California

The Los Angeles Family Housing’s (LAFH) 18th annual awards were held last week with Ice Cube among the many notables attending at The Lot in West Hollywood. The event was set up to raise funds and awareness to continue the organization’s fight against homelessness in Los Angeles. Celebrities who walked the yellow carpet before enjoying food from several different Los Angeles restaurants including Button Mash and Trap Kitchen. Afterwards, guests made their way inside for the awards ceremony and charity auction. LAFH has combated homelessness in Los Angeles by providing housing for families who have found themselves without a home. Ice Cube, who was honored at the event alongside Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority Commission chair Wendy Greuel, was effusive about the organization’s cause. To some families, it’s everything. This organization has been around more three decades, has helped in excess of 6,400 families. I know we hear a lot of numbers, and it’s easy to throw those numbers around, but you just think about all those people. This organization has helped all those people, the hip-hop artist said. “So it’s really all about doing what you can. I can never do as much as LAFH, but I can do my part and we all can do our part.” The event raised more than $1.2 million for the charity that night, reports Variety.


Beyoncé and Jay Z have reportedly made a bid of $120 million for a brand new, in spec-built mansion in the Bel Air area of Los Angeles. The property in question was not listed on the open market but was being shopped around with an asking price of $135 million. Designed by architect Paul McClean and built by high-end property developer Dean McKillen, son of Irish tycoon Paddy McKillen, the boutique-hotel sized mega-mansion sits behind massive woven metal gates at the end of an olive tree-lined and stone-paved driveway on a 1.88-acre hillside parcel in the heart of East Gate Bel Air with panoramic city views over the rooftops of surrounding mansions. Linked by a circular staircase lined with, the multi-level residence encompasses around 30,000 square feet of interior space spread over six contemporary structures that spill out through automated floor-to-ceiling glass panels to more than 10,000 square feet of outdoor living areas. According to marketing materials and press accounts, there are eight bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, four swimming pools, a basketball court, garaging for up to 15 cars and separate staff quarters. Additional features include a library/office, a screening room, space for a recording studio and a spa/fitness suite with gym, hot tub, sauna and steam room.


Beverly “Bam” Crawford will host the Company International’s Sitxth annual Women’s Empowerment Conference, to be held, June 1-3 at the Hilton San Diego Resort and Spa in San Diego. This year’s theme,

“The Plan: Dream it. Plan it. Do it,” will offer attendees inspiration through various participation levels of leadership, community partnerships, and information to restore and strengthen their dreams and goals. Confirmed guest speakers and performers include Myesha Chaney, Antioch Church of Long Beach who starred in Oxygen’s “Preachers of L.A.” along with her husband senior pastor, Wayne Chaney; Global strategist Ivy McGregor of Parkwood Entertainment with a client list that includes Beyoncé’s Formation World Tour; attorney La’Chelle Monique Woodert and others. Registration and conference details can be found at: www.eventbrite.com/e/the-company-international-2017-tickets-32677645718.

Florida

A principal at an elementary school in St. Petersburg has been placed on leave while an “administrative review” is conducted to investigate a racially charged email she sent to the school staff last month. In preparation for the upcoming school year, Christine Hoffman emailed staff at Campbell Park Elementary—a predominantly Black school—to suggest they keep White students in their own class, reported the Tampa Bay Times. “White students should be in the same class,” Hoffman wrote in the email with no additional context. Hoffman met with angry parents and community members to discuss the email she’d sent. During the meeting, Hoffman was repeatedly asked why she wanted to keep the White students in the same class. Hoffman told parents she wanted those students to feel comfortable. Parents then asked why she made no effort to make the Asian, Hispanic or biracial children feel comfortable. When pressed, Hoffman made an abrupt exit to start the morning announcements. Parents and community activists have relentlessly called for Hoffman to resign; however, the principal has refused and answered: “I am the best thing that has happened to Campbell Park.” While the review is taking place, an assistant principal will fill Hoffman’s role. It has not been determined whether Hoffman will be transferred to another school.


