The Obsidian Collection, an African-American Newspaper Archive, to Put Its Records Online For Free

Source: Screenshot, Google Arts and Culture
Source: Screenshot, Google Arts and Culture

by Adrienne Samuels Gibbs via chicagomag.com

Digitizing legacy. That’s the job of the curators behind The Obsidian Collection – archivists for The Chicago Defender, Baltimore Afro American and other historically black newspapers in the United States. Their task is massive: digitize every image and article from newspapers that played a central role in the Great Migration, Civil Rights and Jim Crow eras. But they won’t have to do it all alone. Google Arts & Culture is working with the Obsidian group on creating digital exhibits that can be free and searchable by anyone around the world.

That’s just the first step, and it’s huge.

“More than just digitizing it for researchers, I’m passionate about the next generation seeing how awesome we are and in changing the narrative permeating the American conversation right now about African Americans,” says Angela Ford, who is helming the project and is excited about how it will add a more accurate variety of African American image metadata to the Google brain trust.

chicago defender harold washington
Harold Washington and Charles Hayes with a young Carol Moseley Braun cropped from the original published image, 1983 PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE CHICAGO DEFENDER—OBSIDIAN COLLECTION

“What happens is a lot of these archive collections speak in an echo chamber of libraries and archives where it just doesn’t get out to the laypeople.  What I love about Google Arts and Culture is you could be standing in line at the grocery store and viewing our archives. We’ll  keep rotating them in and out and keep pushing them through social media. We want everyone to see us.”

Eight exhibits are live on Google, giving people access to a wide range of images, from famed boxer Joe Louis at home in Chicago to coverage of a 1959 housewares show that illustrates how middle class black families lived at the time.

Obsidian already has an image of Harold Washington sitting with a young Carol Moseley Braun, except she was cropped out the image. There’s a water splattered image of children running through the spray of an open fire hydrant on 44th and Champlain, circa 1987. Even the mundane is fascinating, says Ford.

“The Defender had a housewares show in October 1959 and it was a big deal,” says Ford. “It cost a quarter to get in and we have pictures of all the black people promoting their products and Whirlpool was there with their miracle kitchen. We were separate from mainstream America and a lot of things went on in our community that shows a black middle class home.”

Ford is also working with her board—which includes people who have worked with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture—on the larger issues that include the creation of virtual reality online exhibits.

“Google Culture Institute in Paris has invented the capacity to create virtual 3D spaces from a photograph,” says Ford, discussing the possibilities involved in using old picture to create virtual realities. “The question is, are we altering the art?”

chicago defender joe louis
Joe Louis and young fans, c. 1945 PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE CHICAGO DEFENDER—OBSIDIAN COLLECTION

A lot of this work is already on microfilm, but moving it to an online space will make it easier to access via smartphone, which is the end goal. Obsidian will slog through uploading everything to their own website and meanwhile, visitors will soon be able to head to Google Arts & Culture for a taste of what’s to come.

“Google’s arts and culture strategy is that everybody in the world can access everybody in the world and that will create a new world,” says Ford. “We want to make sure we are part of that conversation.”

Source: http://www.chicagomag.com/city-life/June-2018/How-the-Obsidian-Collection-Is-Bringing-Black-Newspapers-to-Google/

In the Justice System of South Fulton, GA, Black Women Hold Every Top Position

(Photo: Reginald Duncan / The Atlanta Voice)

by Marshall A. Latimore via theatlantavoice.com

As America waits to see if Georgia will make history by electing Stacey Abrams the first African American woman governor in the country this November, African American women in one of Georgia’s newest cities are already making U.S. history.

Only a year after the creation of the City of South Fulton, Georgia’s fifth largest city, is breaking American barriers.

In January 2018, the city’s Municipal Court began operating and in March 2018 the city’s police services officially began. The city is the first city in American history where every criminal justice department head is an African American woman.

Chief of Police Sheila Rogers is a career law enforcement professional with more than twenty-six years experience.  Chief Rogers is the city’s first police chief and one of a few women police chief around the country.

