Election 2020 Montana Collins

ATTEMPTING A BIGGER FEAT

Wilmot Collins, a refugee from Liberia, is attempting another historical feat in Montana. He is the state’s first Black mayor of a city, Helena. This week Collins announced he was seeking the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by Steve Daines. Montana, which gained statehood in 1889, has never had a African-American representative in Congress. — Thom Bridge/Independent Record via AP

Cannabis firms access to banking system urged

A coalition of 38 attorneys general is urging Congress to pass the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act, or SAFE Banking Act, to allow legal marijuana-related businesses to access the banking system.

In addition to providing oversight of such businesses, the legislation — which would give banks permission to do business with the cannabis industry without fear of federal prosecution — would reduce the risk of both violent and white-collar crime affecting the marijuana industry.

“Our bipartisan coalition is urging Congress to pass the SAFE Banking Act to prevent criminal activity and increase oversight of the legal marijuana industry that already exists in 33 states,” said Karl Racine, the attorney general for the District of Columbia who has spearheaded the group.

Besides Washington, D.C., the coalition represents the states and territories of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, the Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Although 33 states and several U.S. territories have legalized medical marijuana, current federal law prevents banks from providing services to these state-regulated businesses.

— Washington Informer

Peggy Lipton, ex-wife of Quincy Jones, dies at 72

LOS ANGELES — Peggy Lipton, a star of the groundbreaking late 1960s TV show “The Mod Squad” and the 1990s show “Twin Peaks,” died of cancer Saturday. She was 72.

Lipton died surrounded by family, including the two daughters from her marriage to famed music producer Quincy Jones,

“We are heartbroken that our beloved mother passed away from cancer today,” Rashida and Kidada Jones said in a statement. “She made her journey peacefully with her daughters and nieces by her side.

“. . . Peggy was, and will always be our beacon of light, both in this world and beyond. She will always be a part of us,” they added.

Lipton played one of a trio of Los Angeles undercover “hippie cops” on “The Mod Squad,” which aired on ABC. The Los Angeles Times noted it was one of pop culture’s first efforts to reckon seriously with the counterculture and one of the first TV shows to feature an interracial cast.

She married musician and producer Jones, who is now 86, in 1974, making headlines for the controversial interracial relationship. The couple divorced in 1989 after having been separated since 1986.

— The Associated Press

Charter school stance creates split within NAACP

Three Southern California Chapters of the NAACP — San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino counties — recently broke from national organization over its call for a moratorium on the expansion of charter schools and strengthening oversight of them.

The three branches submitted separate resolutions to the NAACP’s state board expressing their opposition to the moratorium. Their actions also put them at odds with the state organization’s education chair, Julian Vasquez Heilig, a driving force behind the moratorium decision.

The moratorium was an outgrowth of the organization’s 2014 resolution, which codified the NAACP’s opposition to the privatization of public schools and the public subsidizing or funding of for-profit or charter schools.

The opposition resolutions come at a time when California lawmakers are considering legislation to restrict charter schools — a move supported by the NAACP at the state and national levels. The action has drawn strong opposition from charter school advocates and their supporters.

— Black Voices News

Online fundraiser for nonprofits sets new record

Boosted by a record number of participating area nonprofits, The Big Payback’s sixth annual 24-hour online giving event helped raise a record amount of funds for the organizations in central Tennessee.

The online fundraiser, which took place May 2, is designed to give the public the opportunity to aid area nonprofits. The preliminary amount raised was $4,106,182 and came from 28,458 donations. The previous one-year record total was $3,163,463 in 2018.

In its six-year history, The Big Payback has helped collected more than $16 million.

This year, a record 964 central Tennessee nonprofits, including schools and religious institutions, from 35 counties signed up to participate in the initiative of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

— Nashville Pride

Black artist to create AIDS memorial centerpiece

Artist Christopher Paul Jordan has been selected to create a centerpiece artwork for the AIDS Memorial Pathway project in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle.

The artwork will be sited in a central plaza above the Sound Transit Capitol Hill link light rail station, surrounded by new multi-story residential buildings currently under construction.

