Notice to Creditors

File No. 2020-CP-000494-0
Division 5



The administration of the estate of Charlie Elliott Taylor, a/k/a Charlie E. Taylor, deceased, whose date of death was August 24, 2019, is pending in the Circuit Court for ORANGE County, Florida, Probate Division, the address of which is 425 N Orange Ave # 340, Orlando, FL 32801. The names and addresses of the personal representative and the personal representative’s attorney are set forth below.

All creditors of the decedent and other persons having claims or demands against decedent’s estate on whom a copy of this notice is required to be served must file their claims with this court ON OR BEFORE THE LATER OF 3 MONTHS AFTER THE TIME OF THE FIRST PUBLICATION OF THIS NOTICE OR 30 DAYS AFTER THE DATE OF SERVICE OF A COPY OF THIS NOTICE ON THEM.

All other creditors of the decedent and other persons having claims or demands against decedent’s estate must file their claims with this court WITHIN 3 MONTHS AFTER THE DATE OF THE FIRST PUBLICATION OF THIS NOTICE.ALL CLAIMS NOT FILED WITHIN THE TIME PERIODS SET FORTH IN FLORIDA STATUTES SECTION 733.702 WILL BE FOREVER BARRED.


The date of first publication of this notice is July 17, 2020.

Attorney for Personal Representative:
John E. Crowther
Florida Bar Number: 0089222
279 E. Graves Ave.
Orange City, FL 32763
Telephone: (386) 775.6179
Fax: (386) 775.7908

Personal Representative:
Nancy E. Roach
1308 Satterfield Drive
Emporia, Virginia 23847

Notice of Fictitious Name Registration – Day’s Creative Designs

fictitious name
fictitious name / doing business as

NOTICE is hereby given pursuant to the provisions of the Fictitious Names Registration Act of Florida (Chapter 50, Florida Statutes) that an application for registration of a fictitious name will be filed in the office of the Florida Department of State, for the conduct of a business under the fictitious name of Day’s Creative Designs, with its principal office or place of business at Orlando, FL in Orange County.

The names and addresses, including street and number, if any, of all persons who are parties to the registration is/are: Two Happy Feet Photography, LLC, 1701 W Wetherbee Road, #771804 Orlando, FL 32837, who, being (an) owner(s) in the above fictitious name, certif(y)ies that the information contained herein is true and accurate.

Notice of Fictitious Name Registration – ZERO VIRUS

fictitious name
fictitious name / doing business as

NOTICE is hereby given pursuant to the provisions of the Fictitious Names Registration Act of Florida (Chapter 50, Florida Statutes) that an application for registration of a fictitious name will be filed in the office of the Florida Department of State, for the conduct of a business under the fictitious name of Zero Virus, with its principal office or place of business at 6153 Metrowest Blvd. Unit #206 Orlando FL 32835, in Orange County.

The names and addresses, including street and number, if any, of all persons who are parties to the registration is/are: Giover Mirabal, 6153 Metrowest Blvd. Unit #206 Orlando FL 32835, who, being (an) owner(s) in the above fictitious name, certif(y)ies that the information contained herein is true and accurate.

Notice of Fictitious Name Registration – Mel’s Skate Shop

fictitious name
fictitious name / doing business as

NOTICE is hereby given pursuant to the provisions of the Fictitious Names Registration Act of Florida (Chapter 50, Florida Statutes) that an application for registration of a fictitious name will be filed in the office of the Florida Department of State, for the conduct of a business under the fictitious name of Mel’s Skate Shop, with its principal office or place of business at Winter Park, FL, in Orange County.

The names and addresses, including street and number, if any, of all persons who are parties to the registration is/are: Melissa Mean, 302 Cambridge Blvd, Winter Park, FL 32789, who, being (an) owner(s) in the above fictitious name, certif(y)ies that the information contained herein is true and accurate.

