederate name and one stood out the most: Nathan Bedford Forrest. That street runs right through Hollywood’s Black Liberia neighborhood.

“He ultimately became the founder of the KKK, and he also was the first Grand Wizard,” Israel lamented. “As a black man, it was particularly hurtful. Being that you could have a street running through the middle of the black community named after the founder of the KKK, whose purpose it was to destroy, to frighten and to chase away black people.”

Word of Israel’s campaign spread to other activists including Black Lives Matter.

“There involvement was very helpful to us, because they came out in force to the meetings and it made a difference,” he said.

One voice turned into many.

In August 2017, the Commission voted 5-1 to change the street names, because, according to Israel, city leaders looked beyond race.

“Do the right thing not because you’re white, not because you’re black, but because you have a moral obligation,” the activist explained.

Israel’s hard work earned him an honor from Black Lives Matter. The organization called him a community hero.

It was a special honor for the man surrounded by his books with a love and passion for history.

Israel’s advice for the next generation of black leaders who want change may surprise some.

“We got to stop blaming the white man. When we come together and do what we need to do for ourselves. Everything else will fall into place,” Israel said.

<![CDATA[Millennial Works to Preserve Dania Beach's Black History]]>Mon, 12 Feb 2018 12:30:21 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Millennial_Works_to_Preserve_Dania_Beach_s_Black_Histor.jpg

NBC 6's Erika Glover reports on a 29-year-old man who is working to preserve the Black History of Dania Beach.

<![CDATA[Miami Dolphins Social Justice Initiatives]]>Mon, 05 Feb 2018 14:02:05 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Miami_Dolphins_Social_Justice_Initiatives.jpg

NBC 6's Michael Spears explains how the Miami Dolphins are taking steps to try to bridge the racial divide.

<![CDATA[Eula Johnson, 'Wade-Ins' Desegregated Ft. Lauderdale Beach]]>Fri, 02 Feb 2018 18:22:30 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/020218FTLBeachDesegregation.jpg

Taking a stroll along the shores of Fort Lauderdale Beach, you’ll find people of all shapes, sizes and colors basking in our slice of paradise. But, there was a time when the color of your skin would determine whether you were allowed to frolic on the sand off Las Olas Boulevard.

Activist and business owner Eula Johnson became the key figure in fighting for equality on South Florida beaches. Some people called her the Rosa Parks of South Florida. Johnson planned wade-ins at Fort Lauderdale Beach during the summer of 1961, even when the Ku Klux Klan threatened to ambush the protests.

Tony Thompson, a historian at the Old Dillard Museum in Fort Lauderdale, researched Johnson’s journey to desegregate the beach. He said he learned about Johnson and her efforts through interviews with people in the community over the years.

“I put her right up there with Martin Luther Kings, you know, the other civil rights leaders, because she had the same courage,” Thompson said.

Johnson became the regional president of the NAACP in 1958. On July 4, 1961, she led her first wade-in at Fort Lauderdale Beach along with fellow activist Dr. Von D. Mizell.

“[They] loaded some teenagers in their cars and they drove them to the beach,” explained Thompson. “They parked their cars and walked on to the beach. White people started to crowd around them and they just kept walking towards the water. And the crowd parted.”

Thompson said no one bothered the protesters and there were no arrests. Images of that first wade-in are on display at the Old Dillard Museum. Johnson’s efforts were challenged by whites who opposed integration.

“There was a political newspaper publisher named Gore – who called her and asked her to stop…because white people did not want to swim with the colored people,” Thompson explained. “And that he would pay her money and give her access to things other colored people did not have if she would cooperate.”

Johnson did not give in to the offer and continued her fight. She planned another wade-in on July 23, but she got a tip that the KKK had plans to disrupt the protest.

“She called the FBI, she was smart,” Thompson said. She went on with the protest, but tensions were high.

“There were FBI agents on the roofs of hotels on the beach and in boats in the water. There was one colored woman arrested. And, that was the only real incident,” Thompson explained. “The KKK did show up with ax-handles – but the police kept them at bay.”

Johnson held several more wade-ins after until the City of Fort Lauderdale filed a lawsuit against her, claiming that she causing chaos and becoming a public nuisance. The case went to a federal judge who sided with Johnson.

