Across America

New project highlights civil rights sites in Alabama

A new project is highlighting some of the places in Alabama that played a role in the civil rights movement. An online, oral history presentation called ”Voices of Alabama” features photos of historic sites and interviews with some of the people who worked with the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. The state was a hotbed of the movement at the time. The website went online Wednesday. The parsonage where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. lived in Montgomery is included. So are other places including a home in Selma where landmark demonstrations were planned, as well as churches in Birmingham that played a role in the movement. The project features 20 sites total. It was assembled by the New York-based World Monuments Fund and the Alabama African-American Civil Rights Heritage Sites Consortium.

— David Bundy/Montgomery Advertiser via AP

State rests in trial of Dallas cop who shot neighbor

DALLAS — Prosecutors have finished calling witnesses in the murder trial of a white Dallas police officer who fatally shot her unarmed Black neighbor.

The prosecution rested Thursday afternoon in Amber Guyger’s trial. State District Judge Tammy Kemp said the trial will resume Friday with the defense presenting its case.

Guyger has she said she mistook Botham Jean’s apartment for her own when she shot him last September. Gugyer, who was off duty but in uniform at the time, was later fired from the force.

Guyger’s attorneys have argued that she fired in self-defense based on the mistaken belief that Jean was a burglar.

Prosecutors say Jean was no threat to Guyger, noting that Jean was in his living room eating a bowl of ice cream when she entered his apartment.

Judge dismisses lawsuit over fatal Ohio police shooting

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A federal judge has dismissed a wrongful death lawsuit against police in Ohio’s capital city over the 2016 shooting of a man by undercover officers.

Columbus police say 23-year-old Henry Green, who was black, ignored commands by two white officers to drop his gun during the incident.

Court documents and depositions say Green shot at officers, who then returned fire. Green’s family argued Green only fired after police shot at him.

A grand jury declined to indict the officers, and an internal Columbus police investigation cleared them. But the shooting led to criticism of the police department’s summer safety initiative targeting violence-prone areas.

Federal Judge George Smith said Thursday it was reasonable to use deadly force under the circumstances faced by the officers.

Green’s attorney promised an appeal.

NY could add to flavor ban as vaping groups sue

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York officials want to add menthol to the state’s first-in-the-nation ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes as the vaping industry seeks to block it, according to the governor’s office.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he’s directing his administration to take steps to include menthol in a ban that currently excludes tobacco and menthol flavors. The state health commissioner could hold an emergency meeting as soon as next week to update the ban, according to Cuomo’s office.

The vaping industry’s trade group and two New York vaping companies aim to block the ban with a lawsuit filed Tuesday in state court.

Similar bans in New York, Michigan and Rhode Island come as health officials investigate severe breathing illnesses linked to vaping. Cuomo proposed the emergency ban citing surging use among young people.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 500 confirmed and probable cases of lung illnesses and nine deaths nationwide have been attributed to vaping.

Va. girl: Classmates grabbed her, cut her dreadlocks

SPRINGFIELD, Va. — Police are investigating a 12-year-old girl’s allegation that her classmates grabbed her and cut her dreadlocks on the playground of a northern Virginia private school.

Newsoutlets report the girl says three of her sixth-grade classmates at Immanuel Christian School in Springfield called her hair “ugly” while they assaulted her at recess earlier this week.

The girl is African American. She says her attackers are white, and that they’ve been bullying her.

The school issued a statement Thursday saying it is disturbed by the allegations and has asked police to investigate.

Police confirmed Thursday they are investigating.

Morehouse to cut costs, shift money to student aid

ATLANTA — One of the nation’s top historically Black colleges is cutting employee salaries and retirement contributions to increase student aid.

The announcement Tuesday by Atlanta’s Morehouse College comes months after billionaire Robert Smith promised to repay all student loans accumulated by Morehouse’s class of 2019. That one-time gift will total $34 million after the college announced this week that Smith would also repay money borrowed by parents of Morehouse graduates.

Morehouse President David Thomas tells news outlets that, for the next nine months, the all-male college will impose an unpaid monthly furlough day for 415 professional employees and stop retirement contributions of 3% of employee salaries.

“We are trying to take an approach that creates the least disruption to our education programs as well as to the quality of student services,” Thomas told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution . “No faculty are being laid off or eliminated, and our hourly employees — who tend to be our lowest paid — are not impacted.”

Suit leads county to limit profiling in police stops

JACKSON, Miss. — A Mississippi county has settled a racial profiling lawsuit and its sheriff’s department is setting policies that limit officers’ use of race or national origin as a reason to stop and question people.

A family with Latino and Native American background filed a federal lawsuit in November against Hancock County, Mississippi. The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Mississippi Center for Justice, representing the family, say a settlement was signed last month.

The suit says Marcos and Stephanie Martinez of Taylors, South Carolina, their children and three others were traveling through Mississippi in June 2017 when a deputy stopped them on Interstate 10 and asked if they were U.S. citizens. It says they underwent “extensive interrogation, threats and multiple unlawful searches because of their perceived race, ethnicity and national origin.”

