Early last week, “Empire” star Taraji P. Henson was up in arms declaring that her son, Marcel, had been racially profiled in Glendale. She said her 20-year-old would be transferring from USC to Howard University as a result of the incident. But a few days later, Henson went public with a very humble apology after the video from the officer’s dash camera revealed more to the story. The officer let the young man walk away without citing him for a traffic violation as well as possession of a “mild narcotic”—Ritalin—without a prescription. “I would like to publicly apologize to the officer and the Glendale Police Department. A mother’s job is not easy and neither is a police officer’s,” Henson said. “Sometimes as humans we overreact without gathering all the facts. As a mother in this case, I overreacted and for that I apologize.” She added: “Thank you to that officer for being kind to my son.”
Studies show that women veterans face greater challenges than their male counterparts. Yet there are very few programs to help them re-assimilate into civilian life. To answer the call, Ford Motor Company Fund partnered with National Veterans Transition Services Inc. (NVTSI), to launch a women veteran’s initiative, commonly referred to as Freedom’s Sisters REBOOT. Both entities collaborated on the program to meet the unique needs of female veterans as they transition from military to civilian life. The Freedom’s Sisters REBOOT Workshop allowed 15 women veterans from various backgrounds to attend free classes, five days a week, March 9-27, focusing on employment and career, personal well-being and achieving goals. Several members of the Freedom Sisters from the Los Angeles area served as mentors for the workshop in Los Angeles, which culminated last Friday in a red carpet graduation ceremony at the Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel.
The documentary “Navigate Him: An Intergenerational Conversation Among African American Men In New Orleans,” will premiere at the AMC Elmwood Palace 20 Movie Theater on April 18. The film investigates the experiences of African American men in the city of New Orleans through a series of short interviews of 36 men, representing a cross section of ages. “Navigate Him” celebrates the resilience of African American males as the documentary explores the experiences of the Black men featured through their contributions to the economy, political landscape, race relations, culture and progression of the city. The cast, ranging from the ages of 5 to 90, features many of the city’s local treasures, such as retired Montford Point Marine and retired coach and teacher Winston Burns Sr., Councilmember-At-Large Jason Rogers Williams, educator Raynard Sanders, Ed.D. local business owners Bill Rouselle and Ronnie Burns, publisher Vincent Sylvain, restaurateurs Wayne Baquet and Edgar “Dook” Chase IV, the Honorable Judge Kern Reese, President of Liberty Bank Alden McDonald, WBOK “The Good Morning Show” host Oliver Thomas and many more. Proceeds from the screening will benefit the Navigate Her Leadership Institute, a nine-month long leadership-training program for high-school adolescent girls across the greater New Orleans area.
Long time autoworker Floyd Dent was reportedly protecting himself from being choked and beaten when he was arrested outside of Detroit in Inkster. Dent has no criminal history. The Jan. 28 incident was caught on police video cameras and is making national news. It shows Inkster police pulling over Dent near South River Park Drive and Inkster Drive shortly before 10 p.m. The two officers approach with their guns drawn. As Dent opens the door, they pull him out and shove him to the ground. Dent does not appear in the video to be resisting arrest. Dent, who has worked for Ford for 37 years, said he was hospitalized for two days for injuries to his face and head. He was also tazed and kicked by the officers. An Inkster judge saw the tape and threw out assault and resisting arrest charges against Dent, who is also facing drug charges, but his attorney says the tape also shows the police planting the drugs. An outside investigator has now been assigned to the case. Dent says he has been unable to work since the incident and that he also has nightmares. His attorney is set to meet with Inkster authorities to discuss a settlement, and there is also the chance a federal civil rights case will be filed.
An Ole Miss student has been indicted for hanging a noose around a statue honoring James Meredith, the school’s first Black enrollee in 1962. A federal grand jury indicted Graeme Phillip Harris on two civil rights violation charges last week for hanging a noose and a Confederate flag around the statue. “This shameful and ignorant act is an insult to all Americans and a violation of our most strongly-held values,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. “No one should ever be made to feel threatened or intimidated because of what they look like or who they are. By taking appropriate action to hold wrongdoers accountable, the Department of Justice is sending a clear message that flagrant infringements of our historic civil rights will not go unnoticed or unpunished.”
The St. Louis Police have agreed with civil rights attorneys to stop the use of tear gas and other chemical agents on Ferguson protesters. In a victory for protesters and their call to stop police abuse against peaceful demonstrations, the St. Louis City and County police departments, as well as the Missouri State Highway Patrol, reached an agreement with civil rights lawyers. The agreement limits the use of tear gas, smoke, pepper spray or other chemical agents against protesters without first giving a clear warning and a means of exit. The new policy—to be decreed by the agencies by August 2015, and detailed in a settlement agreement dismissing demonstrator’s lawsuit against the law enforcement agencies—also prohibits police from using chemical agents as a method for dispersing individuals engaged in peaceful protest, or for intimidating or punishing them for exercising their First Amendment rights. A restraining order issued in December by Federal District Judge Carol Jackson, limiting police use of chemical agents, remains in place until the new policies are codified by the agencies.
