Brown College Gets $1.5 Million Rescue Package
money from their own budgets, the 39 colleges that constitute the
United Negro College Fund voted this week to donate almost $1.5 million
to Morris Brown College in Atlanta in an effort to rescue it from
the brink of financial ruin.
with $27 million in debts and a federal inquiry into its finances,
Morris Brown, a historically black college, had its accreditation
revoked in December by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools,
the accrediting body for 11 Southern states.
Brown quickly appealed the revocation, and has continued to limp along
with about 1,400 students, slightly more than half of its usual enrollment.
They are attending an accelerated spring semester designed to wrap
up the academic year before early April, when the college's make-or-break
hearing before the association takes place.
accreditation, the college would cease to be eligible for federal
student aid programs, from which Morris Brown derives as much as 70
percent of its revenue. It would also lose its annual contributions
from the United Negro College Fund, a source of auxiliary income for
private colleges that has given Morris Brown about $24 million over
the last 10 years.
most important, the college would continue to face an exodus of students
who were unwilling to gamble that Morris Brown would be able to regain
its standing fast enough to bestow diplomas as an accredited institution.
Morris Brown would not necessarily close. Texas College, a historically
black institution in Tyler, lost its accreditation in 1996 but kept
its doors open and managed this year to regain its accreditation.
win its own appeal, Morris Brown hopes to show that it has made significant
strides in tackling roughly $10 million in unpaid bills, often to
vendors for items like laptop computers. College officials say they
have raised close to $5 million toward that goal, combining gifts
from local churches, the United Negro College Fund and alumni eager
to safeguard the reputation of their degrees.
fund's $1.47 million gift would be in addition to the money the college
already receives annually.
message we're sending is, Look, this school has a historic mission
and has educated tens of thousands of students," said William
H. Gray III, president of the United Negro College Fund. "Morris
Brown's future is at stake, and we want them to know that we are in
solidarity with them."
Fox Shapes Up New
Michael Jackson has made good on his threat to release his own footage
compiled during months of interviews with British journalist Martin
Bashir, whose recent TV special on Jackson caused a stir on both sides
of the Atlantic.
Jackson's camp has struck a deal with Fox Broadcasting Co. for a two-hour
special to air Feb. 20. Tentatively titled "Michael Jackson Take
2: The Interview They Wouldn't Show You!" the special promises
to feature outtakes and unused material from the Bashir sessions as
well as a lengthy interview with Deborah Rowe, Jackson's ex-wife and
the mother of his two young children.
Brad Lachman Productions is sifting through the Jackson footage and
the Rowe interview, which was taped last week at Jackson's behest,
to assemble the Fox special. Jackson has been on the offensive since
the Bashir special aired Jan. 25 on the United Kingdom's ITV. ABC
drew more than 27 million viewers last week with its telecast of the
two-hour interview, during which Bashir confronted Jackson on his
legendary eccentricities, particularly his relations with children
who visit his Neverland estate in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Jackson has maintained that Bashir used deceptive questioning and
editing tricks to paint him in a bad light. Jackson's lawyers have
filed a complaint with the British Broadcasting Standards Commission.
After the ABC telecast last week, Jackson vowed to release footage
that would cast doubt on the credibility of Bashir and his report.
Jackson's camp has fielded overtures from dozens of news outlets since
the ABC special aired, including ABC's Barbara Walters and CBS' "60
Minutes," Jackson spokesman Stuart Backerman said. Backerman
said they opted to go with Fox "because they gave us the best
package to present the most comprehensive view of the true facts from
beginning to end."
It was unclear how much Fox is paying for the rights to Jackson's
private footage. Backerman insisted that Jackson is "not making
a dime" from the Fox special, though he acknowledged that some
money was changing hands in the form of a license fee that Fox would
pay for the special.
"Michael is doing this because he wants to set the record straight,"
Backerman said. "He felt betrayed and abused by Mr. Bashir. He
felt it was a setup, and the video footage that will be revealed very
soon will make that as clear as a smoking gun." Granada Television,
which produced the Bashir special, said last week in response to the
complaint filed in Britain that it stood by Bashir's report.
Jackson has at least two hours of footage taken by his private cameraman
of the interview sessions with Bashir, Backerman said. The Rowe interview
was conducted last Wednesday as a one-on-one with a male journalist
"who is not connected to Jackson," Backerman said, though
he would not identify the journalist. "She was extremely credible,
well-spoken, and emotional at times," Backerman said of Rowe's
interview. "She was consistent in her responses and open in her
discussion of the issues."
