Emmy Award-winning producer, TV host, syndicated radio personality, and pop culture commentator Tanya Hart and Robert Papazian, an Emmy-winning veteran television producer and former co-owner of Hollywood’s Sunset Gower Studios, have been elected as co-chairs of the Caucus for Producers, Writers and Directors for a two-year term. Hart becomes the first African American and first woman to head up the 40-year-old entertainment industry trade organization. A recent recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the Caucus, she also serves on the Caucus Foundation board of directors, which provides grant support to the next generation of TV and new media producers, writers and directors. The group works to link the best of content providers (i.e. the top 100 television producers, writers and program directors of primetime, daytime and children’s programming) with the rest of the web world. Current members of the caucus include J.J. Abrams, James Barrows, Vin Di Bona, Suzanne De Passe, Charles Floyd Johnson, Dennis Doty, Norman Powell, Lee Miller and other leading producers, writers and directors.
A Florida police officer was suspended for 10 days after violating the department’s social media policy, according to the Grio. The suspension came after the Jacksonville County Sheriff’s Office probed Lt. Trudy Callahan’s social media activity, after she posted an image to her Instagram account of a Black man on a chain-link fence. “Yeah, it’s almost Friday so get your Hood Hammock,” Callahan wrote in a caption on the post, which was made in 2015. “Ready to chillax.” After the image went viral, and after the backlash that followed, Callahan deleted her Instagram account. However, she has claimed that the posts were “taken out of context” and “twisted and turned to fit people’s agendas.” Callahan created none of the posts, but she re-posted several of them with comments made by other users that were considered to be racially insensitive. In one image that Callahan re-shared, a police sketch of a man in dreadlocks included the caption from another user, “The police really expect somebody to find this nia. I know 6 nias that looks like this.” (sic) Another image was of a Black man standing in a line of cars waiting for an ATM. “When you need money to get gas for the car you can’t drive up to the ATM,” she wrote. According to the New York Daily News, this isn’t Callahan’s first time in trouble for her conduct. In her 20-year career on the police force, she has previously been suspended three times. She was also the subject of numerous complaints, during her time in the Jacksonville County Sheriff’s Office.
The National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters Telecommunications Education and Management Foundation (NABOB), in partnership with Personal Selling Principles LLC, successfully launched the Media Sales Institute (MSI) at the Atlanta University Center (AUC) last month. The AUC partners are Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College and Spelman College. The inaugural NABOB Media Sales institute (MSI) was led by the marketing department at Morehouse College. The Media Sales Institute (MSI) program was developed by media management and sales training company, Personal Selling Principles LLC in 1999 and was the first Media Sales Institute (MSI) to successfully meld three groups of “millennials” (recent college graduates, career changers and military personnel) into a cohesive sales unit. The 10-day, intense curriculum prepared the group for entry in radio, television, cable, print, digital and interactive sales. The inaugural class participants hailed from more than 10 universities, colleges and the military. Media sales executives (as instructors) shared marketing concepts relevant to reaching today’s consumer.
The NAACP mourns the death of 88-year-old U.S. District Judge and civil rights advocate Horace Ward. Appointed in 1979 to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Judge Ward was known for his dedication to civil rights and for his unwavering commitment to challenging discrimination in Georgia’s higher education system. A native of Georgia, Ward earned his bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College and his master’s degree from Atlanta University in 1950. At Atlanta University, he met William Madison Boyd, chair of the political science department and president of the Georgia NAACP. Ward was the first African American to apply for admission to the University of Georgia’s (UGA) School of Law but the university rejected his application due to the state’s segregation statutes and Constitution. Ward sued, challenging the university’s policy of racial exclusion. Despite losing his challenge to attend the University of Georgia, Ward earned a juris doctor degree from Northwestern University in 1959 and returned to Georgia to practice law. He joined the legendary legal team that successfully represented Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter-Gault in their landmark effort to enroll at UGA in 1961, which included Thurgood Marshall, Robert Carter, Constance Baker Motley, A.T. Walden, E.E. Moore and Donald Hollowell. In 1964, Ward became the second African American since Reconstruction elected to the Georgia General Assembly. Ten years later, Ward became the first African American trial court judge in Georgia, when he was appointed to the Civil Court of Fulton County. President Jimmy Carter nominated Ward as the first African American to sit on the Federal bench in Georgia. Judge Ward’s swearing-in took place in the same courtroom where his lawsuit seeking admission to the university had been thrown out.
