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Arizona

The fierce—and at times—violent battle over whether U.S. Civil War memorials recognizing Confederate soldiers should remain standing has reached Arizona, reports ArizonaCentral.com. African-American leaders last week called for the swift removal of six Confederate monuments around the state. “(We will) discuss the meaning of Confederate monuments, how they impact the community and why Gov. (Doug) Ducey should immediately began the process of removal,” leaders said in a statement. Representatives from the Maricopa County and East Valley branches of the NAACP, Black Lives Matter-PHX, the Arizona Informant newspaper and various religious organizations formed a coalition calling for the change. Tensions between supporters related to Confederate memorials and other symbols and those against them have exploded in the two years since a White supremacist killed nine and injured three Black members of a Charleston, South Carolina, church. In cities from St. Louis to New Orleans to Baltimore, those who believe the monuments glorify slavery and racism have clashed with others who view the memorials as symbols of Southern history and heritage. Others have criticized the memorial to Arizona Confederate troops at the state Capitol. Patrick Ptak, a spokesman for Gov. Doug Ducey, said the Governor’s Office started looking into the process for a memorial removal or name change “a week or two ago” as rumblings about a potential call for removal intensified. The Confederacy claimed the lower half of what is now Arizona before it became a U.S. territory or state. More than 300 Confederate soldiers are buried here, according to the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

California

A poem written by a Black female student, which was recited during a California college commencement last month, was blasted as “hate speech” by some who heard it, reports the Blaze. Dee Dee Simpson of Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park recited from memory her poem, during which called out Republican President Donald Trump, police violence against Blacks and Fox News. The poem also contained a number of expletives—and in the end, school President Judy Sakaki emailed an apology. Parent Cara Freedman was waiting for her daughter, Alexa Grossman, to graduate and said she noticed others in the crowd shaking their heads after Simpson “dropped the F-bomb.” “We were shocked,” Freedman said. “I’m still a little bit shocked. What kind of school is this? Who in the world would allow this to take place?” Freedman and her ex-husband, Marc Grossman, each sent angry emails to Sakaki, who heard Simpson’s poem up close. Sakaki responded to Grossman’s email, regretting that Simpson’s poem was recited and blamed a new graduation format for lack of oversight. “My people live in places you wouldn’t drive through in an armored truck,” Simpson told the crowd. Kim Baptista – who had been an editor with the campus newspaper and was waiting to receive her diploma – said she wasn’t thrilled that Simpson recited her poem at graduation even though she sympathized with its content.

District of Columbia

The owners of a company that successfully commercialized Mambo sauce were honored recently with the Family Business Award by Black Enterprise, the business, investing and wealth-building magazine for African Americans, reports BlackNews.com. “It feels kind of surreal. We never won an award recognizing how much work we’ve done,” said Arsha Jones, who, along with her husband, Charles, operates Capital City Co. out of a 2,000-square-foot warehouse in the area. “It feels really good to be recognized by your own.” The Jones’ received the prestigious award last month in recognition of their Capital City Mambo Sauce company, which started in 2011 in the kitchen of their suburban home. Every year at its Entrepreneurs Summit, BE recognizes African-American entrepreneurs for their accomplishments in cultivating successful small businesses. Only two months after selling their special condiment online, Arsha, a veteran web designer, was contacted by the Washington Post, which featured the couple and their sauce in a Sunday front-page article. That story led to more than 1,400 orders overnight and $25,000 in sales the first year. This year, sales are projected at $1 million. Arsha, a D.C. native, says her love of Mambo sauce – the origins of which date back to Black restaurants in the 1950s, and can now be found in nearly every Chinese takeout in the District – began as a pre-teen. “It’s sweet and savory with a tomato base. It really goes well with things that are salty and fried. We have an inherent knowledge of Mambo sauce in D.C. Ours is easy on the palate.” A cookbook from the couple will debut at Thanksgiving later this year.

Georgia

On June 3, the Andrew Young Foundation celebrated the 85th birthday of founder and chair, Ambassador Andrew Young, by hosting the biennial Andrew J. Young International Leadership Awards. The event was held at the Philips Arena in downtown Atlanta. ABC’s “Black-ish” star, Anthony Anderson, served as master of ceremonies with feature performances by Usher, Estelle, Anthony Brown, Angie Stone and Jill Scott, all of which paid tribute to Young and the 2017 leadership award recipients. The awards program was designed to salute extraordinary individuals who are dedicated to improving the lives of those in communities at home and throughout the world. Recipients who were honored included former Vice President Joe Biden, artist Akon, Van Jones, Ron Clark and others. This year’s event also honored Young’s global contributions along with his roles as a pastor, activist, ambassador, congressman and former mayor of Atlanta. The theme for this year’s event was “Lead Young.” Proceeds from the event will support the foundation’s current programs to preserve civil and human rights and help support and sustain future initiatives.

