California

Former record label exec and music mogul Suge Knight and comic Katt Williams have both filed pleas of not guilty after being accused of robbing a photographer last year. The duo is scheduled to be re-arraigned on Oct. 27. Leslie Redden says she suffered a concussion and other injuries when Knight and Williams took her camera while she was attempting to shoot photos of them. A video of the incident shows Knight confronting her and calling her a “bitch” while telling another person to get her camera. Knight is already in custody as a result of another case where he is accused of running over two men near the set of “Straight Outta Compton.” One of the men died. No trial date has been set yet as a result of that case.

Florida

“3-1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets” a documentary to be aired on HBO on Nov. 23, documents the life and death of Jordan Davis, 17, who was shot and killed while sitting in an SUV listening to music with friends. Michael Dunn, 47, the White man accused of firing into the vehicle, was eventually tried, found guilty and sentenced to life plus 90 years for the teen’s death.

Georgia

A jury acquitted two deputies of killing Nigerian college student Matthew Ajibade earlier this year in Savannah. However, the jury did hand down lesser charges to the officers, including cruelty to an inmate, public records fraud and perjury. Ajibade was taken into custody after an alleged incident at his home. While in custody, he was tasered several times while he was restrained in a chair. Nine officers were fired as a result of Ajibade’s death and the cover up that ensued. His family attests that he should have been taken to the hospital instead of jail, since his girlfriend had told police he was bipolar and showed them his medication when they arrived as a result of a 911 call from her. A civil suit is pending.


Both civil rights leaders and Sons of Confederates are objecting to a proposal to place a monument to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Stone Mountain. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Atlanta and DeKalb County branches of the NAACP and the national office of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference want to stop the plan since “the site venerates the Confederacy.” In addition, the civil rights groups are asking that Confederacy images be removed from the area altogether. King’s monument would be located not far from the spot where Ku Klux Klansmen once burned huge crosses, and just beyond the famous giant carving of three Confederate heroes: Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson. The Georgia chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans also object to the King monument on Stone Mountain. The organization said that move “could warrant legal action,” according to the newspaper.

Illinois

Barbara Byrd-Bennett, former chief executive officer of the Chicago public school system, has pled guilty to corruption charges that include an attempt to award $23 million in contracts to a former employer in exchange for kickbacks and bribes. The 66-year-old has agreed to cooperate with the federal investigation in exchange for fewer charges and reduced prison time. Her sentencing will take place early next year. According to media sources, a small crowd had gathered outside the courtroom in Chicago where she entered her plea, and while she was exiting the building, they yelled comments such as “shame on you” and “you’re a disgrace to African Americans.”

Maryland

Police in Montgomery Village are investigating the death of Zella Ziona, a Black transgender woman, as a possible hate crime, according to NBC. The 21-year-old was discovered in an alley after being shot in the head. She died shortly after being taken to a nearby hospital. A witness said that he heard several gunshots after he heard Ziona in an argument with a group of teenagers. According to the story on WJLA-TV (NBC), Ziona is one of at least 21 transgender women that have been killed this year in the U.S. However, the actual number may be much higher, because family members of a victim may not report to police or media that the individual was transgender. At least 17 of the 21 victims this year, including Ziona, were reportedly Black.


Maryland’s four historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DHMH) Prevention and Health Promotion Administration and the Black AIDS Institute are sponsoring “Black Lives Matter: Health and Hip-Hop,” a culturally-grounded conference providing real talk about sex, sexuality and HIV/AIDS, on Saturday, Oct. 24. The all-day event will be held at Morgan State University Student Union and will use the music’s candor to address sexual behavior, masculinity and the influence of hip-hop on the health of Black men. Students will also learn the latest in HIV science and treatment, will critique top trending hip hop songs and will develop a youth-driven strategy that supports the sexual health of young Black men in Maryland. The Health and Hip Hop conference is free and open to Black men ages 18-29. Conference attendees will receive Black Lives Matter: Health and Hip-Hop-branded t-shirts, caps and hoodies. Attendees will also be entered in a free raffle to win a 2016 Kia Forte from Car Pros Kia of Carson and a free 10-day trip to Durban, South Africa. Go to www.health-and-hip-hop.eventbrite.com to register. Bowie State University, Coppin State University, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore are the other university sponsors.

Nevada

Lamar Odom, a former Los Angeles Laker, Los Angeles Cipper and husband of TV reality star Khloe Kardashian, is slowly regaining his speech and movement after being found unconscious on the floor of a room in a Pahrump brothel. According to various media outlets, Odom suffered a stroke, possibly brought on by drug use. He was taken to Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas, where he was initially in a coma. However, he reportedly opened his eyes and spoke to Kardashian last Friday. Former teammate Kobe Bryant, Khloe and other members of her family flew to Las Vegas to be at his side. Odom, twice part of a Los Angeles Laker championship team, has a history of substance abuse.


The annual Soul Train Awards weekend will be spread across two hotels—the Orleans and Mandalay Bay—as well as other locations in Las Vegas Nov. 5-7. R. Kelly, Common and Babyface will be featured in a concert during the festivities, and there will also be a celebrity golf tournament as well as a Grammy panel and the awards. The three days of activities kicks off on Thursday, Nov. 5 at Andre Agassi High School with a Grammy Foundation panel, followed by a welcome reception that evening at Mandalay Bay. The red carpet and awards show takes place Friday at the Orleans, with the charity golf event and concert at Mandalay Bay on Saturday. Some events will require tickets to get in. More info at http://www.bet.com/shows/soul-train-awards/soul-train-weekend.html.