Jordan of Tacoma, Washington, was selected for his particular focus and community engagement in the field of public art, and his demonstrated commitment to the values and identity of The AIDS Memorial Pathway Project.

The artwork aims to symbolize the lives and achievements of those individuals lost to the virus and who need to be acknowledged and celebrated publicly.

Jordan’s other installations and public projects have appeared in been implemented internationally including Trinidad and Tobago, Taiwan, and Mexico.

— Seattle Medium

EQUAL Defense bill aims to aid public defense systems

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris last week introduced the Ensuring Quality Access to Legal Defense, or EQUAL Defense, Act of 2019 to support public defender systems that are straining to uphold the constitutional right to counsel for indigent defendants as required by the 1963 landmark Gideon v. Wainwright court decision.

“After spending my career around the criminal justice system, I’ve seen up close how it can fail to ensure that poor defendants receive a fair trial and due process, as guaranteed to all of us in our Constitution,” said Harris, a Democratic presidential candidate who was the state attorney general in California.

“All too often, our public defenders are overworked and lack sufficient resources. This makes public defense unsustainable over the long haul. And the person who suffers is the defendant, whose liberty is on the line. It’s wrong, and it’s the opposite of justice,” she added.

The legislation aims to provide financial support — including the creation of a $250 million grant program — for public defense systems and training programs to improve the delivery of legal services to indigent criminal defendants

— Milwaukee Courier

Wisconsin first Black auto salesman marks retirement

Oscar Johnson Sr. is an institution in Wisconsin, having been the state’s first African-American auto salesman.

In late April, John celebrated both his 80th birthday and retirement from working in car sales for more than 51 years, with the last 40 being employed at Andrew Automotive Group. More than 300 of his co-workers, family and friends joined him in marking the occasion with a party at Hilton Garden Inn at Park Place in Milwaukee.

“Oscar is an inspiration to our organization,” said Andy Schlesinger, president of the auto group. “He’s an outstanding example of someone who is diligent and has worked hard to achieve a great deal of success and longevity in the retail automotive business.”

Oscar is also a Milwaukee Times 2018 Black Excellence Extraordinary Achievement honoree.

— Milwaukee Times Weekly

Alabama county kicks off march toward bicentennial

The number “200” was spelled out in the shape of orange and purple balloons as a cool breeze whispered across the Vulcan Park and Museum.

At the top of the steps leading to the museum a purple sign announced “200 Years of Innovation” with the “Jefferson County Bicentennial” stretched across the bottom of the sign during an observance in Birmingham, Alabama.

Last week marked the kick-off of celebrations for Jefferson County that drew County Manager Tony Petelos and all five county commissioners.

“We’re going to have events in each commission district with the help of each commissioner in those areas to highlight the local communities and what they have meant in Jefferson County through the year,” said Petelos.

Jefferson County was established on Dec. 13, 1819 and will reach 200, one day before Alabama turns 200. Beginning June 27, communities will hold activities in the countdown to that bicentennial date in late autumn.

— The Birmingham Times

L.A. County to pay $3.75M in police shooting case

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County will pay $3.75 million to the family of a Black teenager who was shot and killed by sheriff’s deputies during a chase last year.

Supervisors approved the settlement Tuesday.

Anthony Weber, 16, was killed in February 2018 at a South Los Angeles apartment complex. Deputies had chased him after receiving a report that someone had pointed a gun at a driver. Deputies said they saw a gun tucked in his waistband but found no weapon.

Weber’s parents sued for wrongful death.

The killing sparked weeks of protests, fueled in part by frustration over deputies’ claims that the boy was armed. Deputies said they suspect someone in a crowd stole the firearm in the chaotic minutes after the shooting.

— The Associated Press

Record label fills new post with industry veteran

Los Angeles-based 10K Project record label announced recently that Brittney King Brock was appointed to the new position of president of operations and general manager, reported Variety.

Brock will oversee all label operations, including leading and growing the company’s staff, implementing best practices for driving operational efficiencies and managing relationships with artists’ teams and distribution partners, according to the announcement.

