Target to spend $2B with Black-owned firms by 2025

Target Corp. will spend more than $2 billion with hundreds of Black-owned businesses by the end of 2025, making the pledge as its home city of Minneapolis is grappling with the murder trial of the former city police officer who killed George Floyd.

The cheap-chic retailer will also add products from more than 500 Black-owned companies across its aisles and help Black vendors expand their sales in big-box retail, it said in a statement Wednesday. Target currently carries more than 65 Black-owned brands, but declined to say what it currently spends with such companies.

Target’s pledge also includes spending at Black-owned companies like marketing agencies and construction firms. In terms of inventory, the commitment falls short of those made by retailers including Sephora and Macy’s Inc., who have said they will dedicate 15% of their shelf space or purchasing budget, respectively, to Black-owned businesses. Even if $2 billion went to stocking Black-owned brands alone, the plan works out to about $400 million a year through 2025, or less than 1% of the average annual amount that it spent for merchandise over the last four years.

Target’s new pledge does not include the beauty brands sold by Ulta, which is opening 100 mini-stores inside Target locations this year.

— The Washington Post

Black Public Media Forum awarding up to $150K

Ten producing teams will have the chance to win up to $150,000 in project funding at the Black Public Media Forum, an interactive pitching competition, to be held Friday and Saturday before public television and commercial distributors.

Winners will be announced at the PitchBLACK Awards Friday at a virtual ceremony where documentary filmmaker Marco Williams will receive the BPM Trailblazer Award.

Created and presented by BPM, PitchBLACK serves as a major platform where television industry executives and funders can gather to identify rising Black talent and stories.

Past attendees include Third World Newsreel, Tribeca Film Institute, WNET/Thirteen and Women Make Movies, WORLD Channel and private investors.

Since January, the 360 Incubator+ fellows have benefited from an array of virtual workshops on pitching, grant writing, budgeting, licenses, distribution and more.

“The strength of BPM’s 360 Incubator+ is the collaborative effort of our mentors and workshop leaders combined with the amazing talent of our fellows,” said BPM Director of Program Initiatives Denise Greene.

— The Washington Informer

Black adults report bias in health care, study finds

Black adults were more likely than their White and Latino/Hispanic counterparts to report having been discriminated against or judged unfairly by a health care provider or their staff in the months leading up to and during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new analysis finds.

The report was released this week by the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The study, conducted in September 2020, found that 10.6% of Black nonelderly adults said they faced discrimination while seeking care based on their race, sexual orientation, disability, gender or health condition, compared to 3.6% of White adults and 4.5% of Latino adults. Race and ethnicity were the top factors cited in unfair treatment.

Among the Black adults who participated, women and low-income individuals faced the highest rates of discrimination, the report said.

Health advocates and civil rights leaders have criticized some states for lagging with equitable vaccine access for communities of color. On Tuesday, President Joe Biden announced he was moving up the deadline for states to make all adults eligible for the vaccine to April 19. The initial deadline was May 1.

— CNN

AG, NCAAP work to adjust probe of police shootings

Virginia’s attorney general and the state’s NAACP announced Wednesday that they are launching an effort to bring more transparency, impartiality and public confidence to the way police shootings are investigated across the commonwealth.

Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat, said that the exact form of the changes will be hammered out in the coming months, but that he has long been a supporter of police shootings being probed by independent, unaffiliated agencies.

“The way police-involved shootings in the past have been investigated has not been instilling confidence,” Herring said.

Herring said one possibility is to create a special unit within his office to investigate police shootings, but that would require a change in Virginia law because the attorney general does not have jurisdiction to investigate such criminal cases.

The NAACP released a statement saying it had met with Herring on Monday.

“The Virginia NAACP urged the attorney general to take a holistic approach to identifying tangible solutions that address this growing problem here in the commonwealth,” said Robert Barnette, president of the Virginia NAACP.

— The Washington Post

Biden nominates Black women to the bench

President Joe Biden on Tuesday nominated a racially diverse and overwhelmingly female group to federal and other judgeships, including three Black women for the U.S. courts of appeals, one pathway to the Supreme Court.

