The University of Alabama has elected its first Black student government association (SGA) president in four decades. Elliot Spillers said he was “shocked and thankful” for the honor. This will be the junior from Pelham’s first elected position within the organization, although he has served several appointed positions. Spillers is studying business management and is a member of the Honors College. The school newspaper reported that voter turnout for this election was the highest it’s been in years. He is the SGA’s second Black president in its 100-year history. Cleo Thomas was elected in 1976. According to AL.com; many are calling Spillers’ election a sign of progress for the University of Alabama, which has weathered several race-related scandals and upheavals in recent years.
Suge Knight collapsed in an L.A. courtroom last week after he heard the judge set his bail at $25 million. Knight has been in jail for about two weeks after being arrested and charged with murder. Knight’s attorney accused the prosecution of watching too much “Empire,” implying that the prosecution was comparing Knight to Lucious Lyon, one of
the main characters on the popular show that is being charged with the murder of a character that was once his friend. According to media sources, Knight told his attorney he is going crazy because he is in solitary confinement and has no hot water, no blanket and just occasional showers. While Knight does suffer from diabetes and blood clots, his attorney told CNN that he hit his head on the table and passed out. He was temporarily hospitalized and his next hearing is set for April 13.
Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria J. Carstarphen, Ed.D., received the Phoenix Award during Selma’s 50th Anniversary Jubilee Celebration. The Phoenix Award was presented by the Sullivan and Richie Jean Sherrod Jackson Foundation and Museum. It was designed to recognize a person whose life work reflects the spirit of the Jackson family. The Foundation is a non-profit organization created to preserve the family’s legacy and commitment to peace and justice. The family’s home often served as the meeting place for leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph David Abernathy and Andrew Young. The residence is now a museum.
A man wielding a machete at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport last week has died. He was shot by police after reportedly chasing a TSA agent with the machete. According to media sources, Molotov cocktails (a type of bomb) were found in a bag that he dropped while he was running through the airport. Richard White, 63, chased a TSA agent, who was unarmed, through the airport. A sheriff’s deputy saw the scene and shot White three times. During a press conference, law enforcement said White had a history of mental illness, and that his family is cooperating with authorities as they conduct their investigation. A search of White’s car revealed he had smoke bombs and tanks of Freon and oxygen in the trunk. Before White went on his rampage, he sprayed some TSA agents and some passengers with bug killer, then pulled out the machete and chased a female TSA agent. Just before White reached the TSA agent, Lt. Heather Slyve of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s office drew her weapon and fired three shots at White.
Famed attorney Robert Shapiro, who was one of the attorneys who helped defend O.J. Simpson in Los Angeles back in the 1990s, is helping a St. Tammany Parish family get the conviction of McKinley “Mac” Phipps re-examined by authorities. The hopeful rapper was convicted in 2000 of the murder of 19-year-old Ronald Barron Victor Jr. at a club in
Slidell. The family is saying that key witnesses were bullied and others simply lied on the stand. “They ripped our family apart for no reason. They knew he didn’t do it and they didn’t care,” said Phipps’ sister, Tiffany. However, the district attorney—Warren Montgomery—told the Huffington Post last week that his office has no plans to investigate. “Certainly no one wants to see an innocent person remain in jail,” Montgomery said in a statement. “But there is a procedure for correcting injustices for those who feel they have been treated unfairly. That procedure is to petition the court with evidence. At that time, I will fulfill my responsibility to respond to the allegations.”
The FBI appealed for patience last week, as it begins its investigation into the hanging death of a Black man in Port Gibson. According to the Associated Press, 30 federal, state and local law enforcement personnel are working on the case. “Everybody wants answers and wants them quickly. We understand that,” said FBI Special Agent Don Always. “We are going to hold off on coming to any conclusions until the facts take to a definite answer.” The man, Otis Byrd, was an ex-convict. He was found hanging from a white sheet just 200 yards from his home in a wooded area. Byrd worked on offshore oil sites and reportedly kept out of trouble since he was released from prison after serving 26 years for shooting and killing a woman while robbing a convenience store in 1980. Friends and family told authorities and the media that since being released nine years ago, Byrd worked at turning his life around. He went to church and wasn’t the type to commit suicide.
The National Bar Association is seeking volunteers for the “Black Lives Matter” Community Service Day in Missouri. Along with affiliate the Mound City Bar Association and Democratic committeewoman Patricia Bynes of Ferguson Township, the initiative will take place on Saturday, March 28 from 11:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Greater St. Mark Family Church in St. Louis. The projects include a voter registration drive, expungement of criminal records campaign and firearm safety instructions. Those interested in volunteering their time and/or expertise should contact Terry Wiley of the NBA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Six-year-old Marcus Johnson had just had heart surgery a week ago. He was recovering well so his family decided it would be fun for him to play in a city park near their home in St. Louis. But the well-intended decision would have a tragic consequence. As a result of a traffic dispute someone in another car shot repeatedly at the family’s mini-van as it left O’Fallon Park. Marcus Johnson Sr., the boy’s father, reportedly returned fire in self-defense, but the exchange continued for three blocks. Marcus’ 15-year-old brother and another family member, age 69, were wounded; Marcus was shot The other children in the van, ages 8, 10 and 11, were reported OK. When officers arrived on the scene, one picked up Marcus and took him in his patrol car to the hospital instead of waiting for an ambulance. “We were all hoping, but we also knew that is was a miracle for that boy to live,” said the officer. “He was not granted that miracle.”
