Black lawmaker explores gubernatorial bid in Indiana
GARY, Ind. — State Sen. Eddie Melton announced last week that he was exploring whether to run for Indiana governor in 2020, hoping to accomplish a feat no Democrat has done in the last 16 years in the predominately Republican state.
With less than a year before the primary, Melton made the announcement to a thunderous crowd at the Gary Teachers Union Local 4 headquarters. As his wife and four children stood nearby, he listed education, raising teachers’ pay, improving health care, raising Indiana’s $7.25 minimum wage and protecting abortion rights as among his campaign goals.
Born and raised in Gary to a working class family, Melton graduated from Horace Mann Senior High and attended Kentucky State before leaving school to help his parents financially. He eventually earned his bachelor’s degree at Calumet College at St. Joseph.
In 2016, Melton, who works in public relations at the utility NIPSCO, was elected to the state Senate in the 3rd District, succeeding veteran politician Earline Rogers.
Melton, 38, is the first potential opponent to challenge Gov. Eric Holcomb, who has not indicated whether he will seek re-election and who a poll found had an approval rating of 50 percent among Hoosiers.
Indiana is a largely Republican state that hasn’t elected a Democratic governor since Joseph E. Kernan won in 2003.
— The Chicago Crusader
Reparations advocates to hold convention in Detroit
CHICAGO— The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America will gather for its 30th annual national convention from June 20 to 23 at the Timbuktu Academy of Science & Technology in Detroit.
The conference theme, “400 Years of Terror: A Debt Still Owed!” will focus on a process of “full repair” after four centuries of enslavement.
The three-day conference will consist of workshops and presentations featuring activists from across the country, a dinner banquet a town hall meeting.
N’COBRA, established in 1987, has been lobbying in support of House Resolution 40, a 115th congressional bill that would establish a reparations commission to examine slavery and discrimination and then recommend appropriate remedies.
— The Chicago Defender
Black billionaire launches STEM internship program
ATLANTA — Robert F. Smith, the billionaire investor who erased the student debt of Morehouse College’s Class of 2019, has launched an internship program for ethnically underrepresented students.
The program, called InternX, will guarantee 1,000 students from ethnically underrepresented groups a paid summer internship in the STEM field. Sophomores with a grade point average of 2.8 or higher are eligible.
AT&T, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte and CitiGroup are reportedly among the companies that will take InternX candidates, according to the Atlanta Journal Consitition.
Smith is the founder and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, a New York-based investment firm focused on software, data and technology. According to Forbes, Smith has an estimated net worth of $5 billion.
— Atlanta Daily World
California official names 2 to high-speed rail board
CALIFORNIA — State Treasurer Fiona Ma has appointed two prominent African-American transportation experts — Frederick Jordan of San Francisco and Beverly A. Scott of Albany — to the California High-Speed Rail Authority Peer Review Group.
The eight-member board is evaluating the feasibility of the rail authority’s funding plans.
Jordan is president of F.E. Jordan Associates Inc., which has offices in San Francisco and Oakland. He has directed the planning, design, construction management and other aspects of more than 35 rail transit projects in California. His firm has worked on the planning and design of the Massachusetts section of the Northeast Corridor High Speed Rail Project.
Scott is CEO of Beverly Scott Associates and a senior partner in Parker Infrastructure Partners, a developer of essential infrastructure for the public and private sectors. She serves in an advisor at the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard University Law School in the areas of transportation, infrastructure and equity.
— Los Angeles Sentinel
Police cite racial tension with neighbors in arson case
LARKSVILLE — A woman on a drinking binge is facing arson and other charges after police said she doused a neighbor’s house in lighter fluid.
Police said Kristen Hudak, 31, of 49 E. Broadway St. in Larksville, began cursing about “those Black people next door” when asked what had happened.
According to the complaint, police were dispatched to 51 E. Broad St. about 9:40 p.m. Sunday to a 911 call. When officers arrived, they encountered an “overwhelming” odor of lighter fluid.
The occupants told police that Hudak had poured lighter fluid on their back door and the rear of the home while they were inside with their 1-year-old child.
When she was confronted by officers, Hudak cursed about “those Black people next door,” grew hostile and pushed an officer who tried to calm her down. She had to be forcibly handcuffed and then began banging her head and kicking after she was placed inside a cruiser, according to the police report.
Police charged Hudak with arson, risking catastrophe, child endangerment, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and harassment. Bail was set at $100,000 as she was held at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility with a preliminary court hearing on June 18.
— The Associated Press
Book deal voided over tweet spurs lawsuit
WASHINGTON — A writer who faced social media backlash for calling out a transit worker eating on a train sued her publisher Friday after her book deal was cancelled over the controversy.
