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Across Black America week of Apr. 6, 2017.



A man in San Francisco has video proof of racial harassment in his workplace, and he is using the evidence to sue popular new automaker Tesla. DeWitt Lambert filed an 11-count complaint against Tesla last week in Northern California. The lawsuit claims Lambert’s supervisor repeatedly used the n-word to address and insult him. Lambert is accusing electric automaker Tesla of failing to address alleged incidents of racial harassment and threats from assembly line co-workers, reports CBS News San Francisco. The suit’s introduction quotes the words an assembly line supervisor allegedly said to Lambert: “N*er, we take your a home, ner. Shred you up in pieces, ner.” According to the lawsuit, supervisors and other co-workers who harassed and intimidated Lambert “continue to roam the halls of Tesla today, even though Tesla is aware that they subjected plaintiff Lambert to repeated racists epithets for months.”

Lambert, 44, who said he feels threatened, has a video that purports to show the incident, which he said happened in 2015 and is typical of what he has experienced at the company. The co-workers also sexually harassed him, Lambert said. He complained to Tesla’s human resources department, but Lambert said the company failed to properly handle the situation. In an interview with NBC News Bay Area’s Carmen Copher, the managing counsel on Tesla’s legal team, admitted the company failed to follow through on Lambert’s complaints. She added that Tesla is now disciplining the employees. That could range from warning letters to termination.

District of Columbia

During the last academic year, only 57 percent of the students at Ballou High School graduated. But this year, every single senior has applied to college, reports The Grio. The school is located in one of Washington, D.C.’s, poorest neighborhoods, which is also predominantly Black. Because of that, it has a poor reputation, with many of its students dropping out before they can make it to graduation. But Ballou Principal Yetunde Reeves said in speaking to the Washington Post that the school is trying to change not only its reputation but its reality. “There are some schools and communities where college is an automatic next step. There is no celebration,” Reeves said. “Our kids don’t get that same message. We are trying to create an environment where going to college is what Ballou does as well.” Many of the students work with Ballou college and career coordinator Jamanda Porter, who said of the school’s efforts, “We are meeting our students where they are, but we are pushing them to higher expectations.” This year’s group of seniors collectively decided that they were all going to apply to college, and some of the students have even applied to multiple colleges, some as many as 14. Already, one of the seniors has received 11 acceptance letters.


Two White high school girls are under fire in South Florida for asking a Black classmate to prom in a racist way. They went to the school’s athletic field wearing a sign where a Black student was engaging in activities. The sign said: “You may be picking cotton but we’re picking you to go to prom with us.” According to Carbonated TV, the two White girls at Monarch High School in Coconut Creek asked one of their softball team members to the to the prom using a cardboard imprinted with those words. One girl posted the picture to her Instagram account, where it was captured by Jon Aro, an 18-year-old student from Palm Beach State College, who shared it publicly.

“I decided to post it on Twitter, because it is 2017 and stuff like this is completely revolting,” Aro explained. “I thought we had (gotten) past the plight of racism. Apparently we haven’t. Just as she decided to take a picture of it, let alone post it on social media, I decided to do the same.” Even more surprising is that the girl said yes. She is seen smiling in the picture. Some Twitter users tried to track the girls using their social media accounts but they were deleted. A few students who go to the school reported to Carbonated TV there have been serious repercussions for the girls, perhaps even suspension and revoked scholarships, but nothing has been confirmed yet.


After meeting with Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner earlier in March, Chance the Rapper promised he would come back with a plan on how to better support Chicago’s public school system. On March 31, he announced the New Chance Arts and Literature Fund, reports Rolling Stone. The Grammy Award winner held a press conference at Robeson High School that was streamed across social media platforms. “We all know the Illinois education system is one of the most underfunded in the nation. I’m excited to announce the creation, in collaboration with the Children’s First Fund, of the New Chance Arts and Literature Fund.” Working with the Ingenuity fund, Chance’s non-profit will work to identify CPS schools in most dire need of a better arts program. “We are committed to giving the kids as much as we can,” he said while also noting that the Chicago Bulls have since donated $1 million to the CPS foundation. Recently, Chance announced his own plans to donate $1 million to CPS, an amount made possible through ticket sales for his spring tour and partnerships with Live Nation, AEG and Ticketmaster. Additionally, Social Works will match every $100,000 raised for the CPS with an additional $10,000 to be allocated to specific Chicago public schools. Chance and Gov. Rauner had a private meeting in early March to discuss funding for Chicago Public Schools, and Chance left notably flustered after the 30-minute discussion ended. “I felt it went a little bit different than it should have,” he told the press.

