Former Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry was one of the city's most beloved figures, despite a scandal during his tenure that rocked the nation. Barry's resilience and support from the African-American community earned him the distinction of being known as the city's "Mayor For Life."
He died early Sunday morning after battling an illness. He was 78. Barry, born March 6, 1936 in Itta Bena, Miss., was one of 10 children born to his parents. His father died when he was young, prompting his mother and siblings to move to Memphis, Tenn.
As a young boy, Barry and his family faced extreme racism and segregation. As a result, he became politically active early on, protesting the fact that as a Black paperboy he had less rights to rewards and perks than his white counterparts.
This streak of resistance would remain a part of Barry's psyche as he became an adult. While attending LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis, Barry joined the local NAACP chapter and became its president after experiencing segregation at every turn.
He became even more engaged in activism as a graduate student at Fisk University, joining the Nashville sit-ins and getting arrested in nonviolent protests. In 1960, Barry became the first chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and began organizing voting rights protests across the South.
He moved to Washington, D.C. in 1965 at the urging of a mentor, in a bid to help citizens in the "Chocolate City" earn political leverage. Barry embraced the city, most especially its Black residents. This would help make his transition to political office a seamless one.
After serving on the Board of Education, Barry was sworn in as D.C. mayor in 1979 and served three terms until 1991. During his third rumors of Barry's drug use spread like wildfire and his disheveled appearance in the late '80′s did nothing to help matters.
In 1990, a FBI sting caught Barry using crack cocaine with his girlfriend on videotape. Barry's fall from grace tarnished his reputation and made the city the butt of jokes but he continued to have the support of voters. After serving a prison sentence, Barry's political comeback began in 1992. He won a City Council seat representing the mostly-black Ward 8, and in 1994 he was reelected to the mayor's office for a record fourth term. In 2002, Barry returned to City Council representing Ward 8 and held the position until his death.
Barry made his missteps, but his undying love for Black people and quest for equality was unparalleled. His legacy, however tattered, remains that of a man who was truly for the people. Barry is survived by his wife of 20 years, Cora Master and his son, Marion Christopher.
MELBOURNE, Fla. (AP) — The protesters didn't show, the would-be hecklers didn't take the bait, the weeks of headlines about sexual assaults disappeared and Bill Cosby, for 90 minutes at least, regained the revered status he long enjoyed.
The show Friday night in Melbourne, Florida, might have seemed destined for disaster for the comedian, enveloped in growing accusations of rape and sexual assault that have derailed his career comeback and crumbled his tour schedule. What he got, though, was an adoring audience that laughed so hard they slapped their knees, shouted love at the stage and rose to their feet as he came and went.
"I think people went in there with him as Bill Cosby from the TV show," said Travis Weberling, 40, of Melbourne, "not the guy they heard about on the news."
The 2,000-seat theater beefed up security and announcements before Cosby took the stage warned a disturbance was possible — radio hosts had even offered cash and prizes to anyone who made it happen. Reporters swarmed the venue. But, in the end, just one protester stood outside, holding a sign that read, "Rape is no joke."
What remained to be seen was whether the evening marked a turning point for a beloved television father, or simply a momentary reprieve. It did nothing to immediately change the fact that Cosby's projects have been nixed and stalled, performances have been canceled across the country and women continue to come forward accusing him of serious crimes.
Cosby has never been charged in connection with any of the allegations.
"I know people are tired of me not saying anything, but a guy doesn't have to answer to innuendos," Cosby told the Florida Today newspaper before the show. "People should fact check."
Cosby's lawyer, Martin Singer, said the accusations had "escalated far past the point of absurdity," dismissing them as "fantastical," "unsubstantiated" and "uncorroborated."
"When will it end?" he asked. "It is long past time for this media vilification of Mr. Cosby to stop." And, throughout the audience, his fans agreed.
They talked of watching him on TV as a child, and of his albums becoming familiar friends when the moved to unfamiliar, faraway towns. They brushed off the accusations, howling at everything he uttered.
