NEWS ROUNDUP: Rachel Dolezal To Speak At MLK Celebration…AND MORE

Rachel Dolezal, the former NAACP president in Spokane, Washington, who resigned after it was revealed she was passing for Black for years, will speak at a Martin Luther King Day celebration in Cary, North Carolina. The annual MLK Dreamfest is scheduled to take place on January 14-16. “We chose a person like Rachel Dolezal that has been depicted as a major villain through media because of her preference of racial identity,” Al Cohen, an event organizer, told the Raleigh News & Observer. “She only had an affinity for a group of people, and she served her community well,” he continued. Controversy mounted last year when Dolezal’s parents revealed their daughter was living a lie. Dolezal defiantly responded, saying identifying as Black speaks to her truth. Read more.

Supreme Court To Re-examine Race In Duane Buck Case

The Supreme Court could take a second look at the case of a Texas inmate whose lawyers claims he was sentenced to death because he is Black. Duane Buck and his lawyer hope to prove that a defense expert witness told jurors Buck would likely be more dangerous in the future because of his race. Buck is also fighting to obtain a letter from a previous judge to support his case. Justices must decide between throwing out the original sentence, which would trigger a new hearing, or sending the case back to a lower court. Buck’s trial is one of six cases former Texas Attorney General John Cornyn said should be re-examined due to racially charged statements made by Dr. Walter QuijanoRead more.

Georgia Deputy Fired For Racist, Sexist Facebook Posts

Brant Gaither, a former Georgia McIntosh County Deputy Sheriff, was terminated for racist posts he initiated and participated in on Facebook. Jeremy Owens, a colleague and Darien police officer, resigned for his involvement. In the posts, Gaither and Owens joked and laughed, sometimes referring to African-Americans as “n——,” and “colored people.” “I have a dream. That one day my people will not act like animals,” Gaither posted, referencing MLK’s historic speech. “Lol. That’ll never happen,” Owens responded. Gaither was officially terminated on July 25 after another colleague discovered the posts while using Gaither’s old computer. Sheriff Stephen D. Jessup said he promptly took action. “I do not tolerate that in my department,” Jessup said. Read more.

Rod Temperton, Legendary “Thriller” Songwriter, Dies At 66

Rod Temperton, the English songwriter hailed as the creative genius behind Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” “Rock With You,” and “Off The Wall,” died of cancer last week at the age of 66, his family said. Temperton, along with music icon Quincy Jones, worked side by side to formulate Jackson’s groundbreaking sound. He began his musical journey in the disco band Heatwave. Temperton’s song writing credits are lengthy and notable; he’s penned hits for Aretha Franklin, Herbie Hancock, Donna Summer, and Aretha Franklin. He also worked in film and received an Oscar nod as a co-writer of “Miss Celie’s Blues (Sister),” from The Color Purple soundtrack and contributed several songs to Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines’ comedy Running Scared. Read more.


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NEWS ROUNDUP: Serena Williams Eliminated From Rio Olympics…AND MORE

Tennis star Serena Williams has been eliminated from the 2016 Rio Olympics. Williams lost in the third round of the singles matches against Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina on Tuesday night. She fell short 6-4, 6-3. Instead of doing a press conference following the competition, Williams released a statement through a spokesperson for Team USA. “Obviously I’m disappointed,” she said. “The better player won. It was a great opportunity that didn’t work out the way I wanted it to. At least I was able to make Rio, which was one of my goals. It was awesome, but it’s over now.” Williams was also eliminated from the doubles on Sunday night along with her sister Venus. This will mark the first time in four years that Williams won’t be returning home from the Olympics with accolades. Read more.

Study: Black Families Would Need 228 Years to Reach the Wealth of White Families Today

A new study shows a major racial gap in regards to the accumulation of wealth in our country. The report revealed that it would take the average African-American family 228 years to reach the wealth that a White family has today, if present economic trends persist. The study showed that the average wealth for White households grew by 84 percent between the years 1983 and 2013. This percentage was three times more than African-Americans and 1.2 times more than Latinos. During that span of time, Reaganomics policies were implemented, international trade grew, and the country faced two major economic setbacks. If economic trends continue to carry on for another three decades, the net worth of White families will grow by $18,000 per year, and African-American families would only see an extra $750 per year. “The racial wealth divide is how the past shows up in the present,” said Chuck Collins, one of the authors of the report. “We have a deep legacy of wealth inequality that undermines the whole idea that we have a meritocracy—that there’s an equal playing field.” Read more.

Chicago Gangs Look to Retaliate for Paul O’Neal’s Death

According to reports, local gangs in Chicago are allegedly targeting cops to seek revenge for the shooting of an African-American teenager. Paul O’Neal, 18, was slain by a police official on July 28. Members of the Vice Lords, Black Disciples, and Four Corner Hustlers allegedly met to come up with a plan to seek retaliation. The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that the Four Corner Hustlers have provided firearms. Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi refused to comment on the matter, claiming,“The department does not comment on any security measures.” The president of Lodge 7 of the Fraternal Order of Police, Dean Angelo, says the allegations are false and are being spread by the victim’s family attorney and the Independent Police Review Authority. “We had inflammatory and false rhetoric coming from (Michael Oppenheimer) and statements that weren’t true,” said Angelo. “You also have a lead investigator in police-involved deaths talking about how shocking and disturbing this is.” Read more.

Poll Shows Black and Latino Youth Are More Scared of White Extremists than Foreign Terrorists

A new poll revealed that Black and Latino youth are more scared of threats from Whites in the U.S. than terrorists from other countries. The poll, which was conducted by GenForward, showed that 65 percent of African-Americans and 65 percent of Latinos are worried about violence being carried out by White extremists. The report also showed that 49 percent of Black youth are concerned about foreign extremists and 56 percent of Latinos feel the same way. The poll was conducted to highlight “the absence in voice of young people, specifically those of African-American and Latino backgrounds.” “The GenForward Survey is the first of its kind—a nationally representative survey of over 1750 young adults ages 18-30 conducted monthly that pays special attention to how race and ethnicity shape how respondents experience and think about the world,” reads GenForward’s website. Read more.

