PODCAST: Hundreds gather to dedicate prayer wall in Tulsa’s Greenwood neighborhood (BCNN1 06.01.21)

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According to the Associated Press, Hundreds gathered Monday for an interfaith service dedicating a prayer wall outside historic Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church in Tulsa’s Greenwood neighborhood on the centennial of the first day of one of the deadliest racist massacres in the nation. National civil rights leaders, including the Revs. Jesse Jackson and William Barber, joined multiple local faith leaders offering prayers and remarks outside the church that was under construction and largely destroyed when a white mob descended on the prosperous Black neighborhood in 1921, burning, killing, looting and leveling a 35-square-block area. Estimates of the death toll range from dozens to 300. Barber, a civil and economic rights activist, said he was “humbled even to stand on this holy ground.” “You can kill the people but you cannot kill the voice of the blood.” Although the church was nearly destroyed in the massacre, parishioners continued to meet in the basement, and it was rebuilt several years later, becoming a symbol of the resilience of Tulsa’s Black community. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2018. As the ceremony came to an end, participants put their hands on the prayer wall along the side of the sanctuary while soloist Santita Jackson sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Traffic hummed on a nearby interstate that cuts through the Greenwood District, which was rebuilt after the massacre but slowly deteriorated 50 years later after homes were taken by eminent domain as part of urban renewal in the 1970s. Among those who spoke at the outdoor ceremony were Democratic U.S. Reps. Barbara Lee of California, and Lisa Brunt Rochester and U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, both from Delaware. Rochester connected the efforts toward reparations in Tulsa with a wider effort: pending House legislation that would create a commission to study and propose reparations for African Americans. “We’re here to remember, to mourn, to rebuild equitably,” Rochester said. Monday’s slate of activities commemorating the massacre was supposed to culminate with a “Remember & Rise” headline event at nearby ONEOK Field, featuring Grammy-award-winning singer and songwriter John Legend and a keynote address from voting rights activist Stacey Abrams. But that event was scrapped late last week after an agreement couldn’t be reached over monetary payments to three survivors of the deadly attack, a situation that highlighted broader debates over reparations for racial injustice.

According to the Daily Mail, Police have released surveillance footage of the moment three unidentified gunmen arrived at a rapper’s birthday party in Miami-Dade on Sunday night before opening fire on the crowd inside, killing two people and injuring another 22. The gunmen were shown jumping out of a white SUV at El Mula Banquet Hall in Northwest Miami-Dade in the early hours of Sunday morning. They were all dressed in black and appeared to be carrying rifles. Once inside, they opened fire on the crowd, killing two people, including Clayton Dillard III and one other person. Clayton was identified by his father on Monday. It’s still unclear if the gunmen were targeting anyone in particular, or if they wanted to shoot indiscriminately. The party was for ABMG Spitta, a local rapper whose real name is Courtney Paul Wilson. It’s unclear if he was harmed. The shooting was one of two over the weekend – a third person was killed at a different shooting.

According to 11 Alive, An Atlanta college is mourning the loss of perhaps one of its most well-known members at the age of 63. Morehouse College Athletics announced on Sunday that head basketball coach Grady L. Brewer had died following an undisclosed illness. “The past several decades can only justly be described as the Grady Brewer era at Morehouse,” said David A. Thomas, Ph.D., Morehouse College president. “The only thing that surpassed his presence on the basketball court was his transformative influence on Morehouse Men as a fellow student, player, alumnus, coach, teacher, mentor, colleague, and friend.” Brewer, himself, graduated from Morehouse College in 1980 and has been the head coach of the Maroon Tigers for the past 21 years. Morehouse Athletics reports a career record during that time of 315-241 – only behind former head coach Arthur McAfee. “I have known Grady for many years. He was a great coach and an even better human being,” said Curtis Campbell, director of athletics. “He cared deeply about the young men that played for him and made a lasting impact on their lives— both on and off the court.” “The entire Morehouse College community is mourning the loss of legendary championship head basketball coach Grady L. Brewer, who passed away on Sunday following an illness at the age of 63,” Morehouse College said in a statement.