When he took the stage at the Maxwell C. King Center For The Performing Arts, they stood and hollered, and he returned a thumbs-up. Only a smattering of empty seats were seen. Cosby wore cargo pants and a shirt that said "Hello Friend" and never once ventured in the realm of controversy. His 90-minute set wandered from a childhood fear of God to the loss of freedom in marriage to the rocket-speed Spanish of a piñata-store worker.
He sat for much at the start of the show, then grew increasingly physical, impersonating jujitsu and gymnastics poses, laying on the floor in stocking feet and thrusting a fist upward in a gesture of battling the everyday oppression of living with a wife. And when it was over, he said "good night," walking off as the audience again stood.
The most impassioned of his fans breathed a sigh of relief. Judith Stone traveled from Madison, West Virginia, for the show, deeming it "absolutely fantastic" and grateful no one interrupted.
"I think he will leave with a very positive attitude," she said.
Elsewhere, audiences will not have the chance to see Cosby. Performances in Oklahoma, Nevada, Illinois, Arizona, South Carolina and Washington were called off. David Fischer, director of The Broadway Center in Tacoma, Washington, said an April appearance was called off because it conflicts with the organization's mission strengthen the community "building empathy, furthering education and sharing joy."
Projects on NBC and Netflix have been canceled, and TV Land decided not to air reruns of "The Cosby Show." Cosby's producers said at least 28 other shows remain on his schedule through May 2015.
Tom Werner, who co-founded the Carsey-Werner Company which produced "The Cosby Show," defended Cosby in a statement to the Boston Globe.
"The Bill we knew was a brilliant and wonderful collaborator on a show that changed the landscape of television," Werner and partner Marcy Carsey said in the statement. "These recent news reports are beyond our knowledge or comprehension."
And, even in a crowd of Cosby faithful, there was some worry there was more to come.
"This very well may be Bill Cosby's last show," said Marcus Utt, 25, of Melbourne.
Some of the women accusing Cosby are going public again after initially coming forward around 2005, when Andrea Constand filed a lawsuit alleging that she was sexually assaulted by him.
Tamara Green, a California attorney, also said Cosby tried to sexually assault her in her Los Angeles apartment around 1970, when she was a model and an aspiring actress. She said Cosby gave her two pills that made her almost lose consciousness, took her to her apartment, undressed her and then took his clothes off as she fought off his advances.
Another woman, Joan Tarshis, said Cosby gave her drug-laced drinks twice in 1969, forcing her to perform a sex act the first time and raping her the second time. She said she told no one about this for decades, and only decided to go public when she read a Nov. 13 column in The Washington Post by Barbara Bowman, who alleges she was drugged and raped by Cosby when she was 17.
And, offering a familiar narrative, another woman, Therese Serignese, said she was drugged and raped by Cosby in 1976.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Fox and the producers of "American Idol" say Randy Jackson is leaving the show after 13 seasons.
In a statement Tuesday, the network and producers call Jackson a key part of the singing contest and say he'll be welcomed back as a visitor.
Phone and email requests to his publicist seeking comment were not immediately returned.
Jackson, Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul made up Idol's original judging panel. Jackson served as a judge for 12 seasons, with "dawg" becoming his trademark word while assessing contestants.
Jackson moved to the role of mentor this year. His departure leaves host Ryan Seacrest as the only original cast member. "American Idol" is set to return in January with judges Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban.
Fantasia is rocking a big new rock on her finger from her beau Kendall Taylor. The former American Idol gushed about the gift (or engagement ring/wedding band) on Instagram with a photo and a sweet message to her man.
She wrote: "So He said: I want to get you the Ring of Your Dreams.. I want you to Look down and smile knowing your mine and you deserve this.. I'm NOT A material girl and it could have been a ring out the Bubble Gum Machine but Just Continue to give me the Love you give to me Big Daddy… He said: I know but as your King THIS is what I want for my Queen"
Is Beyonce's baby sister getting married? That's what US Weekly is reporting. Solange Knowles, the 28-year-old younger sister of the entertainment dynamo is scheduled to tie the knot with video director boyfriend Alan Ferguson this weekend in New Orleans, where she lives. US Weekly says that the duo will host a movie night on Friday, a rehearsal dinner on Saturday and then the small wedding will take place near her home with a guest list that includes friends and family. Reports say that the two have been dating for about five years.
