President Barack Obama led thousands, including political dignitaries (such as former President George W. Bush) and Civil Rights activists, across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, marking the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday.” The president walked hand in hand with his wife and daughters, as well as Rep. John Lewis and another 1965 marcher—Amelia Boynton, who came to participate despite being in a wheelchair.
“We gather here to honor the courage of ordinary Americans willing to endure billy clubs and the chastening rod, tear gas and the trampling hoof; men and women who despite the gush of blood and splintered bone, would stay true to their North Star and keep marching toward justice,” the president said. The event was called “Bloody Sunday” because—live on national television—police beat the peaceful marchers as they crossed the bridge. The commemorative march was accompanied by a speech by the president that not only addressed race in America, but also answered recent critics of the president’s love for the U.S.A. “Fifty years from Bloody Sunday, our march is not yet finished, but we are getting closer,” President Obama told the massive crowd. “Two hundred and thirty nine years after this nation’s founding, our union is not yet perfect, but we are getting closer. Our job’s easier because somebody already got us through that first mile. Somebody already got us over that bridge.”
A Phoenix man will be raising his quadruplets alone, because his wife Erica died moments before the four babies were delivered. She died from hypovolemic shock, but the babies—three girls, one boy—all appear healthy. “Everything I do now is for my family,” Carlos Morales says. “Our family and friends have been very supportive, too. I am learning everything from how to give them a bath, CPR, feeding, and how to manage their sleep schedule.” Thousands of people from all around the world have contributed to a fund set up by a family friend. “They are all doing well, getting stronger each day and may even be coming home soon,” he wrote on a social media page set up for the babies and him. “They’re all around four pounds. They’ve been taken out of their incubators which means they’re able to maintain their temperature all by themselves, and they’re feeding from bottles instead of tubes.”
The trial on the copyright infringement case involving the song “Blurred Lines” started in a Los Angeles courtroom last week. Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams, T.I. and members of Marvin Gaye’s family are battling to determine if Thicke’s hit infringes on Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up.” In 2013, Thicke, Williams and T.I. filed a lawsuit against Gaye’s family to get declaration that the song didn’t copy the late Gaye hit. Nona Gaye accused Thicke of stealing “Got to Give It Up,” as well as “After the Dance,” which they allegedly turned into “Love After War.” Williams, T.I. and Thicke’s ex-wife Paula Patton, who co-wrote “Love After War” have been ordered to testify in Judge John Kronstadt’s courtroom. Thicke and Williams’ attorney, Howard King, told jurors to focus on the depositions and forget about media interviews. “There are many unsworn interviews of people trying to sell records,” he said. “It’s going to be easy to get distracted by the perhaps tawdry details of what goes on in the music business.”
Beverly “Bam” Crawford, D.D., and the Company International will host “Pearl of Great Price,” a day of empowerment and mentoring on Saturday, March 28, at the Marriott in Marina Del Rey. The Company International is an organization that connects and supports women of all ages, cultures and backgrounds looking for new ways to balance life, develop successful strategies and
have more fulfilling relationships. Attendees will gain inspiration through various participation in levels of leadership, community partnerships and information to restore and strengthen their dreams and goals.Crawford and her empowerment team consists of notables from various industries, such as: world renowned worship leader minister Jackie Gouche; community activist and author Makresha M. Reneau; celebrity fitness trainer Angela Davis; pastor Marguerite Reeves; co-host and artist Gabrianna Crawford; nutritionist Jayme Hirashiki; mental health advocate and integrated health and medicine specialist Dr. Lynn Goodloe; author and pastor Diane Gardner; domestic violence counselor and advocate Kathy Westfield and more.
District of Columbia
Students getting ready to graduate from Howard University have one more thing to look forward to: the Historically Black College/University (HBCU) is implementing a new program that will cover 50 percent of the cost of students’ final semester, if they graduate early or on time. Students pay about $11,900 per semester—that could leave students who graduate on time with an extra $6,000. According to “CNN Money,” about 46 percent of Howard University students graduate in four years. The national average is 39 percent. That means close to half of students graduating from the university will be able to participate in the program.
Georgia and Virginia
Sisters Network® Inc., the only national African American breast cancer survivorship organization with affiliate chapters across the country, announced the expansion of the Teens4Pink program to Atlanta and Richmond. Teens4Pink goals are to educate and empower African American teens between the ages of 12 and 17 with the knowledge and tools they need to start a dialogue with their family members about breast health and cancer. This approach will drive home the importance of early detection and urging annual check-ups, mammograms and ultrasounds. Launched in 2013, the program was piloted in Houston and Memphis, two cities where African American women with breast cancer face some of the highest mortality rates in the country. Teens participating in Teens4Pink become “Pink Ambassadors” and work to educate their family members and loved ones about breast health. In addition to local sessions, Sisters Network encourages teens nationwide to get involved by visiting www.Teens4Pink.org.