For the first time in its 30-year history, the Stellar Awards for Gospel music were held in Las Vegas at the Orleans Hotel last weekend. The long weekend kicked off Thursday night with a preview of the new Bounce TV original comedy, “Mann and Wife,” starring David Mann and his wife Tamela Mann. The family-friendly show was met with a nod of approval from hundreds of people for its positive message. The Manns play a couple who both have children from previous marriages. Both the husband and wife are professionals, with the father working as a police officer and the mother as a school teacher. The weekend culminated with the annual awards ceremony, and a surprise performance from Beyonce, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, performing Williams’ Gospel hit “Say Yes.” The biggest winner was Erica Campbell, who received numerous awards for her song “Help.” Other winners included Donnie McClurkin, Smokie Norful, Rickie Dillard & New G, and the Walls Group. The awards will air on April 5 on TV One at 9 p.m. EST.
R&B singer Brandy will make her debut on Broadway in New York City on April 28 in the production of “Chicago.” She will play the role of Roxie Hart for an eight-week engagement at the Ambassador Theater. Brandy will be taking on a role most recently played by singer Jennifer Nettles. “Chicago” is the story of Roxie Hart, a housewife and nightclub dancer who murders her on-the-side lover after he threatens to walk out on her. Desperate to avoid conviction, she dupes the public, the media and her rival cellmate, Velma Kelly, by hiring Chicago’s slickest criminal lawyer to transform her malicious crime into a barrage of sensational headlines, the likes of which might just as easily be ripped from today’s tabloids. The musical is the winner of six Tony Awards.
An Angler family is seeking justice in a case where a White pastor allegedly murdered his Black son-in-law. The family of 23-year-old Christian Griggs are accusing local authorities of covering up the facts of the case. And they are not alone; the state medical examiner ruled Griggs’ death a homicide, yet his killer remains free and uncharged. According to multiple media sources, since Christian’s killing, District Attorney Vernon Stewart and Harnett law enforcement have done everything in their power to avoid holding Pat Chisenhall accountable, including tampering with evidence, withholding key information and maintaining conflict of interests. Most recently, the family discovered that D.A. Stewart has withheld additional forensic data critical to the case. “We demand that D.A. Stewart recuse himself and allow North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper and the state bureau of investigation to thoroughly investigate the homicide of our son and bring Christian’s killer, Pat Chisenhall’s, to justice. This type of racial discrimination, corruption and cronyism is unacceptable in North Carolina’s justice system, and we need state and federal officials to ensure fairness and equity. More than 16 months since Christian was killed and District Attorney Vernon Stewart has made it clear that he is incapable of doing his job,” wrote the family in a release. More than 4,700 people have joined the Griggs family campaign: www.JusticeForChristianGriggs.org.
The NAACP is using trademark law to censor free speech in a bizarre court case that was heard last week in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond. The Radiance Foundation and its co-founder, Ryan Bomberger, are being sued for “trademark infringement, dilution and confusion” for parodying the organization’s name in a news article detailing the NAACP’s documented pro-abortion position and actions. “This lawsuit should be shocking to any American who values truth and the First Amendment,” said Bomberger who is a citizen journalist and Emmy Award-winning creative professional. “The irony is painful. The NAACP is suing me—a Black man—for exercising my Constitutional right to free speech.” Judge Raymond Jackson found Radiance guilty and concluded: “The NAACP has no formal or official position or policy regarding abortion.” The case is now before three justices at the Fourth Circuit.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed an emergency motion with a federal appeals court to keep Wisconsin’s voter ID law from immediately taking effect. The action occurred after the U.S. Supreme Court declined the ACLU’s request to review a lower court ruling that upheld the law. The voter ID law was struck down by a federal trial court in April 2014, but that decision was overturned by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Until last week, the law was placed on hold by the Supreme Court while it considered whether to hear the case. Given recent action, the ACLU is asking the appeals court to extend the stay in order to prevent a sudden change in requirements while voting is underway in the April 7 general election. “Although the Supreme Court has declined to take this case, it previously made it clear that states may not impose new requirements for voting in the weeks before election day,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “The situation is even more compelling here because absentee ballots have already been mailed out for the April election, and early in-person voting has begun. Imposing a new restriction in the midst of an election will disenfranchise voters who have already cast their ballots. It is a recipe for disaster.” The ACLU is challenging the law on behalf of numerous Wisconsin voters, charging the measure violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Three female African American swimmers made history recently when they took the top three finishes in a single event at the Women’s Division 1 NCAA Championship. Freshman Simone Manuel of Stanford set an NCAA record with a time of 46.09 in the women’s 100 Freestyle, while Stanford teammate Lia Neal was second and University of Florida’s Natalie Hinds was third.
100 Black Men of America Inc. announced a national partnership with the Black Alumni of Notre Dame (BAND). Through the partnership, BAND will support the mentoring programs and initiatives in the network of 100 Black Men chapters to increase the number of African American mentors serving Black youth in communities where BAND has alumni. In markets where there are BAND members, but where the 100 does not yet have a presence, interested BAND members will have the opportunity to work with the 100’s world headquarters to serve as advocates for initiatives such as public education reform, and potentially creating additional 100 Black Men chapters. The new partnership broadens and deepens the impact of mentoring while providing BAND members with a relevant and meaningful national community service project. Both BAND and the 100 are organizations committed to improving the academic and economic success of African American youth. For info, go to www.100bmoa.org.
Compiled by Carol Ozemhoya.