Obama Continues Key Initiative to Provide Opportunities to Boys and Young Men of Color 

Then President Barack Obama speaks at the annual My Brother’s Keeper event at the White House in 2016. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Barack Obama has followed through on a major part of his lifelong goal to help the country achieve greater racial and social justice: closing the opportunity gap for boys and young men of color.

The Obama Foundation, a nonprofit organization set up by the former president and first lady with the expressed goal of improving civic engagement, will now include as a core initiative the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance. The program was one Obama started during his second term in office and aims to improve the lives of young men of color by mobilizing mentors, reducing youth violence and providing greater access to education and opportunities.


While MBKA was always expected to unite with the Obama Foundation, the merge wasn’t officially announced until last week.

Michael Smith, executive director of MBKA, said in a press release released last Wednesday that the alliance “has catalyzed an unprecedented all-in movement for our kids who are so often left on the margins of society.”

Now that MBKA is officially a core initiative of the Obama Foundation, Smith said he is “excited to take this work to the next level with greater focus on impact, innovation and collaboration.”

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Food stamp work requirement to return for most of Tennessee


NASHVILLE — Gov. Bill Haslam announced Monday that he will reinstate food stamp work requirements for most Tennessee counties next year.

Haslam said that Tennessee will re-establish federal work requirements in 70 counties for able-bodied adults without dependents who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. While the change goes into effect in February, people affected by it will have three months to comply.

That requirement was waived in 2008 amid the Great Recession.

Gov. Bill Haslam

“This is the way the law is designed to work,” Haslam told reporters. “The law was passed in 1996 and said if you’re an able-bodied adult without dependents you’re supposed to be working, looking for work or getting an education.”

The change is estimated to affect 58,000 of about 1 million Tennesseans on food stamps.

“We’ve had record low unemployment three months in a row in Tennessee,” Haslam said. “It’s hard to say to say we’re under an extraordinary circumstance that would deserve a waiver.”

The work requirement won’t be reinstated for 16 economically distressed counties. The requirement is already in place in nine counties, including seven in the Nashville area along with Lincoln and Knox counties.

Haslam can’t run for re-election next year because of term limits, and his political future has been the source of much speculation. But the governor was dismissive of questions about whether his attempts to tighten welfare rules might be designed to endear him to Republican voters.

“One hundred percent: No,” Haslam said. “We honestly think this is the right thing to do.”

The Haslam administration also plans to introduce legislation aimed at reducing welfare fraud, waste and abuse, while also making cost-of-living adjustments to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits.

About 25,000 households received TANF benefits in July, down from more than 63,000 in 2011. Tennessee’s average monthly benefit for a family of three is $185, compared with a $262 average for surrounding states.

Under the change proposed by Haslam, Tennessee’s monthly benefit would no longer be frozen at 1996 levels. It would instead be set at 20 percent of the “standard of need” calculated each year by the University of Tennessee.

That would bring Tennessee’s monthly TANF benefit to $277 for a family of three.

Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and CBC members kick off Annual Legislative Conference


The Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) – powered by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. (CBCF) and Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members – kicked off in Washington, D.C. Wednesday morning.

The ALC is widely considered the leading policy conference on issues impacting African Americans and the global black community. The 47th annual ALC gathering runs through Sunday at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. It will feature nearly 100 public policy forums on health, education, economic empowerment, the environment, and more.

This year’s theme is “And Still I Rise.”

“The Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Caucus is one of the most significant opportunities for African American thought leaders from around the country to come together to engage with CBC members around the issues that most impact our communities,” said TSD Publisher Bernal E. Smith II, who is attending the conference.

“It is a time of reflection, introspection and solutions that can be incorporated into legislation and action,” Smith said. “It is important that the Black Press, as a long standing authoritative voice of the community, be engaged in these discussions and sessions and share the experiences and information across its multi-media platforms to empower the audiences we serve.

“I am excited to represent the interest of Greater Memphis as I participate in a number of activities this week with the intent of bringing back connections, resources and opportunities.”

The agenda for the ALC includes a highly-anticipated National Town Hall focusing on “Fighting the Systemic Destruction of our Civil Rights.” The Prayer Breakfast will be headlined by Grammy Award-winning gospel artist Pastor Shirley Caesar and will feature keynote speaker Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr., presiding bishop of the Church of God in Christ.

; the Phoenix Awards dinner; and a host of forums and sessions with topics including civic engagement, civil rights, foreign affairs and national security, and CBCF core pillars: education, health and wellness, economic empowerment and the environment.

follow the CBCF on social media using hashtag, #CBCFALC17 for updates.

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Incorporated (CBCF) was established in 1976. It’s a non-partisan, nonprofit, public policy, research and educational institute committed to advancing the global black community by developing leaders, informing policy and educating the public.

For updates, follow the CBCF on social media using hashtag, #CBCFALC1.

Michelle Obama Reveals The One Food She Just Doesn’t Like

© Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP/REX/Shutterstock. Refinery29

Former First Lady Michelle Obama may be a huge advocate for eating fresh fruits and vegetables, but she recently revealed there’s one vegetable she just doesn’t like: beets.

