Each week, there is an overflow of news of interest to people living across the African Diaspora, but quite often these stories go unknown. Telling snapshots of the African-American stories is the goal of the OW Year In Review. This special 2022 edition of Across Black America is compiled/written by Kristina Dixon.

Jan.14

Newly minted Maya Angelou quarters enter circulation 

Angelou’s likeness marks the first time that a Black woman has been represented on the U.S. quarter, reports Annabelle Timsit for the Washington Post. The coin is one of five new designs that will be rolled out this year as part of the American Women Quarters (AWQ) program. Set to run through 2025, the program will release five quarters each year.Angelou’s design depicts the writer as a young woman with her arms outstretched in front of a bird and a sunrise, in a reference to the author’s famous memoir “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” 

Jan. 20

Black church preservation project 

gets $20 million donation

Black churches are not just places of worship – they’re community centers, historical landmarks and safe havens for many, according to Brent Leggs, the executive of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, reports ABC News. Now, $20 million has been donated to help preserve, rebuild and tell the stories of Black churches across the country.

“The centerpiece of Black communities starts with the Black church,” Leggs said. “Black churches are exceptionally important in American democracy, not only for their legacy in civil and human rights, but also for their role in uplifting civic identity and community empowerment.”

Jan. 20

Team Roc puts pressure on DOJ 

to investigate Kansas City PD

Team Roc, the social justice arm of Hip-Hop mogul Jay Z’s entertainment company, is asking that the Justice Department investigate the Kansas City (Kan.) Police Department. Team Roc wrote in an open letter that “there is no excuse to justify DOJ’s silence,” reports NBC News.

They were joined by the nonprofit Midwest Innocence Project and said there is enough evidence of systemic police misconduct in the department that a “pattern or practice” investigation is necessary to review allegations of wrongdoing and discrimination.

“The DOJ’s continued inaction tells targeted minority communities held hostage to the whims of the carceral state that justice does not exist for them, that their lives do not matter,” says the letter, which is addressed to Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta.

Team Roc lawyer Alex Spiro said allegations of corruption and civil rights violations against police over the decades are not isolated.

Jan. 21

Study says 1 in 10 Black people 

living in U.S. is an immigrant

The demographics of America’s Black population are in the middle of a major shift, with 1 in 10 having been born outside the United States, reports the Washington Post. That’s 4.6 million Americans, a figure that is projected to grow to 9.5 million by 2060, according to the findings of a Pew Research Center study published Thursday.

“Usually when folks talk about the nation’s immigrant population, they talk about the two largest groups, Latin Americans, who make up about half of the nation’s 45 million immigrants, and then Asian immigrants, who make up another quarter of the overall population of immigrants,” said Mark Lopez, Pew’s director of race and ethnicity research. “The story of Black immigration is one not as much a part of the conversation, yet it’s been ongoing for decades.”

While Black immigrants have much in common with both U.S.-born Black Americans and other immigrant groups, their experience stands apart in a number of ways. Nearly a third of Black immigrants over the age of 25 have a college degree, compared with 22 percent of U.S.-born Black Americans, the Pew report notes. Black immigrant households have a higher median income — $57,200 — compared with U.S.-born Black households at $42,000, but lower than that of other immigrant-led households.

Jan. 27

Ciara joins forces with Meta to promote 

wealth building in Black community

Ciara and Meta Elevate are back to support small Black-owned businesses, report Afro Tech. To ensure businesses will receive support and prosper amid the pandemic, entrepreneurs were encouraged to apply to Meta’s newest program in the fall of 2021. Now, Ciara has personally selected 10 Black-owned businesses that will participate in the inaugural cohort.

Those businesses will receive marketing mentorship and six weeks of support. Businesses will have the opportunity to create powerful marketing campaigns on Facebook and Instagram. In addition, Meta will distribute $100,000 in ad credits and creative support for businesses to have additional resources following the completion of the program. Businesses can also expect to receive a scholarship for Meta Blueprint’s digital marketing skills certificate to advance their skills.

Jan. 24

Supreme Court will consider challenge to 

affirmative action in college admissions

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear challenges to the admissions process at Harvard and the University of North Carolina, presenting the most serious threat in decades to the use of affirmative action by the nation’s public and private colleges and universities, reports NBC News.

Despite similar challenges, the court has repeatedly upheld affirmative action in the past. But two liberal justices who were key to those decisions are gone — Anthony Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Their replacements, Trump appointees Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, are conservative and considered less likely to find the practice constitutional.

Jan. 31

Snoop Dogg increases presence in cannabis industry

Snoop Dogg and cannabis go hand and hand, and that relationship continues to grow. According to Dot.L.A./Afro Tech, the legendary rapper’s venture capital firm Casa Verde has backed TSUMo Snacks — a cannabis brand offering tortilla chips and cheese puffs infused with a 10-milligram dose of THC per bag — in a $4 million seed funding round. 

The latest investment places Dogg into a new lane of cannabis ventures — edibles — and TSUMo Snacks wants to separate itself from the crowded market that has generally catered toward sweets. 

TSUMo Snacks currently offers five snack flavors in personal sized-bags and are available to purchase at dispensaries across California with plans to offer larger, multi-serving bags next month. 

Feb.1

Ice T becomes new face of Cheerios to promote health and wellness

Ice-T just linked up with Cheerios to promote health and wellness, reports Afro Tech. He will serve as a coach for its promotional campaign “Pour Your Heart Into It.” A workout series is set to launch in hopes of encouraging more Americans to live healthier lives through body movement, and of course, a bowl of Cheerios.

“This stuff doesn’t have to be hard. It can be as simple as a bowl of Cheerios and a walk around the block,” Ice-T said. “That’s why I wanted to join Buzz to share some different ways to start to get your heart pumping regularly, and help make diet and exercise a happy part of your day.”

Feb. 3

FBI IDs six juveniles as persons 

of interest in HBCU bomb threats

Six “tech savvy” juveniles have been identified as persons of interest by the FBI in threats to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) that appear to be racially motivated, reports NBC News. More than a dozen historically colleges and universities received bomb threats on Tuesday, the first day of Black History Month.

In addition to Howard, the University of the District of Columbia, also in Wash, D.C.; Morgan State University and Coppin State University in Baltimore, Md.; Fort Valley State University in Fort Valley, Ga.; Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Ky.; Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans; Edward Waters University in Jacksonville, Fla.; Alcorn State University in Lorman, Miss.; Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, Miss.; Rust College in Holly Springs, Miss.; Spelman College in Atlanta; Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss.; and Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Miss.; all reported bomb threats, according to school officials and social media posts.

Feb. 3

Goodr CEO Jasmine Crowe opens free 

grocery store for students, and now seniors

Goodr may be on everyone’s radar thanks to rapper Gunna’s partnership with the food insecurity nonprofit but none of it would be possible without the singular vision of founder Jasmine Crowe, reports Afro Tech.

In a recent op-ed for Newsweek, Crowe explained why she continues her mission and is now offering “free grocery stores” for seniors.

“We began thinking about who else could benefit and what other population has the greatest need. We knew from my work with seniors that a lot are experiencing food insecurity. I personally have been working with seniors for 10 years; providing food in senior homes and buying groceries for individuals myself,” she explained. 

And Crowe’s concerns are well-placed. According to a study by the National Council on Aging, about 7.3 million senior adults are considered “food insecure.”

Feb. 8

Harlem ‘Hellfighters’ 

receive Medal of Honor

The all-Black Army regiment nicknamed the Harlem Hellfighters battled both the German forces and racism during World War I. Now, more than a century after their service, the unit has been honored with a “long overdue” Congressional Gold Medal, reports NBC BLK.