Thousands Demand That Michigan #FreeGrace After the Teenager Was Incarcerated for Not Doing Her Schoolwork

By This story was co-published with the Detroit Free Press and Bridge Magazine.

State and federal lawmakers in Michigan are calling for the release of a 15-year-old high school student who has been held in a juvenile detention facility since mid-May for violating probation by not completing online schoolwork when schools shut down during the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, a new attorney representing the teenager, Grace*, whose case was detailed in a ProPublica Illinois investigation Tuesday, said he plans to file a motion in court Thursday asking the judge who ordered the girl detained to reconsider her decision and send Grace home.

The attorney, Jonathan Biernat, met with Grace for the first time Wednesday morning as her case gained national attention and sparked plans for a car-caravan protest Thursday afternoon traveling from Grace’s high school to the court complex in Oakland County. The case has launched a viral online discussion, which includes the hashtag #FreeGrace on Twitter and a petition asking for her release. The petition had more than 25,000 signatures as of Wednesday night.

“She is handling (detention) remarkably well, and she is remarkably brave. She has a ton of potential,” Biernat said. “This child had no tether violations, no house violations. There was simply an issue of her doing her work in a way that was not satisfactory” to the court.

“If the judge wanted her to get help and to succeed,” he added, “she should have kept her at home and provided her with additional services.”

Grace was a high school sophomore at Groves High School in Beverly Hills when she was charged with assault and theft last year. She was placed on probation in mid-April and, among other requirements, was to complete her schoolwork. Grace, who has ADHD and receives special education services, struggled with the transition to online learning and fell behind. Finding the girl had violated probation, an Oakland County judge on May 14 sentenced her to detention.

Judge Mary Ellen Brennan’s decision came as Michigan and other states had shut down to stop the spread of COVID-19, and as the legal and education communities had urged leniency and a prioritization of children’s health and safety amid the crisis.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order in March, which was extended until late May, that encouraged eliminating any form of detention or residential placement unless a young person posed a “substantial and immediate safety risk to others.”

Acting on Whitmer’s order, the Michigan Supreme Court told juvenile court judges to determine which juveniles could be returned home. Juvenile courts across the country, including in Oakland County, worked to release young people who were in detention.

After spending the initial weeks in secure detention at the Children’s Village juvenile detention center in suburban Detroit, Grace is now in a residential treatment program at the facility. Grace and her mother, who have been allowed many phone calls but only three visits during the past two months, have pleaded with the judge to allow her to go home.

Now, members of Congress, officials in Oakland County and the ACLU of Michigan have called for Grace’s release. Her next court date is scheduled for Sept. 8.

Oakland County Executive David Coulter, the county’s top official, said he spoke with Brennan on Tuesday night and believes the case deserves another look.

“While there are many more details that she is unable to share with me and the public to protect privacy of the minor and their family, I believe a review of this case within her court or during an appellate process is required,” Coulter said in a statement. “It has been a top priority of my administration to keep the young people and employees safe at Children’s Village during the pandemic and that includes limiting residency to immediate safety risks.”

There have been no cases of COVID-19 among the young people at Children’s Village, the center’s manager said. Four workers have tested positive from contacts outside the facility.

At least two members of Congress also are calling for a review of the case. U.S. Rep. Andy Levin said the case had “serious deficiencies,” including court workers’ seeming lack of awareness about Grace’s learning disabilities. Levin represents the district that includes Grace’s school.

“Witnesses who could have provided a better understanding of the situation, like the student’s teachers, were unable to testify,” said Levin, vice chair of the House Education and Labor Committee. “There is still time to rekindle the flame of justice in this case. I call on the court to review its decision in light of state guidance to limit juvenile detention except in cases of dire emergency during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bring this student home to her mother now.”

Grace has ADHD and an education plan that provided support from teachers and extra time to complete assignments. Birmingham Public Schools, one of the most well-regarded districts in the state, asked for patience from families and pledged to be flexible with school requirements during the school shutdown. Work was graded on a credit/no-credit system.

