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African American news for the week of August 28, 2014.


An Alabama teacher has been put on administrative leave after she reportedly asked her students to re-enact the shootings of Black teens Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. A local mother of one of the students—Jessica Lynn Baughn—wrote on a Facebook page called “S.O.S. – Sounds of Selma” – how her sixth-grade son and other students were asked to re-enact the shootings as part of a lesson on current events. “The White students had to play the police officer. She even had them get on the Internet and research how many times the young man was shot, where he was shot etc.,” Baughn wrote. “They are teaching these children to hate one another when we’re supposed to be teaching them to love one another.” The incident occurred at Brantley Elementary School. Baughn’s son told her that the Black students in the class were asked to play the roles of Martin and Brown, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. The teacher in question is African American. Baughn told the newspaper that the re-enactment bothered her son.


Australian rapper Iggy Azalea fell off the stage while rehearsing, a real anaconda bit a dancer at Nicki Minaj’s run-through and gunshots were fired at a party for Chris Brown (seriously wounding Suge Knight)—all before MTV’s Video Music Awards got started on Sunday evening in Los Angeles at the Forum. At about 4 a.m. police were called to a West Hollywood nightclub and found Knight, former CEO of Death Row Records, had been shot multiple times at a party that was being hosted by Chris Brown. Knight is in the ICU at a Los Angeles hospital, although his wounds are not considered life threatening. A man and a woman were also hit by the gunfire, and as of press time, no arrests were made. On Friday evening, while she was performing her hit “Fancy” for a benefit related to the VMAs, rapper Azalea took a tumble off the stage. She was apparently unhurt, as she later posted the video of her fall on Instagram. The same day, a dancer working with rapper Nicki Minaj at the rehearsal of her scheduled performance of “Anaconda” was bitten by a real snake being used as part of her VMA set. The dancer was treated at the scene and also taken to a nearby hospital. During the broadcast MTV aired a 15-second commercial focusing on race in response to the events surrounding the Aug. 9 police shooting death of 18-year-old, unarmed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. “It’s a call to action to our audience that we have to confront our own bias head-on before we can truly create change,” MTV President Stephen Friedman said in a release Sunday before the show. And while introducing the nominees for Best Hip Hop Video, Common delivered an emotional tribute to Brown as well.


More than 10,000 people are expected to join CEOs, business leaders and influencers as one of the nation’s largest professional conferences returns to Atlanta. The National Black MBA Association will hold its 36th annual conference and exposition Sept. 16-20, at the Georgia World Congress Center. As one of the country’s largest professional conferences, the annual event matches career seekers with employment opportunities among Fortune 1,000 corporations and the leading minds in business. Registration is open to the public. With the theme “The Art of Leadership: Inspiration. Innovation. Collaboration,” this year’s conference will offer attendees industry best practices so that they can prepare, distinguish and position themselves for advancement in a global workforce. “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts will deliver the keynote Wednesday, Sept. 17 during the Entrepreneurial and Leadership Institutes. NBA Hall of Famer and entrepreneur Earvin “Magic” Johnson, chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises, will share the spotlight during the annual town hall luncheon on Thursday, Sept. 18 alongside the Honorable Mayor Kasim Reed of Atlanta. On Friday, Sept. 19, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan will headline the keynote luncheon. For a complete listing of scheduled events, or to register now for this year’s conference, please visit


A young mother is using yoga to reach at-risk youth in Chicago. Although Tameka Lawson has been practicing yoga for only about a year, she has already used the art form to make a big impression on her life and on the Chicago community where she lives. Lawson is the mother of three small children and the executive director of I Grow Chicago, a nonprofit based in the city’s notorious Englewood neighborhood. The organization is focused on providing a haven for at-risk community members. “I was at a point in my life where I just needed to be still. I could not slow down. Even when I would slow my body down, my mind would still be racing,” Lawson recently told the Huffington Post. “I wanted to find my center, where I could calm myself down to be present and not have the worries of the day or the next task overwhelm me.” Not long after she took up yoga, the student became a teacher as she began to lead classes for youth in Englewood through her organization. Built into each class are elements of art therapy, motivational speaking, mentoring and job skills. Yoga, she explains, is simply the gateway to that information. “We want to get at the center of these youth and give them a moment to breathe in a way that will change the way they react and process things.” Lawson believes her group’s work are part of a much larger puzzle when it comes to addressing the very real issues facing her neighborhood. “If we can prevent one 8-year-old from growing up to become a person who could potentially pick up a gun, we’ve succeeded,” she said. “If we can intervene for a 14-year-old who has made bad choices from making another bad choice, we’ve succeeded. We don’t have the answers, but we’re trying to come up with creative solutions.”