President Joe Biden signed the Harlem Hellfighters Congressional Gold Medal Act into law last week. Replicas of the prestigious medal will be awarded to families of members of the 369th Infantry Regiment in recognition of the unit’s lengthy service, which included front-line combat and hundreds of lives lost or affected by injuries. 

“The Harlem Hellfighters risked life and limb in defense of an America that discriminated against them,” said a sponsor of the bill, Rep. Joyce Beatty, (D-Ohio), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. “Yet the Hellfighters helped liberate Western Europe and secure victory for the Allied Forces,” she said. 

Feb. 10

Motown Records hooks up with Google 

to elevate woman of color in media

Motown Records has birthed greats such as The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes and more has linked up with Google to provide young women of color with the resources that they need to thrive in the media landscape, reports Afro Tech.

“Motown has always been a destination where creators come to bring their dreams to life,” said Motown Records chair and CEO Ethiopa Habtemariam. “This creative program, in partnership with Google, will provide opportunities for women creatives to elevate and even further develop their craft.  I’m looking forward to all of the diverse content from the selectees and partnering with a dynamic woman to create culturally driven innovations that connect globally.

Feb. 14

Rapper Kodak Black shot outside 

Justin Beiber Super Bowl party

Kodak Black, 24, was shot during an incident outside a Justin Beiber Super Bowl party, law enforcement sources told NBC News, reports the Rolling Stone. The rapper was taken to a nearby hospital in stable condition with non-life threatening gunshot wounds; he is expected to make a full recovery. Reps for Black – whose 46-month prison sentence was commuted by then-President Donald Trump in 2021 – did not respond to a request for comment.

Feb. 15

Erin Jackson becomes first Black woman to win gold in speed skating

A 29-year-old Florida native and lifelong rollerblader became the first Black woman to win Team USA a gold medal in speed skating Sunday, reports NBC BLK.

Erin Jackson earned her first Olympic medal in the women’s 500- meter speed skating race at the Beijing Games, an event Team USA has not won since 1994. Jackson finished her lap in a mere 37.04 seconds.

She was the first Black woman to make it on to Team USA as a speed skater.

Feb. 15

Boston Bank picks Black woman as next president

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston has named University of Michigan provost Susan Collins as its next chief, making her the first Black woman to lead a regional Fed bank and delivering a measure of new diversity to U.S. central bank leadership, reports Reuters. Collins will start her job on July 1, the Boston Fed said in a statement.

Feb. 16

NBA’s Jrue Holiday and Olympic wife Lauren provide grants to Black businesses

Jrue and Lauren Holiday have impacted the world through sports. Whether it be as an NBA champion (Milwaukee Bucks) or an Olympic gold medalist, this dynamic duo just naturally has what it takes to leave a mark.

Today, according to Afro Tech, the couple has announced that they will provide up to $1 million to Black-owned businesses and nonprofits through the Jrue and Lauren Social Impact Fund. 

Grants will be provided to organizations and small businesses that are located in the Greater Milwaukee, New Orleans, Indianapolis and Los Angeles areas with priority given to those with a focus on social impact and creating a more equitable landscape for underserved communities.

Feb. 16

Jusan Hamilton first African-American 

director of NASCAR’s Daytona 500

As NASCAR ushers in a new era for the sport, Cup Series race director Jusan Hamilton is preparing to make history of his own in Sunday’s Daytona 500, reports NASCAR News. When drivers take the green flag for the Great American Race, Hamilton will be the first African-American race director in Daytona 500 history. He’ll also be just the third different Daytona 500 race director since 1988, joining David Hoots and Tim Bermann in that span.

Hamilton’s 10-year career in NASCAR racing operations has been a series of breaking down diversity barriers. In July 2018 at Pocono Raceway, he became the first African-American to serve as race director in the Cup Series. In March 2017, Hamilton took the reins of the race control booth for an Xfinity Series race at Auto Club Speedway.

Feb. 16

Snoop Dogg acquires Death Row Records

Snoop Dogg is officially in charge at Death Row Records, reports CNN. The announcement that the rapper has acquired the label came Wednesday.

It’s a sentimental move, considering Death Row Records launched his career in the ‘90s with his debut album “Doggystyle.”

“It feels good to have ownership of the label I was part of at the beginning of my career and as one of the founding members,” the rapper said. “This is an extremely meaningful moment for me.”

Death Row Records was founded by Dr. Dre, Suge Knight, the D.O.C. and Dick Griffey. It rose to prominence with artists including Tupac Shakur.

Feb. 23

Venus, Serena Williams 

on cover of Harper’s

The Williams sisters – Venus and Serena – are featured on the cover of the latest Harper’s Bazaar. The magazine also features an extensive piece on them.

Venus Williams made her professional tennis debut in 1994. Her sister Serena followed her in 1995. That is more than 20 years of Williams sisters not only dominating the world of tennis but also starring as main characters in the Venn diagram of sports and pop culture. Between them, they have 48 Grand Slam titles (including 14 shared women’s doubles titles), several fashion lines, a venture-capital firm and an interior-design company. Venus is now 41, Serena is 40, and neither has yet retired — a rare two-decade streak of physical authority for any athlete. This rise to power would be atypical for anyone, but for two Black girls from Compton, California, it’s legendary. 

Mar. 2

6 Dr. Seuss books won’t be published for racist images

Dr. Seuss books including “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” and “If I Ran the Zoo” will stop being published because of racist and insensitive imagery, the business that preserves and protects the author’s legacy said Tuesday.

“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises told The Associated Press.

Books by Dr. Seuss — born Theodor Seuss Geisel in Springfield, Mass., on March 2, 1904 —- have been translated into dozens of languages as well as in braille and are sold in more than 100 countries. He died in 1991, but remains popular, earning an estimated $33 million before taxes in 2020, up from just $9.5 million five years ago, the company said. Forbes listed him No. 2 on its highest-paid dead celebrities of 2020, behind only the late pop star Michael Jackson. 

Mar. 3

Alicia Keys releases graphic novel about 14-year-old Black superhero

Inspired by her fifth studio album and hit single, “Girl on Fire,” singer Alicia Keys has released her first-ever young adult graphic novel, reports Afro Tech.

The new novel follows the story of 14-year-old Lolo Wright, a young Brooklyn girl who discovers she has superpowers. Co-written by Andrew Weiner and illustrated by Brittney Williams, “Girl on Fire” embodies the song’s lyrics. For instance — “She got her head in the clouds, And she’s not backing down.”

“When I wrote ‘Girl On Fire,’ I knew I was writing it for that girl in the way back row who needed someone to tell her there’s nothing you can’t do, that nothing is impossible,” Keys shared.

Mar. 8

Congress passes bill named after Emmett Till making 

lynching a hate crime

Congress gave final approval Monday to legislation that for the first time would make lynching a federal hate crime in the U.S.. sending the bill to President Joe Biden to sign into law, reports the Associated Press. Years in the making, the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act is among some 200 bills that have been introduced over the past century that have tried to ban lynching in America.

It is named for the Black teenager whose brutal killing in Mississippi in 1955 and his mother’s insistence on an open funeral casket to show the world what had been done to her child became a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights era.

Mar. 8

Report: Black people still die at the hands 

of police at a higher rate than other groups

After all the attention the Black Lives Matter-led racial justice movement generated after George Floyd’s death in 2020, new data show that the number of Black people killed by police has actually increased over the last two years, reports NBC BLK. 

According to data collected by the Washington Post, police shot and killed at least 1,055 people nationwide last year, the most since the newspaper began tracking fatal shootings by officers in 2015. That is more than the 1,021 shootings in 2020 and the 999 in 2019. 

Black people, who account for 13 percent of the U.S. population, accounted for 27 percent of those fatally shot and killed by police in 2021, according to Mapping Police Violence, a nonprofit group that tracks police shootings. That means Black people are twice as likely to be shot and killed by police as White people.