Oregon schools record poorest test scores in 5 years

PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon schools have recorded their poorest performance in the five-year history of the state’s current reading, writing and math tests this spring, registering year-over-year declines in every grade level and among nearly every demographic group, scores show.

The tests are designed to measure whether students have the skills they need to be on track for college and careers.

The scores, released last week, indicate only 40% of students across grades 3 through 8 have mastered math and just over half can read and write proficiently, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

So many high school students sat out the nationally benchmarked tests, known as Smarter Balanced exams, that their results, which were down sharply in reading and writing, are not reliable. Nearly 20% of juniors declined to take the English or math exam or both, state figures show.

The state has multimillion-dollar initiatives underway to raise achievement among black and Native American students. But Asian American students, already the top scorers in Oregon, were the only racial or ethnic group that registered consistent improvement on the tests this year.

Ga. congresswoman won’t enter Senate race

ATLANTA — Democratic congresswoman Lucy McBath says she won’t run in either of Georgia’s two U.S. Senate contests.

McBath, who was being recruited by state and national party leaders, said Thursday that she would instead focus on winning a second House term.

McBath is a gun control advocate who last year upset incumbent Republican Karen Handel to win her hotly contested suburban Atlanta House seat. She says in a statement that she wants to remain in the House to continue working on issues such as gun safety and protecting veterans in need.

McBath had been considering a run after Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson’s retirement announcement opened a second 2020 Senate race in Georgia.

Republican Sen. David Perdue is also seeking a second term in November 2020.

Officer drops appeal of suspension in fatal shooting

BATON ROUGE, La. — A police officer is dropping his appeal of a three-day suspension over a confrontation with a Black man whose shooting death prompted widespread protests in Baton Rouge in 2016.

News outlets report attorney Kyle Kershaw announced Thursday that client Howie Lake II was withdrawing his appeal with a civil service board. Kershaw told The Advocate continuing to appeal wasn’t worth it because the discipline was relatively minor.

Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul last year suspended Lake and fired Blane Salamoni, the officer who shot and killed Alton Sterling outside a convenience store in July 2016. Lake helped his partner wrestle Sterling to the ground but didn’t fire his gun. The officers recovered a loaded revolver from Sterling’s pocket.

Paul reversed Salamoni’s termination last month, letting him resign instead.

Ill. race riot site destined for national historic status

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A central Illinois congressman says a Springfield site linked to the city’s 1908 race riot has been deemed suitable for designation as a national historic monument.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis had asked the National Park Service last year to conduct a survey of the block-long site. He said a review by the U.S. Department of the Interior found the site suitable for a historic monument designation .

The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports that construction work in the area has uncovered the remains of seven homes, five of which were burned during the race riot.

Sixteen people died during three days of rioting in August 1908 when a white mob attacked Black citizens in Abraham Lincoln’s hometown.

The city of Springfield and the NAACP hope to build a memorial at the site.

Man who pleaded guilty to killing teen wants plea deal

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A white West Virginia man who pleaded guilty to killing a black teen says he wants his plea deal to remain in place.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports William Ronald Pulliam on Wednesday asked to keep his deal intact, despite his earlier request to have it thrown out so the case could go to trial. Pulliam pleaded guilty this summer second-degree murder in the 2016 slaying of 15-year-old James Harvey Means. Days later, he sent the revocation request dated Aug. 8, 1999.

Judge Charles King kept Pulliam’s plea and said he would schedule a sentencing hearing after another case against Pulliam closes. Pulliam is set to go to trial in November on firearm charges. He’s accused of lying on federal forms to buy a .380 revolver months before Means was killed.

— Briefs compiled from The Associated Press

Miss. university’s business school gets new dean

JACKSON, Miss. — The Division of Academic Affairs has announced the appointment of Fidelis Ikem as the new dean of the Colllege of Business at Jackson State University in Mississippi.

Prior to joining Jackson State, Ikem was a dean and professor at the College of Business at Central State University.

lkem has worked in academia at Albany State University, Winston-Salem State University, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, Virginia State University and Norfolk State University.

Ikem says he will seek to improve the engagement of faculty and students with the local business community in building more partnerships.

— Jackson Advocate

D.C. sues 16 families over fraud to access free schools

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sixteen area families are being sued by the District of Columbia, which seeks more than $2.9 million from parents accused of falsifying residency records to enroll their children in public schools for free. A few of those parents are also accused of residency fraud to receive public assistance.

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine announced on Sept. 5 that the city is seeking more than $2.9 million in the latest charges of the ongoing investigation. The case into residency fraud includes allegations against five current or former government workers including District of Columbia Police Officer Edward Smith.

District residents are allowed to enroll their children in city public schools for free. On the other hand, those who live outside of the district must pay at least $10,000 a year in tuition to enroll their children.