According to The Des Moines Register, A Des Moines woman who intentionally struck two Black and Latina children with her car was sentenced to 25 years in prison in Polk County, Iowa on Friday. Nicole Poole Franklin, 43, hit a Black 12-year-old and a Latina 14-year-old with her car during a racist rampage on Dec. 9, 2019. Poole pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder in April after admitting she targeted the children because she believed they were of African and Mexican descent. She also faces sentencing for two federal hate crimes in connection with the incident; prosecutors in that case are suggesting 27 years. The 14-year-old girl, who was hospitalized for two days after the attack, testified at the sentencing hearing Friday. “I’m sorry my skin color bothered you, but me and my people are never leaving,” she said.

According to ESPN, Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the French Open, announcing Monday on social media that she will “take some time away from the court” one day after she was fined and threatened with harsher sanctions for skipping her mandatory media obligations. Osaka, in a lengthy statement, said she “never wanted to be a distraction” and that her withdrawal is “the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being.” “I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris,” Osaka wrote. “I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and message could have been clearer.” Gilles Moretton, the president of the French Tennis Federation, read a brief statement to the media on Monday following Osaka’s withdrawal but did not take any follow-up questions. “First and foremost, we are sorry and sad for Naomi Osaka,” Moretton said. “The outcome of Naomi withdrawing from Roland Garros is unfortunate. We wish her the best and the quickest possible recovery and we look forward to having Naomi in our tournament next year. As all the Grand Slams, the WTA, the ATP and the ITF, we remain very committed to all athletes’ well-being and to continually improving all aspects of players’ experience in our tournaments including with the media like we have always tried to do.” Osaka, 23, also revealed that she has experienced depression and anxiety since winning her first major at the 2018 US Open and explained that speaking to the media often makes her nervous. She apologized to any media members she had impacted with her decision. “I am not a natural public speaker and get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world’s media,” she said. “I get really nervous and find it stressful to always try and engage and give [the media] the best answers I can.”

According to The Grio, Nedra Ruffin, daughter of Temptations legend David Ruffin passed away on May 19 from COVID-19 complications. The 58-year-old Detroiter was admitted to Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oaks on Mother’s Day after facing health challenges in recent years. Ruffin fell ill after a recent trip to Las Vegas, the Detroit Free Press reports. “We were always known as twins coming up,” said Ruffin’s sister, Cheryl Ruffin-Robinson. “I’m going to miss her loving, giving ways. She gave so much of herself to others. And I’m going to miss our get-togethers.” Nedra Ruffin’s father, David Ruffin, sang lead for the Temptations in the 60s and went solo in the 1970s. He passed away tragically from a drug overdose in 1991 when Nedra was 27. She told Ask The Messengers in 2018 that she’d also struggled with drug and alcohol addiction but got clean 18 months after her father passed away. Ruffin has two sisters, Cheryl Ruffin-Robinson and Kimberly Ruffin Jones, who the singer had with his wife, Sandra, and a brother, David Ruffin Jr. Throughout her life, Ruffin worked as a model, bartender, hospice caretaker, and a ballroom dance teacher, the Detroit Free Press reports.

According to the Associated Press, Actor Blair Underwood and his wife, Desiree DaCosta, have announced they’re ending their marriage after 27 years. In a joint statement posted to Instagram, the couple called their marriage “a beautiful journey” and praised their three children, ages 24, 22 and 19. “After a tremendous amount of thought, prayer & work on ourselves individually & collectively, we have come to the conclusion to end our marriage that began 27 years ago,” the statement said. It continued: “Our proudest achievements are our three incredible children. Three souls to which God entrusted us. We continue to be awed & humbled by the blessings of parenting. We have always put their best interests first & will continue to do so. We will continue to be the best of friends and co-parents and have the utmost respect for one another as we embark upon this new chapter of our lives, separately.” Underwood, 56, first gained fame in the late ’80s on the NBC drama “L.A. Law.” He has received two Golden Globe nominations, for “L.A. Law” and “In Treatment,” and shared a Grammy for best spoken word album for “An Inconvenient Truth.”

You can read these stories and more at BlackChristianNews.com .

In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thanks so much for listening and may God bless your day!

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