Aims To 'Never Die Alone' On Screen
Hip-hop heavyweight DMX will star in and produce the thriller "Never
Die Alone" for director Ernest Dickerson. Based on a 1974 book
by cult novelist Donald Goines, "Never" also stars David
Arquette and Michael Ealy and follows the story of a gangster whose
murder is witnessed by an aspiring journalist.
"Never" is being produced by DMX and Alessandro Camon as
the first feature under DMX's Bloodline Films company. Adapted by
James Gibson, the project begins production this week in Los Angeles.
"What a great opportunity 'Never Die Alone' brings," DMX
said. "It is rewarding to share a real-life story with real-life
executives that understand real-life situations. I'm hyped on this
DMX first learned of "Never" when he and producer Ed Pressman
were in talks to collaborate on an installment of Pressman's "The
Crow" franchise. DMX's Bloodline was formed to develop the project.
The cinematographer for such Spike Lee films as "Malcolm X"
and "Jungle Fever," Dickerson's directing credits include
"Bones" and Showtime's "Good Fences," which screened
at the Sundance Film Festival last month.
DMX and Jet Li will be seen in the upcoming film "Cradle 2 the
Grave," which arrives Feb. 28 in U.S. theaters. The Def Jam soundtrack,
due Tuesday (Feb. 18), features the DMX cuts "X Gon' Give It
to Ya" and "Right/Wrong," plus a collaboration with
Eminem and Obie Trice on the track "Go To Sleep." The album
also sports songs from 50 Cent, Foxy Brown, Clipse, and Drag-On.
to Expand International Efforts
By DEBORAH KONG, AP Minority Issues Writer
The NAACP has long been known for its civil rights work on behalf
of black Americans, but now the organization is increasing its attention
to international concerns — including an effort to gain special
status with the United Nations
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is
in the final stages of being recognized as a "non-governmental
organization" by the United Nations. The special "consultative
status" with the U.N. Economic and Social Council means the NAACP
will be able to propose agenda items and make presentations at relevant
There are other examples of the NAACP's expanding focus. At its annual
convention later this year, it is planning a summit on issues affecting
the Caribbean and the Americas. Last year, it monitored Zimbabwe's
elections and NAACP President Kweisi Mfume and others met with Cuban
President Fidel Castro along with other Cuban officials and dissidents
— to promote human rights and trade.
"We're hoping to step up our international work even more,"
Mfume said. The U.N. designation would underscore "the work of
the association, while at the same time conferring upon the association
a title and distinction that all of the United Nations recognizes."
The group will increase its focus on Africa, the Caribbean and Latin
America, though Mfume noted the NAACP has been involved in international
work before. Its 500,000 members include some in overseas branches
in Germany, Japan and South Korea.
Still, receiving U.N. status "gives you the capacity to influence
the international agenda," said Manuel Orozco, Central America
project director at the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington, D.C.
The NAACP will likely focus on economic development, trade, education
and health issues, Mfume said. "This whole issue of human rights
is very important," he said. "We believe it's important
for the NAACP to be a clear voice on that subject."
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- Hope and
Doubt Greet Hartford School Desegregation Plan
By PAUL von ZIELBAUER, NYTimes.com
Word that state officials had agreed on a four-year, roughly $245 million
plan to further desegregate the city's schools ricocheted this week
through the suburbs, where reaction among parents, educators and taxpayers
ranged from enthusiasm to skepticism.
Their participation is voluntary but crucial. Desegregating the city's
overwhelmingly black and Latino schools will depend not only on more
white suburban parents sending their children to the eight magnet schools
that will open in Hartford by June 2007. It will also require suburban
administrators to double the number of classroom seats to make room
for students from Hartford, and to expand summer and after-school programs
and spend every dollar in their budgets more carefully than ever.
Suburbanites will probably pay higher property taxes to make up an inevitable
decrease in state education aid as lawmakers divert millions to pay
for the plan.
And yet, interviews with suburban school superintendents and parents
suggest a willingness to join in the the most ambitious and expensive
desegregation effort in this region's history.
"I think it's an excellent resolution," said Joseph Townsley,
superintendent of schools in Simsbury, an affluent suburb northwest
of Hartford. "It's voluntary in nature, so it leaves the choice
to parents," he said. "It gave local districts certainly the
gift of time to plan for an increase in enrollment by minority students."
A defining element of the desegregation plan, Dr. Townsley and other
administrators said, will be the quality of the magnet schools. "Parents
are going to have to believe that the magnet school offers something
that they can't get locally, that it's safe and that the education provided
matches up with their value system and what they believe is best for
their child," Dr. Townsley said.
Richard W. Kisiel, the superintendent in nearby Avon, said: "Suburban
children and families will go to Hartford if the programs are unique,
the facilities are up to date and Hartford can show that it is meeting
its mission. That's what parents expect from us."