New York Police Dept. Commissioner Bill Bratton gave a press conference last week on the rising number of shootings in New York City. Shootings in NYC increased 17 percent this year over the same time period in 2014. According to Bratton and Robert Boyce, chief of detectives, the increase is due to failed marijuana prohibition. “In this city, people are killing each other over marijuana more so than anything that we had to deal with in the ’80s and ’90s with heroin and cocaine,” Bratton claimed. “We just see marijuana everywhere when we make these arrests, when we get these guns off the streets.” At the press conference, the NYPD revealed that it was a marijuana ripoff that led to the murder of officer Peter Figoski in 2011. “These are all ripoffs,” Boyce said. “These are not turf battles. These are ripoffs of marijuana dealers, robberies. No one should lose their life over the marijuana trade, the two claimed.“The NYPD should be the leading voices for ending marijuana prohibition, says Yony Newman, the director of media relations for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Prohibition is the absence of control, and by legalizing and regulating marijuana, we can regulate the marijuana marketplace.”
North Carolina and Virgina
Ivana Thomas, a Hampton University junior majoring in psychology and minoring in economics, has been named a finalist for the prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship. A native of Durham, N.C., and a student leader with a 4.04 GPA, Thomas is one of approximately 200 students nationwide invited for finalist interviews. Each year, more than 1,000 students compete for the coveted scholarship; 600 of those students receive university endorsement, and that number is whittled down to the 200 national finalists. Of that number, eventually 55 to 60 will be named Truman Scholars. Thomas received notification of her finalist status while attending a youth conference at Yale University last weekend. “I was overwhelmed with happiness,” she said. “I strive to be a change agent. I really see myself as being a public servant.” The Truman Scholarship awards $30,000 toward the education of its recipients. It also provides all winners with supplementary leadership training seminars and other opportunities for personal and professional enrichment.
A University of Oklahoma (UO) fraternity has been shut down after its members were seen on tape chanting in a racist manner. The Sigma Alpha Epsilon national chapter confirmed that its UO chapter was under investigation after a video of its members was revealed on a bus chanting, “There’ll never be a n-word in SAE.” Reportedly, the chant also referenced lynching. The Oklahoma chapter was shut down and some of its members were suspended from school as well. “We apologize for the unacceptable and racist behavior of the individuals in the video, and we are disgusted that any member would act in such a way,” said a statement from the fraternity’s national headquarters. “This type of racist behavior will not be tolerated and is not consistent with the values and morals of our fraternity.” Since the video was released last weekend, members of the fraternity have reported receiving death threats.
A Black police officer was killed last week while trying to stop a robbery in Philadelphia. Officer Robert Wilson III had stopped at a video game store to buy his son a game for doing well in school, when he came upon a robbery in progress. Wilson became engaged in a gun battle with both of the suspects who were armed. He moved away from the counter in the store to keep other customers in the store from getting hurt. Wilson was shot and killed. Both of the assailants were captured later and one confessed. “It’s a tremendous loss in so many ways,” said Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsey. “Our focus now is really trying to get the family through it, particularly his son. It is just a tough time for everybody.”
Rev. Darryl Wayne Edwards collapsed while performing a eulogy for a church member at Fannin Street United Methodist Church in Goliad. “He was talking about how you need to be ready for death because you never know the day or hour,” his sister Sheila said. “And about then, it happened.” Edwards was nick named “Hacksaw” from when he played football. The 55-year-old was the church’s pastor for the last five years. All of a sudden, according to his sister, Edwards said, “God, I need your help,” and he collapsed. He was pronounced dead at the hospital 40 minutes later.
Demonstrations erupted in the college town of Madison after people heard that a young Black man—19-year-old Tony Robinson—was shot by a White police officer. Matt Kenny, the officer involved is 45 and a 12-year veteran of the Madison Police. According to various media, police responded to a call that a young man, who had been involved in a battery, was wandering in and out of traffic on a major thoroughfare. The young man eluded officers and then ran into a house. Kenny followed him into the house, the two struggled and Robinson ended up dead from gunshot wounds. Protestors gathered at the scene and in front of the state capitol building, chanting “Black lives matter.” The officer was put on leave without pay. However, in Wisconsin, a new law requires that an outside law enforcement agency handles the investigation instead of the police department involved. The investigation will be handled by Wisconsin’s Division of Criminal Investigation. Kenny was cleared in 2007 in another shooting.
The Fox network has scheduled another show starring African Americans. Empire, the hottest show on television, bringing in a reported 20 million viewers a week, features a predominantly Black cast. Last week Fox announced “The Boris and Nicole Show,”
featuring Black husband/wife duo Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker. The hour-long lifestyle talk show is set for a four-week “sneak peek” run on Fox stations in Los Angeles, New York City and 26 other yet to be determined markets. The show will film in Hollywood and include information regarding current events, parenting advice and relationship tips.