Whoopi Goldberg to Executive Produce New Series about Transgender Models

Whoopi Goldberg is joining forces with Oxygen for a show that will follow the journeys of multicultural transgender models. The show, titled Strut, will delve into the lives of Dominique Jackson, Isis King, Laith De La Cruz, Arisce Wanzer, and Ren Spriggs as they try to make their mark in the fashion industry. “Our models come from all walks of life, all different backgrounds and ethnicities. They are struggling with things we can all relate to – trying to make ends meet, fighting to make a name for themselves and navigating the minefields of personal relationships,” said Whoopi Goldberg, who is executive producing the project. “All of these struggles are amplified by the fact that they are also fighting to break down barriers and taking on the responsibility of representing the transgender community in today’s society. It’s time to separate caricature from real people and that’s what we are doing with ‘Strut.’” The show will be created under 44 Blue Productions and One Hoe Productions. It’s slated to premiere on Oxygen on September 20. Read more.


NEWS ROUNDUP: Gabby Douglas Won’t Advance To All-Around Olympic Finals; FLOTUS For Senate?…AND MORE

Gymnast Gabby Douglas is facing a major setback at the 2016 Rio Olympics. According to reports, Douglas won’t be advancing to the all-around finals. Even though Douglas finished with the third highest score in the Olympic qualifiers on Sunday, only two people per country can compete in the all-around finals, preventing her from defending her 2012 title. U.S. gymnast Simone Biles came out on top on Sunday, finishing with a 62.366. Aly Raisman came behind Biles with a 60.607. Douglas finished with a 60.131. Biles and Raisman will represent the U.S. in the all-around competition, which is slated to take place on Tuesday. The rule was put in place by the Olympics to promote international diversity, however many people believe that it keeps top performing athletes —like Douglas — out of the competition. “I think the two-per-country rule is the dumbest thing ever. Who cares if there [are] five Chinese girls in the bar final up there. The best five should be able to compete,” said Raisman. The same thing happened to her during the 2015 World Championships. Although Gabby won’t be competing in the all-around finals, she will participate in the uneven bars final with fellow gymnast Madison Kocian. Read more.

DNC Heightens ‘FLOTUS for Senate’ Rumors with Bumper Sticker

Although President Obamas time in the White House is nearing its end, many people are hopeful that First Lady Michelle Obama will get involved in politics after his departure. The Democratic National Convention printed Obama bumper stickers as a way to heighten the rumors surrounding the First Lady possibly joining the Senate. The bumper stickers were distributed amongst Hillary Clinton’s supporters in exchange for a $10 campaign donation. The stickers feature an image of Michelle Obama with a popular quote from her DNC speech: “When they go low, we go high.” Although many people want FLOTUS to run for office in Illinois, several individuals who are close to the First Lady claim that she has no plans to get involved in politics and that her friend Valerie Jarrett will most likely end up running instead. Read more.

Family of Ahmed Mohamed File Lawsuit Against Texas School Officials

The family of Ahmed Mohamed, a Muslim teenager who was apprehended after bringing a homemade clock to school, filed a lawsuit against Texas school officials on Monday. The lawsuit claims that Mohamed’s civil rights were violated. He was arrested after school officials claimed that his homemade project was a bomb. Although the charges were dropped against Mohamed, he faced suspension. The family has filed the lawsuit against the city of Irving, Irving Independent School District, and his school’s principal. After the incident took place, the family made the decision to move from Texas to Qatar, where Mohamed was granted a scholarship. Read more.

Black Religious Leaders Break the Law to Support Hillary Clinton

According to reports, a group of African-American pastors are breaking the law in order to endorse Hillary Clinton. It’s against the law for clergymen to show solidarity with political figures in places of worship, however a new survey shows that several religious leaders are demonstrating their support for Clinton. The study revealed that 9 percent of individuals who have attended a worship service over the past few months have heard a member of the clergy endorse a candidate. Nearly 11 percent of people said they have heard clergy speak out against a political candidate. In regards to Black churches, 28 percent of people who say they have gone to an African-American Protestant church over the last few months have heard their pastor endorse Clinton. The study revealed that 20 percent of those who attended a Black church have heard their pastor share opposing views of Trump. The consequence for a member of the clergy sharing their political views in a place of worship is the church losing its position as a tax-exempt group. Read more.

Jay Pharaoh to Leave ‘SNL’ After Six Years

After a six-year stint on Saturday Night Live, comedian Jay Pharaoh has decided to leave the show. While he was a cast member, Pharaoh broke several barriers, becoming the second-youngest African-American castmate and one of the first Black comedians who signed on to do the show after SNL found itself in hot water for not being diverse. Pharaoh was known for his imitations of individuals, including President Obama, Jay Z, Kanye West, Ben Carson, Kevin Hart, and Katt Williams. Taran Killam will also be leaving the show. Although NBC hasn’t officially released a statement, Killam said he didn’t receive a contract renewal. “I had sort of had it in my head I would make this upcoming year my last year, but then heard they weren’t going to pick up my contract,” he said. “I was never given a reason why, really.” Read more.


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NEWS ROUNDUP: Morgan State University Named A National Treasure…AND MORE

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is naming Morgan State University a national treasure.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is ensuring that historic places on HBCU campuses are preserved. After announcing that Howard University’s Founders Library will be named a national treasure in February, it was recently revealed that Morgan State University will receive the same honor. The institution and the National Trust will team up to create a strategy to preserve Morgan State’s historic buildings. According to Dale Green, a professor of architecture and historic preservation at Morgan State, the project will be a blueprint that other historically Black colleges and universities can follow. “They have significant rich legacies that most people are unaware of,” said Green. “They’re more than black schools. … They are the only institutions that never barred other races. They very much reflect the American story.” Morgan State University was founded in 1867 and the school’s northeast Baltimore campus was built in 1917. President and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation Stephanie Meeks believes the project will illustrate how HBCUs are an integral part of American history. “We are proud to partner with Morgan State University — a nationally recognized innovator and education leader — to demonstrate how the preservation of their remarkable older buildings can be a springboard for growth, rejuvenation and revitalization.” Morgan State University will receive an $110,000 grant from the National Trust for the project. Read more.

