Saturday, January 19, 2019

Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax protest birthday tribute of Robert E. Lee

Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D), the only African-American official elected to a statewide position, was the lone protester on Friday during a tribute in the state Senate honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s birthday.

Fairfax delegated his typical duties of presiding over the state Senate chamber in Richmond and let Republican state Sen. Richard Stuart lead the tribute.

As a descendant of slaves, Fairfax told The Washington Post that he didn’t believe Lee was someone to honor on the floor of the statehouse.

“I think it’s very divisive to do what was done there, particularly in light of the history that we’re now commemorating — 400 years since the first enslaved Africans came to the commonwealth of Virginia," he said.

“And to do that in this year in particular was very hurtful to a lot of people. It does not move us forward, it does not bring us together. And so I wanted to do my part to make it clear that I don’t condone it,” Fairfax continued.


R. Kelly Dropped by Sony Music

Sony Music has decided to dissolve its working relationship with R. Kelly, Variety has learned.

No external announcement of the move is planned in the immediate future, says a source, who added that the company took its time to wade through the issues “responsibly” and avoid legal ramifications. R. Kelly was removed from the RCA Records website, which lists the label’s signed artists, shortly after 10 a.m. PT on Friday, Jan. 18.

Kelly’s back catalog will remain with RCA/Sony. Kelly’s last release with the label was a Christmas-themed album in 2016, although he has released several songs independently since that time, presumably with Sony’s consent, and Tweeted earlier this year that he has a new album on the way.

Contacted by Variety, reps for both RCA Records and its parent company, Sony Music, declined comment. His current adviser, Don Russell, told Rolling Stone that several record labels are “very interested” in working with Kelly. “We understand RCA’s position: they have to remain transparent for the sake of the other artists that they represent and generate wealth for,” he said. “They’re not in the position of dealing with the kind of stuff that has come about with R. Kelly. He has no issue with RCA. I think he’s outgrown RCA. He’s ready for the next level of life, anyway.” TV journalist Jawn Murray tells Variety that he learned from a Sony Music source that Kelly was informed of the label’s decision to part ways with him last Thursday.


Friday, January 18, 2019

Gladys Knight statement on singing National Anthem at Super Bowl

MoTown legend Gladys Knight, an Atlanta native, and civil rights advocate, has come under fire for accepting an offer from the NFL to sing the National Anthem at Super Bowl LIII. She is receiving criticism from many African Americans because there is a belief that NFL teams are conspiring to not hire former San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick for his stance against police brutality and quest for social justice.

Knight accepted the invite although others like Rihanna, Usher, and Cardi B have refused to be apart of the Super Bowl.

In an attempt to explain her decision Knight made the following statement to USA TODAY:

"It is unfortunate that our national anthem has been dragged into this debate when the distinctive senses of the national anthem and fighting for justice should each stand alone."

“I am here today and on Sunday, Feb. 3 to give the anthem back its voice, to stand for that historic choice of words, the way it unites us when we hear it and to free it from the same prejudices and struggles I have fought long and hard for all my life, from walking back hallways, from marching with our social leaders, from using my voice for good — I have been in the forefront of this battle longer than most of those voicing their opinions to win the right to sing our country’s anthem on a stage as large as the Super Bowl LIII."

She added that she prays the national anthem "will bring us all together in a way never before witnessed and we can move forward."

MLK national park to reopen during government shutdown with help from Delta Air Lines

The National Park Service will use a grant from Delta Air Lines and fee revenues to reopen the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta despite the government shutdown.

Most sites of the park, including the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church and King's birth home, have been closed since the partial government shutdown began on December 22. Travelers missed their chance to relive the civil rights leader's legacy and many others were worried they could not visit the sites during the upcoming federal holiday honoring King.

The historic park will open Saturday for 16 days to ensure people in Atlanta can celebrate King's legacy in advance of the holiday on Monday and travelers attending the Super Bowl game on February 3 have a chance to visit the sites, the park service said.

An $83,500 grant from the Delta Air Lines Foundation will cover the cleanup, administration, maintenance and operating costs of employees not covered under recreation fee funds.

In a statement, Delta CEO and trustee of the Delta Air Lines Foundation Ed Bastian said the group "felt it was important we do our part to ensure that the historical landmarks be accessible to the public."

The Atlanta site includes the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King was co-pastor for years, a visitors' center and the home where King was born in 1929.


Thursday, January 17, 2019

Michigan man charged for threatening to shoot Sen. Cory Booker

A Michigan man has been charged with leaving a threatening, expletive-laden voicemail for U.S. Sen. Cory Booker last year, according to a federal indictment unsealed Monday.

Ricky Lynn Simmons faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 after a federal grand jury sitting in Grand Rapids handed up a single-count indictment on a charge of interstate communication with threat to injure earlier this month, according to court papers.

Simmons was in Kent County, Michigan on Oct. 26, 2018 when he used a cell phone to call Booker’s Camden office and on multiple occasions referenced putting a 9mm gun in the face of the senator, authorities said. Simmons also used several racial slurs in the message, authorities said.

“I’m just doin’ my guns a blazin’ pal. I got a nine millimeter I’ll put in your (expletive) face, you (expletive). You wanna, you wanna challenge me?,” Simmons said, according to a copy of the indictment.