Apr 30, 2009

Tavis Smiley has a new film coming out called 'Stand' that explores the Black male experience through history, politics, music and culture. STAND features Cornel West, Michael Eric Dyson, Dick Gregory, Bebe Winans, the late Isaac Hayes and other black men as they travel to the birthplace of the blues to talk about and reflect on Black men who "stood" for something in the past and what it means as Black men continue to "stand" for something now.

'STAND' by Tavis Smiley

Please check out the trailer for the documentary 'Happily Ever After' after the jump.

'Happily Ever After' is a new documentary that will explore the impact that The Obamas have had on black marriage. It looks pretty interesting and worth checking out. I'm praying that the Obamas will make the aspect of marriage appear cool and maybe more people will start to take it serious and realize that it's okay for people to get married.

HAPPILY EVER AFTER: Will The Obamas Have A Positive Impact On Black Marriage

Now, maybe I'm wrong for this, but I find this segment to offensive. Maybe it's the way Kyra was saying "Swagga," I don't know maybe I'm being overly sensitive today, but I hate that they had to use T.J. for such an idiotic segment. Now don't get me wrong I could watch T.J. read the phone (the man is heavenly), but let's get real. This segment was stupid or maybe the execution was stupid either way there's another word being deleted from the 'Hip' dictionary. Once CNN starts using terms like swagga and bling you can no longer use the word and think you're cool.
Now this is change I can believe in.

Via BlackAmericaWeb.com:

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration joined a federal judge Wednesday in urging Congress to end a racial disparity by equalizing prison sentences for dealing and using crack versus powdered cocaine.

"Jails are loaded with people who look like me," U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, an African-American, told a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing.

Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said the administration believes Congress' goal "should be to completely eliminate the disparity" between the two forms of cocaine. "A growing number of citizens view it as fundamentally unfair," Breuer testified.

It takes 100 times more powdered cocaine than crack cocaine to trigger the same harsh mandatory minimum sentences.

Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat who chairs the subcommittee, said, "Under current law, mere possession of five grams of crack - the weight of five packets of sweetener - carries the same sentence as distribution of half a kilogram of powder or 500 packets of sweetener."

Durbin said more than 81 percent of those convicted for crack offenses in 2007 were African-American, although only about 25 percent of crack cocaine users are African Americans.

Congress enacted the disparity during an epidemic of crack cocaine in the 1980s, but the senator said lawmakers erred in assuming that violence would be greater among those using crack.

Breuer said the best way to deal with violence is to severely punish anyone who commits a violent offense, regardless of the drug involved.

"This administration believes our criminal laws should be tough, smart, fair," Breuer said, but also should "promote public trust and confidence in the criminal justice system."

Walton said, "We were mistaken" to enact the disparity. "There's no greater violence in cases before me."

Testifying on behalf of the Judicial Conference of the United States, the policy-making arm of the federal judiciary, Walton added that jurors have expressed an unwillingness to serve in crack cocaine cases because of the disparity.

President Barack Obama had called for such a change while campaigning for the White House.

Breuer said the government should focus on punishing drug trafficking networks, like the cartels wreaking havoc in Mexico, and those whose crimes include acts of violence.

The Obama administration is also seeking to increase drug treatment, as well as rehabilitation programs for felons after they're released from prison.

Miami's police chief, John Timoney, also favored ending the disparity, commenting, "It's the same drug. It's just manufactured differently."

Cedric Parker, of Alton, Ill., said his sister, Eugenia Jennings, is serving nearly 22 years for trading crack cocaine for designer clothes. If she had been trading powder cocaine, the sentence would have been less than half of the time.

"She would be getting ready to come home, probably already in the halfway house. But, because she was sentenced for crack cocaine she will not be released from prison until 2019," Parker testified.

While politicians often support laws lengthening prison terms for various crimes, it is rarer to try to reduce sentences, in part out of concern they may appear soft on crime. But recently, some states have been moving on their own to temper long-standing "get tough" laws.

In New York last month, state leaders reached an agreement to repeal the last vestiges of the Rockefeller drug laws, once seen as the harshest in the nation. Kentucky enacted changes that would put more addicts in treatment, and fewer behind bars.

The Justice Department is working on recommendations for a new set of sentences for cocaine, and Breuer urged Congress to overhaul the current law, written in 1986 at the height of public concern about crack use.

Since then, Breuer argued, prosecutors' views of crack cocaine have evolved to a more "refined understanding" of crack and powdered cocaine usage.

He also suggested that until such changes are made, federal prosecutors may encourage judges to use their discretion to depart from the current sentencing guidelines. Such departures are rare in the federal courts.
I found this article at Eurweb.com and I thought it was so fascinating based upon it's historical significance that I decided to share it here. I consider myself to be a student of history and anything of a historical nature is something I will always eat up. I just love learning. Don't You?

Via EURWEB.com:

In the wake of the claims of Tiger Woods and the election of a mixed race but Black president, a question has been raised in black internet chat rooms around the country as to whether there is a legal or biological definition of who is black

Actually, there is no law operable today which defines what percentage of “black blood” makes one black. The oft-repeated notion that one drop of black blood makes one black is a cultural definition which has neither a legal nor biological foundation.

The history of the notion can be traced to slavery and the period right after slavery called Reconstruction. Originally, in a bid to stop slaves who had been fathered by white slave owners and overseers from claiming freedom, property rights or possible inheritance, several Southern sates passed laws that in effect defined a black person as anyone with any “discernible” amount of “colored” or “African” blood.

But after slavery ended in 1865, these laws began to either die a natural death or were actually repealed during Reconstruction. The controversy which brought the race definition issue back up again was the infamous 1896 U.S. Supreme Court “separate but equal” decision in Plessy v. Ferguson.

Our high school history classes and Black History Month presentations have given us a distorted idea of who Plessy was and what he was about. We have generally been led to believe that Plessy was a black man arguing that blacks should be allowed the same accommodations as whites. This is not true. Plessy was actually a light skinned black man arguing that “he” should be given the same accommodations as whites because he had “7/8 Caucasian and only 1/8 African” blood. Thus, he argued that he should not be treated as “black” under an 1890 Louisiana law requiring blacks and whites be seated in separate railway cars.

It was the Supreme Court which largely ignored Plessy’s “I am not a negro” argument and told him if he did not think he was black he would have to go back to Louisiana and argue that issue on the state level. The Court then went forward and assumed Plessy to be black and rendered its decision saying a state was within its rights to mandate separate accommodations for blacks in order to keep the races apart.

Thus, the net result of the Plessy v. Ferguson decision was two-fold: It legalized the racist “separate but equal” doctrine AND it left an attitude or mood within the nation that the highest court in the land considered all “blacks” – no matter how light in complexion or how absent of African features – to be black. This cultural attitude stuck. Although technically the Supreme Court never ruled on Plessy’s contention that he should be treated as a white man because he had been accepted as white in the Louisiana community in which he lived and because his “African blood was not discernible.”

Nevertheless, the ruling helped to foster the notion that the government considered you black if you had just one drop of “black blood.” But, down to this very day, there is no law operable defining what makes one black, or white for that matter. It is basically a socio-cultural attitude based in major measure on how a person looks.

Simply put, in America, if you “look” in anyway black, you “are” black. That is not law. That is not science. It just is – a practical reality. Thus Tiger Woods’ mother may be from Thailand and Tiger may object to being called black. But it does not make a practical difference.