U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, who represents parts of Oakland County, called the decision to detain Grace “more than disturbing.” In a statement, Lawrence said she wants to “ensure this case is not a glaring reminder of the disproportionate realities faced by minorities in the criminal justice system.” Grace is Black and lives in a majority white community.

From January 2016 through June 2020, about 4,800 juvenile cases were referred to the Oakland County court. Of those, 42% involved Black youth even though only about 15% of the county’s youth are Black, according to a ProPublica Illinois analysis of county data. Black children in Michigan are incarcerated more than four times as often as white children, according to federal data.

Brennan, the presiding judge of the Family Division, has declined to comment through a court administrator, who said the judge is unable to discuss a pending case.

But Brennan’s husband, attorney Ed Lennon, criticized officials and others who have suggested that Grace’s race factored into the judge’s decision, saying in an interview that “race has nothing to do with this case.” He noted that his wife was among the judges who released juveniles from detention during the pandemic. During March and April, 97 juveniles were released from Children’s Village by court order, according to figures provided by the court to ProPublica.

Brennan has been on the bench for 12 years and is “known for her compassion and fairness,” Lennon said.

In her ruling in Grace’s case, Brennan found the girl “guilty on failure to submit to any schoolwork and getting up for school” and called Grace a “threat to (the) community,” citing the assault and theft charges that led to her probation. The charges stemmed from an argument with her mother, where Grace bit her finger and pulled her hair, and a separate incident where the girl stole a classmate’s cellphone. Brennan said Grace should stay at Children’s Village not as punishment, but to get treatment and services.

“She hasn’t fulfilled the expectation with regard to school performance,” Brennan said as she sentenced Grace. “I told her she was on thin ice and I told her that I was going to hold her to the letter, to the order, of the probation.”

On Tuesday, officials from Birmingham Public Schools and the intermediate school district in Oakland County said in statements that students should not be punished for not completing assignments or missing work during the upheaval caused by the pandemic.

“Oakland Schools shares the community’s deep concern and outrage over the recent action taken against a Birmingham Schools’ student by the court system,” Oakland Schools’ Superintendent Wanda Cook-Robinson said.

A group of Democratic state lawmakers from Oakland County — three senators and two representatives — issued a joint statement calling Brennan’s decision to remove Grace from her home during the pandemic “unconscionable” and called for the teenager to “be released and reunited with her mother immediately.”

In an interview, state Sen. Rosemary Bayer, D-Beverly Hills, said she is considering introducing legislation that would require court employees, child welfare workers and social workers to have implicit-bias training.

“What can we change to keep this from happening again?” Bayer asked.

Grace’s mom, Charisse, who said she wants to keep the family’s identity private, said she was grateful for the outpouring of support from across the country.

“While we attempt to untangle the web that now confines my daughter and keeps her away from me, her family and the support that she needs, I want to thank the seemingly endless number of people who have expressed their concern and offered their support,” she said in a statement.

“This situation is an emotional challenge, but is also a window into the brokenness that demands and deserves attention and repair as to prevent other children and families from being negatively impacted by a system that is supposed to offer protection and support.”

*ProPublica is using middle names for the teenager and her mother to protect their identities.

2010 Census Omitted 3.7 Million Blacks – Nearly Five Times Its Original ‘Undercount’ Claims


Confusing and conflicting explanations provide few answers while raising numerous questions

By Hazel Trice Edney

( – A special report released by the National Urban League reveals that the U. S. Census Bureau omitted at least 3.7 million African-Americans from its 2010 count, nearly five times the 800,000 “undercount” that the bureau has long reported.

Largely due to the Coronavirus, the sluggish response to the 2020 Census count now underway is on track for the same or even worse results, NUL predicts. The organization says the Black community stands to lose billions of dollars and significant political power if something is not done quickly to speed up and establish a more accurate count.

