Black images, issues, events, history, facts, figures, news…synthesized.

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Loose lips . . .

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We could all learn a thing or two about healthy living from this sassy 90-year-old woman:

Live long and prosper.

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Although many have wondered about his birthplace, President Obama is indeed a natural-born U.S. citizen. State officials in Hawaii confirmed again that he was born in Honolulu. One question: Since when is “African” a race?

Digital scan of President Obama's birth certificate

Digital scan of President Obama's birth certificate

Your baby could one day become the president of the United States, too.
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Sony Pictures is reportedly paying close to $60 million to AEG Entertainment for the 80 hours of Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” concert rehearsal footage. Before the icon’s sudden death on June 25, the 50-night concert was set to begin this month in London at the O2 arena. Sony is planning to release a film on October 30, using the rehearsal footage and music videos (possibly in 3-D), including a new version of “Thriller.” The film is a perfect fit for Sony Pictures, since sister unit Sony Music Entertainment owns the music publishing rights to Jackson’s songs.

Fortunately, the Jackson family estate will likely get about 90% of the proceeds from the deal after AEG covers the tour’s production costs.

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Decide for yourself.

Last month, Brown pled guilty to a felony assault charge for physically engaging singer Rihanna in February. His sentence includes five years of supervised probation, completion of a domestic violence counseling program, and six months of community service in his home state of Virginia.

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Update: The Cambridge police just dropped the charges!

Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., best known for his work in African-American ancestral research, was arrested last week by Cambridge, Mass., police on his own front porch. Gates had just returned from China and found his front door jammed. He went to the backdoor of the home he leases from Harvard University and shut off the alarm—he then opened the front door with the help of his driver.

Lucia Whalen, an employee of the university’s news and alumni periodical, Harvard Magazine, called police after reportedly seeing “two black males with backpacks on the porch,” and one of the men “wedging his shoulder into the door as if he was trying to force entry.” The magazine’s offices are down the street from Gates’ home.

By the time the police arrived at the home, Gates had managed to get the front door open and was inside—on the phone with the property manager. Although Gates produced his Harvard I.D. and driver’s license when questioned by police moments later, Cambridge police arrested him anyway for disorderly conduct. The officer on the scene claimed Gates “exhibited loud and tumultuous behavior” and handcuffed Gates right on his porch. According to Gates’ attorney, fellow Harvard faculty member Charles Ogletree, Gates is suffering from “an infection that has impacted his breathing since he came back from China, so he’s been in a very delicate physical state.” And probably can’t speak loudly…

Gates was released the same day on his own recognizance. His arraignment is set for August 26. Rev. Al Sharpton will attend the arraignment.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 58, is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. Only 19 other faculty members have been honored as a “University Professor.”

Professor Gates earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in English literature from Clare College at the University of Cambridge, and his B.A. summa cum laude in History from Yale University in 1973. He joined the faculty of Harvard in 1991, but has also taught at Yale, Cornell, and Duke. In 2006, he wrote and produced the PBS documentary, “African American Lives,” the first work of its kind to use genealogy and genetic science to better understand African-American history and lineage.

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Mos Def

Mos Def

George Wein’s Jazz Festival 55 (for 55th year) in Newport, Rhode Island, August 7, 8, and 9, features a far more diverse lineup than in years past. Black, Latin, and Asian artists will perform on the same stage as legends Tony Bennett and Dave Brubeck. Etta James, Branford Marsalis, Esperanza Spalding, and Mos Def (and his Watermelon Syndicate) are scheduled to perform, along with lesser known African-American artists and bands, including James Carter, Roy Haynes Fountain of Youth Band, and Brian Blade and the Fellowship Band.

Visit the festival’s official web site for more details and tickets:

Worth checking out!

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President Obama announced today his nominee for U.S. surgeon general and SHE is BLACK. Dr. Regina Benjamin attended Xavier University in New Orleans, was a member of the second class of the Morehouse School of Medicine, and received an M.D. degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

A family physician, Dr. Benjamin has rebuilt the clinic she founded in 1990 twice in Bayou La Batre, AL, after hurricanes George and Katrina devastated it. The clinic serves the many uninsured patients in the small Gulf Coast shrimping village of roughly 2,500 people.