Lawyers for Natasha Tynes filed suit against publisher Rare Bird Lit., Inc. in Los Angeles County Superior Court, saying the company breached its contract and defamed the Maryland author. She’s seeking $13.4 million in damages.
In May, Jordanian American tweeted a picture of a female worker eating on a Washington Metro train with the message. But scores of Twitter users criticized her for shaming the Black worker, despite being a minority writer.
A transit worker union official said at the time that woman had been taking a break while going from one job to another. The union official also noted that Metro Transit police no longer enforce the ban on eating and drinking on trains.
Tynes later apologized, deleted the tweet and took down her personal website. But the publishing house swiftly condemned her comments and said it was canceling her book deal.
— The Associated Press
Ohio jury awards $11M over shoplifting incident
ELYRIA, Ohio — A jury has awarded $11 million to a father and son who claimed Ohio’s Oberlin College and an administrator hurt their business and libeled them during a dispute that triggered protests and allegations of racism following a shoplifting incident.
The Elyria Chronicle-Telegram reported that a Lorain County jury on Friday awarded David Gibson $5.8 million, son Allyn Gibson $3 million and Gibson’s Bakery $2.2 million. An attorney said the Gibsons just wanted “the truth to come out.”
The protests occurred after Allyson Gibson, who is white, confronted a Black student who had shoplifted a bottle of wine. Two other Black students joined in and assaulted Gibson.
The students pleaded guilty to misdemeanors and read statements in court saying Gibson’s actions weren’t racially motivated.
— The Associated Press
U.S. high court may spark election drama in Virginia
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court could throw a wrench into Virginia politics with a decision expected this month.
The state is holding primaries Tuesday, but under one seemingly longshot outcome in a case still to be decided, the justices could require revisions to about two dozen state House voting districts and, in theory, a new primary within months.
A district revision and revote before November’s general election has the potential to be confusing and disruptive, and an additional cost. Some candidates running for the Virginia House of Delegates could need to requalify for the ballot. Hundreds of thousands of voters might need to be told that the district they vote in to choose their state House member has changed for the second time in less than a year.
The court’s decision could come as early as Monday. Supreme Court experts, however, say it’s almost unthinkable that the justices’ decision will change the districts and cause election drama.
“I just think it’s so unlikely that the Supreme Court is going to mess with the districts at this point I would not be overly concerned,” said Richard Hasen, an election law expert and professor at the University of California, Irvine.
If Hasen is right, that will mean the state carries on with a plan to have voters choose lawmakers to the 100-member House using a map seen as favorable to Democrats in the general election. The map has the potential to flip control of the chamber, where Republicans currently hold by an 51-49 edge.
Regardless of what the Supreme Court decides, it will be the last time the map is used because it will need to be redrawn following the results of the 2020 census.
In two other cases still awaiting decision, one from Maryland and another from North Carolina, the Supreme Court is considering whether electoral districts can be too partisan.
— The Associated Press
In naming park, city finally forgives Union admiral
NORFOLK, Va. — David Farragut, the U.S. Navy’s very first admiral and a major player in Union Navy operations during the Civil War, called Norfolk home before the war.
But when Virginia seceded from the Union, his loyalty to the United States led him to flee north and continue to serve with the Union Navy — a “betrayal” some in the city didn’t forget.
In 2016, more than 150 years after the end of the Civil War, Norfolk named a quarter-acre pocket park in Freemason after Farragut. The park, essentially a small lawn and dog park at the corner of Duke and York streets, was dedicated in May.
The park’s name stands out in Norfolk history, and is perhaps indicative of a shifting attitude regarding public spaces and buildings bearing the names of Confederate military men. Farragut’s park is the first to recognize a Union officer.
Farragut had a long and illustrious naval career, spending 60 years in the service from the age of 9 until his death in 1870. He became the Navy’s first full admiral in 1866, as well as the first four-star admiral, and is famous for his apocryphal order at the Battle of Mobile Bay: “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.”
Farragut’s name was suggested for the pocket park by Jack Kavanaugh, a retired rear admiral known to many as the “Mayor of Freemason” who pushed to establish the park after a building there was torn down to make room for the light rail line.
— The Associated Press
Detroit identifies person of interest in series of killings
DETROIT — Police have identified a person of interest in the case of a potential serial killer and rapist who has targeted sex workers on the city’s east side.
The person of interest is Martin DeAngelo Kenneth, a 34-year-old Black man who is known to be homeless and to frequent the east side of Detroit.
The news comes just days after Police Chief James Craig announced that there was a potential serial killer and rapist on the loose who investigators have tied to at least three victims.