This won't be Solange's first time at the rodeo – or the altar. She married Daniel Smith and gave birth to a son, Juelz Smith, now 10. The two co-parent and Knowles has since worked as both a recording artist and a deejay, putting out a well respected album Sol-Angel and The Hadley Street Dreams in 2008. Though she's teased a follow up project, nothing has manifested yet. She's become best known in recent years a a fashion icon and celebrity DJ.
In May after the star-studded annual Metropolitan Museum Costume Ball, Solange and brother-in-law Jay-Z got into a physical altercation in an elevator at New York's Standard Hotel, which was acquired by TMZ and went viral. Though the two have apologized for the fight, and speculation has been rampant about what caused it, they've made no further comment. Beyonce, also in the elevator, referenced the fight in the "Flawless" remix with Nicki Minaj saying "Sometimes sh–t goes down when it's a billion dollars in the elevator." Aside from his career as a video director, little detail has surfaced about Ferguson.
Although reports have speculated that he's 5o 0r 51 years old – almost twice Solange's age, no one has confirmed or denied it. Our question: If the reports are true and a wedding is happening – will Jay-Z do a toast?
Dear Black People: This is a critical time in our history. Vote Tuesday or be prepared to face serious consequences. Many polls show that Democrats are in trouble.
President Barack Obama's 40 percent job approval rating in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll is the lowest of his career – and more than half of Americans are viewing Democrats unfavorably for the first time. Democrats are vulnerable in states that include Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, New Hampshire and Connecticut. If African-Americans ever needed a reason to vote on Tuesday, consider this: South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who may run in 2016, was caught on tape discussing the Republican Party's reputation for appealing to mostly white men in a racially-charged recording.
"If I get to be President, white men who are in male-only clubs are going to do great," Graham said.
Does this sound familiar? It should. During the 2012 presidential campaign, Republican candidate Mitt Romney said: "There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the President no matter what" because they are "dependent on government" and "believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing."
Graham is speaking for many white men who take Graham at his word: That he will look out for white men specifically if he gets to the White House. Graham didn't say anything about representing African-Americans and other citizens of color because the Republican Party is not a party of inclusion. Days before critical mid-term elections when Republicans could take control the U.S. Senate, I could hear a sense of urgency in Rep. Marcia Fudge's voice. "We depend on government more than any other group,"
Fudge, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said about African-Americans. "We have to vote in November. We can't work against our own self-interests." Fudge, a Democrat from Ohio, is rallying Black folks and urging a strong voter turnout on Tuesday. She is both feisty and frustrated because still, in 2014, Fudge has to give black Americans a reason to vote. Some Black citizens, she said, are still questioning whether their vote will actually count. Fudge knows what's at stake: She says if Republicans take control of the Senate, the GOP plans to cut domestic spending for health care, education and social service programs while also cutting minimum wage and rolling back Social Security.
If they have win a majority in the House and the Senate, Republicans will also spend the next two years blocking Obama's legislative agenda and initiatives that are designed to uplift African Americans. In an effort to boost the black vote in November, the Congressional Black Caucus and civil rights leaders announced a national get-out-the-vote campaign that will involve thousands of Black churches and more than 40,000 pastors from coast to coast.
"Because of the lagging economy in Black communities, each candidate's position on issues like jobs with livable wages, equal pay for women, retirement security, and student loan relief is motivating people to vote," said Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO, NCBCP and convener, Black Women's Roundtable (BWR).
"But, all politics is local," she said, "so for this countdown period we have neighbors talking to neighbors via personal phone calls, robo calls, door-to-door canvassing, and social media, to remind them they have the power to make change in their community."