The fifth annual Long Beach Gospel Festival drew thousands last weekend. Hosted by Pastor Wayne Chaney Jr. and wife, Mye’sha of the Antioch Church of Long Beach, highlights included performances by Deitrick Haddon, Tina and Erica Campbell, Tasha Cobbs, Kierra Sheard, Myron Butler, Jonathan Nelson, Jessica Reedy, Brian Courtney Wilson, and more. Cloudy weather didn’t seem to discourage festival goers. “For the past few years, the fragrance of Gospel music has permeated the shores of Long Beach,” said Pastor Chaney. “This year was no different. Even in the rain, our hearts smiled seeing so many uplifted and encouraged.”
The California Wellness Foundation’s board of directors has elected Ernest J. Wilson III, dean of the Annenberg School of Communications and Journalism at USC, to its board of directors. He is also a professor of political science and a faculty fellow at the school’s Center on Public Diplomacy. “We are excited to welcome Dr. Wilson to the board and believe he will bring new expertise to the foundation,” said Elizabeth M. Gomez, the chair of the California Wellness board. “He has a fresh perspective from his work related to academia, communications and political science. We are all looking forward to working with him as Cal Wellness implements its Advancing Wellness grants program.”
The state’s NAACP chapter will announce during a press conference Aug. 5 in Redding its plans to open an investigation into the death of Gugsa Abraham “Abe” Dabela, a young Black man who died in April of last year due to what the family is calling “mysterious” circumstances. Dabela, 35, was an attorney who died from gunshot wounds to the back of his head, after being involved in a car crash less than a mile from his home. The medical examiner ruled his death a suicide. “The Dabela family has questions, and it’s time for answers,” said state NAACP President Scot X. Esdaile. “At the same time, a mountain of misinformation concerning this case continues to build in the media, and we intend to bring clarity to the issues at hand.” NAACP Norwalk President Darnell D. Crosland, Esq. also weighed in on the incident. “We urge NAACP members and other concerned members of the public to join us in Redding to learn why people are increasingly calling for justice on behalf of Abe (#Justice4Abe) he said.”
A petition has been launched to remove a mural depicting the KKK that is hanging in the Baker County Courthouse. The 135-
foot mural is supposed to be a historical rendering of Baker County, which is in the far north of the state, on the border with Georgia. So far, about 1,300 signatures have been gathered. Change.org initiated the petition.
Atlanta-based HBCU Direct, a marketing collective specializing in Historically Black Colleges and Universities relations, has partnered with the owners of Aspire TV network—Magic Johnson, Tracy McGrady and 2 Chainz—to raise awareness of HBCU schools and increase student enrollment. The first event, which will begin in September, is a 20-campus Hoops-N-Hip Hop Tour intended to reach 100,000 Black college students. “The partnership provides a huge opportunity to use our voices to support the efforts of the nation’s 105 HBCUs; to build awareness and attract talent,” said seven-time NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady. “HBCUs are a cornerstone of our community, having graduated some of the most notable African Americans across the spectrum including in [the] fields of medicine, technology, the arts, sports and beyond. With more African Americans entering college today than ever before, it is imperative that we do all that we can to support HBCUs in every way as they continue to provide a high quality education.”
Michael L. Johnson, 23, has been sentenced to 30 years in prison after being convicted of intentionally infecting other men with HIV. According to Black News, Johnson concealed his illness from the men he had intercourse with while a student at Linden University in Saint Charles. Judge Jon Cunningham told Johnson that he had committed a very severe crime. “The main thing is the profound effect your actions have had on the victims and their families.” Johnson told the court, once presented with evidence that he knew of his condition, that he didn’t know how to tell people he was infected.
A University of Cincinnati police officer shot and killed an unarmed Black man last weekend. Samuel Dubose, 43, was stopped by Ray Tensing, an officer of the school, because of a missing license plate. According to the police report, Tensing asked Dubose several times for his driver’s license, but instead was handed a bottle of alcohol. Tensing reportedly asked Dubose to get out of the car, but Dubose allegedly refused. A struggle ensued and Dubose was able to free himself from Tensing and drive away. Tensing fired at the car and struck Dubose, killing him. Police confirm that Tensing was wearing a body camera, but footage from it has not been released.
A photo of a Black state trooper helping a White supremacist at the state capitol went viral last week, and now the trooper is telling his story. Leroy Smith told USA Today that he felt chills go up and down his spine, when he saw the Confederate flag being removed from the state capitol earlier in the month. But a week later, he was back there himself, this time in uniform with other officers trying to keep the protest by White supremacists from getting out of hand while also separating them from
the Black protesters on the other side. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a White man acting lethargically and losing his balance. Smith took the man by his arm and helped him to a couch in an air-conditioned area. “I think that’s the greatest thing in the world—love,” he said of his action. “And that’s why so many people were moved by it. He looked fatigued, lethargic, weak. I knew there was something very wrong with him.” An aide to Gov. Nikki Haley took the photo, “sensing a moment of grace as South Carolina struggled to cope with a racist tragedy,” wrote USA Today. “In that moment, Leroy Smith was the embodiment of all that,” remarked Haley’s aide.
The Nickelodeon, South Carolina’s only non-profit art house film theater, hosted recently “Blaktastik,” a three-day film, music, education and art festival celebrating contemporary Black creative culture. Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the festival explored how young Black voices are redefining Black culture with new, and creative ways of making film, music and art. Blaktastik featured six films, a high school film workshop and Instagram competition, an art exhibition, a free concert and a college filmmaker workshop with Time Spent NYC, the festival’s artist in residence. Blaktastik gave the public an opportunity to see and experience alternatives to popular notions of Black life portrayed in mainstream film.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) has launched an inquiry into the death of 19-year-old Black teen Darius Stewart, after he was shot and killed while in custody of police in Memphis. The officer involved is Connor Schilling, 26, a three-year veteran of the force. It’s not clear why Memphis’ district attorney asked for the outside investigation. According to police, Stewart was a passenger in a car that was stopped for a headlight violation. While officers checked on two active warrants for Stewart, he was placed, without handcuffs, in the back of a squad car. Once one of the warrants was verified, Schilling returned to handcuff Stewart, but Stewart allegedly kicked the door and began assaulting the officer. Schilling shot Stewart and he died later at an area hospital.
Controversy continues to swirl around the case of Sandra Bland, as public opinion and police reports differ drastically, once again calling into question the treatment of a Black person by a White cop. Bland was stopped for a traffic violation earlier this month, which escalated to a verbal and physical confrontation, according to the video released. She was arrested and while in custody was found hanged in her cell a few days later. The coroner’s office ruled her death a suicide, but her family insists that she had no reason to end her life, and in fact, was on her way to a new job. Bland’s supporters are demanding a full investigation into her death.