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Update: Don Cornelius Dead From Apparent Suicide (Official Statements)

VIBE is extremely sad to report Soul Train legend, Don Cornelius, was found dead earlier this morning. The body of the longtime host/founder of the seminal music program was discovered at his Sherman Oaks, Ca home at 4 AM this morning.

Law Enforcement told TMZ Cornelius died from a gun shot wound to the head, which they believe was self inflicted. Don was 75-years old at the time of his death.

Cornelius served as host of Soul Train from its debut in 1971 to 1993. The show aired until 2006. He was loved by many and helped introduce the world to a number of classic artists.

Stay tuned for more on this developing story

UPDATE: OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM SOUL TRAIN CEO KENARD GIBBS AND MAGIC JOHNSON, CHAIRMAN OF SOUL TRAIN HOLDINGS

“We are overwhelmed with the news regarding the passing of Don Cornelius. Our deepest sympathy and thoughts are with his family at this time. He was a true television visionary and his contributions to African American culture, music, and entertainment are incomparable. The outpouring of affection and tributes to his legacy are a true testament to the profound impact that his life’s work had on many generations.” -Kenard Gibbs, CEO of Soul Train Holdings

“Don Cornelius was a pioneer, an innovator, and a trailblazer. He was the first African-American to create, produce, host and more importantly OWN his own television show. Soul Train was a nationally syndicated show that paved the way for singers, musicians and dancers, giving them the ultimate platform to showcase their talents when no one else would. Every Saturday morning I looked forward to watching Soul Train, as did millions of other people. Soul Train taught the world how to dance! Don’s contribution to us all is immeasurable. He will truly be missed. I thank him for trusting me with his Soul Train brand and I will carry on his legacy through it. My condolences to his son and my good friend Tony Cornelius and the entire Cornelius family.” -Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Soul Train Holdings Chairman

UPDATE: JOINT STATEMENT FROM LEGENDARY ‘SOUND OF PHILADELPHIA’ PRODUCERS AND PIONEERS KENNETH GAMBLE & LEON HUFF ON THE PASSING OF SOUL TRAIN CREATOR DON CORNELIUS.”

“Don Cornelius and his creation of ‘Soul Train’ and its legacy had a great impact on American culture. Don’s vision allowed for African-American artists to be exposed to people all over the world through the power of television. We were glad to help Don Cornelius fulfill his dream and legacy by creating the theme song for his hit show. The ‘Soul Train’ and TSOP brands will forever be inseparable. We thank Don Cornelius for his tremendous contributions to the entertainment world. “Our deepest sympathy goes out to Don’s family and everyone he touched.”

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102-Year-Old Woman Evicted From Home To Make Room For Landlord’s Daughter

A 102-year-old woman living in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Ladera Heights is being evicted from her home of three decades. Thelma Smith was notified on March 8 that she has to move out so that the landlord’s daughter can move into the single-family home, after she graduates from law school.

Smith was on a month-to-month lease and has been paying “very low rent,” her longtime neighbor told the L.A. Times. She has to be out of the home by June 30.

While Smith’s eviction is legal, as landlords have the right to evict tenants to help relatives under L.A.'s Rent Stabilization Ordinance, Larry Gross of the Coalition for Economic Survival told the Times that the law is used to “target low-income paying tenants.”

Smith is a former director of the Sugar Ray Robinson Youth Foundation, a Los Angeles-based charity aimed at serving underprivileged youth. She has yet to find a new home, and rejected her neighbor’s offer to move in, but it looks like she’ll be getting housing assistance from Arnold Schwarzenegger. The actor and former California Governor vowed to help Smith, whom he called a “dear friend for a long time.”

“Imagine doing this to a 102-year-old woman who gave back to the community her whole life. It is heartless,” he tweeted Friday (May 24). Schwarzenegger went on to state that he will be reaching out to Smith. “Landlords, you’ll hear from me too,” he added.

