Alabama

While test scores in Alabama schools generally mirror poverty levels, low income is only one factor impacting learning, research has shown, reports AL.com. The Alabama state department of education chief academic officer, Dr. Barbara Cooper, is charged with improving achievement for the 730,000 students in Alabama’s public schools. “Even in places where students are affluent, there is still a Black-White achievement gap,” she said. “So poverty is not the answer there. These students are still performing significantly below [their White peers], and their parents are making six figures.” Even though Black students in affluent areas perform better than Black students in impoverished areas, there is still a gap. “The achievement gap is the difference in proficiency levels of Black students and White students. Statewide, that gap is large, between 20 and 30 percentage points in any given subject area.

Arkansas

The Little Rock Black Police Officers Association sent a letter to the Little Rock City Board of Directors, alleging racial discrimination by Police Chief Kenton Buckner, reports KATV ABC News. Members of the LRBPA say they’re speaking out now after repeated attempts to bring their grievances to Chief Buckner and city manager Bruce Moore. In the letter obtained by ABC’s Channel 7 News, the organization members are calling for an independent investigation into the “discrimination, inequities and disparaging treatment of minority officers and supervisors under the command of Chief Kenton Buckner.” They’re also asking for Buckner to be disciplined, if found to be not in compliance with policy. In the letter, they write that Buckner has displayed conduct unbecoming of a chief. Sgt. Willie Davis is just one of the members that says Buckner has repeatedly shown he is not in support of minority officers. “The first thing he said was to get rid of the Black police association. There was no need for one. Then he tried to explain why. That insulted a lot of us,” Davis said. The letter alleges discrimination against minorities for promotions and transfers as well as inconsistency in discipline procedure between White and Black officers and supervisors. “It’s our responsibility to make the chief, the city manager and the governor accountable (for) the actions the city is making and the things they do in their department,” Davis said.

District of Columbia

Salon DeJuan announced the opening of its second De Glam Shoppe Mobile Hair Salon in the metro area at the physical salon location at 5608 St. Barnabas Road, Oxon Hill, reports BlackNews.com. It’s considered the first Black mobile hair salon in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. The De Glam Shoppe allows DeJuan to travel along the East Coast as far as Atlanta, showcasing more than 15 years plus of experience as a hair stylist, nail tech and budding entrepreneur with her own signature hair care product line. DeJuan is a celebrity stylist and also offers free stylist services for veterans and those suffering with severe hair loss from cancer She also is gearing up for a new reality show relating to the hair industry.

Georgia

A former security operations manager for the Atlanta Hawks is suing the team for its treatment of celebrities and different protocols based on race, according to a lawsuit filed by Smith Law LLC., reports CBS News. The plaintiff, Samuel R. Hayes, claims the Hawks’ security protocols were enforced differently based on race and to the detriment of Blacks, and that he was ultimately fired because of his race. According to the lawsuit, Hayes also claims Drake, Future, Kanye West, 2 Chainz, Kat Williams, Migos, Tyler Perry and others were denied requests to bypass security. Bon Jovi, Ariana Grande and Adele, however, were allowed to do so, according to the suit. The team has denied the allegations and called Hayes’ claims “baseless,” according to Fox 5 Atlanta. The organization added that it will defend the allegations “vigorously.” The Hawks also cited poor performance on the job as the reason for Hayes’ termination.

Massachusetts

Tonya Butler has been named the assistant chair of music business/management at Berklee College of Music, reports Billboard. The first female to hold a leadership role in the department, Butler will assume her new duties on Aug. 1. She succeeds John Kellogg, who is retiring after more than a decade in the post. Butler most recently served as director of the music industry studies program at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her background also includes previous posts as coordinator of music business at the University of Memphis and course director of entertainment marketing and media distribution at the Los Angeles Film School. “I can hardly wait to add my two cents to the till and my spice to the pot.” Seguing into education, Butler spent 14 years working as an entertainment attorney working in-house for various companies including Rhino Records, Japanese label and music publisher GlobalDisc Records, MGM Music and Pioneer Entertainment.

