Across Black America for the week of July 21, 2016.
Ellenae Fairhurst has become the first Black female to own a Lexus dealership in Huntsville. According to St. Louis Biz.com, even though women consist of 85 percent of car sales, they only own 975 dealerships out of 20,000, with ethnic women only owning 56 of those. According to the National Association of Minority Auto Dealers, six Black women own dealerships within these numbers. Black women are a dominating factor in their households when compared to other women when purchasing cars. However, they are hard pressed to find a car dealership owned by someone looking like them. Fairhurst believes that customer service is very important in running a successful business. She began her career as a secretary with Ford Motor Co. in 1968. Working her way into management, she entered the Chrysler Corp. training program and was awarded a dealership with that company in 1988. Fairhurst says she is proud to own her own Lexus dealership.
The founder and president of the Black AIDS Institute will receive the GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders’ 2016 Spirit of Justice Award. Phill Wilson was an early voice on HIV in the Black community, reports ABC News. His activism began when he and his partner were diagnosed with HIV in the early 1980s. He became the AIDS coordinator for the city of Los Angeles. Wilson has also been involved in national and international research efforts, coordinating the International Community Treatment and Science Workshop at five International AIDS Conferences. Wilson will accept the award at the 17th Annual Spirit of Justice Award Dinner at the Boston Marriott Copley Place on Oct. 28. The Black AIDS Institute, based in Los Angeles, is the only national HIV and AIDS think tank focused exclusively on Black people.
An attorney has filed a claim against the Riverside County Sheriff’s Dept. after his client was detained without access to his basic rights. On or about June 30, Dominique Robertson, an offensive lineman with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, says arrived at the Loma Linda Hospital to seek medical attention for injuries he received as a result of being shot outside of an apartment building in Loma Linda. He sustained injuries to his leg area. The motive is unknown; however, there is no reason to believe that Robertson was the intended target, reports BlackNEws.com. On July 1, he was released from the hospital. Upon release, he was detained by Riverside County Sheriff’s deputies and taken to the Jurupa Valley Sheriff’s station. His family was not allowed to speak to him and were threatened with arrest when they sought to get information from the detaining deputies. Robertson was willing to cooperate with any investigation but was concerned with the detention and treatment of his family and requested an attorney before leaving the hospital and was promised that he would have access to counsel once they arrived at the sheriff’s station. Robertson’s attorney, Zulu Ali, arrived at the Jurupa Valley Sheriff’s station to meet with Robertson when he was advised by the investigating deputies that Mr. Robertson had not invoked his rights. After Attorney Ali advised that his client had requested an attorney, the deputies reportedly refused Ali access to his client and refused to even notify Robertson that his attorney was present. Attorney Ali was not even allowed in the building. Several attempts were made by Ali, by telephone, to speak to supervisors regarding getting access to Robertson, but he was continually denied access to his client. Finally, at 10 p.m., Robertson was able to make a phone call to his family who were gathered outside with his attorney; Robertson advised his family and attorney that he was in pain and had been requesting water, medication, and assistance with pain he was experiencing from the gunshot wounds; a water bottle he had was in fact taken from him by the Sheriff’s deputies. Robertson, who suffers from asthma, was also not provided his inhaler provided to police by Robertson’s family at the hospital prior to being taken to the Jurupa Valley Sheriff’s station. Ali says that regardless of the circumstances, denying Robertson access to his attorney, water, medication and medical assistance is a violation of the most basic of rights. “We were terribly concerned about Robertson’s welfare and the blatant disregard for his rights, health and safety. Not allowing his attorney access to check on his welfare; and denying him water, medication and access to medical attention was abuse on the part of the Sheriff’s department.”
A Black-owned Atlanta bank is experiencing a sudden surge of deposits, powered by a campaign aimed at bolstering Black-owned financial institutions after multiple high-profile police killings raised awareness of institutional inequality, reports USA Today.
Citizens Trust Bank — anchored in metro Atlanta and Columbus, as well as Birmingham, and Eutaw, Ala. — said it has received about 8,000 new applications for depositors in recent days. One of the catalysts, rapper Killer Mike, called a town meeting on MTV and BET on July 8 to implore the Black community to deploy “a portion” of its financial resources to make a difference. He wants 1 million people to deposit $100 apiece in small Black-owned banks or credit unions, believing that those financial institutions will be more likely than other banks to make loans to Black citizens and businesses – and more likely to treat them fairly in general. “We cannot go out in the street and start bombing, shooting and killing,” the rapper said during the town hall meeting. “I encourage none of us to engage in acts of violence that will cause more peril to our community and others that look like us. I encourage us to take our warfare to financial institutions.” Other supporters have posted similar remarks on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, urging people to consider shifting their money to Black-owned institutions. Frederick Daniels Jr., executive vice president and chief credit officer of Citizens Trust Bank, told USA Today in an interview that the bank is at the center of a “true movement.” He added, “If we can bring together our economics collectively, we can help businesses grow, we can help people obtain home loans. That brings them closer to the American dream. We’re providing a tangible solution for those who want action.”