“As a gauge, last decade, 9% of Black people in the U.S. (approximately 3.7 million people), were missed in the 2010 Census – an “omission” rate higher than any other racial or ethnic group,” says NUL’s 12-page “State of the 2020 Census” report released June 17. “Preliminary assessments of 2020 Census household response rates to date, portend the potential loss of billions of dollars in federal funding allocations, power and political representation for the Black population, if nothing is done to stop this trend.”

Using the mapping tool of the City University of New York (CUNY), the NUL reports that “currently, approximately 25% of households residing in predominantly Black areas are in the bottom 20% of response rates (below 50%),” so far.

Among the report’s key findings:

  • Young Black Children are poised to experience historic undercounts in the 2020 Census…Seven out of 10 black and brown children 0-5 years old were not counted in the 2010 Census.
  • Several large cities and jurisdictions with predominate or large Black populations trail their state response rates by 10 or more percentage points (i.e., St. Louis, Mo., Los Angeles, Calif., Miami, Fla., and Detroit, Mich.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau’s enumeration of persons experiencing homelessness has not occurred.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau’s difficulty in rescheduling the enumeration of college and university students and conducting outreach targeting these communities with clear and concise guidance, will impact local communities and the black count overall, if not corrected.
  • An undercount of the Black population in southern states will impact the overall Black count in America.  One U.S. Census Regional Census Center is responsible for enumerating seven states (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana), with significant Black populations in the 2020 Census.

The Census count started April 1. People can respond by phone, mail or online. Through July, August, September, and October, Census workers will escalate their attempts to count college students; plus anyone who has not responded by going to homes until the end of October. 

Civil rights organizations have gone into high gear with an educational campaign pushing the importance of an accurate Census count to the Black community and other communities of color. Yet, it appears that the extent of the Census omissions in 2010 is now being widely reported for the first time.

“The U.S. Census Bureau and the current Administration must do all that it can to ensure an accurate count of the Black population by reallocating media resources and outreach to address these circumstances,” says NUL President/CEO Marc H. Morial in a release accompanying the report. “Historically, African Americans have been undercounted each decade.  Approximately 3.7 million African Americans were entirely uncounted in the 2010 Census. The 2020 Census raises new risks and uncertainties that put an already vulnerable Black count at extreme risk.”

The 3.7 million omission appears even more extreme when compared to numbers used by other civil rights groups.  A simple Google search turned up a March 2019 “Fact Sheet” led by the Leadership Conference Education Fund (a subsidiary of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights) which was also signed by the Georgetown Law School’s Center on Poverty and Inequality and by the Economic Security and Opportunity Initiative.

The Fact Sheet states, “The 2010 Census undercounted the African-American population by more than 800,000.” The “800,000” number is footnoted and attributed to a 2012 U.S. Census Bureau press release announcing estimates of undercounts.

Yet another number has been used by the NAACP for the 2010 Census undercount. Page 7 of a federal lawsuit filed two years ago by the NAACP against the U. S. Census Bureau, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and President Donald Trump states, “The 2010 Census did not account for 1.5 million black and Hispanic residents, which would be enough people to fill two Congressional districts.”

NUL’s omission number of “3.7 million”; the Leadership Conference’s undercount of “more than 800,000” and the NAACP’s combined “undercount of 1.5 million Black and Hispanic” residents. This scenario raises the question. Which one is correct?

In response to questions from the Trice Edney News Wire, the Census Bureau and the civil rights organizations sought to explain the conflicting numbers. For the most part, the explanations remain fuzzy at best, opening yet more questions than providing answers. The confusion apparently comes down to the vague difference between the terms “net undercount” and “omissions”. 

Census consultant, Terri Ann Lowenthal, said she is the source of the NUL’s 3.7 million omission number. She emailed a one paged document in which she listed the “net undercount” of Black people as 827,152 (2.06 percent) and “Omissions” as 3,734,229 (9.3 percent).

