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Shaquille O’Neal and American Express Launch $10M Grant Program for Black Businesses [VIDEO]

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*Shaquille O’Neal has partnered with American Express on a new grant program benefiting Black-owned small businesses. 

The partnership includes a $10 million commitment to support Black-owned businesses over the next four years through an initiative called the “Coalition to Back Black Businesses.”

Here’s more from Forbes:

Eligible Black-owned small businesses have until Sept. 21 to apply for a $5,000 grant. The Coalition, which also includes the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., National Business League, National Black Chamber of Commerce and Walker’s Legacy will then select 280 finalists to complete a more in-depth application by Sept. 22. Those who meet the requirements will receive the $5,000 grant starting Oct. 6. A quarter of grant recipients will go to women-owned Black small businesses, and recipients will be invited to participate in a mentorship program to help further grow their businesses.

O’Neal spoke to Business Insider about the grant program and his longtime partnership with American Express. Below are excerpts from the conversation. 

READ MORE: Shaunie O’Neal Explains Why She’s Not Getting Back with Ex Shaquille O’Neal

How did your partnership with this program come together?

I’ve been with American Express almost seven, eight years now. Small businesses need our support more than ever now, and Black business owners have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. American Express asked me to do this, and of course I’m proud to partner with American Express as they’re launching a first-ever “Coalition to Back Black Businesses” grant program. They’re giving $10 million over four years to small businesses, and I think it’s a great program.

How can the program assist on the ground level for small businesses, in the economic fallout of the pandemic?

It helps owners with funding, and we also got a mentorship program to help them grow their businesses and recover from the effects. We’re not only giving money but also guiding them and helping them with what they need to get to the next level.

How does your history of entrepreneurism inform the work you’re doing with Amex here?

I mean, Amex has helped me out a lot. Just recently, a couple of schools in my hometown needed laptops. American Express pitched in, and I pitched in, and we were able to get, I think, two or three schools outfitted with laptops so they could do the online schooling. But listen, American Express, we’ve been partnering for a long time, and they’ve supported me in all my stuff. “Shaq’s Fun House.” “Shaq’s Mama Said Knock You Out”; you know, my mom does this charity dinner of the year for a scholarship program to help nurses go to school for three or four years. American Express has put in for that, so I love American Express. When they asked me to be a part of the “Coalition to Back Black Businesses” grant program, I said, “Of course, I’m in.”

And I’ve always been supportive of small businesses, Black businesses. I live in a small town called McDonough, Georgia, and that’s all there is out here, small businesses. And the businesses are so good to me and so beautiful out here, the only time I go to Atlanta is when I have to go to work. Everything you need is out here. They have a place called The Farm Store. ‘Cause I live on a farm. So, you know, they have everything I need: Hay, seeds, fertilizer, stuff for the desk, you know, knives, pens, ice cream scoopers, stuff that’s sunny, stuff for the dogs, stuff for the tree house. But they were struggling for a while. I probably kept them open personally, but you know, these places are struggling. Because, you think about it, they tell you to stay in the house three, four months. Don’t go anywhere. 40 million people lose their jobs. People are losing their houses. Of course small businesses are going to be impacted.

The application for the grant program has a submission deadline of September 21, and a list of eligibility criteria is outlined on the program’s website.

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Black Celebrity Gossip - Gossip

Aurora Police Video Shows Black Woman Hogtied in Back of Patrol Car [WATCH]

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Aurora Police Video Released Of Woman Cuffed, Hogtied In Back Of Patrol Car - screenshot

*The Colorado police force under scrutiny for the August 2019 death of Elijah McClain is catching heat once again over recently released video of a Black woman hogtied in a patrol car. 

The woman is seen riding upside down for more than 20 minutes following her arrest in August 2019. She even calls the white officer “master” and begs him to lift her from the floorboard.

Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson said former officer Levi Huffine appears to be “punishing” the woman.

“In my opinion she was just tortured back there. It makes me sick,” said Wilson of the video Tuesday, during a civil service commission appeal hearing for Huffine, who was fired over the incident. He appealed his termination. 

“We are not judge, jury and executer,” said Wilson. “We are not to treat people inhumanely like they don’t matter.

“And he is lucky she did not die in the backseat of that car. Because he would be — in my opinion — in an orange jumpsuit right now,” said Wilson.

READ MORE: Reparations Closer to Becoming Reality with AB3121 Study California


Here’s more from CBS 4 Denver

Huffine arrested Shataean Kelly, 28, on Aug. 27, 2019, on municipal charges resulting from a fight. On his bodycam video, Officer Huffine decides to hobble Kelly — tying her handcuffed hands to her feet when he said she tried to escape from his patrol car by trying to open door handles in the backseat.

