Arizona

The Maricopa County branch of the NAACP holds its 45th annual Freedom Fund Dinner tomorrow at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Phoenix. This year’s theme is “All in for Justice and Peace.” Steve W. Zachary, an attorney and owner of the Zachary Law Group, is the keynote speaker. Zachary and his wife, Marla, have a long history of service in the community, including founding the Arizona Message Ministry. ABC Channel 15 personality Susan Casper will emcee along with Clovis Campbell Jr., publisher of the Arizona Informant newspaper. The honorees this year include Roland Campbell for the business award; Rev. Reginald Walton for the religious award; Reginald Bolding for political action; Benjamin Taylor for law; Traci Williams for education; and Dr. Ann Hart to receive the President’s Award. Proceeds from the dinner go toward various programs, including providing assistance to Back-to-School and Stay-in-School projects, youth activities and education on current discrimination issues.

California

Tina Knowles, Beyoncé’s mother, married actor Richard Lawson last week on a yacht off the coast of Newport Beach. The entire Knowle’s family attended. Knowle’s divorce to Mathew Knowles was finalized in 2011, reportedly over a child he had with another woman. Over the years, Tina has developed her own businesses, the House of Dereon and Miss Tina fashion brands.

Florida

Oprah Winfrey’s television network (OWN) joined a lawsuit last Friday against a Florida man who reportedly said he was Winfrey’s nephew, which enabled him to receive gifts and other items. Justin Jackson went so far as to create stationery using the OWN logo to send letters allegedly from Winfrey to get jobs at a hotel and with Perry Ellis. OWN joined the lawsuit with other victims, including Reggie Love (a personal aide to President Barack Obama) and Scott Garner, who is an executive VP at OWN. In addition, Jackson is being accused of attempting to receive free gifts from companies such as Converse, Pandora and more.

Illinois

For nearly three decades, former Police Commissioner Jon Burge and his cohorts tortured and abused Black suspects into confessions, whether they committed the crimes or not. Last week, the City of Chicago, under Mayor Rahm Emanuel, announced it would pay reparations to the tune of $5.5 million to about 100 victims. In addition, the city will provide other services, such as college tuition, job training, psychological counseling, health care and small business assistance, free of charge to the victims. According to MSNBC, the reparations in total, and the costs of the investigation, will amount to more than $100 million. Burge allegedly led several detectives on a mission that literally terrorized Black men from the south side of the city in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. Burge and his associates used electrical shock, beatings and burnings during interrogations in order to coerce false confessions, says the MSNBC story. “Jon Burge’s actions are a disgrace to Chicago, to the hard-working men and women of the police department, and most importantly to those he was sworn to protect,” said Mayor Emanuel in a press statement. “Today we stand together as a city to try and right those wrongs, and to bring this dark chapter of Chicago’s history to a close.” Burge was fired in 1993, but it wasn’t until 2006 that an investigation found enough evidence to go after Burge and his crew. However, the statute of limitations had run out on some of the abuses, so Burge ended up only serving less than five years of prison time.


The family of a Chicago teen shot 16 times by police has been awarded $5 million in a wrongful death lawsuit. In addition, the FBI and state authorities have launched their own probes into the violent death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Police say the teen was wielding a knife when he was shot. There is a dashboard cam video of the incident, which police are said to be hoping to keep under wraps in lieu of the settlement. The video could be released in the future, pending the outcome of the federal and state investigations.

Michigan

An eighth grader who was taunted with racial slurs on a school bus says he’s afraid to go back to school, where the kids accused of bullying him have returned after receiving what some are calling “a slap on the wrist.” WDIV-TV reports that Bloomfield Hills Middle School honor-roll student Phoenix Williams captured two of his classmates calling him a “dirty nir” on video on a field trip, and said that no one spoke up to challenge the profanities being used against him. The eighth-grader took out his cell phone March 13 and recorded the pair as they turned around in their seats and harassed him. “I’ll give you a piece of candy, if you call Phoenix a dirty n*r,” one of the boys said. Another boy grabbed the victiom’s hat and tossed it toward the back of the bus, and the teens threatened to break his phone, if he told on them. WDIV reports that Williams’ mother contacted police, and an investigation was opened, and that the Oakland County District Attorney is looking into possible “ethnic intimidation” charges. In addition, Bloomfield Hills School District Superintendent Robert Glass said action against the boys was taken but he never revealed the specific punishment.

