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Father of Slain 6-Month Old Jonylah Watkins Pledges to Turn His Life Around

Speaking out for the first time at a press conference yesterday, Jonathan Watkins – father of slain 6-month old Jonylah Watkins – says the tragedy has inspired him to turn his life around.

Watkins was changing his daughter’s diaper in the front seat of his car when a gunman fired upon them; he survived the shooting, but Jonylah’s injuries were fatal.

Jonathan says the tragedy has forced him to reassess and change his lifestyle.

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CPS: High School Graduation Rate in Chicago Hits Record High

A week after closing 50 Chicago public schools, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is touting an increased high school graduation rate as a sign that “we are pointed in the right direction, making the right decisions for our children.

A projected 63 percent of seniors will graduate in Chicago this year, up from 61 percent last year.

According to the Emanuel administration, this is part of a rising trend over the past decade.

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Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Versus Fresh Fruits: Where Are the Grocery Stores in the Black Community?

It broke my heart the other day when I saw a family of four buying their actual groceries at a gas station. The family consisted of a mother who clearly looked overworked and anxious, three little girls and a young boy. While the mother had a very average weight, all of her children were overweight for their age. I can’t help but wonder if their weight is a product of the foods they have access to. Literally, all of their “groceries” consisted of processed and salty foods from a local gas station. This situation, though alarming and saddening, is not unique to this specific family. Due to the extensive lack of access to grocery stores-the definition of a food desert- millions of black families are subjected to the lackluster food options of local corner stores, gas stations, and fast-food restaurants; ultimately suffering the inevitable health problems that follow. I would like to take this time to contextualize this issue and offer insights into effective activism surrounding it.

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29 Shot, 6 Fatally in Memorial Day Weekend Violence in Chicago

A 15 year-old girl sitting on her boyfriend’s front porch is among the 29 people shot over the Memorial Day weekend in Chicago.

Police say her boyfriend was the intended target.

Overall, 6 people were killed over the weekend.

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Guest Post

Rhymes and Reasons Interviews Vic Spencer About the Hip Hop Songs that Changed His Life

Rhymes & Reasons presents Vic Spencer.

A Chicago MC and self-described “poster dad,” Vic Spencer is the consummate hip-hop head. As a kid growing up in a group home, he once spliced two halves of one song together from separate tape recordings off the radio to make a single, continuous version for himself.

Vic spoke to R&R about the song, “Bloodshed & War,” by Da Youngstas ft. Mobb Deep, as well as “Tonight’s da Night” from Redman and Kane & Abel’s “Black Jesus.”

Check out the interview below:

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Minneapolis Program Helps Teens Make Hip Hop in Exchange for Good Grades

COLORLINES recently highlighted a very interesting program out of Minneapolis.

Beats and Rhymes gives young people the training and equipment to make Hip Hop in exchange for keeping up with their schoolwork.

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Congressional Medal of Honor Awarded to Four Little Girls Killed in 1963 Birmingham Church Bombing

President Obama has signed a bill that awards the Congressional Medal of Honor to the four little girls killed in the 1963 KKK bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL.

The girls – Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Denise McNair – were killed on Sunday morning when members of the Klan planted dynamite in the Church’s basement.

Their deaths shocked the nation and the world, and stands as one of the most violent, horrific events of the Civil Rights Movement.

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Judge Rules That Trayvon Martin’s Alleged Drug Use, Texts, and Fighting Will Not Be Allowed in Trial

As we’ve previously reported, lawyers for George Zimmerman have been fighting for clearance to inform jurors of the late Trayvon Martin’s alleged drug use, fighting, and questionable text messages.

According to Global Grind, at a hearing this morning, Judge Debra Nelson ruled that discussion of Martin’s alleged drug use, text messages and fighting will not be admissible in court.

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News Flash

Koman Willis Charged w/ 1st Degree Murder of 6-Month Old Jonylah Watkins

33 year-old Koman Willis has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder for the shooting on 6-month old Jonylah Watkins.

He’s also been charged with aggravated battery for shooting Jonylah’s father, Jonathan Watkins.

As we’ve previously reported, Jonathan was changing Jonylah’s diaper in the front seat of his car when the shooting began.

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Where Are The Voices? Do Black Celebrities Have A Duty To Speak Out?

The “Where Are the Voices” Roundtable Discussion on Advocacy in Entertainment featuring from left to right, Kimberley Elise, Aaron D. Spears, Elise Neal, Rev. Omarosa Manigault, and moderator Jasiri X (Photo by Thomas Reynolds)

Do Black Celebrities Have A Duty To Speak Out? Certainly Mr. Belafonte thinks so. In the above video he calls the silence of many of our most talented and successful celebrities, “patriotic treason”. And it was his passionate speech at the NAACP Image Awards that was the catalyst for the NAACP’s Leadership 500 Conference discussion on advocacy in entertainment.

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