“The federal courts decided that since colored people paid taxes just like everybody else they deserved to use public beaches just like any other citizen,” said Thompson.

Johnson put her life on the line to crush racial barriers on the shores on South Florida.

“She was courageous, and accomplished a feat that nobody thought she would accomplish,” said Beauregard Cummings, 92. He played youth football with Johnson’s son. Cummings said as a teen, he watched in awe as the activist refused to back down.

“I don’t think enough people do know about the people who helped to bring us where we are today,” said Thompson.

Johnson died in 2011 at the age of 94.

In 2016, Broward County’s colored beach during Segregation – John U. Lloyd State Park -- was renamed for Eula Johnson and Dr. Von D. Mizell.

Photo Credit: Old Dillard Museum
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<![CDATA[‘My Life Unraveled’: Retired NFL Star Says He Has CTE]]>Mon, 05 Feb 2018 14:04:46 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/215*120/013118+Larry+Johnson+NFL+Running+Back+Retired.jpg

Former NFL star Larry Johnson, Jr. says he fights self-destructive impulses, mood swings and fits of rage, all symptoms of past victims diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

Though the degenerative brain disorder, linked to more than 100 former NFL players, can be confirmed only after death, Johnson says he is sure he suffers from CTE.

“I didn’t grow up with mental issues, being bi-polar or anything being wrong with me. I was a shy kid,” Johnson told NBC 6 anchor Jawan Strader. He added that once he started playing football at age 9, he noticed changes in his character.

“Once you bang your head against other helmets and you’re hitting [it] all the time in practice and all the time in summer camp, you understand that your personality starts to change,” Johnson said.

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Johnston's football career spanned over two decades. He was a 2002 Heisman Trophy finalist at Penn State and a two-time Pro Bowler. While playing for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2006, Johnson set an NFL record with 416 carries.

That same year, Dr. Bennet Omalu, the famed forensic pathologist portrayed by Will Smith in the 2015 movie "Concussion," published his second research reporting another case of autopsy-confirmed CTE linked to football-related head injuries. Omalu's findings triggered a crisis within the NFL that continues to haunt the league today.

Johnson was never diagnosed with a concussion during his tenure as an NFL player. He spent six years with the Chiefs before signing with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2009. He also played for the Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphis.

Since Johnson playing his last game in 2011, the league has changed standards for detecting and dealing with concussions. The 38-year-old believes he may have suffered a concussion years before his professional career, dating back to his time playing pee-wee football.

“You take four days of practice, four days of hitting at 9-years-old, you elevate that to 10 years of the same thing,” Johnson explained, highlighting the repeated blows his young body endured. “There’s a lot of us walking around with brain issues and they’re not saying anything.”

Johnston racked up six arrests during what he calls his darkest times, with several of the incidents involving domestic violence. The former running back said his "toxic masculinity" worsened his condition as he moved on from college football to the NFL.

“All I want[ed] to do is go through rages,” Johnson explained. “I covered up my toxic masculinity with drinking, going out, plunging myself in toxic relationships with people I know I had no business being with. But, that’s who I was at the time …. I had to divorce football. It was a painful divorce.”

Johnson also says he has bipolar disorder and that his memory has deteriorated over the years.

“It became a point where I couldn’t remember 2007, 2008 season. I could not remember that,” Johnson said. “I couldn’t remember where I put my keys. I could have my car remote in my hand and try to open the car with the TV remote. I would pick up my daughter, knowing that I’m not supposed to have her on that day, and act like everything is fine.”

He said he could have ended up like former New England Patriots Aaron Hernandez. Johnson thanks his relationship with his father for steering him away from the path Hernandez took.

“That could have been me. I felt what he felt,” Johnson revealed to Strader.

Johnson’s 7-year-old daughter, Jaylen, also helped him change his self-destructive ways. “I don’t know where I would’ve been if I didn’t have a child in my life.” He said Jaylen grounds him and adds purpose to his life.

“I need support from her just as much as she needs support from me.”

The former Chiefs player said that therapy and being in solitude has also aided in his evolution. He explained that he can now identify the things that will trigger his violent impulses.