Further, it may be too late in history as well as potentially dangerous to be tampering with the socio-cultural definition of blackness even though the definition is a product of slavery. When the Census Bureau decided a few years ago to include a category called “mixed race” in the census, many people rightfully saw it as potentially divisive, asking what practical good does the “mixed race” category serve but to further divide people along largely artificial lines.

Finally, if one just has to ask the question, the real question should not be “who is black” but instead “who is white.” The scientific theories of Evolution and “Out of Africa” are very clear: There is only one “race” on the planet Earth and it had its origin in East Africa (around present-day Ethiopia) and then spread to all other parts of the world. Adapting to environmental conditions such as the degree of sunlight and developing in relative isolation, some groups evolved lighter skins and others evolved darker skins.

Thus technically every person on the planet – from the darkest skinned person in the Congo to the lightest skinned person in Sweden – is of African ancestry. In other words, like Plessy, we all have a degree of “African blood” whether “discernible” or not.

Therefore the answer to the question above is YOU decide if you are Black enough and whether you realize it or not that gives you tremendous power.

I for one have never been a fan of People's 'Most Beautiful' list because I think beauty is subjective and there is no such thing as most beautiful especially when it comes to a celebrity because if you did away with these people's glam squad they would be no different than regular average people. Now with that being said, I have to admit a little smile formed on my face when I heard FLOTUS Michelle Obama was featured on the list. I love the fact that Michelle represents us so well and she shows the true grace and dignity of most black women. She most accurately represent the black women I know.

Via Eurweb:

Michelle Obama has made People magazine's new list of 100 most beautiful people, joining other first-timers Robert Pattinson and Kristin Stewart of "Twilight," Nick and Joe Jonas of the Jonas Brothers and "Slumdog Millionaire" star Dev Patel.

In the annual issue due on newsstands Friday, the First Lady said, "I had a father and a brother who thought I was beautiful, and they made me feel that way every single day. I grew up with very strong male role models who thought I was smart and fast and funny, so I heard that a lot. I know that there are many young girls who don't hear it. But I was fortunate."

Also included in a "Barack's Beauties" section were White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and others.

Breast cancer survivor Christina Applegate, the 37-year-old star of ABC's "Samantha Who?," appears on the issue's cover. Also making the list this year are ol' standbys George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and Halle Berry.

In other Michelle Obama news, the FLOTUS proved to be a very profitable cover girl for magazines such as Vogue.

STILL STRONG: Michelle Obama’s newsstand appeal translated into above average sales for Vogue this spring. The March issue, where the First Lady wore clothes she handpicked from J. Crew and Jason Wu, sold 560,000 copies on the newsstand, just edging out their most recent best-selling issue on the newsstand in September 2008, which hit 559,000 copies. The March results trounced last year’s newsstand sales: Drew Barrymore’s cover turn sold 397,000 copies. The First Lady has been featured on the covers of Ladies Home Journal, More, Ebony, People and Us Weekly, however sales for those titles have varied. (According to Advertising Age, sales for the September issue of Ladies Home Journal with both her and husband President Barack Obama on the cover were 21 percent smaller than the year prior.) Obama is also featured on the April issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, along with Oprah Winfrey, and the May issue of Essence with her mother, Marian Robinson. (Source)

Apr 29, 2009

If this isn't the most highly anticipated new album of the year I don't know what is. I don't know of anyone more excited than me to see Maxwell back on the scene. All these faux singers should really be afraid because we finally have a singer in the building.

Man, I have always said the day the music died for me is the day Luther Vandross died. I'm glad there is someone on the scene that can still make me a believer. Now let the countdown to the release of Black Summer's Night in July begin. Hopefully the record label will get a clue and try to bump this album up since they are always bumping people's albums back.

Oh, and for all those Essence Music festival people remember Maxwell is one of the headliners this year. He will be performing on Saturday night. So make sure to go to ticketmaster.com to get your tickets. He, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly and Anita Baker would be the only reasons for me to show up. I really appreciate good music.
Via AJC.com:

Renowned artist Ernie Barnes, a former pro football player who switched to painting full time after his sports career ended, has died, according to published reports quoting his longtime personal assistant.

The assistant, Luz Rodriguez, told dailynews.com in Los Angeles that Barnes, 70, died Monday night at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.

Barnes played for the Denver Broncos in 1964 and 1965, earning $13,500 as a starting guard. Ever since he was boy in Durham, N.C., he was interested in drawing and he was an art major at North Carolina Central.

As a Bronco, Barnes each week would sketch the defensive lineman who would be across from him in that Sunday's game.

"The drawings would help me understand the man I would be facing, " he said in a 1984 article that appeared in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Barnes sold the drawings to teammates and friends for as little as $30.

While on the playing field, Barnes said he was studying the human form and developing an eye for capturing the drama of sports.

He left the Broncos, played briefly in Canada, broke an ankle and retired. Several months later he attended an American Football League owners' meeting and was named the league's official artist, but when Al Davis became commissioner a few weeks later, Barnes was told there was no money for an official artist.

Later, New York Jets owner Sonny Werblin became Barnes' patron for a year, and at the end of the year Werblin sponsored a New York show for Barnes. Every painting sold. Werblin told Barnes he was on his own.

Barnes moved to Los Angeles and began studying art history and painting.

" I always figured what I liked, other people would like. I painted within myself, from my own experience."

In a 1995 interview with the AJC, he said, "The gift that athletics gave me was an enhancement of my sensory perceptions and an understanding of what the body feels like in movement." Barnes added. "In a way, football was an advanced art class for the study of human anatomy."

His paintings, now worth thousands of dollars, became gallery favorites and were purchased by Hollywood stars, professional sports team owners and singers such as Marvin Gaye and Sammy Davis Jr.

"Sugar Shack," the painting he became famous for when it was featured repeatedly on the '70s sitcom "Good Times," was purchased for $75,000 from the Marvin Gaye estate by comedian Eddie Murphy.

Barnes was the official artist for the Olympic Games in Los Angeles, and he was commissioned to do six original paintings for Olympic posters.


Apr 28, 2009

WOW!!!!!!  This is beyond major.  This means that if Al Franken is declared the winner in Minnesota this would give the Democrats the magical number of 60 which would make the senate filibuster proof.  I can just see Rush Limbaugh's head exploding as we speak.  This is incredible.  I honestly didn't see Specter switiching over.  I am a little leery of this personally, but when it comes politics you never know what can happen.
Via CNN.com:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Veteran Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter said Tuesday that he switched from the Republican to the Democratic Party.

know I'm disappointing many of my colleagues," he said at a news conference. "The disappointment runs in both directions.

"I'm putting principle at the top of the list," he added.

When asked how and when he made the decision, Specter said, "the decision has been reached as I have traveled the state [Pennsylvania] in the last several months. Specifically, I got my home poll results last Friday ... and consulted with my campaign managers and had a long discussion. ... I came to a decision over this past weekend."

The Specter party switch would give Democrats a filibuster-proof Senate majority of 60 seats if Al Franken holds his current lead in the disputed Minnesota Senate race.

"Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right," Specter said in a statement posted by his office on PoliticsPA.com.

"Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans."

Specter, a five-term Senate veteran, was greeted by a loud, sustained round of applause by dozens of constituents outside his Washington office shortly after the news broke.

"I don't have to say anything to them," a smiling Specter said. "They've said it to me."

President Obama called Specter shortly after learning the news during his daily economic briefing in the Oval Office on Tuesday morning, according to a senior administration official.