Getting more money to teach more Hartford school children is also critical,
suburban educators said. Currently, the state pays suburban school districts
$2,000 a year for each of the roughly 800 Hartford pupils the districts
educate as part of a long-standing state integration program.
It is a money-losing venture for suburban districts, where the average
cost of teaching a student is $7,500 to $9,500 a year, Dr. Townsley
said. Sending a suburban child to one of Hartford's six existing magnet
schools costs $2,000 to $4,000 a year, he said.
State lawmakers, already facing a $2.2 billion shortfall this and next
fiscal year, will need to boost the amount Hartford students bring to
suburban schools if they want desegregation to work, suburban educators
said. "Until they increase the dollar amount," Dr. Kisiel
said, "I project over time the local districts are going to be
less receptive to accepting the youngsters. There will be a backlash
in the local community."
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Numbers Change Black-Hispanic Dynamic
By DEBORAH KONG, AP Minority Issues Writer
has watched the nation's demographics shift from his front yard as more
and more Hispanics have moved into the neighborhood where the 78-year-old
retired postal worker, who is black, raised three daughters.
About five years ago, Hispanics began buying homes that blacks once
owned across the street and down the block from Gilbert's one-story
house. Now, black and Hispanic neighbors navigate the friendships and
tensions that come with living side-by-side. "We're going to have
to learn how to get along because we all live in the same neighborhood,"
Gilbert said. "Everybody wants the same thing: They want better
homes, they want better education for their children, they want work."
Census Bureau estimates released this past week show Hispanics outnumber
blacks for the first time, making them the largest minority group in
the United States. The Hispanic population rose almost 5 percent between
April 2000 and last July, to 37 million. The non-Hispanic black population
grew about 2 percent, to 36.1 million.
Black and Hispanic groups such as the National Association for the Advancement
of Colored People and the National Council of La Raza have seen the
changes coming for years, and each has emphasized the importance of
working on a common agenda.
Yet some see challenges as Hispanics reach this milestone. They warn
of resentment among blacks who — after building a long and proud
history of fighting for civil rights — may now see issues of interest
to Hispanics gaining more attention than black causes.
"African-Americans do feel threatened," said Percy Hintzen,
chair of the African American studies department at the University of
California, Berkeley. "They do feel their power and their clout
Over the years, Gilbert and his wife have befriended their new neighbors.
A Hispanic mechanic who lives across the street helped Gilbert fix his
car, refusing payment but saying he'd take some gumbo the next time
Gilbert's wife fixed a pot. Gilbert greets Leonor Gonzalez and her children
as she walks them to and from school. Sometimes the kids translate for
their Spanish-speaking mother and they strike up a conversation.
"It's peaceful here," said Gonzalez, 33. Blacks and Hispanics
"get along very well."
Felisha West, another black resident, said one recent example of the
change is that fliers inviting people to homeowners' meetings are now
in English and Spanish. However, she noted that there can be resentment.
Some blacks feel they struggle to "get a house. It's hard for them
to get a car. It's hard for them to just make it to the next level,"
West said. With Hispanics, "it just seems like they walk over and
But Sonia Perez, La Raza's deputy vice president of research, said blacks
and Hispanics share concerns about educational, economic and health
disparities. "What's important is really to look at how we are
doing as a community, not how big one is or the other," she said.
There are many recent examples of the groups working together in California,
where Hispanics have outnumbered blacks for decades.
First African Methodist Episcopal Church, the oldest black congregation
in Los Angeles, has started a Hispanic ministry.
The NAACP's San Jose/Silicon Valley branch has two Hispanics and two
Asians on its 27-member board and another board member of Middle Eastern
descent, said Rick Callender, the group's president.
The Los Angeles Urban League, which has long served the black community,
provided social services to 78,000 people last year — 51 percent
black and 31 percent Hispanic.
"We are not going to abandon our historical African-American roots
or constituency," said John Mack, its president. "But you
can be for your own without being against somebody else." Still,
with the economy in a slump and state budgets tight, some strain will
be inevitable, said Roderick Harrison, an analyst with the Joint Center
for Political and Economic Studies, a nonpartisan group that studies
issues of concern to blacks and other minorities.
"You're competing for scarce resources, and it does become an issue
of whose problem maybe gets more attention or more funds," he said.
In Oakland, Esther Wadsworth, who is black, recalls how Hispanics lobbied
school officials to add more Latinos to administrative ranks.
"When they go to do something, they really sit together in groups,
and I have to be honest about that," said Wadsworth, 73. Cesar
Lopez, who sells tacos from a truck not far from Gilbert's place in
east Oakland, said he's encountered hostility from some black customers.