‘I’m here because I just want people to do their jobs.”


Baltimore-based mega preacher Jamal Bryant is getting called out by a woman he had a child with—LaToya Odom—report news sources. Odom said Bryant has ignored a court order regarding child support, and now she wants the pastor jailed. Odom initially sued Bryant back in 2016, demanding he make child support payments for their son, John Karston Bryant, who was born in 2015. She also fought for custody of baby John. Bryant argued that he initially made child support payments. However, according to him, Odom’s continued harassment made him stop the payments and he believed a judge could mediate the situation better. Bryant and Odom reached a settlement last November with Odom gaining primary physical custody of her son, while Bryant received visitation. The child support amount was not  disclosed; however, Bryant had to cover Odom’s $13,500 legal bill. Now, according to media sources, Odom has accused Bryant of not providing her with his address for their son’s medical card and Bryant is supposedly “late from time to time” on his child support payments. Odom is calling for a revised court order so Bryant can make payments on time. She also wants the 45-year-old preacher sent to jail for contempt.

New York

Accusations of sexual harassment are only the tip of the alleged discriminatory iceberg at Fox News, reports the New York Post. A pair of Black women are suing the cable news network, saying they were subjected to “top-down racial harassment” in the company’s payroll department, according to a new lawsuit filed March 28 in the Bronx. Tichaona Brown, a payroll manager, and Tabrese Wright, a payroll coordinator, are suing Judith Slater, the company’s longtime comptroller, Fox News and its parent company, 21st Century Fox. The women claim Slater’s racist behavior created a hostile work environment that resulted in “severe and pervasive discrimination and harassment.” The women say Slater, who was fired from Fox last week, made a laundry list of racially charged comments, including asking Brown if her three children were all “fathered by the same man.”

A new video has gone viral that seems to show two White NYPD officers taunting Black students as they walk down the street. The incident was captured on cell phone video and posted by associate professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College, Alex S. Vitale. It shows two police officers trying to get kids away from the corner of Bedford Avenue and Campus Road on March 16, reports The Grio. The cops appear to be aggressive with the teens, one of them while holding his police baton. “What are you going to do about it?” One asked a teen as they walked right behind him. When one of the students picked up a handful of snow, one of the policemen pulled out his taser and asked, “Do you want to ride the lightning?” You can’t hear what the student said in reply but the cop says, “You better walk away!” It is unclear if the cops were responding to a call but even if they were, the officers’ actions are questionable. “The whole interaction seemed like an abuse of authority,” Vitale said. A spokesman for the NYPD has stated that the department brass are aware of the video and the incident is under internal review. NYPD guidelines clearly state that tasers should generally not be used on children.


McDonald’s partnered with the Urban League of Greater Cleveland (ULGC) for its 29th annual Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Bus Tour, which took place March 27-31. The five-day tour provided approximately 100 minority students a unique educational and cultural experience as they visited six historically Black colleges and universities across three states and made stops at national landmarks. The tour boasted the motto; “You may start this tour undecided. You will return refocused and determined.” Since the HBCU College Bus Tour’s inception, more than 1,500 students have been immersed in the entire college culture, and it is estimated that at least 50 percent of students who attend the HBCU College Bus Tour go on to higher education. The three core principles for the tour are exposure, engagement and experience. “This year marks a historic milestone for the Urban League of Greater Cleveland as we celebrate 100 years of empowering communities and changing lives,” says Marsha A. Mockabee, President/CEO of the Urban League of Greater Cleveland. “We are pleased to welcome McDonald’s of Northeast Ohio as lead partner, in addition to Black History Tours; in this important work.”