According to Craig, the suspect could be targeting women in the early 50s and luring them to vacant dwellings. Police are now working in pairs clearing vacant east side houses. After that, the city plans to board up the 1,000 vacant homes.
Craig said they have been in the middle of the investigation which started several months ago, beginning with an incident on March 19. The decomposed body of the latest victim was discovered inside a vacant house last week.
$13M opening bid expected for Ebony photo catalog
Chicago — The Ebony photo archives, an expansive window into the African-American experience, are set to go on the auction block in July, pending approval from a federal bankruptcy court in Chicago.
Opening bids are expected to start at nearly $13 million for the historic collection, with the proceeds to pay off secured creditors of Johnson Publishing, the former magazine publisher which filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in April, according to The Chicago Tribune.
Johnson Publishing, which sold its magazine portfolio of Ebony and Jet three years ago, has been trying unsuccessfully to sell its photo archives since 2015, when the collection was appraised at $46 million.
The bankruptcy auction is seeking to recover at least $13.6 million owed to secured creditors George Lucas and Mellody Hobson, whose company, Capital V Holdings, issued a $12 million loan to the struggling publishing company in 2015.
The filmmaker and his financier wife are free to bid on the archives using the $13.6 million they are owed in principal and interest, but would receive the full collection in a foreclosure if no other bidder steps up, said Gabe Fried, CEO of Hilco Streambank, which is conducting the auction of behalf of the bankruptcy trustee. Any additional money would go to unsecured creditors.
— The Atlanta Daily World
Trump signs disaster relief bill while in France
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump signed disaster relief funding legislation on Thursday for Georgia and other Southern states devastated in October by Hurricane Michael.
Trump put his signature on the bill while attending observances in France to mark the 75th anniversary of the Allied force landing in Normandy to start the western offensive against Nazi Germany during World War II.
The signing comes after Congress delayed passing the bill for weeks, first when Democrats wanted more funding for Puerto Rico hurricane relief and then when single Republican congressman wanted full votes on the measure.
The $19.1 billion disaster relief package includes $3 billion to provide critical agriculture disaster relief for farmers recovering in the wake of Hurricane Michael, along with additional funds for communities in Georgia and other states.
— Atlanta Daily World
Georgnia governor appoints 4 to fill judicial posts
GEORGIA — Associate State Court Judge Shondeana Morris will be DeKalb County’s newest Superior Court judge, replacing Gail Flake who is retiring from the bench.
Gov. Bryan Kemp tapped Morris on May 31 to succeed Flake; she was one of four new appointees announced by the governor for benches in the Stone Mountain, Coweta, Macon and Cherokee judicial circuits.
Kemp said Morris’ impressive legal career and public service makes her the right choice for the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit Superior Court. She is scheduled to be sworn in on June 17 at the State Capitol.
Morris was appointed to the DeKalb County State Court’s Traffic Division in August 2017 by Gov. Nathan Deal. She ran unopposed for a four-year term in 2016.
She was admitted to the Georgia Bar in 1997 after she earned her law degree from Mercer University School of Law. Before becoming a state court judge, Morris was a deputy district attorney in Fulton County and an assistant solicitor for the city of Atlanta.
Kemp is expected to appoint her replacement on the state court bench.
— CrossRoad News
Illinois students must get at least 5 hours of teaching
ILLINOIS — Gov. JB Pritzker signed legislation on Friday that reinstates a minimum of five hours of instruction each day in schools statewide, but it allows exemptions for students enrolled in dual credit, career development and youth apprenticeships.
Senate Bill 28 goes into effect on July 1, 2019.
According to the state Board of Education, the law also allows school districts statewide to utilize e-learning days in lieu of emergency days, which will enable students to stay on track during inclement weather and other unexpected events.
SB 28 also allows school districts to use two of the 176 instructional calendar days for parent/teacher conferences.
- The Chicago Crusader
U.S. Army has first woman leading infantry division
LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. — The California National Guard has announced the appointment of the first woman to lead a U.S. Army infantry division.
Brig. Gen. Laura Yeager will take command of the 40th Infantry Division on June 29 at Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, California. She currently commands Joint Task Force North, U.S. Northern Command at Fort Bliss, Texas.
Yeager was commissioned in 1986 as a second lieutenant from the Reserve Officer Training Corps at California State University, Long Beach.
She served as UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilot, left active duty when her son was born and continued her military career in the California Army National Guard.
Yeager was deployed to Iraq in 2011 as deputy commander of the Cal Guard’s 40th Combat Aviation Brigade, then served as a battalion and brigade commander.
- The Associated Press