After a Fire, Pastor Charles Eatman Sr. Keeps a Harlem School Going From His Brownstone

The 25 students of Mount Pleasant Christian Academy have been going to school at a pastor’s Harlem brownstone since a December fire at their school. (DAVID GONZALEZ / THE NEW YORK TIMES)

The sounds of children once again fill the ground floor of the Eatmans’ brownstone on West 119th Street. This was not exactly the plan the Harlem couple had envisioned after raising four of their own children. But as the Rev. Charles Eatman Sr. knows, few things — other than the Ten Commandments — are written in stone.

In December, a fire caused serious damage to the Mount Pleasant Christian Academy, which Mr. Eatman started in 1982 to provide an education that mixed religion, a sense of the world and pride in African-American culture. Without much delay after the fire, Mr. Eatman and his wife, Lorraine, took in the students, turning the ground floor of their nearby home into a makeshift schoolhouse for prekindergarten through 12th grade.

Despite the tight quarters, nobody is complaining.

“A school is not just about the brick and mortar,” Mr. Eatman said. “It’s not about a building. It’s about nurturing. And part of what we do is teach flexibility. You can’t just fall apart because something went wrong.”

Of course, as a preacher, he does not fail to invoke a favorite biblical verse from Ecclesiastes. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all of your might,” he recited. “In practical terms, I’ve been given some special gifts and I have to make the most of them. So, there was a fire. What next?”

In some ways, his insistence on not letting anything stop him, or his 25 students, dates to his childhood in Harlem and the Bronx, at schools where the curriculum was neither interesting nor challenging. He managed to go on to college, where he was so scared of being called upon by the professor that he prayed it would not happen. Despite his fears, one teacher put him at ease, and that set him on his path to becoming a public-school teacher in Queens.

In the early 1980s, he became pastor of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, making his after-work commute from Queens a problem. He quit his teaching job and became a full-time pastor. Then, in 1982, he persuaded the congregation to let him open a small school. He relocated the school about 12 years ago to a better space inside two brownstones on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard.

His philosophy is direct: Ground students in the basics — in both faith and scholarship — and give them a sense of their identity through classes in black history and service trips overseas to places like Benin and the Dominican Republic. In everything the school does, he said, it treats the students as individuals.

“I want to provide our children with exposure to opportunities they do not find everywhere, especially for young people in the inner city,” he said. “People sometimes have this idea that they can’t handle it, or deserve it. But we give opportunities to every child. They do not compete against anyone except themselves. The question is, how far do you want to go?”

That kind of philosophy appeals to Brian Adjo, whose two daughters attend the school. An accountant, he was headed to see a client a few winters ago when he met two students in the cold selling hot chocolate and cookies to raise money for a water project in Benin. He was struck by their poise. His curiosity led him to Mr. Eatman, who happened to be reading the same book about black Indians that he had just finished. Mr. Adjo was impressed.

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Tracy Morgan Says Wal-Mart “Did Right” in Fatal Crash Settlement

tracy morgan 2014

Tracy Morgan (Photo via

 Almost a year after the New Jersey turnpike crash that left the actor in the hospital and killed his friend and fellow comedian James McNair, the legal battle between Wal-Mart and Tracy Morgan is over. With no details made public, attorneys for the parties have come to a proposed confidential settlement, a filing federal court in the Garden State today revealed. “Wal-Mart did right by me and my family, and for my associates and their families,” said Morgan in a statement Wednesday. “I am grateful that the case was resolved amicably.”

A motion put before the court on Wednesday to seal certain documents referred to “confidential settlement negotiations and the confidential final settlement amounts” between Morgan’s camp and Wal-Mart.

“Our thoughts continue to go out to everyone that was involved in the accident,” said Wal-Mart U.S. CEO walmart logoGreg Foran in a statement of his own today on the June 8, 2014 crash. The tragic incident saw the limo carrying the 30 Rock alum, McNair and two others struck by a Wal-Mart truck on the highway. McNair was killed almost instantly while Morgan suffered a head injury as well as a broken leg and various broken ribs.

On July 11 last year, Morgan sued the retail giant claiming that they were aware that tractor-trailer driver Kevin Roper had been up for over 24 hours straight when he smashed into their limo after falling asleep at the wheel of his vehicle. Wal-Mart reached a settlement with McNair’s children earlier this year. “While we know there is nothing that can change what happened, Wal-Mart has been committed to doing what’s right to help ensure the well-being of all of those who were impacted by the accident,” added Foran today.

