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Morris Brown College is seen Friday, April 22, 2011 in Atlanta.
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Morris Brown Seeking Donations After Fire Causes $100K In Damages

Morris Brown, Georgia's first historically black college, has been hit with another setback after the college’s multi-purpose center caught on fire.

WSB-TV reports the fire happened over the weekend and caused a tremendous amount of damage to the multi-purpose center, which happens to be the school's only functioning facility. Interim president Dr. Kevin James was informed about the fire on Saturday, but the fire started Friday and the sprinklers were activated later that evening.

“About 6 a.m. Saturday morning I got a call from my security team and they said there was a fire here at the campus,” Dr. James said. While the fire was contained, the water caused a flood. Restoration crews worked on the building and faculty were told not to come to work on Monday.

In total, Dr. James believes the fire caused nearly $100,000 in damages. The school hopes alumni can step up and help assist with costs of repairs as well as the public. A GoFundMe was set up by the school to help reach their $100,000 goal.

“We're going to be reaching out to the alums to give what they can, and the community and other supporters to help us to raise the dollars needed to restore the building," he said. They also reached out to the insurance company to see what can be covered.

Morris Brown hasn't had the best luck in restoring its good name. After losing its accreditation in 2002 due to their debt, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports several administrators committed fraud by registering for financial aid and in their students' names as well as people who never applied to the school.

Former president Dolores Cross and financial aid director Parvesh Singh were charged in December 2004 on a 34-count indictment with Cross sentenced in 2007 to five years' probation. Since then, the school's attendance has plummeted with only 42 students currently enrolled; a stark difference from its peak attendance of 2,700 students. Because the school isn't accredited, students cannot register for federal loans.

In March, Dr. James became the interim president and stated a plan for accreditation with the Virginia-based Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. “We will be accredited within 12 to 18 months,” James said.

Founded in 1881 by the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Morris Brown's history in Atlanta is rich as it was included in HBCU-based films like Stomp The Yard and Drumline.

“It's just another roadblock but guess what? We're going to overcome this and we're going to keep moving forward,” Dr. James said. “Restore Morris Brown, the hard reset.”

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Black Texas Teen Barred From Graduation Because Of His Dreadlocks

A black Texas teen was suspended and is barred from graduation because of his dreadlocks, NBC News reports. DeAndre Arnold, a senior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas, has to cut his hair if he wants to walk the graduation stage.

DeAndre, whose family hales from Trinidad, has had locks for several years, gets A’s and B’s in school, and wears his hair in compliance with the school’s dress code, his mother, Sandy Arnold, told Houston’s NBC affiliate KPRC. “The dress code is [hair] off the shoulders above the earlobes and out of the eyes,” she explained.

The school district allegedly changed the dress code around Christmas of last year. According to the latest Barbers Hill Student Handbook, hair must be “clean and well groomed.” Students are not allowed to cover their heads, dye their hair, or wear “geometric or unusual patterns (such as Mohawks and Faux hawks) shaved or cut in the hair.” For male students, hair can’t fall below the eyebrows or earlobes and must not extend “below the top of a T-shirt collar.”Beards, goatees and mustaches are also not allowed.

DeAndre’s mother said that she reached out to board members and the superintendent to rectify the issue but with no luck.

“They say that even [when] my hair is up if it were down it would be not in compliance with the dress code. However, I don’t take it down in school,” said DeAndre.

The teen proudly rock his dreadlocks because the hairstyle connects him to Trinidadian culture. “I really like that part of Trinidadian culture. I really embrace that.”

Barbers Hill Independent School District released a statement noting that the district enforces a “community supported hair length policy” that has been in place “for decades.” The statement adds, “Barber Hill is a state leader with high expectations in all areas!”

The teenager's story is similar to that of a 6-year-old boy in Texas whose school also wanted him to cut off his dreadlocks. DeAndre's mother said her son won’t be getting a hair cut. “This is a pat of who he is. So [we're] absolutely not going to cut his hair.”

See more in the video above.

 

 

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Former Recording Academy Boss Says The Grammy Awards Are Rigged

Former Recording Academy CEO Deborah Dugan is accusing the Recording Academy of gender discrimination and sexual harassment, days before the 62nd annual Grammy Awards.

The 46-page complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on Tuesday (Jan. 21), claims that the Recording Academy abides by a “boy’s club mentality”  and manipulates the Grammys voting process, among other allegations.

