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Rest In Power, Dick Gregory,w_680/fl_lossy,pg_1,q_auto/o6tp9v0kykqtmifm1q9f/dick-gregory-onstage-nyc

Comedian and writer Dick Gregory, who became a leading activist during the civil rights movement, died in Washington, D.C., on Saturday evening, his son Christian Gregory announced. The elder Gregory was 84 years old.

The comedian-turned-activist was hospitalized several times after falling ill earlier this month. He was taken to the hospital again on Thursday in “a serious but stable medical condition,” Gregory’s son said on social media, adding that his father’s old age made “a simple cold or a simple infection ... catastrophic.”

Gregory’s satirical take on racial tensions and black identity was groundbreaking as he rose to fame in comedy clubs during the 1960s. In the spotlight as one of the first black comedians to appeal to a white audience, Gregory devoted himself to civil rights. He marched for black voting rights, demonstrated with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and, after 1963, he gave up doing comedy full-time for activism.

Though Gregory briefly attended Southern Illinois University on an athletic scholarship, he never received a degree. Instead, he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1953, where got his start as a comedic performer.

Gregory would perform comedy routines during military shows and go on to win several Army talent shows. He continued to pursue comedy in Chicago after ending his military service, working by day at the post office and by night as a stand-up comedian for mostly black audiences at small nightclubs.

In 1960, Hugh Hefner invited Gregory to perform for a white audience at his Playboy Lounge in Chicago. Gregory’s performance that night earned him a six-week gig at the club, which was reviewed by national media, including Time magazine, and solidified his career as one of the most popular comedians of the time.

As if numerous speeches at civil rights rallies, fundraiser performances and marches across the country weren’t enough, Gregory entered politics, running for the mayor of Chicago in 1966 and the president of the United States in 1968. Both campaigns, which had close ties to the Black Power movement, failed, but it brought more attention to the comedian’s activism.

Later in his career, Gregory became a vegetarian and shifted his work to focus on health care and fitness, embarking on several fasts to bring attention to world hunger, the drug abuse epidemic and issues involving Native Americans.

Cornell William Brooks, former president of the NAACP, described Gregory as “a civil rights icon, comedic genius and provocateur [who] challenged not only what we thought was funny but how we thought.”

To commemorate Gregory, comedian and “Daily Show” anchor Roy Wood Jr. tweeted wise words from the activist.

The King Center, the social justice nonprofit founded by Coretta Scott King, said on Twitter that Gregory “provoked us to think and to change. And he made us laugh, too.”

The tweet was shared by Rev. Jesse Jackson, who added, “He taught us how to laugh. He taught us how to fight. He taught us how to live. Dick Gregory was committed to justice. I miss him already.”

Gregory’s son thanked his father’s fans for the outpouring of love and support, but asked for privacy as the family grieves.

“A life well-lived but heavily sacrificed, has definitively taken its toll,” Christian Gregory wrote after his father was hospitalized Thursday.

“Laughter is truly good medicine,” he added. “I’ve watched my father for a lifetime heal the world.”




Taraji P. Henson On Charlottesville: We Must Continue To Fight, But Only Through Love

In light of the bigotry and violence displayed in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, Taraji P. Henson wants people to know that hate will not win. During a promotional event for Special K on Monday, the actress told HuffPost what it takes to combat white supremacy and violence.

“The only way you resist hate is through love,” she said. “It appears to be like hate is winning but it will not. Nothing good can come from hate. Nothing. No life can survive with hate. You gotta have love ... that’s the only way that we can fix this. And we have to come together.”

The “Empire” actress condemned the “Unite the Right” rally and stressed her message of love in a series of Instagram posts over the past couple of days. 

Henson also mentioned the deaths of counter-protester Heather Heyer and the two cops who were in a helicopter crash near Charlottesville on Saturday. She said we must continue the fight for justice and equality.

“Unfortunately, we lost some angels,” she said. “We cannot let their lives be in vain. We have to continue to fight for them; they were bold enough to go out there and risk themselves, then we gotta continue the fight. But only through love.”




What Must We Do to Help HBCUs?

Will another HBCU “bite the dust?”  Truly, it depends on us.  Pennsylvania’s Cheyney University, the oldest HBCU in the nation (founded in 1837) has been on probation since November 2015.  If the Middle States Commission on Higher Education does not accept a sustainability report that is due on September 1, the school may lose its accreditation. 

Without accreditation, Cheyney students cannot receive federal financial aid like Pell grants and federal loans.  Many would be forced to leave school because they can’t afford to attend school without assistance.