In a recent interview with Food & Wine, Obama shared that, while she’ll eat just about anything, she’s “not a fan” of the root vegetable. The fact, as it turns out, isn’t exactly a secret — people first picked up on the Obama beet aversion back in 2009, when beets were omitted from the 55 fruits and vegetables planted in the White House garden.

Later, in 2012, Obama revealed that neither she nor her husband really liked beets.

“We believe there’s a beet gene. You either love beets or you hate ’em,” she is quoted as saying in 2012, while promoting American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America. We also re-watched Obama’s appearance on Masterchef Junior, where the kids are given a mystery box inspired by the White House garden. Sure enough, not a beet to be found.

We’re inclined to agree that beets are a divisive food — many fall down on similar lines of loving or loathing the vegetable. And while, for most people, hating beets would hardly be newsworthy, when so much of your career is focused on food, it does trickle in. Another famous foodie (and Obama fan) comes to mind: You’ll never never find a Barefoot Contessa recipe with cilantro since Ina Garten hates the herb.

Obama’s dislike of beets also solves another mystery for us. In 2014, Obama famously appeared in a Vine video to ask people “Turnip for what?” Now we know why she neglected to also turnip the beet.


by Marshall Bright of Refinery29

Will Smith, DJ Jazzy Jeff reunite for first official show in 12 years

UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Will Smith Jazzy Jeff

Will Smith (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images) | DJ Jazzy Jeff (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for truTV)

DJ Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith have reunited for their first official show in 12 years.

The duo are celebrating a short concert run with Friday and Saturday’s MTV Presents Summerblast Music Festival 2017 in Croatia, then at Sunday’s Livewire Festival in Blackpool, England, though they are hoping for more.

“I looked at Jeff and he was getting old, man, and I was like, ‘I can’t do this to this boy,’” Smith joked to Entertainment Tonight’s Kevin Frazierabout the decision to have a reunion. “It was time. LL hit me [up and] was like, ‘Dude, I’m telling you, it’s time. You have no idea the love that’s out there.’ I was listening to L like, ‘All right, I need to do it.’”

“Now I got the bug,” Smith continued. “I was on fire last night. It was the first time being on stage in a while. I blew my voice out a little — I do that all the time. I just can’t contain myself on stage.”

As for Jazzy Jeff, he said that his job is to rein in Smith when he gets “overly excited.”

“I’m the little man in his ear telling him to calm down, just slow down,” he said. “You have to have fun with it and a lot of it is making sure that you’re loose and calm on stage.”

However, while the two of them are loving the tour and even debuted a new track, “Get Lit,” on Sunday, they said that this didn’t mean there was going to be a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reunion.

“Stuff had to go really wrong for there to be a Fresh Prince reunion special,” Smith said. “Like, I don’t know what would have to happen! Nah man, you can’t touch stuff like that. It’s so nostalgic for people — I’m not going nowhere near that.”

Black MMA fighter saves Houston flood victims, including man who insisted he save his Confederate flag

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Black MMA fighter saves Houston flood victims, including man who insisted he save his Confederate flag news Derrick Lewis MMA


Houston UFC heavyweight Derrick Lewis has been doing his part to help those that have been affected by the floods brought on by Hurricane Harvey, going into Houston to rescue people and their treasured belongings.

Lewis even rescued a man who insisted on saving his Confederate flag, according to MMA Junkie.

“I picked up one guy and his family, his wife – he just kept apologizing to me, because all he really had was his clothes, and he wanted to take his Confederate flag,” Lewis said. “He wanted to take that with him, and he just apologized and said, ‘Man, I’ll sit in the back of your truck, man. I don’t want to have my flag inside of your truck like this.’ I said, ‘Man, I’m not worried about that.’

“He’s saying, ‘You never know if you ever need someone, so …’ – I already knew where he was going with it. I just said, ‘Don’t even worry about it. It’s OK. I don’t care about that.’ His wife kept hitting him and saying, ‘You should have just left it.’”

Lewis, who has posted a few videos to social media of himself and those who have been rescued as well as the work being done, said that he wasn’t too bothered, since he was focused on simply helping people.

“I don’t care about that,” he said. “I live in Texas. It ain’t nothing new. I’ve been living in the South all my life, and it ain’t nothing I hadn’t seen before or discussed about. I don’t care about that type of stuff. I just wanted to help him.”

‘Day of the Rope Is Coming’: Racist, Anti-Semitic Signs Found at Va. Church

Fox 5 DC screenshot

A predominantly black Prince William County church has been the latest target of racists after messages of hate were posted up at the church’s front entrance over the weekend.

According to Fox 5 DC, church members at Greater Praise Temple Ministries in Dumfries, Va., found the disturbing messages on Sunday. The news station was told that it took officers about two hours to respond to a call from the church after it was reported.

One of the signs in question showed the front cover of the German magazine Der Spiegel, which features President Donald Trump wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood: an image that came as criticism of Trump’s outrageous response to the violence following the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. Accompanying the photo were the words, “Now that’s white power. Day of the rope is coming niggers.”