The boy’s mother, Shanari Williams, says she doesn’t believe the school is safe for her son. He has been working at home since the incident.

Nevada

The movie industry gathered this week in Las Vegas for the annual CinemaCon, a multi-day conference that showcases new technologies in cinema and also honors the past year’s standout performers and producers. The National Association of Theatre Owners puts together the event each year, which culminates in the awards. This year, comic actor Kevin Hart was honored with the Comedy Star of the Year Award. CinemaCon took place at Caesars Palace from April 20-23, when the CinemaCon Big Screen Awards were held in the hotel’s Colosseum.


For the first time in the history of the concert event Rock in Rio, it will be held in Las Vegas. The massive concert will be held across two weekends on six stages. The first weekend—called Rock Weekend—takes place at one end of the Las Vegas Strip on May 8 and 9. The second weekend—May 15 and 16—is called Pop Weekend and features acts such as Bruno Mars, John Legend, Taylor Swift, Big Sean, Jessie J and Joss Stone. Rock in Rio began in 1985 and has been held in different parts of the world in the past, including Rio, Lisbon and Madrid.

New York

A blog hosting posts from former and current New York City police officers is drawing ire, because some say its posts enforce stereotypes. The blog—called Thee Rant—was started by former cop Ed Polstein in 1999 as an outlet for former and current officers only. But recently, it has drawn its critics because racist and stereotypical comments have appeared frequently. Polstein has claimed in the past that anyone who wanted to contribute had to prove he or she was a cop or former cop. “It’s very disturbing stuff,” said Stephen Davis, chief spokesman for the NYPD. “Outrageous stuff. We see it. It’s a problem. But monitoring these things is challenging. There are privacy issues involved. We can’t go and peel back email names and tags and try to find out who these people are.” Davis added that the department would investigate any specific allegation that a particular officer was behind objectionable comments.

Ohio

La-Sonya Mitchell-Clark got the shock of her life last week when she found her long-lost biological mom right under her nose, at the same company where she worked. Mitchell-Clark, 38, was adopted as a newborn and grew up in Youngstown. When she got older, she began searching for her biological mother. She looked via Facebook and wherever she could to find a clue about her real mother’s name and whereabouts. Finally, the Ohio Department of Health released birth records for anyone born between January 1964 and September 1996. Mitchell-Clark scoured the records and finally found a name associated with her date of birth—it was Francine Simmons. Something clicked in Mitchell-Clark’s head… the name sounded familiar. She realized that a woman with that name worked at the same company she did. The pair spoke for the first time in nearly 40 years on the phone, where they came across even more shocking news; they only lived six minutes away from one another. Mitchell-Clark also learned she had three siblings, including one sister who also worked at the same company.

Oklahoma

The elderly reserve officer who shot and killed a Black man in Tulsa during an attempted arrest has been charged with manslaughter. Officer Robert Bates, 73, has claimed that he meant to use his stun gun but accidently pulled his revolver. Video of the incident shows Eric Harris, 44, fleeing from officers. When caught, he’s tackled and shot about five seconds later. Bates can be heard saying, “Oh, I’m sorry. I shot him,” while Harris is heard screaming, “He shot me. Oh my God!” Harris, who was not armed, later died.