“It’s a feeling of un-comfortability. You don’t feel right. It’s just something in your heart. It’s a gut feeling that you know something’s not right,” Johnson explained. “I know how to excuse myself and leave a situation.”

“Now, I’m just more sensitive to things. I prefer to be alone a lot of the times because I know I’m at peace with myself,” Johnson said.

Nowadays, when Johnson isn’t spending time with his daughter, he’s working with the nonprofit organization, Motivational Edge. The retired NFL star serves on the board. The group works with youth in underserved communities by exposing them to culturally relevant arts to inspire them toward academic achievement.

Johnson said the organization allows him to speak truth to his struggle and help at-risk students get on the right path.

<![CDATA[High Schools Working to Prevent Football Head Trauma]]>Thu, 01 Feb 2018 16:41:46 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/189*120/013118+High+School+Concussions.jpg

The pounding sound of helmets colliding echoes through high school football stadiums across the country – teen bodies colliding while crowds cheer on. These hard hits on the field come with a price for some teen players.

Dylan King, a junior at Felix Varela High School, felt the brunt of the game one night.

“During halftime is when my body started cooling down and my head started throbbing,” King explained. He later learned he suffered a concussion. It was his second concussion.

“I couldn't think. My coach was talking to me. [I] couldn't focus on what he was saying,” said King.

Dr. Jillian Hotz, director at KiDZ Neuroscience Center at the University of Miami, diagnosed the junior with the brain injury.

Dr. Hotz works closely with injured high school football players as she serves as director of the concussion program for Miami-Dade County Schools.

The school district partners with UM to log, treat and prevent concussions that occur in sports programs at every public high school in the county.

Dr. Hotz says with the increased concern over concussions, coaches and players are taking more precaution.

“These are contact sports and kids are playing well and aggressive getting those plays done that the coaches are calling out,” Dr. Hotz explained. “I think there's more education. I think everyone is more aware now of how serious this is and if this does occur to get these kids out.”

Since the 2014-2015 school year, reported concussions at Miami-Dade high schools have dropped, according to data provided by the school district. Concussions were down to 161 in the 2016/2017 school year from 209 in the 2014/2015 school year.

The school district’s concussion program also includes training and providing players with the most effective gear.

Arthur de Mello is one of the athletic trainers at Felix Varela High School. He also works with King and other teen athletes. De Mello uses exercise techniques to strengthen players’ neck muscles to help reduce concussions and other injuries.

“The whole idea with this [training] is to prevent a whiplash by getting tackled,” explained De Melo. “The misconception is that you can only get a concussion if you get hit in the head, but the truth is through whiplash or just hitting the floor really hard that's also causes a concussion.”

Since his recovery, King has been cleared to play. He returned to the field feeling assured that his school has taken the steps to ensure his future is bright beyond football.

“It makes me feel warm inside knowing that they care about my health [and] not just me as an athlete,” said King.

<![CDATA[NBC 6 Launches 'Voices With Jawan Strader' on Feb. 3]]>Thu, 01 Feb 2018 14:13:10 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/020118+voices+with+jawan+strader.jpg

NBC6/WTVJ will debut "Voices with Jawan Strader" on Saturday, Feb. 3 at 9 a.m., immediately after the NBC6 South Florida Today Saturday newscast (check local listings).

The locally produced weekly half-hour show will highlight the issues that affect black communities across South Florida.

"Voices is about giving a voice to those we don’t hear from every day," said Strader. "We’re proud to present a show that will be devoted to highlighting our South Florida communities. Through 'Voices,' our viewers will have an outlet to see the great things going on in their local neighborhoods and also discuss the difficult issues that affect them day in and day out."

"Voices with Jawan Strader" will provide analysis of social issues impacting the local black communities and will serve as a platform to create connections within the community. The program will feature interviews with South Florida dignitaries, grassroots leaders and residents.

"At NBC 6, we take our commitment to serving our communities very seriously," added Migdalia Figueroa, Vice President of News for NBC 6.  "'Voices' will provide a venue for change makers and local residents to engage in conversations that could jump start positive changes in the communities we all call home."

Story pitches for show consideration can be sent to voices@nbcuni.com. Viewers can also check NBC 6’s complete Saturday morning TV lineup by clicking here.

Photo Credit: NBC 6]]>