Mar. 8

Kyrie Irving hires stepmom to be agent, 

making her only Black female agent in NBA

The NBA’s Kyrie Irving has turned his career on the basketball court into a family affair with his latest move, reports AfroTech. The Brooklyn Nets player has on boarded Shetellia Riley Irving, his stepmom, as his new agent. Irving’s switch-up reportedly makes her the only Black woman representing an active NBA player, according to sports reporter Shams Charania.

The historic news isn’t Irving’s first instance of betting on Black women in sports.

He teamed up with WNBA players Natasha Cloud and Jewell Loyd to discuss whether or not they’d play in the 2020 season. To support, Irving gave $1.5 million from his KAI Empowerment Initiative to WNBA players who opted out of playing.

“Whether a person decided to fight for social justice, play basketball, focus on physical or mental health, or simply connect with their families, this initiative can hopefully support their priorities and decisions,” Irving expressed in a statement.

Mar. 11

Jussie Smollett sentenced to jail, probation

Shortly after being ordered into custody to begin serving 150 days in jail, actor Jussie Smollett finally started to speak, reports the Chicago Tribune. He was innocent, he said. He was not suicidal. Then the former “Empire” actor stood up at the defense table and began talking directly to Judge James Linn, something he’d declined to do during the hearing.

“I respect you, your honor,” Smollett said, his voice rising as he gestured with his hands as though he wanted to say more. “I respect your decision. Jail time? I am not suicidal. … If anything happens to me in there I did not do it to myself!”

As Smollett’s attorney tried in vain to get the judge to stay his decision, Smollett was slowly surrounded by sheriff’s deputies before being led from the courtroom, pausing to pump his fist in the air as he disappeared from view into a rear lockup.

Mar. 14

MLS cuts $25 mil deal with Black-owned banks 

In an effort to work toward closing the racial wealth gap, Major League Soccer (MLS) will participate in a first-of-its-kind deal with Black-owned banks, reports Afro Tech. According to MLS, the partnership includes a $25 million loan from a syndicate of Black-owned banks and will serve as a defining moment in history because there has never been a major commercial transaction “exclusively” between Black banks and a major sports league.

In a study conducted by the Federal Reserve, research revealed that the Black-White economic gap in America has been left “virtually untouched” since the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. The gap is proof that Black Americans face a disadvantage when it comes to generational wealth, funding for businesses, homeownership and more. 

Not only will the transaction have a huge effect on access to essential financial services, but the new partnership also plans to increase Black representation within the sport.

Mar. 15

U.S. Black population grows more in smaller cities

Brandon Manning and his wife were both born in the U.S. South and had been itching to return, but Manning didn’t want to go back to his native Atlanta because of the traffic, housing costs and sprawl. So, when he was offered a job teaching at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, the couple decided to give the smaller city a chance.

They weren’t alone. The largest African-American population growth in pure numbers over the past decade didn’t take place in Atlanta or Houston, long identified as hubs of Black life, but rather in less congested cities with lower profiles: Fort Worth; Columbus, Ohio; Jacksonville, Florida; and Charlotte, North Carolina. Each gained between 32,000 and 40,000 new Black residents from 2010 to 2020, according to 2020 census figures, reports the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, Black residents left the nation’s largest cities, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, by the tens of thousands.

According to the 2020 census, African-Americans make up 14 percent of the U.S. population, 58 percent of whom live in the South. 

Mar. 24

Pepsi taps TikTok star Khaby Lame to 

introduce the first ever nitrogen infused cola

Khaby Lame is continuing to make moves in silence — literally. The TikTok star was enlisted by Mark Zuckerberg for Meta’s promo in Nov. 2021. Then, at the top of 2022, he went on to sign a multi-year deal with the iconic fashion line Hugo Boss. His latest win is partnering with Pepsi on an ad campaign called “A Smoother Way to Soda” for Nitro Pepsi, reports AfroTech/Marketing Dive. The new drink — described as “first ever nitrogen infused soft drink,” — was first revealed to the public in February. Ahead of the new product officially hitting shelves nationwide on March 28, Lame became a part of its marketing rollout.

Lame is the second-most-followed on TikTok with 135 million followers (as of this writing). Big brands are really taking note of the fact that he’s marketing gold.

Apr. 5

Biden appoints Chris Paul and Taraji P. Henson to HBCU advisory board

President Joe Biden announced that he is appointing more than a dozen top education leaders, celebrities and athletes to his board of advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), reports CNN.

Actress Taraji P. Henson and NBA star Chris Paul are among the 18 members of the President’s board of advisors on HBCUs. Paul was until last year the longtime head of the National Basketball Players Association.

The presidents of five HBCUs – Alabama State University, Virginia State University, Norfolk State University in Virginia, Dillard University in New Orleans and Prairie View A&M University in Texas – have also been appointed to the board.

The group is made of “qualified and diverse leaders” and appointing them to the board “will allow the administration to build on that financial commitment with continued institutional support,” the White House said.

Apr. 5

Ray J set to venture into tech industry as launches digital network

According the Jasmine Brand/AfroTech, Ray J – actor, singer, television personality and entrepreneur – will be launching a digital network. Although specifications on the new venture have not yet been disclosed, it’s been said that the network will feature original content.

According to CNBC, “Nielsen, known for measuring television usage in the United States, said Thursday that 64 percent of time spent on televisions was on network and cable TV, while 26 percent of time was spent on streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu. Another 8 percent, categorized as “Other,” includes video-on-demand, streaming from cable set-top boxes and other TV uses, such as gaming and watching DVDs.”

Apr. 5

Amazon entities kick in $100,000 in venture 

capital for Black tech entrepreneurs

With the mission of improving equity in venture capital funding and providing support for compelling and representative Alexa applications, Amazon Alexa Fund, Alexa Startups and Blavity announced the Black Founders Build with Alexa, reports AfroTech.

This four-month, remote program seeks 10 Black-founded startups located in North America that are driving innovation in voice, artificial intelligence and ambient computing. The selected startups will have an opportunity to receive a $100,000 investment from the Alexa Fund and individualized technology support from the Alexa Startups team. 

The goal of Black Founders Build with Alexa is to combat the lack of inclusiveness and underrepresentation of entrepreneurs of color in the tech industry. According to the Alexa Startups team, this initiative will lead to more diverse perspectives, bigger thinking, and ultimately better products and services for Alexa customers. 

Apr. 6

Doja Cat cuts deal with JBL 

as global ambassador

It looks like her first Grammy win wasn’t the only feat for Doja Cat. On April 3, the music star took home the golden trophy at the 64th Grammy Awards. According to Billboard/Afro Tech, she showcased another piece of exciting news prior to her accepting the award on stage — being the new face of JBL.

Doja sported a JBL Clip 4 Speaker with her red carpet look as an alert that she had partnered with the brand. She officially became the audio company’s newest global brand ambassador.

With her new ambassador role, Doja will be the focal point of JBL’s “Dare To” campaign, “which highlights JBL products and encourages consumers to be their ‘most authentic selves,” along with headlining JBL Fest in Las Vegas in September, the outlet shares.

Apr. 12

Bessie Coleman to be 

featured on 2023 quarters

The U.S. Mint has announced five new historic figures whose faces will appear on the 2023 quarters. The spotlight is a part of a four-year program to honor the historic contributions and achievements of women pioneers, reports Afro Tech. 

Maya Angelou was one of the first to appear under the American Women Quarters Program. She joined Dr. Sally Ride, Wilma Mankiller, Nina Otero-Warren and Anna May Wong. 

