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By Eric Johnson
Published Feb 05, 2024

The celebrated sci-fi author and futurist Octavia E. Butler said we are changed when we work for positive change. The celebrated sci-fi author and futurist Octavia E. Butler said we are changed when we work for positive change. Image credit: Nikolas Coukouma   CC BY-SA 2.5 DEED

Black History and Black Futurism

In The Newsletter this week we celebrate the start of Black History Month with a guide to California organizions working to help the state deliver on the promises of equal rights and social justice to its African American residents. 

Also: ICYMI, a list of 30 great Black California heroes who helped create the best of California, from the abolitionist millionaire Mary Ellen Pleasant (c. 1814-1904) to the Boyz n the Hood filmmaker John Singleton (1968-2019). And as always: A curated collection of local news you can use, and the Recipe of the Week.


Black Californians Working for Justice

Last week I happened to hear Baratunde Thurston, host of the “How to Citizen” podcast and “America Outdoors” on PBS, pose this question to Ava DuVernay, the director of Origin, as well as the MLK biopic Selma and the documentary 13th

“I want to ask you about your belief and your faith in the human capacity to change,” Thurston said to DuVernay. “Because so many of the stories you're telling … are about revealing some deep intransigence in the human condition—commitments to discrimination, [and] to systems of hierarchy and unfairness.

“As you wrestle with these ideas, where do you stand on our capacity to not just recognize these systems, but to alter them for the better?”

DuVernay took the question in a direction likely informed by its source—whether he’s talking about political activism or tree-climbing, Bararunde generally begins and ends in a deeply personal place.

DuVernay: “Let me say, yeah, I believe, I believe in change. I believe Octavia Butler, the great writer and futurist, talked about ‘all that you touch changes you.’ And, and so that is a daily process, that is an ongoing engagement—holding hands with the world. And to think that that change is not possible, to think that you are not changed by what you encounter, what you say, what you do, what is said and done to you, is I think a pedestrian way to think about life.

So for me, absolutely. Not only is change possible—it’s inevitable, and it’s happening in every moment.”

Here are some individuals and organizations working for positive change in California.


Bending the Arc of History


Here’s a short list of just some of the organizations working to build better futures for African Americans in California.

California Pioneers

Clockwise from upper right: Architect Paul R. Williams, Assemblyman Frederick Madison Roberts, abolitionist Mary Ellen Pleasant, and Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley (with President Gerald Ford).
Black History Month provides an opportunity to remember the achievements of African Americans who fought for equality in the Golden State.

Recipe of the Week

Our friends at Sacramento Digs Gardening publish a recipe from their gardens every Sunday, which we feature here so you can start your week with some yum.

As an extra bonus, we're also including a link to their new cookbook of seasonal recipes! 


Slab apple tart a no-sugar treat

Thinly sliced apples top this slab tart, which makes a lovely dessert for a dinner or potluck.
Recipe: Make bourbon apple butter for extra flavorful filling

‘Taste Winter!’ cookbook shows how to make the most of your cool-season harvest

Fresh-off-the-tree oranges mean winter to those of us lucky enough to live in California. Find several citrus-based recipes in the "Taste Winter! cookbook.
Enjoy winter fruit and vegetables with these home-grown recipes


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Get to Know a Group

Chest of Hope logo Chest of Hope

Created in 2005 by friends and volunteers, Chest of Hope raises funds to support women and orphans who are suffering from domestic violence.

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From Our Media Allies

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Tahoe Daily Tribune logo Slow Down, Move Over

A new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety sheds light on the daily risks encountered by tow truck drivers, mobile mechanics, and roadside technicians.

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Recent Local News

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• Three Vie to Fill Patti’s Seat on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors

The current mayor of Lathrop, a Stockton business owner, and a former dairy farmer who also served on the Manteca City Council are competing for the District 3 seat on Board of Supervisors.

(02/03/2024) → Local News Matters Stockton

• Galt Council to Decide on Interim City Manager

The Galt City Council will consider appointing Chris Erias as interim city manager during its Feb. 20 meeting, the city announced.

(02/03/2024) → LodiNews

• 2024 Primary Election: Candidates for Congress Take on Harder Challenge

In 2022, Rep. Josh Harder faced seven challengers heading into the June 7 primary election.

(02/03/2024) → LodiNews

• Former CSU Professor Admits to Setting Blazes Near Dixie Fire in 2021

The ex-professor pleaded guilty to multiple arson charges in court.

(02/02/2024) → SF Gate

• Program Seeks a Million People to Improve the Health of Diverse Ethnic Groups

The All of Us mobile tour heads to the San Joaquin Valley this spring, with the aim of finding people from a wide range of communities to enroll in the study.