A second sign pictured several swastikas with the words, “The Fourth Reich.”

“It’s very disturbing … there are a lot of churches in this area,” a member of the church identified only as Sister Gwen told the news station. “But for the people of color, we have to go through this—it’s like taking a step back to the ’50s and ’60s.”

Sister Gwen said that until the police catch the perpetrator, all that she and her church group can do is pray and help educate.

“We are praying for the perpetrators, we are praying for love in the community and not hate,” she said. “We are praying for togetherness and we are praying that they will catch them.”

Police say that a police report was filed both online and over the phone but added that there was no indication of anyone being in fear of their lives … because that is definitely where the bar should be set, right?

Nonetheless, despite taking two hours to come out to the crime scene and seemingly being unconcerned about the threats, police say that they are currently investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.

Read more at Fox 5 DC.

Did Joel Osteen Really Close the Doors of His Texas Megachurch to Victims of Hurricane Harvey? Here’s What Really Went Down

Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Pastor Joel Osteen found himself in a heap of trouble when a social media posse came looking to burn the Houston megachurch preacher at the stake after his church’s Twitter site posted that the church, Lakewood, was “inaccessible due to severe flooding” following Hurricane Harvey, and then listed other places where those looking for shelter could find help.

The tweets came fast and furious.

So did Osteen really shut the doors to his church—which is the former home of the Houston Rockets, by the way—in his flock’s most dire time of need? Well, yes and no. On Tuesday the church claimed that it never shut its doors. It also said that it didn’t want to function as a shelter but, rather, as a distribution center because it claimed that there was flooding inside the building. Photos posted to CNN and CBN show what appears to be flooding inside the facility’s parking garage that could make its way into the church.

Meanwhile, one Twitter user actually went outside and took video showing that there was no flooding surrounding the church.

CNN notes that there was a flood wall put in place at the church, which can seat over 16,000 people, years ago after a previous storm flooded the area.

“We have never closed our doors. We will continue to be a distribution center for those in need,” church spokesman and Osteen’s father-in-law, Donald Iloff, told CNN. “We are prepared to shelter people once the cities and county shelters reach capacity. Lakewood will be a value to the community in the aftermath of this storm in helping our fellow citizens rebuild their lives.”

Let me say this again so that people in the back can hear it: If you live blocks away from the church and your home has been flooded, you cannot stay at the church. The church is not housing you until the shelters have reached capacity, so as long as there is space at a local shelter, even if getting to said shelter requires a boat, then you are out of luck. Oh, and about those tithes that you’ve been giving the church: Thank you!

Four people have already died as a result of the storm, and more than 12 inches of rain are expected to hit the Houston area Tuesday. If you are in the neighborhood and you need toiletries or a place to pray for someone to get you to a local shelter, then Lakewood is open and ready for business.

Read more at CNN and CBN.

Homeowner’s lawsuit says Wells Fargo charged improper mortgage fees


A Wells Fargo bank sign is pictured in downtown Los Angeles© REUTERS/Mike Blake A Wells Fargo bank sign is pictured in downtown Los Angeles

A homeowner has filed a proposed class action lawsuit accusing Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) of improperly charging thousands of customers nationwide to lock in interest rates when their mortgage applications were delayed.

Filed on Monday in San Francisco federal court, the lawsuit said Wells Fargo managers pressured employees to blame homeowners for the delays, sometimes by falsely stating that paperwork was missing, so homeowners could be stuck with extra fees.

It comes as Wells Fargo is trying to recover from a scandal that started last year when it came to light that the bank had opened accounts for customers without their authorization in order to boost sales figures.

Last month, a new lawsuit accused it of charging several hundred thousand borrowers for auto insurance they did not request

Monday’s lawsuit accuses the bank of violating numerous state and federal consumer protection laws, including the U.S. Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and the U.S. Truth in Lending Act.

A spokesman for Wells Fargo could not immediately be reached for comment.

Earlier this month, Wells Fargo disclosed that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was investigating the fees the company charged to lock in interest rates for delayed mortgage loans. In a securities filing, the bank said it was working with regulators to see if customers had been harmed by the fees.

Interest rate locks are guarantees by a lender to lock in a set interest rate, usually for several weeks, while a loan is being processed. If the interest rate lock expires before a loan closes, lenders often cover the cost of extending the lock if the delay was their fault.

Wells Fargo usually locked in rates for 30 to 90 days but often took longer than that to process applications because of understaffing, the lawsuit said. The bank routinely blamed borrowers for the delays and charged them to extend the rate locks, according to the lawsuit.

The fees could be significant, amounting to 0.125 percent to 0.25 percent of the loan amount, the complaint said.

The named plaintiff in the lawsuit, Nevada resident Victor Muniz, said he was charged $287.50 for an interest rate lock extension earlier this year after his application for a mortgage was bogged down by bank delays.

Muniz had been told by a bank employee that Wells Fargo would pay to extend the interest rate lock but a regional manager reversed that decision, the lawsuit said.

The case is Muniz v Wells Fargo & Co, U.S. District Court, California Northern District, No 17-cv-4995

(Reporting By Dena Aubin; Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Bill Rigby)