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Across Black America Week of Jan. 19, 2017.



President-elect Donald Trump struggled to find performers for his inauguration ceremony. The list of groups and artists who have declined invitations to perform outnumbered those who have accepted. But an HBCU marching band from Alabama will be there, reports the Grio. The Talladega College Marching Tornadoes officially confirmed they would journey to D.C. to participate in the inauguration ceremony. Mario Scorggins, a former band member of Grambling State University, says there’s nothing to celebrate about this transfer of power. Scroggins was once in Grambling’s marching band, which at the time was preparing to perform at George W. Bush’s inauguration. “When HBCU bands perform in the mainstream, they always in a sense, represent the community,” Scroggins told in an interview. “We represent all HBCUs and all HBCU values. I think them performing, while it’s a good experience for the kids, it would be contrary to the views of the person that they are performing for.”


It was announced last week that the San Diego Chargers NFL franchise will move to Inglewood. The move comes after San Diego-area residents voted against building a new stadium for the team in the recent election. Last year, the St. Louis Rams team relocated to Southern California as well and became the Los Angeles Rams. Said Inglewood Mayor James Butts: “This is the second January in a row that we’ve had a NFL team relocate to the City of Champions. We are so grateful that the NFL has found us to be a desirable site for the flagship of the West Coast. It is true that lightening does strike twice in the same place and it struck here in the City of Inglewood.”


Students at a Jacksonville high school protested last week, demanding that an African American history course be taught year-round, reports the Huffington Post. Police were called to Terry Parker High School, according to First Coast News, when a group of about 10 students staged a sit-in to urge the school to change their current half-credit, semester-long Black history course to a full-credit, year-long course. In an Instagram video taken in the classroom, sophomore Angelina Roque, who said she organized the protest, tells authorities that calling the police won’t silence her. A man can be heard telling her and the other students to “please get out of here now.” Students told CBS 47 that the subject matter deserves more attention and that all of their classmates could benefit from it. Roque said they protested to “make them hear us, make them see us, make them listen to us.” Terry Parker High School and other schools in the Duval County Public Schools district only offer the class as a half-credit class, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti told the news outlet. In a statement to CBS 47, Vitti said the students won’t be punished for protesting, and that administrators are willing to consider extending the course.


Bishop Eddie Long, who came under fire several years ago after being accused of sexually assaulting young men during his term as pastor of mega-church New Baptist in Atlanta, died last weekend. He was 63. Pastor Long remained a minister with the 10,000-plus member church, and in fact, received the support of many of his church members amid calls to for him step down. In the last couple of years, however, his health had taken a turn for the worse, and there were rumors he had cancer. Long proclaimed that God would heal him, as he reportedly went on an all-vegetable diet. At press time, no cause of death had been released. He is survived by his wife, children and grandchildren.

“Business has been moving faster than expected,” Tarik Edmonson, owner and CEO of Black-owned, a custom sneakers and athletic footwear firm for men and women in Atlanta. Company sales have been strong all over the globe—with orders coming in from Angola, South Africa, France, Jamaica, the Democratic Republic of Congo and London. Products are available through independent wholesalers and direct from their website.

And now the firm wants to share its good fortune and formula for success with other aspiring entrepreneurs. has launched an affiliate/wholesale program that allows other entrepreneurs to start their own business and generate revenue from a very easy-to-sell product. By using technology, anyone with the entrepreneurial drive can be a part of the tennis shoe industry by becoming a wholesaler of this fast-selling product line, Edmonson says. “We’re helping to empower entrepreneurs and organizations in the community with our sneakers, which in turn generates income and pride back to the community.” The wholesale program enables entrepreneurs to get involved in a fast-growing business without a huge investment, he adds. For information, go to


Lawrence Crosby is a Black man pulled over by police in 2015 for allegedly stealing a car, but the car they pulled him over in actually belonged to him. Crosby is now filing a lawsuit against the city of Evanston, as well as against four officers for excessive force. Evanston police last week released not only dashboard video of the encounter but a recording of the 911 call in which a woman reported seeing a man stealing a car. “Yeah. I don’t know if I’m like racial profiling … I feel bad,” said the 911 caller after describing a man standing by a car with a long bar in his hands. The 911 dispatchers asks, “Did you see him jimmy the door open or do anything?” The caller replied, “He had a bar in his hand, and it looked like he was jimmying the door open.” When police pulled Crosby over a short time later, he can be seen in the video getting out of the car with his hands up. The police approach him with guns drawn, shouting at him, and he is pulled to the ground and placed in handcuffs, even while he continues to tell police that he owns the car and has documentation for it. Crosby is now seeking damages in excess of $50,000 over the incident.


Rachel Nash, 29, sought to take her bank up on its offer to personalize her debit card and designed a custom card featuring a power fist and the words “Black Lives Matter.” Nash, who is White, says she has been down with BLM since the death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray, 25, who suffered horribly from injuries sustained while in police custody and eventually died. “A lot of White people in Baltimore have really problematic views about race, and they feel like because I’m a White person I agree with them automatically,” Nash told the Washington Post. “This is one way I can demonstrate regularly that I am not complicit in whatever their views are.” But Nash received an e-mail recently informing her that her design did not meet the company’s guidelines, and when she called customer service to find out why, the agent reportedly replied that it was because of the words, “Black Lives Matter.” A Wells Fargo spokesman said last Friday that it rejected Nash’s image because company policy “prohibits political and trademarked or copyrighted images.” But “Black Lives Matter” is not a trademarked brand, reports the Post; in fact, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has rejected applications to trademark “Black Lives Matter” for clothing sales because the slogan is “commonly used” in rallies dedicated to civil rights and protesting violence. Kris Dahl, a spokesman for Wells Fargo, said in an emailed statement that the company will be reaching out to Nash to apologize for the way she was treated on the phone, but she will not be getting the card she designed