Chief Judge Tiffany Carter Sellers is a University of Georgia law school graduate and the City’s first chief judge.  Judge Sellers was selected through a panel of experienced judges from the surrounding community.

Judge Sellers hired and appointed the Court Administrator, Lakesiya Cofield, and the City’s first Chief Court Clerk, Ramona Howard.

Also appointed to represent the two equally important components of any criminal justice system were two attorneys, City Solicitor LaDawn “LBJ” Jones, who prosecutes the cases and City Public Defender Viveca Famber Powell, who defends those accused of crimes.

Together these African American women make up all the portions of the criminal justice system in the new city. No other time in American history have black women been appointed to the top position in every department in an entire city’s criminal justice system. This amazing first was not planned. However, it is a testament to the reason the city was founded in the first place – self-reliance and local control that properly represents the community in which they serve.

“Our goal is to ensure justice for everyone,” Sellers said. “However, as African American women we are sensitive to the history of criminal justice in our country.   We want to be an example of how to do things right.”

Under Sellers’s leadership, the demographics of the court are not the only progressive attributes. Incorporated in the foundation of the City of South Fulton’s municipal court policies are details not found in other systems that have existed for years, including guaranteed access to an attorney, a robust diversion program that is infused into the court process, and overall respect for victims and the accused alike.

Source: https://www.theatlantavoice.com/articles/in-the-city-of-south-fultons-justice-system-black-women-hold-all-the-reigns/

Third-Grader Kori Scott, 9, Saves Choking Friend with Heimlich Maneuver, is Named ‘Mayor For The Day’

Photo: Courtesy of John Henry

by Brandee Sanders via newsone.com

A third grader from East Orange, New Jersey received a huge honor from the city’s mayor after saving her friend’s life. 9-year-old Kori Scott was named “Mayor for the Day” after stepping in and performing the Heimlich maneuver while her friend was choking, News 12 New Jersey reported.

The incident happened at Bowser Elementary School while Scott and her friend Astah were eating lunch in the cafeteria, the news outlet writes. Astah started choking on her food and ran to the water fountain. Scott ran after her friend and used the Heimlich maneuver; a first-aid procedure that she took training courses for with her mother.

“I did it 1-2-3 and food came out,” Scott told the news outlet. Her loved ones praised her for her quick response in the scary situation. “It could have ended very [differently’]” said her mother Kiana Scott, who serves as a security guard in the East Orange School district. “I’m glad Kori was a quick thinker and I’m glad she remembered what her father did when he did it on her.”

Scott’s heroic efforts caught the attention of local community leaders. East Orange Mayor Ted Green made Scott the “Mayor for the Day” on Friday. “I am honored to stand here and recognize Kori as one of East Orange’s own hometown heroes,” said Mayor Green in a statement. “Kori’s brave actions have already made an incredible impact on our city. Her smart instincts and quick actions are characteristics of a true hero, and it fills me with pride to have her here today as a representative of our city and community.”

Source: https://www.theroot.com/new-jersey-3rd-grader-becomes-mayor-for-a-day-after-sav-1826479039

Ten Black Students Selected as 2018 Truman Scholars

Justin Edwards, Lamar Greene, Michael Lowe, Anea Moore, and Taylor Morgan (photo: jbhe.com)

via jbhe.com

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, recently announced the names of 59 college students from 52 U.S. colleges and universities who have been selected as 2018 Truman Scholars. The Truman Scholarship is the premier graduate scholarship for aspiring public service leaders in the United States.

The Truman Foundation was created by Congress in 1975 as the living memorial to President Truman. The Foundation’s mission is premised on the belief that a better future relies on attracting to public service the commitment and sound judgment of bright, outstanding Americans.

The 59 new Truman Scholars, mostly students who are completing their junior year in college, were selected from among 756 candidates nominated by 312 colleges and universities. They were chosen by sixteen independent selection panels based on the finalists’ academic success and leadership accomplishments, as well as their likelihood of becoming public service leaders.

Each new Truman Scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government.

While the Truman Foundation does not provide data on the racial or ethnic make up of its scholars, after an analysis by JBHE, it appears that 10 of the 59 new Truman Scholars are Black.

