California

Two Los Angeles-based entities were honored last weekend by the national organization the Living Legends Foundation. The non-profit organization is made up of urban music and radio executives and designed to recognize “living legends” in the business. This year’s honorees included Aundrae Russell, program director of KJLH-FM with the Jerry Boulding Radio Executive Award, and KJLH with the Broadcasting Icon Award. Other honorees included Cathy Hughes, founder of Radio One and TV One, who received the Icon Lifetime Achievement Award; Rushion McDonald, COO of the Steve Harvey Radio Network and other Steve Harvey entities, with the Entrepreneur Award; Ethiopa Habtermariam, president of Motown Records and president of Urban Music-Universal Music Publishing with the Record Executive Award; Gail Mitchell, senior R&B editor at Billboard magazine with the Media Award; Lee Bailey, CEO of EUR Web with the Digital Visionary Award; and Keith Clinkscales, CEO of Revolt Media & TV with the Chairman’s Award. Living Legends was founded in 1991 as a way to salute urban entertainment executives who work behind the scenes in Black music, media and radio. As part of its program, the organization financially assists industry legends who have fallen on hard times. The awards event is Living Legends’ main fundraiser. RFor information on ways to support the Living Legends Foundation, visit. www.livinglegendsfoundation.com

Colorado

Thousands of students and parents are protesting a local school board’s move to make students take a history class that promotes patriotism yet eliminates areas of study such as the Civil Rights Movement, the internment of Asian Americans during World War II and the campaign to give women the right to vote. Students and parents say they will continue to protest a suburban Denver school board’s refusal to back off a proposed review of a U.S. history course with a goal of promoting patriotism and downplaying disorder. Students from the area in turned an online petition signed by more than 40,000 people from across the U.S. Students across a majority of the 17 high schools in Colorado’s second-largest school district have left classes in droves over the past few weeks in protest. Some students, parents and residents have accused the conservative-led board of trying to influence children with their own political views. Some parents took issue with the board calling students who have walked out of class to protest “pawns,” according to Associated Press. “This is America. Stop calling us names when we exercise our rights,” said Lisa Cooke, a mother of two students. The protests began after the school board first proposed the U.S. history review. Sarina Phu, 17, one of several students who spoke to about 300 opponents of the school board from the back of a pickup truck in the building’s parking lot, said some of the nation’s greatest achievements, including civil rights and equality for women, were achieved through protests and social unrest.

Florida

National Civil Rights organization ColorOfChange condemned private prison company Youth Services International’s (YSI) attempt to have overturned Florida’s decision to cancel its contract due to widespread reports of abuse of children. Last week, YSI filed an official challenge with the Florida Division of Administration after the state’s Department of Juvenile Justice canceled a $3.5 milliion contract for the Santa Rosa Abuse Treatment Center, citing excessive force, abuse and an institutionalized disregard for the well being of youth in its custody. YSI was also barred from applying for a contract with the state for 12 months. “It is absolutely shameful that a company that profits from the daily abuse and torture of Florida’s youth would blame the state and those same youth for sanctions against its unethical business practices,” said Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange. “This is a clear attempt to roll back Florida’s progress to hold the private prison industry accountable for its corruption and abuse and stop the state from moving toward more forward facing and effective reforms.” Added Robinson, “The unethical private prison model, which prioritizes profit over rehabilitation, is unacceptable for Florida.”

Georgia

The family of Charles Smith, a Black man killed in police custody in Savannah last week, successfully called for peace during the young man’s funeral. Hundreds of mourners from around the state showed to pay their respects. Police say that Smith had been arrested and was placed in the back of a control car when he began trying to kick out the back window. The police report alleges that officers thought he had a gun. Savannah Police Chief Julie Tolbert also called for peace and issued assurances the case would be thoroughly investigated. “We want the residents to know that we are very much concerned about them and their concerns about this incident,” Tolbert said. Smith’s family attorney, Chad Mance, told WJCL-TV that the family also called for calm. “Our position is that we want peaceful protest. There’s nothing wrong with voicing our constitutional rights to free expression, but at the same time, we don’t want it to escalate,” Mance said. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI)’s ongoing investigation continues. The officer who shot Smith, David Jannot, is on leave with pay.

Maryland

The National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Baltimore Metropolitan Chapter, presented Tuajuanda C. Jordan, president of St. Mary’s College of Maryland, with its Torchbearer Award during the coalition’s 25th annual awards breakfast held at Morgan State University. Other honorees included Shirley Malcolm, head of education and human resources at the American Association for Advancement of Science; Stephanie Cole-Hill, an executive at Lockheed Martin; and Charlene Dukes, the first female president of Prince George Community College. Each year, the organization honors women that have distinguished themselves in areas of health, education, economic development, cultural arts and social/political action.

Michigan

Ford Motor Co. has joined forces with the “Tom Joyner Morning Show” and “Rickey Smiley Morning Show” for the second year to launch the 2014 HBCU Community Challenge competition. A total of $100,000 will be awarded in scholarships and grants to recognize students and support unique student-led projects. Students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are encouraged to submit online proposals centered on the theme of “Building Sustainable Communities” by Nov. 9. Both radio shows will support efforts to generate awareness around the program, which seeks to encourage students to design community projects that address pressing local needs. Each proposal should creatively address a pressing community need that focuses on at least one of these areas—mobility, alternative energy, sustainability/water and systematic approaches to meeting community needs. Student and university scholarships will be awarded to the winning team, with each winning project being awarded a grant for teams to implement their innovative work. Three teams will be selected to present their proposals to a panel of judges that includes radio personality Tom Joyner and Ford executives at Ford World Headquarters in December. Universities can learn more about the competition and submit their proposals by visiting www.blackamericaweb.com/hbcuchallenge or www.rickeysmileymorningshow.com/hbcuchallenge, between now and Nov. 9.