Roper still faces criminal charges from the matter, to which he has pleaded not guilty.

article by Dominic Patten via

Floyd Dent Settles Police Brutality Suit with City of Inkster for $1.4 Million

Floyd Dent Receives Settlement from Inkster Police Department (photo via

Floyd Dent receives settlement from City of Inkster (photo via

Floyd Dent has settled his lawsuit with the City of Inkster for $1.4 million.

However for Dent, who was beaten by Inkster police in a shocking attack caught on video earlier this year, becoming a millionaire is less important than improving police relations with the communities they are supposed to serve and protect.

Given the choice, Dent would rather be broke and never have had this happen.  “Money isn’t everything,” he said. “You can’t buy happiness.”

Dent says he hopes something good will come from the incident, a new beginning for Inkster.  “The city of Inkster needs to move on and service the great citizens of Inkster,” he said.

The Defenders broke the story, exposing video of police officers punching, kicking, and using a Taser on Dent after a traffic stop. The Defenders also uncovered a second video of police apparently imitating and mocking Dent at the police station instead of immediately him to a hospital for his injuries.

“I’m bleeding and asking for a doctor and they are sitting there joking and high fiving. That’s unreal,” Dent said.

After the video was revealed, prosecutors dropped assault and drug charges against Dent and instead filed charges against William Melendez, the now-former Inkster police officer who punched Dent 16 times in the head.

Inkster also has a new police chief and two other officers were suspended. Now, with this a seven-figure settlement, Dent says a strong message has been sent about police brutality.  “Nothing like this will ever happen in Inkster,” Dent said.

Dent’s attorney Greg Rohl said the city stepped up to do the right thing for his client and for Inkster.

“At least some good can come out of all this,” Rohl said. “Floyd is proud of being the person that brought about this change.”

Becoming a millionaire may bring friends and relatives out of the woodwork, but Dent said the money won’t change him.

“There’s going to be be a lot of people ringing my doorbell. You know, long lost friends,” he said. “Do you have any plans for the money? No, not really, I’m going back to work. I miss work. I miss the people I work with.”

The settlement is not the end of this case. Dent still has to testify against Melendez in the criminal case.

Dent said he will tell the truth and let the justice system take care of it from there. He also knows his time in the spotlight is coming to an end, which is fine with him.

“I want people to remember me as an honest person that wasn’t afraid to go against the officers that done this to me and i want people to know that I’m grateful,” he said.

article by Kevin Dietz via

Rose Green, 77, Began Sprinting Last Year and Now Holds National Record


Sprinter Rose Green, 77 (Photo via

At 77, Rose Green is still brushing off her cleats and maintaining her status as one of the fastest sprinters in her age group, My Fox DC reports.  It’s a pretty impressive feat, not only because of her age but also because she took up the sport just last year and rose to the top of the ranks in such a short time.

According to My Fox DC, Green, a resident of Prince George’s County, Md., has won medals in several competitions, including the 200- and 400-meter races, and is the nation’s record holder in her age group in the 60-meter sprint.   Green, a great-grandmother, is trained vigorously by coach Cortez Austin. He’s also her boyfriend.

“She’s world-class,” Austin said about Green’s work ethic and ability. She trains seven days a week.

Green says that she doesn’t get any special treatment from Austin. “He’ll tell me, ‘Your form is not right, you’re not going as fast as you should,’ ” Green said. “He’s a very strict coach even though we are lovers.”

Green is turning into a local celebrity in her Cameron Grove adult community, and she’s helping students and other runners strive to greatness as well.  “She is like a celebrity,” said Austin. “It’s no question that she is an inspiration.”

“I hear that so many times that I’m starting to believe that I’m an inspiration to all these people,” Green said.

Green is currently training for the national senior championships in July. “I’m working towards the world record,” she said. “Why not?”

Read more and see video of this inspiring woman at My Fox DC.

article by Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele via

Toronto Native Tonika Morgan Goes from Homeless to Harvard Graduate School, Thanks to Crowdfunding

Tonika Morgan, pictured at the Artscape Youngplace in Toronto.