Justin Edwards is a rising senior at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He is majoring in political science and economics. Edwards is the founder and president of the VISION Foundation in his hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana. He hopes to continue his education in law school.

Lamar Greene is a Gates Millennium Scholar from Richmond, Virginia, majoring in human health with a concentration in health innovation at Emory University in Atlanta. Greene plans to pursue a career in public health focused on community-based initiatives to promote health equity and improve the lives of low-income, Black people.

Michael Lowe is an undergraduate student at the University of Alaska-Anchorage, where he is majoring in political science with a minor in national defense. He serves as a cadet in the university’s ROTC program and as an infantryman in the Alaska Army National Guard. After graduation, Lowe plans to pursue a juris doctorate with a concentration in international law and security.

Anea Moore is a rising senior at the University of Pennsylvania in her native Philadelphia. She is majoring in sociology and urban studies, with a concentration in law and a minor in Africana studies. Moore plans to pursue a juris doctorate and graduate degrees in education and public policy.

Taylor Morgan completed her third year at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. Morgan is majoring in sociology/anthropology with minors in Black studies and peace and conflict studies. She intends to pursue a joint J.D./Ph.D. in African American studies and philosophy.

Mohamed Nur, Ella Oppong, Shakera Vaughan, Nicholas Whittaker, and Alisa Winchester (photo via jbhe.com)

Mohamed Nur, a native of Portland, Maine, is the son of Somali immigrants. He will be a senior at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, where he is double majoring in government and Africana studies. Nur plans to pursue a law degree and a master’s degree in international conflict resolution and security policy.

Ella Oppong is a Ghanaian-American student studying bioengineering with a minor in global service at Union College in Schenectady, New York. She is overseeing the construction of a vocational school for orphaned students in Ghana with a Davis Projects for Peace grant. Oppong plans to pursue a medical degree and a master of public health degree.

Shakera Vaughan is a student at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where she is majoring in government and sociology. She spent her junior year studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa. She plans to pursue a master of public administration degree, concentrating on local and state government management.

Nicholas Whittaker is studying philosophy at Harvard University. He is an opinion writer for the Harvard Crimson and a member of Harvard’s Black Community and Student Theater. Whittaker will pursue both a law degree and a Ph.D. in philosophy. He  plans to work as an educator and activist dedicated on making academia more accessible and relevant to marginalized communities.

Alisa Winchester is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English at Delaware State University, a historically Black university in Dover. Currently enlisted as a soldier in the Delaware Army National Guard and the Reserved Officer Training Corps, her ambitions include earning a Juris Doctorate and serving as an attorney in the United States Army.

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/05/ten-black-students-selected-as-truman-scholars/

The Forgotten Girls Who Led the Movement for School Desegregation

Millicent Brown, left, 15, daughter of state NAACP President J. Arthur Brown, one of two black girls to enter Rivers High School in Charleston, S.C, chats with fellow students while awaiting a report from police and fireman concerning a bomb scare at the school on Sept. 3, 1963. (AP Photo)

by Melinda D. Anderson via theatlantic.com

There’s an enduring myth that the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision was “the first step” in the fight to desegregate schools. Rachel Devlin, an associate professor of history at Rutgers University, is looking to upend that myth. A Girl Stands At The Door, her new account of the black girls and teens who laid the groundwork for the historic ruling, draws from interviews and archival research to show that before Linda Brown, a 9-year-old, became the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court case, a generation of black girls and young women from the Deep South to the Midwest fueled the grassroots crusade to strike down the “separate but equal” doctrine in America’s public schools and colleges.

Before Brown, some dozen lawsuits were filed on behalf of young black women attempting to enroll in all-white schools—and after Brown, black girls, almost exclusively, did the hard labor of walking through all-white mobs and sitting in previously all-white classrooms, with sometimes hostile classmates and teachers, in pursuit of school integration.

I spoke with Devlin about the black youth who led the effort to racially integrate schools and catalyzed the broader anti-segregation movement. The interview that follows has been condensed and edited for length and clarity.