Born in 1956, Dr. Benjamin has received accolades galore as a caring “angel.” The New York Times chronicled her work in the article, “Angel in a White Coat.” Time Magazine listed her as one of the “Nation’s 50 Future Leaders Age 40 and Under.” She was elected to the American Medical Association’s board of trustees in 1995—the first physician under 40 and the first Black woman to be elected to the board. She received the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights in 1998. She was chosen as “Woman of the Year” by CBS This Morning and People Magazine. Most endearingly, she received the award inspired by Mother Theresa, the 2000 National Caring Award. Dr. Benjamin has also done missionary work in Honduras and serves on the Board of Physicians for Human Rights.

Go, Sister!!!

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James Brown, Bill Withers, B.B. King, Miriam Makeba, the Spinners, Celia Cruz, the Crusaders, and more are featured in the  new documentary Soul Power, capturing Zaire ’74, a three-day soul music festival that was originally scheduled to take place the same week as Muhammad Ali’s Rumble in the Jungle championship fight against George Foreman in Kinshasa, the capital of Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo). Foreman postponed the fight by roughly six weeks due to an injury, but the determined festival producers mounted the concerts as planned. Nearly 80,000 people came out to see  the dynamic soul musicians.

The same crew that filmed the Rumble in the Jungle documentary, When We Were Kings, also shot the footage for Soul Power, which opens Friday.

Check it out.

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(AP)mcnair, kazemi

Shot twice in the head and twice in the chest, 13-year NFL veteran Steve “Air” McNair , 36, was the victim of an apparent homicide Saturday. The body of his girlfriend, Sahel Kazemi, 20, lay nearby—dead from a single bullet in the head. A semiautomatic handgun was found beneath her body. Local authorities are not calling the shooting a murder-suicide…yet. The dead lovers were found in McNair’s rented condo, which overlooks the Titans’ stadium.

According to Kazemi’s sister, Soheyla Kazemi, the 20-year-old Dave & Buster’s waitress was expecting McNair to divorce his wife, Mechelle, and marry her. McNair married Mechelle in 1997 and has two sons with her, along with two sons from other relationships.

Best known for the 9 seasons he spent as a quarterback in Tennessee, two years with the Tennessee Oilers and 7 with the Titans, McNair spent his last two seasons in the NFL in 2006 and 2007 with the Baltimore Ravens. The Mississippi native began his career with the Houston Oilers in 1995. Known as a generous man, McNair was very active in the communities in which he lived, supporting football camps and food drives.

Rest in peace.

You may recall the six young Black men in Jena, La., who were charged with attempted murder for a schoolyard fight with white schoolmate Justin Barker. After a major civil rights demonstration protesting the inappropriate severity of the charges, international media attention, and fund-raising to pay for legal representation, the charges were later reduced to second-degree battery against Carwin Jones, Jesse Ray Beard, Robert Bailey Jr., Bryant Purvis, and Theo Shaw. Now the five have agreed to plea no contest to a misdemeanor simple battery charge, which requires them to pay a $500 fine and court costs, and serve 7 days probation. Mychal Bell, the sixth man, pleaded guilty to the second-degree battery charge in December 2007 and was sentenced to 18 months in jail.

Theo Shaw will not  have to pay the fine or court costs. Shaw sat in jail for nearly 7 months after his initial arrest, because his family could not raise bail. The other defendants paid the fines and court costs right after sentencing. As part of the deal, Barker is supposed to receive an unspecified amount in restitution.

All six young men are either preparing for college or already in college. Thanks to the Black community, the Jena Six can now move on with their lives and avoid the derailment that so many young Black men experience too often.

Check out the video for background info on the case from CNN.

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Kirk Wright reported phony investment gains.

Bernard Madoff, the grand Ponzi schemer of all time who bilked investors out of $50 billion, is all over the headlines again after being sentenced today to 150 years behind bars, but there once was another financial adviser who stole millions from his investors, some of them former NFL players.