In the documents, Dugan accuses the Recording Academy of attempting to smear her reputation for speaking out against the alleged harassment, gender discrimination, unequal pay, and unlawful retaliation, that she claims to have endured. Dugan, who was recently ousted from her position, also accuses music lawyer Joel Katz of sexual harassment.

Katz “categorically” denied Dugan’s allegations in a statement through his attorney.

Dugan, the Recording Academy’s first female CEO, says she took over after former CEO Neil Portnow resigned “in disgrace after being caught making misogynistic remarks about women recording artists.” Dungan claims that her salary was significantly lower than her two male predecessors, and that she was later told to hire Portnow as a consultant for a $750,000 fee. The documents goes on to claim  Portnow's consultant contract was severed because he was accused of raping a female recording artist.

Portnow denied the rape claim which he called, “ludicrous and untrue.”

Dugan filed a HR complaint in December of 2019. She was put on administrative leave three weeks later. However, the Recording Academy claims Dugan was placed on leave over a bullying complaint from Portnow’s executive assistant. Dugan alleges that the Recording Academy attempted to work out a settlement with her before backing out at the last minute and giving her one hour to agree to a new deal. She later informed the company of her intent to sue.

Dugan's complaint outlines how women and minority groups have been “historically underrepresented” at the Grammys and within the Academy. For example, the docs note that only 10 black artists have won the coveted Album of the Year honor and that R&B artist are typically excluded from top awards in favor of country, rock and pop music. The docs point out some of the criticisms the the Grammys has received, including failing to honor black artists and a lack of diversity among winners. Eminem for instances, won Best Rap Album seven times despite the category being dominated by black artists. Also mentioned in the documents are Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, who beat out Kendrick Lamar, Drake and Kanye West for Best Rap Album in 2014. Dugan used Drake and pop star Dua Lipa to support her claim that the show cuts acceptance speeches short if the artist criticizes the Academy.

Further in the docs, Dugan exposes the Grammys nominations process as allegedly being “ripe with corruption.” Submissions are voted on by 12,000 Recording Academy members all around the country. The selections are narrowed down to the Top 20 entries, which are then reviewed by “secret committees.” Dugan asserts that board members on the committees have relationships with recording artists, thus furthering an artist's chance of getting nominated.

“The Board also manipulates the nominations process to ensure that certain songs or albums are nominated when the producer of the Grammys (Ken Ehrlich) wants a particular song performed during the show,” the documents claim.

Click here to read Dungan's full complaint.

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‘Red Table Talk’ Inks 3-Year Deal With Facebook Watch

The Emmy-nominated Red Table Talk, hosted by Jada Pinkett Smith, her daughter Willow Smith and mother, Adrienne Banfield Norris, has inked a three-year deal with Facebook Watch that extends through 2022.

In addition to a new contract, Westbrook Studios (owned by Pinkett Smith and Will Smith) is expanding the Red Table Talk brand with a spinoff series starring Gloria Estefan.

Red Table Talk: The Estefans, will be produced by Pinkett-Smith, Westbrook Studios and Estefan, with Ellen Rakieten and Miguel Melendez serving as executive producers. The series features the music icon along with her daughter and rising musician, Emily Estefan, and her niece Emmy winner, Lili Estefan. The new show will be based in Miami, where Estefan lives, and will showcase three generations of women having candid conversations about timely topics, social and personal issues with family, in addition to celebrity guests and experts.

“I’m incredibly proud of ‘Red Table Talk,’ and thrilled to build upon this franchise with my family and with Gloria, Emily and Lili,” Pinkett Smith said in a statement. “‘Red Table Talk’ has created a space to have open, honest and healing conversations around social and topical issues, and what’s most powerful for me is hearing people’s stories and engaging with our fans in such a tangible way on the Facebook Watch platform.  I’m excited to see the Estefans put their spin on the franchise and take it to new places.”

Estefan added that she’s “incredibly excited” to carry on the “'Red Table Talk' torch” with her family.

“Jada and I have spoken about this a lot and feel my daughter, niece and I can tackle issues important to us and our fans with a new and fresh voice,” said Estefan. “Jada has done this incredibly and continues to do with her family in their candid, intimate, and groundbreaking conversations at the iconic Red Table.”

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