Donald Trump Cinco de Mayo Post Receives Backlash

GOP frontrunner Donald Trump had an epic fail on social media on Thursday. In celebration of Cinco de Mayo, he took to Facebook and Twitter to share a photo of him eating a taco bowl in his office with the caption “Happy #CincoDeMayo! The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics!” The statement was inconsistent with the outlandish remarks Trump has been making about Latinos along his campaign trail. Trump proposed building a wall to keep Mexican immigrants out of the United States. “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people,” said Trump. People on Twitter dragged Trump after his taco bowl post went viral. “Not only is this racist, IT IS ALSO EMPIRICALLY NOT TRUE! Best taco bowls in Trump Tower?” tweeted one person. “A taco bowl is just a taco with a big, beautiful wall around it,” tweeted another. Read more.

‘Dear White People’ to be Adapted into TV Series for Netflix

Dear White People will be adapted into a television series for Netflix. Netflix has ordered a 10-episode series for a comedy inspired by the 2014 movie. Like the film, the show will capture the experiences of students of color as they attend a primarily White Ivy League school. Justin Simien will write and direct the first episode of the series and Julia Lebedev, Stephanie Allain Bray, and Devon Shepard will serve as executive producers. “I’m so grateful to have this platform — not only to give a voice to those too often unheard in our culture, but to also tell great stories from new points of views. From Day 1, Lionsgate has been remarkably supportive of the vision for the show, and working with Netflix is every bit as harmonious as I’d imagined it would be. Bringing this show to such a vibrant platform is an honor I don’t take lightly,” said Simien. Production is slated to begin this year and the series will debut in 2017. Read more.

Arsenio Hall Sues Sinead O’Connor Over Prince Drug Allegations

The fight for Prince’s estate isn’t the only legal battle related to the singer’s death. After being accused by singer Sinead O’Connor of supplying Prince with drugs, comedian Arsenio Hall has filed a defamation lawsuit. Hall filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles on Thursday. He is seeking damages that are a minimum of $5 million. “Desperate, attention seeker Sinead O’Connor has maliciously published outlandish defamatory lies about comedian Arsenio Hall, falsely accusing him of supplying illegal ‘hard drugs’ ‘over the decades’ to the recently deceased music artist, Prince, and of spiking her with drugs once years ago,” read the lawsuit. “Hall will not stand idly by while O’Connor attempts to get attention for herself by recklessly spreading malicious, vile lies that he engaged in egregious criminal conduct which falsely links Hall to Prince’s death.” O’Connor’s team has yet to release a statement about the lawsuit. Read more.


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NEWS ROUNDUP: Tyler Perry Makes Real Estate History…AND MORE

Film mogul Tyler Perry has made his mark in the movie industry and now hit a major milestone in the realm of real estate. According to reports, Perry’s Atlanta mansion has been sold for $17.5 million, becoming the most expensive residential sale in the city’s history. The 34,688-square-foot home features a home theater, infinity pool, a spa, and a tennis court. It also includes an underground ballroom and two-level parking garage. The residence, which was constructed in 2007, boasts seven bedrooms, nine full bathrooms, and five half bathrooms. Prior to this sale, the record for the most expensive residential sale in Atlanta was held by a property located in Buckhead purchased for $10.5 million seven years ago. There is no word on where Perry will move next. Read more.

Beyoncé Performs in the Rain, Addresses LGBT Laws

During the Raleigh, North Carolina stop on her “Formation World Tour,” songstress Beyoncé captured the essence of true showmanship. Fans were forced to leave the Carter-Finley Stadium due to torrential downpours and lighting. Despite the weather, the “Formation” singer came back on stage an hour after the venue was evacuated and performed the remainder of her set in the rain. According to reports, it cost Beyoncé $60,000 to postpone the show, but she still managed to give her fans a memorable performance. “Beyoncé performing “Rocket” in the rain. Wow! #FormationWorldTour #Raleigh,” tweeted a fan. While in Raleigh, the songstress addressed North Carolina’s Anti-LGBTQ Laws by posting a message to her website. “As The Formation World Tour makes its stop in the Tar Heel state in the midst of such a controversial time, we think it is important for us to bring attention to those who are committed to being good and carrying on the message of equality in this core of controversy,” read the letter. The post also encouraged fans to support equality by being becoming ambassadors for change. Read more.

Janet Jackson Releases New Music Video Following Pregnancy Reports

As pregnancy reports are swirling around Janet Jackson, the 49-year-old songstress released a new video titled “Dammn Baby.” The song is the third single from her Unbreakable album, which debuted in October of 2015. In the video, Jackson rocks a black latex outfit and is joined by backup dancers. In April, she said she would be postponing her world tour to focus on starting a family with her husband Wissam Al Mana. “I thought it was important that you be the first to know. My husband and I are planning our family, so I’m going to have to delay the tour,” she shared in a video posted to Twitter. “Please, if you can try and understand that it’s important that I do this now. I have to rest up, doctor’s orders. But I have not forgotten about you. I will continue the tour as soon as I possibly can.” According to reports, Jackson, who turns 50 on May 16, is in the second trimester of her pregnancy.

Director Lee Daniels to Pay Sean Penn in Defamation Lawsuit

Director Lee Daniels has to put his money where his mouth is. After making remarks about actor Sean Penn being violent towards women, Penn sued Daniels in a $10 million defamation lawsuit and came out victorious. On Wednesday, Daniels issued an apology and he will soon write a check for Penn’s Haiti foundation. “I am so sorry that I have hurt you, Sean, and I apologize and retract my reckless statements about you,” read a statement from Daniels. “How thoughtless of me. You are someone I consider a friend, a brilliant actor and true Hollywood legend and humanitarian. I too have been the subject of false attacks by others, like those made here. My comments were cavalier; it was not my intention to diminish the severity of the issue, but rather to express a view regarding the disparate treatment of men of color in our national conversation. I apologize again for the distress that this has caused you and your family.” Penn released a statement saying he accepts Daniels’ apology. Read more.