Missouri

The National Bar Association is suing the city of Ferguson and its police department for “delayed action and failure to comply with Missouri’s Sunshine Law.” The NBA is seeking the release of documents regarding the shooting of unarmed Black teen Michael Brown. The lawsuit seeks to preserve all evidence related to the incident, including the notes of the police officers and data collected from the scene of the shooting. The lawsuit follows a similar lawsuit filed by American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The NBA filed a request Aug. 13 for records, video footage, notes and reports related to Brown’s death to be delivered within three days. Ferguson’s city clerk wrote in a response that some documents may not be available in that time frame, and also that the clerk’s office may not be in possession of some of the requested records. The National Bar Association then filed suit after the office of the clerk did not respond to the bar association’s request for clarification as to which documents may have been unavailable, and which are not held by the city. The ACLU suit follows an Aug. 12 request for “a copy of the incident report for shooting of Michael Brown.” According to a petition filed in St. Louis County Court, the ACLU received an outright denial, followed by a one page incident report that contained the date, time and a single word descriptor of the incident: “shoot.”

New York

Leading African American and Haitian American elected officials protested recently demanding that the U.S. Justice Dept. investigate the proposed ward referendum in the town of Ramapo. They are claiming that it will violate the Voting Rights Act by risking the Black community’s 27 years of uninterrupted representation on the town board. Town voters went to the polls last week and chaos ensued to the extent that the ballots from the vote have been impounded by the state’s Supreme Court. According to the Journal News, the ballots won’t be counted until Oct. 10. Currently, members of the town’s board are elected townwide. The referendum would split the town into districts. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me,” said Councilwoman Brendel Logan-Charles, a longtime Civil Rights and Spring Valley neighborhood watch activist whose father-in-law, Bernard Charles Sr. was the town’s first-ever African American councilman. “In 2003 and 2011, the Rockland Legislature drew so-called minority districts for Spring Valley and Hillcrest after complaints from Civil Rights groups. But both districts elected white men, not minorities,” Charles said, “Don’t make me promises when I know my history. The Justice Department must intervene immediately.” The ward plan proposed violates the Voting Rights Act because minority voters are geographically concentrated in the Spring Valley and Hillcrest areas and would be packed into one district in order to create a minority district. But an analysis prepared by the research firm GeoPolitical Strategies shows that even such a district would contain less than 50 percent Black voters. A ward system would pit African Americans against Haitian Americans against Latino Americans in a single district, allowing a White candidate to gain the seat.

North Carolina

Last week, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a district court’s decision to deny a preliminary injunction on key parts of a North Carolina law that has been called “a massive voter suppression law.” The three-judge panel, with one judge dissenting, ruled in favor of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, the League of Women Voters and other plaintiffs who sought to block certain provisions of the law from being put into effect for the upcoming November elections. The court ordered an immediate preliminary injunction to block two provisions—the elimination of same-day registration, and the prohibition of out-of-precinct ballots from being counted. “We are pleased with the Circuit Court’s ruling today,” said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP. “The evidence clearly showed that, under North Carolina’s voter suppression law, African Americans would have faced higher barriers to the ballot this November, and the court took an important step to ensure that this election will remain free, fair and accessible to all North Carolina voters. Our fight is not yet over, though. We will charge ahead until this law is permanently overturned in the full trial next summer. Until then, we will continue to take our movement to the streets to make sure all people in our democracy have an equal voice in this and all elections.”

Ohio

A white woman is suing a sperm bank, claiming that she was given the sperm of an African American male rather than an Anglo male. When Jennifer Cramblett was five months pregnant with a child conceived through artificial insemination with sperm from a fertility clinic in Canton, she was told that the sperm came from donor No. 330, a Black male, rather than donor No. 380, a White male. The sperm originally came from Midwest Sperm Bank in Chicago. Cramblett and Amanda Zinkon, a lesbian couple, had recently been married and were so thrilled with the pregnancy, that they had decided they were going to go back and have Zinkon impregnated also. “How could they make a mistake that was so personal?” Cramblett asked AOL News. The mixed race child, a girl, was born in 2012. Cramblett said that she and her partner love the child, but are concerned about raising her in the predominantly White neighborhood that they live in. She said that therapists have advised her to move her family to a more racially diverse neighborhood. In the lawsuit, Cramblett is seeking a minimum of $50,000, she says, will go for ongoing counseling.

Texas

After word got out that the Dallas area may have up to half a dozen possible Ebola cases, some parents kept their kids home from school last week. According to the Associated Press, the Dallas Independent School District identified at least five students who may have been in contact with a Texas man, the first person in the country diagnosed with the deadly virus. Andre Riley, a spokesperson for the school district, said that the students identified have no symptoms, but they are being kept at home and monitored for the next three weeks. But that’s not good enough for many parents in the area. Some parents are keeping their kids at home, while others are trying to get their children transferred to schools other than the one that the five children isolated attended. “You have to protect the ones you love,” Yah Zoo, a parent of two, told the AP. Ebola isn’t contagious until symptoms appear, and then it can spread only by close contact with a patient’s bodily fluids. Texas health officials said last Thursday that more than 80 people were being monitored for symptoms of Ebola in the state. Mike Miles, Dallas’ school superintendent, told reporters that the district is acting out of an “abundance of caution” and would add more health workers to keep watch for symptoms among students. The district also deployed more custodial workers to the schools, which include another elementary school, two middle schools and a high school. “The students didn’t have any symptoms, so the odds of them passing on any sort of virus is very low,” Miles added.

Compiled by Carol Ozemhoya.