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Sen. Jones on HBCUs; Wildlife Thursday: manatees, jazz fables

Miami Herald

State Sen. Shevrin Jones joins us to talk about historically black colleges and the special session. Wildlife Thursday returns — we're talking manatees. And Jazz singer Cecile McLorin Salvant talks to us about growing up in South Miami and that influence on her music.

On this Thursday, April 13, edition of Sundial:

Florida Sen. Shevrin Jones on HBCUs

Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or HBCUs, were created at a time when African Americans were not allowed to attend most higher-ed schools.

Many of the founders were once enslaved. They created these institutions that have produced many household names, from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to Vice President Kamala Harris and many more.

President Joe Biden has expressed that HBCUs are a priority for his administration, promising tens of billions of dollars.

So far, he’s only been able to deliver $2.7 billion, just $156 million of that is going to four HBCUs in Florida, which includes Florida A&M University, Bethune Cookman University, Edward Waters College and Florida Memorial University.

State Sen. Shevrin Jones, a Democrat who represents parts of Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, was appointed by the White House to serve on the Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

He joined Sundial to discuss his new role and the upcoming special session legislative session.

Sen. Jones on HBCUs
State Rep. Shevrin Jones

Wildlife Thursday: manatees

In just 15 months, more than 1,500 manatees have died in Florida. That number broke records.

Many of them died of starvation. Manatees feed on seagrass, which has been dying off due to pollution and algal blooms.

The Indian River Lagoon on the Atlantic Coast of Florida is a diverse ecosystem where much of the crisis is concentrated. The area has been plagued by pollution over the last 10 years.

Biologists told WMFE’s environment reporter Amy Green that in order to save Florida’s much-beloved aquatic mammal, lagoon cleanup has to be a higher priority. Find more reporting on this story here.

Florida also recently ended an experimental program created to help feed manatees.

Numerous groups are suing the state, state agencies, and even the federal government for not doing enough to protect the species which is threatened.

Sundial was joined by Ragan Whitlock, a staff attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, to discuss the lawsuits and the state of manatees in Florida.

Wildlife Thursday: manatees

Jazz fables with Cécile McLorin Salvant

Grammy-award-winning jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant has a beautiful voice.

She grew up in South Miami, and is returning to South Florida this weekend to headline Saturday, April 16, at Jazz Fest Pompano Beach.

Sundial Host Luis Hernandez caught up with McLorin Salvant ahead of the festival, and she even offered a sneak peek about what she's planning to sing this weekend.

"We're going to be playing songs from a recording that I am working on now," she said. "So these are some songs that we've been performing for years but hadn't recorded yet. And so none of the music is out yet. It's all in process."

McLorin Salvant talks about the varied music in her house growing up — with a French mother and Haitian father — and how those influences led her to jazz.

"All of my friends had parents who had accents, right? All of my friends had parents who spoke English, as sometimes a third or fourth language. … We walked around as sort of translators and bridges between these cultures and I think that's a huge part of how I sing," she said. "I think I sing with that mentality of like, being in between two worlds and wanting to translate an idea from, you know, one group to another."

She's been working on a musical fable, about an "Ogresse" who has to balance how she's perceived with maintaining her humanity.

"It's like that tension of the way people perceive you from the outside and who you truly are and what you truly want to be, and sometimes be the issues of, you know, sort of falling into what other people think of you," she said. "You know, just sort of yielding to that idea — and how it's important not to."

"Ogresse" is also being made into an animated film. You can find all the information about Cécile McLorin Salvant's performance at Jazz Fest Pompano Beach here.

Jazz fables with Cécile McLorin Salvant

Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.
Caitie Muñoz, formerly Switalski, leads the WLRN Newsroom as Director of Daily News & Original Live Programming. Previously she reported on news and stories concerning quality of life in Broward County and its municipalities for WLRN News.