One of the new honorees is Bessie Coleman. The Texas native, who was sometimes referred to as “The Only Race Aviatrix in the World,” became the first African-American woman and Native American to acquire a pilot license. She rose to notoriety after performing dangerous air shows throughout the nation.

Apr. 12

Ketanji Brown Jackson approved for Supreme Court

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson became the first Black woman to be elevated to the Supreme Court when the Democratic-controlled Senate on Thursday confirmed President Joe Biden’s pick, reports NBC BLK.

The final vote was 53-47, with all 50 Democratic caucus members supporting Jackson, joined by Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine; Lisa Murkowski of Alaska; and Mitt Romney of Utah. In a symbolic moment, Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black woman elected to her job, presided over the vote. Jackson and Biden watched the vote together in the White House.

The vote means Jackson will take office at the end of the court’s current term, likely in June or July when Justice Stephen Breyer is expected to step down. Her appointment would not disrupt the current 6-3 conservative balance on the Supreme Court.

Apr. 12

Two more Black coaches join 

Flores lawsuit against NFL

Two Black coaches with significant NFL experience on Thursday joined the class-action lawsuit that accuses the league and its teams of discrimination and paying lip service to minority hiring rules, reports NBC News.

The litigation of former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores was joined by Steve Wilks, a former head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, and Ray Horton, who was most recently the defensive backs coach for the team now known as the Washington Commanders.

Wilks was in charge in Arizona in 2018 when the Cardinals finished 3-13.

Wilks “was discriminated against by the Arizona Cardinals” by being hired merely as a “bridge coach” and “not given any meaningful chance to succeed,” Flores’ amended lawsuit contends.

Apr. 19

National Urban League says 

state of Black America is grim

The National Urban League (NUL) released its annual report on the State of Black America on Tuesday, and its findings are grim. This year’s Equality Index shows Black people still get only 73.9 percent of the American pie White people enjoy, reports Associated Press.

While Blacks have made economic and health gains, they’ve slipped farther behind Whites in education, social justice and civic engagement since this index was launched in 2005. A compendium of average outcomes by race in many aspects of life, it shows just how hard it is for people of color to overcome systemic racism, the civil rights organization says.

The index shows not only that median household income for Black people, at $43,862, is 37 percent less than that of White people, at $69,823. Black people also are less likely to benefit from home ownership, the engine of generational wealth in America. 

Census data shows Black couples are more than twice as likely as Whites to be denied a mortgage or a home improvement loan, which leads to just 59 percent of the median home equity White households have, and just 13 percent of their wealth.

“In that area of wealth, we’ve seen almost no change, none, since the civil rights days,” NUL President Marc Morial said. “The wealth disparity has gotten wider.”

Among dozens of health measures, one stands out: Life expectancy has declined slightly for African-Americans, so a Black child born today can expect to live to 74.7, four years less than a White baby. And lifelong inequities loom: Black women are 59 percent more likely to die as a result of bearing a child, and 31 percent more likely to die of breast cancer. Black men are 52 percent more likely to die of prostate cancer.

Apr. 28

Black Girl Freedom Fund announces $4M in 

grants for 68 organizations supporting Black girls

Black Girl Freedom Fund, which is “an initiative of Grantmakers for Girls of Color,” will be pouring millions of dollars into organizations with an aim to create a more hopeful future for Black girls, reports AfroTech. According to a press release, the #1Billion4BlackGirls campaign and Grantmakers for Girls of Color Black Girl Freedom Fund were launched to ensure a substantial amount of resources were allocated toward “the braintrust, innovation, health, safety, education, artistic visions, research and joy of Black girls, gender-expansive youth, and their families.”

Black Girl Freedom Fund’s mission continues as it announced $4 million in funding for its second round of grants. The financial support will be distributed to 68 organizations across the nation that have demonstrated leadership and established a community for Black girls, femmes and gender-expansive youth. Some of those areas of expertise include STEAM education, career opportunities, environmental justice and activism, financial and economic literacy, plus more.

“An investment in Black girls and their leadership is an investment in our collective freedom,” said Dr. Monique W. Morris, president and CEO of Grantmakers for Girls of Color, and co-founder of the #1Billion4BlackGirls campaig. “We know that every issue is a Black girl issue, and that Black girls are the voice and the heart of many social justice efforts, and we must invest the time and resources to cultivate their capacity to lead.”

May 3

Jessica Watkins first Black woman to join Space Station crew

Dr. Jessica Watkins is on her way to mark an out-of-this-world milestone. Early Wednesday morning, Watkins made history as the first Black woman to hit the sky for an extended mission at the International Space Station, reports Huffington Post.

Watkins ? who previously worked as a geologist after earning a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and a doctorate from the University of California, Los Angeles ? blasted off with three other other astronauts from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to embark on a long-term space mission.

“I think it really is just a tribute to the legacy of the Black women astronauts that have come before me, as well as to the exciting future ahead,” Watkins said.

Watkins, born in Maryland, began her career as a as a NASA intern before working at multiple research centers in California. She was a postdoctoral fellow on the science team for the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity during her astronaut selection in 2017.

May 4

Jackie Robinson All Star game bat sells for $1.08 million

A bat used by baseball hero Jackie Robinson in the 1949 All-Star Game sold at auction on Saturday for $1.08 million, according to New Jersey-based Goldin Auctions, reports NBC BLK.

Robinson, who broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier in 1947, played the Midsummer Classic at his home park, Ebbetts Field in Brooklyn, the same year that he claimed the National League Most Valuable Player Award.

The bat was one of two made for Robinson for the game, Goldin said, and shows “light game use.”

May 12

Karine Jean-Pierre will become the first Black woman and first opening gay person to serve as White House press secretary

Karine Jean-Pierre will become the new White House press secretary when Jen Psake departs this week, reports CNN. President Joe Biden announced in a statement Thursday, as she becomes the first Black

and out LGBTQ person to hold the position. Jean-Pierre currently serves as the White House’s principal deputy press secretary.

“Karine not only brings the experience, talent and integrity needed for this difficult job, but she will continue to lead the way in communicating about the work of the Biden-Harris Administration on behalf of the American people,” Biden said in a statement, adding that “Jen Psaki has set the standard for returning decency, respect and decorum to the White House Briefing Room.”

May 12

Lil Nas X, Taco Bell launch ambitious accelerator program for underrepresented young change makers.

Did Lil Nas X and Taco Bell just team up to help young leaders change the world? Together, the Taco Bell Foundation and the Gen-Z superstar will launch the Ambition Accelerator, a program created to support young people as they work to make changes throughout their respective communities and the world, reports AfroTech. With the new program, young leaders will  have their wildest dreams

fueled  by having access to the resources that are needed to change not only their environment but the lives of others, too. “The Taco Bell Foundation understands that young people often face significant challenges in making their ambitions a reality – especially those in underrepresented groups,” said the brand in an official statement. “This is why Taco Bell and the Taco Bell Foundation have teamed up with Ashoka, the largest global network of leading social entrepreneurs, to launch the Ambition Accelerator and provide equitable access to the resources needed to help others Live Más!” 

May 12

Kobe Bryant’s foundation receives 

donation from BodyArmour 

BodyArmor’s ties with pushing Kobe Bryant’s legacy forward continues, reports AfroTech. 

In 2014, the late NBA star invested millions in BodyArmour, then, last year it was acquired by Coca-Cola for $5.6 billion — reportedly bringing in more than $400 million to his estate. Bryant’s investment into the company greatly paid off and now, BodyArmor is investing right back into his foundation.

BodyArmor has partnered with the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation (MMSF), which includes a $24 million joint donation courtesy of the company and co-founder Mike Repole — making it MMSF’s single largest investment to date.

