Saturday, May 11, 2024

Nike announces A'ja Wilson signature shoe

WNBA MVP A'ja Wilson is a Nike signature shoe. Wilson's shoe will be called "A'One."

"It's been incredible working with Nike toward a dream of having my collection, and it really is an honor to take this next step and become a Nike signature athlete," Wilson said in a statement. "From my logo to the look of the shoe and the pieces throughout the collection, we've worked to make sure every detail is perfectly tuned to my game and style."

The shoe and rest of Wilson's signature collection will arrive in 2025.

Read Nike's announcement below:

Civil Rights attorney Ben Crump statement on deadly shooting of Roger Fortson

Civil Rights attorney Ben Crump has released an additional statement following the release of body cam and FaceTime footage from the deadly shooting of Roger Fortson.

NAACP Leads Call for Presidential Pardon of Marilyn Mosby

The NAACP led 14 civil rights organizations in sending a letter to President Joe Biden requesting a presidential pardon of former Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby. Mosby is facing up to 40 years in federal prison when sentenced on May 23, 2024. The call from civil rights organizations echoes rallying cries from activists, advocates, and concerned citizens who believe Mosby has been unfairly targeted and unjustly convicted. 

Derrick Johnson, NAACP President and CEO issued the following statement:

"We've watched, decade after decade, as Black Americans have faced wrongful prosecution at the hands of those who seek to promote injustice. The only thing Marilyn Mosby is guilty of is the desire to provide her family with a better life. The sad reality is, as Black women take their rightful places in positions of power, dark forces seek to tear down both their progress, and that of our community. The NAACP refuses to stand idly by as injustice takes the wheel, driving us down a path of further disparity. We are proud to stand alongside our partners in calling on President Biden and the Department of Justice to reemphasize their commitment to racial equity by pardoning Attorney Mosby. Enough is enough. It's time to stand with Black women."

Following her push to prosecute officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray, Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby found herself at the center of a politically motivated "fraud" case for withdrawing funds from her own retirement account. Since her conviction in February, there have been growing calls for the Biden Administration to intervene, alleging a complete miscarriage of justice. 

Excerpts from the letter include:

  • "We are deeply concerned that the last administration abused their power to advance a meritless indictment against Ms. Mosby…"
  • "Her courageous commitment to justice made her a target of admiration and punishment."
  • "…739 individuals withdrew funds from their retirement accounts without being charged for improper withdrawals, including three within her agency."
  • "We expect that political persecutions and malicious prosecutions pursued during the Trump Administration would not continue in the Biden Administration."
  • "We ask that you grant a full pardon to Ms. Marilyn Mosby before May 23, 2024, and restore her full rights."

Signers include; Black to the Future Action Fund, Black Voters Matter, Black Women's Roundtable, Color of Change, Fair and Just Prosecution, National Action Network, National Bar Association, National Black Justice Coalition, National Black Law Students Association, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, National Council of Negro Women, National Urban League, Until Freedom and World Without Genocide

For access to the full letter, visit this link.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Center for Journalism & Democracy at Howard University Awards Nearly $200,000 to 10 HBCU Student Newsrooms

The Center for Journalism & Democracy at Howard University will award nearly $200,000 to 10 student newsrooms at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) through its inaugural Newsroom Innovation Challenge. The awards are designed to improve newsroom technology, business operations, audience engagement and reporting at campus newsrooms. The unique program advances the Center’s mission to help prepare HBCU students to become investigative journalists who will hold power accountable and strengthen U.S. democracy.

“HBCU student newsrooms brim with talent, but often lack the resources needed to give students access to the cutting-edge technology and operational support that so many of their peers at predominately white institutions have,” said Center for Journalism & Democracy founder Nikole Hannah-Jones, who serves as Knight Chair in Race and Journalism at Howard University's Cathy Hughes School of Communications.

Hannah-Jones said too often HBCU journalism students cannot volunteer for their campus news organizations because they need to work jobs that pay. “This grant program seeks to even the playing field by upgrading student newsrooms and paying stipends for student journalists,” Hannah-Jones said. “Investments in the talent and ambitions of aspiring journalists will fundamentally transform these newsrooms.”

The initial grant program was open to members of the Center for Journalism & Democracy’s nine HBCU cohort schools. Newsrooms were invited to apply for competitive funding last fall by submitting their vision and goals for strengthening their newsrooms and operations. Winners were notified in late April.   