Melinda D. Anderson: A disproportionate number of black girls were at the forefront of the school-desegregation movement from the late ’40s to the mid-’60s. Why were black girls continually chosen to break the color barrier?

Rachel Devlin: Interestingly, there are no written records about why girls were chosen over and over again in individual lawsuits. These choices were made on a level that was not always entirely conscious. Parents would explain why they should file a lawsuit, and girls agreed. Many of them said, “I was willing.” Other parents drafted their daughters, and the young women cooperated, yet most of the young women who participated were fully invested in school desegregation.

The other thing about girls is that they were good at it. To speak to principals and lawyers and the press you have to be poised, you have to be personable and diplomatic, and young black women had these attributes. They dealt with constant verbal and sexual harassment on the streets of southern cities, of northern cities, and they were acutely aware of their self-presentation in public. It was drilled into them as a way to protect their dignity. Also, very few African American girls and young women did not at some point in their lives work in a white home, and they had to learn how to navigate around white people.

But I want to be clear. This was not just about being accommodating—they knew how to stand their ground. Girls were good at combining different forms of bravery; they could be both stubborn and tough, but also project social openness. They had that sense of self-possession that was extremely useful in these situations.Anderson: You write that the language in the Brown v. Board of Education decision contains “the same moral conviction that inspired black girls to walk up to the doors of white schools and seek to cross the threshold.” In what way are these girls’ untold stories reflected in this landmark ruling?

Devlin: A black girl walking up the steps of a white school and announcing her intentions to go to school with white children was a radical act of social optimism.  Most white people—and a good many African Americans—in the late 1940s and early 1950s believed that white and black children would never be able to learn in an integrated setting. That racial hostility was intractable.

In fact, judges who ruled against these plaintiffs said just that in their decisions. By showing up at the schoolhouse door, these girls were asserting not only their right to attend historically white schools, but that they believed they were capable of sharing a classroom with white students. Their actions and moral clarity reflected their confidence that they and their white peers could coexist in the intimate setting of a school. The Supreme Court decision asserted this same presumption: that it was fitting, right, and possible for children of different races to attend school together in the United States.

Anderson: The battle for school integration sparked bitterness, anger, and even violence. Some of these black girls were elementary-school age. What was the physical and psychological cost of being first?Devlin: Tessie Prevost-Williams and Leona Tate integrated T.J. Semmes Elementary School in New Orleans, in third grade. Along with Gail Etienne, the three of them received the worst violence that I recorded in the book. Because they were so young and so little, people would punch them, trip them, spit in their food. They said they could hardly go to the bathroom because that was a very dangerous space. It was a war inside the school. Tessie, Leona, and Gail all said it was a living hell.

I think the resilience that these young women had is hard to imagine. One would think that it would have been a crippling experience, but they sensed from a very early age the weight and enormity of what they were doing. They came to understand the notion of sacrifice for social justice. The stamina that it took to survive was fed and reinforced by the magnitude of what they were accomplishing.

I think it’s very hard from a current-day perspective to imagine a child going through that. In some ways we just have to be astonished at what they did. America was effecting social change on the backs of young children, and we have to ask ourselves what this means about political change in this country, that we leaned on young children to do this work of racial reconciliation.

Anderson: You talked to some of these women in your research. How do they view the resegregation of schools today—what some have called the broken promises of Brown v. Board of Education?

Devlin: Of the nearly 30 people that I interviewed, to a person, they still very much believe in what they did. They tend to look at the broader changes that have happened as a result of Brown v. Board, the day-to-day interactions between white and black Americans in a society that is diverse and desegregated. They see a larger tableau that has been fundamentally altered because the schools desegregated—the ripple effects of the Brown decision.

They also understand that people within the black community question desegregation. Some of them have even been the object of complaints: If you hadn’t done this, we would still have all-black schools. But they say it had to be done. Millicent Brown, who was among the first to integrate schools in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1963, put it in a way that’s quite striking: “We could not have apartheid in the schools.”