"You have my full support, and we're thrilled to have you," Obama told Specter.

Jubilant Senate Democrats also welcomed the news.

"Sen. Specter and I have had a long dialogue about his place in an evolving Republican party," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said in a written statement.

"We have not always agreed on every issue, but [he] has shown a willingness to work in a bipartisan manner, put people over party and do what is right for Pennsylvanians and all Americans."

Reid called Specter a "man of honor and integrity" who would be welcome in the Democratic caucus.

One key Senate Democrat warned that reaching the 60-vote mark would not automatically ensure a Democratic victory on every major issue.

"It's great news," North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad said. But it means "a lot less" than some people think.

"The Democratic caucus is not homogenous. [There is a] lot of disagreement in the Democratic caucus, so this idea that it's some great watershed event ... I don't think so."

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele ripped Specter, calling him a Republican in name only who was out of step with the rest of the party because of his "left-wing voting record."

"Some in the Republican Party are happy about this. I am not," Steele said in a written statement. "Let's be honest --Sen. Specter didn't leave the GOP based on principles of any kind. He left to further his personal political interests because he knew that he was going to lose a Republican primary due to his left-wing voting record."

Steele said Republicans "look forward to beating Sen. Specter in 2010, assuming the Democrats don't do it first."

Specter was expected to face a very tough primary challenge in 2010 from former Rep. Pat Toomey, who nearly defeated Specter in the Pennsylvania GOP Senate primary in 2004.

A Quinnipiac University survey of registered Pennsylvania voters released last month showed Specter trailing the more conservative Toomey in a hypothetical primary matchup, 41 to 27 percent.

A separate Franklin & Marshall survey showed Specter leading Toomey 33 to 18 percent. Another 42 percent, however, were undecided.

More than half of the Republicans polled in the Franklin & Marshall survey said they would prefer to see someone new in the Senate.

Numerous Republicans are angry with Specter over his recent vote in support of President Obama's $787 billion stimulus plan.

Specter, one of only three GOP senators to vote for the measure, has been part of a dwindling group of GOP moderates from the northeastern part of the country.

The 79-year-old former Philadelphia district attorney won his first of five Senate terms in 1980. He has been a leading Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee for much of the past two decades, serving as its chairman from 2005 to 2007.

Specter served on the Warren Commission, which investigated the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy. He has survived bouts with cancer three times, most recently undergoing chemotherapy for Hodgkin's disease in 2005.


Today is Equal Pay Day.  So in honor of this day I wanted to post this article that I saw at Diversityinc.com.  This article is by Gail Zoppo.

More women are getting college degrees than men these days, but they still aren't being paid as much. In 2008, 29.4 million women and 28.4 million men ages 25 and older held bachelor's degrees or higher, according to just-released data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Women had a larger share of high-school diplomas, as well as associate and master's degrees.


But why are educational gains not translating into pay equity for college-educated, full-time working women? What's the solution?


According to Washington, D.C.-based women's-rights group American Association of University Women (AAUW), a typical college-educated woman 25 years and older working full time earns $50,600 a year (versus $70,800 for college-educated male workers 25 years and older).

Today marks Equal Pay Day, a reminder that your daughters, wives, sisters and mothers must work from January 2008 through April 2009 to earn what their male counterparts earned last year. With rising unemployment rates and more women taking on the "breadwinner" role, it's important that the Equal Pay Act of 1963 promise of "equal pay for equal work" be provided for everyone. The reality: Working families in the United States lose about $200 billion of income annually to the gender-wage gap, reports AAUW.

"Our analysis is quite disturbing," said AAUW Executive Director Linda D. Hallman. "This is just one of the reasons why we're urging the Senate to join the House and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act."

Although the Obama administration has already signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to help end wage discrimination, the pending Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 182/H.R. 12) is still awaiting passage from the Senate. (It passed the House by a strong bipartisan vote--256-163--in January 2009.) The measure will update the 45-year-old Equal Pay Act by strengthening incentives to prevent pay discrimination. Specifically, it would:

·         Close a loophole in affirmative defenses for employers, clarifying acceptable reasons for differences in pay

·         Clarify the establishment provision under the Equal Pay Act, which would allow for reasonable comparisons between employees within defined geographical areas to determine fair wages. For more on the Paycheck Fairness Act, click here

This is important because pay disparities, the AAUW found, vary significantly from state to state.

The narrowest wage gaps are found in the District of Columbia, Vermont and California; full-time female workers there earn about 85 percent as much as their male counterparts.

Where are the widest pay gaps found? Wyoming (women earn 62 percent of what men make), West Virginia (65 percent) and North Dakota (66 percent). For a full state-by-state gender pay-gap report from AAUW, click here.

To show your support of the Paycheck Fairness Act, click here.

DNC Chairman Tim Kaine put out a statement on Equal Pay Day.  Here is what he had to say:

Washington, DC- Today Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine issued the following statement in recognition of Equal Pay Day:


"Today we highlight the important struggle of American women to earn equal pay for equal work.  Women first entered the work force en masse during World War II and now comprise almost half of all American workers. They are lawyers and retailers and entrepreneurs – and women are projected to account for 49% of the increase in total labor force growth between 2006 and 2016.  Despite this remarkable progress, a woman still earns only 78 cents for every dollar a man earns; a disparity that hurts not only women, but all American families. 


"As we work to turn the page on the current economic crisis, it's more important then ever that our economy works for everyone and protections are in place to prevent pay discrimination.  That's why President Obama and the Democratic Congress have made equal pay a top priority.  The first bill President Obama signed, just a week after taking office, was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a law that makes it illegal for men and women to be paid differently for the same job.


"While we have come a long way on this important issue, we realize there is still more progress to be made.  So today we will celebrate the contributions women have made to the American workforce and pledge our continued support as we work to close the pay gap."



WASHINGTON - Blacks and Hispanics lag behind whites for higher-paying jobs at the largest rates in about a decade as employment opportunities dwindled during the nation's economic woes and housing slump.

Census data released Monday show an increasingly educated U.S. work force whose earnings didn't always seem to match up with its potential.

"The lesson of most economic downturns is minorities are the last hired, first fired. They lose jobs more quickly, and they will be the last to recover," said Roderick Harrison, a demographer at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a think tank that studies minority issues.

Among those 25 and older last year, 86.6 percent had graduated from high school, up from 85.7 percent the previous year. It was the biggest increase since 1992, with record percentages of people earning diplomas across all racial and Hispanic categories.

The share of people with at least a bachelor's degree from college also increased, from 28.7 percent to 29.4 percent, continuing a decades-long rise.

Blacks overall slightly narrowed the gap in 2007 with whites in average salary, but the pay disparity widened for blacks with college degrees. Blacks who had a four-year bachelor's degree earned $46,502, or about 78 percent of the salary for comparably educated whites.

It was the biggest disparity between professional blacks and whites since the 77 percent rate in 2001, when the U.S. fell into a recession due to the collapse of the tech bubble and the Sept. 11 terror attacks. College-educated blacks had previously earned as much as 83 percent of the average salary of whites in 2005.

Hispanics saw similar trends.

Those with high school diplomas earned about 83 cents for whites' every dollar, largely unchanged from a decade ago. But Hispanics with bachelor's degrees had an average salary of $44,696, amounting to roughly 75 cents for every dollar made by whites — the lowest ratio in more than a decade — after hitting a peak of 87 cents to every dollar in 2000.

