Carolyn Mitchell-O’Bryant is not letting blindness limit her 

Acid violence in Africa

Washington, DC — America faces a continuing epidemic of homicide among young black males. The devastation homicide inflicts on black teens and adults is a national crisis, yet it is all too often ignored outside of affected communities.

A gun is by far the most common weapon used to kill Black victims of homicide in America, according to a new study by the Violence Policy Center (VPC). The study found 84 percent of Black homicide victims nationwide are killed with guns, most often a handgun.

The annual study, Black Homicide Victimization in the United States: An Analysis of 2013 Homicide Data, is based on unpublished data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Supplementary Homicide Report. The study details homicide rates for 2013, the most recent year for which comprehensive national data is available.

In addition to providing nationwide data, the study ranks the states according to their Black homicide victimization rates. In 2013, Indiana had the highest Black homicide victimization rate in the nation, followed by Missouri.

Ohio, which placed No. 9 on the list in 2o10, is not listed in the 2013 findings.

“In America, Black men and women face a disproportionate risk of being murdered, a fact both alarming and unacceptable,” states VPC Executive Director Josh Sugarmann. “Moreover, our study found that the vast majority of these homicides are committed with guns, usually a handgun. We hope our research will not only help educate the public and policymakers, but aid those national, state, and community leaders who are already working to end this grave injustice.”

Nationwide, the study finds that in 2013:

•    There were 6,217 Black homicide victims in the United States that year. Blacks represent 13 percent of the U.S. population yet account for 50 percent of all homicide victims.

•    The Black homicide victimization rate in the United States was 16.91 per 100,000. In comparison, the overall national homicide victimization rate was 4.27 per 100,000. For Whites, the national homicide victimization rate was 2.54 per 100,000.

•    Of the 6,217 Black homicide victims, 5,381 were male and 836 were female. The homicide victimization rate for lack male victims was 30.59 per 100,000. The homicide victimization rate for female Black victims was 4.36 per 100,000.

•    For homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 84 percent of Black victims (4,960 out of 5,891) were shot and killed with guns. Of these, 73 percent (3,609 victims) were killed with handguns.

•    For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 72 percent of Black victims (2,002 out of 2,766) were killed by someone they knew. The number of victims killed by strangers was 764.

•    For homicides in which the circumstances could be identified, 68 percent (2,534 out of 3,754) were not related to the commission of any other felony. Of these, 51 percent (1,284 homicides) involved arguments between the victim and the offender.

The 10 states with the highest Black homicide victimization rates per 100,000 in 2013 were 1. Indiana, 34.15; 2. Missouri, 30.42; 3. Michigan, 30.34; 4. Nebraska, 27.65; 5.  Oklahoma, 27.36; 6. Pennsylvania, 26.11; 7. Wisconsin, 24.74; 8. Louisiana, 23.33; 9. California, 21.79; 10. New Jersey, 20.49.

The FBI data includes incidents reported as justifiable homicides of Black victims killed by law enforcement. Nationwide, there were 140 such incidents reported in 2013. The data does not specifically identify killings by police that are not ruled justifiable. The FBI recently announced it would dramatically expand its data collection on violent police encounters by 2017.

The study calculates Black homicide victimization rates by dividing the number of Black homicide victims by the Black population, and multiplying the result by 100,000. This is the standard and accepted method of comparing fatal levels of gun violence.

The full study is available at

UC, UC Health remember MLK Day with speeches, song and ceremony

An instructor at Hubbard Family Swim School works with one of the students. Photo provided by Hubbard Family Swim School

The Zachary F. Pettus Story

Study lists Black homicide rates by state

By Dan Yount

The Cincinnati Herald

Hanifa Nakiryowa said she knew she was being tricked by her estranged, abusive husband when she went to the family home to pick up her two young daughters after a weekend visit with their father in Kampala, the capital of the African nation of Uganda.

She had left the home with the children several months earlier in fear of losing her life.

As she approached the front door of the house, a stranger stepped out from behind the building and threw sulfuric acid on her face, arms and the upper part of her body. She screamed in excruciating pain but her estranged husband did not respond to her screams. It was after neighbors were out calling him to open the door that he finally came out with the children. The young daughter slipped and fell in the acid, getting acid on her legs and side. Pandemonium erupted in the neighborhood and residents were confused in how to deal with the situation. The father took the daughter inside and began to wash and treat her wounds while the neighbors rushed Hanifa to the nearest hospital. Hanifa arrived at the hospital about 40 minutes later, having been untreated as the acid continued to eat away her skin.   

The Center for Rehabilitation of Survivors of Acid and Burns Violence (CERESAV) is a non-profit organization established in 2012 by Hanifa in Uganda to address acid violence. The group is noted for its work to push for the passage of the Toxic Chemicals Prohibition and Control Bill last year in Uganda.

Cincinnatians had an opportunity recently to meet the woman visionary behind this movement and learn how she has brought about changes in Uganda as she told her story at a number of events here.

Hanifa Nakiyorwa, the founder of CERESAV and survivor of the acid attack described here, was accompanied by Dr. Angie Vredeveld, founder of Acid Survivor Network in this country and a clinical psychologist, during Hanifa’s recent stay in Cincinnati.

“My experience in the hospital with other acid victims (there are an estimated 500 acid violence victims in Kampala), the inspiring survivors I met, the negative perceptions, discrimination and injustices I experienced, and the trauma and devastation my children went through compelled me to spearhead the campaign against acid attacks and gender violence,’’ Hanifa said. “We call upon the public, governmental, educational, medical, non-profit, and faith-based institutions to collectively end this devastating act of human terrorism and save the next potential victim.’’

Initial efforts have been successful, for, in January, Uganda’s President Museveni signed a toxic chemicals bill into law that regulates the sale and distribution of acid. Acid had previously been available in most retail stores there. CERESAV is now working to pass a more comprehensive bill specific to the use of acid as a weapon of violence.

Acid attacks occur more frequently in Uganda than almost any other country in Africa, but reliable statistics are hard to find because people often do not report incidents for fear of further attacks.

Acid, like guns, can be used as a weapon of violence in conflicts. Sixty percent of the victims in Uganda are women having relationship conflicts, while 40 percent of these incidents men experience are related to political or business disputes, according to CERESAV information.

In addition to regulating the sale of acid, CERESAV is seeking increased severity of punishment of perpetrators to establish zero-tolerance for acid violence. The members are calling for fair and timely prosecution of cases. And they want to raise awareness.

Many survivors are hiding due to shame over their appearance. CERESAV wants to become the voice of the survivors and encourage them to share their stories so that the problem is not ignored.

Ironically, Hanifa, age 34, at the time of her attack was age 29 and had been working with UNICEF program in her country in regard to issues involving education, health and protection from all forms of gender-based violence. She was at the time married to the father of her two children for seven years.

“It was a hard relationship,’’ she said.” He wanted me to stay home all the time. I realized from the beginning of the marriage that I was in an abusive relationship because I lacked any type of empowerment such as financial status and a voice to stand up for my rights. I knew the first step for me would be to have financial power, and I reached out to the labor market. I had a good education and wanted to be able to make my own decisions. I had had enough of the emotional and physical abuse.’’

Hanifa explained that in Uganda, as in many African cultures, women are subordinate to their husbands. “The man has power over you. You abide by his rules in the house. You think you are doing the right thing, because this is the norm, but living in those conditions deprives you of your personality.  If there is a problem in the marriage, my society says it is the wife’s fault, and she, too, starts thinking something is wrong with her. And while this is occurring, there is a culture of silence about your situation.’’

In her case, the spousal abuses started on an emotional level, she said. “He was telling me he did not want me to do this or that, or to go here or there,’’ she said. 

When Hanifa got a job with UNICEF, the tensions increased, she said. Her husband was a university professor, who was now making half of what his wife was making, and this was emasculating for him. In August 2011, he asked her to quit her job if she wanted to stay in their marriage.

“Yet the job was part of my plan for independence, for leaving the relationship,’’ she said.

She made three attempts to break up the marriage by moving back in with her family, but her family always brought her back. She agreed to stay in the marriage as long as she could keep her job, she said.

However, after moving back in and telling her husband her condition he would have to honor for her to stay, she woke up the following morning and noticed an iron bar by his side of the bed. “This is a warning of violence about to occur in my country, and I told my father I would not be spending another night in the house. I asked my father to pick me up and take me away with my babies, and he did.’’

Then, in early September, she said her husband was attempting to engage her family to resolve the differences so she and the children would move back in with him. “No!’’ her father said to him, “My daughter and my grandchildren are now in my custody,’’ she said her father told the son-in-law.

“My husband was always calling my father about my alleged misconduct. But my father, who is a religious leader, told him that he knew his daughter was a good person for he had raised her in a good way. My father prayed over our situation, and this time he was not going to initiate any reconciliation.

“My husband, though, was good at being so sweet to win me back, but he was realizing he had no chance. So, he asked if the children could come and spend the weekend with him. I knew it was another trap, but consented. Two days later he called me to pick up the children.