NEWS ROUNDUP: Flint Still Needs $28M To Remove Lead Pipes…AND MORE

According to Richard Baird, an advisor for Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, the city of Flint might be $28 million short in funds to remove the old lead-contaminated water lines. On Friday, Baird said the budget has risen from $27 million to $55 million. “Where we have lead lines or other non-lead lines that are unsafe, they need to be removed,” said Baird. “It’s not all about just getting the lead pipes out anymore.” According to Rowe Professional Services, an engineering firm in Flint that was brought on board to check lead pipes, there are a total of 5,200 lead service lines and an additional 5,500 problematic lines causing issues in Flint. The replacement of each line can cost between $2,000 and $12,000. Baird said Michigan will explore all possible options to remove faulty water lines, including using some of the reserve fund offered by the Senate and dipping into the $188 million that was initially allocated to remove abandoned buildings in Michigan. Read more.

Medical Errors Are Third Leading Cause of Death in U.S.

New reports say medical errors have become the third leading cause of death in the United States. A new study conducted by patient safety researchers shows that 251,000 die each year due to medical mishaps, outnumbering strokes, respiratory disease, and Alzheimer’s. Breakdowns in communication at medical facilities and bad doctors are just a few of the factors causing medical errors. “It boils down to people dying from the care that they receive rather than the disease for which they are seeking care,” said Martin Makary, who lead the research. “Measuring the problem is the absolute first step. Hospitals are currently investigating deaths where medical error could have been a cause, but they are under-resourced. What we need to do is study patterns nationally.” Read more.

Beyoncé Invests in WTRMLN WTR

After starting a lemonade craze with her new visual album, Beyoncé has invested in another drink: WTRMLN WTR. “I invested in WTRMLN WTR because it’s the future of clean, natural hydration,” she said in a statement. “As partners, we share a simple mission to deliver accessible wellness to the world. This is more than an investment in a brand, it’s an investment in female leaders, fitness, American farmers, and the health of people and our planet.” Founder Jody Levy is excited about the partnership with Beyoncé. “She is an inspiring human whose involvement will help educate the world about the importance of putting clean food and drinks into our bodies so that we can all be happy and healthy,” said Levy. WTRMLN WTR is sold at stores like Costco, Whole Foods, and Sprouts. Read more.

Film About the Life of Harriet Tubman in the Works

Just weeks after it was announced that Harriet Tubman would be the new face of the $20 bill, now there is a new film about the life of the abolitionist in the works. Debra Martin Chase, Gregory Allen Howard, Charles D. King, and Daniela Taplin Lundberg have all teamed up to create a film about Tubman. The movie will be written by Gregory Allen Howard and directed by Seith Mann. Production for the project is slated to begin at the start of 2017. This is the second Harriet Tubman film on deck. Viola Davis will also produce and star in a film based on the novel Bound for the Promised Land – Harriet Tubman Portrait: of an American Hero, which will air on HBO. Read more.


NEWS ROUNDUP: Kendrick Lamar Caught Up In Copyright Controversy…AND MORE

Rapper Kendrick Lamar is the latest artist to get caught up in a copyright controversy. According to reports, Lamar and his label Top Dawg Music are being sued for using a Bill Withers sample in his song “I Do This,” featured on his 2013 mixtape. The lawsuit is being filed by Mattie Music Group, which owns the rights to the 1975 Withers song allegedly sampled. “The musical composition “I Do This” consists of nothing more than new, so-called Rap or Hip Hop lyrics, set to the existing music of “Don’t Want You To Stay,” reads the lawsuit. Mattie Music Group is suing Lamar, TDE, Warner Bros. Music, and Warner/Chappell for copyright infringement. They said Lamar previously openly admitted to sampling the song. This isn’t the first time he’s found himself in legal trouble. In 2013, Lamar was sued by a freelance photographer who claimed he used his work for “The Blacker the Berry” cover art. He also was sued in 2014 for sampling a song that was originally created by The Alan Parsons Project. Read more.

Democrats to Take Legal Action Against Arizona for Primary Election Disaster

National Democrats are taking action against the state of Arizona following a primary election disaster. The primary election in Maricopa, the state’s most populated county, limited the amount of places where people could cast their votes. The amount of voting sites dropped from 200 during the 2012 presidential primary to a mere 60, causing thousands of people to wait in line for hours to cast their ballots. The Arizona Democratic Party is teaming up with the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to file a lawsuit. “Republicans are using every tool, every legal loophole and every fear tactic they can think of to take aim at voting rights wherever they can,” said DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. “And what they’re aiming at is clear — they want nothing less than to disenfranchise voting groups who are inconvenient to them on Election Day. That’s exactly what Arizona’s officials did when they closed polling locations and rejected thousands of provisional ballots, and it’s exactly what they’ll continue to do if left unchecked.” They are slated to file the lawsuit on Friday. Read more.

As MLB Celebrates Jackie Robinson, Lack of Diversity Still Remains

It’s been 69 years since legendary baseball player Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in the MLB. Although the league will celebrate Robinson’s accomplishments on Friday, the milestone has put the focus on the lack of diversity in baseball. The number of Blacks on Major League Baseball teams is nearing historically low levels. According to USA Today Sports, the African-American population in baseball is 8 percent. In regards to pitchers, out of 449, only 15 are African-American. “When you think about it, the black pitchers have almost become extinct,” said Arizona Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart. “There are a lot of reasons, I don’t know if any of them are valid, but it seems like a lot of teams take black pitchers and convert them to infielders or outfielders. I know it happened a lot in the past, so maybe it’s still happening.” Others believe the reason for the lack of diversity on the pitcher’s mound is that teams aren’t investing in Black players. “The reason you don’t see a black player converted into being a pitcher is because teams don’t have money invested in them. Most of the white pitchers being converted, you have money invested in them,’’ said Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker. Read more.

