Turbulent NAACP chapter elects new leader in Virginia

VIRGINIA — Robert N. Barnette Jr., who has led the Virginia State Conference NAACP since August when its president was removed, will hold the top post in the civil rights organization for the next two years after emerging victorious in a controversial election.

Barnette, 67, a retired safety engineer and president of the Hanover County branch of the NAACP for seven years, was installed recently after winning a three-way race. He received 43% of the votes that 119 qualified delegates cast at the 84th state convention.

Barnette fended off challenges from Michelle Thomas, a pastor and president of the Loudoun County branch, and Carmen Taylor, a Hampton resident who is a past state NAACP president. Thomas received 33% of the votes and Taylor got 24%.

Two other candidates for president were disqualified at the last minute — along with 48 delegates who sought to cast ballots — under rules that had not been announced in advance and that conference veterans said had never applied before.

— Richmond Free Press

Research institute forges partnerships with HBCUs

The Diversity and Inclusion Seed Investments Program from the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science has launched an initiative aimed at developing collaborations with historically Black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions.

Stefan Duma, the research institute’s director, explains that the seed-grant program is designed to deepen connections between Virginia Tech University and HBCUs by helping to nurture long-term faculty partnerships aligned with researchers’ interests.

“We’re giving faculty the tools to start to build robust collaborations that will enhance research programs at both universities,” said Duma, who is also the Harry C. Wyatt Professor of Engineering.

“Those relationships harness the strengths of a diverse group of faculty in ways that will pay dividends for researchers — and their students — far beyond the term of the original grant,” said Duma, who is also the Harry C. Wyatt Professor of Engineering.

The awards offer $20,000 over two years to each team; the institute typically awards 15 new seed grants each year, maintaining around 30 funded partnerships.

— The Charleston Chronicle

Democratic debate being held at new Tyler Perry Studios

ATLANTA — The next Democratic presidential debate will be held at the Tyler Perry Studios, a 330-acre site in Atlanta.

The Nov. 20 event is being hosted by The Washington Post and MSNBC. It is scheduled to run from 9 to 11 p.m.

Perry purchased the land in 2015 and built the $250 million studio on a former Army base called Fort McPherson, which is south of downtown Atlanta. The facility is considered one of the largest production studios in the country with 12 sound stages, 40 buildings on-site that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and more than 200 acres of green space.

— Tri-State Defender

Social Security checks will rise 1.6% for 71M recipients

The Social Security Administration has announced that its pension and disability payments will rise 1.6 percent, or $16 on a $1,000 check, beginning with the first payments in 2020.

The cost-of-living increase, which is based on inflation that largely remains in check, was the same in 2019. Social Security check amounts also will be affected by any increase in Medicare premiums for 2020, which have not yet been announced, officials said.

Overall, 63 million Social Security recipients and 8 million blind, disabled or impoverished elderly recipients of Supplemental Security Income will be affected, they said.

In January, Social Security also will begin collecting tax on a higher level of earnings, rising from the first $132,900 of earned income to $137,700, according to the agency.

Currently, the combined Social Security-Medicare tax is 15.3 percent for self-employed people and percentage is split between employers and workers. The actual Social Security tax is 6.2 percent, with the rest going to support Medicare.

— Richmond Free Press

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