While calm has begun to prevail in strife-torn Ferguson, many questions remain unanswered in the shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown. The legal process on a local and national level is underway to determine what charges, if any, will be filed against Darrin Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Brown. Last week, a grand jury was seated to hear the case. There are three African Americans jury, one man and two women. The rest of the jury comprises six White men and three White women. The demographics of the jury roughly coincide with the racial makeup of St. Louis County itself, which is 68 percent White and 24 percent Black. However, it is clear that race is playing a major role in this situation, as it has attracted international attention and ignited conversations about racial discrimination and inequality when it comes to police force. The case has prompted demonstrators nationwide and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has initiated a federal investigation that could result in charges of Civil Rights violations against Wilson as well as the Ferguson police force.

New York

Police are reportedly actively looking for rapper Joe Budden, who is being accused of assaulting and robbing his model ex-girlfriend in the Washington Heights section of New York City. Police released a picture of Budden, 33, and continue to search for the rapper, who gained fame with hit single “Pump It Up.” According to police, Budden allegedly drove to a restaurant at 4:30 a.m. Sunday, grabbed his former girlfriend and forced her into his car. The two argued, Budden allegedly stole her cell phone and twisted her arm. He reportedly then took her to his New Jersey home, where he continued to assault her until she escaped and called the police.

Thousands of demonstrators flooded Staten Island last week during a march protesting the chokehold death of a Black man during his arrest last month by a White New York City police officer. The protesters were led by the Rev. Al Sharpton and gathered around the sidewalk area where Eric Garner was taken down by cops. The marchers then headed the Staten Island district attorney’s office. During the march, Garner’s sister wore a red T-shirt with his photo on its front with the words, “It stops today.” Sharpton and some 200 people also gathered before the demonstration at the Mount Sinai United Christian Church, with other members of Garner’s family showing up in similar red shirts. Kadiatou Diallo, whose unarmed son Amadou was reportedly shot 41 times by cops in the Bronx in 1999, addressed the crowd. “The reason I’m marching is because it’s time for people of color to be recognized as human beings,” Shirley Evans, 63, of Manhattan, told reporters. “For years and years, we’ve been fighting for our rights. It’s time we’re seen as equals.” No charges have been brought yet in the Garner case despite the city medical examiner’s determination that his death was a homicide.


Multi-platinum recording artist Mariah Carey and actor/artist/television host Nick Cannon are reportedly separated and negotiating a divorce settlement, according to multiple news sources. Cannon told the Insider last week, “There is trouble in paradise. We have been living in separate houses for several months.” Cannon has been said to be living in hotels and that the couple has been arguing frequently. Carey has told friends that she suspects Cannon of infidelity. The split reportedly began in May when Cannon went on a radio show and played a game where he named five celebrities that he had sexual relations with. One of the names Cannon revealed was Kim Kardashian, and that name made Carey angry. In fact, a source told TMZ that Carey felt embarrassed and humiliated. Carey (44) and Cannon (33) were married in the Bahamas in April of 2008. In April 2011, Carey gave birth to twins Moroccan and Monroe. The split comes as a surprise to many, as the couple went out of its way each year to renew its wedding vows. Carey and Cannon’s split comes in the wake of rumors that another celebrity power couple—Beyoncé and Jay Z—is also headed for divorce.

As its cover on the crisis in Ferguson, Time magazine chose a stark, powerful image. The picture seems very appropriate; however, its use is even more relative, as the photographer who took it—Scott Olson—was one of the many journalists that was arrested while he was covering what was taking place in Ferguson, Missouri.

Compiled by Carol Ozemhoya.