The numbers highlight some of the barriers for minorities, said Mark Mather, a demographer for the Population Reference Bureau. He said the pay disparities could widen further since blacks and Hispanics tend to be relative latecomers to the professional world and thus more vulnerable to layoffs in the current recession.

In 2008, a record number of workers filed federal job discrimination complaints, with allegations of race discrimination making up the greatest portion at more than one-third of the 95,000 total claims.

"It's clear education alone is not the full reason for the pay gaps," said Sarah Crissey, a housing and economic statistician for the Census Bureau.

Other findings:

  • For the second year in a row, the number of women with bachelor's degrees exceeded that of men. The share of women with the degrees — 29 percent — was also nearly equal to men. Still, women with at least a bachelor's degree earned an average salary of $43,127, about 60 percent the amount earned by comparably educated men.
  • About 92 percent of white adults had at least a high school diploma, compared with 89 percent for Asians, 83 percent for blacks and 62 percent for Hispanics.
  • Black adults in recent years narrowed the gap with white adults in earning high school diplomas, but the gap has generally widened for college degrees. About 33 percent of white adults had at least a bachelor's degree in 2008, compared with 20 percent for blacks and 13 percent for Hispanics.
  • More than half, or 53 percent, of Asian adults had at least a bachelor's degree.
  • Workers with a high-school degree earned an average of $31,286 in 2007, while those with a bachelor's degree earned an average of $57,181.
  • Foreign-born U.S. residents, which include illegal immigrants, were three times more likely than native-born to lack a high school diploma.

The census data came from the Current Population Survey as of April 2008. The figures for "white" refer to those who are not of Hispanic ethnicity. Since the government considers "Hispanic" an ethnicity and not a race, people of Hispanic descent can be of any race.


Via AJC.com:

Apr 27, 2009

Via AJC.com:

The Johnsons recalled the crash Friday afternoon in Tracie's room at Grady Memorial Hospital. She had just finished a therapy session on her two broken legs and managed to smile while summoning nurses to bring pain medication. The fractured bones have required surgically implanted rods. Her hip has a pin. Her heel is fractured. Her collarbone broken. A smiley face balloon and one wishing "Get Well" floated behind her bed.

The Johnsons met in elementary school and have been together since going to see the movie "Endless Love" in 1981. They waited to get married until after they finished college, her at Spelman and him at Georgia State.

On Friday, the couple conferred with a stream of people about the next stage of their lives — including home health-care aides, rehab specialists and investigators from the district attorney's office. In between, the Johnsons talked about the events of Easter Sunday.

Tracie agreed to drive home the car of Carolyn Waller, her friend and the pastor's wife, because the Wallers were headed to Macon on a family emergency involving a car accident.

Just ahead of Tracie, in the Johnsons' Lexus SUV, her husband, Morris, noticed a commotion from the corner of his eye.

Police say the BMW switched lanes into the Carters' Mercedes, forcing the two cars to spin across the median and into oncoming lanes.

"I didn't see the bump but I saw the cars entering the median," Morris recalled. "My concern was to get by it. I was hoping she'd get by it."

He glanced in the rear-view mirror. Tracie was farther back than he thought.

He heard an explosion.

Tracie never saw the Mercedes until the end.

"It was instantaneous," she said. "There was nothing there and then it was there. Boom. It was just there coming up out of the median."

The Mercedes slammed into the front of the Beetle, almost fusing the two vehicles together, Morris recalled. The Mercedes was ablaze, and Tracie's door would not open as he and bystanders feverishly tried to get in.

"I felt the heat," she said. "I had to lie down on the passenger side to get away from it. I knew my legs were broken. They were just hanging there."

Rescue crews finally pulled Tracie to safety. Her daughter, however, never had a chance, Morris said. She died from severe trauma to her midsection, where the lapbelt was secured.

Asked about the BMW driver, Tracie Johnson closed her eyes.

Police say Aimee Michael fled the scene, hid the damaged car in a garage and finally told her family what had happened after two days. Authorities say the car had been repaired.

"The lack of compassion of leaving the scene and having parents that don't tell you to do the right thing and turn yourself in, that's what's so disheartening," Tracie Johnson said. "It's basic morality.

"I'll pray for that family."

I'm glad people are finally taking the plight of the Sudanese people serious.  I think these congresswomen and men should be applauded for taking a stand (finally).  I hope more people join the cause and help end the genocide that is going on in Darfur.

Five members of Congress and two Darfur activists had themselves arrested Monday outside the Sudanese embassy in Washington, D.C., to draw attention to the continuing humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan.

Uniformed Secret Service officers put plastic handcuffs on Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), John Lewis (D-Ga.), Donna Edwards (D-Md.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), and Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), along with Save Darfur Coalition president Jerry Fowler and Enough Project co-founder John Prendergast after the group stepped behind yellow police tape in front of the embassy.

Before being taken into custody, each of the arrestees addressed a small crowd of reporters and other activists who had been tipped off about the event. Each speaker called on the Obama administration to do more to stop the conflict in Sudan.

"Almost a half a million people have been killed," said Rep. Lewis before crossing the line. "This terror, this violence must end and it must end soon."

After their statements, the gang lifted up the police tape and waited patiently (and quietly) for the police to arrest them. An officer issued three warnings before the cuffs came out. Officers frisked each of the lawbreakers and went through their pockets before stuffing them in a paddywagon and a cruiser.

The group met Monday morning at the Religious Action Center before marching the short distance to the embassy. As they went over their plan, some of the members put their wallets and other personal belongings into plastic bags. Ellison took the extra step of removing his shoelaces. The Huffington Post asked Ellison if he'd been arrested before.

"Not on something like this," he said.

The protesters had hired criminal defense attorney Laura Rhodes to get them out from behind bars. Rhodes seemed pretty confident in her game.


Via MSNBC.com


Ex-NBA star Jayson Williams was acting violent and threatening to take his own life in a Battery Park City hotel room, law enforcement officials said.

Emergency service officers tried to enter the room at the Embassy Suites hotel several times to subdue him.

One officials said a "Taser-like" device was used to get Williams under control.

Investigators said prescription drugs like Ambien were found and a suicidal statements were made during the short standoff.

One official said some writings were found inside the room as well.

Williams, 41, is a former Nets star who faced criminal charges in 2002 after shooting his driver Gus Christofi at his New Jersey estate.  He is set to face a re-trial in connection with that case.

After he was taken into custody, police said they brought Williams to St. Vincent's Medical Center for psychiatric observation.

Wow, who knew Iowa would beat California to the punch. I never figure Iowa to be a progressive state that would legalize gay marriage. Very interesting. I wonder what Miss California has to say...LOL!!! I guess this makes the score Perez - 3 and Miss California - 47.

DES MOINES, Iowa – The only gay couple who were legally wed in Iowa are looking forward to getting some company. Iowa county clerks were to begin processing same-sex marriage applications Monday, following the Iowa Supreme Court's ruling on April 3 that legalized same sex-marriage. Iowa typically requires a three-day waiting period for marriages, but judges can waive that and allow immediate weddings.

Sean and Tim McQuillan of Ames took advantage of that when they persuaded a judge to grant them a waiver and marry immediately Aug. 31, 2007, during a few hours when gay marriage was legal in Iowa. A Polk County District Court judge who initially overturned the same-sex marriage ban quickly stayed his ruling pending an appeal.

"It's been a little bit awkward ... us being the only ones," Sean McQuillan said. "It's going to be really great when everyone else gets the same chance at equality that we've had for the last year-and-a-half."