“But someone else was waiting outside for me and threw acid on me. The acid was on my face, my arms, and my upper body. I was screaming, my babies were screaming. My youngest daughter slipped and fell in the acid. The neighbors were coming over to see what happened, and there was confusion.’’

The husband took his daughter back inside and began washing her with water, leaving his wife outside and untreated. The neighbors were in shock and asked him to drive them to the hospital. However, he conveniently could not find the car keys, she said. Rescue personnel did not arrive for nearly an hour as the acid burned away her skin.

“I realized this was acid, and my face is gone. I also realized it was my husband’s doing,’’ she said.

The long time it took for her to reach the hospital and receive emergency treatment made it difficult to neutralize the acid, which continued to eat at her skin until the wound dried, at which time the disfiguring and discoloring became prominent, she said. She could not open or close her lips and eyes or breathe through her nose. Time and numerous reconstructive surgeries since 2012 in London and Face Forward in Los Angeles have restored Hanifa’s body functions as well as appearances. The most recent was three months ago. She lost sight in one eye.

“The moment I got attacked at his house, and all I endured in that house, I told myself I will not give him the satisfaction (of thinking he had ruined her),’’ she said.

Hanifa now in the United States and is getting her master’s degree in human security and international development.

She remains fearful, and asked that details of where she and her children live not be revealed.

She was able to obtain a divorce, but it took two years to have it approved. Her former husband was not charged in the crime, and the local government appears to have lost interest in the case, she said. “The government is corrupt, and he probably paid officials to close the case,’’ she said.

Hanifa’s friend, Deborah Jane, of Columbus, also came to Cincinnati to talk about acid violence. She said she was attacked with acid by her husband, and the bitterness lingers.

Hanifa said she has been able to deal with the emotional aspect of the attack. “I have been able to get over it by finding some kind of meaning in that experience. I have discovered a new part of myself, an inner strength that I did not realize I had. And that has helped me become an advocate for others who have experienced this,’’ she explained.

More than 500 women and men have experienced acid violence in Uganda, largely in Kampala, with additional unreported cases in rural areas.

Vredeveld, who has a doctorate in psychology from Indiana State University, traveled to South Africa after obtaining her doctorate in 2009. She ventured into Rwanda with a delegation of psychologists to learn about the genocide there and the treatment that was needed. Then in 2013 and 2014, she went to Uganda, where she met Christine, an acid attack survivor who had not left her home for two years because of her disfiguration. Vredeveld was making home visits and providing counseling when she met Christine. Through Christine, Vredeveld met Hanifa.

“Although it was a learning experience for me,’’ Vredeveld said, “I helped Christine obtain pro bono surgeries at Grossman Burn Foundation in Los Angeles, and she is now back in Uganda.’’

Vredeveld said she likens acid violence in Uganda to gun violence here.

Hanifa said that as she sat in the hospital thinking about the lack of awareness, government interest and spirit to address acid violence, she decided to do something about it and began putting together her plan for CERESAV. Although she now lives in the United States, a core group of acid attack survivors is carrying on her work back home.     Vredeveld has assisted her in bringing international awareness to the problem and helping ‘the average person’ understand how they can help bring an end to this atrocity.

“CERESAV is empowering the survivors to return to their regular activities in their communities so they may become more accepted. We also want to make boys and men aware of the moral implications of these crimes,’’ Hanifa said.

However, relationships with her family are now strained. “In my country, I am condemned for my own attack, so that condemnation is transferred to my own family now that I have left,’’ she said.

In the dining packets and kitchen gadgets assembly area at CABVI, client Carolyn Mitchell-O’Bryant assembles packets. Herald photo

By Dan Yount

The Cincinnati Herald

The Viet Cong were supposed to be observing a holiday ceasefire during the Tet offensive in the Vietnam War in July 1967 as a patrol from the 101st Airborne with Cincinnati native and paramedic Dewitt Battle in it was advancing on a search and destroy mission through the forward positions. What happened that day, and the amazing heroism displayed by Army Specialist Battle earned him a Bronze Star, which he seeks to have upgraded to a Congressional Medal of Honor, and deservedly so.

Battle, 72, says he does not remember much from the ambush of his unit that day except for a tremendously loud explosion and a wound to his right hand, possibly from a bullet hitting it.

But accounts of Battle’s battlefield courage are detailed in Army papers documenting the award to him of a Bronze Star for heroism that day. Captain David A. Korponai, in writing about Battle’s heroism that day for the Bronze Star award, stated:

“Specialist Battle distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on June 8, 1967, in the Republic of Viet Nam. Specialist Battle was moving with his platoon on a search and destroy operation when they were ambushed by an estimated enemy platoon, wounding six paratroopers and himself. Despite his serious head wound and continuing enemy fire, Specialist Battle repeatedly exposed himself as he moved among his wounded comrades administering emergency medical aid to them. On several occasions, he moved back into the ambush killing zone and pulled his wounded comrades to safety. His fearless actions, while he himself was wounded, undoubtedly saved the lives of several seriously wounded soldiers. Specialist Battle’s devotion to duty and personal courage were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.’’

Battle, a Cincinnati native, age 72, Avondale, and a member of the family that for many years has owned and operated J.C. Battle & Sons Funeral Home, said he joined Army in April 1965, five days after was married. He had graduated from Hughes High School, playing tight end on the football team, and attended Miami University in Oxford on a football scholarship, playing there in 1965 and 1966.

“I wanted to marry my childhood sweetheart, and we were married in April of 1965,’’ he said. “Five days later, I joined the Army to have a job.’’

His father Lynwood Battle Sr. was then operating the family business, but his son Dewitt said the mortuary business was not his “cup of tea.’’ It would be left to his two brothers, J.C. and Lynwood Jr. to carry on the family business. Both also served in Vietnam, but only after Dewitt’s tour there had ended. Lynwood Jr. received his mortuary science degree while at Ohio State University, where he played tuba in marching band. During his senior year, he dotted the “i’’ with his tuba when the band formation spelled Ohio at the halftime performances. Brother J.C. obtained his mortuary license from Muskingum University in Concord, Ohio. Lynwood worked as an executive at Procter& Gamble, and J.C. was employed by the U.S. Postal Service.

Battle completed his basic training at Fort Knox, Ky., and advanced infantry training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where he said he learned to be a medic, adding, “and boy did they do a good job.’’

He was then stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., where he joined the famed 101st Airborne prior to being assigned to Fort Benning in Georgia. A year later, he received orders for duty in Vietnam.

Battle arrived in Vietnam in January 1967 during the Tet Offensive, and he was immediately assigned to a unit in the combat zone. The Tet Offensive was the series of surprise attacks on major cities, towns, and military bases all throughout South Vietnam that were launched by the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops.

“When the ambush occurred, the Viet Cong were supposedly on a holiday,’’ he said. “I cannot recall anything prior to the ambush on that day. While I was operating with unit associated with the 237th Infantry on a search and destroy mission, I heard a loud bang, which must have given me a concussion, and everything after that is a complete blank. A round went into my right hand, but that did not stop me from doing my duties. The trauma was so great that it must have paralyzed my hand so it did not hurt, which allowed me to treat the wounded and take them out of the ambush zone. Our point man was killed, and six others wounded, but I do not remember how long the firefight lasted or how it ended.’’

He said the point man told him the night before the ambush that he wanted someone else to walk the point, as his time was short. He was the only soldier killed in the ambush.   

Battle lost contact with the men in his unit, and would like to be able to find some of them to see how they are doing, as well as to verify what occurred that day as he applies for a Medal of Honor.

He said he was reluctant to make close friends with his fellow comrades, because “you never knew who the VC would kill the next day.’’

After the ambush, Battle was taken out of the combat zone and sent to Osaka, Japan, where he recovered from his wound. Ninety days later, he was sent back to Fort Bragg in North Carolina, where he joined 82nd Airborne, and he went back to Vietnam with the 82nd, but was stationed in the rear of the fighting. Even then he said he feared being back in harm’s way. Ninety days later he was discharged.

Battle retired in 1980.

Battle’s wife became pregnant while the couple was stationed at Fort Campbell, and she delivered their son, Dewitt Jr., two weeks after he was wounded.

When the couple returned to Cincinnati, he worked as a bank teller, then in the emergency room at Jewish Hospital, then as a UPS driver. They are now divorced.

Battle said he was taught at Fort Sam Houston that a soldier leaves no man behind, and he will never forget that.

This youth receives support from his instructor at the swim school. Photo provided by Hubbard Family Swim School



Lexington, KY—University Press of Kentucky author Bernard LaFayette Jr., whose memoir In Peace and Freedom: My Journey in Selma was released in paperback earlier this year, has been awarded the 2016 Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Reconciliation and Peace. He is also co-editor of The Chicago Freedom Movement: Martin Luther King Jr. and Civil Rights Activism in the North. The award is presented by the Gandhi Development Trust.

The Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Reconciliation and Peace was established in 2003 to honor people who have surmounted religious and ethnic obstacles to promote democracy, peace, and justice through non-violent measures.

LaFayette was chosen as this year’s winner in recognition of his outstanding work towards the promotion of peace, reconciliation, and justice both locally and internationally in his capacity as a civil rights activist.

LaFayette’s memoir, In Peace and Freedom, recounts that career as an activist. He was a cofounder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a leader in the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins, a Freedom Rider, an associate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the national coordinator of the Poor People’s Campaign. At the age of twenty-two, he assumed the directorship of the Alabama Voter Registration Project in Selma—a city that had previously been removed from the organization’s list due to the dangers of operating there.

Carolyn Mitchell-O’Bryant receives the 2015 Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired 2015 Bradley L. Kaylor Blind Employee of the Year award presented by Terry Skiba, CABVI’s Director of Operations.  Photo by Michael Mitchell

Ready or not, 2017 is here -- which means New Year’s resolutions. You know, that list we make a list every year? The one where we say we will lose those extra pounds, save more money or even quit smoking? Then, around March we tend to lose sight of those goals and resolve to try again next year. Let’s break that cycle and really set obtainable and realistic goals to overcome.

Here are a few tips for a healthier 2017:

Find Your Motivation

Enlist a group of friends and family who have similar goals
Look in your closet for that favorite pair of jeans that have gotten a bit too tight. Hang them on a hook on your wall or in your bathroom, somewhere highly visible so you’ll see them  every day as a dose of daily motivation.

Try New Foods

I know it’s hard, but vegetables really are your friends! Love spaghetti? Try substituting pasta noodles for zucchini noodles. Websites like Pinterest can provide much needed inspiration on turning your favorite carb-packed meals into new vegetable-rich alternatives!

Get Moving!

Gym not your thing? Switch it up and attend a fitness class like Curvy Cardio. You’ll get a great workout while having fun.  Check out for their ‘30 days of werk challenge’ that gives participants tools and motivation to jumpstart their fitness goals. Use code HERALD for a special offer at checkout!

Go At Your Own Pace

Remember this is YOUR journey, and you don’t have to quit all of your favorite foods cold turkey. Try cutting back instead of cutting out.  If you drink 5 cans of soda a week, cut back to 3, then cut back to 2 and so on.
Make a plan. Plan your meals out for the week or even buy from businesses that do all the meal prep for you! Check out some great options at

You’re Allowed To Have A Bad Day

Don’t get discouraged if you mess up one day, or even go a whole week without working out or eating healthy. Every day is a fresh start. Don’t tell yourself you will start over Monday; start tomorrow. You got this!

Morgan Owens is founder and owner of Curvy Cardio, an organization specializing in fitness classes, apparel, and accessories. Classes are available at North Avondale Rec. Center. She also specializes in professional/lifestyle workshops, and guest speaking. For more information and class schedules please visit

One of the African art pieces featured in Cincinnati Art Museum’s permanent collection of African art. Provided

Nationally recognized for her advocacy


Zachary F. Pettus of Cincinnati in 1983 left his hometown to seek employment in Orange County, California, where his sister, Veronica, lived shortly after graduating from Hughes High School, where school officials, coaches and teachers had praised his good character and work ethic. While seeking employment in California, Pettus was arrested charged and convicted of the murder of a woman who owned and operated a clothing consignment shop in a strip mall. He is serving a life sentence in a California prison. Untiring efforts have been made by his sister, Jackie, and her husband Robert Humphries in Cincinnati, and an uncle, Fred Humphreys, in the Los Angeles area over the years to obtain new evidence and competent legal representation to overturn Pettus’ conviction.

The Cincinnati Herald has published several previous articles about the Pettus case, and the following updated article is being published as a new effort that would include testing of DNA in the case is being mounted by family members and friends.

This effort would require considerable funding, and a………..

The following article is an extensive recount of the case as provided by Pettus and Tina Jackson, founder of Angels for in Los Angeles who has worked on the case for some time as told to The Cincinnati Herald in January 2017.


At the age of 19 years old, Zachary F. Pettus came to California from his home state of Ohio for a new beginning, with his sister Veronica. But within a few months of arriving here, he found that California was not for him, so he decided to return to Ohio. And, instead of calling back to Ohio and asking his family to send him money, he decided to take a leave of absence from school and to seek work to raise money for his way back home.

 On the morning of October 18, 1983, Pettus went to several businesses looking for work. Several business owners confirm this. He went to the Vintage Clothing Store asking the owner Darlene Hazboun about possible employment. She took his name and contact information after telling him she has a small store and she does not need a lot of assistance, but she may occasionally need temporary help when large shipments come through.

Soon afterwards Zachary left to go play basketball. While he was waiting across the street at the bus stop, he was approached by a girl he knew from school by the name of Darcy Belvin. Darcy also claims she was looking for work that day, but had no luck. Soon afterwards, Zachary left and went to play basketball.

On October 19th, 1983 at or about 1:30 p.m. to 1:55 p.m., Darlene Hazboun the owner of the Vintage Clothing Store was brutally murdered in her place of business. The victim struggled with her assailant, she was hog tied, gagged, strangled with a tie from the store and stabbed repeatedly. Two stab wounds were so deep, and they went from the victim’s chest straight down to her back. It was a very bloody crime scene. There was also blood and skin found under the victim’s nails, but they were never tested. Money was taken from the scene, and the store ransacked. The victim’s dog was also left tied at the crime scene, but left unharmed and shaking.

A witness at the scene stated that she saw a young African American male in athletic clothing in the store at or around 1:15 p.m., he blocked her from coming into the store saying the owner had stepped out, but would be back in 10 minutes, and then he smiled at her. The witness left and went to a nearby store and told the owner what she had observed. The owner stated, without even seeing the young man, “Oh! That must have been the same one that was here the day before.” Ten minutes later, the owner of that business and the witness returned to the Vintage Clothing Store, only to discover the door was locked and no-one was on site. The witness left the premises, while the other store owner returned to her place of business and called the owner of the strip mall to tell him what was happening, and he agreed to come right over.

Pettus is arrested

In the meantime, a Huntington Beach police officer saw a young African American male walking away from the scene of the crime around the same time the crime would have taken place. Another witness stated she saw that same male around the scene of the crime. Both the civilian witness and the police officer identified this same male, and it was not Zachary Pettus.

The police officer saw this same suspect again at the police department days after Zachary was in custody, reporting an alleged stolen bike. Ironically, this same suspect fit the description given by witnesses as being in and around the strip mall on a bike days before the robbery/murder. This same man was interviewed by the HBPD and was not cooperative, and was never questioned about why he was in the area the day of the crime. He also has an extensive police record, and has been investigated as a suspect in a murder in Los Angeles within the last 10 years.

This suspect was a friend of Zachary’s sister, Veronica and had access to the apartment. However, he was not a friend of Zachary’s, this fact was verified by several witnesses, and Zachary admits to not liking the suspect and knowing him only as a friend of his sister.

As a matter of fact, this suspect was loitering around the area when Zachary was arrested, and went up to officers and started asking questions. Something Zachary did not know until the police told him about this at his initial interrogation. The police also suspected this suspect until they questioned him and he became defensive and combative. His mother started playing the race card, and the police backed off him and never pursued their leads.

Another more reliable witness stated that at 1p.m. to 1:10 p.m. he saw the victim through the open door of her business, standing at the counter, but no-one else was in the store. This witness was a UPS delivery driver, who was making a delivery at a business across from the victim’s store and recognized the victim because he had delivered to her before. Another witness stated she got off work at 1p.m. and drove around the corner to the store, which took less than 10 minutes. She went into the store, which was on the second level of the strip mall. She stated she went into the Vintage Clothing Store and paid $3 on her layaway to Ms. Hazboun, looked around for 5 to 10 minutes, tried on two shirts, and left the store.  and then exited the store. The victim was alive and no-one else was in the store. When the police crime scene video was viewed, the $3 was still on the counter when the victim was found at 2:15 p.m.

The victim’s husband stated he spoke to his wife at 1:30 p.m. and she was fine then. So, the witness that stated she came in at 1:15 p.m. was off on her times. The part-time worker at the store had to use her key to open the door of the business a little before 2 p.m., and she was followed in by another witness, and both stated they did not see anything. The shopper was joined by her aunt, and the victim was found behind a partition by her employee at 2:15 p.m., when she asked the customers to leave and then called the police.

Pettus was taken into custody at 8:20 p.m., the same day, and has been in custody ever since. The police were led to Pettus by Darcy Belvins, who told police she heard about the crime from a small child. The day before Blevins claims Zachary told her she could make money if she called around to different businesses in the area to find out what their security systems were, how many employees they have, and their busiest time of day. With this information, Blevins said Pettus said he had a friend that would rob the businesses. But Blevins said she turned him down because “She‘s not a thief.” However, Blevins had an axe to grind with Pettus after he chose her friend to date instead of dating her. Also, other witnesses stated Blevins may have been involved with this crime.