For the seventh consecutive year, Urban Prep Charter Academy is keeping it one hundred. Every senior at the predominantly Black, all-boys charter school in Chicago has committed to a four-year college or university, according to a story in the Huffington Post. At the school’s three campuses combined, the class of 2016 has been admitted to more than 220 schools. “It’s a great day,” said Rudolph Long, who told CBS Chicago on Urban Prep’s college signing day recently that he intends to attend Hampton University. “I feel great. We all made it. We all come from good environments so to see us all going to college is nice.” Overall, the senior class has received more than 1,500 college admissions and has been offered more than $15 million in scholarships and grants, according to CBS Chicago. Founder and CEO of Urban Prep Tim King said the students have been admitted to schools all over the country, including Georgetown University, Yale University, Morehouse College, among other schools. Since 2010, every senior class has had 100 percent of its students admitted to college, says the school’s website, which notes that the school’s motto is “We Believe,” and serves as a reminder that Urban Prep students will not fall into the trap of negative stereotypes and low expectations. “Every year, I’m just wowed by these young men, by what they are doing,” said King. “We started Urban Prep with the goal of moving the needle, when it comes to Black male achievement and these guys proved to me, the city and the world every year, that we did the right thing, when we founded Urban Prep 10 years ago.”
President Barack Obama’s daughter Malia will take a year off after graduating high school in June before attending Harvard University in 2017, the president and his wife said last week in a long-awaited announcement. Harvard encourages admitted students to defer for one year to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work, or spend time in another meaningful way. The student must not enroll in a program at another college that would grant that student a degree. Malia, the eldest of the Obamas’ two daughters, is a 17-year-old senior at Sidwell Friends, an exclusive private school in the District of Columbia that helped educate another first daughter, Chelsea Clinton, in the 1990s.
Half a century after a civil rights panel investigated Flint’s segregated housing, the commission held its first hearing last week into whether city residents again faced discrimination or racial bias—this time related to the city’s crisis over lead-tainted drinking water. Dozens of Flint residents spoke before the Michigan Civil Rights Commission about their anger, fear and distrust, two years after the financially strapped city switched its water source while under state control to save money. Some residents in the largely minority city said the contamination wouldn’t have occurred in a wealthy, predominantly White community. A mention of the previous investigation by the commission’s co-chairman resonated with Jonnie Faye Townsend, 52, who said she suffers from ulcers, diabetes and other problems. She suspects the water contributes to her health problems and has “psychologically tampered with me. We have been and continue to be discriminated against—classism, ageism and systemic racism,” she said. “Fifty years of complaints … and no one cared enough to put a stop to this systemic racism. I know it can’t be done in one day, but we have to do our best by (holding) conversations to resolve this.” Flint is under a state of emergency, after improper treatment allowed lead from old pipes to leach into the Flint River water the city was using. Residents have been told to use water filters and pregnant or nursing women and children younger than age 6 should use bottled water. Commission co-chairman Arthur Horwitz said while two more hearings are planned, the board has come to the “inescapable conclusion that this is a case of environmental injustice.”
A group of eighth-grade girls, all Black, hailing from Detroit, won a battle of the minds last week when they took home the gold at a national chess tournament. Led by 13-year-old Jada Hamilton, the five-member University Prep Science and Math team earned first place in the “Under 14” category at the 13th annual KCF All-Girls National Championships in Chicago, according to The Detroit News. “I was pretty amazed,” Hamilton told the outlet the day after her team’s victory. “It’s hard to describe how I felt that day, because I was really happy.” The girls prepared for the event, billed as the biggest and most prestigious all-girls, under 18 tournament in the country, with a chess master. Nearly 450 players from 27 states participated in the tournament.