Iowa becomes the third state where same-sex couples can legally wed, following Massachusetts and Iowa. Vermont has legalized gay marriage effective Sept. 1. Gay marriage was legal in California for five months, until a state referendum to ban it passed last fall.

Volunteers were expected to be handing out bouquets to newly married couples Monday in five of Iowa's larger cities.

Maryfrances Evans, 46, and Stephanie McFarland, 39, plan to hold their ceremony Friday, performed by the same judge who finalized the adoptions of their two daughters, now 5 and 3.

"It's all about me having the legal right to protect my family, and it's about my daughters being able to grow up knowing that their family is absolutely as valid as any other family," said Evans, who lives in the Des Moines suburb of Urbandale.

The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law estimated Iowa had 5,800 same-sex couples in 2005, and said U.S. Census figures reported about 19 percent of gay and lesbian couples in Iowa were raising children.

The institute predicted in an April 2008 study that more than 2,900 of Iowa's same-sex couples would marry in the first three years if gay marriage became legal. Based on experiences of other states that allow same-sex union, the institute estimated about 55,000 gay and lesbian couples would travel to Iowa to marry during that period.

Just what tangible benefits those couples will gain from marriage remains uncertain.

Gay marriage advocates said some advantages are clear, including shared employer benefits, streamlined life and other insurance policies, and the ability for couples to make health care and end-of-life decisions for one another.

Evans noted that if she died before her Friday wedding, McFarland would have to pay taxes on their house and whatever else she inherited. Once they are married, "there will be a clear-cut legal line connecting Stephanie and I, period."

Sharon Malheiro, a Des Moines attorney and board chairwoman of One Iowa, a gay advocacy organization, said other issues may require legal untangling, such as the ability to file wrongful death lawsuits or apply for workers compensation benefits if a same-sex spouse is killed or injured.

She said same-sex couples probably will be denied some benefits under the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law barring federal recognition of same-sex marriages. For example, spouses in same-sex marriages may not be able to pay health care plan premiums with pretax federal dollars and may not get reimbursed for their spouse's expenditures from flexible spending accounts for health care.

While health care decision-making rights are anticipated under Iowa's ruling, Malheiro noted that she and her fiance will continue to carry their legal records with them when they travel outside the state, and she advises her clients to do the same.

Iowa state agencies are still trying to determine how their programs will be affected.

Department of Human Services officials said there won't be noticeable changes in the child welfare system, which screens prospective parents by safety issues, not sexual preference. Unmarried people can already adopt or foster children so long as they have the proper training.

Other states have different requirements for adoption, and many foreign governments and international adoption agencies refuse to place children with same-sex married couples.

Human Services spokesman Roger Munns said the marriage ruling's impact is less clear on programs such as Medicaid, food assistance and subsidized health care, since those programs are federally funded.

The Iowa Department of Revenue has generally followed federal guidelines on levying taxes. Spokeswoman Renee Mulvey said officials are reviewing the state court's decision.

Public health officials are reworking paperwork to give couples options beyond the tradition "bride" and "groom." Agency spokeswoman Polly Carver-Kimm said officials are considering other changes, including the designations of "mother" and "father" on birth certificates.

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States has declared a public health emergency as officials confirmed 20 cases of swine flu in five US states and warned that they expected more in the coming days.

President Barack Obama is monitoring the spreading virus and has reviewed US capabilities to counter the deadly flu outbreak, which has killed more than 103 people in Mexico, White House homeland security advisor John Brennan told reporters.

Obama has ordered a "very active, aggressive, and coordinated response," Brennan said.

Richard Besser, the acting head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told a White House press conference that there were eight confirmed US cases in New York City, seven in California, two in Texas, two in Kansas and one in Ohio.

"As we look for cases of swine flu, we are seeing more cases of swine flu. We expect to see more cases of swine flu," said Besser.

"We're responding aggressively to try and learn more about this outbreak" and to implement measures to control its spread, he added.

"We've ramped up our surveillance around the country to try and understand better what is the scope, what is the magnitude of this outbreak."

Although there the government has not issued a warning against travel to Mexico, Besser said this could change "based on what the situation warrants".

Homeland Security Department Secretary Janet Napolitano said the US government would officially declare a public health emergency in response to the outbreak, adding that the declaration was "standard operating procedure."

The move allows government agencies to free up federal, state and local agencies and their resources in preventing the spread of the virus.

The declaration also allows officials to use medication and diagnostic tests and releases funds to purchase additional antiviral medication.

"All persons entering the United States from a location of human infection of swine flu will be processed through all appropriate CDC protocols," she added.

Suspected swine flu cases were being tested in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, after the new strain appeared in Mexico last week.

Health officials in Canada have reported a total of six confirmed cases of the potentially deadly virus.

World Health Organization (WHO) officials warned that the new strain, apparently born when human and avian flu viruses infected pigs and became mixed, could further mutate.

US immigration officials are looking for people with flu symptoms, said Napolitano.

"Travelers who do present with symptoms, if and when encountered, will be isolated per established rules," she said.

"They will be provided both with personal protective equipment and we'll continue to emphasize universal hand washing."

Similar emergency health declarations were issued for floods in recent months in the US states of Minnesota and North Dakota and President Barack Obama's inauguration in January.

Napolitano said the government intends to release a quarter of the national stockpile of 50 million doses of the antiviral drug Tamiflu and Relenza. The drugs would be made available to all US states, especially those with confirmed cases of the flu.

The Pentagon, she added, "has procured and strategically pre-positioned" seven million treatment courses of the flu drug Tamiflu.

Meanwhile the Chinese government banned hog and pork product imports from Mexico and parts of the United States with immediate effect in a bid to prevent swine flu from entering China, the agriculture ministry and the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said in joint statement.

Imports from the US states of Texas, Kansas and California were affected by the move, according to the statement.

The disease cannot be transmitted by eating properly-cooked pork but the Philippines has already brought in a similar ban.


I wanted to post this aarticle because I'm pretty sure a lot of us can relate.

Via BlackAmericaWeb.com:

If you had told me the night I threw my husband out that I would ever let him into my bed again, I would have laughed at you. OK, probably not laughed. More like cried or cursed, or lobbed a vase—my primary activities at the time. Trust me: I had good reasons, the kind of lyin’/cheatin’/druggin’/drinkin’ reasons country songs are made of. But once the crockery stopped flying, I packed up, moved out and filed papers post-haste.

The relationship was rocky, but the split was easy. We’d been married just two years, had no children, no joint property. The divorce was uncontested, one of those D-I-Y jobs. Yet somehow, shortly after it was final, Walt (not his real name) and I were sleeping together again. How weird is that?

Not very, in fact. “A significant number of former spouses have sex with each other again—it’s quite common,” says marriage and family therapist Karen Gail Lewis, Ed.D., author of "With or Without a Man: Single Women Taking Control of Their Lives." What’s more, Lewis says, sex with your ex can actually be a liberating experience. “There’s the legal divorce, and there’s the emotional divorce, and they don’t usually happen at the same time,” she explains. “Having sex again can be a way to achieve that emotional divorce—or it can obstruct it.” (Worth mentioning are the times you should definitely skip ex sex: Hooking up with a partner who was abusive is out of the question, and reuniting in bed if you and your ex have kids can create some very sticky situations.)

To figure out if intimacy with your ex will be positive or negative, you need to check why you’re doing it—and how often you’re having it. A few liaisons to gain closure can generally be OK, say the experts. “But sleep with your former spouse more than three or five times, you’re perpetuating the emotional connection,” says Lewis. “And if you can’t let go, you can’t move on. So the most important thing to do is ask yourself why you’re doing it.”

