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Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole Selected as Board Chair and Seventh President of National Council of Negro Women

"My heart is overflowing with gratitude for this honor to serve as the seventh president of this organization that has been a voice of and for Black women," said Dr. Cole.

The National Council of Negro Women (NCMW) selected Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole as its chair and seventh president during the closing session of their 58th Biennial National Convention in Washington, D.C. Ms. Ingrid Saunders Jones, who served as NCNW's chair for more than six years, will continue to serve the organization as the immediate past chair.


"At this moment when I have the exceptional honor of beginning my service as the chair of our beloved National Council of Negro Women, I am thinking of a proverb from the Swahili Coast of that great continent that is the cradle of humanity: Africa," said Dr. Cole during her acceptance remarks.

"It says, it does no harm to be grateful. My heart is overflowing with gratitude for this honor to serve as the seventh president of this organization that has been a voice of and for Black women since it was founded in 1935 by the amazing and grace-filled Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune and lead so brilliantly and soulfully for more than 50 years by the unconquerable Dr. Dorothy Height."

Dr. Cole's path to becoming NCNW's new chair began during her childhood when she and her sister had the privilege of being mentored by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, a longtime friend of her great grandfather. Dr. Bethune counseled the young sisters about the importance of education and being of service to others. She heeded Dr. Bethune's advice as her career and service exemplifies.

"When social justice is on the menu, I promise to ensure that NCNW has a seat at the table and I'm committed to preparing the next generation of women leaders so NCNW can continue to be an influential power in the ongoing struggle for equality, " said Dr. Cole.

"As a lifetime member of NCNW, Johnnetta is well suited to steward the legacies and promises of Dr. Bethune and Dr. Height," said Ingrid Saunders Jones. "With more than 650 delegates representing more than 200 sections and affiliates from across the country coming together in unity to achieve the smooth transition of leadership, including the acceptance and installation of a slate of 22 officers by affirmation, NCNW is in good hands."

A woman of many firsts, Dr. Cole served as the president of both historically Black colleges for women in the United States, Atlanta-based Spelman College and Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina. She served as director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. Dr. Cole was the first African American to serve as chair of the board of United Way of America.

She also served on a number of other corporate boards: Nations Bank South, Home Depot, Merck; and was the first woman to serve on the board of Coca Cola Enterprises. She has authored and edited several books and numerous scholarly articles; and has received numerous awards, including a NCNW Uncommon Height Award and 68 honorary degrees.

Dr. Cole is principal consultant with Cook Ross, Inc., a consulting firm in Silver Spring, Maryland, and is a member of the board of Martha's Table. She is a fellow of the American Anthropological Association; and holds memberships in several diverse organizations including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority; and the Links, Inc. She resides on Amelia Island in her home state of Florida.

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.

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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MLB Changes 'Disabled List' to 'Injured List'

Disability rights advocates urged Major League Baseball to rename the roster designation for players recovering from injury.

Major League Baseball is renaming its league-wide medical database from the commonly known "Disabled List" to the "Injured List".

"The principal concern is that using the term 'Disabled' for players who are injured supports the misconception that people with disabilities are injured and therefore are not able to participate or compete in sports," explained Jeff Pfeifer, Major League Baseball's Senior Director of League Economics and Operations, informing the league's teams in a December memo that was obtained by ESPN.

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