Local business hosts roundtable in state capitol

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HARD TO BE THE BOSS—Luther and Roxanne Sewell of Talk Magazine salute Mayor Linda Thompson of Harrisburg. (Photos by Diane Daniels)

Community leaders, politicians, entrepreneurs and concerned citizens from across the state gathered in Harrisburg in early October to address health care reform, education, job training, immigration and many other issues effecting African-Americans and Latinos.

An event hosted by Luther J. and Roxanne N. Sewell of Talk Magazine, the African American/Latino Roundtable, according to the Sewells is a bipartisan statewide meeting developed to advance connections between the two races in Pennsylvania. “This event is designed to bring together dynamic professionals and leaders to focus on problems and to find solutions in urban and suburban neighborhoods building a bond and better understanding of each other’s cultures, political, economic and educational desires,” Roxanne said.

Western Pennsylvania elected officials taking part in the event and sharing their views throughout the day included Senator Jay Costa and State Representative Ed Gainey. Utilizing his time to encourage voting in the November fifth election, Gainey stressed that getting people out to vote is always crucial.

“Education, jobs and transportation are key issues in all communities not just the African-American and Latino but these are the populations hit the hardest,” he said. “We have to use all tools available to get the message out and people in the polls to vote.  Social media is the new tool and just one way to reach younger voters.”

The Hon. Pedro A. Cortes, former Pennsylvania Secretary of State representing Lancaster concurs that voting is a key way to create change. “We take our voting rights for granted instead of doing what we can,” he emphasized. “We all have a voice which is the way to change things and to make a difference.” He said building alliances is significant because power is in numbers with Latinos toting a US population of 53 million and African-Americans 40 million.

Other elected officials taking part in the morning sessions included Senator Vincent J. Hughes; Democratic Appropriations Committee Chair from Philadelphia and Senator Anthony H. Williams; Senate Minority Whip from Philadelphia.  

Roundtable discussion topics involving panelists from Harrisburg, Erie, Lancaster, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia were immigration, housing, employment, education and healthcare. Former Pittsburgher Vera Cornish of Cornish and Associates served as Mistress of Ceremony.

A longtime supporter of the Sewell’s and their business ventures, Talk Magazine and the LJS Group, Commonwealth Court Judge Doris Smith-Ribner encouraged them to continue the work they do; bringing attention to issues. Her concern as she pointed out is truancy, the high school dropout rate and the disproportionate prison population. “I am looking at ways to reduce the incarceration rate and to do better with the way money is spent that is allocated toward education.”

Two women acknowledged for the works they have done within the community throughout the years were Jeannine D. Peterson; chief executive officer of the Hamilton Health Center and Mayor Linda Thompson of Harrisburg.  Recognized as Talk Person of the Year, Peterson, a former Homewood native heads a non-profit community based health organization, the only Federally Qualified Health Center within a 30 mile radius of Harrisburg. Its mission is to improve the health of Central Pennsylvania’s residents by delivering high quality, respectful and patient-centered health and related social services that promote access, treatment, education, and prevention regardless of health, economic, or insurance status.

Providing quality care to the region’s low income children and adult population for more than 40 years, Hamilton Health Center is currently embarking upon a $7 million capital campaign to begin work on the second phase of their new state of the art 67,000 square foot facility that opened last year on five acres in the city’s Allison Hill section of Harrisburg.

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SPEAKING OUT—State Legislator Ed Gainey suggests using Social Media as a tool to get people out to vote.

 

On her way out of office, Mayor Thompson, Harrisburg’s first African-American and female mayor says she held that office during the city’s worse economic time in history.  Talk Magazine saluted her for her efforts and accomplishments.  Before becoming mayor, Thompson served on the Harrisburg City Council since 2001 and was elected Council President in 2005. In 2010 she was elected as Mayor.

For their involvement in the community for more than 50 years, Luther and Roxanne were recently presented the Community Award for their works and commitment by Pittsburgh Community Services, Inc.  “This couple is very special,” proclaimed Cecelia A. Jenkins, executive director of PCSI. “The couple is pioneers in the region.”

The Sewells operate Talk Magazine and the LJS Group. The magazine covers encouraging and critical life issues as well as positive stories about African-Americans throughout the State. The LJS Group concentrates in communicating to special markets. The group works as consultants, analysts, organizers, planners, and mediators for organizations with an interest in effectively reaching special markets. LJS also creates advertising, public relations, and community outreach programs. 

Committed to educating and empowering underserved communities and continuing to grow its statewide network through events, publications and an online presence, Talk Magazine and the LJS Group annually sponsor the Black History Month Celebration, the Pennsylvania African American Network Convention. The African American Jazz Festival, the Minority Achiever’s Awards Reception and the African American/Latino Roundtable which is in its sixth year.

 

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