Kerry Washington Discusses Anita Hill Story

Actress Kerry Washington steps into the shoes of law attorney Anita Hill—the woman who accused U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment back in 1991—for her role in the upcoming movie, Confirmation. “As a legal scholar, she really believed in the sanctity of the court and felt it was her responsibility to have that information out there. I don’t know if I would be able to do what she did. For the Supreme Court — or the head of a studio,” she said during an interview. She hopes this project will inspire individuals to stand for what they believe in: “Our country works only when we participate. Not just when we show up at the polls, but when the phones are ringing off the hook. That’s the American people saying, ‘Do your job. Listen to me.’” Read more.


NEWS ROUNDUP: Obama Will Stay In D.C. After Presidency…AND MORE

President Obama says he will "probably" stay in Washington for a few years after his term ends so that his youngest daughter can finish high school. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

President Obama’s time in the White House may be dwindling down, but the First Family will more than likely end up residing in Washington D.C. following the end of his term. During a meeting in Milwaukee on Thursday, Obama said he and his family will remain in Washington for a few years so that his youngest daughter, Sasha, can complete high school. There’s been a lot of speculation surrounding where the Obamas would live once he was out of office. “We’re going to have to stay a couple of years so Sasha can finish,” he said during the meeting. “Transferring someone in the middle of high school — tough.” Sasha’s older sister, 17-year-old Malia Obama, will be off to college in the fall. President Obama will be the first former president since Woodrow Wilson, who served between the years of 1913 and 1921, to stay in the nation’s capital following his presidency. Read more.

Affordable Care Act Reaches New Milestone

On Thursday, President Obama shared that healthcare enrollment under the ACA has reached a new milestone: 20 million people have registered. “Congressional Republicans have tried and failed to repeal Obamacare about 60 times,” said President Obama. “They have told you what they would replace it with about zero times. If they got their way, 20 million people would have their insurance taken away from them. Twenty million people!” Those who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act include individuals who have Medicaid coverage, adults who are allowed to stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26 years of age, and people who have gotten private health insurance on exchanges. Back in September, 17.6 million uninsured people got coverage. Read more.

Marvin Gaye to be Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame

Although soul singer and songwriter Marvin Gaye passed away over 30 years ago, he is still being recognized for his contributions to the music industry. The Songwriters Hall of Fame recently shared that Gaye will be one of their 2016 inductees. “The 2016 roster of Songwriters Hall of Fame inductees is a beautiful mosaic of the best of late 20th Century popular music,” said co-chairs Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff. “With creators of Rock & Roll, Soul/R&B, Country and Funk/Dance represented, we are looking forward to an unforgettable and extremely exciting event and evening.” The induction ceremony will take place at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City on June 9. Other inductees include Tom Petty, Elvis Costello, Chip Taylor, Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers. Read more.

Kendrick Lamar Drops Surprise Album

On Thursday night, rapper Kendrick Lamar unexpectedly released a new project titled untitled unmastered. The album, which features 8 songs, includes untitled tracks that he has previously performed on talk shows and at the Grammys. He took to Twitter to spread the word about the project. Mega producer Swizz Beatz’s 5-year-old son Egypt co-produced one of the songs. “This is the best Dad moment everrrrr!!! Congrats to my son Egypt for producing his 1st track on this amazing Kendrick Album,” Beatz wrote in an Instagram post. Read more.


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NEWS ROUNDUP: Hillary Clinton & Bernie Sanders Spar In Democratic Debate…AND MORE

Dem race shaken, stirred as Sanders, Clinton meet in debate

Presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders battled it out on Thursday during MSNBC’s Democratic Candidates Debate in Durham, New Hampshire. During the debate, Clinton and Sanders shared their views on the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, the death penalty, veteran affairs, and foreign policy. They also discussed climate change and national security. Things took a personal turn when Clinton’s lucrative speaking fees from Wall Street were addressed and her email scandal was brought up. “I’ve been vetted — there is barely anything you don’t know about me,” said Clinton. “I think I am the person who can do all aspects of the job — and take the case to Republicans. At the end of the day, it’s not so much electability, it’s who the American people believe can keep them safe.” During his closing statement, Sanders took a personal approach and shared a story about the struggles his father went through as an immigrant from Poland. “I love this country, my dad loved this country. But today in America, we’re the only major country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee health care, paid family medical leave,” he said. “I’m running for president because I feel it is too late for establishment politics and economic. I believe we need a political revolution.” Read more.

James Franco to Direct Film Based on Viral Zola Tweets

The “Zola” story that surfaced on Twitter last October is proof that social media can definitely be used as a come-up. After the tweets about the chronicles of a stripper’s trip to Florida went viral, there was buzz that the social media posts would be adapted into a book or a film. It was recently revealed that actor James Franco has decided to do just that. The film will be based on the article “Zola Tells All: The Real Story Behind the Greatest Stripper Saga Ever Tweeted,” which was featured in Rolling Stone. The script will be penned by Andrew Neel and Mike Roberts and executive produced by Franco and Vince Jolivette under Rabbit Bandini Productions along with Killer Films and Gigi Films. Franco will direct himself. Read more.

Chris Rock Says Black Actresses Have it the Toughest in Hollywood

Comedian Chris Rock, who is slated to host this year’s Oscars in the midst of The Academy’s diversity debate, is using his pedestal to address the struggles Black actors and actresses go through in the entertainment industry. Although he hasn’t directly commented on the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, he did share his thoughts on actor Jennifer Lawrence’s mission to close the gender wage gap in acting. “It happens every time. Black women get paid less than everybody in Hollywood. Everybody’s talking about Jennifer Lawrence. Talk to Gabrielle Union. If you want to hear stories, talk to Nia Long. Talk to Kerry Washington. They would love to get to Jennifer Lawrence’s place, or just be treated with the same amount of respect,” he said in an interview with Essence. “Black women are the least represented on-screen. They just are. You can go see a lot of movies and there’s not one Black woman in there with, like, a real part. It’s a real, real, real problem.” Read more.