Tonika Morgan, pictured at the Artscape Youngplace in Toronto. (Photo: ISA MIGUEL RANSOME)

Tonika Morgan has not had an easy life. Now 32, the Toronto woman says she left home at 14, was homeless for four years, and slept in shelters and on park benches. She was kicked out of high school, she says, because she hardly ever showed up.

Even though she’s overcome problems that would overwhelm almost anyone, it wasn’t until this year that she faced what she calls her “biggest fear of all”: the fear that her application to attend Harvard’s Graduate School of Education next fall would be rejected.

It wasn’t. She’s in. But with her acceptance letter came another big worry: that she couldn’t pay the approximately $77,000 needed for the one-year master’s program, where tuition alone is $43,280.

So, lacking resources or workable options, she joined a growing number of needy college students and turned to crowdfunding to raise the money. She launched a “Mission for Harvard Tuition” in April on the GoFundMe site.  According to, after local media publicized the page, Morgan exceeded her goal and nearly $93,000 dollars was fundraised.

But Tonika Morgan knows that being able to go to her Harvard is not without the help of others who are helping her fulfill a dream of a lifetime.  “I have to say that this has been quite emotional for me. I have shared hugs, tears of joy and laughter with the beautiful souls who have noticed me on the street. I’ve never felt more supported and connected to anyone the way I have felt since this campaign started.”

“I was on the trolley and this woman reached her hand out and started crying,” Morgan, who goes by “Toni,” said in a phone interview from Toronto. “She said, ‘I’m so proud of you!’ I didn’t know that by telling my own truth, I’d connect with so many people.”

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Former NFL Star Randy Moss Hands Diploma to Lifelong Fan, Friend and Cancer Survivor Kassi Spier at her High School Graduation

Randy Moss visited a special friend on Friday. (Pelican Rapids Press)

Randy Moss with Kassi Spier on Friday. (Pelican Rapids Press)

Back in 1998, two-year-old Kassi Spier caught Randy Moss‘ attention when she yelled his name while Moss was going through his first training camp with the Minnesota Vikings.

The two quickly formed a bond, a bond that became stronger in 2000 after Spier was diagnosed with leukemia. Despite the leukemia, Spier still made it to training camp that year to visit Moss, according to St. Paul Pioneer-Press story.  “Randy loves that girl to death,” Daunte Culpepper said at the time. “They have that connection, and I think it’s beautiful.”

An Associated Press story from 2003 also noted that Moss would take Spier to lunch every day while holding her “tiny hand.”

Moss has been there for Spier for well over a decade and once again, he was there for her on Friday when he handed Spier her high school diploma at a graduation ceremony that took place in Pelican Rapids, Minnesota. Spier was among the 72 graduates who received a diploma at Pelican Rapids High School, according to the Pelican Rapids Press.

Pelican Rapids Public School District Superintendent Deb Wanek told the Fargo Forum that Moss had promised Spier he’d be at the ceremony.  “She’s had many struggles in her life, and he’s been there for her,” Wanek said. “He told her he’d be at her high school graduation.”

Even after Moss left Minnesota in 2004, he stayed in touch with Spier.  It hasn’t been an easy 17 years for Spier: Not only was she diagnosed with leukemia, but her dad died in a car accident in 2004 and she was also diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2013, but she always had a loving shoulder to lean on in Moss.

article by John Breech via

University of Washington School of Law Aims to Increase Diversity with New Program

greyH.WUStLouisLawA_BuschHallThe University of Washington School of Law has established a new fellows program aimed at increasing diversity at the law school and the legal profession. The Christine Gregoire Fellows Program, named after the former governor of the State of Washington, will choose nine students from underrepresented groups this year. The students will receive paid summer internships at local law firms or in the legal departments of area corporations after completing their first year of law school. The fellows will participate in a mentoring program led by Governor Gregoire, and will receive training to help them pass the Washington State bar examination.

Kellye Testy, dean of the University of Washington School of Law, said that “if we are to realize our goal of leadership for the global common good and of creating a legal profession as diverse as our society’s makeup, we need to encourage more underrepresented students to enter the legal profession. This innovative partnership will help us better reach students who are currently pursuing other paths. Moreover, by enhancing diversity in our classrooms we will enhance our academic excellence for all students.”

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