Apartment searched

After Pettus was taken into custody, the police asked him for permission to search his home, and he readily agreed to the search. The HB police department also received permission from his sister, Veronica, that same night. Two officers did a preliminary search that same night of the apartment, Zachary’s room, and with large industrial type flashlights, all dumpsters surrounding Zachary’s apartment, but found nothing.

The next morning a large group of crime scene specialists and police officers with a police dog, descended onto the apartment Zachary shared with his sister, when they arrived, no-one was there. So, the police, crime scene specialists, along with the specially trained police dog were let in by the manager. By the time his sister, another parent of one of Zachary’s friends, Barbara Junious, and his new attorney Milton Grimes, and the defense investigator David Sandberg arrived at the home, the police were concluding their search. They had found nothing. Afterwards, Milton Grimes and his investigator searched and found nothing, and then his sister changed the room around, which Pettus’ attorney told her off for doing. A few days later the police returned and searched again. However, the only thing they found was a suit which was later discovered to belong to Pettus’ brother Carlos. The suit had $40 in the pockets, but it was not in change, or in the singles and fives that were taken from the crime scene. The money found in the suit pocket was in tens and twenties, and proven later to belong to Pettus’ brother Carlos. And, once again, Milton Grimes and his investigator followed the police search with one of their own, and nothing was found.

A few days later, the victim’s husband allegedly told the police some jewelry was missing, so a Huntington Beach detective claims that he allegedly remembered seeing jewelry in their search of Zachary’s room. So, the detective and his partner returned to the apartment. One detective went upstairs to Zac’s room while the other stayed downstairs with Zac’s sister, Veronica. Within a minute, he “found” the jewelry right in the open on the stereo in an open container with a few pennies. However, the defense team, and at least four other people who were in the room in question the day before the jewelry was discovered, stated the jewelry was not there prior to the discovery by the detective. Plus, other HB crime scene investigators who were in Zachary’s room for the first few police searches stated they did not observe any jewelry in the container.

Furthermore, the victim was found with several thousand dollars in rings on her fingers and a gold watch and bracelet on her wrist. The necklaces were worth under $200. The business made little or no money, and the victim had only petty cash in the store, because she made a bank deposit that same morning prior to opening her business. The only money taken into the store was $3 paid on the layaway earlier and a $1.75 for a greeting card purchased right after the business was opened for the day. The store had only been open since noon.

Strangely, the suspect went past a liquor store doing a thriving business on the first level to rob a store on the second level that made little or no money. And, the suspect did not take the money left in the open and the expensive jewelry on the victim’s hands and wrist.

Witnesses place Pettis elsewhere

Evidence shows the murder occurred between 1:30 p.m. and 1:55 p.m. Several reliable witnesses placed Pettus elsewhere at the time of the crime. There is a bank teller that waited on him around 1:30 p.m., and a neighbor saw him walking from the direction of the bank after he returned from work at or around 1:50 p... Another bank teller also confirmed she saw Zachary in the bank at 1:30 p.m. And an employee at a Photo Mat booth in the parking lot of the bank, stated she saw Zachary twice, after 1:15 p.m., and when she also spoke to him around 1:45 p.m. on October 19. A school bus driver saw Zachary in front of his home at 12:50 p.m. when she dropped children off. And several of those students also identified Pettus, because they got off the bus and started to play with him (some of who came to court.) Another neighbor saw Zachary at his mailbox at 1:05 p.m. (The crime scene is about a half-a mile from the Pettus apartment, and the bank complex is right across the street from the Pettus apartment.) Every one of these witnesses stated that Zachary was wearing jeans and a polo shirt, and those who   had close contact with him, stated he smelled strongly of cologne. He also was very calm, friendly and did not seem fazed about anything.

This is very different from what the witnesses at the crime scene stated the suspect was wearing, and the witness who stated she spoke with the suspect did not state he smelled of cologne, nor was he wearing jeans and a polo shirt, but athletic gear. So, how could Pettus be in two places at one time, and in different outfits? The witness from the crime scene also did not identify Pettus, but identified his brother Another African American male sitting in the courtroom did not identify Pettus until he stood up in shackles. (He also did not fit the composite sketch, or the physical description of the assailant given by the witnesses.)

The murder weapon, bloody clothes, and money taken from the crime scene were never found. Police contend that Pettus made it the ½ to ¾ mile from the crime scene to his home, changed out of the bloody clothes before the first neighbor saw him in 4 to 5 minutes, without being seen covered in blood and running, which is impossible. Pettus was also checked for scratches on the 19th, and he had no wounds on his body. The HB police department dusted for prints extensively at the crime scene the day of the crime, and did not find any that belonged to Zachary. However, a few days later they returned and allegedly found a partial print on a place they had dusted extensively the days before, (and the HBPD did not dust anything else when they returned to the crime scene but the one item that no customer should have access to.) They attributed the partial print to Zachary, but it was hotly contested in court and found not to have enough identifying points to belong to Zachary, but still contended by the DA and the HBPD as belonging to Zachary.

Police ignore tip

The police department received a tip that they had the wrong person in custody and that the girl who gave a statement about the case was the actual person who did the crime. The police recorded the tip, but ignored it. They also did not verify Darcy’s story about looking for a job on October 18, like they did for Zachary. Nor did they verify her story on how she found out about the crime even before it was reported, and why she was out of school so early, and why she was not living at home with her mother. As a matter of fact, they just took her story at face value and ran with it, ignoring other evidence and questionable statements made by Darcy Belvin and her mother, whom Darcy did not even live with.

Pettus had no criminal record, not even a jay walking ticket prior to the crime, nor has he received any disciplinary actions in 33 plus years since he has been in custody.  He has always professed his innocence from day one, and has never deviated. Pettus has earned eight degrees, including two doctorates since being in custody. He has also become an ordained minister, and ministers to his fellow inmates and some prison personnel daily. And according to all reports from friends, acquaintances and family who know Zachary, as well as prison staff, he has no violent tendencies. His faith in God is not something that he came into while in prison, for he has always been a religious person, even as a young man before being placed into custody.

Jurors claim being bullied

Furthermore, a couple of jurors admitted in writing they were bullied by other jurors to vote for a guilty verdict, when they were not convinced of his guilt. Newspapers reported several jurors came back into the courtroom to have their verdict read in tears, and the very respected Judge McBride who presided over the trial took the death penalty off the table and gave the other alternative verdict of life without parole. This made the paper call for his head. The judge has always maintained that he believed an innocent man was sent to prison, and to this day his bailiff keeps updated on his wellbeing.

Also, there were several questionable and illegal actions by jurors during the trial, which was documented in the ‘Request for a New Trial,’ which was denied. One juror, whose son delivered papers, brought in an article about a witness in the trial, and shared it with fellow jurors. Another witness went to the crime scene with her husband, during the trial. Another juror was heard to refer to Zachary as “that nigga,” during the trial.  Another juror also heard Darcy Belvin talk about the case in the hallway of the courtroom during the trial. Another juror overheard another witness from the crime scene refer to Zachary as “a nigga that is wasting my time!” Another juror admitted to visiting the crime scene with her husband during the trial, out of control of the court. Zachary’s jury was comprised of one African American male, and 11 White jurors, and held in Westminster, California, less than 7 miles from the crime scene, when most capital murder trials in Orange County are held in Santa Ana.

Three days after Zachary was taken into custody, another young woman was stabbed to death and robbed less than two miles from the Hazboun crime scene. There were no witnesses, nor has it ever been solved.

Evidence ignored

A lot of evidence was ignored by both the defense, prosecution, and the police department. For instant, no-one pulled the bank surveillance tapes for October 19. No one asked the various businesses to verify that Darcy Belvin came in looking for work on October 18, because per police reports every business she said she went too, was not hiring. She didn’t put any applications in, or she states it did not look like they were hiring so she didn’t approach anyone. They did not investigate the tip they received about Zachary being the wrong person, but dismissed it as “someone trying to help the suspect.” There were so many people who identified the other suspect that were more reliable then the witnesses who identified Zachary. Nobody called the other suspect as a witness or explored his alibi. No one examined the timeline to verify that Zachary had the time to commit the crime. So many things were not done properly by all sides in this case. Even the motion for a new trial was erroneous. Milton Grimes should have requested a mistrial based on juror misconduct as there was ample evidence to support that, but a motion for a new trial is granted only when there are procedural issues by the judge and/or prosecution. There were so many witnesses never called or evidence never presented. DNA has never been tested or challenged in this case.

In recent years, in December 2011, Attorney James Crawford of Orange, California, was the court appointed attorney to handle the PC 1405, the DNA motion on behalf of Zachary Pettus. Crawford proved to be an ineffective representative for Zachary. He did not deem it appropriate to read any of the trial transcripts or police evidence, forensics reports, and witness statements that were obtained from the DA’s Office and the HBPD. He did not even read his own reports from his mediocre investigation. (Pettus was told all this from his own investigator.) He wrote the report to the court with erroneous facts, and never disputed any of the District Attorney’s reports. When the judge asked him for more facts and information that would allow him to make a favorable ruling, he gave nothing, thus, forcing the judge to deny the request for DNA testing. Crawford made it known several times to several people that he wasn’t interested in the DNA phase of case, and that he was more interested in preparing the writ of habeas corpus, which he proved in that courtroom in December.