Kanye Credits His Mother and Late Father-in-Law For Helping Him with New Album

According to rapper Kanye West, his upcoming album Waves was a family affair. During an interview Thursday with radio host Big Boy on Real 92.3, West said his late mother Donda West and his deceased father-in-law Robert Kardashian oversaw production of his album from heaven. “I’m only doing two percent of the work. God is doing the rest of the work,” said West. He also said the late Robert Kardashian is “still doing deals for controversial black people from up in heaven.” West spoke about including his fans in the creative process: “What I’ve really come to realize about being a celebrity is … everybody is our family. It’s family. If something bad happens, you’re gonna hear about it,” he said.  “Obviously I have made a connection with people – a family-level connection that they played my music in their houses for so many years with their mothers, their friends, their kids. We love any opportunity we have to involve all of our family in the creative process.” Read more.


NEWS ROUNDUP: Janet Jackson Undergoing Tests For Throat Cancer…AND MORE

More details have been revealed regarding songstress Janet Jackson’s health condition. Just days after she announced the postponement of her ‘Unbreakable’ tour, source are now saying that Jackson is undergoing tests for throat cancer. According to reports, doctors came across a tumor on her vocal cords. “Doctors found a growth on Janet’s vocal chords that could be serious,” said a source. “It’s a medical condition that has to be taken care of immediately. Janet said she knows that with prayers and her will, she’ll be back out on the road in the spring or early summer.” Jackson canceled shows back in October to make her health issues a priority. The ‘Unbreakable’ Tour was slated to kick off on January 9th. Despite the setback, Jackson seems to be in good spirits. She recently posted a message on her website that read, “Hey you guys…Happy Holidays to each and every one of you! I need you to know, I learned today, from my doctors that I must have surgery soon. It breaks my heart to tell you that I am forced to postpone the ‘Unbreakable Tour’ until the spring. Please pray for me, my family and our entire company during this difficult time.” According to doctors, if she does have ‘cancer of the larynx,’ she’ll never be able to sing again. Read more.

You Now Can Use Samuel L. Jackson’s Voice as Your Voicemail Greeting

Actor Samuel L. Jackson is well-known for his distinct voice, and now fans will have the opportunity to use it as their outgoing voicemail message. During a recent appearance on The Late Show, Stephen Colbert asked Jackson to record a voicemail greeting for his phone. After Jackson did the message, CBS decided to include the recording on their website, so that fans can download it too. “When he stopped by The Late Show to talk about his new film “The Hateful Eight,” Samuel L. Jackson made one of Stephen’s dreams come true by recording an outgoing message for his voicemail,” reads the site. “But since it’s a brand new year and we’re in a giving mood, we decided to make it available for you to download as well.” Read more.

Joe Dillard Makes History as the Youngest Branch President in NAACP

Joe Dillard, President of the Norfolk NAACP, made history within the organization as the youngest branch president. Dillard, who hails from Richmond, is a graduate of the Norfolk State University and began working with the NAACP in college. Four years ago, he was selected as Chairman of Housing and Community Planning for Norfolk State University’s NAACP Chapter, where he ensured that students and staff had the opportunity to live in campus controlled housing despite their race. Dillard then worked his way up to becoming Chairman of the NAACP’s Economic Development Committee. Two years ago, he was elected President of the Norfolk Branch NAACP. “I want to be in a position to influence and change policy for the betterment of my community,” said Dillard during a recent interview. He also said he strives to get the younger generation involved in social movements. “We (all organizations) need to empower the youth to make decisions about the world they want to see.” Read more.

Patti LaBelle Expands Her Dessert Collection

Patti LaBelle’s sweet potato pies became a hit over the holidays after a review by fan James Wright Chanel went viral. LaBelle is continuing to ride this wave by adding two new desserts to her collection. She took to Twitter to share that she has added Vanilla Pound Cake and Caramel Cake to her line. “Who’s ready for #PattiCake? My new vanilla pound cake is making its way to stores!” she posted. The vanilla cake is being sold at Walmart stores for $6.98. The caramel cake, which features yellow cake with caramel icing, is slated to hit stores on January 18th and will be sold for $13.94. Read more.


NEWS ROUNDUP: Erykah Badu Flaunts Her Natural Gray Strands On Social Media…AND MORE

Erykah Badu is known and praised for her authenticity, but the songstress recently took to Twitter to show us all just how comfortable she really is in her own skin. The 44-year-old posted a photo of her natural gray hair with a caption that reads: “Body and brain have aged. My consciousness has witnessed this, Yet has not aged. This “awareness ‘is who we are.’” The photo got 2.2K retweets and 5K favorites. She also posted a different photo showing off her gray strands on Instagram, which got 16K likes and hundreds of comments praising her for courageously showing her real hair. Gray hair, both natural and dyed, grew to become a popular beauty trend over the course of this year. Read more.

Racial Gaps in College Graduation Rates Persist

When it comes to education, racial disparities are still prevalent. According to a new study conducted by The Education Trust, White students graduate from college at higher rates than students of color. Despite the gap, the graduation rates for Black, Latino, and Native American students at four-year public schools are on the rise. Between the years 2003 and 2013, 77 percent of these schools increased the graduation rate for students that come from underrepresented backgrounds. “As access increases, stratification increases at the same time,” said Anthony Carnevale, Director of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. Although overall the graduation rates for students of color have increased, growth has been slower for Black students compared to Latinos and Native Americans. “We caution institutional leaders who celebrate their graduation rate gains to take a good look at their data and ask whether they are doing enough to get more African-American, Latino, and Native students to graduation and to close completion gaps,” said Kimberlee Eberle-Sudré, co-author of the study. Read more.