Brock is the owner of King Creative Group, a creative and management agency that provides such services as administrative, talent and branding management. She had worked as a producer for the Oprah Winfrey Network, a director of A&R for Sean Combs at Bad Boy Entertainment and talent manager for Combs’ Revolt TV.

The 10K Project record label was established in 2016 by Elliot Grainge, son of Universal Music Group chief Lucian Grainge. Its roster of artists includes Trippie Redd, 6ix9ine, Lil Gnar and Icy Narco.

— Our Weekly

Family sues over death in off-duty police shooting

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The family of a man shot and killed by a Little Rock police officer working off-duty outside a bar filed a federal lawsuit on Monday, claiming the officer used excessive force and that the man’s death was caused by the city’s failure to properly train its law enforcement.

Attorneys for the family James Hartsfield, 28, filed the lawsuit against the city, the officer and the nightclub. Hartsfield was fatally shot by

Officer Brittany Gunn fired the fatal shot in October 2017 as Hartsfield sped toward a brick wall with her inside his vehicle. Gunn was working off-duty at the Local Union bar, where Hartsfield was picking up a Lyft passenger.

Police said Gunn saw Hartsfield drink from what appeared to be a liquor bottle while driving. They said she and another officer tried to remove Hartsfield from the vehicle when he sped off.

Prosecutors last year cleared Gunn of criminal wrongdoing in the fatal shooting. The officer also wasn’t disciplined and didn’t undergo any additional training following the shooting, according to the lawsuit.

— The Associated Press

UCLA renovating noted Black architect’s buildings

Two buildings designed by critically acclaimed African-American architect Paul Revere Williams are under renovation at the University of California-Los Angeles.

Williams, a pioneering architect, overcame racial biases to gain notoriety for designing celebrity homes in Southern California as well as spearheading several landmark projects. His most notable work includes the Ambassador Hotel, the LAX Theme Building and the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Williams, who was 95 when he died on Jan. 23, 1980, was posthumously awarded in 2017 the American Institute of Architects’ highest honor, the Gold Medal, for overcoming numerous barriers and paving the way for future generations of African-American architects.

La Kretz Botany Building, where designers implemented original plans for 285-square-foot wall mosaic in the lobby, will undergo classroom and laboratory upgrades through 2022. The second project is a major renovation of the Psychology Tower that is expected to be completed in 2020.

— Our Weekly

D.C. Council votes to close city’s lone public hospital

WASHINGTON — The City Council for the District of Columbia has voted to close the city’s only public hospital by January 2023.

The Washington Post reported that the Tuesday vote was part of the $15.5 billion budget approved by the council for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1. The local part of the budget controlled by city officials equals about $8.6 billion, the remainder is federal or special funding.

Councilman Vincent Gray proposed closing the United Medical Center, the only full-service hospital in the predominantly low-income and Black neighborhoods near the Anacostia River. He said the UMC closure would limit losses as the city prepares to open a new hospital.

UMC has required millions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts.

A final budget vote is set for this month.

— The Associated Press

Coppin State University plans with meeting NAACP

BALTIMORE — The president of the Baltimore branch of the NAACP says the chair of the search committee for a new Coppin State University president has agreed to meet with him after he complained about the search process.

The Baltimore Sun reported that NAACP branch President Kobi Little said the chair agreed to meet with him during the search committee’s first public meeting on Thursday. The Sun previously identified the committee chair as Katrina Dennis, a regent.

Little charges that the University System of Maryland Board of Regents, which oversee the state’s universities, hasn’t been transparent in its search. The current president of Coppin State leaves June 30.

— The Associated Press

Alabama historian group elects first Black president

A group for Alabama historians has elected its first African-American president after more than 70 years in existence, reported the Associated Press.

The Alabama Historical Association has chosen Franzine Taylor as its new leader. The native of Wetumpka, a city northeast of Montgomery, Alabama, works in the archives department at Alabama State University.

In addition to being selected for the historical group, which has been in existence since 1947, Taylor was presented with an award for her contributions to Alabama history. She serves as chair of the Black Heritage Commission and is known for her expertise in genealogical research and African-American history.

— Our Weekly

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