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Across Black America week of April 27, 2017



Kori Ali Muhammad told his family there was a war going on between Blacks and Whites in America, reports the L.A. Times. On social media, he referred to White people as “devils.” Earlier in the year, he released a rap album replete with violent, explicit, racially-charged lyrics, including referring to himself in one song as a “Black soldier.” On the morning of April 18, police say Muhammad stalked the streets of downtown Fresno, fatally shooting three White men with a .357 revolver. Before surrendering to police, he allegedly shouted “Allahu akbar” and expressed hatred toward White people and the government, according to Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer. Local authorities said they don’t believe the attack was an act of terrorism but are investigating it as a hate crime. “If in fact he’s lashing out at White people—White males in this case—that would constitute a hate crime” Dyer said. “We believe it is a hate crime, definitely a hate crime.” The chief said investigators don’t believe Muhammad worked with anyone else in the attack, calling him “an individual that is filled with hate, filled with anger.” The attack occurred over less than two minutes with Muhammad firing a total of 16 shots. Dyer said he surrendered to a responding officer without incident and later apologized to the chief. In addition to the killings on April 18, police said Muhammad was suspected in the fatal shooting of a security guard, also a white man, the week prior.


A state senator who unleashed an expletive-laden rant over drinks with two other lawmakers last week, uttering a racial slur for Black people and other vulgarities, resigned from his position on April 21. State Sen. Frank Artiles, a Republican from Miami-Dade County, apologized the day after the episode, saying that he let his “temper got the best of me.” But Artiles continued to face increasing pressure to resign. The state’s Democratic Party and members of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus said that an apology was not enough. On April 21, Artiles said he would step down immediately. “It is clear to me the that my recent actions and words that I spoke fell far short of what I expect for myself, and for this, I am very sorry,” he wrote in his resignation letter. “I am responsible, and I am accountable, and effective immediately, I am resigning from the Florida State Senate.” The profane tirade occurred on April 17 at the exclusive Governors Club in Tallahassee during a conversation at a table with several people, including two other state senators, Audrey Gibson and Perry Thurston, both Democrats who are Black.


Fathers Incorporated, a national nonprofit promoting responsible fatherhood, launched its new initiative, Real Dads Read (RDR), in Atlanta. The initial project objective was to create literacy centers in barbershops with the goal of encouraging father-child involvement through reading and improving literacy for young children. Today, with help from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, RDR has established 26 libraries in barbershops around metro Atlanta and nine in Columbus. In addition, 45 barbershops and partners engaged in a citywide book drive, collecting 2,245 books, which included a large donation from the Atlanta Chapter of Omega Psi Phi. Real Dads Read is aimed at elementary and middle school aged children (K-8) and their fathers/male caregivers with the goals of 1) encouraging children to develop a love of reading, 2) improving children’s literacy skills and educational outcomes, and 3) strengthening bonds between fathers/caregivers and their children. National Real Dads Read Day will take place each year on the second Friday of June. “This isn’t complicated; children do better on a host of measures, including reading, when fathers are actively involved in their care, so we simply want to earmark this day to encourage reading among dads and their children and remind the public of the important roles fathers play in the lives of their children,” said Kenneth Braswell, executive director of Responsible Fatherhood. RDR is planning a twitter chat (@RealDadsRead), social media contest (#2017NATRDR), and other fun activities to support National Real Dads Read Day on June 9.


Many students at Western Kentucky University believe that a conversation about reparations for slavery is worth having. On April 18, the student government voted in favor of giving slavery reparations to Black students. “We demand reparations for the systemic denial of access to high-quality educational opportunities in the form of full and free access for all Black people (including undocumented, currently and formerly incarcerated people to Western Kentucky University),” the resolution reads, according to the Daily News “due to discriminatory education, housing and employment policies that have disproportionately held back Black Americans, we believe this resolution is ultimately a conversation starter for discussing how to make college both more affordable and accessible for communities of color and marginalized people in general,” said an email from the school’s student government. The student government at Western Kentucky University voted to support slavery reparations for Black students in the form of free tuition and free access to the public Bowling Green campus.


The Rising Star Sports Ranch Resort, will host its first sports leadership summit May 19-21 in Mesquite, which is about 80 miles north of Las Vegas. The summit will address how the industry is evolving and offer educational sessions on leadership and team development, as well as feature on court and on-the-field training demos. One of the key speakers at the event will be Marvin Menzies, the African American coach of UNLV men’s basketball team. Rising Star Sports Ranch Resort is a comprehensive sports facility and hotel. The outdoor field and training complex bridges the gap between lodging, location and tournament and camp operations. The brand new facility is designed to host sports camps, events and conferences in addition to providing more than 700 hotel rooms, as well as-a 30,000 square foot field house. With special emphasis on youth sports and clinics, Rising Star Ranch has been open since October 2016, and is already forming unique partnerships with well known coaches and sports-minded organizations. The facility was recently named the Nevada home of Nike sports camps.