(02/02/2024) → Stocktonia

• 2024 Primary: Three in the Race for Eggman’s Termed-Out Senate Seat

Three familiar faces will be battling to fill the California State Senate District 5 seat up for grabs on March 5.

(02/02/2024) → LodiNews

• New Challenges Characterize Homeless Count in Tracy

Volunteers gathered before sunrise for the biennial Point In Time Count, an effort to collect data on how many unsheltered homeless people live in and around the city.

(02/02/2024) → Tracy Press

• 2024 Primary: Flora Faces More Challengers in 9th Assembly District Race

In the last three primary elections, Assemblyman Heath Flora has faced just one challenger for his seat, winning by more than 20% each time.

(02/01/2024) → LodiNews

• Imperiled Monarch Butterflies Cling to Survival in California

Monarch butterflies have a long way to go before reaching stable population numbers.

(01/30/2024) → SF Gate

• Sacramento Joins San Francisco as California’s Slowest Cities to Recover From the Pandemic

San Francisco is coping with a “doom loop” of declining employment and business activity in its downtown core, but a new study suggests Sacramento may be in worse shape.

(01/30/2024) → CalMatters

• Homeless Count Conducted in Lodi

Some 45 volunteers canvassed 18 areas of Lodi to record the number of unsheltered individuals living in or near the city as part of the biannual Point in Time count.

(01/30/2024) → LodiNews
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Recent Statewide News

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• Mike McGuire Wants to ‘Lift Up Every Person’ as New California Senate Leader

Sen. Mike McGuire of Healdsburg takes over as Democratic leader in the state Senate from Sen. Toni Atkins. He terms out in 2026, so has limited time to push his agenda.

(02/05/2024) → CalMatters

• Is Housing Health Care? State Medicaid Programs Increasingly Say ‘Yes’

States are plowing billions of dollars into a high-stakes health care experiment that’s exploding around the country: using scarce public health insurance money to provide housing for the poorest and sickest Americans.

(02/05/2024) → California Healthline

• The Terrifying Forces That Created a California Monster Storm

The storm fed off of unusually warm waters as it grew. It also reached “bomb cyclone” status as it neared California.

(02/05/2024) → Los Angeles Times

• Darrell Steinberg: Return of State Workers Helps, But Sacramento’s Transformation is Well Underway

Downtown Sacramento faces many challenges, but the growing number of small businesses, hotels, homes and other major developments signal its transformation, says the city’s mayor.

(02/05/2024) → CalMatters

• Despite Disbanding in 1995, Grateful Dead Make Billboard History

The Grateful Dead have broken the record for the most Top 40 albums to chart on the Billboard 200.

(02/05/2024) → Daily Democrat

• Some Experts Are Proposing a Category 6 Storm Rating

A handful of super powerful tropical storms in the last decade and the prospect of more to come has a couple of experts proposing a new category of whopper hurricanes: Category 6.

(02/05/2024) → Daily Democrat

• California Universities Are Required to Offer Students Abortion Pills. A Lot Just Don’t Mention It

One year after California became the first state to require its public universities to provide the abortion pill to students, basic information on where or how students can obtain the medication is lacking.

(02/04/2024) → CapPublicRadio

• New ‘Toothless’ Walrus Discovered Along California Coast

An extinct species of walrus was unearthed in Santa Cruz County, evoking a time when California was teeming with odd creatures that feel closer to fantasy than reality, researchers said.

(02/01/2024) → SF Gate

• Back From COP28, California Climate Leaders Talk Health Impacts of Warming

As Californians increasingly feel the health effects of climate change, state leaders are adopting sweeping policies they hope will fend off the worst impacts.

(01/31/2024) → California Healthline

• ‘Just the Beginning’: California Reparations Backers Applaud Bills, Even Without Big Cash Payouts

Lawmakers introduced a package of bills designed to tackle some forms of reparations. The measures may face budget constraints and opposition.

(01/31/2024) → CalMatters

• Saving Salmon: Newsom Unveils Blueprint for Ending Decades-Long Decline

Chinook and other salmon runs are collapsing. Conservation groups call it too little, too late. Plan includes dam removals and restoring river flows.

(01/30/2024) → CalMatters

• Advice From Former Superintendents on Retaining Those Still on the Job

Five former California superintendents shared potential solutions for reducing the increasing turnover rate in their profession.

(01/30/2024) → EdSource

• Will More Outdoor Drinking Give CA Economy a Buzz?

State Sen. Scott Wiener wants to allow California cities and counties to designate “entertainment zones” where bars and restaurants could serve alcoholic drinks that people can consume on public streets and sidewalks.