Thelma has been a dear friend for a long time. Imagine doing this to a 102-year-old woman who gave back to the community her whole life. It is heartless. Thelma, I’ll be reaching out to help. Landlords, you’ll hear from me too. https://t.co/IJQrclGQ6I

— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) May 24, 2019

Landlord Arthur Hilton explained to CBS News that the home was never meant to be a rental property, even though Smith had been living there for 30 years. “This property was purchased by my parents not for rental but for the Hilton family,” he said.

Smith, a widow who never had children, planned to live in the home for the remainder of her life.

See more on her story in the video above.

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Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Essence

Rey Ma Facing Additional Charges In Alleged Assault Against Brittney Taylor

Rey Ma has been hit with additional charges in an ongoing assault case in which she stands accused of attacking former Love & Hip Hop: New York cast member Brittney Taylor. The Bronx native appeared in Manhattan Criminal Court Friday (May 24) where she was arraigned on four misdemeanor charges, according to TMZ.

Although Remy was initially charged with assault, and turned herself in to authorities earlier in the month, she now faces two counts of third-degree assault, one count of second-degree aggravated harassment, and one count of second-degree harassment. She was offered the option to plead guilty to the top charge and enter anger management in exchange for having the other charges dropped but reportedly rejected the deal.

A trial date has been set of July 12.

Taylor claims Remy punched her in the eyed during a run-in at the Pretty Lou Charity Concert at New York City’s Irving Plaza last month. Remy was among the event performers along with Fat Joe, Jim Jones and more. She denies attacking Taylor and claims to have video evidence proving her innocence. TMZ reports that prosecutors have since changed the time of when the supposed altercation took place to line up with the time that Remy would have been at the venue.

Upon leaving the courtroom Friday, Remy didn’t mince words when speaking about going to trial. “Who looks forward to going to trial? I have things to do in my life,” she said according to the New York Daily News. “I have a real job, I have a family, I have a husband, I have a daughter.”

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34 black female cadets from West Point's Class of 2019 pose at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York.
Cadet Hallie H. Pound/U.S. Army via AP

Black Women Cadets Make History At West Point Graduation

A record number of black female cadets are set to graduate from West Point (The United States Military Academy). After completing four years of education and "testing their limits," 34 black women will be walking across the stage at the 2019 commencement ceremony for the first time in the school's 217-year history.

Earlier this month, the black female cadets came together for a pre-graduation group photo. Little did they know, the photos of them in traditional Old Corps uniforms with ceremonial sabers would make their rounds on social media.

“My hope when young Black girls see these photos is that they understand that regardless of what life presents you, you have the ability an fortitude to be a force to be reckoned with,” shared one of the cadets, Tiffany Welch-Baker, in an interview with Because Of Them We Can.

Although West Point admitted its first black cadet until 1870, the academy didn’t graduate its first black cadet until the Reconstruction in 1877. In 1979, Vincent K. Brooks was made the first black captain of the Corps of Cadets. In 2017, Simone Askew became the first Black woman to lead the Corps of Cadets.

Senior cadet Stephanie Riley told The Associated Press in another interview: “I just showed myself and those who thought I couldn’t do it initially that yes, I can. And not just, ‘Yes, I can.’ I can show other little girls that yes, you can come to West Point. Yes, you can do something that maybe the rest of your peers aren’t actually doing. And yes, you can be different from the rest of the group.”

The class of 2019 includes a total of 223 women, another milestone since the first female cadets' graduation in 1980. The total number of graduation African-Americans doubled to 110, while the number of graduating Latinos became the largest, 88, in the academy's history. West Point also appointed Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams as its first black superintendent in July 2018.

Not only will West Point be graduating its 5,000th female cadet, but it will also have its highest number of female Hispanic graduates, 19. The commencement ceremony is set for Saturday, May 25, with Vice President Mike Pence delivering the commencement speech.

Congratulations to the black ladies of West Point's graduating Class of 2019!

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