Hope for DNA testing

The NY based Innocence Project has contacted Pettus’ defense team and they have referred Zac's case back to the San Diego Innocence Project.  However, that particular Innocence Project had his case before and dropped the ball on several occasions. They did say after looking through his case is that "the case will take more investigating because the case has holes in it, and that the original case was not properly investigated.  However, they are just law students and do not have the expertise and resources to do the investigation.  After several attempts to get the DNA tested in Zac's case, Zac's case is presently in limbo.  The new California Senate Bill 980, that became effective January 1, 2015, improves access to DNA testing in California gives renewed hope to get the DNA in Zac's case finally tested.  However, we are having a very hard time in getting any straight answers from the Public Defender’s Office, the DA's Office and the various Innocence Projects that backed and pushed for the new bill, on how someone in Zac's position can take advantage of this new bill. Even though knowing that getting answers from the DNA would be only a piece of the puzzle to winning Zac's release, it would be a big step in the right direction.

Points of contention:

  • Nobody pulled the phone records of the victim and/or her husband the day of the crime because the victim’s husband stated in two different police reports that the last time he spoke to his wife that day was around 1:30 p.m., and she was fine when he spoke to her.  This is very important to set up the proper timeline for the murder.
  • Nobody pulled the bank videos for the day of the murder to establish the timeline for the day of the murder/robbery.
  • Nobody pulled the delivery records of a Mister Felix, the UPS delivery driver, for the day of the crime. This is vital to the crime timeline, and could be used to dispute the times of the witness who was confronted by the suspect in the store.
  • Nobody investigated if the witness that came to the store to pay on her layaway the day of the crime left work on time or early, or how long it would take her to drive from work, park and go up to the store.  This would also go a long way in setting the timeline.
  • Nobody investigated the “tip” called into the police station after Zac was arrested, implicating the prosecution witness Darcy Belvin in having something to do with the murder and Pettus being innocent of the crime. 
  • A witness who was a gas station attendant came forward within a few days of the crime and told police he waited on a group of African American males the day of the crime at his business near the crime, right after the crime took place.  The Westminster PD alerted the HBPD soon after the crime was discovered of an African American male driving erratically in Westminster not far from the crime scene, sometime after the crime scene, on the day of the crime.  These “tips” were not shared with the defense until a few days before the case went to the jurors, (several months after the crime took place.)
  • Nobody investigated the inconsistent statements given by Darcy Belvins.  As a matter of fact, Blevins story was never investigated.
  • Nobody investigated the inconsistent statements of Travis Robinson, nor was he called upon to testify.  Robinson is the person the officer identified as being around the crime scene the day of the crime, and is alleged by some witnesses as being involved with Belvins.
  • Why did the police only re-dust the file cabinet in the victim’s office when they came back to dust for prints?  The one item that was not accessible to a customer. This item was dusted the day of the crime, and no prints were found, but the day before they would have had to release Zac because of lack of evidence and they had already had taken his full set of prints, they conveniently find partial palm prints of Zac’s on the corner of the file cabinet, in an office that had the victims dog in it.
  • Why after five extensive searches by the police and the defense, and after extensive furniture rearrangement by Zac’s sister Veronica, did the HBPD return once again, and conveniently find the victims jewelry, with her name on it, in the open in Zac’s room? All of this just in time to keep from releasing Zac because of lack of evidence.
  • Why were all the witnesses who would have put Zac at another location, in different clothing the day of the crime, and around the time the crime took place ignored by the police, the defense and the prosecution?
  • Why did the police, prosecution and the defense ignore the relationship between Zac’s sister, Veronica, and Travis Robinson?  Why did no one not question some of the statements made by Veronica to the police?
  • Why did the police question the young lady that Zac was supposed to be going out with the night of the crime without her mother’s consent, knowledge or presence?  Why did they question her in the presence of Darcy Belvins, who could be heard coaching her on what to say in the background?  (The young lady was a friend of Darcy’s)
  • Why did no one try to discover if there might have been a link between the robbery/stabbing murder of a young lady at the beach less than 3 miles from the crime scene, a few days after the crime happened, and Zac was already in custody.  (This murder remains unsolved as of today.)
  • Why the obvious jury misconduct that happened during the trial never investigated?
  • Why is the Orange County criminal justice system so adamantly against testing the DNA in this case?
  • If the reason for the initial crime was robbery, and Zac “supposedly” stole the victim’s necklaces that were “supposedly” on her the day of the crime, then why did Zac not take the expensive rings on her fingers and her watch?  And why did he not take the $3 lying on the counter in the open?
  • Even though the police arrested Zac the same day of the crime, why has no real evidence surfaced, such as the murder weapon, clothing tied to the crime, blood evidence, items taken from the crime scene, absence of marks found on Zachary even though the victim did fight for her life, and the untested evidence found under her nails? 

Cincinnati Art Museum’s redesigned African art gallery opens December 10

Beverly Davenport. Photo provided

Boot camp Purple Heart

Winter indoor swim lessons make a big splash at Hubbard Family Swim School

A Cincinnati area mother and her infant enjoy their time at Hubbard Family Swim School. Photo provided by Hubbard Family Swim School

Dewitt Battle in uniform in the 1960s. Photos provided


Ohio off top 10 list

Dr. Marilyn Gaston, MD, recently spoke about her career at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Photo provided

By Dan Yount

The Cincinnati Herald

     Anthony Carr of Cincinnati was one of the last stateside veterans to receive the Purple Heart, a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those wounded or killed while serving with the U.S. military.

“A year later in 1973 after Carr was awarded the Purple Heart, Armed Forces regulations were changed eliminating the awarding of the medal to service personnel wounded or injured in the states.

What makes Pvt. Carr’s award more interesting is that he made it no further than boot camp before being honorably discharged for medical reasons, and that he had been court-martialed just prior to being sent home.

 Carr received a Purple Heart for a boot camp incident that left him with medical complications, which still plague him 44 years later.

Carr, who was a 16-year-old boot camp recruit serving at the Camp Pendleton, San Diego, Marine Corps Recruiting Depot in April 1972, was near completion of his 90-day training. However, during one of the final training exercises he was knocked out by pugle sticks while sparing with another recruit in a sandy area. While he was in the sand, he was bitten on his left ankle by an unknown insect, which resulted in him having cellulitis, which he still suffers from today in both feet. He spent three days in the base infirmary, and was released to return to duty.

        Cellulitis is a common, potentially serious bacterial skin infection that appears as a swollen, red area of skin that feels hot and tender, according to a Mayo Clinic definition.

     That was not the end of Carr’s boot camp medical issues. While he and a fellow marine were cutting grass at the adjacent Navy shipyard as part of their duties, he was sprayed with herbicides known as Agent Orange, which was kept on the site, by the other marine who was “playing around’’ with him. The solution soaked his uniform on the left side of his body, resulting in him now suffering from anemia, cognitional heart failure, and arthritis in both hands.

      Agent Orange was used during the Vietnam War era to defoliate the jungles of Vietnam, with numerous Vietnam vets returning to the States with lasting medical complications from being exposed to the herbicide.

       On July 7, 1972, Carr had to return to the dispensary for further recuperation. That same day, while in the dispensary, he was visited by two officers who graduated him after successfully completing boot camp while he was lying in bed. A Lt. Donovan of the Third Battalion 3041 was present with another officer, he said. They presented him with the Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, and a Marksmanship Medal.

Carr said that at the time he had never heard of The Purple Heart, and really did not understand the significance of the medal. When he received the Purple Heart recommendation, he said to himself, “What is that?’’ He explained, “After all, I was just a 16-year-old kid from the streets of Cincinnati who had lied about my age so I could join the Marines and get away from those streets.’’

      Within 30 minutes, Carr had another visitor, who, this time, had some bad news.

      His drill sergeant walked in the room and told Carr he understood he had received The Purple Heart, that he should not have received it, and he was going to send his “Black ass’’ to prison.

     Sure enough, on the tenth day he was in the dispensary, base MPs came and took him to a military court martial. He had been charged with AWOL, for reasons still unknown, and given 30 days hard labor, with 21 of those days suspended. He was in correctional custody prison for 5 days and released after his mother called base officials and notified them he was underage, and had fraudulently enlisted to get away from Cincinnati. He was processed and released with an honorable discharge August 29, 1972.

        Carr, now age 62, said he will always remember that “White, skinny, prejudiced, tall’’ drill sergeant, who prominently left a lifelong knot on his forehead after hitting him with a rifle butt during drills on the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot in front of 50 other men.

