5 Biggest News Stories of the Week: May 12

As the saying goes, the news never stops — but there’s a lot of it out there, and all of it doesn’t always pertain to our readers. In this weekly news roundup, we’ll cover the top news stories that matter most to our diversity focused audience.

1. Coverage From DiversityInc’s Top 50 Event

Last week, we met up with companies in a variety of different industries to unveil our 2022 Top 50 list and Speciality lists and engaged with company leaders during panel discussions, Top 50 talks and Fireside Chats. Here’s a short recap of a few of the sessions: 

Before the company found out it was the No. 1 company at the DiversityInc Top 50 event on May 3 at Cipriani’s Wall Street, DiversityInc CEO Carolynn L. Johnson sat down with Accenture’s CEO of North America Jimmy Etheredge for a Fireside Chat during the evening portion of the event. Etheredge said diversity, equity and inclusion have always been important to him and shared they have always been near and dear to his heart because he has a brother who is gay and so he’s always been active in the LGBTQ community. Accenture prioritizes its diversity efforts through six core values. The two that are most important to Etheredge are stewardship and respect for the individual.

Johnson also sat down with Howard Bryant during the evening portion of the event. Bryant is the author of Full Dissidence: Notes from an Uneven Playing Field and The Heritage: Black Athletes, Divided America and the Politics of Patriotism.

During the discussion, Bryant spoke of how Colin Kaepernick taking a knee was one of the first displays of an athlete participating in political activism since the 1960s. The response to him taking a knee was not positive. 

“As much as we talked about power and control and these athletes making so much money, how much power do you actually have if you lose your entire career by speaking?” Bryant asked. “Maybe these athletes have a lot of money, but they don’t have a lot of control. They don’t have a lot of agency. And money and power are not the same thing.”

Go to the DiversityInc homepage to read more coverage of the event.

2. US Senator Wants to Arrest and Prosecute Abortion Rights Protesters

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., wants abortion rights protesters demonstrating in front of the homes of U.S. Senators to be arrested and prosecuted by the Justice Department. 

But some other GOP senators are saying this would be going too far and could violate protections under the first amendment. 

Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., a former member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said if the protesters are “being peaceful and are staying off their property and are not disrupting neighborhoods or causing or inciting fear, it’s probably a legitimate expression of free speech.”

She added that everyone should be “erring in favor of the First Amendment” and in favor of free speech. 

“Because if we start fearing our rights to speak and express our religious convictions, and if we fear assembly, the consequences of parsing those rights are extremely dangerous,” Lummis said.

3. Judge Says Florida Congressional Map Championed by DeSantis is Likely Unconstitutional

Second Circuit Court of Florida Judge J. Layne Smith, appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, has signaled that a new congressional map championed by the governor is likely unconstitutional as it would suppress Black voters in the northern part of the state illegally.

During a hearing, Smith said he plans to issue an order granting an injunction that would prevent the congressional map from going into effect. He said the map “diminishes African Americans’ ability to elect the representative of their choice,” therefore violating the state’s constitution. 

Florida’s legislature, which is Republican-controlled, pushed the new congressional boundaries through in an April special session. The boundaries lie along Republican party lines in the state. DeSantis approved the map, which “controversially eliminated two districts represented by Black Democrats and would give Republicans an advantage in as many as 20 of 28 districts,” CNN reports.

4. Predominately Black College Closes Because of COVID-19, Cyberattack

Lincoln College, a predominately Black institution in Central Illinois, is closing its doors permanently after COVID-19 and complications from a cyberattack that happened recently, effective May 13. 

The college opened in 1865 and is the only college named after Abraham Lincoln while he was still alive. 

In a statement, Lincoln College said: “Lincoln College has survived many difficult and challenging times — the economic crisis of 1887, a major campus fire in 1912, the Spanish flu of 1918, the Great Depression, World War II, the 2008 global financial crisis, and more, but this is different.”

Mention of the situation as “different” referred to hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The economic burdens initiated by the pandemic required large investments in technology and campus safety measures, as well as a significant drop in enrollment with students choosing to postpone college or take a leave of absence, which impacted the institution’s financial position,” the school said. 

The college was also hit by a cyberattack in December 2021, which prevented admissions activities and access to institutional data, “creating an unclear picture of Fall 2022 enrollment projections. All systems required for recruitment, retention, and fundraising efforts were inoperable,” the statement continues. 

Lincoln College had approximately 1,200 students enrolled as of summer 2021. When its systems were restored in March 2022, there were “significant enrollment shortfalls, requiring a transformational donation or partnership to sustain Lincoln College beyond the current semester.

“Unfortunately, these efforts did not create long-term viability for Lincoln College in the face of the pandemic,” Lincoln College said.

5. Students at an Ohio School To Hold Diversity Day Off Campus After School Cancels It

After the school board at a local school in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area decided to cancel its annual Diversity Day tradition over an issue of talking about cultural and racial differences, students at Turpin High School have decided to hold the day off-campus. 

Johnny Wettengel, a senior at the high school, told Cincinnati’s Local12 that “you never want to be the kid that goes to the high school that cancels Diversity Day, that’s not something you can be proud of.”

He added that students should stand up for what they believe in. 

It’s been revealed that board members expressed issues with the language, activities and content of Diversity Day during a special meeting. One board member said the day was offensive to Black families she knew in the school district and “suggested sharing music and foods from different cultures, instead of talking about social justice issues,” Local12 reports. 

Students are finalizing a location for their off-campus Diversity Day, but plan to hold it on May 18 in conjunction with a peaceful demonstration.

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