As for the NAACP’s lawsuit, which says the “2010 Census did not account for 1.5 million black and Hispanic residents”, Lowenthal’s document appears to dispute that number.

“Many news articles and even some fact sheets have incorrectly cited a figure of ‘1.5 million minorities missed in the 2010 Census,'” Lowenthal says in a footnote. “From what I can tell, that number is loosely derived from the national net undercount of Blacks (~ 827,000) and Hispanics (of any race) (~764,000) in the 2010 Census.”

In another email, Beth Lynk, Census campaign director for the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, which reported the “more than 800,000” undercount in its fact sheet, recommended a book, titled “Differential Undercounts in the U. S. Census. Who is Missed?”

Lynk described the book as a “great resource on omissions.” But the “Terminology” chapter of that book, by social demographer William P. O’Hare, clearly implies that the Census use of the term “net undercount” to describe people who were not counted is erroneous.

O’Hare’s book states, “It is important to recognize that the net undercount does not reflect the number of people missed even though the term undercount is often used to suggest this. As stated earlier, net undercounts reflect a balance of people missed and people counted more than once or otherwise included erroneously,” O’Hare writes.

Jeri Green, consultant and senior advisor to the NUL on Census matters, said in an interview that its cited 3.7 million Black “omissions” from the 2010 Census is accurate without question.

Green is a former senior advisor for civic engagement in the office of the Census Bureau director. She is also a specialist on engagement with civil rights organizations and historically undercounted populations as they relate to critical 2020 Census issues.

“The cold-blooded straight up number of Black people that were missed in the 2010 Census is that number, 3.7 million,” Green says. “It’s a number that you won’t see out there. But I can give you reference after reference of 3.7 million Black people who were missed in the Census – using the Census Bureau’s own figures.”

Meanwhile, the NUL’s State of the 2020 Census” report has sounded an alarm, apparently using the words “undercount” and “omissions” interchangeably.

“A census undercount of any population in the U.S. would have far-reaching implications. For Black populations, the consequences would be devastating, particularly in the aftermath of COVID-19 which has exposed deep systemic and underlying economic, wealth and health disparities within African American communities. Similarly, as racially-motivated police brutality in the Black community continues with deadly effect, an accurate census count helps ensure fair political representation and federal funding to address these concerns,” Morial says in the Executive Summary of the report.

“The purpose of this State of the 2020 Census report is to ‘sound the alarm’ about the current status of the Black census count. Over the past three months of 2020 Census operations (starting last March 12th for most of the United States), the National Urban League has observed low response rates across heavily populated Black localities – both urban and rural. As a contributing factor, COVID-19 has disrupted Census operations off and on, for the entire nation. A full, fair, and accurate 2020 Census count remains is imperative as we rebuild our communities in a post COVID-19 environment.”


The Gantt Report
By Lucius Gantt

People of goodwill all over planet earth are mourning the passing of two civil rights legends.

Congressman John Robert Lewis died at age 80 after a battle with cancer and Rev. Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian died at age 95 of natural causes.

Television news channels and networks will be broadcasting sad story after sad story by some people who claimed to have known both of the Black heroes but never took a freedom ride, never participated in a bloody march, never registered one Black voter and never stood up and spoke out against racist oppression and economic exploitation.

Any minute now, elected officials in Alabama, Tennessee and possibly in Georgia will rush to change a street name to the names of Lewis and Vivian and they will campaign to Black people about their symbolic gestures instead of fighting the powers that be like the Black people, like Lewis and Vivian, that put their lives on the line for most of their adult lives.

My African faith tells me our two civil rights icons have taken their final journeys to The Land of Plenty but their spirits will never leave anyone that truly loved and cared about them.

I respected those guys. Their contributions to our communities, our churches, our government and other areas cannot be imitated and will never be duplicated!

Lewis and Vivian were righteous and good, but they are dead.

They had huge roles on the stage of Black life but we now need other actors. We need modern actors. We need better actors.