Michigan

A new dining promotion is coming to the Detrit area this summer that aims to shine a spotlight on Black chefs, Black-owned restaurants and the communities surrounding them. Metro Detroit Black Restaurant Week, Aug. 21-27, was organized by Kwaku Osei-Bonsu and Lauren Bates of BlackMetroEats.com. They hope to gather 30 restaurants in Detroit, Royal Oak, Ferndale, Farmington, Redford Township, Southfield and elsewhere to be part of the event, reports Detroit News.com. “The week is about giving people that live, work and play within these communities a chance to try something different and new that they may have never thought of trying,” said Bates in a press release. Osei-Bonsu adds he wants people to understand that a business owner’s race “doesn’t determine the style of their cuisine, doesn’t indicate a sub par level of service and doesn’t mean that only people of color are welcome to patronize.” Similar to other restaurant week promotions around town, Metro Detroit Black Restaurant Week will offer three-course meals for a fixed price; $25 for lunch and $35 for dinner. Cuisine will vary by restaurant, but organizers are hoping to include businesses that serve French, Caribbean, West African and other dishes.

Mississippi

An African American woman has filed a federal lawsuit against a Mississippi school district, claiming a White student was named “co-valedictorian” with her daughter, despite the White student having a lower grade-point average, reports the Washington Post. The day before Jasmine Shepard graduated from Cleveland High School in Cleveland, in May 2016, the school awarded her and a White student the title “co-valedictorian,” according to the suit filed earlier this month in federal court in the Northern District of Mississippi. This was a first in the 110-year history of the school, the suit said, and the decision was made. “Prior to 2016, all of Cleveland High School’s valedictorians were White,” the suit says. “As a result of the school official’s unprecedented action of making an African-American student share the valedictorian award with a White student, the defendants discriminated against the African America pupil.” An attorney for the Cleveland School District called the lawsuit “frivolous” and said the students “had identical grade point averages. As such, under school board policy, they were both named valedictorian of their graduating class,” Jamie Jacks wrote in an email. “The district’s policy is racially neutral and fair to students.” Sherry Shepherd, Jasmine Shepherd’s mother, said it was easy to calculate the students’ grade-point averages because the community is so small. “These children have been attending school with each other since middle school,” she said. “We know the schedule, we know what they take, and we have a good idea where the discrepancy lies.” The “co-valedictorian” designation also came “on the heels of a federal judge’s ruling that the Cleveland School District had failed to desegregate its schools approximately 50 years” after being ordered to do so, the suit says. The judge, in her ruling last year, ordered the schools to be integrated. In an interview, Sherry Shepard, who maintains a “Justice for Jasmine” Facebook page, said her daughter was forced to speak after the White valedictorian at graduation, and also was slated to walk behind her before she objected. “A child, when they earn honors, they are entitled to receive them,” Sherry Shepard said. “There is no inclusion in the Cleveland school district. When the district wants something, they just take it.” The suit asks for unspecified monetary damages and for Jasmine Shepard to be declared “sole valedictorian.”

New York

Two months after the United States entered World War I, a 20-year-old Black college student started working as a machinist in Building 23 at General Electric Co.’s sprawling industrial campus in Schenectady reports the Times Union. His name was Wendell King, and by all accounts, he was a whiz kid, having started one of the area’s first amateur radio stations from his North Troy home, when he was just 12 years old. While a student at Lansingburgh High School, King would dazzle local businessmen at Rotary luncheons with demonstrations of wireless radio technology, which was cutting edge at the time. And in the fall of 1916, King enrolled at Union College in Schenectady, which had one of the nation’s premier electrical engineering departments—and a close affiliation with General Electric Co. and its famous researcher, the electrophysicist, Charles Steinmetz, who taught at Union. The following June, King was one of about two dozen Union students chosen to work for the summer across town at GE’s Schenectady Works, the sprawling campus of factories, offices and labs that was a hub of innovation and manufacturing inspired by Thomas Edison himself. King was assigned to a machine shop in Building 23 at the Schenectady Works, where his job was to operate a drill press. His presence didn’t sit well with the White workers in the building, unionized machinists, many of them European immigrants who had been hearing rumors that GE was planning to bring in Black workers from the South to compete for their jobs. The machinists stewed over King’s presence and demanded a meeting with GE brass, eventually giving plant manager George Emmons a written “ultimatum” that they would stage a strike, if King remained. Emmons did nothing. And 100 years later, GE’s stand with Wendell King remains as a reminder as GE Power brings on a Black CEO, Russell Stokes.