         The drill sergeant had one more trick up his sleeve, Carr said. Police at the San Diego airport on his trip back home stopped Carr for having an ounce of Marijuana in his duffle bag. “I had been set up by that envious drill sergeant, But the airport police, after looking at my documents and discovering I was only 16, released me so I could catch my flight home,’’ he said.

     Back in Cincinnati, other problems faced Carr. His mother was having medical problems, he had two sisters to care for, and he was unemployed. His father had died while serving in the Army in Germany.

     There were other complications. He had met his future bride, but when they went to the City Hall to obtain their marriage license, his birth certificate had his mother’s maiden name on it because his parents were married after he was born on May 25, 1956. He has officially used his mother’s last name of Carr since birth, and that was the name that was accepted by the U.S. Marine Corps.

       The Marines Corps sent him home as Anthony Carr, aka Anthony Clark. Ohio officials refused to honor the name Carr, so he was forced to use his mother’s married name in his marriage of 42 year to Barbara Clark. In 2016 he was finally able to convince Ohio officials through his service records that he was discharged from the Marines as Anthony Carr, not Anthony Clark. This had caused him difficulty in obtaining VA medical services.

     VA Goodwill has given him the first opportunity in finding a place to live, and is helping his publish his life story.

    He and his wife Barbara have been married 42 years and raised their nine children “like Marines,’’ Carr said. He has been doing odd jobs, and lawn care for 44 years.

His health is failing, but he has received medical attention “thanks to Dr. Keith Melvin who took it upon himself to help me through this trying process. We need more like him, and like the people at VA Goodwill on Reading Road. The VA Hospital in Cincinnati provides some treatment. He is receiving disability from Ohio, but needs for his disability situation to be service connected so he can start drawing his full benefits.

 He has written a book about his life and is looking for a publisher for it.

Zachary F. Pettus. Photos provided

UC Health hosted a special MLK performance featuring the Rockdale Academy Choir and special performer, Principal Belinda Tubbs Wallace, it also included Pastor Ennis Tait of Church of the Living God providing the invocation and benediction. Judge Fanon Rucker was the keynote speaker. Provided

UC Interim President Beverly Davenport selected as UT Knoxville chancellor

Submitted by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

Thirty years ago, Marilyn Gaston, MD, published a landmark study proving the effectiveness of penicillin in extending the lives of children with sickle cell disease. At a recent symposium that was held at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center that outlined the past, present and future of research and treatment for the disease, Gaston clearly showed she hasn't lost her passion for helping children.  

Gaston first became interested about sickle cell disease as an intern. “I was working in the ED when a little kid came in with a swollen hand,” she recalls. “I suspected abuse and decided to admit the child. Of course, this put the parents under suspicion. A second-year resident told me to look at the child’s blood smear. I did. It was sickle cell. I felt so terrible that I had made the wrong call. I wanted to learn everything I could then about sickle cell disease.” 

Her drive led her to establish the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center at Cincinnati Children’s in 1973—with the help of Cathryn Buford, co-founder of the Sickle Cell Awareness Group, and Alvin Mauer, MD, director, hematology. It was one of the first 10 sickle cell centers the NIH funded in the U.S.  

Gaston’s biggest contributions to the fight against sickle cell disease are: 

  • Her program to evaluate cord blood to detect sickle cell disease in infants. Early detection was the key to survival, since many babies with sickle cell disease are prone to contracting overwhelming bacterial infections, leading to rapid and often fatal septic shock. Gaston pushed for mandatory screening for sickle cell disease and sickle cell trait.

  • The double-blind study she conducted helped push the expected lifespan of patients with sickle cell from 19 years of age to 40+ years. She gave oral penicillin daily one group of patients, compared to a control group, which received a placebo. There were three deaths in the placebo group and none in the study group. The study group also saw an 85-percent reduction of pneumococcus-related complications.

Gaston has distinguished herself as the first African American woman to direct a public health service bureau. She also served as assistant surgeon general and rear admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service. But even as she received several standing ovations from Cincinnati Children's and University of Cincinnati staff, she was quick to share the praise.  

“Nobody does anything by themselves,” she said. “All of the training I received right here at home prepared me for the challenges I faced. And all of the things I’ve accomplished are because of the help I received from everyone else. We can’t lose sight of the importance of what patients and families teach us. And please, don’t lose sight of how important you are to the work we still have to do.”

Dewitt Battle today recalls his Vietnam War experience. Herald photo

Bernard LaFayette Jr. wins Gandhi Award

By Lila Baltman,

Public Relations Director for Hubbard Family Swim School

The winter months will soon be upon us and the temperature outside will be getting cold, however, inside at the Hubbard Family Swim School in Cincinnati, the temperature of the heated, indoor swimming pool is 90 degrees all year long and a growing number of parents are signing their babies and children up for weekly swim lessons.

“Winter is a great time to enroll children in swim lessons because it gets them all prepared and ready for safe swimming this summer when they’ll want to spend a lot of time swimming outdoors with their family and friends,” says John LaGrange, general manager of the Hubbard Family Swim School, located inside the Kids First Sports Complex. “Swim lessons during the winter are not only terrific exercise and a lot of fun, but we also want to make sure that children learn how to swim and are always safe around water. Our basic philosophy is this: Children everywhere must learn how to swim. Learning to swim should not be a choice.”

Children who learn how to swim are also demonstrating more advanced cognitive and physical abilities than other children, according to world-leading research led by Griffith University in Australia. Their 2013 findings of a four-year study indicate that swimming children have an advantage when starting school. Swimming children scored significantly better than the normal population on a number of measures that are really important for their transition to school - their cognitive development, language development, and their physical development. The study surveyed 7,000 parents from Australia, New Zealand and the U.S., over three years, as well as individually assessing 180 children.

The study showed that children’s fine motor skills and overall coordination were more developed as a result of taking swim lessons and it showed that children who start lessons early were more socially and emotionally ready to start school.

Hubbard Family Swim School offers lessons seven days a week to children 8 weeks to 12 years of age. There are even free “baby splash” swim classes for babies 8 weeks to 5 months of age. Parent participation in the water is required. These fun-filled, 30-minute water acclimation classes give parents or caregivers a chance to learn excellent tips on how to enjoy tub time at home with baby and also learn how to prepare baby for swim lessons. There are several different baby splash class times offered throughout the week. Advanced registration is required.

“Our popular baby splash classes give parents - especially dads - an excellent way to spend quality time with their babies in the water,” adds LaGrange. “Their swim class together is wonderful bonding time and then after the class, the babies always enjoy a nice, long nap.”

Hubbard Family Swim School inside the Kids First Sports Complex is at 7900 E. Kemper Road, Cincinnati. To register for a class, call (513) 530-0123. For more information, visit 

New effort being made to free Cincinnatian held in California prison

By Herald Contributor

UC Health and University of Cincinnati College of Medicine remembered the life and legacy of Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with speeches, song and dance during a special ceremony Friday, Jan. 13, in Kresge Auditorium.

         The Honorable Fanon Rucker, a municipal judge serving Hamilton County since 2007 and a UC College of Law alumnus, presented a keynote address for the event, which included welcoming remarks from William Ball, MD, dean of the College of Medicine, and a videotaped presentation from Richard Lofgren, MD, president and CEO of UC Health.  

         Dolores Lindsay, president and CEO of the Healthcare Connection, was presented a Humanitarian Award while special recognition was also offered to the Baptist Ministers Conference of Cincinnati for its social justice work. Choirs from Rockdale Academy and UC African-American Cultural and Resource Center presented musical and dance tributes honoring Dr. King.

         Dean Ball said we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through a holiday but the issues that he called attention to take no holiday.

         "One of his most notable quotes was about health care,” said Ball. "He indicated that in all forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane considering the full purpose of healthcare is to help our fellow man. We recognize we have much to do today. Health care disparities still exist. We can’t turn our back on them. We can’t act as if it doesn’t exist, but we also have to recognize that the responsibility in correcting health care disparities doesn’t just lay with the person on your left and your right. It falls squarely in your lap as well, all of us working together make the difference that Dr. King sought.  

         "The difference that he made in all our lives placed in us the recognition that we also have the capabilities to make change. As we go through the discourse and problems of our health care we have to recognize that health care is a right that every American, that everyone in the world has a right to good health care and that we have the capacity to be able to make that difference and that change. I hope this is not only a celebration of Dr. King but a renewed call to action. This is our responsibility and our legacy as a nation, as a community is in fact to seek out those disparities and eliminate them.”

         The keynote by Rucker echoed similar themes, as he recounted the circumstances for King’s imprisonment which produced his famed "Letter from Birmingham Jail” written in April 1963. The now-celebrated document shows King’s frustrations after the Civil Rights leader and his associates including the Rev. Ralph Abernathy and the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth led a Good Friday demonstration against racial segregation and discrimination in Birmingham, Alabama, despite a court order barring the non-violent protests. Shuttlesworth has a Cincinnati tie, moving from Alabama to the Queen City in the early 1960s to continue his work for social justice and pastor Revelation Baptist Church in Over-the-Rhine and later Greater Light Baptist Church in Avondale.