2020 is, in many ways, a lot different than 1950 or 1960.

The men I write about in this week’s Gantt Report column never changed their social and spiritual beliefs and practice of non-violent civil disobedience and societal change.

However, I’m not with that. I believe we should use Dr. King’s, Congressman Lewis’ and Dr. Vivian’s tactics to achieve Black progress but we should also be prepared to fight for our rights using any and all other means we feel are necessary!

I expect a large number of candidates to seek to replace Rep. Lewis in Congress. I expect the future Congressional race to be politically bloody and all of the bad things that can be said by opposing candidates will be said.

It will not disappoint me if one or more white candidates seek to represent the district that includes Buckhead, one of Atlanta’s richest neighborhoods.

Hmmm? Perhaps Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp will appoint the Trump endorsed Black female Republican that announced her intent to run for the Lewis seat long before his death.

It’s really not enough time for all qualified candidates to make a serious run for office so Kemp could quickly appoint someone and have an election next year, possibly.

If you don’t know, Atlanta voters have historically low voter turnouts. Why? Because Black voters think politicians in the “city too busy to hate” are who the voters think they are.

They think Black elected officials are controlled by whites like Arthur Blank and the white owners of Chick-Fil-A, Waffle House and other major corporations. Black elected officials and candidates in Atlanta think Black political professionals are inexperienced, unqualified and inferior and prefer to be robbed and bamboozled by white political professionals and vendors.

And, Atlanta voters are tired of false political promises from elected officials that you can’t talk to, meet with or work with on Atlanta problems!

Congressman Lewis often talked about how non-violent civil disobedience was “good trouble” but the good trouble did not eliminate police murder, economic misery, health disparities, poor housing alternatives and other American ills.

Lewis and Vivian died a day before the birthday of the late Nelson Mandela — another renown champion of racial equality.

Mandela was a “troublemaker” too but the good things his African National Congress did was try to burn South African vestiges of apartheid down to the ground!

Rest in peace, John and C.T., thank you for your service to your people but the struggle continues!

Changing Racist Hearts: Police Brutality


By Rusty Wright

George Floyd’s hideous death under a white policeman’s knee ignited worldwide protests against racism and police brutality. The ongoing conflict prompted me to reflect on South Africa’s once-state-enforced racial oppression. That apartheid regime’s top cop participated in the racist brutality, including bombings and attempted murder. Yet his contrition and reconciliation efforts have been remarkable. Lessons for today’s turmoil?

Adriaan Vlok

Bombing campaign
During the 1980s, conflict raged between South Africa’s white minority Afrikaner government and the black majority opposition. From 1986 to 1991, Adriaan Vlok served as Law and Order Minister. In 1998, Vlok confessed to South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission that in 1988 he had engineered the bombing of the headquarters of the South African Council of Churches, a prominent opposition group. The bombing campaign included movie theaters showing Cry Freedom, an anti-apartheid film.

I had opening-night tickets to see Cry Freedom in Pretoria, but the screening was canceled. The next morning, a bomb was discovered in that theater.

You may imagine my interest when BBC television told of Vlok’s 2006 attempt to reconcile personally with Rev. Frank Chikane, former head of the South African Council of Churches, the group whose headquarters Vlok had bombed. Chikane said Vlok visited his office and gave him a Bible with this inscription: “I have sinned against the Lord and against you, please forgive me (John 13:15).”

May I wash your feet?
That biblical reference is Jesus’ Last Supper admonition that his disciples follow his example and wash one another’s feet. The inscription’s words echo those of the Prodigal Son who – in the famous biblical story – admitted to his estranged father, “I have sinned against heaven and against you.”

Chikane said Vlok “picked up a glass of water, opened his bag, pulled out a bowl, put the water in the bowl, took out the towel, said ‘you must allow me to do this’ and washed my feet in my office.” Chikane warmly accepted the gesture.

