Allyn Farach

Small Florida Town Comes Together To Clean Up Inactive Black Cemetery

Hobe Sound, FL is a sleepy town in Martin County where people work, play, and enjoy a quiet life.

But for over twenty years, the people of Hobe Sound lived alongside an important piece of history that they little about: an inactive cemetery hosting over twenty graves.

Down Kingsley Road, what’s informally known as Gomez Cemetery rests quietly alongside a small neighborhood.

The cemetery was part of the Allen Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church, and resided in Hobe Sound in 1910 and closed in 1991.

Captain Lloyd Jones, a retired captain of the Martin County Sheriff’s Department, has a personal connection with the cemetery.

“My father, Isiah Jones, is interred in the cemetery, and as a boy, I grew up in the same church where he attended and my mother attended,” Jones said in an interview with RISE NEWS.

The church resided in Hobe Sound until it burned down in 1992, according to a Palm Beach Post article from that time.

The church itself relocated to Jacksonville afterwards, but the cemetery stayed.

“I think at that point in time, when the church services ceased, I think that began the time when the deterioration of the cemetery began,” Jones said.

A grave at Gomez Cemetery in Hobe Sound, FL. Photo Credit: Kevin Boldenow

Black cemeteries have been historically subject to both the ravages of time and people, and Gomez Cemetery is no exception.

Photos dating back to 2007 show the graveyard surrounded by weeds and brambles, and registers display the various states of damage that some of the headstones and graves are in.

“There’s people out there,” Boldenow said. “You just don’t want to see them not have their proper respects.”

“It’s a really sad thing if you’re hearing this about other cemeteries around the country and around the state as well, but I don’t know if any of them have been in this type of disrepair,” Kevin Boldenow, a photographer who concentrates on disappearing Florida landmarks.

A local showed Boldenow Gomez Cemetery, and he took some pictures of the cemetery before an initial cleanup and posted them on social media to encourage people to become involved in Gomez Cemetery’s restoration.

Photo Credit: Allyn Farach

“There’s people out there,” Boldenow said. “You just don’t want to see them not have their proper respects.”

Regarding attempts to preserve the cemetery, Boldenow explained, “Cemeteries, they’re walking museums, they tell stories. If we let them go, if we neglect it like we have been, those stories disappear.” 

There is engagement in the restoration of the cemetery.

Pastor James Gibbons of the AME South Conference has also been involved in the cemetery’s renovation.

“There [is] other work that we also handle as conference trustees, entrusted by the Church to assert that all properties of the AME church is safeguarded and taken care of as much as possible,” Gibbons said in a phone interview.

Gomez Cemetery falls under the jurisdiction of the 11th District African Methodist Episcopal South Conference, which extends from Fort Pierce to Key West.

As a member of the Conference, Gibbons volunteered to be the coordinator of Gomez Cemetery’s cleanup.

Photo Credit: Kevin Boldenow

In Gibbons’ case, this involves working with local organizations like Keep Martin Beautiful and organizing the cleanup.

For the folks who have worked hard to cleanup the long forgotten cemetery, they do it out of duty as Rev. Patricia Wallace, vice chair of the Board of Trustees of the AME South Conference explained in a phone interview.

“We are happy to be working with Martin County and its other partners as we do the cleanup and restoration of the Gomez Cemetery property,” Wallace said. “We take pride in the work that we do on behalf of the AME church. It is our responsibility, it’s given to protect and take care of our properties, as entrusted into the hands of others on behalf of the AME church.”

Jones, the retired captain from the Martin County Sheriff’s Department vast connections around Martin County enabled him to help in the cemetery’s restoration.

There are ways that other people can help.

Call 782-781-1222 or email [email protected] to find out how to help with the cleanup of Gomez Cemetery.

Cover Photo Credit: Kevin Boldenow

Why Are There So Few Minority Characters In YA Books?

Representation in all walks of life has been in the spotlight recently. And one area that is full of controversy is what young people are exposed to in books that often help inform them during some of the most important years of their lives.

A study by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center of the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that out of the 3,400 books that they received for 2015, 106 were by Black authors and 269 were about Black characters, and 58 were by Latino authors and 82 were about Latino characters.

Malinda Lo, a YA novelist, has been following the uptick in LGBT+ YA.

According to Lo, “In 2014, mainstream publishers published 47 LGBT YA books. This is a 59% increase from 2013, when only 29 LGBT YA books were published by mainstream publishers.”

Yes, these statistics look optimistic, but they are still not what they should be.

So what is the damage done when proper representation can’t be ascertained?

All groups suffer because such lack of representation fails to encapsulate the differences between different people; essentially, one person is not the whole.