Source: https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2018/05/rachel-devlin-school-desegregation/561284/

Jamie Foxx to Star in New Film Adaptation of “Spawn”

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 14: Jamie Foxx attends the 2018 Fox Network Upfront at Wollman Rink, Central Park on May 14, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

by Sameer Rao via colorlines.com

“Spawn” broke new ground when it debuted in 1997—well before Marvel made comic superhero films one of Hollywood’s biggest cash cows. The live-action film, which featured Michael Jai White as its titular character, was the first superhero movie with a Black lead. “Spawn” comic creator Todd McFarlane revisits the character for a new adaptation, toplined by Jamie Foxx.

Deadline reported yesterday (May 29) that the actor will portray Spawn and his alter-ego, ex-government assassin Al Simmons. McFarlane directs the new film, also called “Spawn,” from his own original script.

McFarlane told Deadline that he wrote the new iteration of Simmons with Foxx in mind after discussing it with him. “Jamie came to my office five years ago, and he had an idea about ‘Spawn’ and we talked about it,” McFarlane explained. “I never forgot him, and when I was writing this script, you sort of plug people in, and he was my visual guy and I never let go of him. When I got done and my agents and everybody was talking about what actor, I said, ‘I’m going to Jamie first, and until he says no, I don’t want to think about anyone else because I’ve never had anyone else in my head.’ Luckily, he hadn’t forgotten either. I said, ‘Hey, I’m back to talk about Spawn again,’ and he was like, ‘Let’s do it.’”

Read more: https://www.colorlines.com/articles/jamie-foxx-stars-in-new-spawn-adaptation

PHOTOGRAPHY: African American Collective Kamoinge Opens “Black Women: Power and Grace” Exhibit in New York

Church ladies. New York, 2005.(Credit: Jamel Shabazz)

by Antwaun Sargent via nytimes.com

More than half a century after the groundbreaking exhibit “The Negro Woman,” the image announcing the show by the African-American collective Kamoinge still captivates. Taken by Louis Draper, who had a keen sense of light and shadow, the photograph shows an older black woman standing on a busy Harlem street corner. In the crowd, her face is finely in focus. She is tired, gazing off into the distance, as she waits, with serious dignity and grace.

It was an everyday scene that in its own way was extraordinary. Led by the astute chronicler of Harlem life, Roy DeCarava, the show aimed to reclaim the beauty of the African-American woman. Kamoinge’s group exhibition was among the first to carefully and radically picture the black woman’s elegance and pride.

“Nothing like that had been done in the community before,” said Adger Cowans, the president and a co-founder of Kamoinge. “The black woman has been underrepresented. Here we are today and we are still looking at black women negatively. We wanted to show their beauty and power.”

Khadija. New York, 1998. (Credit: John Pinderhughes)

Decades after “The Negro Woman,” that same motivation has inspired Kamoinge’s new exhibit, “Black Women: Power and Grace,” at the National Arts Club in New York from May 28 to June 30. “With this exhibition we are showing our love and appreciation to our mothers, wives and sisters,” said Russell Frederick, a co-organizer of the exhibition and Kamoinge’s vice president. “I think black women, who have mostly been objectified in the media, have actually made a major mark on society that really can’t be quantified but has gone unrecognized.”

“What Do They Call Me, My Name Is Aunt Sara.” Self-portrait.(Credit: Delphine Fawundu)
Women of New York. 2017. (Credit: Delphine Diallo)

The show includes several intimate portraits by Mr. Russell that examine traditional notions of beauty and Anthony Barboza’s images of black models, like a bald and beautiful Pat Evans, that affirm them. Among the show’s earliest works is Mr. Cowan’s “Untitled (Betty Shabazz).” Taken in 1965, the black-and-white picture shows Ms. Shabazz coming out the back of a Harlem church where the funeral service for her husband Malcolm X had been held. In an indelible image of strength and loss, Ms. Shabazz’s face is veiled in black lace as a single tear rolls down her cheek.

“That picture meant something to me because my whole universe stood still,” said Mr. Cowan, 81. “It was very emotional for me, she was as big in my eyes as Malcolm. It was important for people to see this image because this woman carried the weight of the world on her shoulders and you can see it on her face.”