Delusion, anger and fear tend to factor into the wrong reasons. If you’re caught up in what Lewis calls “the fantasy of return” — sleeping with your former spouse because you mistakenly believe you two belong together — you could be in trouble. Also inappropriate — not to mention nasty — is the classic woo-and-drop revenge routine: When the injured party (i.e., the one who got left, particularly for another man/woman) rekindles the flame in order to turn around and do the dumping. Finally, there’s the dread of getting back into the market—intimacy with the devil you know to avoid all the devils you don’t know lurking on the dating scene.

None of those issues led me to give Walt another whirl. No way did I want him back. And even though he had been unfaithful, I’d hated him for it so intensely for about a year, the anger had burned off. As to being “out there” again, I didn’t have much choice. A fixture on the L.A. music scene at the time, going to clubs was an occupational hazard, and I’d had two short-lived romances, one of them sexual, before Walt and I hooked up again.

For me, it was simply that: Free of the problems that plagued our life as husband and wife, I could see him objectively again. I was drawn to his wit and charm, knowing I didn’t have to contend with what I’ll diplomatically call “the other stuff.” (Nor did he. I can cop to being a handful myself!) .....

Click here to read the rest of this article.

Apr 26, 2009

Via CNN.com:

(CNN) -- The campus of Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia, was locked down for several hours Sunday morning after a former student shot two people in a dormitory and then shot himself, university and police officials said.

The former student entered Harkness Hall shortly before 1 a.m. by following a pizza deliveryman, said the university's president, Dr. William Harvey, at an afternoon news conference.

The former student shot the deliveryman and the night manager of the dorm, who came into the hall after he heard shots, Harvey explained. The man then shot himself.

No one was killed in the incident, which prompted the evacuation of the dorm and a lockdown of the campus, the president said.

The three wounded were taken to area hospitals, Harvey said. The dormitory night manager was treated and released, he said.

Hampton city police said they had the shooter in custody.

The motive for the shootings is not clear, university and law enforcement officials said.

Harvey praised the first-responders to the incident, saying their quick action likely averted further tragedy. He also lauded the school's system of text messages, e-mails and phone messages that warned students about the situation and the campus lockdown.

Hampton is about 70 miles southeast of Richmond, Virginia.

Check out Terrance Dean on Savvy Talk Radio today at 6 pm EST. Please call 718-664-6383 if you are interested in listening to the show and talking live with Terrance Dean. You can also listen to the show online at www.blogtalkradio.com/thesavvysista and participate in the live chatroom.

Apr 25, 2009

Today, actress extraordinaire Bea Arthur passed away. Ms. Arthur was known to most people as Dorothy from the "Golden Girls" and Maude from the show of the same name.
'Golden Girls' is still one of my favorite shows. I try to catch all the re-runs whenever I can.

Bea Arthur was 86 years old.

Apr 24, 2009

With recent statistics saying that over 70% of black women are not married, it look like some sistas have decided to take matters into their own hands. One of those sistas is a woman named Neenah from New Jersey. On her website www.52weeks2findhim.com she describes her experiment to find her Mr. Right as the following:

52 weeks 2 Find Him is a social experiment that focuses on a 43 year-old woman's journey to find her husband. It is an online documentary that is shaped by Neenah's actions and reactions, along with viewers' participation. What happens when a woman invites the world to become her dating coach? Each week, we invite you to tune-in and join-in by helping with Neenah's search, as she explores: the many methods of meeting eligible men, preparing for dates, and maintaining a healthy, romantic relationship.

Throughout the year, she will look to you, the web viewer, to provide direction, advice and support. Also, when you participate on her discussion board and with her online polls, you have a strong impact on how Neenah takes her next weekly step. The website will also give an account on how the viewers' interventions are impacting her search.

This website includes 5 minute weekly video episodes of Neenah's progression of finding her husband. Her daily blog about her quest, including triumphs, trials, fears and anticipation.

Also on this website, you'll meet Neenah's six friends who will be with her each step of the way. They will shed an interesting light on Neenah in a way she is unable to see or share about herself.

At the end of 52 weeks, if she hasn't found her life partner, she will take a full year off from pursuing relationships. For this executive, go-getter, the idea of sitting still for a year is like a death sentence. But always being opened to trying something new, Neenah will even acquiesce to the stillness to see what this new change of pace will bring. She is actually hoping it doesn't get to that point and is counting on the viewers' to help her meet her mate in the given time! If you, or you know someone who would be a great fit for Neenah and you want to set up a date, check out her "Him's" page to Request a Date.

Neenah is a business executive who lives in New Jersey. She's never been married, nor does she have any children. Neenah is a practical, yet adventurous woman, who celebrates tradition and at the same time loves to explore the new and unknown. Neenah doesn't consider herself a desperate single, but she does understand that at this point in her life, the odds of having a family of her own are against her. Where conventional methods have failed, Neenah decided to try a new approach to finding a husband.

If you enjoy tuning in each day to the morning shows to help plan a stranger's wedding on programs like Regis & Kelly or Good Morning America. You are the perfect person to help prepare a single woman for marriage. Who hasn't offered dating advice or wanted to become a matchmaker for a willing soul? Now, 52 Weeks… provides the viewer with the opportunity to help someone who is actually seeking them out.

Now, I'm pretty sure it's easy for a lot of women to write Neenah off as desperate, but is she really desperate or is she just taking her destiny into her own hands. I mean let's be real sistas we are talking about over 70% of black women not married. I'm not saying that all these women want to get marry but I'm pretty sure there is a large percentage of them that is craving that idea. Now, I'm one of those people who fully embrace my singleness, but I know a lot women who cringe at the thought of being single for an extended period of time. So what do we do about this problem? Is Neenah's actions the act of a desperate woman or is this a mark of a very savvy sista who saw a problem in her life and is willing to tackle the problem head on?

Tell what you think about Neenah and the fact that so many sistas are single?

Check out a video of Neenah describing herself.

The sexiness known as Idris Elba is enough to make me want to go see the movie. So, tell me do you plan on becoming obsessed with this movie when it hit theaters today? I plan on seeing it and I'll tell you how I feel about as soon as I get home from the movie theater.

Check out and extended movie trailer after the jump.

Photos courtesy of Mark Riding

Several pairs of eyes follow the girl as she pedals around the playground in an affluent suburb of Baltimore. But it isn't the redheaded fourth grader who seems to have moms and dads of the jungle gym nervous on this recent Saturday morning. It's the African-American man—six feet tall, bearded and wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt—watching the girl's every move. Approaching from behind, he grabs the back of her bicycle seat as she wobbles to a stop. "Nice riding," he says, as the fair-skinned girl turns to him, beaming. "Thanks, Daddy," she replies. The onlookers are clearly flummoxed.

As a black father and adopted white daughter, Mark Riding and Katie O'Dea-Smith are a sight at best surprising, and at worst so perplexing that people feel compelled to respond. Like the time at a Pocono Mountains flea market when Riding scolded Katie, attracting so many sharp glares that he and his wife, Terri, 37, and also African-American, thought "we might be lynched." And the time when well-intentioned shoppers followed Mark and Katie out of the mall to make sure she wasn't being kidnapped. Or when would-be heroes come up to Katie in the cereal aisle and ask, "Are you OK?"—even though Terri is standing right there.

