African American news for the week of June 18, 2015.
Core Wellness4U announced its first annual Empowering Women to Healthy Living Expo, benefiting the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women initiative. The event will take place Saturday, June 20 at the Agoura/Calabasas Community Center. Spearheaded by the organization’s founder, Cori Banks-Eastmond, a certified holistic health coach, the daylong expo will provide tips on how to create a healthy lifestyle. Panelists and experts in their fields will explore the facets of fitness, bio-individuality and lifelong wellness methods. Banks-Eastmond will be joined by Flex Alexander, Tatyana Ali, Billy Blanks, ABC7 Eyewitness News’ food and fitness reporter Lori Corbin, and many more. For more info on the expo visit http://womenofvisionalliance.org/.
Even during his off-season as a member of the Miami Heat, NBA star Dwayne Wade frequently attends charity and celebrity events, and outings with his family. This summer he is going to Harvard to study in a class called “The Business of Entertainment, Media and Sports.” The four-day class is designed for executives in marketing and business development, according to its website. Wade even took up residence in a dorm room on campus, and as most modern college “kids” do, he has been active on social media posting about his experience. In one Instagram post, he wrote: “I get to have a Harvard sweater. I can’t wait. I can’t wait to put on that Harvard sweater.”
Starla Shannon, the 35-year-old daughter of a Montana man who shot his other three kids and wife, set their home on fire and then killed himself, told police her father knew he had mental issues. “People tried to tell him he needed to get help. He said he’d rather go to a vet than a doctor.” According to police, Augusta “Mike” Bournes lay down next to the bodies of his children, aged 5, 4 and 1, and shot himself while the house was already on fire. Shannon said her father had served in the Vietnam War, but over the years had developed an anti-government sentiment. She added that she knew her dad cared a great deal about his immediate family, although he had stopped communicating with other relatives for some time now. “He fought for freedom and took it very seriously,” Shannon told the AP. “But he was not happy with how the world is today.”
The Harlem Book Fair has announced that the Wheatley Legacy Award will go to poet Nikki Giovanni and book illustrator Jerry Pinkney. The awards recognize the best African American books and writers in fiction, non-fiction, poetry and children’s books. The ceremony will be held Friday, July 17, at Columbia University. Registration is free but required by calling (914) 231-6778.
Gospel singer CeCe Winans will take part in the annual Macy’s 4th of July fireworks celebration by performing “My Country ’Tis of Thee.” The event will also feature a performance by Gloria Estefan singing her original song, “America.” The celebration will air on NBC from 8-10 p.m. eastern time. The song recordings will be available as free limited time downloads on macys.com/fireworks from July 1-5.
Although the case is not over, a sigh of relief was felt in Cleveland last week when a judge ruled that there is enough evidence to charge two police officers in the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice last November. Municipal Court Judge Ronald Adrine said there is probable cause to charge rookie cop Timothy Loehmann with murder, involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide, and that his partner Frank Garmback can be charged with reckless homicide and dereliction of duty. The case is expected to go to a grand jury, which will determine what charges should be charged against the officers, if any. Rice was playing with a toy gun in a public park when video shows police driving up and firing on the youngster, seemingly without warning.
Ivy Taylor has become the first Black woman to be elected the mayor of San Antonio. She beat out former state Senator Leticia Van de Putte in a runoff election last Saturday, locking in about 52 percent of the vote. During her acceptance speech, she said, “The work starts Monday at City Hall. We come together now as a city.” Taylor has been interim mayor since last summer, when Mayor Julian Castro left to take on the role of U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
David Eric Casebolt, the McKinney police officer who was forced to resign after video of him manhandling a teenage girl at a pool party went viral, has a history of prejudice, according to media reports. Albert Earl Brown Jr., an African American driver in the area, filed a lawsuit against Casebolt previous to the pool incident. In the lawsuit, Casebolt allegedly used racial profiling, excessive force and falsified his report. The situation reportedly occurred in 2007. The lawsuit says that Casebolt, with the assistance of three other officers, held Brown and took down his pants to conduct a body search after he was pulled over with some Caucasian women in the car with him. The case was eventually dismissed.