Biden promised as a candidate to nominate an African American woman to serve on the nation’s highest court should a seat open up during his term.

With the announcement of his first slate of judicial nominees, Biden signaled his intent to counter Trump’s reliance on white men to fill openings on the federal bench, and to appoint judges who bring a broader range of background and life experience to the role.

Several of Biden’s nominees served as public defenders. One is a former military prosecutor. Nine of the 11 are women. The slate also includes a nominee for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

Biden’s group includes candidates who, if confirmed by the U.S. Senate for lifetime federal appointments, would be the first Muslim federal judge in U.S. history, the first Asian American Pacific Islander woman to serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and the first woman of color to serve as a federal judge for the District of Maryland.

— The Miami Times

21-year-old builds charter school for young, Black boys

At just 21 years old, King Randall has big plans to give back to community youth, even more than he already has. WALB News 10 in Georgia reported that he is opening up a new school in Albany. Randall aspires to transform the former Isabella School into the New Life Preparatory School. In the WALB interview, Randall said that he hopes the school will provide Albany boys more opportunities for success. He has been wanting to open a school since beginning The “X” for Boys program when he was just 19-years-old. According to the “X” Boys community website, the current program offerings include teaching simple automotive repair, home improvement workshops, and reading literacy.

Randall wants to step up his pace while making an impact. WALB added that the boys will reportedly be taught traditional academics, trade skills such as welding and auto repair, the science of family and manhood, and firearms training, at the forthcoming school.

“Doing different workshops teaching young men how to do different skill trades, we’re also doing a book club and teaching them how to read because 93% of the children I come into contact with can’t read. But now we have an 86% reading comprehension rate,” Randall told WALB.

— The Birmingham Times

In the news interview, Randall also said that he worked with the Dougherty County School System to find a perfect location for the school. After getting in touch with the superintendent, Randall had an opportunity to tour a building that was going to be demolished. Randall noted that it needs a little tender loving care, but he felt that it was in great condition.

Randall and supporters are trying to raise money to make the dream to open a school a reality.

— The Birmingham Times

{h3}Study: Black, Hispanic people disadvantaged in Denver courts{/h3}

DENVER — A study of decisions made by the Denver district attorney’s office has said Black and Hispanic people charged with felonies in Denver face “a persistent set of disadvantages” compared with their white peers.

The study found that white people facing drug charges were more likely than Black or Hispanic people to be referred to drug court programs and that white defendants were twice as likely as Black or Hispanic people to have their cases deferred, The Denver Post reported. Case deferrals allow defendants to have charges or entire cases dismissed if certain requirements are met.

Researchers also found that charges against Black people were more likely to be dismissed than charges against white or Hispanic people, meaning more Black people were facing charges where prosecutors later found there was not enough evidence to support the charges, the study said. It did not find any racial disparities in plea agreements.

The study was released Wednesday after being commissioned by Denver District Attorney Beth McCann in 2019. It was funded by the state Evaluation and Action Lab at the University of Denver.

— The Associated Press

{h3}Judge from Mississippi civil rights murder trial dies at 79{/h3}

JACKSON, Miss. — A private funeral will be held Friday for the Mississippi judge who handed down a life sentence to the white supremacist convicted of killing civil rights leader Medgar Evers.

Retired Hinds County Circuit Court Judge L. Breland Hilburn died Monday at the University of Mississippi Medical Center of complications from COVID-19, according to a news release from the state Administrative Office of Courts. He was 79.

Hilburn presided over the 1994 murder trial of former fertilizer salesman Byron De La Beckwith in the killing of Evers three decades earlier.

Hilburn retired May 31, 2002, after spending 30 years as a city, county or circuit judge. He continued working part-time in retirement as senior status judge until 2017 — a position appointed by the state Supreme Court. In that role, Hilburn helped Hinds County deal with a long criminal docket when the jail was crowded with pretrial detainees.

— The Associated Press

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