Is it racism? The Ridings tend to think so, and it's hard to blame them. To shadow them for a day, as I recently did, is to feel the unease, notice the negative attention and realize that the same note of fear isn't in the air when they attend to their two biological children, who are 2 and 5 years old. It's fashionable to say that the election of Barack Obama has brought the dawn of a post-racial America. In the past few months alone, The Atlantic Monthly has declared "the end of white America," The Washington Post has profiled the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's struggle for relevance in a changing world, and National Public Radio has led discussions questioning the necessity of the annual Black History Month. Perhaps not surprising, most white and black Americans no longer cite racism as a major social problem, according to recent polls.

But the Ridings' experience runs counter to these popular notions of harmony. And adoption between races is particularly fraught. So-called transracial adoptions have surged since 1994, when the Multiethnic Placement Act reversed decades of outright racial matching by banning discrimination against adoptive families on the basis of race. But the growth has been all one-sided. The number of white families adopting outside their race is growing and is now in the thousands, while cases like Katie's—of a black family adopting a nonblack child—remain frozen at near zero.

Decades after the racial integration of offices, buses and water fountains, persistent double standards mean that African-American parents are still largely viewed with unease as caretakers of any children other than their own—or those they are paid to look after. As Yale historian Matthew Frye Jacobson has asked: "Why is it that in the United States, a white woman can have black children but a black woman cannot have white children?"

Click here to read the rest of this fascinating article.

Apr 23, 2009

Via AJC.com:

A Fulton County magistrate judge on Thursday denied bond for Aimee Michael, the young woman charged in an Easter Sunday hit-and-run wreck that left five people dead.

At an 11 a.m. first appearance hearing, Judge James Altman denied a request from Michael's attorney, W. Scott Smith, that Michael, 22, be granted bond. He scheduled her next court appearance for May 7.

Michael was charged with five counts of homicide by vehicle, one count of failure to maintain lane and one count of serious injury by vehicle, hit and run, police said.

Smith asked the judge to grant bond, with the provisions that Michael be under house arrest and wear an ankle monitor.

"If she had come forward, I probably would [agree]," Altman said, adding that Michael instead had "done absolutely nothing to fulfill her responsibility."

Fulton County police said Thursday that Michael was apparently on an errand to pick up cake and ice cream for her mother when she allegedly hit a Mercedes-Benz, starting a chain reaction wreck that ended with the Mercedes hitting another car head-on. Michael was picked up for questioning Wednesday night and was arrested and charged early Thursday.

"We had received many, many tips from various different ways, and we've been trying to follow up with all of them," Fulton County police detective Melissa Parker said at a 10 a.m. press conference. "I'm not sure how this particular tip came in, but I'm told it was an anonymous tip.

"The women that were brought here were Aimee Michael, her mother and her grandmother. I'm told that her mother had sent her on Easter out for some cake and ice cream," Parker said. "En route is when the collision occurred. She turned around, she went back home and she put the vehicle in the garage. Did not tell her mother. She told her mother that she did not feel well, had a headache, and went to her room. It is not normal for the mother or the grandmother to ever enter or exit the house through the garage."

Parker said Michael "didn't tell her family for a couple of days what had happened, and finally, she broke down and told her mother what had happened. To my knowledge, the rest of the family did not know for two days. After that, I'm told, they were aware."

Parker said she did not know why the family didn't come forward before police caught up with them on Wednesday.

Asked if other family members might face charges, Parker said, "right now, it's going to be up to the D.A.'s office what the additional charges may be. It's a possibility" that they could face charges.

Some early media reports erroneously stated that Michael's mother, Sheila Michael, was a principal at Northwood Elementary, a Fulton County school in Roswell. Sheila Michael, who has the same name as the principal but is not related to her, is a teacher at Cascade Elementary, an Atlanta public school.

Parker would not release any details on the repairs that had been made to the BMW or who made those repairs, saying that that information was a part of the ongoing investigation.

Michael was led handcuffed from the Fulton County police major crimes unit off Fulton Industrial Boulevard, where she was being questioned, around 5:15 a.m. Police had been questioning Michael and the two other women in an investigation of the April 12 hit-and-run wreck after they found the BMW they believe was involved in the crash.

An anonymous tip led police Wednesday to a home in the 3900 block of Ailey Avenue in south Fulton County, where the BMW was parked in the driveway. They later searched the home and confiscated the vehicle.

At 6:45 p.m., a plum-colored Ford Expedition pulled into the Walden Park subdivision. When the car went into the garage, three to four Fulton County police officers rushed in as a woman got out of the SUV. A Fulton County SWAT officer then closed the garage door.

Shortly after 7, police left the residence with the three women, who police said had agreed to be questioned.

None of the women was handcuffed but were led to police cars that carried them away.

The women were taken to the Fulton County police major crimes unit. At about 3:30 a.m. Thursday two of the women were released, while police continued to question Michael.

"I'm shocked," said neighbor Chandra Adams. "The neighborhood is banding together to find out what's going on in our neighborhood."

Adams said police first arrived at the Walden Park neighborhood around 10 a.m.

SWAT arrived at 3 p.m. and surrounded the home, Parker said.

"There were other identifying factors that allowed us to enter the house," Parker said.

Police went into the home, but found no one there, she said.

The car was impounded for further investigation.

Having set itself apart from other music events around the world by including three full days of Empowerment Seminars, the ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL can now confirm the final list of Seminar participants. This year’s 15th anniversary weekend-long celebration of music and empowerment is set for this July 3, 4 and 5 in New Orleans will include seminar participants Bishop T.D. Jakes, Steve Harvey, Bill Cosby, Roland Martin, Tom Joyner, Juanita Bynum and Rev. Al Sharpton. The Empowerment Seminars--which are free of charge--are open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis.

Beyond the daytime seminars, the annual event also features nightly musical performances. This year’s ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL performers include BeyoncĂ©, Maxwell, Anita Baker, Al Green, John Legend, Keri Hilson, Robin Thicke, Salt-N-Pepa, Ne-Yo, Raphael Saadiq, En Vogue, Eric Benet, Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars, Teena Marie, and more than 30 acts.

As in previous years, musical performances are slated for the New Orleans Superdome and Empowerment Seminars will take place at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The updated seminar list is below.

“As the ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL reaches its 15th anniversary, the Empowerment Seminars will commemorate this milestone with in-depth and timely programming to help advance the cultural discussion for Black America,” says Angela Burt-Murray, Editor-in-Chief, ESSENCE magazine. “Over three full days, ESSENCE will tackle women’s issues from the perspective of purposeful living; partner with CNN to explore ‘Black America’s State of the Union’; and celebrate spirituality with an all-star gospel tribute to Bishop T.D. Jakes.”

