Arizona

A headline in the Huffington Post reads: “NAACP Leader Uses F-Word to Apologize for Using T-Word After N-Word Meeting.” According to the story, an NAACP leader in Phoenix is under fire for sexist behavior that he displayed, after leaving a meeting on racial sensitivity. Apparently, he used profanities to apologize. He is Don Harris, president of the Maricopa County chapter of the NAACP. Harris was at a meeting at the Tempe Union High School offices to talk about the group of students who had used their T-shirts to form a racial slur (the N-word). As he was leaving the meeting, the 77-year-old reportedly said to a female reporter, “Nice ts.” The comment was recorded, and later when Harris was asked about it, he responded by saying “I’m really fking sorry.” Harris, who is White, has reportedly offered his resignation to the area NAACP.

California

According to another story in the Huffington Post, protesters are threatening to disrupt the Super Bowl this Sunday in San Francisco. The Justice for Mario Woods Coalition is accusing the city of “bending over backwards” to accommodate the big game while ignoring the friction between police and minority communities.” Mario Woods, 26, was shot and killed by five police officers on Dec. 2. He was reportedly shot 21 times. The officers claim he was moving toward them with a knife. “He (Mayor Ed Lee) has spent all of his energy pushing out the homeless, disabling bus lines and creating traffic jams so that his precious Super Bowl City can inconvenience the city of San Francisco for two weeks,” the Justice 4 Mario Woods Coalition wrote on Facebook. “This is energy he could have spent apologizing to Mario Woods’ family, seeking justice and acting like he actually cares about the Black and Brown community in San Francisco. We have promised him no peace until we get justice. We will bring it to his precious Super Bowl City.” The police said in a statement that they are prepared to “facilitate the 1st Amendment right to demonstrate,” but at the same time, a successful demonstration could be “embarrassing to the city,” wrote Michael McLaughlin of the Post.


Maybe the SAG (Screen Actors Guild) awards were trying to make up for the Oscars; several Black actors and actresses won major categories. Actor Idris Elba won for Outstanding Male Actor in a Supporting Role for “Beasts of No Nation” and for Outstanding Male Actor for “Luther.” Queen Latifah was the winner for Outstanding Performance by a Female in a TV Movie for “Bessie;” and Uzo Aduba won for Outstanding Female in a Comedy Series for “Orange is the New Black.” And, Viola Davis won Outstanding Performance for a Female in a Drama Series for “How to Get Away with Murder.” The SAG awards are voted on by actors and actresses.

Florida

Florida State University reached a $950,000 settlement last week with Erica Kinsman, the former student who accused quarterback Jameis Winston of rape in 2012. The school agreed to pay the money, which includes attorney’s fees, in exchange for her dropping her case. In addition, the school agreed to a five-year commitment to sexual assault awareness and prevention. No criminal charges were ever filed against Winston, who has since gone on to play in the NFL at Tampa Bay.

Georgia

A police officer in Cobb County, which covers parts of Atlanta, resigned last week after coming under fire for reported racist remarks he made during a traffic stop. Maurice Lawson put in his two weeks notice. He had already been suspended for two weeks without pay and ordered to take additional training. During a traffic stop, Lawson said to driver Brian Baker, who is Black, “Leave. Go away. Go to Fulton County. I don’t care about your people.”

Illinois

Donnell Flora, 27, was found guilty of first-degree murder in Chicago Friday after he allegedly supplied the gun that his niece used to shoot and kill another girl after the two argued on Facebook. Flora’s attorney argued that he was just trying to protect his niece, when he brought the gun to the confrontation that ended in the death of Endia Martin, 14, according to the Chicago Tribune. Flora’s niece, 16, reportedly took the gun from Flora and used it to shoot Martin. Prosecutors argued that if it hadn’t been for Flora, the .38 revolver would never have been at the scene and Martin would still be alive. Ironically, Flora has been in a wheelchair since 2010 after a shooting left him paralyzed from the waist down. “He became her provider—the provider of a handgun,” said prosecutor Barbara Bailey . “When there were about 1,000 other options that could’ve been taken by an adult, he chose to continue the cycle.”

Kentucky

A detention center in Elizabethtown is under fire after a report was released last week that says a teen died in the facility’s care. According to the report, Gynnya McMillen, 16, was restrained by guards who used a martial arts move on her, and then failed to check on her throughout the night. It was reported earlier in January that McNillen died in her sleep, but here family demanded better answers and an investigation was launched. The new report says “officers took her down using Aikido restraint move, didn’t check in on her overnight and waited 11 minutes to give her CPR, when they found her unresponsive.” One guard is on paid administrative leave, while it’s unclear if the others involved in her care will be punished.

Louisiana

While the annual Grammy Awards will be held in Los Angeles, the Pelican state will be celebrating all the Louisianans who contributed to those nominated at the 10th annual Only in Louisiana brunch on Sat., Feb. 13 at the Conga Room in L.A. According to the governor’s office, artists, producers, songwriters and the like from the state had a hand in 18 of the nominations in rap, country, jazz, blues, zydeco and Christian contemporary. Specific honorees with Louisiana ties include Lil Wayne, Terrence Blanchard and Jamison Ross.