A Florida student at Fleming Island High School was recently suspended and transferred to an alternative school after the Clay County school district confirmed that the teen posted a racist Craigslist ad about two of his classmates being slaves for sale, reports Channel 10. The ad, which showed two Black students, offered “Two Slaves for Sale-$470″ was geographically tagged to Fleming Island Plantation. The ad, which was taken off the website, showed the students sitting at school desks with the caption “Two healthy negro slavegals for sale. Good condition and hard work ethic! If you need another pair of hands around the farm/house, you’re in luck!” Superintendent Addison Davis issued the following statement: “We do not tolerate this type of behavior and we are disheartened that any of our students would be subject to discrimination. Fleming Island High School administration and district leadership are working together to create a school-wide plan of action to strengthen the climate and culture while celebrating the school’s diversity.” The school also contacted the local sheriff’s office about the incident, but deputies said no crime had been committed after an investigation, reports the Orlando Weekly.

Illinois

Christopher Goins, who runs Butler College Prep, has a high success rate among his Black male students and it’s largely becauss a simple reason, reports Ebony.com. Goins is the founding principal of Butler College Prep, a four-year-old charter high school on the far south side of Chicago with a student population that is 95 percent low-income and Black. Although surrounded by the blighted blocks of the Pullman community, Butler has fast become a model of what urban education should look like, particularly for African-American boys, say some educator. “I know Black kids,” Goins said. “I do.” Last August, Chicago Magazine rated Butler the best charter high school in the city. The year before that, the Illinois Network of Charter Schools recognized Noble-Butler as the state’s highest-performing charter school for academic growth among African-American students. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) currently gives Butler the highest rating it can offer, a Level 1+. And though Butler is among 17 other schools in the city run by the Noble Network of Charter Schools, it is arguably the most culturally responsive to its community, because as more than half of the staff are people of color. “It’s definitely about hiring. It’s definitely about challenging the status quo. That was my goal to recruit and retain more teachers who were men of color. I can relate to them. I’m a part of that struggle. We surround them with so much love and support. The staff buys into that. We don’t do as much time on instruction [in the beginning of the year] because the culture of our school is important to us. If they don’t love the school and enjoy learning, then they are not going to learn,” Goins says.

Minnesota

A White Minnesota man who was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison last week for shooting and wounding five Black protesters said he’ll live with the consequences of his actions for the rest of his life, but stopped short of apologizing, according to the Associated Press. Allen Scarsella’s sentence of 15 years and two months was short of prosecutors’ request for the maximum 20 years but within state guidelines. The 25-year-old Bloomington man was convicted in February of assault and riot charges for shooting the five men at a Black Lives Matter protest encampment outside a north Minneapolis police station following the fatal police shooting of a Black man, Jamar Clark, in 2015. “I recognize the severity of the events of Nov. 23, 2015,” Scarsella said as he stood before Hennepin County District Judge Hilary Caligiuri. He said the shootings were not what he wanted to happen that night when he and three friends went to the protest, where demonstrators chased them away because they were wearing masks. “I’ll live with the consequences the rest of my life.” Judge Caligiuri said she didn’t claim to understand why Scarsella did what he did or where he got his “repugnant, racist ideas.” She said the only saving grace in the events of that night was that none of the victims died.

Missouri

Dozens of students walked out of Fort Osage High School April 26 to protest what they call a racially charged culture in classrooms. The school district said two students used Snapchat earlier this week to send race-based threats to Black students at the school. African-American parents and ministers joined students in the demonstration outside the high school. They claim that racial threats against students are allowed to flourish in the school environment. Angelique Hines has four children in Fort Osage schools. She claimed this is not the first racially charged incident her kids have had to endure. And she wants other parents to stand with her in not tolerating any expression of racially based hatred. “My concern is the safety of my daughter,” Hines said. “There have been several issues at this school on different occasions. This one being the most severe, it draws a wide concern from me. I don’t know when I send my daughter to school in the morning, is she going to be ok?” The school superintendent said the two students who made the racial threat against Black students on social media have been disciplined according to school board policies. The incident is also being investigated by the Jackson County Sheriff for possible criminal charges.