Jun. 1

Walmart ‘reviewing’ Juneteenth 

themed ice cream product amid backlash

Walmart says it is reviewing its Juneteenth-themed ice cream following backlash online, and “will remove items as appropriate,” the company says, reports NBC News. The flavor was part of Walmart’s special edition commemorating June 19, the newest federal holiday, which recognizes the official end of slavery and the celebration of Black culture. Many criticized the gesture as a form of cultural appropriation.

In photos circulating online, the ice cream’s container has green, yellow and red accents and says, “Share and celebrate African-American culture, emancipation and enduring hope.” The ice cream is also available in a swirled red velvet and cheesecake flavor.

Among those who expressed their concerns was Gwen Kelly of Chicago, who first saw images of the Juneteenth ice cream circulating on her Twitter feed Sunday night. Kelly worked at Walmart for about 12 years, including as senior executive in the global office of culture, diversity and inclusion from 2015 to 2018. She questioned whether the diversity executives or Walmart’s corporate Black associate resource groups were involved in the decision-making process.

“I would have taken guidance from those who have celebrated Juneteenth for a long time … it’s part of their family tradition,” Kelly told NBC News.

Jun. 8

Comedian stunned after asking man 

in Confederate flag shirt if he’s pro-slavery

An interview that was intended to be funny quickly turned disturbing, reports Huffington Post. The Good Liars – a progressive comedy duo that typically plays pranks on conservatives and interviews people at far-right political rallies — went to the National Rifle Association’s annual convention last weekend in Houston.

While there, one member of the Good Liars, Jason Selvig, was interviewing people in attendance when he approached a man wearing a Confederate flag T-shirt that said “Keep It Flying.”

“Why do you want to keep it flying?” Selvig asked the man.

“Why would anyone want to erase our heritage?” the man responded.

Selvig was quick to point out that many would say that the flag symbolizes racism and slavery.

“And they may have some valid points there,” Selvig told the man.

The man responded by saying that associating the Confederate flag with slavery was merely an opinion. “They’re welcome to that opinion if they want it,” he said.

In a presumed attempt to get the man to see his reasoning, Selvig then asked him if he was “pro-slavery.”

“No comment,” the man said. “But thank you for the interview.”

As the man began to walk away, Selvig reached for him and said: “I’ll give you one more chance — pro- or anti-slavery?”

“No comment,” the man said again. Selvig looked flabbergasted.

“I’ll give you one more opportunity,” Selvig said as the man began to shake his head, “to say if you’re pro- or anti-slavery.”

“No, I don’t … no comment,” the man said and walked away.

Jun.10

Hearing opens with Trump AG calling stolen election claims ‘bulls**t’

Trump’s own attorney general told the then-president that his claims of a “stolen” election were “bullshit,” according to videotaped testimony revealed Thursday night at the House Jan. 6 select committee’s first public hearing.

“I told the president it was bullshit, and I didn’t want to be a part of it,” William Barr told committee investigators during his deposition, reports Huffington Post.

Committee chair Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, said in his opening remarks that the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol was the culmination of a “conspiracy” to hold on to power. January 6 was the culmination of an attempted coup. The violence was no accident.”

Jun. 13

Jennifer Hudson earns EGOT with Tony for producing ‘A Strange Loop’

Joins exclusive list

Jennifer Hudson on Sunday night achieved the rarified satus of EGOT with her Tony win for producing “A Strange Loop” reports NBC News.

The awards term “EGOT” refers to people who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony over the course of their careers in entertainment. Notable figures who have netted wins across all four awards bodies include Rita Moreno, Alan Menken, Andrew Lloyd Webber, John Legend, Mike Nichols, Mel Brooks and Whoopi Goldberg.

Jun. 13

Jan. 6 panelists: Enough evidence 

uncovered to indict Trump

Witnesses due to testify Monday

Members of the House committee investigating the Capitol riot said Sunday they have uncovered enough evidence for the Justice Department to consider an unprecedented criminal indictment against former President Donald Trump for seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election, reports Associated Press.

The committee announced that Trump’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, is among the witnesses scheduled to testify at a hearing Monday that focuses on Trump’s effort to spread his lies about a stolen election. Stepien was subpoenaed for his public testimony.

As the hearings unfold, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-28) said he would like the department to “investigate any credible allegation of criminal activity on the part of Donald Trump.” Schiff, (D-Calif.), who also leads the House Intelligence Committee, said that ”there are certain actions, parts of these different lines of effort to overturn the election that I don’t see evidence the Justice Department is investigating.”

The committee launched its public hearings last week, with members laying out their case against Trump to show how the defeated president relentlessly pushed his false claims of a rigged election despite multiple advisers telling him otherwise and how he intensified an extraordinary scheme to overturn Joe Biden’s victory.

Jun, 15

Leaked Harvard report finds remains of enslaved people and Native Americans

A leaked draft report from a Harvard faculty committee has revealed that the university possesses, in its museum collections, the remains of nearly 7,000 Native Americans and almost 20 people who were likely enslaved, according to the Harvard Crimson, reports NBC BLK

The draft report, which has not yet been finalized and was dated in April, is the work of a steering committee tasked with making plans for Harvard’s collection of human remains. 

It urges the university to return the remains to descendants’ families — or, if ancestry is unclear, to consult with the descendants’ communities about how to address returning the remains. 

According to the Crimson, the draft report acknowledges that the remains “were obtained under the violent and inhumane regimes of slavery and colonialism” and that they “represent the University’s engagement and complicity in these categorically immoral systems.” 

Jun. 15

New wave of gun owners: Black people

Two days after a man shot and killed 10 Black people in Buffalo last month, Michael Moody reversed his thinking about possessing a firearm. He had watched the aftermath of the carnage on the news, the anguish of the victims’ families, and decided he “needed a gun. Needed, not wanted,” he said, reports NBC News. After discussing it with his wife, Moody said he left his home in suburban Washington to buy a weapon. He quickly learned he wasn’t alone. He said he was “stunned” at the number of Black people standing in line at the gun shop in Maryland to make a similar purchase.

Through chatting with others while waiting, Moody said he learned “a lot of us have the same idea. It’s getting bad when someone specifically targets Black people to shoot. We have to be prepared to fight back. And you can’t survive bringing a knife to a gunfight.”

Jul. 27

Black seniors more likely to die from 

pollution-related diseases than WhIte seniors

A new report shows Black Americans ages 65 and older are three times more likely to die from diseases related to pollution exposure than White Americans of the same age, reports NBC. 

The analysis, released earlier this month by the nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), suggests that current air pollution levels result in “significant premature mortality and morbidity nationwide,” but the health impacts are disproportionately felt by Black people, Hispanics and those living in poverty. 

It offers comprehensive evidence of the consequences of environmental racism, using census data and previously published peer-reviewed research on the effects of air pollution in Medicare-reliant populations. 

The report comes as national air quality standards are under review by the Environmental Protection Agency.  

Ananya Roy, a senior health scientist for EDF, said the report uncovered a “one-two-three punch” of “higher exposure, poorer health and greater vulnerability” among older communities of color, which leads to “disproportionate burdens amongst communities of color and low wealth.” 

“The impacts of air pollution affect populations across all life stages, from childhood to the elderly,” Roy said. 

Aug. 2

New Dictionary to Document 

Lexicon of African-American English

Black Americans have long contributed to the ways in which the English language is used, and now a new research project aims to compile the first Oxford Dictionary of African American English, reports NPR. 

“Finally we will have a space that recognizes our language in a way that encompasses all the people within African-American language communities,” said Sonia Lanehart, a linguistics professor at the University of Arizona who grew up in the South. “If we look at some present words, we can think of something like woke and hip, cool, bad meaning good.” 