Tupac Shakur Biopic Moves Forward

A biopic about the life of late rapper Tupac Shakur is moving forward. Filming for the movie, which is being directed by Benny Boom, has begun in Atlanta. New actor Demetrius Shipp, Jr. will play the role of Tupac and Jamal Woolard, who played the role of Biggie in Notorious, will serve as the Notorious B.I.G. in this film as well. “I am blessed with the opportunity of a lifetime. Telling the story of this revolutionary, artist, visionary, genius, soldier! I will make him proud and uphold the legacy,” Boom wrote in an Instagram post. Read more.

Philadelphia Eagles Fire Head Coach

Chip Kelly, head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, has hit a rough patch. After his team missed its chance to secure a playoff spot following a loss to the Washington Redskins, the Eagles franchise held Kelly accountable and fired him. Earlier this week, Jeffrey Lurie, owner of the Eagles, released a statement about Kelly’s release. “We appreciate all the contributions that Chip Kelly made and wish him every success going forward,” he said. This was only Kelly’s second year with the Eagles, but the season has been nothing short of tough for the team. They have a record of 6-9 and are ranked second in the NFC East Division. Read more.


NEWS ROUNDUP: Baltimore Becomes National Leader In Evictions, “Huck Finn” Removed From Philadelphia School…AND MORE

Camden, New Jersey

Over the course of this year, Baltimore has been at the forefront of a national conversation about police brutality. The city has found itself back in the headlines again, but this time around, it’s related to a national eviction crisis. A new study released by the Public Justice Center, titled Justice Diverted: How Renters Are Processed in the Baltimore City Rent Court, revealed that nearly 7,000 families are evicted in Baltimore every year. According to the data, 94 percent of defendants in rent court were Black. Baltimore is the second city in the country with the highest percentage of people who have to deal with eviction. Many people are forced to leave because they don’t have access to legal help. “Our study shows that the court system prioritizes efficiencies which privilege the landlord’s bottom line, and as a result, it decidedly ignores two predominating realities of poor renters and their housing,” read the report. “Then, institutionalized customs of the court steer renters away from defending themselves, instead pushing them into agreements that have no effect on the considerable problems renters face at home – namely, overspending on insecure, unsafe, unhealthy housing.” Read more.

Philadelphia High School Eliminates ‘Huckleberry Finn’ From Curriculum

A high school in Philadelphia is eliminating “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” from its 11th grade curriculum due to the portrayal of African-Americans in the story. Although the piece of literature is recognized as a classic, Friends’ Central School didn’t want to expose students to the book at the expense of making their 11th graders feel uncomfortable. Principal Art Hall said the book is “challenging for some students, who felt the school was not being inclusive.” The book, which is set during the pre-Civil War era, was released 130 years ago. Read more.

Issa Rae to Launch New Audio Series

Issa Rae, the creator of The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl series, is continuing to bring creative projects to the table. Next year, Rae will launch a new audio drama titled “Fruit,” which will be featured on the Howl Premium subscription service. “Fruit” will chronicle the life of a gay African-American professional football player. It was created to shed light on the trials and tribulations that gay athletes go though. Casting for the project has already started. “Fruit” will be released in February 2016. Read more.


NEWS ROUNDUP: Half Of Black Millennials Know A Police Brutality Victim…AND MORE

Ferguson's Fragile Recovery Shaken After Police Casualties

The deaths of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray brought attention to the strained relationship between police officials and the communities they serve. While stories like theirs are all too common in the headlines, police brutality and the negative impact it has on the millennial generation is nothing new. According to a report released by the Black Youth Project at the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago, in 2009, 54.4 percent of African-American millennials said they’ve personally experienced harassment or violence at the hands of the police – or they know someone who has. One in four Latinos and one-third of Whites said they’ve experienced the same things. “We know that young blacks are more likely to be harassed by the police. We know that they are more likely to mistrust their encounters with the police,” said Cathy Cohen, leader of the Black Youth Project. “But we also know from actually collecting data that a majority of them believe that police in their neighborhood are actually there to protect them, so I think it provides us with more complexity.” Read more.

Report: Wealth Gap between Blacks and Whites is Larger than Ever

A new report released by the United States Joint Economic Committee shows that the wealth gap between African-Americans and Whites, in New York City and nationwide, is the largest ever. One in four African-Americans are living in poverty, which is double the amount of White people. In New York City, the unemployment rate is high for African-Americans and their median income remains significantly lower than Whites. Twelve percent of Blacks are unemployed, compared to 5.5 percent of Whites. The average median income for African-Americans is $41,000 and $80,200 for Whites. “We got to make some noise. Racism is not confined to a handful of White southerners; it’s in our labor unions, it’s in our educational systems,” said Rep. Charles Rangel, who unveiled the report alongside Representatives Carolyn Maloney and Yvette Clarke. “Even Black Americans with college degrees accrue less wealth than White Americans without college degrees. This absolutely makes no sense whatsoever,” said Congresswoman Maloney. Read more.

Maya Angelou’s St. Louis Home Named a Landmark

Maya Angelou’s legacy continues to live on through her work, the lives she’s touched, and the places she’s lived. Her birth home, 3130 Hickory St. in St. Louis, has been named the city’s newest landmark. “This modest house in a once-segregated St. Louis neighborhood helps to convey the journey Ms. Angelou made to become a renowned author, poet, performer and outspoken civil rights activist, and although Ms. Angelou’s life was spent in many places in the United States and abroad, the property comprises an important part of the history of one of the most prominent and respected women of her generation,” read the landmark designation legislation. Now that the property is a landmark, there are limitations on the structural changes the owner can make. Read more.


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NEWS ROUNDUP: President Obama Welcomes Pope Francis To White House, Lee Daniels Sued By Sean Penn…AND MORE

Pope Francis is kicking-off his first-ever trip to the United States with a bang. Earlier Wednesday morning, the White House hosted a welcoming event to celebrate his arrival to the country. The event, which took place on the South Lawn, was attended by nearly 15,000 people. The Pope is slated to meet with President Obama following the event to discuss world issues that include the refugees in Europe, climate change, and income inequality. Over the next six days, Pope Francis will make stops through Washington, New York, and Philadelphia. Read more.

