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Stacey Abrams to Give Democratic Response to Trump's State of the Union

"I plan to deliver a vision for prosperity and equality, where everyone in our nation has a voice and where each of those voices is heard," Abrams said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Tuesday afternoon that Stacey Abrams will give the Democratic response to Trump's State of the Union (SOTU) address next week.

"She is just a great spokesperson, Schumer said. "She is an incredible leader."

"I plan to deliver a vision for prosperity and equality, where everyone in our nation has a voice and where each of those voices is heard," Abrams said.


Abrams' gubernatorial race in Georgia gained national attention. If she was elected, she would have been the first Black female governor in the country. She accused her opponent Brian Kemp of voter suppression during the midterm elections.

Kemp, who served as the Secretary of State, had more than 85,000 registrations canceled under his watch— most of them Black voters.

Abrams, a longtime voter-rights advocate, would not concede until every vote was counted.

"This is not a speech of concession," she said when ending her campaign. "Because concession means to acknowledge an action that's right, true or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede that."

But what has made Abrams even more unique, and perhaps the choice to go toe to toe with Trump, is her hold on progressives that caused major voter turnout.

She condemned white supremacist Confederate monuments, and aligned herself with LGBTQ groups, labor unions, pro-choice groups, and gun-control advocates.

According to Steve Phillips, author of "Brown Is the New White," "The significance of Abrams' candidacy is that she has provided empirical evidence about how to win in a highly polarized, racially charged political environment."

Trump and his SOTU address will most likely give Abrams that same environment to shine in:

Rumors have circulated post midterms that she may be considering the governorship, the Senate and even the presidency in 2020. She didn't clarify, saying she was "open to all options."

Colleagues expressed their excitement on social media, including Andrew Gillum, whose gubernatorial campaign in Florida also made national headlines:

Obama Teams Up With NBA, FIBA to Launch Basketball Africa League

"I've always loved basketball because it's about building a team that's equal to more than the sum of its parts," Obama tweeted.

Screenshot from NBA video

It is well-known that former President Barack Obama is a basketball aficionado. From filling out his NCAA bracket to leading pick-up games at the White House, basketball has always been a part of the 44th president's life.

While some people coach high school when they retire, Obama is thinking global. On Saturday, the NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced the launch of the Basketball Africa League (BAL), a joint effort of the NBA and International Basketball Federation (FIBA). Who is the go-to player for this project? None other than Obama.

He tweeted on Saturday about BAL:

Obama will have a role with the league, but the extent of his involvement has yet to be announced.

BAL, the NBA's first collaboration to operate a league outside of North America, will be built on the foundation of current club competitions FIBA is organizing in Africa. The inaugural season will begin in 2020, and will feature squads from Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia.

The NBA shared a video of Obama speaking to African basketball players about the importance of sports, then hitting a long-range 3-pointer.

"I hope you know through sport that if you put in effort you will be rewarded, I hope you learn through sport what it means to play as a team and that even if you are the best player your job is not just to show off but your job is to make your teammates better," Obama says.

For years, the NBA has fostered a program, with the assistance of FIBA in Africa, called Basketball Without Borders. This program grows the game by promoting and identifying young talent from all areas.

"The Basketball Africa League is an important next step in our continued development of the game of basketball in Africa," said Commissioner Silver, in a statement. "Combined with our other programs on the continent, we are committed to using basketball as an economic engine to create new opportunities in sports, media and technology across Africa."

New Comedy Series is Based on the Life of a Gay Man With Cerebral Palsy

The series is written by and starring Ryan O'Connell, author of "I'm Special: And Other Lies We tell Ourselves."

Ryan O'Connell/ YOUTUBE

With "The Big Bang Theory" winding down, Jim Parsons, better known as "Sheldon," is taking a role behind the scenes as the executive producer of the new series "Special."

The show, set to debut on Netflix on April 12, is loosely based on the upbringing and experience of Ryan O'Connell, a gay man living with cerebral palsy. O'Connell authored a 2015 book called "I'm Special: And Other Lies We tell Ourselves."

O'Connell stars in the series, along with Jessica Hecht, Punam Patel, Marla Mindelle, Augustus Prew and Patrick Fabian. He also wrote the show and will executive produce with Parsons, Eric Norsoph and Todd Spiewak.

Both Parsons and O'Connell took to social media to celebrate:

O'Connell tweeted:

O'Connell has a long resume filled with stints on some prominent writing teams. He has written for MTV's "Awkward" and the reboot of "Will and Grace."

At this time, being gay is more acceptable than having cerebral palsy, he said.

"Being gay is chic now," he told NBC Out. "Cerebral palsy will never be chic."

But, hopefully "Special" will make being disabled cool just like "The Big Bang Theory" made being a nerd cool.

O'Connell has never been politically correct about his disability referring to himself as a "gimp."

"Honey, I've walked in these orthotics for 29 years. I own the f—ing right to say 'gimp,'" O'Connell said.

O'Connell's disability affects his fine motor skills and causes his muscles to be stiff.

Having a disability when you are gay is difficult, according to O'Connell. He used to refuse to go to the bathroom when he was on a date in fear that his date would notice his limp. He would avoid walking in front of people and eventually took to drugs as a way to cope with his disability.

"I had the choice to turn [my disability] into this big giant monster, or it could be this ant on the ground that I saw with a magnifying glass. And I chose to make it into a big monster," he said.

He has made that big monster morph into his ticket to stardom as he will be the main character in "Special."

Through this show, O'Connell hopes to give the unheard a voice.

State Sen. Nikema Williams: 'I Was Unlawfully Arrested at the Georgia Capitol — My Workplace'

Williams is taking a stand to prevent the mistreatment of women of color by law enforcement.

WSB-TV Screenshot

Georgia State Sen. Nikema Williams, the first Black woman elected to lead the state's Democratic party, was jailed last year for just standing among protesters at the state Capitol. Williams is now taking a stand to prevent the mistreatment of women of color by law enforcement.

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Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Explains Her Race and Ethnicity

"I am the descendant of African slaves. I am the descendant of Indigenous people. I am the descendant of Spanish colonizers," explained Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in an MSNBC interview.

Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez

Conversations around race and ethnicity have been prominent in the media because of the onslaught of diverse newly elected public officials. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is one of them. In an interview on MSNBC, she addressed her heritage with respect to her race.

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White Supremacist's Apology Doesn't Deter Judge From Giving Him a Life Sentence

Family and friends said the apology was insulting, and that Timothy Caughman's death was their "life sentence."

CBS 2

James Jackson, 30, a white supremacist, killed Timothy Caughman, 66, a Black man with a sword. Jackson was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

His apology: "I just wanted to apologize to everyone who has been negatively affected by this horrible and unnecessary tragedy. If I could do it all over again, this never would have happened."

Caughman's friends dismissed the apology, as fake.

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Virginia Church Pays $100,000 Worth of Debt for Howard University Students

Black students are more likely to borrow, less able to make progress on paying down their loans, and almost half defaulted on their school loans. Many do not graduate. Now 34 seniors can.

Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va., decided to clear the debt of 34 Howard students.

95 percent of Howard students are on financial aid. About 4,000 church members fasted and prayed for 30 days, saving money to donate to something charitable.

They donated $100,000 to 34 students.

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