New York

Actor James Earl Jones will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Tony Award at the ceremony on June 11. Jones made his Broadway debut in 1958’s “Sunrise At Campobello” and would win two Tony Awards, for “The Great White Hope” (1969) and “Fences” (1987). A larger-than-life figure in theater, television and film for more than half a century, Jones also was ominateTony nominated for “On Golden Pond” (2005) and Gore Vidal’s “The Best Man” (2012). Other Broadway appearances include “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” “Driving Miss Daisy” and “You Can’t Take It With You.” Saud Heather Hitchens of the American Theater Wing said, “James Earl Jones has given us a lifetime of unforgettable performances on the stage, and his voice resonates through generations. His legacy is unmatched and his work has had an impact not only on Broadway but across the entire galaxy.”

Texas

Texas legislators are considering Senate Bill 6, the so-called bathroom bill—if approved it would require transgender people to use the bathroom in schools and government buildings that matches the sex on their birth certificate. The bill was on the minds of those that gathered in Dallas last week for the National Black Trans Advocacy Conference. But the conference, says its organizers, is about more than just legislation it’s about empowerment. The group has been meeting in Dallas for six years. And attendance has been growing. “Before I’m trans, I’m Black,” Monica Roberts says. A long time transgender activist from the Houston area, she hopes the conference helps change the conversation on transgender issues in the U.S. “Transitions, and the way that we talk about transitions have been discussed from a White perspective. It’s rare that we’ve had the opportunity to talk about how transitions work in the Black trans community,” she says.

Organizers of the conference say unemployment, violence and access to health care disproportionately affect the Black transgender community, and they explore this through workshops and events. They also want to raise awareness of the recent murders of Black transgender women in the United States. The Human Rights Campaign says at least nine Black transgender women have been killed this year. The annual conference also celebrates the Black transgender community with an awards gala honoring transgender leaders, and a Mr. and Mrs. Black Trans International pageant.


A remarkable 13-year-old teen, born to immigrant parents from Nigeria, has been accepted into a summer studies program at Duke. She is already fluent in Chinese and active in programs to help others.

Back in 2013, Noella Ukpe Roberts of Missouri City, was narrating adorable videos of her favorite folktale, Lao, Lao Tóu, in fluent Chinese. Today, the seventh grade student, invited to join the Duke University Talent Identification Program’s prestigious 7th Grade Talent Search in October, has gained admission into Duke’s Summer Studies Program. She will take a college-level equivalent course in finance that will explore marketing, innovation and the effects that the stock market, taxes, mortgages and interest-bearing accounts have on our daily financial decisions. “Qualifying for Duke’s Summer Studies is such an amazing opportunity. I’m hoping to gain skills in finance that will prepare me to own and operate my own animation studio one day,” Noella said.

Virginia

Racism led to a Black student being rejected from her school’s basketball team. Jasmine Orsted told the Washington Post that comments started almost immediately, when she began practicing with other students hoping to land a spot on the University of Mary Washington’s women’s basketball team. One White player wondered aloud “why Black people name their kids the way they do,” to which another responded that she didn’t have to worry about that because her school “wasn’t in the ghetto” and only had one or two Black players on the team, for which she was glad. “I was astounded,” Orsted said of her experience at the Fredericksburg school. “I couldn’t believe that somebody would actually say that, especially in the presence of somebody who’s Black.” The coach ultimately barred Orsted from trying out for the team, because of a lack of “chemistry,” and believing “chemistry” meant tolerating the racism from other players, Orsted filed a federal lawsuit against the university and settled last month for $160,000. Mary Washington did not acknowledge any wrongdoing, but as part of the settlement, it committed to bringing in an outside professional to lead annual sensitivity and inclusion training for staff and students in the athletic department, and from now on, any student who participates in preseason activities for a sport will be guaranteed a tryout. Orsted is now attending Bowie State University on a basketball scholarship.

National

BET has given the green light to a new series on Bobby Brown. The announcement comes after the network experienced great success with its biopic on New Edition, of which Brown was once a member. BET is also going to produce and air a six-part series on Death Row Records, which during its heyday put out music from Snoop Dogg, 2Pac and Dr. Dre. The network has also ordered several new TV series, including comedies from Kevin Hart, Steve Harvey, Wanda Sykes and Robin Thede, formerly of “The Nightly Show” on Comedy Central. BET is also continuing a couple of shows that began on VH-1, including “The Breaks” and “Hit the Floor.” In addition, the network’s spinoff, Centric, will be rebranded as BET Her, aimed at African American women.

Compiled By Carol Ozemhoya.