US Reps Sheila Jackson Lee (AP J Scott Applewhite) and Al Green (AP)

Texas’ new congressional map would pit two Democratic Congressional Reps —Al Green and Sheila Jackson Lee — against each other in next year’s elections.

The Republican-controlled Texas Legislature released the draft maps as part of the decennial redistricting process that dictates political power in the states and Congress for the next decade.

Green and Jackson Lee represent the 9th and 18th congressional districts, respectively, in the Houston area. While the proposed map would preserve district lines for most incumbents, it would create an overlap between Rep. Dan Crenshaw’s(R) 2nd Congressional District and Democratic Rep. Sylvia Garcia. 

Texas acquired two new Congressional seats after the 2020 census data was published, bringing its total to 38 seats and 40 electoral votes in the electoral college. The current congressional delegation for Texas is composed of 23 Republicans and 13 Democrats, and the new map proposal largely focuses on maintaining incumbencies rather than attempting to flip Democrat-held seats.

The proposed redistricting would make that difficult for Democrats. Considering eligible voters, the current congressional map has 22 districts with white majorities, eight with Hispanic majorities, and one with a Black majority. Five districts have no clear majority. If approved, the new map would increase the white majority districts to 23, decrease the Hispanic majority districts to seven, and eliminate a Black-majority district. Districts with no majority would increase to eight under the new plan.

Although Texas’ population growth has overwhelmingly been spurred by new Asian, Black and Hispanic residents, the proposal reduces the number of districts where people of color are the majority. The redistricting proposal shrinks the number of congressional districts won by President Joe Biden from 14 to 13 while increasing the number of districts won by former President Donald Trump from 22 to 25.

Unity Bank receives major investment to help communities of color

Defender News Service

JPMorgan Chase is making a multi-million-dollar investment in Unity National Bank to strengthen the independent, Black-owned bank.

The capital infusion will help Unity increase its support of small businesses and its mortgage lending.

In addition to receiving an immediate capital investment, Unity will now offer JPMorgan’s money market funds to institutional investors through the firm’s Empower share class – which has surpassed $5 billion in assets under management.

“This investment is a transformative event for Unity and is indicative of JPMorgan Chase’s commitment to strengthen our bank and our community. I truly believe that JPMorgan Chase’s mentorship, guidance, and partnership will assist us in moving community banking into the 21st century and enable Unity to enhance and support economic development in underserved communities,” said Dr. Kase L. Lawal, Chairman, Unity National Bank.

Founded in Houston 58 years ago, Unity is the only African American owned banking institution based in Texas. For half a century, Unity has provided financial services to Houston’s underserved communities.

“Working together, Unity Bank and JPMorgan Chase will create more opportunity for Houston’s underserved community,” added Kisha Porch, Regional Director for Chase branches in Houston, San Antonio and El Paso. “The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated racial inequalities in Houston and across the nation, putting an even greater strain on local families. Our collaboration with Unity will have a meaningful impact to create a more equitable future.”

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50 Cent launches after-school business program in HISD   Defender News Service  

Rapper Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson launched a new after-school program in Houston ISD. 

He partnered with the city school district and the Horizon United Group for the G-Unity Business Lab. The new Houstonian joined Mayor Sylvester Turner and HISD Superintendent Millard House II to induct 75 students from Wheatley, Worthing, and Kashmere high schools.

“This is an exciting partnership for the students of HISD,” says Superintendent House. “Curtis Jackson moved to Houston and immediately invested in our children, becoming a stakeholder in their future.”

The inductees will follow an MBA-level curriculum taught by volunteer business coaches and mentors. They’ll learn skills for a successful entrepreneurship and will eventually present their business to 50 Cent and others for potential seed investments.

“I want you to take the information that they give you and keep it,” Jackson tells students at the induction ceremony. “Listen to them, because this program’s about what you want it to be about. It’s about you being an entrepreneur.  Take the things that stick out to you as really important things and make that a part of how you do business moving forward.”

The Business Lab is the latest project under the rapper’s G-Unity Foundation, which focuses on academic programs for low-income areas. The foundation invested $300,000 into the pilot program, and HISD matched them for a total of $600,000.

“When you grow up under circumstances that I grew up under, it starts to feel like the biggest restraint is a financial restraint,” Jackson says. “I just want to be able to help provide programs that allow you the information to do it the right way.”