Michigan

For the second consecutive year, Big Sean is aiding the youth in his home state. Last week through his Sean Anderson Foundation, the rapper supplemented his 2016 contribution of $25,000 by donating $25,000 to Wayne State University’s HIGH (Helping Individuals Go Higher) program to provide short-term to students experiencing homelessness or “precarious housing situations,” reports the Huffington Post. Established in 2013, the HIGH program was designed to address student homelessness at the HBCU by providing food, shelter, childcare and financial assistance with intentions of returning participants to long-term stability. “It’s such a pleasure to support a program that has an immediate impact on students facing hardship,” Myra Anderson, president of the Sean Anderson Foundation and Sean’s mother, said in the release. “The HIGH Program, through its support and encouragement offered to students, is making a difference in their lives. We are excited to offer our support through the foundation.” The rapper’s latest philanthropic effort comes on the heels of the March launch of his blended educational curriculum, Mogul Prep, and his foundation raising $100,000 in January to support residents affected by Flint’s water crisis.

Missouri

New data shows that Black drivers in the state were 75 percent more likely than Whites to be pulled over last year, reports the Springfield News Leader. The annual report by the state attorney general’s office released May 31 shows the disparity rate last year increased from the year before, when Blacks were 69 percent more likely than White motorists to be stopped. The state’s disparity rate last hit 75 percent in 2014. That’s the highest it’s been since the state began compiling data 17 years ago. Police treatment of Blacks in Missouri fell under national scrutiny following the August 2014 killing of Black 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white Ferguson police officer. The latest report shows Blacks in that St. Louis suburb were nearly 73 times more likely to be pulled over compared to whites last year.

Pennsylvania

A chapter of Black Lives Matter in Philadelphia had a surprise gift for what some have been calling overly “handsy” cops, reports the Griot. On May 30, several activists delivered two pairs of men’s underwear to the Philadelphia Police Department as a way or protesting the “stop-and-fondle” searches law enforcement in the area has been using. Activist Asa Khalif, in a Facebook Live video, spoke out against the stop-and-frisk tactics that have been used to search inside of people’s pants to search their underwear. He called it sexual assault. A second video was made where activists confront police officers outside of their headquarters. “It is illegal to stop and frisk. It is illegal to go into someone’s underwear and touch their penis, touch their buttocks,” he stated in the video. “You think it’s common practice and and it’s legal, but it’s not.” The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News were the ones to expose the practice that is being allegedly used primarily on Black men. They reported that these searches go against current police policy and state law, and to compound the issue, the police department does not keep a record of how often the practice is used. According to the ACLU, even though these searches are against the law, the police in Philadelphia keep stopping and frisking pedestrians based on their race.

Virginia/Washington

When it comes to raising academic standards, Seattle Seahawks player Richard Sherman is a man of his word. Last year during a charity dinner in support of the Excel to Excellence Foundation, he promised a Virginia high school that if she made the honor roll, the NFL star would personally fund her college tuition, reports the Huffington Post. This year, that student, Hershai James, graduated from Varina High School with a 3.0 grade point average. And keeping to his promise, Sherman surprised the high school senior during last week’s annual Celebrity Waiter Dinner in Richmond. “At the dinner when Richard Sherman came to me about the scholarship, I was in shock,” James told the Richmond Times Dispatch. “I believe I said ‘Really?’ for reassurance,” James said. “I just felt so blessed to have been given the wonderful opportunity. James went on to add that she has decided to attend Norfolk State University with plans to study business. “It goes back to knowledge is power and if you have the knowledge you’re going to be as powerful as you ever want to be,” Sherman commented.”

Wisconsin

The Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin hosted the 14th annual African American Walk for Quality Health on June 3 in Milwaukee. The theme for the walk was “Black Moms and Grandmothers Against Toy Guns.” According to Fox 6, the marchers aren’t anti-gun, but they do feel that kids shouldn’t exposed to guns at an earlier age, even if the guns are fake. “Because of what happens in our community, we need them to wait until they’re old enough to understand what it means to have a gun and be responsible,” commented Patricia McManus, president of the coalition.

National

It might seem odd that the powerful African-American civil rights activist Josephine Baker is immortalized on her 111th birthday through a Google Doodle, but it also seems incredibly fitting, reports the Huffington Post. Baker, who was born on June 3, 1906, never had just one title to describe her. The St. Louis-born dancer rose from the poverty of her childhood to become one of Broadway’s most respected dancers and one of Europe’s highest-paid performers. Baker may have been at the height of glamour, but she used her abilities to become a war hero and civil rights leader. Google’s slideshow goes through the many phases of Baker’s life, a poor little girl, a fabulous singer and a leader. Baker moved to France in 1925, where she became an even bigger star than she had been on Broadway. But once World War I broke out, she served in the Women’s Auxiliary for the French air force. Baker also took on the role in the resistance by smuggling messages in her travels using her sheet music. She was later awarded the Croix d Guerre by the French military and declared a Chevalier of the Legion d’honneur by General Charles de Gaulle. And upon moving back to the United States post-war, Baker became a part of a difference resistance: the civil rights movement. After filing a complaint against a racist club owner in New York, Baker was placed on an FBI watch list. She needed the help of then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy to return to the U.S. in 1963 for her speech at the March on Washington. Baker died in France in 1975, after adopting 12 children from across the world in an attempt to end racial tensions.

Compiled by Carol Ozemhoya.