(01/29/2024) → CalMatters

• New Pickleball Equipment Takes a Swing at the Sport’s Noise Problem

The “pop, pop, pop” that’s become synonymous with Pickleball may soon be a racket of the past. That’s the goal promised by a new generation of equipment developed to lessen the overall acoustic burden of the sport.

(01/29/2024) → Daily Democrat
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Government Announcements

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Image of United States seal. United States   (02/03/2024)

Hormel Foods Recalls Ready-To-Eat Spiced Deli Ham Products Due to Misbranding and Undeclared Allergen

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2024 - Hormel Foods, an Austin, Minn. establishment, is recalling approximately 945 pounds of ready-to-eat spiced deli ham products due to misbranding and undeclared allergen, the U.S...
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/02/2024)

Summer Fresh Salads Inc. Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Sesame in Wegmans Harissa Hummus Topped with Harissa

Summer Fresh Salads Inc. of Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada is recalling its Wegmans Harissa Hummus Topped With Harissa because they may contain undeclared sesame. People who have allergies to sesame run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products. The recal
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/02/2024)

Macgregors Meat and Seafood Ltd Recalls Frozen Ready-To-Eat Pork Products Imported Without Benefit of Import Reinspection

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2, 2024 - Macgregors Meat and Seafood Ltd, a Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada establishment, is recalling approximately 2,745 pounds of frozen, ready-to-eat pork products that were not presented for...
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/01/2024)

Hearty Acquisitions Llc Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Soy in Tomato Basil with Rice Exp 3/22/2024

Hearty Acquisitions Inc. of Brooklyn, NY, is recalling its pints of "Tomato Basil with Rice EXP 3/22/2024" 16 Oz containers because they contain Butternut Squash Bisque resulting in soy being undeclared on the label. People who have allergies to soy run the risk of serious or life-threatening allerg
Image of United States seal. United States   (02/01/2024)

Nam & Son of MD Recalls Soybean Sprouts Because of Possible Health Risk

Nam & Son of MD, Jessup, MD is recalling one-pound bags of soybean sprouts, with the sell-by date of December 21, 2023, because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
Image of City of Lodi seal. City of Lodi   (01/30/2024)

Introducing the New Lodi Connect Web Platform!

Get ready to experience a whole new way of managing your utilities. With the Lodi Connect Web Platform, you'll enjoy hassle-free payments, easily track your billing history, stay informed, and contact us with ease.
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (01/30/2024)

Damon Connolly California Assembly 12:
Assemblymember Connolly Joint Authors Bill Repealing Fixed Utility Charge

Assemblymember Connolly Joint Authors Bill Repealing Fixed Utility Charge myreme Tue, 01/30/2024 - 10:55 New legislation joint-authored with Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin repeals the California Public Utility Commissions income-based fixed utility charge. Tuesday, January 30, 2024 SACRAMENTO, CA Today, Assemblymember Damon Connolly (D-San Rafael) participated in a press conference announcing the introduction of a new bill, which repeals the California Public …
Image of United States seal. United States   (01/30/2024)

Byrne Dairy Recalls Mighty Fine Chocolate Ice Cream in Half Gallons Dated 10/4/2024 Due to Undeclared Peanuts

Byrne Dairy, Inc. of Syracuse, New York is voluntarily recalling its Byrne Dairy Mighty Fine Chocolate Ice Cream in half gallon cartons with a Last Date of Sale of 10/4/2024 because it may contain undeclared peanuts. People who have allergies to peanuts run the risk of serious or life-threatening al
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (01/29/2024)

Damon Connolly California Assembly 12:
Assemblymember Connolly Passes Clean Water Protections for Rural Communities and Endangered Wetlands

Assemblymember Connolly Passes Clean Water Protections for Rural Communities and Endangered Wetlands myreme Mon, 01/29/2024 - 18:07 AB 828 passed off of the Assembly floor with broad support coalition Monday, January 29, 2024 SACRAMENTO, CA Today, Assemblymember Connolly passed Assembly Bill (AB) 828 out of the Assembly, which allows managed wetlands and small disadvantaged communities to use their average annual …
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (01/29/2024)

Carlos Villapudua CA Assembly 13:
Carlos Villapudua, State Assembly Declares January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month

Carlos Villapudua, State Assembly Declares January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month cheevebe Mon, 01/29/2024 - 09:52 Title Communications Director Email ben.cheever@asm.ca.gov Thursday, January 25, 2024 SACRAMENTO Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua (D-Stockton), a joint author of ACR 125, joined his colleagues in the Assembly this morning to declare January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month. While nobody needs to be convinced of how …