Kirk Wright, a Harvard-educated hedge fund manager, committed suicide in his jail cell in May 2008 in Marietta, GA, an Atlanta suburb. A few days before his apparent suicide, using a rope made of bedsheets, Wright was found guilty on counts of mail fraud, securities fraud, and money laundering as part of a $150 million hedge-fund scheme, and faced serious prison time. It wasn’t exactly a Ponzi scheme, since he didn’t give any money to any of his estimated 400 – 700 investors. He just falsified investment-performance documents. He reported significant gains almost every month to investors, and went as far as reporting balances hundreds of times greater than what really existed in investors’ accounts.

Wright’s Atlanta-based International Management Associates (IMA) collapsed in 2006, after several investors requested fund distributions and, instead, received worthless forged checks. Six former NFL players, Steve Atwater, Ray Crockett, Al Smith, Blaine Bishop, Carlos Emmons, and Clyde Simmons, lost $20 million by investing with Wright and his firm. The ex-players felt comfortable investing with Wright, since he was was registered by the National Football League Players Association, the players’ union, as a reliable financial adviser. Two of the former athletes were so impressed with Wright and the funds he managed, they studied to become registered advisers themselves, eventually becoming employees of Wright’s firm, to help other players prepare for retirement.

Wright’s partners, who have not been charged with any wrongdoing, Nelson Keith Bond and Fitz Harper Jr., Atlanta-based anesthesiologists, helped him attract wealthy physicians in the metro area to invest with IMA. Bond and Harper filed a lawsuit in March 2006, claiming a loss of over $1 million, after the demise of the firm.

Wright generally told unsuspecting  investors that he was able to garner unbelievable returns on their investments by short selling a stock, an investment strategy sometimes used by wealthy investors. You really have to know what you’re doing with this investment approach. According to Forbes, “when you short sell a stock, your broker will lend it to you. The stock will come from the brokerage’s own inventory, from another one of the firm’s customers, or from another brokerage firm. The shares are sold and the proceeds are credited to your account. Sooner or later you must ‘close’ the short by buying back the same number of shares (called covering) and returning them to your broker. If the price drops, you can buy back the stock at the lower price and make a profit on the difference. If the price of the stock rises, you have to buy it back at the higher price, and you lose money.”

After a nationwide FBI manhunt, Wright was arrested in 2006 at his Ritz-Carlton hideout in Miami. He was drinking by the pool. Investigators found false ID, equipment to produce IDs, and a stash of cash in his hotel room. They also recovered at the scene a Mercedes E320 he bought under an assumed name. In IMA’s heyday, Wright used investors’ money to buy jewelry, luxury cars, and real estate, and to cover the cost of a $500,000 wedding and house renovations. He also used other people’s money to line his and family members’ pockets.

Kirk Wright grew up in the Bronx. He attended Bingham University and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1993. In 1995 he earned a master’s degree  from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in public policy. He launched IMA as a home-based business in a DC suburb after a brief stint at DC-based consulting firm Kaiser Associates. By 1998, Wright was managing three hedge funds for a small group of investors with investments totaling $15 million. The connections he made with the help of former NFL players and the two anesthesiologists who would later become his partners catapulted his business to 9-figure status in just two years.

Apparently, Kirk Wright was a talented guy, but greed got the best of him…and his investors. Yet, unlike Madoff, Wright robbed people who seemingly could afford it. Many of Madoff’s investors sacrificed their life savings.

Now IMA investors are being asked to split any recovered losses, which makes them feel like they’re being swindled all over again.

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American icon Michael Jackson, lead singer of the ’70s R&B group The Jackson 5, later renamed The Jacksons after a record-label change, and winner of 10 individual Grammys as a solo artist in the ’80s, died today of sudden cardiac arrest in Los Angeles. He was 50.

The King of Pop made history with the 1982 release of Thriller, which is still the biggest-selling album of all time with over 59 million copies sold so far, along with Bad in 1987, the first album in music history to produce five #1 hits. The stage show for Bad became the highest-grossing concert tour of all time.