The research project is a collaboration between Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Research and Oxford University Press with Lanehart among the advising editors. Supported by grants from Mellon and Wagner foundations, the project is one of the most well funded of its kind. Researchers will pull from documents including flyers, books and newspapers. They will also draw from music, oral histories and social media. 

Aug. 10

Michael E. Langley confirmed as 

first Black four-star Marine general 

Lt. General Michael E. Langley became the first  lack four star general in the Marine’s 246-year history after the Senate confirmed his promotion this week, reports the Washington Post and other news outlets. 

Langley will formally attain his new rank at a ceremony in D.C. this weekend. He will then become head of U.S. Africa Command at its headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. There he will oversee about 6,000 troops. President Joe Biden nominated him in June. 

During his confirmation hearing, Langley thanked his father, who served in the Air Force for 25 years, as well as his stepmom and two sisters. 

“As many have said in testimony, military families form the bedrock upon which our Joint Forces readiness stands,” he said. “Without their support I would not be here today.” 

The Marine Corps has a handful of Black three-star generals, including Langley, who was promoted to that rank last year. A native of Louisiana, he has served for 37 years with tours of duty in Japan, Afghanistan and Somalia. 

“He gets stuff done and people tend to like working with him,” said Robert Neller, a former Marine commander. 

Aug. 17

Snoop Dogg now offering cereal called Snoop Loopz

From his own wine to branded cannabis, Snoop Dogg isn’t shy about embarking on new business endeavors. Now the iconic rapper is introducing his own breakfast cereal – Snoop Loopz – reports the Huffington Post. 

Not to be mistaken with the classic Fruit Loops, Snoop’s breakfast treat will be sold at various grocery stores through his Broadus Foods business, which he shares with business mogul Master P. 

On Aug. 13, Master P, who is also a partner with Rap Snacks, unveiled the new cereal on Twitter, saying it had “more corn, more flavor and more marshmallows” than other comparable brands. 

The multi-grain cereal is enriched with fiber and Vitamin D. Broadus Foods also sells a variety of “Mama Snoop” branded breakfast products including cereal, oatmeal, grits, pancake mix and syrup.

Aug. 24

Byron Allen’s HBCU Go streamer makes deal 

with CBS stations Plans to show football games

Byron Allen’s free streaming service HBCU Go has struck a nationwide licensing agreement with CBS stations that will run through the 2022-2023 college football season, reports NBC BLK. 

Under the distribution pact between the Allen Media Group-owned digital platform, which focuses on coverage of the country’s 207 Historically Black Colleges and Universities. HBCU Go’s sports programming will be carried on CBS owned and operated duopoly stations in these key TV markets: New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Dallas, Atlanta, San Francisco,  Boston, Seattle, Tampa, Detroit, Miami and Pittsburgh. 

As a result of the deal, HBCU Go will be available in 60% of U.S. television households. HBCU Go is also available through HBCUGO.TV, Roku, Amazon, Fire TV, Apple TV and the HBCU Go App.  

Aug. 24

Couple sues after home’s value went up following removal of indication home was Black owned

Professor Nathan Connolly teaches the history of redlining in America by day. Unfortunately, by night his own family has become the target of housing discrimination, reports the New York Times.

Although the professor and his wife, Dr. Shani Mott, were optimistic about the value of their home increasing after conducting new renovations that totaled $35:000, on top of another $5,000 for a new tankless water heater, the couple was met with an underwhelming offer. 

When they bought the home in 2017, it was worth $450,000, which is why the pair was floored when Maryland appraisal company 20/20 Valuations estimated the current value of their home at $472,000. They were also shocked when they were denied a refinance Ioan from mortgage lender LoanDepot.

Since the pandemic, home prices have spiked and in the Baltimore area neighborhood where their home is located, Zillow reports that the houses have gone up 42 percent over the last five years. 

After writing a letter to the lending officer at LoanDepot to challenge the appraisal, the pair was met with silence. After four months they decided to apply for another refinance loan. This time, however, they removed all family photos from their home. 

They also had a colleague who is White stand in their place for the second attempt at landing the loan. 

This time, the house was valued at $750,000. That gave the couple all the ammunition they needed to file a lawsuit against LoanDepot, as well as 20/20 Valuations. 

Aug. 17

Former rapper Nipsey Hussle honored with star on Walk of Fame

Nipsey Hussle was posthumously awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on what would have been his 37th birthday, reports NBC BLK. 

Hundreds gathered on Hollywood Boulevard on Aug. 15 to attend the ceremony, in which Hussle’s grandmother, Margaret Boutte, accepted the star on behalf of the family. Hussle’s sister, Samantha Smith, along with Hussle’s longtime girlfriend, Lauren London, also attended.

Aug. 30

Bank of America Introduces 

Community Affordable Loan 

Solution™ is designed to expand homeownership opportunities in Black/African-American and Hispanic-Latino communities. Bank-provided down payment, no closing-cost mortgage advances efforts are to broaden access to homeownership.

Sept. 12

Teacher shortages are real 

­but not for the reason you heard 

Everywhere, it seems, back-to-school has been shadowed by worries of a teacher shortage.

The U.S. education secretary has called for investment to keep teachers from quitting. A teachers union leader has described it as a five-alarm emergency. News coverage has warned of a crisis in teaching.

In reality, there is little evidence to suggest teacher turnover has increased nationwide or educators are leaving in droves.

Certainly, many schools have struggled to find enough educators. But the challenges are related more to hiring, especially for non-teaching staff positions. Schools flush with federal pandemic relief money are creating new positions and struggling to fill them at a time of low unemployment and stiff competition for workers of all kinds.

Sept. 13

Income Inequality 

Income Inequality in the U.S. increased last year for the first time in more than a decade, but childhood poverty was cut almost in half due to expansion of the federal government’s child tax credit and stimulus payments made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oct. 27

Attorney Ben Crump files lawsuit on behalf of user of chemical hair straightening products

Researchers have discovered that hair products used predominately by Black women are likely to contain hazardous chemicals with endocrine-disrupting and carcinogenic properties.

Armed with that information and research by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, civil rights attorney Ben Crump joined forces with lawyer Diandra “Fu” Debrosse Zimmermann to file a lawsuit against beauty products giant L’ Oréal USA.

Crump and Zimmermann filed the suit on behalf of Jenny Mitchell, a woman with no family history of cancer but who received a uterine cancer diagnosis after years of using L’ Oréal products.

The lawyers declared that the defendants also would include “entities that assisted in the development, marketing, and sale of the defective products including Motions, Dark & Lovely, Olive Oil Relaxer, and Organic Root Stimulator.”

“Black women have long been told they must use chemical hair straightening products to meet society’s standards,” Crump declared. “Companies took advantage of this and marketed their dangerous products to women without any regard for the serious health risks. We need justice.”

Crump said Mitchell started using the products around 2000 and continued until 2022.

Oct. 29

Federal Court Halts Biden’s Student 

Loan Debt Forgiveness for Now

A federal appellate judge on October 21 temporarily blocked the Biden Administration from cancelling student debt in response to a lawsuit filed by six conservative states alleging they could be hurt financially by the plan.

The court blocked the plan after the states appealed a lower court’s decision to throw out their suit due to failure to show they would be hurt by it. The court ruling does not prevent the administration from operating the debt forgiveness application or prevent people from applying, the White House said. But no debt can be waived until the court issues a final decision. It is not clear how long the temporary decision will last.

Nov. 8 

Widow of Medgar Evers to 

Receive BCRI’s 2022 Shuttlesworth Award

The award and other honors will be presented on November 18 during the BCRI’s 30th anniversary celebration and culminate a week of festivities and a one-night-only special exhibit highlighting three decades of archival acquisitions and programs. Evers-Williams, a Mississippi native, has been a lifelong champion of Civil Rights, starting in the mid-1950s, when she and her husband, the late Medgar Evers, opened the first National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) field office in their home state.