Oklahoma

A heated debate flared up on social media last week over a haircut at an Oklahoma barber shop, reports NewsOn6.com. A White man asked for a Confederate flag design and his Black barber obliged. As customers lined up to represent their Fourth of July stars and stripes ahead of the holiday, one man was more interested in wearing the stars and bars. “He seemed kind of scared when he first came in,” said Demontre Heard, barber. The customer, who remains unidentified, asked for a design inspired by his favorite rapper, Yelawolf. The logo for the Alabama artist’s record label, Slumerica, is a flag of stars and lightning bolts. “It was just going to be too much, so he asked if I could do the Confederate flag on his head, and in the back of my head I’m like what kind of stuff are you on?” Heard said. But Heard put his own feelings aside and got to work. Fade N Up owner Corey Scissorhands Sutter says it is one of the more interesting requests he’s heard in his diverse shop. So he took the photos to Facebook. Some commenters expressed anger, while others — including customers at the shop — supported the business decision. “People portray it in different ways and with it being part of an album cover I see it,” said customer Nidal Schawareb. “I understand where that goes.” Heard says the bottom line is just that, and the man left his chair a happy customer. “You have the right to what’s your opinion, but at the end of the day your opinion doesn’t pay my bills and I have kids to take care of,” Heard said.

Pennsylvania

The U.S. Mint in Philadelphia put an employee on administrative leave after a noose was found at the plant on the chair of an African-American colleague, reports NBC News. The unidentified employee created the noose with rope used to seal coin bags once they’re full, according to the president of the mint workers union. Surveillance video captured the employee’s actions. Around 3 p.m. June 28, the White male coin maker walked across the factory floor with the noose in hand. Many African-American workers called and texted the union president the next day, and the U.S. Treasury Department’s inspector general launched an internal investigation. The Treasury Department has “absolutely zero tolerance for the kind of misconduct reported at the mint,” a spokesman said. Loops of rope have long been used to intimidate African-Americans because they evoke lynchings. The nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative said there were 4,075 lynchings of Blacks in the South to spread racial terror between 1877 and 1950. For Blacks, the noose is “comparable in the emotions that it evokes to that of the swastika for Jews,” the Anti-Defamation League said.


An artist of Algerian descent who grew up in low-income housing outside Paris immersed himself for more than eight months in an urban riding club in Philadelphia, where Black horsemen are trying to keep their traditions alive in a neighborhood struggling with poverty, drugs and violence. The end result of Mohamed Bourouissa’s time with the 100-year-old Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club is on display at the Barnes Foundation through Oct. 2. It’s a multimedia exhibit he says is his way to give back to the riders in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood who shared their world with him, and to bring his art back to the place of inspiration. “I’m interested in building bridges, in interactions,” Bourouissa told the Associated Press. He decided that rather than just take photos of the riders, he wanted to create art they could participate in. He devised an idea of staging “Horse Day,” an equestrian competition that involved outfitting the riders and horses in fantastical costumes. The exhibit is divided into three parts: the preparation for Horse Day through photos and sketches, and flyers; the finished costumes and materials used to make them; the two-screen film of the preparation and the event itself; and finally a series of sculptural pieces called “The Hood.”

South Carolina

A town wants a new interchange on Interstate 26 named for one of South Carolina’s first Black state troopers. The Post and Courier of Charleston reports that Summerville Town Council wants the new exit 197 interchange named for Tillman Millhouse Jr., a native. Millhouse became a South Carolina Highway Patrol trooper in 1968 and was designated as a deputy U.S. marshal in 1984. He served as a protection officer for many heads of state and visiting officials. But state Rep. Chris Murphy of North Charleston says it’s too soon to name the intersection, which is to be completed next summer. The new intersection will serve a new 5,000-acre community of homes, offices and retail space in Berkeley County.

Compiled by Carol Ozemhoya.