"They just don't like us," he said.
With these delicate issues in mind, Oakland NAACP president Shannon
Reeves is planning a black-Hispanic conference this fall.
"There's a real need for the black community and Latino community
to really get to know each other," he said.
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life not letter perfect
By Kat Carney, CNN
Billy Blanks is best known for getting Americans to kick and punch their
way to health with TaeBo, his own creation combining tae kwon do and
boxing. When I caught up with him recently, he told me how his path
to becoming a fitness phenom was nearly stalled by a learning disability
that went undiagnosed for more than 30 years.
"I grew up in special education," he recalls. "At the
time, people told me I was retarded."
But he wasn't. Blanks had dyslexia, a learning disorder that impairs
a person's ability to read. It's estimated that 5 percent to 10 percent
of school age children have dyslexia.
"I didn't like to read," says Blanks. "I was embarrassed
because I didn't want kids to laugh at me, and kids sometimes have the
tendency to make you feel bad when you can't do what the teacher wants
you to do."
Blanks decided that if he couldn't excel in school, he would try martial
arts. But that was another challenge.
"My instructor was trying to teach me how to do karate. He started
to get frustrated because I couldn't pick it up. I would see things
But Blanks didn't give up.
"Sooner or later, I started to see myself progress. The next thing
you know, I got my black belt before everybody in the class." Eventually,
Blanks earned black belts in six types of martial arts and became a
seven-time world karate champion. Lead rolls in martial arts movies
followed, but his undiagnosed dyslexia was still a roadblock.
"I was very lucky and very blessed to have a wife who could read
really well," he says. "She took the script and she would
read it to me and I would memorize it."
Blanks' wife of more than 20 years had no idea he had trouble reading;
much less that he had a learning disorder. But ultimately, she was the
first to suspect that her superstar husband had dyslexia. "We went
to a mall and I looked up and saw this sign and I read the sign backwards,"
he recalls. "She said, 'Billy, read that sign again.' So I looked
up and read it again, and I saw that I read it backwards and left out
When some dyslexics attempt to read, they see letters that appear upside
down or backward or with improper spacing.
These examples are from the Web site KidsHealth.org:
"Thes ew ord sare notsp aced cor rect ly
At the age of 37, after several tests at a dyslexia center, Blanks was
"It didn't bother me," he recalls. "I just said, that's
one of the reasons I couldn't read. That's one of the reasons I ran
away from spelling, ran away from math books or history books. I got
an opportunity to find out why I was running."
Blanks isn't running anymore. Treatment at a reading center for dyslexics
helped him overcome the impairment, and he's more than happy to show
off his new skills.
"Now I can read books, I can get in front of thousands of people
and talk and not be scared. I can do just about anything."
Back to Top
- R. Kelly
Arrested on Child Porn Charges
R. Kelly, already facing child pornography charges in Illinois, was
arrested on January 22nd in Florida on additional child pornography
charges after investigators said they found 12 photographs of a nude
girl at the singer's home.
Kelly, whose first name is Robert, was arrested without incident at
a Miami-Dade County hotel. He was being held at the county jail. Bond
was set at $12,000.
The Grammy award-winning artist has been out on bond and awaiting trial
on 21 counts of child pornography in Chicago. Those charges stem from
a videotape authorities say shows him having sex with a 13-year-old
girl. Kelly, 36, has denied that charge.
Col. Grady Judd of the Polk County Sheriff's Office said the latest
charges were filed after pornographic digital images were found stored
in Kelly's camera equipment. It had been seized during a search last
June 6 in his rented Davenport home after the singer was arrested there
on the Illinois warrant. Davenport is about 35 miles southwest of Orlando.
"In three of the photos he is engaged in sexual conduct with a
minor," Judd said.
Judd would not say whether the unidentified minor in the photos were
of the same girl in the video made in Chicago, where Kelly lives. Police
were still trying to determine where the pictures were taken before
considering any additional charges, Judd said.
He said it took seven months to issue the Polk County warrant because
the State Attorney's Office needed time to investigate.
Kelly was released from jail about three hours after his arrest and
was hustled into a waiting car to avoid reporters. Edward Genson, Kelly's
lawyer in Chicago, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Kelly also has been the focus of at least four other lawsuits, three
of which accuse him of having sex with underage girls. He has acknowledged
settling two of the lawsuits regarding underage sex, but his lawyers
have said they will fight the third.
Kelly's new album, "Chocolate Factory," is scheduled to be
released in February. He was nominated for a Grammy earlier this month
for the song "The World's Greatest," from the "Ali"
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