“I think the tendency has been to reduce Latino characters as this one thing or Asian characters as this one thing, Muslim characters as one thing, and the fact is that we’re people,” Meg Medina, a Cuban-American writer of YA books and an Advisory Chair for the group We Need Diverse Books, said in a interview with RISE NEWS. “And all of those very specific identifiers and experiences shape how we move. It’s what makes us people.”

Meg Medina, a well known Cuban-American YA author. Photo Credit: Meg Medina/ Facebook.

Meg Medina, a well known Cuban-American YA author. Photo Credit: Meg Medina/ Facebook.

Read More: #IfMenHadPeriods Is Well Intentioned But Also Very Flawed

The effects of poor representation of minority groups are not limited to people of color.

Alex Gino uses the singular they pronoun and wrote George, a YA book about a trans girl that won the 2016 Stonewall Book Award.

“It’s important to remember that each trans experience is unique and different the way that each cis experience, the way that each trans experience, the way that each gay or queer experience is unique,” Gino said in an interview with RISE NEWS. “And so I wouldn’t even say that one trans story can cover it, or one gay story would cover it. There’s nothing quite like finding someone like yourself in a book.”

Leaps and bounds have been made in representation, however, despite this work, there are still advances to be made.

For example, Lo estimated that 1.9% to 2.4% of YA books published in 2013 had LGBT+ characters or dealt with LGBT+ issues.

YA author Alex Gino at a book signing in 2015. Photo Credit: Alex Gino/Facebook

YA author Alex Gino at a book signing in 2015. Photo Credit: Alex Gino/Facebook

“There is a lot of work to be done. I think that we only started to drill down into the many experiences that make up being a young person,” Medina said. “I think there are lots of questions in publishing now, like who’s writing these stories? Are they authentic, are they not authentic, are they written from sort of an outsider point of view, people imagining what it’s like to be x y or z, are they generally writers of color? I think when we have many people at the table with many points of view, the books that get published are richer, are more nuanced, are truer stories of real peoples’ lives.”

Gino seemed to agree with that sentiment.

“I think that we are scratching the surface of the stories that are available to be told, and the stories that are available to read,” Gino said. “I think that we need more books by diverse people and we also need more diverse groups of people publishing the books, so that stories that are being picked have more things to offer.”

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Amber McKinney/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

You Can Still Help The Victims Of The Orlando Shooting

On June 12th, 2016, a man entered a gay bar called Pulse and started firing, killing 49 people.
The response was almost immediate, with people stepping up to donate blood, money, and time to the cause.
You can still help even as the event falls farther out of the headlines.
There are various charities and blood donation centers, but what do they need now?
One response was from Pulse itself.
The club’s website was replaced with a page directing people to a PayPal set up for the employees, who aren’t working while the club is closed.
“For those of you wanting to help the staff, the Pulse Employee Recovery Fund provides assistance to employees who have been affected by this tragedy and will continue to have monetary needs during our time of recovery. All money goes directly to the Pulse employees to assist with their daily needs while they are out of work.” the page reads. Sara Brady, the spokesperson for Pulse, elaborated “…(The employees) can’t work because (the) club isn’t open. They are also emotionally traumatized which will impact their ability to get new jobs…they need to heal.”
Another way that people have been looking to help is with blood donations.
Shortly after the shooting, people were lining up at OneBlood buildings donate blood, food, and time.
Pat Michaels, spokesperson at OneBlood says that the best way that people can help is to schedule.
“Keeping the appointments are the thing that we’re asking people to do: to make the appointment and to keep the appointment going in the future,” Michaels said in an interview with RISE NEWS. “It does help us keep things even and not have a lot of people waiting for a long period of time. In the initial hours after the tragedy in Orlando, we had people standing in line for hours, waiting to donate blood.”
Calling ahead or scheduling an appointment online ensures that the process goes smoother and faster.
Michaels also asks that people continue to donate and volunteer regularly.
Blood has a short shelf life and needs to be replenished regularly.
“But certainly, the thing that we want people to do if you’re eligible to donate blood is to make the commitment to do this going forward,” Michaels said.
Cover Photo Credit: Governor Tom Wolf/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Algae Blooms Are Making People Sick In Parts Of Florida

Algae blooms that have been making people sick have spread to Martin and St. Lucie Counties in Florida, according to WPTV.

TCPalm reports that officials in both Martin and St. Lucie County have appealed to Florida Department of Environmental Regulation to test the water, determine what type of algae is in it, and see if it’s related to blue green algae linked to Lake Okeechobee’s freshwater discharges.

Tourism could be affected by the algae blooms.

Nerissa Okiye, who is the Marketing and Tourism Director for Martin County, told WPTV that she has been fielding questions from people who had placed trips to Martin County before the algae blooms began.

She told WPTV that “When they’re seeing this, it puts a hesitancy. Do I want to go there?”