Nov. 30

Megan Thee Stallion Becomes First Black Woman On Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Cover

“I can’t slow down right now,” Megan said. “I’ll take a break when I’m dead. I’m trying to really build something.”

Since releasing her first single in 2016, Megan Thee Stallion has won a Grammy for Best New Artist, delivered the first female rap collaboration to debut atop the Billboard Hot 100 and become a household name. Now, she’s the first Black woman to be featured on the cover of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 issue.

“I can’t slow down right now,” the 27-year-old Houston native told Forbes. “I’ll take a break when I’m dead. I’m trying to really build something. When I start sitting, I feel like I’m not doing enough or I’m giving somebody else the opportunity to pass me.”

Dec. 1

Ava DuVernay’s launches in-flight channel on JetBlue

The pop-up channel, available starting today, features 12 independent films directed by women and artists of color.

Ava DuVernay will introduce JetBlue viewers to her arts and social impact collective Array in a new pop-up inflight channel.

Ava DuVernay’s distribution vehicle Array Releasing has partnered with JetBlue to launch a pop-up in-flight channel that will screen a dozen Array features.

“Over the years, I’ve experienced transformative moments by watching films while flying. Something about the intimacy of being in the air as stories unfold has always appealed to me,” DuVernay said in a statement. “We launched Array Releasing in 2011 as a way to connect audiences with indie cinema made by underrepresented filmmakers. Our hope is that JetBlue travelers will sit back and enjoy the magic of these films, exploring new visions and new voices while in the majesty of mid-air.”

Dec. 6 

Georgia Senatorre-elected to post 

After an election watched nation-wide, Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) walked to the podium in Atlanta on Tuesday night  to celebrate his election to a full term as a U.S. Senator after defeating Trump supporter Hershel Walker .

Warnock, who is the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, is being watched to see what he does now that he has a full term in the Senate. Just a few years ago, Warnock was walking through the halls of Congress in handcuffs, arrested for protesting Republicans’ proposed Medicaid cut with a group of Black clergy.

Warnock, in keeping with a long history of Southern Black pastors’ activism on the vote, talks about voting as “sacred” and has echoed a common spiritual rationale for voting rights as a recognition that each human is made in the image of God. He mentioned voter suppression in his victory speech this week, noting many Georgians stood in long lines to cast their ballot.

“Just because they endured the rain and the cold and all kinds of tricks in order to vote doesn’t mean that voter suppression does not exist,” he said.

Dec. 7

Black-Owned Whiskey Brand Uncle Nearest Hits 

$100M In Sales — ‘They Expected Us To Fail’.

‘Tis the season to be jolly means different things for different people, but one common denominator in bringing in Christmas joy is seasonal cocktails and spirits. From eggnog to cranberry-infused drinks, the option for a holiday beverage is endless.

Building the base for these drinks starts with solid liquor, and Black-owned whiskey brand Uncle Nearest’s latest revenue mark proves it is a possible choice for all to enjoy.

According to a press release, Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey announced that its sales exceeded $100 million through October 2022.

“To reach this and every other milestone on our horizon, we continue to push nonstop. Every penny this company has earned has gone back into the business, as well as to put Nearest Green’s college-age descendants through college and to invest in minority-owned businesses and entrepreneurs through our Black Business Booster program (BBB), the Nearest and Jack Advancement Initiative (NJAI) and Uncle Nearest Ventures,” CEO Fawn Weaver explained.

The brand was founded in 2017 with executive connections to Victoria Eady Butler, the great-great-granddaughter of Nearest Green — the company’s namesake.

Dec. 8

Brittney Griner released from Russian detention

After being released from Russian detention to US officials in Abu Dhabi, American basketball star Brittney Griner is flying back to the US and expected to land in San Antonio, Texas, a US official confirmed to CNN.

It is not clear when she is expected to land.

State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said that US officials will discuss with Griner “what she needs” when she arrives back in the US.

“She may seek the assistance that the US is going to provide, and we are going to make all of that available to her. How long she takes advantage of that assistance, that is a question for Brittney Griner, it is a question for Cherelle. But it is going to be an ongoing conversation we have with them,” Price said on MSNBC.

Jan. 11

Debate on healthcare

Frustrated with partisan stalemates in Washington, California’s overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature on Tuesday will begin debating whether to create its own universal health care system – a move that will test how far the state’s progressive politicians are willing to go to fulfill their campaign promises.

Government-funded health care for everyone has been a staple of California political rhetoric for decades. Gov. Gavin Newsom promised to do it when he ran for governor in 2018, and voters elected him in a landslide.The plan, which would require voter approval, would raise taxes on businesses and individuals who earn at least $149,509 per year. The California Taxpayers Association, which opposes the plan, estimates it would raise taxes by about $163 billion per year.

“If we can agree on a policy and get that policy passed, then it becomes more real. Then you are actually telling the voters what they are voting for. That’s really important,” said Assembly member Ash Kalra, a Democrat from San Jose who is the author of the proposal.

Questions about how to pay for a universal health care system have doomed previous plans. In 2011, Vermont enacted the nation’s first universal health care system in the country. But state officials abandoned it three years later because they said they couldn’t afford to pay for it.

Jan. 20

Weber’s AB 1655 would make 

Juneteenth a paid holiday in California

Last week, Assemblymember Akilah Weber (D-La Mesa) announced the introduction of Assembly Bill (AB) 1655, legislation that would make Juneteenth a paid holiday in California.

AB 1655 is co-authored by Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer (D-South Los Angeles) and Mia Bonta (D-Oakland). Weber, Bonta and Jones-Sawyer are all members of the California Legislative Black Caucus.

“It is time that June 19th has the status it deserves in California to honor the significant contributions of Black Americans to our nation and reflect on the long struggle for freedom,” Weber said, speaking during an Assembly session Jan. 15. “By making Juneteenth an official state holiday, California would demonstrate its commitment to celebrating the emancipation of all slaves.”

If the Legislature approves AB 1655 and Gov. Newsom signs it into law, it would amend current statutes to include June 19th as an official state holiday for public schools, community colleges, and California State University systems. It would also grant paid time-off to all state employees.

Juneteenth commemorates the day American forces declared that enslaved people in Galveston, Texas were freed – more than two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863.

Feb. 16

Civil Rights leaders slam Tesla after California charges automaker with discrimination 

NAACP California-Hawaii Conference President Rick Callender says he supports the decision of the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) to slap automaker Tesla Motors with a discrimination lawsuit. The complaint accuses the company of “systemic racial discrimination and harassment.” 

Callender says “racism is rampant” at the electric vehicle manufacturer’s plant in Fremont, an East Bay city located about 44 miles east of San Francisco.  

“We demand a racist free workplace. Business & Gov. orgs should know racist behavior is not tolerated in CA. Who thinks they should own a @Tesla now?” tweeted Callender after DFEH filed the lawsuit Feb. 9.  

“Segregation at the Fremont factory, along with the absence of Black and/or African Americans in leadership roles, has left many complaints of rampant racism unchecked for years,” says the lawsuit filed with the Superior Court of California in Alameda County.   

 “As early as 2012, Black and/or African American Tesla workers have complained that Tesla production leads, supervisors, and managers constantly use the n-word and other racial slurs to refer to Black workers,” the complaint continues.  “They have complained that swastikas, “KKK,” the n-word, and other racist writing are etched onto walls of restrooms, restroom stalls, lunch tables, and even factory machinery. They have complained that Black and/or African American workers are assigned to more physically demanding posts and the lowest-level contract roles, paid less, and more often terminated from employment than other workers.” 