South Carolina

“A Day of Magic” took place last Saturday at the Hilton in Columbia, put together by Mothers of Black Boys Inc. Open to women of all ages, the networking event covered topics such as business branding, finance, fitness, nutrition and beauty. Experts were on hand for panel discussions, a networking reception and South Carolina Leading Ladies Awards. Honorees included: Carolyn Murray, WCBD News-Charleston; Cynthia Pryor Hardy, On Point Media Columbia; Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine, City of Columbia; Tonya B. Brown, WPDE News Florence; Gloria Bell, Sonoco/TEACH Foundation; Robin Jackson, Brookland Baptist Church; Lasenta Lewis Ellis, LLE Construction Group; Councilwoman Jil Littlejohn, City of Greenville; and Chandra E. Dillard, South Carolina House of Representatives.

Washington

Police in Kent arrested a man for allegedly calling a 6-year-old Black child a “gook” and “monkey” and throwing a rock at the boy. An investigation is underway with the possibility of disorderly conduct charges being filed against the man. Police say they were called to the man’s home after a small group of people, mostly Black, had gathered outside to protest his use of racial slurs against a grandmother and her grandchildren. Allegedly the man yelled at her, “I don’t know what to call you people, gooks or monkeys.” He also reportedly threw a rock at the 6-year-old. Police reported that the man appeared intoxicated when they spoke to him, and that this was not the first time there were complaints about his use of foul language aimed at Black people in the neighborhood.

Wisconsin

Four people are dead in Milwaukee after an accident and series of misunderstandings. It all started when Damani Terry, 2, saw some kids dancing in a park across the street and the toddler stepped out in the street and was struck by an oncoming car. The driver, Archie Brown Jr., stopped immediately and ran to check on little Damani. The toddler’s brother, 15, saw what happened and also ran into the street to attend to his little brother. Somehow the boys’ uncle, Ricky Chiles, misunderstood what happened and emerged from a nearby house with a gun. He shot at Brown, hitting him and his teenage nephew. Brown and Damani died on the scene, while Damani’s brother died later at the hospital. Chiles fled the scene, but was found days later hiding in a motel. He shot and killed himself before police could arrest him.


Congresswoman Gwen Moore (WI-04) was selected by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to serve on a conference committee to complete a final fiscal year 2016 budget agreement. “I am honored and privileged to have been chosen by leader Pelosi to serve as one of our party’s conferees to the FY 2016 Budget Conference. As we take our place at the negotiating table, my Democratic colleagues and I are committed to forging a path to a sensible budget agreement that recognizes the struggle and challenges of our country’s most vulnerable. America needs a budget that prioritizes working and middle class families above special interests and our nation’s wealthiest. I will do everything in my power to ensure that students, seniors and working and middle class Americans are seen as a central priority in brokering a final spending framework for FY 2016. Rest assured that their interests will be represented and their voices will be heard as we craft an equitable and just budget.”

National

Lexus will award the 2015 Lexus Verses and Flow Scholarship in partnership with 10 of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Two students per institution will each be awarded a $5,000 scholarship in recognition of their community leadership and academic excellence. The Lexus Verses and Flow scholarship is open to students at Howard University (Washington, D.C.), Xavier University (New Orleans), LeMoyne-Owen College (Memphis), Clark Atlanta University (Atlanta), Morehouse College (Atlanta), Spelman College (Atlanta), Grambling State University (Grambling, LA), Florida A&M University (Tallahassee), Hampton University (Hampton, VA) and North Carolina A&T University (Greensboro, N.C.) To enter, students must complete an application, available at these campuses, and submit it along with a written or video essay detailing how they are taking a leadership role in their communities, the importance of community and the benefits of attending an HBCU. Qualifying students must be a sophomore, junior or senior at the start of the scholarship application period and provide a letter of recommendation from a member of their school’s faculty as well as a leader in their community. The scholarship coincides with the return of the NAACP Image Award-nominated variety show, “Lexus Verses and Flow” in its fifth season airing on TV One. The winners of the Lexus Verses and Flow Scholarship will be presented and recognized during a special “Verses and Flow Day.” Visit http://luxuryawaits.com.

Compiled by Carol Ozemhoya.