Sean Penn Sues Lee Daniels for $10M

Director Lee Daniels is being hit with a defamation of character lawsuit by actor Sean Penn. Penn, the star of the film Dead Man Walking, claims that Daniels implied he is abusive towards women. The issue came about when Daniels addressed Empire star Terrence Howard’s domestic abuse scandal in an interview. “[Terrence] ain’t done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn, and all of a sudden he’s some f—in’ demon,” he said. “That’s a sign of the time, of race, of where we are right now in America.” The $10 million lawsuit, which was filed yesterday in New York, states that his remarks during the interview falsely connected Penn to domestic violence. Read more.

Cosby Looks to Hire Lawyer for 2005 Sexual Assault Allegation

Comedian Bill Cosby’s agents are avidly looking for a criminal defense lawyer as prosecutors in Pennsylvania consider exploring a sexual-assault allegation from 2005. The complaint was made by former Temple University staff member Andrea Constand. She claims she befriended Cosby and he served as her mentor. During a visit to his house, he allegedly gave her pills for stress and she woke up with disheveled clothes. If charges are filed, it will be the first time Cosby will face criminal charges for any of the sexual allegations lodged against him. Read more.


NEWS ROUNDUP: Denzel Washington To Revive August Wilson’s Plays With HBO Deal…AND MORE

'Flight' - Los Angeles Premiere - Red Carpet

Denzel Washington will revive the work of famed playwright August Wilson. After revealing he would direct and star in the film version of his work Fences with Viola Davis, Washington signed a deal with HBO to bring ten more of Wilson’s plays to television. The series, which will be centered on Wilson’s American Century Cycle stories, will capture the essence of the Black experience in America throughout the 21st century. Among the stories will be “Gem of the Ocean,” a play set in the 1900s about a young man from Alabama, and “Radio Golf,” which follows the story of an African-American politician. Read more.

John Legend and Chrissy Teigen Ink Deal With ABC for TV Series

Singer John Legend and his wife Chrissy Teigen’s story are coming to our television screens. The couple just inked a deal with ABC for the pilot of their rom-com series, Ordinary People. The show, which is somewhat based on Legend and Teigen’s real life, will delve into the experiences of an interracial couple. It will be executive produced by Kenya Barris of Black-ish and written by Tracey Oliver. Three years ago, Legend’s company Get Lifted Films teamed up with Universal Cable Productions to create television projects for cable and broadcast networks. Read more.

Tracy Morgan Graces Stage at the 2015 Emmy Awards

The 2015 Emmy Awards ended with a special surprise last night when comedian Tracy Morgan graced the stage to present the award for Outstanding Drama Series. “Thank you so much, I miss you guys so much,” Morgan said. “Last year, Jimmy Kimmel said on stage, ‘We’ll see you back here next year Tracy Morgan.’ Well, Jimmy, thanks to my amazing doctors and the support of my family and my beautiful wife, I’m here standing on my own two feet.” Morgan was involved in a terrifying and very serious car crash last year. After the show, he took to Twitter to share his excitement: “Man it feels good to be back!!! Love you all! #Emmys.” Read more.


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NEWS ROUNDUP: 50 Cent To Pay Additional $2 Million To Sex Tape Victim, President Obama Jokes About Birth Certificate In Kenya

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Rapper 50 Cent, real name Curtis Jackson, was ordered to pay $2 million more to a woman who sued him after her sex tape was leaked. On July 15, a New York jury determined that Jackson was guilty of illegally posting a video of Lastonia Leviston and her boyfriend having sex and ruled that he should give Leviston $5 million. The hip-hop mogul filed for bankruptcy three days after that, claiming that he doesn’t own all of the materialistic things we may see. He claimed that he was only worth $4.4 million, even though according to Forbes, he’s worth $155 million. His bankruptcy plea didn’t cut it. The jury placed an additional $2 million verdict against Jackson and now he owes Leviston a total of $7 million. “Justice and vindication. I think that’s what was done today,” she said. “I hope he learned a lesson. I hope he grows up.” Read more.

Rick Perry Wants to Allow Guns in Movie Theaters

The movie theater shooting that occurred in Louisiana last week took the entire nation by surprise, and Former Texas Governor Rick Perry believes that he has a solution for preventing an incident like that from happening again. Gov. Perry claims that the shooting could’ve been prevented if guns were allowed in the movie theater. “These concepts of gun-free zones are a bad idea. I think that you allow the citizens of this country — who have been appropriately trained, appropriately backgrounded, know how to handle and use firearms — to carry them,” he said in a recent interview. “I believe that, with all my heart, that if you have the citizens who are well trained, and particularly in these places that are considered to be gun-free zones, that we can stop that type of activity, or stop it before there’s as many people that are impacted as what we saw in Lafayette.” Read more.

‘Key and Peele’ Comes to an End

After the success of the first few seasons, Michael Key and Jordan Peele of Comedy Central’s hit show Key and Peele have decided to bow out on a high note. The two announced that they would end the show after this season. “This is our final season – and it’s not because of Comedy Central, it’s us. It was just time for us to explore other things, together and apart” said Michael Key. Although the show will come to an end, they plan on working together on other projects. “There will be Key & Peele productions coming up. We’re doing the reboot of ‘Police Academy,’ and there’s a TV show in the works that me might do for Comedy Central. There’s lots of stuff we have cooking up,” said Key. The current season, which kicked-off on July 8th, will end in September. Read more.

President Obama Cracks Joke About Birth Certificate

One of the things that President Barack Obama is known for is his sense of humor. During his recent visit to Kenya, he made a joke about his birth certificate; something that Republicans have been trying to throw in his face for years. “Some of my critics back home might be suggesting I’m here to look for my birth certificate,” he said. “That’s not the case.” Four years ago, President Obama made his birth certificate public to put an end to the rumors that he wasn’t a U.S. citizen, which would have made him ineligible to be president. Watch it here:

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