Feb. 22

Jimmy Iovine, Dr. Dre take on U.S. Public School System

Dr. Dre is helping the next generation break the mold with a new partnership. The music mogul has teamed up with Adidas and Pensolbe Design Academy to launch an innovative school program “that blends fashion, technology and entrepreneurship,” according to Rolling Stone. Joining him to teach the young entrepreneurs is his longtime business and music partner Jimmy Iovine, reports AfroTech.

Students located in L.A. County will be offered a new curriculum spearheaded by the Iovine and Young Academy, the USC school founded by the duo in 2013. The collaborative effort kicked off with “Wood U,” a series of workshops led by adidas and the Iovine and Young Academy, according to the outlet. Students worked with Inglewood rapper D Smoke to design their own sneakers and gear.

Since 2013, Iovine and Dr. Dre have aimed to push past the traditional ways of education. With their upcoming magnet school, Regional High School #1, they’re continuing their dedication to having creativity taught to the youth early on.

The new high school is located in South L.A. — an intentional decision made by the two to provide opportunities to the Black and Latinx communities.

“I owe a lot to African American culture and the inner city, period,” Iovine said, according to Rolling Stone. “But a lot of these kids, you know, they have all these words for them: under-served, disadvantaged. But what they really have is superpowers.”

Regional High School #1 will open on Sept. 22.

Jul. 5

Grier hired by Sharks, first Black general manager in NHL history

Mike Grier became the first Black general manager in NHL history when he was hired by the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday. The 47-year-old replaces Doug Wilson, who stepped down April 7 after 19 seasons to focus on his health. Grier played for the Sharks from 2006-09.

“Really excited to work and to be back in the Bay Area,” he said. “I know there’s been lots of ups and downs but I’m ready to work hard and get at it and get this thing back on the tracks. We’re going to start winning some games in the “Shark Tank” and get it going again. See you soon.”

Aug. 2

50 Cent secures partnership with Sacramento Kings

The Sacramento Kings will embark on a multi year  deal with rapper  and entrepreneur Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and his wine and spirits company, Sire Spirits, and his charity, G Unity Foundation, reports Afro Tech. 

The joint effort will continue the Kings’ mission to diversify the companies it deals with. 

“I’m excited to partner with the Sacramento Kings,” 50 cent said. 

“We are thrilled to partner with Curtis and bring Sire Spirits to Golden 1 Center for our fans and guests to enjoy,” said Kings owner and chairman Vivek Ranadive. “This partnership continues the Kings’ commitment to supporting diverse entrepreneurship and aligns our shared passion for providing youth with the tools and opportunities they need to succeed. I am excited to work together to support the Sacramento community.” 

The partnership will provide scholarships for area youth. 

Aug. 17

Former rapper Nipsey Hussle honored with star on Walk of Fame

Nipsey Hussle was posthumously awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on what would have been his 37th birthday, reports NBC BLK. 

Hundreds gathered on Hollywood Boulevard on Aug. 15 to attend the ceremony, in which Hussle’s grandmother, Margaret Boutte, accepted the star on behalf of the family. Hussle’s sister, Samantha Smith, along with Hussle’s longtime girlfriend, Lauren London, also attended and offered remarks at the midday event. 

“I think I speak for the entire city of L.A. when I say that we’ve always known Hussle was destined for greatness,” London said. “This moment only amplifies that for us. Nip would have been honored by the moment.” 

Born Ermias Joseph Asghedom in the neighborhood of Crenshaw, Hussle rose from the streets of southern Los Angeles as a gang member to become one of the most influential and respected rappers of his time. He implemented various efforts to help revitalize the South Los Angeles community and to help others stay away from a life of crime. 

As a community leader, he bought shoes for students, repaved basketball courts and provided jobs and shelter for the homeless. Hussle also involved in the creation of Vector90, a co-working space aimed to help build underrepresented entrepreneurs. 

In March 2019: Hussle was gunned down in the parlor of his Marathon Clothing Store by Eric R. Holder. Just last month, jurors found Holder guilty of first degree murder.

Sept. 24

California Reparations Task Force hosting series of public meetings to discuss reparation proposals

The California Reparations Task Force is holding a two-day public hearing this weekend to discuss reparations.

After releasing a first-of-its-kind report earlier this year that examined slavery in the U.S. and the lingering effects on African Americans, the California Reparations Task Force is holding a two-day public hearing this weekend to discuss reparations.

Assembly Bill 3121 (AB 3121) was enacted in September 2020 and allows the task force to study and develop reparation proposals for African Americans.

The task force would create a proposal if the State Legislature ultimately creates a law that would provide reparations.

“We’re looking at not only what caused slavery but more important, the impact slavery has had on African Americans,” said State Assemblyman and member of the task force Reginald Jones-Sawyer during Friday’s meeting.

He says the two days of hearings allows the public to farther weigh in on the different aspects of reparations.

“The initial report stated why we need reparations, the next phase is what is reparations? is it closing the wealth gap? education gap, justice system… there are about 13 different topics that we need to look at.”

Michelle Chambers told Eyewitness News she’s happy these meetings are being held.

“California is the only state that is holding reparations task force meetings, it’s to get information out there about why reparations are important,” she said.

Through extensive research and witness testimony, the nearly 500-page report documents the systemic racism that has plagued all levels of government.

“Ultimately, on June 30th 2023, on time, we’re going to have a final report with all the recommendations for reparations,” said Sawyer.

Nov. 6

State Agency Files Civil Rights Suit Alleging 

Racial Discrimination in Lemon Grove

The California Civil Rights Department has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Black man who alleges he was subjected to ongoing discrimination after leasing a room in San Diego County and was told by his landlord, “Your people are always making trouble.”

The CRD is tasked with prosecutorial authority to investigate, mediate and litigate civil rights enforcement actions and has an office in Los Angeles County. The complaint filed on behalf of Black plaintiff Abdifatah Abdullahi against the Peter F. DeLuke trust seeks injunctive relief prohibiting future discrimination as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

A representative for the trust could not be immediately reached for comment on the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit brought Oct. 31.

The CRD completed its investigation into Abdullahi’s complaints in June and, based on the evidence, “found cause to believe that defendants had subjected Mr. Abdullahi to the threat of violence, discrimination, harassment and retaliation because of his race,” the suit states. Attempts to resolve the issues without litigation were unfruitful, according to the CRD.

The trustee of the Peter F. DeLuke trust is Peter DeLuke Sr. In October 2020, Abdullahi inquired about the availability of a room in a Lemon Grove home owned by Peter DeLuke Jr. The room had been advertised for lease on Craigslist for $580 in monthly rent and utilities of $250, the suit states.

Nov. 16

LA elects US Rep Karen Bass mayor, first Black woman in post

U.S. Rep. Karen Bass defeated developer Rick Caruso to become the next mayor of Los Angeles on Wednesday, making her the first Black woman to hold the post as City Hall contends with an out-of-control homeless crisis, rising crime rates and multiple scandals that have shaken trust in government.

With more than 70% of the vote tallied, Bass had amassed an insurmountable lead of nearly 47,000 votes. She had 53.1%, with Caruso notching 46.9%.

Bass was working in her congressional office in Los Angeles when she was informed by an aide she had won the race. Caruso’s campaign said he was calling the mayor-elect to offer his congratulations.

“The people of Los Angeles have sent a clear message: it is time for change and it is time for urgency,” Bass said in a statement.

“I ran for mayor to urgently confront the crises our hometown faces,” Bass said. “Tonight, 40,000 Angelenos will sleep without a home and five will not wake up. Crime is increasing and families are being priced out of their neighborhoods. This must change.”

Caruso promised that “there will be more to come from the movement we built.”

“As a city we need to unite around” Bass, he said in a statement.

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