The algae has been known to cause rashes and hay fever like symptoms in people that it has come in contact with, and nausea and vomiting in people who ingest it.

In the meantime, signs have been put up advising people not to approach the algae, and affected beaches have put up red flags as to advise swimmers.

Martin County Health Department spokesperson Renay Rouse told WPTV that “It is unusual…As a precaution we wanted to get the signage out there. The big message is if you see algae avoid contact with it.”

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Brian Goodwin/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Daisy Ridley Announces Her History Battling Uterus Condition

Star Wars star Daisy Ridley recently posted on her Instagram last week about her struggles with endometriosis.

In the social media post, she detailed her surgeries and restrictions regarding endometriosis.

Endometriosis is a painful condition which involves the uterine lining growing outside of the uterus.

Ridley wrote on her instagram “One laparoscopy, many consultations and 8 years down the line, pain was back (more mild this time!) and my skin was THE WORST. I’ve tried everything: products, antibiotics, more products, more antibiotics) and all that did was left my body in a bit of a mess.”

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While there is no cure for endometriosis, it can be abated with surgeries and medicine.

However, the surgeries and medicine come with risks as well.

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development writes that “It is also important to note that not all treatments work well for all women with endometriosis. Similarly, there is always the chance that the endometriosis symptoms may return after the treatment is stopped or, in the case of surgery, as more time passes since the treatment.”

Ridley encouraged others on her Instagram to take care of themselves. “My point is, to any of you who are suffering with anything, go to a doctor; pay for a specialist; get your hormones tested, get allergy testing; keep on top of how your body is feeling and don’t worry about sounding like a hypochondriac. From your head to the tips of your toes we only have one body, let us all make sure ours our working in tip top condition, and take help if it’s needed.”

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Daisy Ridley/ Instagram

Blind Man Sues McDonald’s For Refusing Him Service After Walking Up To The Drive Thru After Hours

A visually impaired man is suing McDonald’s for their drive thrus lack of accessibility, reports NBC NEWS.

According to the affidavit, Scott Magee was refused admission to a McDonald’s after hours, which made him unable to purchase food.

On the date in question, Mr. Magee approached the McDonald’s restaurant and attempted to enter its interior for the purpose of purchasing goods and services.

However, the lobby doors were locked and Mr. Magee was unable to enter Mr. Magee then attempted to walk up to the drive-thru.

The McDonald’s personnel therein refused service to him, laughed, and told him to go away.

Various McDonald’s have driven through service only after a certain time, which would impede customers who cannot drive, according to NBC.

“While McDonald’s sighted customers can independently browse, select, and pay for products at Defendant’s drive-thrus without the assistance of others, blind people must hope for a companion with a car or paid taxi services to assist them in selecting and purchasing McDonald’s food,” the suit claims.

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Lindsey Wagner, a lawyer who covers various areas of law, including discrimination, explained, “Likely, McDonalds’ position will be either that they’re not denying (the prosecution) access because they could have access with a driver or that changing their drive through services would be an undue burden on them.”

Undue burden is mentioned in section 12182 of the Americans With Disabilities Act, and is described by the ADA’s ‘Reaching Out’ section of their website as “significant difficulty or expense.

Wagner also said that if the outcome falls in the prosecution’s favor, it may bring some changes.

“If it does go to trial, and if the plaintiff is successful in their claim, it would likely mean that McDonald’s would need to make changes for accommodations for those who are blind,” Wagner said. “This might be a new wave of the way that businesses provide services to also make sure that the drive through access also has accommodations for individuals that are visually impaired.”

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

This Guy Is About To Burn A Confederate Flag On Memorial Day To Prove A Big Point About Racism

A Florida artist is organizing the burning and the burying of the Confederate flag today at 2 PM EST in order to celebrate Memorial Day in a unique way.

According to Mic, John Sims is a Sarasota based artist who has previously approached the stars and bars in his art, and organized a similar event last year.

The meaning of said burnings are to address the history behind the Confederate flag.

“It is a way to ritualistically confront through reflection and catharsis, the pain and trauma of a very horrific part of American history.” Sims told Think Progress.

The event has not been without its detractors.

A group named Sons of Confederate Veterans questioned the burning’s timing in 2015.

“To me, it represents the flags my ancestors fought and died under on the field of war,” Tom Strain Jr. told WTOC.

Sims has made the project accessible for people with a stream and a kit that contains items such as John Sims’ Gettysburg Redress and a Confederate flag to print out and burn for those who cannot or are inclined against buying a Confederate flag.

Sims will be broadcasting his burning and burial of the Confederate Flag at 2 P.M. EST.


Cover Photo Credit:edward stojakovic/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Anonymous Is Getting Real In Its Cyber War Against ISIS

The hacktivist group Anonymous is ramping up its war on ISIS with the release of information how to take down social media accounts associated with the terrorist organization.