Michigan

Teachers in Detroit are suing the school district, calling for it to repair “deplorable” conditions and remove the state-appointed emergency manager that they hold responsible for situation, according to the Huffington Post. The lawsuit, which was filed by the Detroit Federation of Teachers, contends that Emergency Manager Darnell Earley should be removed, because he “has not performed his duty to its students, parents, teachers and the community to provide a minimally adequate education and to properly maintain the schools.” Earley responded with a statement that many of the issues would be handled by Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan to help the district out of debt. However, the governor’s plan has yet to receive support in the state legislature, reports the Post. Things have gotten so bad that there are days when some schools have closed because of “rolling teacher sick-outs.” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan toured some of the schools and vowed to come up with a plan to improve them. However, he said, “Our children need our teachers in the classroom. But there’s no question about the legitimacy of the issues that they’re raising.”


During an interview with a television station in Detroit last week, Aretha Franklin revealed that she is going to be launching her own line of food products. She is reportedly working with a food company on a line that will include gumbo, chili and baked chicken. The move comes after the early success of industry peer Patti Labelle’s sweet potato pie in Walmart stores.

New York

Tension is building at the State University of New York (SUNY) Albany this week as reports emerge that three Black female students were assaulted–physically and verbally–by White male students. The three allege that they were victims of hate crimes, and report that 10-12 White students harassed and beat them on a bus Saturday. According to the Huffington Post, the three got into an argument with the other students on a city bus. The women say they were then beaten and called racial slurs, including nger.” One of the women told police that some of the men kicked her when she fell to the floor. The women got off the bus by the school and went to Albany Medical Center. Asha Burwell, one of the three women, went on social media to tell her story. Burwell said the assailants were fellow classmates. According to the Post, University President Robert Jones sent an email to the studentbody on Saturday afternoon, where he stated that he was out of town but decided to cut his trip short to address the incident. “I am deeply concerned, saddened and angry about this incident,” he wrote. “There is no place in the UAlbany community for violence, no place for racial intolerance and no place for gender violence.” Jones said that the school is working with city police to access video from the bus and identify the students involved. Steve Smith of the Albany Police Dept. said that if this is a hate crime, “that’s something that the Albany Police would take very seriously.”

North Carolina

The fight to clear barriers to the ballot box resumed last week in a federal courthouse in Winston-Salem. In the legal challenge to the photo identification provision of North Carolina’s regressive voting law, H.B. 589, the Advancement Project, along with co-counsel Kirkland and Ellis as well as attorneys Adam Stein and Irving Joyner represented the North Carolina NAACP and individual plaintiffs. The broader components of H.B.589 including the shortening of the early voting period, as well as elimination of same-day registration, of counting ballots cast out of precinct, and the gutting of a successful pre-registration program for 16- and 17-year olds were heard in a July 2015 trial and are still pending before the court. The proceedings this week cover the voter ID provision of the law. “The state should be making it easier for people to vote not harder,” said Michael Glick, counsel with Kirkland and Ellis. “The photo ID requirement imposed by North Carolina law makes it more difficult for African Americans and Latinos to exercise that fundamental right, and it offers them less opportunity than Whites to participate in the political process, and it does so without any valid countervailing state interest. For that reason, the photo ID requirement violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Acts as well as the 14th and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution.” Added Advancement Project co-director Penda D. Hair, “It is Jim Crow disrobed.” Final arguments were heard on Feb. 1. A ruling will come at the judge’s discretion.

Texas

Brittany Daniel, 26, was fatally shot in Arlington in what police are calling an incident of road rage. Police are reportedly looking for a man who opened fire on her vehicle on Interstate 30 between Cooper and Center streets. The passenger who called police said that a man who was riding in the back of a car shot at Daniel. Police have not released specifics on what led to the shooting.

Utah

Fox Searchlight Pictures reportedly won a bidding war at the Sundance Film Festival for “The Birth of a Nation,” allegedly paying a record-setting $17.5 million for the film’s worldwide distribution rights. The studio announced the deal last week after the film premiered to a standing ovation at the film festival. It tells the true story of Nat Turner, a slave who taught himself to read and became a preacher before ultimately leading a deadly rebellion that wiped out 60 slave owners. Writer, director, producer and star Nate Parker spent seven years making the film he described as a passion project he hopes will serve as a “healing mechanism for America.” Fox Searchlight says it will release “The Birth of a Nation” later this year.

Virginia

Tracy Lawrence, 43, was arrested last week after she allegedly punched an assistant principal, knocking her unconscious, during a meeting at a Lakeview Elementary School. According to police, Lawrence went to the school to talk to the assistant principal about a matter involving her child. At some point during a discussion, according to witnesses, Lawrence stood up and punched the assistant, then became belligerent with other staff before leaving the scene. The school’s resource officer went to Lawrence’s home and reportedly took her into custody without incident. She was taken to Portsmouth City Jail and held on a $10,000 bond.

Compiled by Carol Ozemhoya.