New York

Grammy award-winner and platinum recording artist Alicia Keys and actor/comic Chris Rock will host the Keep a Child Alive (KCA) 12th annual Black Ball on Nov. 5 at the Hammerstein Ballroom. The event will celebrate the work of KCA and help raise funds to provide treatment and care for children, youth and families living with and affected by HIV in Africa and India. Keys, WizKid, Lion Babe and others are set to perform. “At this year’s Black Ball, we will bring attention to the young, vibrant and extraordinary people of Africa,” said Keys, co-founder of KCA. “Their future is bright, but with 25 million people currently living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, we need to get AIDS out of the picture once and for all, for Africa to reach its full potential.” Presenting partners for the 2015 KCA Black Ball include the Jynwel Charitable Foundation Limited, Microsoft, Givenchy parfums and Sherry-Lehmann Wine & Spirits. To date, Keep a Child Alive’s Black Ball has raised more than $24.9 million for children and families affected by HIV.


Esther Adler-O’Keefe, an assistant principal at Southampton High School, has been removed from her position and reassigned as a result of appearing in a Trey Songz and J.R. video. Scott Farina, Ph.D., superintendent of the school district, said Adler-O’Keefe will “take on new responsibilities with the district.” Adler-O’Keefe was prominent in the video called “Best Friends,” where she is shown as a homeowner who goes on vacation while J.R. takes care of her and her husband’s home. Songz and J.R. turn the home into a party scene and use profanity and sexual content in the lyrics. Adler-O’Keefe has told media sources that she was unaware that the video would contain the content and lyrics that it did. “Had I known of such content or lyrics, I certainly would not have participated in any fashion. I find the lyrics and content of the music video vulgar, offensive and demeaning,” she said in a statement.

Ohio

Samaria Rice, mother of 12-year-old Tamir Rice—the Black teen shot and killed by Cleveland police almost a year ago is asking that a special prosecutor handle he son’s case. She says the present prosecutor, Timothy McGinty, is refusing to step down and seems bent on taking the case to a grand jury before an investigation is complete. She told CBS News, “I am very disappointed in the way Timothy McGinty is handling this investigation. I would like for him to step down and allow an independent prosecutor to take over.” Jonathan Abady, an attorney for Tamir’s family, sent a letter to the prosecutor last week “to express the Rice family’s disappointment and grave concern” about how his office is handling the case. Abady accused McGinty in the eight-page letter of hiring “pro-police experts” and criticizes him for sharing the experts’ reports with the media but not with the family. In a statement, McGinty said he will not remove himself from the case and plans to take it to a grand jury, according to CBS.

Pennsylvania

According to “Today,” Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams had his nonprofit organization, the DeAngelo Williams Foundation, cover the cost of 53 mammograms at hospitals located in Charlotte and Pittsburgh. Williams is a staunch supporter of breast cancer awareness. In 2014, his mother, Sandra Hill, died after battling breast cancer. She was just 53 years old. He also lost four aunts to the disease. He also lead a push in 2009 to allow NFL players to wear pink throughout October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Texas

Conrad Alvin Barrett, who filmed himself playing what he called a “knock out game” with an elderly Black man, has been sentenced to nearly six years in federal prison. Barrett confessed to assaulting the 79-year-old, and breaking his jaw. Barrett was charged with a hate crime. At least 11 videos were found on his cell phone of what federal prosecutors called “racist rants, slurs and stereotypes, which were highly inflammatory.” Barrett’s attorney claimed he is bipolar and was intoxicated when the attack occurred. “The defendant committed this shocking and violent assault against this vulnerable elderly man simply because he was African American,” Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. “The Department of Justice will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the rights of victims of violent crimes are vindicated.”

National

McDonald’s USA has once again partnered with leaders in the hip hop community to launch its 2015 Flavor Battle competition. The eight-week national DJ competition challenges up-and-coming DJs to prove they are the best. Twelve DJs, each representing a U.S. region—East Coast, West Coast and Central—will battle it out. Now in its seventh year, the competition has garnered recognition from hip hop elites, such as DJ Clark Kent, who will serve as this year’s host and radio host/entertainment personality; and Angela Yee, who will serve as Flavor Battle’s social media correspondent. The celebrity judges include DJ Skribble, DJ Shiftee, DJ Jazzy Joyce and the 2013 champion, DJ R-Tistic. Fans can listen to a custom music mix from each DJ at www.flavorbattle.com and vote daily for their favorite mix-master from each region. The three DJs with the most votes will travel to New York City to compete in front of a panel of celebrity judges and live audience during the 2015 Global Spin Awards on Nov. 17. This year, McDonald’s serves as a title sponsor for the Global Spin Awards, an international awards show that recognizes DJs across genres. Ultimately, one DJ will be crowned the Flavor Battle champion and take home a $10,000 cash prize. The second prize winner will be awarded $3,000, and the third place winner will receive $1,000.


The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and its national board of directors honored the legacy of Chairman Emeritus H. Julian Bond at a memorial tribute last week at th Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. “It is fitting that as the NAACP meets this week in Washington to discuss today’s civil rights agenda, that we pause this evening to pay tribute and honor the legacy of our Chairman Emeritus H. Julian Bond,” said NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock. “His impact on our organization and this country reminds us that courage must not skip our generation, and that we have an obligation to continue working for equality for all.” The program featured tributes from Bond’s five children and special remembrances from colleagues and former students. Bond passed away in August after a brief illness. He was a lifelong civil rights advocate, warrior and educator, and was a founding member of the CoStudent Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Bond served as SNCC’s communications director from 1961 to 1966. He graduated from Morehouse College and helped found the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). He was also the organization’s president from 1971 to 1979. From 1965 to 1975, he served in the Georgia House and served six terms in the Georgia Senate from 1975 to 1986. In the 1980s and 1990s, Bond taught at several universities, including American, Drexel, Williams, the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard universities and the University of Virginia.

Compiled by Carol Ozemhoya