Walmart has agreed to a $10 million settlement to the family of James McNair, the man who died in a crash that involved comic/actor Tracy Morgan’s limo and a Walmart truck. McNair’s kids, 26 and 19, will receive increasing monthly payments that will start at about $3,000 a month and continue the rest of their lives. Morgan, who was severely injured in the crash, has a separate lawsuit against Walmart. The driver of that truck, Kevin Roper, allegedly fell asleep at the wheel on the Jersey Turnpike after driving for an excessive amount of hours.
Izola Ware Curry, the mentally ill woman who in 1958 stabbed the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at a Harlem book signing—an episode that a decade later would become a rhetorical touchstone in the last oration of his life —died on March 7 in Queens. She was 98.
One of eight children born to sharecroppers in Georgia’s rural south, Curry was found to suffer from paranoid schizophrenia and had an I.Q. of about 70. She developed delusions that the NAACP was after her and prevented her from finding employment; she centered blame on King who she subsequently stabbed with a seven-inch letter opener. She was committed to Matteawan State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, near Poughkeepsie, N.Y. She remained there for some 14 years. Then was later institutionalized for about a year at the Manhattan Psychiatric Center on Wards Island, in the East River. She lived in a series of residential-care homes before entering a nursing home where she died. Her death was confirmed by the office of the chief medical examiner of New York City.
A baseball player from Bloomsburg University has been dismissed from the team for an offensive Twitter post about Little League World Series star Mo’Ne Davis. The user account belonging to Joey Casselberry has been deactivated, but screen shots of the tweet show that the player used an offensive word while criticizing news that a Disney movie was being made about Davis. Casselberry made reference to Davis’ loss to Nevada during the LLWS. Bloomsburg announced the dismissal of the junior first baseman on Twitter as well. The university in Pennsylvania said it was “deeply saddened” by the player’s tweet. Davis was the first girl to earn a win and pitch a shutout in the LLWS last summer. She appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Texas is one of a few southern states which still commemorates the Confederacy, including having an annual Confederate Heroes Day. Many of the state’s memorials include the Confederate flag. However, that symbol is banned from being included on state license plates. Some Texans—the Sons of the Confederate Veterans in particular—aren’t too pleased with that ban and have taken the state to court over it. The Supreme Court is expected to render a decision any day now on whether or not the state of Texas can refuse to issue a license plate featuring a Confederate flag. It’s considered a First Amendment issue, and allies of the Sons group include the Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separate of Church and State. The Texas motor vehicle board rejected the Sons of Confederate Veterans application for permission to put the flag on license plates because of concerns it would offend many Texans who believe the flag is a racially charged symbol of repression.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is calling for a thorough investigation of the arrest of Martese Johnson, who ended up bloodied and requiring 10 stitches on his head after an altercation outside of a bar. Johnson has been charged with obstruction of justice without force, public swearing and intoxication. Johnson’s attorney—Daniel Watkins—along with a campus group called Concerned Black Students, say that the attack on his client was unprovoked and extreme. The case
appears to be another instance of law enforcement overstepping its bounds and using unnecessary violence on a Black citizen. One student who was reportedly with Johnson when the arrest occured said that an Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) officer and bouncer from the bar approached Johnson and asked for ID. The agent took Johnson by the arm and when Johnson asked that officer to let go, another officer joined in and the two wrestled Johnson to the ground, where he hit his head. “He didn’t need to be tackled,” said the witness. “He wasn’t being aggressive at all.” Johnson has no criminal record and actually holds some leadership roles at the school. The investigation is ongoing. Apparently, ABC agents have had similar cases in the past. The state of Virginia reached a $212,500 settlement just last year with a UVA student who was arrested after her purchase of water was mistaken for beer.
Jazz singer Alyson Williams will participate in the United States Postal Service official unveiling of the Maya Angelou commemorative stamp. The late Angelou will be honored for the important work that she provided to the world. The First Day of Issue (FDOI) ceremonies will mark the dedication of Angelou’s new commemorative postage stamp on Tuesday, April 7, at the Warner Theater in Washington, D.C. Williams will open the ceremony with the U.S. National Anthem and “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Williams said, “I am honored to participate in the tribute to someone (who) was so dear to my heart.” Angelou and Williams had a special relationship. Williams sang “God Put a Rainbow in the Clouds” during Angelou’s memorial in Winston Salem and New York City last year.
Collegiate Life, Radio One and North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Co. have joined together to raise funds for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The collective has launched a virtual fundraiser at www.hbcudonate.com. The fundraiser culminates with the National Baptist Student Union Retreat held in Atlanta, March 26-28 at the Crowne Plaza Atlanta Perimeter at Ravinia. During the retreat, students from across the country will present dance, music and step arrangements as well as participate in workshops.
Compiled by Carol Ozemhoya.