A lawsuit says two White school officials in southeast Missouri slammed a Black teenager to the ground three times, injuring her neck and back and requiring hospital treatment. Judge Craig Brewer granted a change of venue last week in the lawsuit against the Cape Girardeau School District after attorneys for Ta’Brea Harris and her mother, Terri Harris, argued that a fair local trial was impossible since many potential jurors are graduates of the district. The new venue hasn’t been determined, but the teen’s attorneys have asked for the case to be heard in Mississippi or St. Louis counties. The venue change request also raised the issue of the lack of diversity in the judicial district that includes Cape Girardeau. About nine in 10 residents of that area are White. The Southeast Missourian first reported details of the case last month. The lawsuit alleges that after Ta’Brea Harris was involved in a verbal argument with another student while waiting for a school bus on Dec. 11, 2014, then-assistant Cape Girardeau Central High School principal Chris Kase grabbed her and slammed her to the ground. She was 14 at the time. Athletic director Lance Tollison later approached the teen from behind and slammed her to the ground, grabbed her when she tried to get away and slammed her down again, the lawsuit says. Kase is now the principal at the high school, and Tollison remains as athletic director. The suit says Ta’Brea Harris was treated at a hospital and incurred medical expenses due to her injuries, and continues to suffer from stress and anxiety. It seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. The incident was captured on surveillance video, which the judge has temporarily sealed.
Two women who work in the advertising department at The New York Times have filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against the newspaper, its chief executive and chief revenue officer. The Times reported that in a lawsuit filed last week in federal court in Manhattan, account managers Ernestine Grant and Marjorie Walker claim the workplace is “rife with discrimination based on age, race and gender.” According to the lawsuit, “Unbeknownst to the world at large, not only does The Times have an ideal customer (young, White, wealthy), but also an ideal staffer (young, White, unencumbered with a family) to draw that purported ideal customer.” Both women are Black and in their 60s. Grant has been with the paper for 16 years and Walker for eight years, the Times said. The lawsuit contends that when Meredith Levien, now the company’s executive vice president and chief revenue officer, joined the Times in 2013, she “made it very clear that she was looking for a very particular work force, one that was filled with ‘fresh faces,’ i.e., younger employees without families, and who were White.” The suit says the plaintiffs “have experienced discrimination and were retaliated against, when they complained about such discrimination.” Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy called the suit “entirely without merit.” She said the company intends to “fight it vigorously in court.”
The Oklahoma volunteer reserve deputy who fatally shot an unarmed Black suspect being subdued by regular deputies last year was found guilty of manslaughter last week by a jury that recommended he serve the maximum of four years in prison. Prosecutors told jurors that Robert Bates, 74, an insurance executive who volunteered as a reserve sheriff’s deputy, deserved to be sent to prison for thrusting himself into the situation, when there were several qualified deputies on the scene who could subdue the man. It took the jury about three hours to reach a verdict. Lawyers for Bates contended that he mistakenly thought he had a Taser in hand when he shot Eric Harris, 44, not realizing he had a pistol.
The Confederate flag hasn’t flown over the South Carolina State House since summer, when a racially motivated mass shooting at a historically Black church in Charleston resultedi the deaths of nine people. Now, a Democratic congressman is maneuvering to force removal of the flag from publicly-funded military universities –specifically the Citadel—a military college in Charleston that’s the only institution in the U.S. where the Confederate flag is still on display, says the Huffington Post. U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), whose district includes the Citadel, has approached the House Armed Services Committee with an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would deny federal funding to institutions that display the Confederate battle flag. The Republican-controlled committee is likely to vote on the amendment this month. “This flag, which never was the official flag of the Confederacy, is a symbol of hate, racial oppression and resistance to the rule of law,” Clyburn said in a statement. “It has been used for over a century as a symbol of southern defiance and White supremacy; it was viewed as such by the perpetrator of the horrific shootings at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston on June 17 of last year.” Clyburn noted that a Citadel graduate was one of those killed in the church massacre. “American’s tax dollars should be directed to institutions free of symbols of hatred,” said Clyburn, urging the amendment’s move forward. “Any vote to block or weaken the amendment is a vote to support the continued display of the Confederate battle flag at the Citadel and across the country.”
On April 29 during an event at the White House, 10 individuals from across the country were honored as “White House Champions of Change” for their leadership in preventing prescription drug abuse and heroin use, including increasing access to treatment and supporting the millions of Americans in recovery. These individuals were chosen from more than 900 nominations. Honorees included Anita Bradley, Leonard Campanello, Leslie Hayes, Tom Hedrick, Andre Johnson, Shawn Lang, Julio Medina, Justin Phillips, Justin Luke Riley and Barbara Theodosiou. In addition, on April 30, the Drug Enforcement Administration held its 11th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, providing a safe, convenient and responsible way of disposing of unneeded prescription drugs— including opioids and other controlled substances—in communities across the country. More than 5.5 million pounds of medication have been collected over the last 10 Take Back Days.