Cheyney is part of the Stop the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, an organization that took nearly 20 years to settle a lawsuit with the college because (PASSHE) funded predominately white institutions (PWIs) in Pennsylvania more favorably than Cheyney. While PASSHE provided Cheyney with some money to address the issues of inequality, most say the amount they provided was just a fraction of that due.  At the same time, Cheyney has borrowed millions of dollars from PASSHE.  Because of the borrowing, PASSHE has assembled a task force that would sell Cheyney’s land, slash its academic programs, reduce enrollment (which is already extremely low), eliminate NCAA sports and also cut staff.  In other words they would kill the college.  Can we afford to lose another HBCU?

Cheyney’s detractors say that the college is not necessary, and that PASSHE should merge it with another nearby college, either sister HBCU Lincoln University, or another PASSHE school, West Chester University.  Some say it isn’t race, but mismanagement, that has plagued Cheyney.  But too many HBCU leaders have been accused of mismanagement, when the real issue, especially for state-supported institutions, is a lack of resources and a history of underfunding Black colleges. 

And most face the challenge of underfunding with some innovation.  For example, Cheyney has developed a new business model that includes creating an Institute for the Contemporary African-American Experience.  They envision this institute as a potential magnet for student enrollment, which will bring more revenue to the college.  But with a September 1 deadline nipping at their heels, the survival of Cheyney is in the hands of the accrediting organization.

An organization called Heeding Cheyney’s Call (HCC) has held events and urged people to support Cheyney.  They say that Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf (D) can intervene before Middle States makes an accreditation decision, and that he can also instruct PASSHE to back off from their plan to sell Cheyney’s land. 

An August 1 event attracted the support of both local and national leaders, including city council members, state legislators, members of Congress, clergy, and others.  US Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) is among those supporting Cheyney.   That support, commendable as it is, isn’t enough to save Cheyney. 

The college, like so many HBCUs, needs resources and the state can’t be counted on to provide them.  So will Cheyney be the next HBCU to bite the dust?  Or is the African-American community, and other concerned folks, prepared to step in the gap for the college?

Cheyney has an abysmal alumni giving rate, at less than 10 percent (one report pegged it as low as 6 percent).  It is unconscionable that alums would flock back to campus for social events or graduations, but not write checks to support their college.  To be sure, some alums get tired of appeals that highlight dire emergency situations. 

But HBCUs are in a state of emergency, when people constantly question their reason for being, and when federal and state dollars are scarcer than ever.  Too many believed 45’s prevarication about supporting HBCUs.  Too many presidents got a photo op, but no more money, when they met with 45.

Those of us who wring our hands and decry the state of HBCUs can do more than we are doing now.  Whether we attended HBCUs or not, we can support them.  We can adopt one and become regular contributors to that university. 

We can encourage students to attend HBCUs.  We can do fundraisers for HBCUs, even in places that don’t have HBCUs.  In Las Vegas, Nevada, a city councilman stages a football game where an HBCU plays the University of Nevada Las Vegas’ football team.  The event raises tens of thousands of dollars for the HBCU team that plays UNLV.   

In addition to fundraising, though, we must also think creatively about HBCU sustainability.  If buildings are not fully utilized, why not create summer, evening, and weekend programs for the public? 

Is there revenue-generating distance learning?  Have stakeholders taken time to generate new ideas for sustainability?

With the 45 attack on affirmative action, HBCUs may be more important than ever for African-American college attendance.  When doors close at other institutions, HBCUs will be there if we support them. 

I’ve heard the argument that some HBCUs have challenges and may not provide a Harvard-quality education (few schools do).  The quality of an HBCU education is at least partly a function of the resources available to that college.  You can’t have state-of-the-art labs or media centers without money.  Where are the resources?

If we want strong, solid HBCUs, we need to support them.  We can only blame ourselves if Cheyney, or other colleges close for lack of support.  Federal and state funds can make a difference.  But individual and foundation contributions are equally, if not more, important.  As students head back to school this August, we have to ask if those headed to HBCUs will be able to enjoy their 10th, 25th, or 50th college reunion.  They won’t unless we all step up.

Julianne Malveaux is an economist, author, and Founder of Economic Education. Her podcast, “It’s Personal with Dr. J” is available on iTunes. Her latest book “Are We Better Off: Race, Obama and public policy is available via




Kamala Harris Slams Donald Trump's 'Many Sides' Rhetoric On Charlottesville$largeimg11_Friday_2016_141743677.jpg

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) criticized President Donald Trump’s refusal to directly condemn the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend, instead choosing to blame “many sides.” “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides ― on many sides,” Trump said Saturday. 

Harris, however, doesn’t agree.

“And as the country grappled with this tragedy, we were told that ‘many sides’ should be condemned. Many sides,” Harris said in a Facebook post on Sunday. “I often advocate that we look at many sides of an issue, walk in someone else’s shoes and identify and reject false choices. But there are not ‘many sides’ to this.”