Since 2016, the photo collective, founded in 1963, has made an effort to expand ranks — historically dominated by male photographers — with younger, female artists. The group’s new black female members, including the French-Senegalese portraitist Delphine Diallo, join a small company of women like Ming Smith, the first black woman photographer to have her work collected by the Museum of Modern Art.

Betty Shabazz at the funeral for her husband, Malcom X. Harlem, N.Y., 1965. (Credit: Adger Cowans)

“Black Women: Power and Grace” also features other female newcomers. Lola Flash has two pictures that bring visibility to the black lesbian community; a 2010 Delphine Fawundu self portrait, “What Do They Call Me, My Name Is Aunt Sara,” challenges us to rethink the names we call black women; and Laylah Amatullah Barrayn’s images explore spiritual practice in Senegal.

“I’ve been watching Kamoinge for most of my career and I’ve seen its growth,” Ms. Barrayn said. “I always felt being a part of Kamoinge was so far-fetched because there weren’t many women in the group.”

Kamoinge’s mission-oriented pictures are populated with individual narratives that have long come together to shape the complex diversity of black women.

“The challenge is to see her differently,” Mr. Frederick said. “We really embrace today’s black woman, who she is and even those who came before her like Maya Angelou, Maxine Waters and Dionne Warwick, who are all holding hands in Eli Reed’s picture.

“Black women have broken barriers, been torch bearers and pioneers,” Mr. Frederick continued. “And at the same time, they have always looked out for all of us in the neighborhood, taking us to church, making Sunday dinner and always having our back.”

For more: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/29/lens/celebrating-the-grace-of-black-women.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

HISTORY: Musician Dom Flemons Reclaims Songs of Black Cowboys on New Smithsonian Folkways Album

Dom Flemons, the Grammy-winning co-founder of the Carolina Chocolate Drops. (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings)

Whitewashed from cowboy movies and lore, the African-American contribution to the shaping of the American West was more significant than previously considered, down to tunes black cowboys and laborers sang, which were as familiar as “Home on the Range.”

In researching songs that would become his album Dom Flemons presents Black Cowboys for Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, the artist learned that musicologist John Lomax recorded the most familiar version of “Home on the Range” from a black cook in San Antonio.

“He transcribes the fellow’s particular way of singing the song and it became the well-known western anthem that we know today,” says Flemons. It was the same with a familiar cattle driving song about a horse, “Goodbye Old Paint.”

The fiddler who Lomax recorded singing that song was white, Flemons says. “But another musician talked about how he learned the song from an ex-slave who worked for his father on the ranch.” It has since been credited to the black cowboy and former slave Charley Willis.

Hearing about the roots of two songs so closely associated with the American West, Flemons says, “started leading me in a musical direction that showed that African-American cowboys were an essential part of the general cowboy song theme.”

From books like Philip Durham’s seminal 1965 The Negro Cowboys, a copy of which he found in his native Arizona, Flemons learned one in four cowboys who helped settle the West were African-Americans, as were some of its biggest personalities, from Nat Love, better known as Deadwood Dick, to Bass Reeves, the first black deputy U.S. marshal west of the Mississippi, who many believe was the model for The Lone Ranger.

Flemons wrote an original song about the leading black movie cowboy, Bill Pickett. And he found strong connections to other parts of the African-American experience such as the cowboys who became Pullman Porters and in turn became strong figures in the Civil Rights Movement. “I knew I had to tell a story that was a story of the past, but also point people to a direction to show that there are modern black cowboys that are still out there,” Flemons says.

Continue reading “HISTORY: Musician Dom Flemons Reclaims Songs of Black Cowboys on New Smithsonian Folkways Album”

Louisiana Man Corey Williams Free After Being Wrongfully Sentenced to Death at 16 Over 20 Years Ago

Corey Dewayne Williams, right, after his release Tuesday morning from the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, with lawyers Amir Ali, far left, and Blythe Taplin. (photo via Amir Ali)

via eji.org

More than 20 years after he was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death, Corey Williams walked free from Louisiana’s Angola Prison last week.