Political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal won a major victory in his lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections on March 31, when a federal court ruled that he can begin receiving treatments for hepatitis C while in prison, reports The Root. The decision, which was outlined in a status report from the federal lawsuit Abu-Jamal filed against the state, does not indicate when he will begin to receive the anti-viral medication, but reports that Department of Corrections spokeswoman Amy Worden said March 31 that treatments would begin this week. Abu-Jamal is a former Black Panther who is serving a life sentence for the 1981 killing of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. He was originally sentenced to death in 1982, but that sentence was later overturned by a federal appeals court, and Abu-Jamal was sentenced to life without parole instead. Abu-Jamal fell into diabetic shock two years ago, and during his hospitalization, it was discovered that he had hepatitis C. Lawyers sued for him to get better medical care, but his attorney, Robert J. Boyle, told Friday that his condition has worsened since then.


Dallas native Z’Kijah Fleming is the winner of the 2017 Tom Joyner Foundation full-ride scholarship. The high school senior, who is ranked number one in her class, talked to “The Tom Joyner Morning Show” about becoming a caretaker at 14, why she chose Howard University and much more. “I kind of don’t have a plan. I take these as they come. I know things don’t happen the way that they want so I take things as they come. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer my freshman year of high school. I had to go into mother role. I want to go to an HBCU for the experience,” she said.


Disney’s “Lion King” live-action reboot is getting in formation. Sources tell Variety that Beyoncé is director Jon Favreau’s top choice to voice Nala in the upcoming remake. Insiders stress that the Grammy winner has not made a decision regarding the film yet, since the star is pregnant with twins. But since it’s a voice-acting role, sources say the studio and director will do whatever it takes to accommodate her schedule. The songstress announced her pregnancy in early February and dropped out as a Coachella headliner by month’s end. Lady Gaga will replace the “Single Ladies” singer at the desert music and arts festival next month. Donald Glover is on board to voice Simba and James Earl Jones is reprising his role as Simba’s father, Mufasa. “Lion King” was originally released in 1994 and is one of the highest-grossing animated films of all time, ultimately hauling in $968.5 million worldwide.

BET’s president of programming, Stephen Hill, will exit BET as part of the plan to rejuvenate the network, reports Radio Facts. The move is considered a shock among industry insiders, as Hill has brought an “incredible amount of successful segments” to the network, the Radio Facts news item reports. BET, identified as one of the core brands for Viacom is being rejuvenated by CEO Bob Bakish. Hill is a former radio programmer who left radio to pursue TV. Hill was with BET for almost two decades. He released a statement saying: “This Friday, 6,549 days after I took my first step through the doors of BET, I will walk my last one out. It has been my honor to serve this brand in that span, and I am thrilled to have been able to be a member of the teams that ideated and created so many spectacles, moments, memories and miracles. It’s been fulfilling to be part of huge changes that literally shifted culture.”

In a related matter, BET also announced last week that its head of original programming, Zola Marshariki, would be leaving the company as well. Except, according to Marshariki, that was news to her, reports The Root. On March 29, Mashariki said she was caught off guard by public statements issued by the network and its CEO Debra Lee, which indicated that she would be leaving the company—almost as an addendum to the news of Hill’s leaving. Variety reported that Hill was fired abruptly from the Viacom-owned network, for reasons that still remain unclear. Lee wrote in a company-wide memo that Connie Orlando, senior vice president of specials, music programming, and news, will serve as interim head of programming for BET Networks. She also wrote: “Additionally, Zola Marshariki executive vice president and head of original programming, will also be departing the network.” After news of the departures became public, Mashariki sent her colleagues an email, notifying them that she’s been on medical leave since February after being diagnosed with breast cancer and is exploring legal action against parent company Viacom and its head Bob Bakish. She said she plans to return in April.

Compiled by Carol Ozemhoya.