Harris went on to describe moments in history where rhetoric similar to Trump’s kept schools and restaurants segregated.

“‘Many sides’ suggests that there is no right side or wrong side, that all are morally equal. But I reject that,” Harris wrote. “It’s not hard to spot the wrong side here. They’re the ones with the torches and the swastikas.”

The White House attempted to clarify the president’s remarks on Sunday morning, but those comments didn’t come from Trump.

“The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred. Of course, that includes white supremacists, KKK, Neo-Nazi and all extremist groups. He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together,” the statement, attributed to a spokesperson, read.

Trump’s seeming inability to directly condemn the violence perpetuated by white supremacists in Virginia has resulted in widespread outrage across the country. His unwillingness to disavow white supremacy is also at odds with a growing number of officials, including members of the Trump administration, who have spoken out against the hateful acts.

But Harris remains optimistic.

“There is hope to be found. The truth is that the vast majority of Americans are good, fair and just and they want their country to reflect those ideals,” she wrote. “And the fact that yesterday’s explicit hate was met with near-universal condemnation affirms my belief in our capacity to overcome evil.”


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Omarosa Tells NABJ Convention She ‘Fights On Front Lines Every Day’ To Laughs, Groans

Omarosa Manigault-Newman, the reality TV star who has become an aide to President Donald Trump, received a chilly reception Friday at this year’s National Association of Black Journalists convention in New Orleans. As prominent black journalists and public relations professionals watched, Manigault-Newman, on a panel about police violence, was asked about her role in the Trump administration, and what she has done for the black community. 

“I fight on the front lines every day,” Manigault-Newman said, provoking laughter and groans from the audience. Some in the crowd, including journalist Jamilah Lemieux and activist Britanny Packnett, reportedly turned their backs in protest as Manigault-Newman spoke. 

Panel moderator Ed Gordon, host of BET’s “Weekly,” asked Manigault-Newman how Trump’s recent comments supporting police brutality fit with police violence in the black community, including the police killing of Freddie Gray in Baltimore.

Manigault-Newman, a former star on “The Apprentice” who’s now director of communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison, said she disagreed with Trump’s comments. “I don’t think a black boy should be treated the way Freddie Gray was,” she added.

“First of all,” began fellow panelist Arthur Reed, an author, “Freddie Gray was a black man, not a boy. You see that type of mentality, and that’s what’s wrong with this whole situation right now ― too many of y’all looking at us as boys. We grown-ass men. And when you see this type of thing, you have to stand up and let them know, like I understand perfectly that there’s just some black people that’s just not black. I understand that.” 

“Is she engaged in policy-level discussions, not just with President Trump, but with Jeff Sessions?” panelist Joel Anderson of BuzzFeed asked. “Because that’s where a lot of directives come from, where a lot of law enforcement ... That’s where the tone is set across the country.”

Instead of answering, Manigault-Newman urged the audience to get out their phones.

“Google ‘Omarosa and Eric Garner,’” she said. “You’ll see my recent work with the Department of Justice.”

“Well you’re right here, why don’t you tell us?” Gordon shot back.

Garner was placed in a fatal chokehold by a New York City police officer for selling individual cigarettes. Video shows him gasping “I can’t breathe,” 11 times. The Google search brought up a reference to a meeting Manigault-Newman had with Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, in March. 

Relatives of other people victimized by police violence ― the mother of Philando Castile, and the aunt of Alton Sterling ― had spoken on the stage in a separate panel just before Manigault-Newman arrived.

Manigault-Newman got out of her seat and paced the stage at one point, engaging in repeated back-and-forths with other panelists. Finally, Gordon seemed to have had enough.

“We have reached the point of diminished returns,” the moderator announced.

Minutes later, when NABJ President Sarah Glover tried to explain why Manigault-Newman had been invited in the first place, the reality show star appeared to blow a kiss to someone in the audience. Then she got up and left the stage without saying anything further.

“It would be foolhardy to assume that anyone would come here or that any journalist worth his salt or her salt would sit here and not ask certain questions,” Gordon told the audience.

New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones had been scheduled to host the panel. But she and a fellow panelist, The New Yorker’s Jelani Cobb, pulled out after Manigault-Newman was added. 

Cobb told Page Six his reason for backing out “wasn’t simply the addition of Omarosa. It was that she was added at the 11th hour and it was unclear whether we would be able to discuss substantive issues regarding the administration and its policing policies. Also, the panel was very disorganized, and basic things like format were not clear.”

Cobb and journalists in attendance tweeted about Manigault-Newman’s participation.

Manigault-Newman responded to the Twitter controversy the panel generated with a tweet of her on Saturday afternoon, posting a series of hashtags saying she was “set up” from the start. 




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