Corey Williams was an intellectually disabled child just three weeks past his 16th birthday when he was arrested for the murder and robbery of a pizza delivery man in Shreveport in 1998. Impaired by severe lead poisoning, Corey was known in his community as a “chump” who would take the blame for things he had not done.

Police knew about Corey’s disability, but they interrogated him all night until he accepted blame for the murder and then told them, “I’m tired. I’m ready to go home and lay down.”

Booking photos of Williams, taken by the Shreveport Police Department. (Shreveport Police Department)

Caddo Parish District Attorney Hugo Holland aggressively sought the death penalty for Corey Williams. Along with his successor, Dale Cox, Mr. Holland is responsible for 75 percent of all death sentences imposed in Louisiana between 2010 and 2015.

No physical evidence linked Corey Williams to the crime. Instead, the evidence pointed to three men who were seen robbing the victim after he was shot. The victim’s money and pizzas were found in a dumpster near their house; one man’s fingerprints were found on the murder weapon; and the victim’s blood was found on another man’s clothing. Those three pinned the crime on Corey Williams.

The prosecution suppressed evidence that supported Corey’s innocence, including evidence that the police believed the other suspects conspired to set him up and admissions from multiple witnesses that they had falsely accused Mr. Williams after being threatened by men at the scene.

Mr. Williams was convicted and sentenced to death.

In 2002, the Supreme Court barred the death penalty for people with intellectual disability, in part because a person with intellectual disability is at heightened risk of “unwittingly confess[ing] to a crime that he did not commit.” As a result, Corey Williams was removed from death row. But Louisiana courts upheld his conviction after refusing to consider his age and intellectual disability in evaluating whether his confession was reliable.

In March 2018, attorneys for Mr. Williams filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to reverse Mr. Williams’s conviction because of prosecutorial misconduct, which included faking “summaries” of witness statements to incriminate Mr. Williams. A group of 44 former prosecutors and Justice Department officials, including former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, signed a brief in support of the petition. Caddo Parish District Attorney James Stewart responded by agreeing to immediately release Mr. Williams in exchange for a guilty plea to lesser offenses.

“Imagine your child leaving to hang out with friends, and then losing him or her for twenty years,” Mr. Williams’s attorney Amir Ali said in a statement. “No one can give Corey back the time that he wrongfully spent behind bars, away from his family and friends. Today, we ensure this tragedy ends here—Corey can finally go home.”

Sources: https://eji.org/news/corey-williams-released-from-louisiana-prison and The Washington Post

She’s Back! Serena Williams Wins Her 1st Grand Slam Match Since Having a Baby, at the 2018 French Open

PARIS, FRANCE – MAY 29: Serena Williams of USA celebrates her first round victory during Day Three of the 2018 French Open at Roland Garros on May 29, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

by Britni Danielle via essence.com

Although Serena Williams might just be the greatest tennis player of all time, she still has something to prove.

After giving birth to her first daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., last September, Williams’ climb back to the top has been tough. The tennis champ won her first match back on the court in March at Indian Wells but was sent home by her sister, Venus. Later that month, Williams suffered a first-round defeat at the Miami Open, however, she’s been putting in work to reclaim her crown.

On Monday, Williams kicked off the French Open with a win, defeating the Czech Republic’s Kristyna Pliskova in straight sets.

After the match, Williams praised her opponent. “She played really really well,” Williams said before turning her attention to her comeback. “It’s been two years since I played on clay. It’s been a really long time but I trained really hard on the clay.”

Williams is no stranger to the French Open and has won the Grand Slam tournament three times: in 2002, 2013, and 2015. Still, she said she’s not taking anything for granted. “I feel good. I’m just happy to have won a match here,” Williams said. “I’m just taking it a day at a time.”

Williams, who donned a fabulous all-black catsuit for her return to the Grand Slam stage, said the form-fitting choice was a shout out to “all the moms out there that had a tough pregnancy and had to come back and try to be fierce.”

Source: https://www.essence.com/celebrity/serena-williams-wins-first-grand-slam-since-baby

The Good Things Black People Do, Give and Receive All Over The World
%d bloggers like this: