Saturday, March 31

Shaquanda Cotton to be Freed


Shaquanda Cotton, the fifteen year-old Paris Texas student who was serving time in a juvenile prison for pushing a student aid should is being freed. Read about it here.

It seems community activists, and the blogging community really stepped up to the plate with this issue.

Here's a nice comment posted to my blog from ExodusMentality.

"You know I was real hot when when I first found out about this case on March 22. It's nine days later and for those of you who haven't already heard, Shaquanda was scheduled to be freed from the Texas juvenile corrections facility this morning. We should celebrate this victory even as we continue to move forward.

Everyone connected with this case acknowledges that it was the concerted efforts of Black Bloggers that caused such a massive amount of publicity in such a short time, that put pressure on Texas officials to remedy this situation so quickly. There is power in the community that is developing among Black bloggers(aka the Afrosphere or the Blackosphere). Everyone who participates by blogging, reading. posting comments, or spreading the word about the existence of black blogs should be justifiably proud of what we accomplished and where we can taqke this thing.
Special shouts to My Urban Report for being the portal that led me to blogging."

Friday, March 30

Going Back to Cali Episode 1

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Thursday, March 29

Speakers of the House


I just completed my first official freelance video project in Atlanta. When I lived in Tampa, I had the opportunity to work on several projects, and things are starting to move in the right direction here. The video is promoting a book called "Speakers of the House" written by Morehouse College graduate John Eaves, Ph.D. He wrote the book to highlight the importance of education, and the legacy of 30 Morehouse grads.

This is actually a "Brothers Channel" production. I shot the footage, and interview, and my brother Salim, who is an editor, finished it.

Let me know what you think.
For more information visit

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Wednesday, March 28

Urban Headlines


Another Slavery Apology
On Monday, Maryland lawmakers approved an apology for the state's involvement in the slave trade. Maryland is the second state after Virginia to issue a formal apology.

Boot Camp Death Settlement
Florida authorities have been ordered to pay 2.4 million dollars to the family of Martin Lee Anderson. The teen was killed by guards at a Palm County boot camp in 2006. Eight officials with the boot camp are facing manslaughter charges in connection with Anderson's death.

Radio for Gangs
L.A. radio station V100-FM started a talk show for gang members. Radio host Bo Taylor convinced the station to start the call in talk show to give gang members a voice. Listeners call in from all over, and discuss issues such as street violence, poverty, and the police.


Tuesday, March 27

Shaquanda Cotton


I hadn't heard about the story of Shaquanda Cotton until now. Cotton is a teenager from Paris, Texas who was sentenced to seven years in prison for pushing a hall monitor.

BlackInformant provides an interesting analysis of the situation, and ExodusMentality wrote a pointed commentary stating, "I suggest that anyone who is in any way associated with Paris, Texas, Judge Superville, the Governor of Texas, or anyone else who could have or should have done something to stop a racist judge from putting a little Black girl in jail for 7 years because of a shove, should be vilified by everyone who comes into contact with them."


Monday, March 26

This Guy is Like Me


I must apologize for my temporary blogging hiatus. I spent all last week in California at the Spring VON conference, and I also met with several independent media producers. Now that my Bay area tour is over, I'll start editing. If you're a regular reader of My Urban Report, you know that I come from a TV news background. When I started my "citizen journalism" venture, I didn't think my mainstream associates would understand the new path that I'm on. Turns out, I'm wrong.

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I met another news cat at VON who is just as crazy with his camera as I am. His name is Jim Long, and he founded VergeNewMedia. Jim is actually a NBC network news photographer who's seen the new media light. We had a cool time at VON, and I have much respect for his ethic. He's a one man machine, interviewing, shooting, and editing. His wireless laptop is his satellite truck, and the Internet is his broadcast outlet.

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Wednesday, March 21

My Nephew


Meet my nephew Lorenzo. The newest Channel

Tuesday, March 20

This is Called a Rough Cut


For the record, the SF Bay area is my home. I'm from a small town of rogues called East Palo Alto. When I left more than ten years ago, I was a kid watching the news cover my city. I ran away to learn about TV news and the business, and now I can take my camera and show you life from a different perspective myself thanks to the Internet.

I'll be posting more of my adventures soon, but it takes time to edit. For now take in some of the sights from my first day at VON. It's a rough cut, but all of the other vloggers were posting their videos, so here's mine.

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Monday, March 19

California Dreamin


I'm in California this week attending the VON conference. I'm out hunting for citizen journalists, and catching up with family and friends. I'm already working on the episodes. On Friday when I returned home a stolen car was sitting in front of the house! Crazy.

Friday, March 16

A Conversation with Dr. Fran Harris

Thursday, March 15

CNN to air Black Caucus Debate


CNN announced it has partnered with the Congressional Black Caucus to host a presidential debate on January 24, 2008. Wolf Blitzer will moderate the debate of democratic candidates. Correspondents Joe Johns and Suzanne Malveaux will serve as panelists.

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Wednesday, March 14

First Obama for President Ad


Here's Barack Obama's first political ad. I found it on After you watch it, please take a look at the comments on oo7jeep's YouTube page, and let me know what you think.


Tuesday, March 13

The AJC and the Controversial Race Cleansing Story


Pulitzer award winning journalist Elliot Jaspin's new book, "Buried in Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Clensing in America" is getting some much needed attention. Jaspin accuses the Atlanta Journal Constitution of bowdlerizing a story he wrote about racial cleansing that occured in Forsyth County back in 1912. His book documents racial violence agianst blacks, how property belonging to blacks ended up being transferred to whites without any sales records, or legal title transfers, and why the AJC failed to run his story.

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Elliot Jaspin

Richard Prince recently examined the issue in his Journal-isms column writing, "The reporter (Jaspin) who uncovered a 60-year pattern of expelling African Americans from communities around the country and wrote a series about it last year says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the flagship of the newspaper company he works for, tried to undermine what he produced."

According to reports, Cox newspapers around the country published the series, but the AJC didn't. Creative Loafing's John Sugg writes, "That created the odd circumstance in which the chain's largest newspaper didn't run high-profile articles by its own Washington bureau, stories that highlighted events in the AJC's own backyard."

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A Cox Washington Bureau Chief is quoted as saying that AJC editors "are afraid of angering white people," and Jaspin said,"The stories I had written were edited to obscure the Atlanta newspaper's lackadaisical coverage," he says in his book. "Editors ignored clear conflicts of interest while editing the racial cleansing series."

Angering white people, how about angering blacks? Not only did people get terrorized out of their land, but it looks like a highly regarded newswpaper made a deliberate attempt to hide the truth.

Thanks to G. Daughters for the heads up.


Monday, March 12

Dallas Austin Raises Money for Music


Super producer Dallas Austin knows how music can change lives, and create wealth. As a teenager, he decided to pursue his music dreams instead of finishing high school. Now Austin is trying to help keep students interested in school with music.

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On Sunday, the Dallas Austin Foundation hosted its second annual "Don't Stop the Music" gala. The program donates music studios to schools, and teaches students the ins and outs of the music business. The star-studded event featured performances from Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, and Al Green, and thousands of dollers were raised from the live auction. Students from Atlanta's Booker T. Washington High, performed for the crowd as well. The school received a studio from Austin's foundation last Fall, and a song created by the students was played for the crowd.

Austin says when he started the program in 2003, he came out of his pocket to pay for the first three studios, valued at about $25,000 each. Now the annual fundraiser is helping the program grow. All of the schools that have received equipment so far are in Atlanta, but Austin is planing to take the program nationwide.

Austin is certainly doing great work, but he still hasn't spoken publicly about his arrest in Dubai last summer.

Austin talks about his foundation below.


Friday, March 9

Louis Farrakhan Talks to CNN


Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan speaks to CNN's Don Lemon in a rare interview.

Lemon writes,"When I sat down with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, I was surprised by what I found: a softer, more conciliatory Farrakhan -- a man who says his battle with cancer has changed him in ways he'd never imagined."

Read more, and watch the interview here.

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Queen Latifah Stars in Movie About H.I.V.


This Saturday, Oscar nominated actress, and platinum selling recording artist Queen Latifah stars in a movie about a woman's struggle with H.I.V. "Life Support" is based the real life story of a former crack addict, mother, and AIDS activist.

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"She embarks on a dangerous but necessary journey through the mean streets of Brooklyn and as she seeks to save one life and heal another, Ana learns a poignant lesson about loving and letting go."

Life Support debuts Saturday, March 10th at 8pm on HBO.


A Circus With Soul


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If you're looking for great family entertainment with soul, don't sleep on the UniverSoul Circus. The circus is in its fourteenth year, and going strong. It's founder Cedric Walker says people thought he was crazy when he came up with the idea. He lost investors, and a lot of folks didn't think a hip-hop circus would work. He never lost faith however, and his dream has become a success story.

I attended my first UniverSoul Circus in Washington D.C. ten years ago and it changed my life... That's a whole 'nother story though.

Watch and hear Walker's story below.


Thursday, March 8

The Barbie Bandits


Have you heard about the two young women who robbed a bank in Atlanta recently? They're known as the "Barbie Bandits," most likely because they're young and white. It was apparently an inside job, and authorites caught up with the pair in a couple of days, but what if they were of another shade?

Edrea Davis shares her perspective, writing:

The media called them "Barbie Bandits," but I'd bet that if the two women were black and 16-like everyone thought -they would have been called teen thugs, probably would have been associated with gang activity, and the public would have yelled for them to be tried as adults.

What do you think?

Slavery Apology

by asks, "Can African Americans expect a formal apology from the U. S. Government for the institution of slavery?"

Another question: Would a formal apology make a difference?

Wednesday, March 7

It's Time to Get Involved


Whether you're Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or Green it's time to start thinking about the 2008 Presidential election. The reasons are numerous. The U.S. is currently engaged in a war, where victory seems impossible. It's been reported that the military men and women who have sacrificed so much, are receiving poor medical care. White House advisor "Scooter" Libby is a felon, which says what about the "gang" he rolled with?

The media will undoubtedly provide a measure of coverage on certain issues, but what about other subjects? Some communities are dealing with a health crisis due to the rapid spread of the H.I.V. virus. Black men, and youth continue to be incarcerated at alarming rates, while education is often an afterthought. Immigration rights, and the corporate outsourcing of American jobs are other issues that could affect us all.

Regardless of you color, or creed, this is a time to read, and learn about the candidates. For 2008 I've decided to learn as much about each. I'm not affiliated with any party, and I'm registered as an Independent, because I've always felt that as a journalist it's important to be as neutral as possible. That being said, I'm most interested in Senator Barack Obama's campaign.

I recently purchased his book, and I registered on his campaign website. It's basically a political social community similar to MySpace. No, I haven't made my final decision by any means, but, it's time to get involved.

A lot of information is out there, and plenty of good info can be found in the blogosphere. Check deez, and if you have a favorite, send me a link.

The Slate
Center for American Progress
D.C. Thornton
African American Opinion


Tuesday, March 6

Atlanta Activist Shares Trump's Spotlight


Atlanta activist, and motivational speaker Orrin Hudson is continuing to make big moves. During The Real Estate and Wealth Expo in Atlanta, he was invited to share the stage with Donald Trump.

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According to Black Star News, Hudson was sitting in the front row listening to Trump's keynote address when "The Donald" noticed Hudson, and asked him to step on stage. Hudson apparently "wowed" Trump when he recited the real estate Tycoon's rise to success without a hitch.

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Hudson's personal mission is to inspire the youth through his non-profit organization called "Be Someone." He teaches kids and adults life skills through the game of chess. He's also written a book entitled, "One Move at a Time." Additionally, The Atlanta Journal Constitution featured his story in this past Sunday's edition.

Hudson's a great role model, and he's been getting plenty of well deserved attention from the media.


Monday, March 5

Talking Shop with T.J. Holmes

I had the pleasure to meet, and interview one of CNN's newest anchors, T.J. Holmes. Holmes most recently worked as the main anchor at the NBC O&O, KNTV-TV in San Francisco (the station is actually in San Jose). He's originally from Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas. He landed his first news job in Joplin, MO. Holmes was actually hired as a producer, but his goal was to be on-air, and in no time he was reporting and anchoring.

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You can catch Holmes on the weekend anchor desk with Betty Nguyen. During the week, he reports from the studio, or from the field. He has one of the most relaxed, and natural delivery styles I've seen. Holmes knows when to be serious, when to have fun, and has a very "cool" presence.

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Photo courtesy CNN

I should mention that the folks at CNN seem to understand the importance of the blogosphere, and much love to them for granting access to a 'lil blogger/reporter like me.

My Q&A with Holmes is below.

YouTube version
Music credit: Swollen Drumz & Dub's Attic


Friday, March 2

Urban Headlines

-President Bush Talks About Katrina
The President says he understands the frustration of Gulf Coast residents who haven't received recovery help, and is quoted as saying, "The federal government still knows you exist."

-Government Grant for Small Businesses
The National Business Information Clearinghouse (NBIC) has received a $3.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to help minority entrepreneurs start and maintain small businesses.

-Internet Use in S. Africa Surges
According to a study by BMI-Techknowledge, Internet use by S. African Blacks has grown by 68% in the past three years, however, access is limited to school and work.

Thursday, March 1

Georgia is Hi-Tech

Georgia showed off its brightest hi-tech stars at the 2007 Georgia Technology Summit, where hundreds gathered to watch demonstrations, and listen to top company executives pitch their services.

It's interesting to see how entrepreneurs are creating innovative businesses that cater to our rapidly changing Internet culture. I was especially impressed by Nexidia. The company has created a search engine that phonetically searches for key words, and it even recognizes accents. The local NBC affiliate, WXIA-TV, is using the technology to help website visitors find video clips.

The event was organized by the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG). I recently joined the organization, and I look forward to building relationships with those I connected with.

Watch highlights from the summit below.