An amazing performer, prolific songwriter, and creative genius, Jackson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001; the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002. He was set to perform a “final” series of concerts in two weeks at London’s state-of-the-art O2 arena.

The 8th of ten children born to Joseph and Katherine Jackson, Michael Joseph Jackson is survived by three children, Prince Michael, Paris Katherine, and Prince Michael II, his parents, and 8 brothers and sisters, including recording artist Janet Jackson.

The beloved music legend will never be forgotten, especially by those of us who remember him as an adorable 11-year-old singing sensation from Gary, IN.

The music will live on forever.


The U.S. Senate passed a non-binding resolution on June 18 apologizing for American slavery (1619 – 1865) and “Jim Crow” laws following slavery through the 1960s that continued to deprive Black people of basic human rights. The resolution concludes: 

Whereas it is important for the people of the United States, who legally recognized slavery through the Constitution and the laws of the United States, to make a formal apology for slavery and for its successor, Jim Crow, so they can move forward and seek reconciliation, justice, and harmony for all people of the United States: Now, therefore, be it—

Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That the sense of the Congress is the following:

(1) Apology for the enslavement and segregation of african-americans.–The Congress–

  (A) acknowledges the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery and Jim Crow laws;

   (B) apologizes to African Americans on behalf of the people of the United States, for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow laws; and

   (C) expresses its recommitment to the principle that all people are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and calls on all people of the United States to work toward eliminating racial prejudices, injustices, and discrimination from our society.

Click to read the full text in the Congressional Record.

Is an apology enough?

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R&B singer Chris Brown pleaded guilty Monday in a Los Angeles court to one count of felony assault involving pop diva Rihanna on February 8. Brown will be formally sentenced on August  5, but his plea deal requires him to perform 6 months of community service and serve five years of supervised probation in his home state, Virginia.

Interestingly, the judge also instructed both Brown and Rihanna to stay away from each other—the “stay away distance” is 10 yards—even at industry events. Bet these kids didn’t anticipate that one.

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The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, in Tanzania, convicted former interior minister Callixte Kalimanzira, 56, of two counts of genocide and direct and public incitement to commit genocide during the 1994 slaughter of 800,000 people–mainly Tutsis–in Rwanda. The African holocaust shocked the world.

Kalimanzira, who instructed thousands of Tutsi civilians to take refuge at Kabuye Hill in Ndora commune, promising food and safety, then watched as the refugees were killed by Hutu militias, was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

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latifa lyles

Founded in 1966, the National Organization for Women, the nation’s largest feminist advocacy organization, held national elections over the weekend to assemble a new team of leaders. Latifa Lyles (above) ran for president but lost and she will not retain her position as Vice President of Membership to which she was elected in 2005. Allendra Letsome is NOW’s new membership VP.

Lyles, 33, first took office at the age of 29. She was NOW’s youngest elected national officer in its history.

At least she tried…

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ron taylor FOX

FOX is making a seemingly serious effort to embed diversity themes and talent at the earliest stages of program development. Ron Taylor, the TV network’s new VP of diverse programming and content, is the most recent example of this effort. Taylor will oversee script development reflective of diverse themes and/or written by writers from diverse backgrounds. He’s worked at ABC, Disney, Warner Bros., and UPN. Congratulations, Mr. Taylor!

Is he Black?

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racist-tennessee-senator's aide

Sherri Goforth, an aide to Sen. Diane Black (R-TN), was given a “strong letter of reprimand” after embarrassing the GOP by sending a mass e-mail with a racist picture attached mocking President Barack Obama.

Following racist humor related debacles originating in Tennessee such as ‘Barack the Magic Negro,’ Goforth forwarded a ‘historical keepsake photo’ of all 44 US Presidents in a mass e-mail. Obama’s photo, however, was just a large pair of white eyes peering out from a black background.

The Inquisitr

We’re told Ms. Goforth’s only concern was that she sent the e-mail to the wrong list. She wasn’t fired. Hmmm…

Scratch Tennessee off your vacation list.

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