In a related incident, a schoolteacher was fired after posting what has been called a “racist” rant about the McKinney pool party incident. Karen Fitzgibbon was a fourth grade teacher at Bennett Elementary School in Wolfforth. In the post, she rants: “This makes me ANGRY! This officer should not have to resign. I’m just going to just go ahead and say it … the Blacks are the ones causing the problems and this ‘racial tension.’ I guess that’s what happens when you flunk out of school and have no education.” She continued, “I’m almost to the point of wanting them all segregated on one side of town so they can hurt each other and leave the innocent people alone. Maybe the ’50s and ’60s were really on to something.” Fitzgibbon is the third person that has lost a job from the incident. Earlier last week, a woman named Tracey Carver-Albritton, who works for CoreLogic, a firm allegedly connected to Bank of America, was put on administrative leave after video showed her involved in the fight that brought police to the pool party in the first place.
In Richmond, charges have been dropped against a Black college student who was bloodied by police during an arrest. Martese Johnson, a University of Virginia student, was placed under arrest outside of a bar on March 18, allegedly for public intoxication and obstruction of justice. During a scuffle with Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) officers, he ended up on the ground with his face bloodied. When videos of the incident surfaced, a series of demonstrations began in the area, sparking an investigation. According to the Associated Press, Gov. Terry McAuliffe ordered the state police investigation and the retraining of the liquor agency’s approximately 130 law enforcement officers. He also established a task force to review ABC practices and make recommendations. Among the issues being considered by the panel is whether ABC should be stripped of its arrest powers. “Upon review of the evidence, the applicable principles of law and the best interest of the community, the Commonwealth reached a conclusion that the interest of justice is not served by further prosecution of the defendant in relation to the events of March 18,” said David Chapman, an attorney for the Charlottesville Commonwealth.
The parents of Rachel Dolezal, 37, claim that the current president of the NAACP in Spokane, is not Black, as she claims to be. The news has sparked outcry in the state and nationwide as to whether she is lying and whether or not she should be stripped of her position. (Dolezal resigned her post this week). Dolezal, who defended herself publicly last Monday, is also a professor of African studies at Eastern Washington University. According to public records, she has checked the boxes for White, Black and American Indian on city job applications. On her Facebook page, she has said that her father is Black, even though the couple that says they are her parents are White. Her mother told The Spokesman-Review that her daughter “began to ‘disguise herself’ in 2006 or 2007, after the family had adopted four African American children, adding that “it’s very sad that Rachel has not just been herself.” Dolezal responded to the allegations by saying that the issue is “not as easy as it seems. There are a lot of complexities … and I don’t know that everyone would understand that.” City officials say they are investigating to determine if any city policies or laws have been violated.
Earlier this month, 43 Black fathers, community leaders and businessmen were awarded $400,000 in grants to assist them in their communities in the following cities: Akron, Ohio; Baltimore; Detroit; Philadelphia; and Pittsburgh. The BMe Community, which is made up of 12,000 Black men and others committed to building better communities, is sponsoring the grants. BMe plans to honor the 43 individuals in local ceremonies through June 27. The events and BMe Community are backed by private donations, leading foundations and corporations, including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Open Society Foundations, the Heinz Endowments, JP Morgan Chase and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Since 2012, BMe has honored 143 BMe leaders in five cities, sponsored more than 100 community events and produced countless stories of solutions and the inspiring people behind them.
In conjunction with a variety of partners, the NAACP announced earlier this week “America’s Journey for Justice,” an 860-mile long march from Selma, Ala., to Washington, D.C. NAACP President/CEO Cornell William Brooks will lead the march. It’s designed to mobilize activists and advance a focused national policy agenda that protects the right of every American to a fair criminal justice system, uncorrupted and unfettered access to the ballot box, sustainable jobs and equitable public education. “America’s Journey for Justice” hopes to unite partners from the social justice, youth activism, civil rights, democracy reform, religious, not-for-profit, labor, corporate and environmental communities to call for justice for all Americans under the unifying theme “Our Lives, Our Votes, Our Jobs, Our Schools Matter.” The journey is set to being on Aug. 1 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. More info at www.naacpnet.org.
Compiled by Carol Ozemhoya.