As Detroit’s auto show prepared to open this weekend, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles got rear-ended with a potentially explosive lawsuit: a race discrimination class action that could affect hundreds of African-American managers at the auto giant, reports the Detroit Free Press. At issue is FCA’s employee evaluation process, which the lawsuit claims is hurting African-American managers at a “disproportionate alarming rate” by giving them low performance scores that result in lower pay and fewer promotions than their White counterparts. The culprit, the lawsuit alleges, is a team of mostly White, high-level managers who have the final say in the evaluation process and give Black managers low scores, even if immediate supervisors gave them glowing reviews. FCA issued a statement recently, denying any discrimination and vowing to fight the claims.


The city of Biloxi announced that its offices would be closed on Monday, Jan. 16, for something called “Great Americans Day,” and people definitely noticed, reports the Grio. Despite the city’s claims that “Great Americans Day” is just what Monday is called in their state (it’s Martin Luther King Day everywhere else), it doesn’t appear on any Mississippi news sources, or in the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office, which recognizes Monday as a dual celebration of the birthdays of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert E. Lee. And yet this was the tweet posted on Friday by the city of Biloxi: “Non-emergency municipal offices in Biloxi will be closed on Monday in observance of Great Americans Day.” Vincent Creel, the city’s public affairs manager, spoke out after the tweet generated a severe backlash, pointing out that the state celebrated both King and Lee on the same days. ‘For whatever reason, the state couldn’t bring itself to just say ‘Martin Luther King Jr. Day,’” Creel said. “Somewhere along the line, that evolved into ‘Great Americans Day,’ unfortunately. And yes, I did say ‘unfortunately.’” Biloxi Mayor Andrew Glitch  issued a news release on Friday requesting the city council change the name back to Martin Luther King Day.

What’s going on in Mississippi? The Grio reports that Peter Rinaldi, owner and publisher of Miss-Lou Magazine and the Natchez Sun XPress, is surrounded by outrage, after he published a racist column calling for Black youth in Natchez, who are involved in gangs, to meet up at the local park and murder each other for others’ entertainment. “As the population becomes more demographically poor, uneducated, unskilled and dominantly African American, the number of shootings have gone through the roof,” Rinaldi wrote. He specifically referred to “three shootings, two wounded and sadly, two deaths.” However, he went on to say that the murders might be a good thing, if they get rid of “gangbangers.” Members of the community and city officials were reportedly floored by the overtly racist and violent column. “I’m highly upset by this, and I’ll be addressing it in our board meeting,” Ricky Gray, supervisor of District 4, told The Root. “This is something that you would expect from the Ku Klux Klan, but I’ve been here a long time and have never seen anything like this.” Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis, alderwoman of Ward 1, said she was not surprised, because Rinaldi has been writing racist columns for some time. “We have to start at the root of the problem that’s been building up over time,” she said. “Our children are underserved, and Rinaldi is serving a race-baiting agenda, when he circulates such dangerous stupidity in a community that needs healing from systemic issues that have left some of our youth lashing out.”


Prosecutors have dropped charges against a teen who was arrested last year for allegedly stealing a 65-cent milk carton from his school cafeteria. In May 2016, Ryan Turk was handcuffed and suspended from Graham Park Middle School in Triangle, after a school resource officer accused him of stealing the milk. Ryan, who was 14 at the time and is now 15, was ultimately slapped with two misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and petit larceny. Ryan’s trial was slated to start Thursday, but prosecutors said they decided to drop the charges after talking to the boy’s counselor, The Washington Post reports. “He’s already taken actions to remedy his attitude,” Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert told the Post. Ryan was reportedly charged because he tried to “conceal” the milk, which his mother said wasn’t true. Ryan, for his part, said that he simply forgot to take a carton on his first pass through the line, so he went back to get it. The disorderly conduct charge stemmed from an allegation that Ryan “pushed against” the officer who grabbed him.


The creators of a doll line aimed at helping little girls of color see themselves represented in their toys just got a big investment in their company. Angelica and Jason Sweeting appeared on a recent episode of “Shark Tank” hoping to secure a $200,000 investment for Naturally Perfect Dolls, which they founded in 2015. During the show, the couple told the judges that the doll line came to be after one of their daughters was crying profusely on a car ride home from a book fair. “Finally when she calmed down, we say, ‘Hey babe, what’s wrong with you?’” Jason told the judges in the video above. “She says, ‘Dad, I’ll never be beautiful. I need yellow hair and white skin so that way I can be beautiful.’ And we were totally devastated.” Angelica explained that they saw the standard images of beauty their child saw on television and in toys and began searching for dolls that looked like their daughter but found nothing. So, they created a doll and over time found a change in their daughter’s attitude. The judges liked the concept overall, but they were hesitant to invest due to the doll’s high price ($84.99) and the failure of previous multicultural doll lines. But the couple’s story resonated with judge and FUBU creator Daymond John. He proposed to invest $200,000 at 30 percent ownership, 60 percent for the founders and 10 percent for charity. The Sweetings accepted, ensuring that they’ll be able to mass produce the dolls.

Compiled by Carol Ozemhoya.