         "Why did he ignore this law?” asks Rucker of King.

         King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference were having some success in the South fighting segregation through of sit-ins, boycotts and marches, explained Rucker. The opposition looked for a way to stop this momentum since threats weren’t doing the job. They sought to convince the local judiciary to intervene with a court order to stop the march.

         "This part of lecture always causes me to reflect on my position as a judge and it raises to me the question, if I were a judge in 1963 and notwithstanding the relationships and progress we have seen in our courts in the past 50 years, if I had been one of those judges and some of the local officials had come into my chambers and said, ‘We have got these agitators, these folks coming in and they are going to disrupt this place, we need you to issue an order preventing them from marching.’ 

"I want to believe that I would say immediately, ‘I don’t play those games.’ But I have to reflect on what exactly I would have done in that same situation. It’s also a point of consideration for each of us,” said Rucker.

         The judge in Birmingham barred the march just two days before it was scheduled to occur.

         "Instead of breaking the strength of the Civil Rights Movement, the organizers met at a church and the marchers were told what was going on and they were told we need to march and to disregard this order,” said Rucker. "They marched in violation of a court order. They were arrested. While in jail being roughed up and abused and laying on that concert slab jail cell floor, someone passed Dr. King some writing materials and an editorial about Dr. King and the marchers.”

         "The editorial was from a group of local White religious leaders saying Dr. King and these out of town folks were agitators and disruptive to the good peace loving people in Birmingham,” said Rucker. "So, Dr. King started writing, and he wrote a lot.”

         Rucker asked his audience to read King’s letter in its entirety, but also suggested three takeaways for his listeners. The first is to acknowledge the value of reading reflection, especially during an age of technology, explained Rucker. 

         "Even though he had no books and no essays to quote, Dr. King’s reflexive memory of those pieces he read before he was in jail were able to provide context and depth to his greater experience and the words that he wrote while he was there.”

         Another lesson is for us to be aware of ability to impact to a significant degree the present and future lives of those around us and some we many never meet, explained Rucker. "It’s an obvious declaration but one accentuated by the fact today we are celebrating MLK for all that he did, but also for Dolores Lindsay of Cincinnati, who impacted countless number of citizens she will never come into contact with.”

         Lindsay’s leadership of the Healthcare Connection helped bring health care to thousands of Tristate residents in Lincoln Heights, Mount Healthy and Forest Park, with the establishment of family health centers.

"Find a cause to be passionate about and labor in that position,” said Rucker. "You never know what fruit that seeds will bear in the future. If it means something to you it will be worth it.”

         Finally, Rucker said Dr. King’s struggles, even his incarceration, proved that temporary roadblocks do not have to become permanent obstructions.

         "What if Rev. King. Rev. Shuttlesworth and Dr. Abernathy had thrown up their hands and given up when that local judge had said don’t march. There would not be ‘A Letter from a Birmingham Jail’ for us to reflect on today. What if my high school guidance counselor, who told me I shouldn’t waste my time going to college, caused me not to go to college or law school?

         "What if when Mrs. Lindsay was told, ‘You want a health system in Lincoln Heights it will never work,’ and she had thrown up her hands and gave up? What if when this young Black senator out of Chicago was told to forget his intentions to run for the most powerful and influential position in the world and had abandoned his plans, and he was told repeatedly, ‘You want to do what?…It will never happen,’” said Rucker, referring to President Barack Obama.         "What if in your own life when you encounter a roadblock, a temporary setback, an obstruction you let it keep you from achieving something incredibly important to you and others who could have benefited from it?” said Rucker. "Aren’t you glad temporary roadblocks don’t have to be permanent ones?”

CERESAV (The Center for Rehabilitation of Survivors of Acid and Burns Violence) founder Hanifa Nakiryowa, at left, and Angie Vredeveld of Acid Survivor Network based in Cincinnati, meet with Bert Lockwood, the Distinguished Service Professor and Director of the renowned Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights at the University of Cincinnati, during Nakiryowa’s visit to Cincinnati. Nakiryowa is confronting acid violence in her native country of Uganda.

Bernard LaFayette Jr. Photos provided


Cover of LaFayette’s book

By Marianne Kunnen-Jones

University of Cincinnati Interim President Beverly J. Davenport has been selected by the University of Tennessee (UT) System President Joe DiPietro to serve as the 8th Chancellor of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, the state's flagship campus. 

DiPietro’s recommendation of Davenport's appointment will be presented to the UT Board of Trustees at a special meeting Thursday, Dec. 15. Her appointment will make her the first female to lead the Knoxville campus. Pending the Board of Trustees’ approval, she will begin at UT Knoxville March 1, 2017.
"I’m so very grateful for the privilege of serving as the University of Cincinnati’s interim president and provost. I have grown to love this institution, this city, and the many colleagues and friends I have come to know,” said Davenport. “Because of my experience here, I have the opportunity of a lifetime to serve as the next chancellor of the University of Tennessee's flagship campus. I am inspired by their confidence in my abilities to help them reach their goal of becoming a top-tier public research university. I also look forward to the chance to be closer to family.”

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I want to congratulate Dr. Davenport on her appointment as the 8th Chancellor of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. I also want to extend our heartfelt thanks for her countless contributions to the University of Cincinnati, first as provost and now as interim president,” said Robert E. Richardson Jr., Chair of the UC Board of Trustees. “From faculty hiring to student success to inclusive excellence, Dr. Davenport has positioned UC extremely well for our next century of success.”

Davenport was appointed by the UC Board of Trustees to serve as interim president beginning July 15. Prior to that, Davenport served as UC’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost since July 2013. 

As an experienced administrator, accomplished scholar and award-winning teacher, Davenport had previously served as vice provost for faculty affairs at Purdue, dean of social sciences at the University of Kansas and chair of the Department of Communication at the University of Kentucky. She also served as a Distinguished Visiting Scholar in Melbourne, Australia.
At UC, Davenport collaborated with the university’s senior leadership, faculty, staff and students to advance the university’s goals outlined in its Creating Our Third Century plan: investing in faculty and staff, reimagining the student experience, leveraging research and excelling in eLearning. 

Under her leadership, UC has enjoyed rising retention and graduation rates as well as record-setting enrollment for four consecutive years with the total number of students now standing at over 44,300. UC has provided 34 percent of the increase in undergraduate and master’s degrees awarded by public universities and colleges in the state of Ohio in the last five years.

Davenport’s UC tenure also has been marked by aggressive faculty recruitment initiatives she launched, including a $60 million Cluster Hiring Initiative, a Strategic Hiring Opportunity Program and a Dual Career Assistance Program that has significantly increased the number of women and underrepresented minority faculty hired. The number of female faculty hired has nearly doubled since she came to the university. Another recent innovation she started is UC’s new Urban Futures Cluster hiring initiative, designed to recruit faculty whose research, teaching and scholarship focuses on opportunities and challenges facing urban areas.

Davenport also has increased UC’s international engagement with faculty and student partnerships while doubling the number of students who study abroad. She has invested in mental health counseling, student services, eLearning and access and opportunity programs including the formation of the UC Summer Scholars Academy, a summer residential program for Hughes STEM High School students. She championed a Textbook Affordability Initiative, which has gained statewide attention and saved students $1.9 million in its first year.

She also has increased investments in equity and inclusion and worked to bring branding alignment among the university and its major affiliates, including UC Health and the UC Foundation. 

Davenport has teamed with UC Athletics Director Mike Bohn to use mobile technology to improve student-athletes’ study habits and their access to study materials while traveling. These programs have resulted in record improvements in athletes’ academic performance.    Davenport and Bohn have also worked in partnership to use athletic facilities for innovative classroom spaces, such as the newly renovated Nippert Stadium and the planned improvements at Fifth Third Arena.

She also brought together the oldest co-op program in the world with the university’s Career Development Center to reimagine experiential education for the 21st century in a merged unit called the Division of Experience-Based Learning and Career Education.

Carolyn Mitchell-O’Bryant assembles products in the paper and tape room at the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CABVI). Photo provided

AAA offers 13 tips for a safe new year

By Dan Yount

The Cincinnati Herald

Carolyn Mitchell-O’Bryant of Cincinnati has not let her vision impairment limit her. She is recognized nationally for her work at the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CABVI). She has become an advocate for people who are visually impaired. Outside of work, Carolyn performs with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. She was also the first person who is blind to operate a TV camera in Cincinnati.

Mitchell-O’Bryant says vision loss can be experienced by anyone, and when it occurs those people need help. “The people come to CABVI from all over, including a former Air Force One pilot. We all help each other here. What makes a difference is we cannot allow our impairment to define us.’’

Carolyn was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP)—a progressive, inherited eye disease—31 years ago when she was expecting her first child, Tiron. The eye disease progressed for seven years until she was declared legally blind in November 1991, a month before she had her second child, Briana. She immediately struggled to find work.