Fred Barley, a 19-year-old in Georgia, was found by police officers sleeping in a tent on a college campus. Instead of harassing the young Black man, as several rogue cops have done to Black men in the news recently (resulting tragically in their deaths), the cops decided to help the young man make his dreams come true. According to Atlanta news station WSB-TV, Barley told the officers at hand how he had ridden his bike for six hours from Conyers to be able to get in line to register for college classes. Barley had apparently armed himself with water, however, for the long ride he was determined to endure. He also had cereal to eat and some of his personal belongings with him. Although the cops called the young man to come out with his hands up, instead of harassing him, they sat down with him and listened to his story. The cops took Barley to a motel and paid for him to stay there for two nights. Then the wife of one of the officers posted about the young man’s determination to continue studying – he wants to go to medical school eventually – and the story caught on fire. Now there is a GoFundMe account for Barley. Not only has money been raised for Barley to continue to stay at the motel until he is assigned a dorm room, a local businessman also created a job for him that allows him to go to classes as well. At press time, the GoFundMe account, called “Success for Fred,” had raised more than $90,000.
Gavin Eugene Long, a 29-year-old Marine veteran, was described by one U.S. law-enforcement official as a “Black separatist.” He is the gunman who fatally shot three police officers in Baton Rouge and wounded three others last Sunday. News outlets report that Long was a Marine veteran who had served in Iraq. Long turned 29 the day of the shooting. He was shot and killed at the scene, and as of Sunday evening, no motive for the shootings had been revealed. “There is not an active shooter scenario in Baton Rouge,” On Sunday night, authorities identified the three officers who were killed in the attack, , which included Baton Rouge police officer Montrell Jackson, 32, who was Black. “We will continue to do our job in light of what’s happening,” Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie said at a news conference. “This is not going to tarnish this city or this department.” As the day unfolded, it was learned that Long had rented a car and drove to Baton Rouge from his home in Kansas City. It appears he was angry about the recent death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, who was shot and killed by police during an arrest.
Family members of Philando Castile, the Black man shot and killed by a police officer in Minnesota during a traffic stop, has hired a former celebrity judge from Atlanta to represent their interests in any civil litigation pertaining to Castile’s death. Glenda Hatchett of the Atlanta-based Hatchett Law Firm “will aggressively represent Castile’s family in its pursuit of justice,” according to an Atlanta-based public relations firm representing the judge. Hatchett was once the star of the TV court show, “Judge Hatchett,” which ran on ABC from 2000 until 2008. She also served eight years as Chief Judge of the Juvenile Court of Fulton County, which covers Atlanta. She left the bench to go into private practice. Her firm specializes in wrongful-death litigation. In a written statement, Hatchett said: “I am deeply concerned about what seems to be an epidemic of African-American men being killed by police officers. We have often seen demonstrations and debates, and I raise the critical question, ‘When will there be systemic reform?’” Hatchett also said that Castile’s mother and family “are very passionate and committed to ensuring that Philando’s death is not just another statistic. “She wants her son’s death to mark a time in this country’s history where reform becomes less about rhetoric and more about reality.”
Lauryn Hill seems to be in tax trouble. The state filed a tax lien against the singer on June 30, and it says she owes $438,221 in back taxes. This isn’t Hill’s first tax problem, reports the Root. In 2013, she was sentenced to three months in prison for tax evasion for a $900,000 bill owed to the federal government.
A policeman involved in a road rage killing has been stripped of his badge and gun after grainy security camera videotape appeared to cast doubt on an initial account of what happened, according to the Associated Press (AP). Officer Wayne Isaacs was placed on modified assignment while the New York Police Department and the state attorney general’s office investigate whether his use of deadly force in the off-duty slaying of an unarmed motorist was justified. The shooting of Delrawn Small occurred on July 4 in Brooklyn while Isaacs was on the road in civilian clothes but still carrying a handgun, a common practice of off-duty NYPD officers. Small’s girlfriend told police he was angry because he thought Isaacs had cut him off and got out his car at a stoplight to confront the officer. Based on a preliminary investigation early last week, police initially said they believed Isaacs opened fire after Small reached through an open driver’s side window and punched the officer while he sat behind the wheel of his car. But the brief video, which surfaced on the Internet, appears to show Small getting hit by gunfire the moment he walks up to the car window, with no clear indication that he first assaulted the officer. Small, 37, can be seen recoiling and stumbling around before collapsing. The officer briefly exits his car and looks in the fallen man’s direction but then returns to the car. Authorities said that the video, first obtained by the New York Post, remains under review and that they want more evidence. Investigators are “still seeking additional videos,” NYPD Commissioner William Bratton told reporters. “They’re still seeking to identify (a third) motorist who was … stopped at the red light that may have witnessed some of the circumstances that occurred there.” Activists and Small’s family have criticized Isaacs for not taking steps to defuse the situation and are demanding that he face charges.