In the years since, Vlok has related more about his racist past and his change. In 2014, he described for The New Republic his apartheid-era convictions about his opponents: “[W]e were fighting a just cause. And they are fighting the wrong cause. So I will fight you. I will resist you. And if necessary, I will kill you.”

Changed convictions
While grieving his wife’s 1994 suicide, Vlok was deeply touched by the kindness of some followers of Jesus. It appears they helped him to know God personally. He began reading the Bible. Jesus’ guidance to make things right with those we’ve wronged prompted his meeting with Chikane. In that encounter, he became aware of – and dismayed by – his own feelings of superiority.

“I regarded myself as better than black people,” he realized. …”And it is wrong! …It is not so! I saw that I’m not better than they are.” He told the BBC, “lovelessness was the root evil in apartheid. …I’m trying to obey” Jesus’ instruction “to love your brother and your sister.”

His new humility and love led to more footwashings of apartheid victims. He devoted himself to charity work, collecting and delivering food to black township preschools

Change’s precursor
Vlok believes his wife’s tragic suicide helped him realize his needs: “You have to be brought to nothing before change begins.”

Of course, Vlok still has his detractors. Some maintain he’s not admitted all his sins. Others view his faith story as an image polisher. But South African president Thabo Mbeki found his Chikane footwashing impressive: “I was deeply moved that an elderly Afrikaaner, with Adriaan Vlok’s history and pedigree, could speak as he did and break with his past in the manner he has. …[T]he gesture was from a committed Christian, who said that if Jesus Christ could do it, he could also.”

Could spiritual transformation positively influence today’s racial tumult?

Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively. Copyright © 2020 Rusty Wright

COMMENTARY: Da 5 Bloods and America Abroad

By Oscar Blayton

I get an ache in my heart every time someone who learns that I am a Vietnam veteran, says “Thank you for your service.”

Even before I returned to the United States from my combat tour in Vietnam, I had decided that we were fighting an unjust war. More than 50 years later, watching Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods” set off my internal alarm bells, warning against African Americans blindly participating in U.S. foreign policy.

Lee’s latest movie is an excellent commentary on some of the complexities of the Vietnam war for African Americans, which he boils down to a single line spoken by a central character: “We fought in an immoral war that wasn’t ours… for rights that wasn’t ours.”

I am a big fan of Spike Lee, and Da 5 Bloods is among his best work, but the film points out how Black folk were victims of America’s foreign policy while understating our complicity in it.  I do not fault Lee for this because this war was too broad in its social and political ramifications to fit into a single movie. But it omits two lessons Black folk should have learned from this painful bloodbath.

First, the American War in Vietnam was an attempt to maintain white supremacy in Southeast Asia. U.S. involvement in that part of the world did not ramp up until after the Vietnamese had forced out their former colonial masters – the French.

Having abandoned Vietnam to Japanese invaders during World War II, France returned at the end of that war and demanded – with an outrageous sense of entitlement bourne of white supremacy – that it be allowed to continue its rule. The bloodied and proud Vietnamese, who had engineered their own resistance to the Japanese, were having none of it. 

After the Vietnamese rid themselves of the French in 1954 at the cost of many more lives, the United States – in its role as the Chicken Little of anti-communism – raised the alarm that the sky was falling. Self-proclaimed “foreign policy experts” in the United States warned that Southeast Asian countries would fall like dominos if communists were allowed to gain control of all of Vietnam. North Korea had securely established itself as a communist nation a decade earlier and foreign policy advisors in Washington reasoned that preventing the spread of communism was in America’s national interest.

When we make a critical examination of Vietnam today, we see a trading partner of the United States and a respected member of the global community. We see economic and social progress under a communist government that exposes the lies of American demagogues who, foaming-at-the-mouth, protested the rise of communism. 

In the late 1950s and early 1960, with Blacks being murdered with impunity and denied basic constitutional rights in America, the U.S. government chose instead to focus on the “rights” of people half a world away. But “freedom” was not what Washington was seeking to establish in Southeast Asia; it was “compliance.” The United States wanted to bend that part of the world to its will – a world order based upon white supremacy.