Employer after employer thought her blindness made her unemployable, but Carolyn was determined.

      However, she did find work. Carolyn worked for McDonald’s in their McJobs program. She also worked as a telephone receptionist for the Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. She was employed with the National Conference for Community and Justice with the Police Living Camp.

      Finally, Carolyn found a home at Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CABVI) in 2008 as a utility person in the Industries Program. She learned different positions in the paper and tape room and in the dining packets and kitchen gadgets assembly area. Now she works on assembly lines that manufacture products such as logo tapes and inflight dining packages.  

      CABVI Development Specialist Patsy Baughn said the agency provides as many jobs as possible for as many people who are visually as possible, and in the process provides clients with as many skill sets as possible.

Through the years, Mitchell-O’Bryant has received many of CABVI’s services, including orientation and mobility training, vision rehabilitation therapy, access technology consultations, training on safe travel with a white cane, daily living skills, and adaptive technology training.

Because of her excellent work, CABVI recognized Mitchell-O’Bryant as the Employee of the Year in 2015 based on her quality of work, productivity, attitude, personal background, accomplishments and career goals. She was also a nominee for a national Employee of the Year award from National Industries for the Blind (NIB), the nation’s largest employment resource for people who are blind.

      “I am working with some of the most beautiful people at CABVI,’’ Carolyn said. “People here love what they do and love working with each other.’’

Carolyn is known for singing on the assembly line while she works. In her spare time, she performs with the Cincinnati Urban League Mass Choir, and she has even performed with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s Classical Roots group, where she sang with Pastor Marvin Winans and rapper Common. Interestingly, she and Winans sang a duet titled “O Lord, I Want You to Help Me.’’ She is a member of the Mass Choir at Revelation Missionary Baptist Church. She is a founding member of the multi-media ministry at the church.

Carolyn says she tells others dealing with vision loss to not give up on their dreams. “A lot of people who have vision loss become successful lawyers, teachers, social workers, and even chief executive officers of companies. You can do almost anything within reason with impaired vision.’’

Baughn added that when a person loses one of his or her senses, such as vision, the other senses become more focused and tend to compensate for that loss. “Yes, vision is the most important sense, but a person can continue to function well if that sense becomes impaired,’’ she said. “When people find out they have eye disease, they are devastated. But although you may lose a limb or your sight, life has a purpose for each of us. You just have to come to grips with the issue, and we have social workers and counselors here to help you. We have people here who teach clients how to walk with a cane, how to use their cell phone, how to access other technology, how to travel safely, how to cook and label foods, how to learn braille, and numerous other things. Talking books are also available. We do not believe in placing limitations on our clients. Rather, we want to teach them how to become more involved in society.’’

The clients at CABVI are happy about having a place to work and learning how to adapt, she said. “We are all in this together.’’

Baughn added that “People love this agency, and Carolyn is just one example of the success that people experience here.”

As an advocate for disabilities since 1997, Mitchell-O’Bryant has received a Community Service Award from the U.S. Senate and a volunteer award from Cincinnati City Cable, where she volunteered as program director for the City Cable television show “INFOCUS.” She is a board member at the Center for Independent Living Options.

She and other employees and staff members of CABVI participated in the NIB Public Policy Forum in Washington, D.C., in April 2015. In May 2016 CABVI again attended the NIB Public Policy Forum with CABVI employees Dave Perry and Steve Ogletree. This event allows employees to educate elected officials on Capitol Hill about important issues affecting people who are blind or visually impaired.

       “Carolyn doesn’t believe in putting limits on success. She’s an excellent example of how people who are blind can accomplish anything when given the opportunity,” said CABVI Chief Executive Officer John Mitchell.

“Carolyn has a very warm personality, and is truly dedicated to her work and how she can improve life for people who are blind,’’ Mitchell said.

By: Jenifer Moore

While it’s impossible to predict exactly when a disaster may strike, taking time to plan ahead can help your family prepare for the unexpected, and help ensure their safety in the car or at home.

“When disaster strikes, there’s often little time to react or prepare,” says Cheryl Parker, Director of Public and Government Affairs for AAA. “Putting a disaster plan in place ahead of time – and making sure everyone in the household is familiar with it – is the best way to prepare for an emergency situation.”

Top 13 Tips to Create a Disaster Preparedness Plan

  • Prepare Emergency Kits. Emergency kits for autos and home should include a three-day supply of water and nonperishable food for each family member, as well as a flashlight, hand-crank or battery-powered radio, batteries, extra cash, cell phone with extra battery and charger, first-aid supplies, critical medications and basic personal hygiene products. Also useful for a car kit are local maps, blankets, shoes, flares and a basic toolkit.

  • Practice First Aid. Learning CPR and emergency first aid can save the life of family member or friend.

  • Find Commute Options. Consider how different types of natural disasters might affect your commute, and determine alternative routes or forms of transportation to get home. Keep a list of bus, ferry, and train routes.

  • Map It. If you live in an area that’s prone to fires or flooding, map out several evacuation routes from your home and neighborhood.

  • Be School Smart. If you have young children and can’t retrieve them from school, be aware of school emergency procedures, and understand what authorization is required for them to be released to someone other than you.

  • Meet Up. Consider where family members might be during a disaster, how they would get to a safe place, and how you will communicate with each other. Agree upon on a predetermined meeting place should you and your family members are unable to return home and communications systems are down.

  • Make Contacts. Designate out-of-state contacts and program their phone numbers into all cell phones as “ICE” – this stands for “In Case of Emergency” and rescue workers are trained to look for it. Attach a luggage tag with your ICE numbers to young children’s backpacks.

  • Plan for Pets. Make pets a part of your plan by creating a pet emergency kit including pet food, toys, and a leash. If you are unable to evacuate with your pet, a pet rescue sticker affixed to a front window can alert rescuers that your pet may be trapped inside. Identify pet-friendly accommodations since pets are not always allowed in emergency shelters. Also consider microchipping pets, so they can be easily identified if you’re separated.

  • Assign Tasks. Create a chart of important emergency-related tasks – notifying family members, managing supplies, handling pets, monitoring emergency broadcasts, etc. – and assign each one to a household member.

  • Take Cover. If there is no time to evacuate, you may need to shelter in place, so it’s important to identify these locations ahead of time. Depending upon the disaster, this could be a storm cellar or basement, or lower room without windows, or even under a large, strong table.

  • Make an Inventory. Document your possessions on paper or with a video camera or smartphone. Note the replacement costs for your most valuable items, then talk to your insurance agent or insurance customer service to be sure you have the right coverage.

  • Review Your Plan. Review the written plan every six months, and keep it stored in a paper file, as well as on the computer desktops and smart phones of the members of your household.

  • Check Your Coverage. Find out if your insurance policy covers the types of disaster-related damages that could impact your neighborhood. Standard home insurance policies do not provide coverage for floods. For example, melting snow and ice that seeps into a home from the ground up is not covered by standard homeowner’s insurance because it is considered flooding. 

To find out more visit

To find out more about auto, homeowners, condo, or renters insurance, contact your AAA agent, call (866) AAA-4YOU or visit to see what discounts you may be eligible for and what type of coverage you might need. 

The reinstallation of the Cincinnati Art Museum’s permanent collection of African art will be unveiled on December 10. African artifacts, including masks worn by ritual performers, the tools of healers, objects of status used by community leaders, textiles and other decorative items used in the home, will go on view, some for the first time.

The new African art gallery includes an updated exhibition design and layout for visitors to experience these pieces through the lens of thematic groupings, revealing a cultural and historical context. The new location, in Gallery 103, on the first floor near the Rosenthal Education Center (REC), allows easy access for visitors.

Cincinnati Art Museum’s African art collection has a rich history that started in 1889, just three years after the museum opened its doors, with an exhibition featuring artwork collected by Carl Steckelmann.

The Steckelmann collection of nearly 1,300 objects was purchased in 1890, making the Cincinnati Art Museum one of the first to acquire a major collection of African art.

The museum has continued to expand its African art collection over the years with the help of donors and patrons, widening its geographic reach beyond central and western Africa—the areas most traveled by Steckelmann.

Cincinnati Art Museum Chief Curator Cynthia Amnéus led the reinstallation.

“We are very excited to reintroduce our African collection reinstalled in a new gallery with a new interpretation,” said Amnéus. “The museum has an important and historical connection to African art in the Carl Steckelmann collection. Accompanied by other important pieces, this gallery will bring African art to life and make it relevant for all ages."

Carl Steckelmann was a German American from Indiana who acquired an extensive collection of art and ethnographic materials while working for an English trading company along the coast of equatorial and central Africa in the 1880s and 1890s. His 1889 exhibition at the Cincinnati Art Museum was well-received by the public, prompting the museum’s director at the time, Alfred Goshorn, to raise funds to purchase the collection with the support of other museum patrons. The Steckelmann collection was purchased in 1890, making the Cincinnati Art Museum one of the first to acquire a major collection of African art.