Friday, July 3

Opening Remarks: Angela Burt-Murray, ESSENCE Editor-in-Chief
ESSENCE Music Festival Welcome: Michelle Ebanks, ESSENCE Communications Inc. President
Host Remarks: Mikki Taylor, ESSENCE Beauty Editor & Cover Director
City Of New Orleans Welcome: Mayor C. Ray Nagin

Part I - Getting the Love You Deserve
Living An Authentic Life: Carla Harris
HIV/AIDS: Sheryl Lee Ralph
HIV in the Black Community: Marvelyn Brown, Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, Phill Wilson (Black AIDS Institute), Donna Richardson-Joyner, Dr. Celeste Watkins-Hayes
Getting The Love You Deserve: Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook
Image Versus Reality: Omarosa Manigault Stallworth, Lisa Wu Hartwell, NeNe Leakes, Sharon Quinn, Malinda Williams
Keynote Address: Juanita Bynum

Part II - The Steve Harvey's Love and Relationships Tour
"Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man": Steve Harvey Q&A
Black Men Unplugged: The Game, The Lies, The Truth: Ed Gordon, Finesse, Malik Yoba
My Message To Black Women On Getting The Love You Deserve: Steve Harvey

Saturday, July 4

Opening Remarks: Angela Burt-Murray
Louisiana State Welcome: Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu
Host Remarks: Roland Martin
Opening Remarks: Benjamin Todd Jealous, NAACP, National President and Chief Executive Office
Education: Bill Cosby
Politics - The Next Generation: Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA), Valerie Jarrett, Tom Joyner, Donna Brazile, Roland Martin
Keynote Address: Reverend Al Sharpton
Economy & Jobs: George Fraser
Finding Solutions: Stephen Stoute, Monique Greenwood, Carla Harris, George Fraser, Sheryl Hilliard Tucker
State of the Black Family: Judge Penny Brown Reynolds, Malaak Compton-Rock, Ed Gordon, Dr. Michael Lomax, Dr. Calvin Mackie
Performance: Donnie McClurkin
The Black Church: Roles and Responsibilities: Conversation with Donnie McClurkin and Roland Martin

Sunday, July 5

Opening Remarks: Angela Burt-Murray
Host Remarks: Steve Harvey
Performance: CeCe Winans (Co-Host)
Sermon & Dedication: Bishop Noel Jones
Performance: Tyronne Foster and the Arc Singers
Performance: Ledisi
Tribute: Greater St. Stephens Full Gospel Baptist Church: Bishop Paul S. Morton and Pastor Debra Morton
Performance: Marvin Sapp
Performance: Smokie Norful
Presentation: Mayor C. Ray Nagin Presents Bishop Jakes with Key to the City
Keynote Address: Bishop T.D. Jakes

A full list of participants can be found at www.essencemusicfestival.com. For additional information about ticket sales, accommodations and the latest news about the ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL, visit www.essencemusicfestival.com. General admission daily ticket prices are available from $51–$200 per person per night and weekend packages range from $153–$545 per person; Gold Circle tickets are $173; all plus applicable service charges. To purchase tickets, visit www.ticketmaster.com or call 800-277-1700.

The 2009 ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL is executive produced by Essence Festivals LLC and produced by Rehage Entertainment. Essence Festivals LLC is a division of Essence Communications Inc. (ECI). The 2009 Empowerment Seminars are produced by GeChar. The 2009 ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL sponsors include Presenting Sponsor Coca Cola; Major Sponsors: Covergirl Queen Collection, Ford, McDonald’s, Pantene Pro-V, U.S. Army and Walmart; and Official Sponsors: CNN, Coors Light, Mastercard, My Black is Beautiful, Southwest Airlines, TBS and TVOne.


About Essence Communications Inc.: Essence Communications Inc. (ECI) is the leading media and communications company dedicated to African-American women. With a multi-platform presence in publishing, live events, and online, the Essence brand is "Where Black Women Come First". The company's flagship publication, ESSENCE magazine, is the preeminent lifestyle magazine for African-American women; generating brand extensions such as the Essence Music Festival, Women Who Are Shaping the World Leadership Summit, Window on Our Women (WOW I, II & III) and Smart Beauty I, II & III consumer insights, the Essence Book Club, Essence.com, and ventures in digital media (mobile, television and VOD). For 39 years, ESSENCE magazine, which has a readership of 8.1 million, has been the leading source of cutting-edge information relating to every area of African-American women's lives.

Additional information about ECI and ESSENCE is available at http://www.essence.com/.

The Black List Project was conceived of by photographer/filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders with Elvis Mitchell, public radio host and former New York Times film critic. It consists of a number of components including a film, a book, a traveling portrait exhibition and an educational initiative. The project was produced by the media collective Freemind Ventures. The idea was to interview, film and photograph prominent African Americans of various professions, disciplines and backgrounds. These stories and insights on the struggles, triumphs and joys of black life in this country would work toward re-defining "blacklist" for a new century in the process.

Here is a list of very interesting videos I think you should check out when you go to the Black List Project Website:

- Colin Powell on Affirmative Action

- Faye Wattleton on Segregation

- Vernon Jordan on Toni Morrison

Delesia Carter pictured left and her mother being hugged in the picture to the right.

Via AJC.com:

A woman was arrested and charged Thursday morning after confessing to being the driver who caused an Easter Day accident on Camp Creek Parkway that killed five people, Fulton County police said.

Aimee Michael, 22, was charged with five counts of homicide by vehicle, one count of failure to maintain lane and one count of serious injury by vehicle, hit and run, according to Fulton police detective Melissa Parker. A bond hearing will be held by Friday, Parker said.

Michael was led handcuffed from the Fulton County police major crimes unit off Fulton Industrial Boulevard, where she was being questioned, around 5:15 a.m. Police had been questioning the woman and two other women in an investigation of the April 12 hit-and-run wreck. Authorities say they found the BMW they believe was involved in the crash.

An anonymous tip led police Wednesday to a home in the 3900 block of Ailey Avenue in South Fulton County, where the BMW was parked in the driveway. They later searched the home and confiscated the vehicle.

At 6:45 p.m., a plum-colored Ford Expedition pulled into the Walden Park subdivision. When the car went into the garage, three to four Fulton County police officers rushed in as a woman got out of the SUV. A Fulton County SWAT officer then closed the garage door.

Shortly after 7, police left the residence with three women — one in her 20s, another apparently in her 50s, and a third older woman — who police said had agreed to be questioned.

None of the women was handcuffed but were led to police cars that carried them away.

The women were taken to the Fulton County police major crimes unit. At about 3:30 a.m. Thursday two of the women were released, while police continued to question Michael.

“I’m shocked,” said neighbor Chandra Adams. “The neighborhood is banding together to find out what’s going on in our neighborhood.”

Adams said police first arrived at the Walden Park neighborhood around 10 a.m.

SWAT arrived at 3 p.m. and surrounded the home, police spokeswoman Det. Melissa Parker said.

“There were other identifying factors that allowed us to enter the house,” Parker said.

Police went into the home, but found no one there, she said.

The car was impounded for further investigation.

On Easter Sunday, Robert and Delisia Carter, as well as the couple’s newborn son, Ethan Blake, and Delisia Carter’s 9-year-old daughter, Kayla, died in the chain-reaction crash near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Police said 43-year-old Tracy Johnson of Atlanta survived the accident in another vehicle, but the impact killed her 6-year-old daughter, Morgan. Tracy Johnson is now listed in satisfactory condition at Grady Hospital.

The Carters’ Mercedes and the BMW are believed to have collided on Camp Creek Parkway between Butner Road and Old Fairburn Road at about 1:45 p.m. Both vehicles crossed the median, and the BMW left the scene.

The Mercedes, however, slammed head-on into a Volkswagen driven by Johnson.

Chandra Adams, who lives in the same neighborhood as Michal, said when SWAT surrounded the home, she saw the three women pull into the neighborhood and quickly make a U-turn at the sight of police.

Delisia Carter’s sister Tanisha Robertson was on the scene Wednesday, saying she had been in Atlanta from her California home ever since the wreck.

Robertson said she lamented having never met Delisia’s youngest child.

“A brand new baby I never got to see is gone,” Robertson said.