In a Pastebin post, Anonymous explained why they are stepping up the digital assault against ISIS and how they plan to do it.

“This system coordinates all of the efforts so that they are all working together and sharing to ensure a highly effective fighting force. Its results are staggering. When people work together, they are unstoppable,” the group said in explaining their tactics.

The guides provided by Anonymous detail such things as DDoS-ing, cracking passwords, and how to take down an account. In response, members of ISIS have sent around information on how to not get hacked, recalling details such as not talking to strangers or changing one’s IP repeatedly.

The group has also received recognition from official antiterrorism groups. Retired American General David Petraeus said in an recent interview that what he has seen so far of Anonymous’ work “would be of considerable value to those engaged in counter-terrorism initiatives.”

But could this form of vigilantism actually be of any help? Computer security blogger Olivier Laurelli told AFP that it could harm police operations to find members of ISIS.

“To close those accounts is to leave police deaf and blind around some matters,” Laurelli the French news service. “It is important to know that one account is in France, another in Syria or in Iraq.”

Furthermore, the wrong person could be accused or attacked.

Sunil Tripathi was identified by members of Reddit as the man who had coordinated the Boston Marathon bombing. News outlets such as the BBC reported him as the prime suspect by the FBI, but Tripathi was found dead shortly after the brothers Tsarnev were arrested.

Not only did the Reddit users’ actions take away from the actual perpetrators of the crime, it applied guilt onto a person who wasn’t guilty and may have led to their deaths.

It is unclear whether Anonymous will have a similar record in combating ISIS.

Cover Photo Credit: Pierre (Rennes)/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Fox News Anchor Slaps Down GOP Governors For Their Refusal To Let In Syrian Refugees

Fox News anchor Shepard Smith spoke out on the proposals by dozens of Republican governors to close their states to Syrian refugees after the terrorist attacks in Paris and asked that people be open minded towards those refugees according to Mother Jones

Smith launched into his remarks towards the end of his show on Monday:

“In the face of terror will we panic? or be calm and deliberative in approach? Confronted with those who want to change our way of life, will we abandon our freedoms and the rights granted to us by the Creator, or will we welcome huddled masses yearning to be free?” Smith asked. “This opinion tends to go against the grain of what Fox News usually talks about, and some viewers have expressed their displeasure on social media.

Despite frustration from some conservative viewers on social media, Smith has been known to hold more liberal views than some of his coworkers at the network and this isn’t his first time expressing them, according to The Washington Post.

From the Washington Post:

Even Smith’s reading habits have been parsed by conservatives. When he told the Los Angeles Times in 2013 that he consumes news from the likes of the New York Times, Talking Points Memo and, yes, The Washington Post, the Breitbart Web site blared, “Shep Smith’s reading list revealed: lefty, lefty, leftist!'”

WATCH: Shepard Smith goes after GOP governors.

Cover Photo Credit: (vincent desjardins)/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Report Says That 40% Of Girls In Juvenile Detention Are LGBTQ. But Why?

There are few topics more depressing than that of crimes committed by young people. But a shocking study regarding the make up of the children in the American juvenile delinquency system has come back in the public consciousness.

report for the National Council on Crime and Delinquency says that 40% of girls in the juvenile delinquency system fall under the LGBTQ umbrella. Shocking.

The report was authored by Dr. Aisha Canfield and Dr. Angela Irving.

“New NCCD research findings from a sample of 1,400 girls in juvenile jurisdictions around the country show that 40% of girls in the juvenile justice system are lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning, or gender-nonconforming (LBTQ/GNC), and 86% of girls in the system are of color.[i]” Irving explained in a blog post.

She further went on to elaborate that these girls would end up there due to committing what she called “survival crimes” such as prostitution.

OZY commented that falling under the LGBTQ umbrella set these girls up for further discrimination and harsh treatment, which leads to them being placed in juvenile hall.

From OZY:

“‘LGBT of both sexes are also three times more likely to receive disproportionately harsh consequences at school, while also being the target of harassment. Perhaps surprisingly, LGBT girls are more likely to get in trouble for fighting; for boys, it’s disruptive behaviors in the classroom.”

This information means that people who work in juvenile halls should probably have to adapt their training and practices to learn how to address issues that girls who fall under the LGBTQ umbrella could face.

“I think statistics like that really identify the importance for us to think intersectionally…A lot of times when we think about the criminal justice systems it’s often directed at young black men… this is not only about young black men, it’s about young black trans women, it’s about young cis women, it’s about the LGBTQ population also,” Jonathan Lykes, policy analyst of the Center for the Study of Social Policy told the Huffington Post. “So really understanding how all of these different populations are impacted by these oppressive systems.”

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Cover Photo Credit: Michael Coghlan/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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