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‘You have to get in touch with your roots’

africainaprilvendor 600The smell of mouth-watering food filled the air, vendors selling a variety of products from incense to jewelry to African Shea Butter lined the area and music blared as a healthy flow of people busily bustled about, stopping to browse the merchandise and sample the food.

This was the template scene for the Africa in April Cultural Awareness Festival, which kicked off April 16th and stretched through the following Sunday. On this – day three – the focus at Robert R. Church Park in Downtown Memphis was on children and senior citizens Day.

The 2014 event honored the West African country of Burkina Faso. Africa in April, which is run by Dr. David L. Acey and his wife, Yvonne B. Acey, annually honors different African cultures. And the cultural exposure that it brings to Memphis is important, according to one of the vendors present at the event.

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Shelby County Democratic Party chairman warns voters about rogue ballots.

bryancarson 600Saying some individuals produce ballots as a profit making venture during election season at the expense of the candidates, Shelby County Democratic Party Chairman Bryan Carson is warning voters about what he calls rogue ballots.

According to Carson, multiple ballots are being mailed or distributed during the Democratic Primary elections and they are not officially sanctioned by the Shelby County Democratic Party.

"These unofficial ballots are not a reliable, valid or sanctioned voting guide," said Carson. "Voters should avoid using these rogue ballots as a basis for making voting decisions."

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Inequality and the 1 percent rule

William Spriggs_600In what should be considered standing logic on its end, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week that while public colleges have an interest in having a racially diverse student body, nonetheless, the racial majority of a state can vote to remove racial diversity as a goal. This is a radical and activist reinterpretation of the Constitution, since by strict construction, the 14th Amendment had been added to explicitly limit white majority action to deny full legal protection to the newly freed slaves and their descendants. The purpose was to limit majority rule from becoming mob rule, continuing a legacy of inequality.

Most disturbing, this ruling comes as our nation's need for success in having a diverse skilled workforce is increasing. The majority of babies born this year are children of color. A part of the reason our nation's middle class is seeing other countries incomes catch up to them is because the education advantage of Americans is shrinking. To keep pace, America must find ways to educate all its children.

Earlier this month, high school seniors received letters accepting or rejecting them from their dream schools. The selective institutions now receive thousands of applications for each available slot. The University of Michigan (the school at the heart of the Supreme Court case) received nearly 40,000 applicants and accepted about 16,000. Last year, the difference between the average SAT section score of the 2014 freshman class and those who were rejected was 672 compared to 642.

Clearly, many of those rejected differed little from those accepted; there are more qualified applicants than slots. So, the challenge for schools like Michigan is in putting together a class among virtually equal applicants.

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Farewell to the Lion’s Den

lanier 600Lanier Middle School is closing due to low enrollment in June.

Upon hearing about the final decision to close what was known as Lanier Jr. High School in the 1980's, alumni Keithon Robinson ('85), Greg Price ('86), Pamela Campbell-Lott ('85), Nate Turner ('83) and Jocelin Keglar ('84) organized a Farewell to the Lion's Den Party and Group Picture Day to reunite all alumni.

As the word spread through Facebook, middle school friends were excited about seeing some of the people with whom they had shared an important transition.

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Haters need to stop criticizing Beyoncé’s Time Magazine cover

beyoncetime 600Evidently it's the "list" time of year, and so far black girls are winning. On Tuesday, People magazine debuted its 50 Most Beautiful issue, starring none other than media (and fan) darling Lupita Nyong'o on the cover. Not to be outdone, Thursday morning, Time released its annual 100 Most Influential People issue, featuring singer Beyoncé on its cover. Nyong'o's issue went over pretty well (at least in my circles). Beyoncé's, though? Um ... not so much.

In her Time bio, 'Yoncé is lauded by "Lean In" author and Facebook honcho Sheryl Sandberg, who effusively praises the singer-actress-performer turned wife-mother-feminist. Sandberg makes a brief but solid argument that plays off Sandberg's lean-in catchphrase: "Beyoncé doesn't just sit at the table. She builds a better one."

Sandberg describes how Bey's last album – the self-titled audiovisual gem she dropped with zero notice or promotion last December – "shattered music industry rules and sales records." (That's not just fan hype. Beyoncé holds the record for fastest-selling album in iTunes history and has sold more than 3 million copies.) Sandberg goes on to mention Bey's sold-out world tour and notes the singer's (somewhat shaky) track record of raising "her voice both on- and offstage to urge women to be independent and lead." (Admittedly, she's getting better.)

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