New Jersey

Princeton University, which has spent much of the past year reflecting on its racial history, announced April 18 that it plans to rename two campus buildings in honor of Black Nobel laureates and faculty members, reports West College, a residential college in the middle of campus, will now be known as Morrison Hall in honor of faculty member, writer and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, the school announced in a statement. Morrison is heralded as the first Black woman to win a Nobel Prize for literature. The Dodds Auditorium, named after a former White president of the college, Harry Dodds, will be renamed the Arthur Lewis Auditorium in honor of Sir Arthur Lewis, a former faculty member, economist and Nobel laureate, the statement said. “(Lewis) remains the only person of African descent to win a Nobel Prize in a field other than literature or peace,” the statement said. The recommendations for renaming were made by the Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC), which is made up of faculty, students, staff and alumni. They were instructed to advise the university’s Board of Trustees on which campus buildings to rename in order to recognize people who have brought a “more diverse presence to campus,” the statement said.

New York

These 8-year-old twins from New York City are only in the second grade, yet they have started their own company, Water 2 Kids, bottling water just for kids, reports Black Brazil and Princeton Dowe noticed that many kids don’t drink water and often drink soda instead. They both had a vision to create a product that would give children a healthy option, so they developed bottled water that comes from the mountian natural springs and branded it to attract kids. “Kids don’t drink a lot of water because they don’t see it in the store, just for them,” Brazil explained. Their idea worked because now they are selling their product in 17 convenience stores and delis in the New York City/Bronx area. The twins’ mother, Alina Dowe, is 100 percent on board with her children’s mission and business. She hopes that Water 2 Kids will encourage more children to switch from soda to water and benefit more children than just her own. She helps with the logistics and coordination of getting the water bottled in upstate New York and then distributed to stores and delis in the Bronx. The twins are busy, but also glad to be a part of a company that will make a difference in the lives of kids. To learn more about their company, Water 2 Kids, follow them on Facebook at

On June 8 in New York City, the Gordon Parks Foundation will hold its annual awards dinner and auction, celebrating photographer Parks’ legacy as a major contributor to the visual arts. Honorees include: Rep. Congressman John Lewis, philanthropist Alexander Soros, singer and activist Mavis Staples, musician Jon Batiste, American Express Chairman/CEO Kenneth Chenault and his wife, philanthropist Kathryn Chenault. The evening will also feature performances by Grammy and Academy Award-winning recording artist Common. In addition, an auction featuring seven lots of Gordon Parks works will be led by Sotheby’s Americas Vice Chairman Hugh Hildesley. All proceeds from the evening will support the foundation’s ongoing artistic and educational programs and initiatives. Guest presenters for the evening include Stephen Colbert; historian and Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.; and singer Usher Raymond IV, additional special guests former senior adviser to President Barack Obama,  Valerie Jarrett, and Rep. Keith Ellison. Alicia Keys and Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean, Karl Lagerfeld, Leonard Lauder and Judy Glickman Lauder, Janelle Monáe. The fellowship was established to support photographers, artists, filmmakers and musicians working within the theme of social justice.


Black reports that Strayer University leadership is under fire for racial discrimination and abuse of power. In separate complaints filed in Virginia and Tennessee, employees at Strayer University, one of the largest for-profit college systems in the U.S., have alleged systematic racial discrimination and sexual harassment by the institution’s leadership. The suits further allege that Strayer President Bryan Jones, who is Black, attempted to use bribery and other coercive acts to cover up these activities. The complaints allege among other things that Dub Taylor, a prominent professor of business at Strayer, was offered promotions including the title of vice president for the expressed purpose of firing another African American employee, Gina Reed. He was later fired for refusing to dismiss Reed, who alleges in her complaint that she was discriminated against because she had filed a sexual harassment claim. Mark Lazarz, attorney for Taylor and Reed, said, “This may seem like an ordinary story of workplace dysfunction, but the sinister and cynical use of one African American to fire another African American demonstrates a new low in corporate malice. In a week where United Airlines has used jackbooted tactics to remove a passenger from a plane, we must remain vigilant in calling out bad actors and holding their feet to the fire.” Strayer’s situation is particularly troubling because over 60 percent of its student body is African American.


A former Black female colleague of Bill O’Reilly’s came forward to accuse the beleaguered former Fox News host of sexual harassment, reports The Grio. According to the woman’s lawyer, O’Reilly had a desk near the woman’s and would say very little to her that was not sexual. “He would walk by her desk … and make grunting noises like an animal and wait for her to get off the elevator first and look at her backside and say, ‘Looking good, girl,’” said attorney Lisa Bloom. “He would look at her cleavage and legs and call her ‘hot chocolate.’” In responding to the allegations, O’Reilly’s attorney Marc E. Kasowitz claimed that they were part of an ongoing conspiracy meant to ruin O’Reilly’s career. Fox fired O’Reilly last week after 21 years in air amid reports that the network had paid out $13 million in sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits and it was also losing major advertisers due to O’Reilly’s inflammatory comments and reported unethical actions, specifically against female and Black staffers.

Media mogul and entrepreneur Jay “Z” Carter is making new headlines, as he spearheads projects that deal with: money and race. The former rap star has launched a venture capital project and he was also recently awarded the exclusive rights to put the Trayvon Martin story on film. In addition, National Geographic has given Carter the green light to put together a six-part series on race in America, where he will focus on systematic injustice in the U.S., wealth inequity and more issues facing Black Americans in particular. The Carter project will be a docu-series currently titled “Race,” which will give a look into systemic injustices in America. The series will weave together documentary, animation and archival footage. It will delve into crime and punishment, wealth inequality, the role of social media, activism and family. Present-day stories will be captured via footage of a diverse mix of people from all walks of life in cities across America, from immigrants to first-generation Americans and beyond.

Compiled by Carol Ozemhoya.