D.C. law allows authorities to seek triple the amount owed in unpaid tuition if found guilty of fraud.

This is the second time this year that Attorney General Racine’s office filed more than half a dozen cases in court. In March, seven people were sued for falsely claiming residency in the district only to send their children to D.C. public schools for free. In those lawsuits, the city sought more than $700,000 in unpaid tuition and penalties.

— The Afro

Chicago native returns to run city’s FBI office

CHICAGO — A Chicago native will soon return home to run the FBI office, according to the ABC7 News.

The new FBI Chicago Division special agent in charge will be Emmerson Buie Jr.. The 54-year-old is currently in charge of a field office in El Paso, Texas, where he is expected to depart on Sept. 30.

Buie will replace Jeff Sallet who left Chicago in June after less than two years to become the FBI’s Chief Financial Officer at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

In assuming the post, Buie will be Chicago’s first Black FBI boss. He is considered an expert in corruption investigations, cybersecurity and human smuggling.

The Chicago FBI Division is the nation’s fourth-largest field office, covering 18 counties with more than 850 agents and support staffers including criminal analysts.

— Chicago Crusader

Chicago moves to limit penalties over parking tickets

CHICAGO — Aldermen are set to consider Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s proposal to block the city from suspending driver’s licenses over unpaid parking tickets while reducing penalties and offering debt relief to the city’s poor.

The City Council’s Finance Committee hearing this week comes 20 months after ProPublica Illinois and WBEZ first reported that the city’s punitive ticketing laws trapped thousands of mostly Black and low-income motorists in a cycle of debt that forced many into bankruptcy, reported Block Club Chicago.

The reports from Pro Publica Illinois and WBEZ detailed how a 2011 decision by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to raise the price of tickets for not buying a vehicle sticker — already one of the costliest in the city — led to significantly more debt for motorists and little additional revenue.

The measure’s reforms including a 30-day grace period to purchase a city sticker without incurring late fees, a 15-day grace period to purchase a city sticker without incurring tickets and allowing drivers to request more time to pay tickets to avoid having their cars immobilized with a boot. It also would create It also would provide four installment plans, including one designed for poor residents and another for those emerging from bankruptcy

— Chicago Crusader

Openly gay candidate runs for governor in Indiana

INDIANA — Josh Owens, 34, announced Sept. 16 that he would seek the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

The CEO of SupplyKick is the state’s first openly gay candidate for governor. He graduated from Wabash College, earned a degree from the London School of Economics and held marketing positions at Angie’s List and One Click Ventures.

“I’m running for governor now because I believe in an Indiana where teachers are paid what they deserve and where all are welcomed, respected and protected,” said Owens, a native of Shelbyville, which is about 20 miles southeast of Indianapolis. “We need a leader who will ensure our state budget, policies and laws reflect a bold and inclusive vision for collective Hoosier success.”

SupplyKick is considered as one of the state’s fastest growing companies. Employees earn a minimum annual salary of $50,000.

- Indianapolis Recorder

Civil rights legend leaving New York City

The family of civil rights legend Claudette Colvin announced that she’s leaving New York City and moving back to Alabama.

Colvin, 80, was arrested on March 2, 1955 when she was 15 after she refused to give up her seat to a white woman on a crowded segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama — nine months before Rosa Parks.

Living in the Bronx for the last 50 years, Colvin plans to return to Alabama in October. She is one of two survivors of the Browder vs. Gayle U.S. Supreme Court Case and is known for her significant role in desegregating buses in Montgomery, Alabama in 1956.

A special tribute will be held in her honor celebrating her contributions to human rights and social justice on Thursday, Oct. 3 at Maestro’s Caterers in the Bronx.

- New York Amsterdam News

Michigan family gives sizable donation to Morehouse

Dr. William F. Pickard and Judson W. Pickard Jr. have donated $2 million to Morehouse College to launch the creation of the Pickard Scholars Program, a new scholarship to recruit and support students from metro Detroit, Flint, greater Cincinnati, and LaGrange, Georgia, their childhood hometown.

William and Judson both have children who have graduated from Morehouse and Spelman colleges in Atlanta, Georgia. “People have uplifted and helped me grow and I believe in blessing others,” said William Pickard. “Our gifts are given to where we are from and those who have invested in us and who we are.”

Morehouse College is the nation’s largest liberal arts institution for men. Founded in 1867, the College enrolls approximately 2,200 students and is the nation’s top producer of black men who go on to receive doctorates. Morehouse is also the top producer of Rhodes Scholars among HBCUs with five Morehouse Men receiving the honor.

“We are committed to helping African American men thrive as leaders, scholars, and future businessmen,” said Judson W. Pickard Jr. “Morehouse College’s mission is focused on developing men who are committed to academic excellence, community service, and leadership. This partnership aligns with our family’s vision and values on the impact of historically black colleges on student success.”

-The Michigan Chronicle

Contact Johann Calhoun at or call at (215) 893-5739

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