If one ignores the rhetoric and examines America’s actions towards Africa, Asia and South America, the evidence is clear that white supremacy has driven U.S. foreign policy throughout its post-World War II history.

Secondly, African Americans have been complicit in U.S. aggressions towards people of color around the world. Handicapped by the blindfold of anti-communist rhetoric, Black folk have too often been enablers in America’s efforts to keep whiteness perched upon its global pedestal. Even those of us who knew that Washington’s anti-Communist zeal made no sense, particularly as it related to Africa and South America, did not make the connection between U.S. foreign policy and white supremacy.

It was not the rise of communism that these demagogues feared; it was the loss of white privilege around the world. In the 1960s, the newly emergent African nations were being successfully oppressed by a network of political, economic and military resources that put a lid on any threat to white supremacy from the “Dark Continent.” But with the rise of the People’s Republic of China and the defeat of the French in Vietnam, the white supremacy lid was coming off of Asia.

Revisiting the American War in Vietnam, we see one aspect of America’s attempt to maintain global domination by white supremacy and we see our complicity in this effort.  It is not enough for Black folk to plead innocence as draftees just trying to make it back to the “World” alive. We must own our part in the oppression of others.

Attempts to deny our complicity in spreading misery around the globe in support of white supremacy is not unlike Confederate sympathizers refusing to acknowledge that the underlying cause of the Civil War was the preservation of slavery, not the noble South. 

As Confederate statues finally come tumbling down, African Americans are asking, “Why has it taken so long? There was no just cause. There was no noble South.” By that same measure, we must ask ourselves, “What was the true cause and where was the nobility of America’s involvement in Vietnam?” 

Not only must we ask ourselves these questions about Vietnam, we must continue to ask these types of questions about all of America’s foreign policies.

Oscar H. Blayton is a former Marine Corps combat pilot and human rights activist who practices law in Virginia.

Orlando Economic Partnership Launches New Small Business Support Program

The Business Recovery Assistance and Collaborative Engagement (BRACE) program will connect business owners with resources to save their companies.

Orlando, Fla. – To inform business owners of the programs they need to save their companies in this unprecedented time, the Orlando Economic Partnership (the Partnership) has launched a Business Recovery Assistance and Collaborative Engagement (BRACE) program. A communications and case management platform, BRACE provides a free service that helps identify and then connect small businesses to the resources they need most.

“We have integrated a technical platform to allow us to reach the business community in all seven counties in the Orlando region to initiate contact and triage immediate and short-term needs,” said Partnership President and CEO Tim Giuliani. “In the upcoming weeks, our goal is to scale this program to reach as many small businesses in our region as possible.”

Small businesses in need of assistance should visit Organizations and companies interested in partnering to provide financial relief services can also fill out a form at to request a follow-up.

“It’s important that we begin the conversation on how to help businesses get back on their feet, so they can be positioned to provide the vital services and products needed for our economic recovery,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings. “I look forward to working with the Orlando Economic Partnership and the BRACE program in this effort.”

“We know that there are few, if any, industries that are immune to this virus,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “Our local businesses are the backbone of our economy, and at the heart of everything we do as a community and so we will fight for them, advocate for them and do all we can to connect our businesses, through programs like BRACE, to resources that can help them weather the storm and begin on a path to recovery.”

Interested parties who complete and submit their online form will have a BRACE Ambassador reach out to them within 48 hours after contact. Ambassadors are trained to triage needs, offer resources or provide referrals to partners with the right expertise.

While some programs like the Florida Small Business Emergency BRIDGE Program and the Paycheck Protection Program are no longer accepting applications and have run out of funding, the Partnership is creating a database of those companies needing assistance and maintaining communication with them as the federal process ensues and potential local options become available.

The BRACE program will be available as long as it’s needed, and as emergency relief programs are available.