Several Pennsylvania police officers picked up the tab for a couple that refused to sit next to them at a local diner. One of the officers, who is Black, posted about the incident on social media. The story is going viral across the country at a time of strained police-community relations, especially in Black communities. Officer Chuck Thomas of the Homestead Police Department (near Pittsburgh) told ABC News that he and three other officers sat down for dinner at the Eat n’ Park restaurant on July 8, the day after a shooter in Dallas killed five police officers and injured 11 other people. “A male and female were going to be seated across from us, and he said, ‘I don’t want to sit there,’” Thomas said, “which drew my attention, and we made eye contact, and his body language just told me that he wanted nothing to do with police.” The encounter struck the officer and he decided to do something about it. “I looked over at him and said, ‘You don’t have to worry about it. We won’t hurt you,’” Thomas said. “He said, ‘No, I’m good. I don’t want to sit there.’” A server at the Eat n’ Park, Jesse Meyers, told local ABC News affiliate WTAE-TV, “that the couple “got moved completely opposite, away from the police officers.” Thomas said, “We get stuff like this all the time, and you brush it off,” but he felt like reaching out after what happened in Dallas. Thomas said that he wanted to leave the two a note but was unsure how to go about doing so and then decided to pick up their check and scribble a message on the receipt. He wrote that he paid for their dinner and thanked them for their support. He also left a $10 tip. “What it really came down to was that, ultimately, I just wanted to let them know that we’ve got to better the relationship between police and the community,” he said. “The day after Dallas, it was tight. You could feel the tension in the air. A lot of people did come up to us and thank us and shook hands and spoke of their sorrow. This was the only negative experience of the day.” Thomas said he wants people to know that not all police are bad.
A video of a protest rally in Dallas has gone viral. The reason? It shows Black Lives Matter extending an olive branch to Anti-Black Lives Matter protestors in a moment of peace. In the video, posted by an ABC News affiliate, shows mostly White counter-protestors showing up to disrupt a Black Lives Matter rally. “You got the ‘Black Lives Matter’ and stuff. We all matter, hell!” said Chris Rice, one of the counter-protestors. The Black Lives Matter demonstrators initiated a truce, ultimately deciding to join the counter-protestors on the other side of the street. What happened next was a rare but inspiring sight: Black Lives Matter supporters and anti-Black Lives Matter demonstrators embracing each other. “This is how you kick down the walls,” one Black Lives Matter protestor said during the moment. “Today, we’re going to show the rest of the country how we came together,” said one of the counter-protestors. The video, above, has now been viewed more than 1 million times on Facebook.
Gabby Douglas has two gold Olympic medals to her name, multiple world championships and now her very own look-a-like Barbie doll. She is currently training for the upcoming Olympics in Brazil, and toy maker Mattel decided to celebrate her success at the U.S. gymnastics team’s trials with a Barbie of her likeness. She told People magazine, “I’m so excited. My older sister and I used to play with Barbies and create these dramatic fantasy stories, so it’s such a huge honor.” She also told reporters that she hopes that young girls will take away her number-one lesson, which is to “Stay true to yourself, and go after your dreams. Be yourself and really embrace your inner beauty and your true talent. Believe in yourself. Never let anyone tell you you can’t do something when you can.” When asked about her upcoming performance in Rio de Janeiro, she replied, “I’m just going to do the same thing I did in London. Focus, train really hard, [and] be consistent.”
* The SEG (Society of Exploration Geophysicists) has announced that Estella Atekwana, a Black woman, is this year’s Outstanding Educator Award winner. Professor Atekwana is a regents’ professor of geology and director of the Boone-Pickens School of Geology at Oklahoma State University. She has strived to promote training as well as professional development opportunities for students, especially in the area of field research. The Society of Exploration Geophysicists Honors and Awards Committee believes Atekwana’s mentorship skills in the field resulted in a professional, liaison and nurturing relationship with her students. Dr. Atekwana holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Howard University. She went on to earn a Ph.D. at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Atekwana joined the faculty of geology at Oklahoma State in 2008. The SEG is the international society of applied geophysics and a not-for-profit organization that aims to promote the science of geophysics as well as the education of applied geophysicists.
* Nikki Giovanni, world-renowned poet, educator, commentator, activist and author, has been selected to receive the 2016 Literary Lifetime Achievement Award from the Library of Virginia. The award recognizes outstanding and long lasting contributions made to literature by authors with Virginian ties. The past recipients of the award include Edgar Allan Poe, Tom Wolfe, William Styron, Rita Dove, John Grisham, Booker T. Washington and Barbara Kingsolver. Giovanni is the author of more than two dozen volumes of poetry, essays, works of nonfiction and edited anthologies, as well as 11 illustrated children’s books, including “Rosa,” an award winning biography of Rosa Parks. Giovanni has been named a “National Treasure” and is one of Oprah Winfrey’s “Living Legends.” The recipient of some 25 honorary degrees, she has been named Woman of the Year by the Ladies Home Journal, Mademoiselle and Ebony magazines.
Compiled by Carol Ozemhoya.