The Center for Journalism & Democracy presents a check to the Morgan State University newsroom, The Spokesman on Tuesday. The funds will go toward the newsroom website, equipment and to pay for editors and contributing writers. Photo credit: Elijah Pittman

The grantees are The Hilltop and HU News Service, both of Howard University; Morgan State University, University of the District of Columbia, Morehouse College, Florida A&M University, North Carolina A&T University, North Carolina Central University, Savannah State University, and Texas Southern University.

The 10 newsrooms will receive award packages ranging from $4,000 to as much as $29,000, and include a one-time technology award. The newsrooms will also receive funding for two years to pay select newsroom staff and funding to hire contributing writers. Newsrooms can apply to renew the funding for the contributing writers for up to five years.

“We are profoundly grateful for the awarding of these funds. It will make a significant impact on our ability to bring news and information to our readers,” said Milton Kent, professor of practice and advisor to Morgan State University's The Spokesman student outlet. “I can tell you that The Spokesman has lost talented journalists because some of our students can’t afford to work in the newsroom without being paid, so this is huge.”

Each newsroom will create a team that will include the faculty advisor, a student staff member and two other students responsible for implementing the plan. The Center will provide ongoing support through training and monthly meetings.

“The Newsroom Innovation Challenge is part of the vision I had when I founded the Center two years ago and I am so excited to finally see these resources headed to where they are much needed,” Hannah-Jones said. “When we invest in our HBUCs, we invest in ensuring our multiracial democracy is covered by a multiracial press.”

The University of the District of Columbia will use its funds to revive The Trilogy, the campus paper that has not published in a decade. “There are so many talented storytellers on campus who are ready to do great reporting,” said Trilogy editor Asha Moore-Smith, a rising senior at UDC. “This award will help us afford the tools and resources we need to create the highest quality content we can. We’re really grateful for the Newsroom Innovation Challenge award.”

Other examples of how newsrooms intend to use their funds include, installing a Whisper Room at The Hilltop for production of podcasts, purchasing high-definition cameras, and paying an editor on the investigative beat. Texas Southern University plans to use their award to launch a physical newsroom with computers and field kits for the newsroom staff, and to pay editors and contributing writers.

Pictured in the Morgan State photo: from left, Jacqueline Jones, dean, Morgan State University School of Global Journalism & Communication; Kali-Ahset Amen, executive director, Center for Journalism & Democracy; Jah'I Selassie, editor-in-chief, The Spokesman; Milton Kent professor of practice, Morgan State University and faculty advisor, The Spokesman; Lillian Stephens, managing editor, The Spokesman; DeWayne Wickham, dean emeritus and director, Center for New Media & Strategic Initiatives, Morgan State University. Photo credit: Elijah Pittman

Hilltop image above:  Members of The Hilltop pose with a check from the Center for Journalism & Democracy. The funds will go toward technology and staff for the newsroom. From left: Angela Harris, business advisor, The Hilltop; N’dia Webb, managing editor, The Hilltop; Jasper Smith, editor-in-chief, The Hilltop; Julian Szyszka, business manager, The Hilltop. Photo credit: Elijah Pittman

Thursday, May 09, 2024

FAMU pauses $237M donation

The president of Florida A&M University announced Thursday that the school is putting a “pause” on a historic $237 million donation the Rattlers received over the weekend from Batterson Farms Corporation CEO Gregory Gerami and the Isaac Batterson Family 7th Trust.

The news comes after days of controversy over the gift.

FAMU announced the donation with a super-sized check during a jam-packed commencement ceremony on Saturday. But the school’s tone toward the funding swiftly changed this week after FAMU Board of Trustees Vice Chair Deveron Gibbons asked FAMU President Larry Robinson and Board Chair Kristin Harper to organize a public meeting in the interest of transparency.

“The recently announced donation would truly be transformative for Florida A&M University, an institution that is helping to shape the next generation of leaders,” FAMU Vice Chair Deveron Gibbons wrote in a statement shared Tuesday. “However, the reality is that little has been shared regarding the nature of the donation.”

A group of school leaders convened and discussed the donation Thursday afternoon during a FAMU Foundation Board Meeting, which was broadcast via Zoom. During the call, Robinson said that officials decided Wednesday to “put a pause” on the donation “pending additional information that’s come to my attention.”

“It’s in our best interest to put that on hold,” he said.

The group also passed a motion to form an “internal, multidisciplinary committee” that will audit the university’s process for evaluating major gifts.