Wilson testified the door handles in the backseat are inoperable and in her opinion, hobbling Kelly was unnecessary. She said she felt Huffine was “punishing” the prisoner who had also been verbally abusive toward the officer.

“The hobbling in my opinion was another form of punishment,” said Wilson, notin that Kelly could have easily died of positional asphyxia.

The video played at the hear Tuesday shows Kelly begging for help during the drive to jail. 

“Officer please, I can’t breathe,” she says. “I don’t want to die like this. I’m about to break my neck,” cries Kelly.  “My neck is killing me dude. Help me, I can’t breathe.”

Officer Huffine does not appear to respond to Kelly. At one point Kelly says, “I beg you master.”

“As an African-American female she denigrates herself to the point she actually calls him ‘master.’ To me that is disgusting,” said Wilson.

In February, Wilson fired Huffine. All criminal charges were dropped against Kelly. She did not suffer serious injuries during the ride to jail.

“It’s beyond human decency for me,” said the chief of the video. “It’s unacceptable. I don’t know what else to say.”

Scroll up and watch the disturbing footage via the YouTube video above. 

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First Look at Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis in Netflix’s ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’

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*Netflix released images of Chadwick Boseman in his final film, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” which debuts on Dec. 18. 

The film stars Viola Davis, and is based on August Wilson’s award-winning play from director George C. Wolfe and producer Denzel Washington, the streamer announced on social media Thursday.

The official synopsis from Netflix reads; “Tensions and temperatures rise over the course of an afternoon recording session in 1920s Chicago as a band of musicians await trailblazing performer, the legendary Mother of the Blues, Ma Rainey (Academy Award winner Viola Davis). Boseman plays an ambitious trumpeter named Levee. 

Check out the newly released images from the drama feature below. 

READ MORE: Sienna Miller Reveals Chadwick Boseman Gave Her Part of His ’21 Bridges’ Salary

The film also stars Colman Domingo, Glynn Turman and Michael Potts. Multiple Tony Award-winner George C. Wolfe (“Lackawanna Blues,” “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”) directed the film from a script adapted by Ruben Santiago-Hudson. 

Boseman died in late August after a private battle with colon cancer. He was 43.

According to a family statement, the “Black Panther” star was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer in 2016.

“A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much,” the statement read. “From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more — all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy. It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther.”

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Davis discussed Boseman’s passing with the New York Times, praising the actor’s humility.

“A lot of actors mistake their presence for the event,” Davis said. “An actor of Chadwick’s status usually comes on and it’s their ego who comes on before them: This is what they want, this is what they’re not going to do. That was absolutely, 150 percent off the table with Chadwick. He could completely discard whatever ego he had, whatever vanity he had, and welcome Levee in.”

Boseman’s last on-screen role was in Spike Lee’s film “Da 5 Bloods.”

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Jay-Z Taps Jesse Collins as First Black Super Bowl Halftime Show Executive Producer

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Jesse Collins - twitter

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*Emmy-nominated live event producer Jesse Collins has become the first Black executive producer of the Super Bowl halftime show. 

The NFL, Jay-Z’s RocNation and Pepsi said Tuesday that Collins will join longtime director Hamish Hamilton for the Pepsi Super Bowl LV Halftime Show on Feb. 7 in Tampa Florida, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“Jesse Collins is innovative, creative and one of the only executive producers that speak fluent ‘artist vision.’ He‘s a true artist,” said RocNation’s Nation chief operating officer Jay-Z. “Jesse’s insight and understanding create both extraordinary shows and true cultural moments. After working with Jesse for so many years, I look forward to all there is to come.”

“It is an honor to be part of such an iconic show at such an important time in our history,” Collins said in a statement, per Variety. “I am grateful to JAY-Z, Desiree Perez, and the entire Roc Nation family and the NFL for granting me this opportunity.”

READ MORE: Jay Z Allegedly Sold Kanye’s Masters to Get His Own Masters Back


In his own statement, Jay-Z praised Collins for being “one of the only executive producers that speak fluent ‘artist vision,’” noting that his “insight and understanding create both extraordinary shows and true cultural moments.” 

Last August, Roc Nation, Jay-Z’s entertainment and sports company, signed a deal with the NFL to consult on the halftime show as their “live music entertainment strategist.” 

This past February, Roc Nation caught major heat over its first Super Bowl halftime show in Miami featuring Jennifer Lopez and Shakira. 

Uncle Luke called on JAY-Z to “fix” the Super Bowl halftime line-up to include performers from Miami. 

“[The NFL is] basically showing that, ‘Aye look, let me go get a token black guy, throw him out there, say we’re dealing with systemic racism and say we’re having him involved with the entertainment,” Luke told TMZ at the time. “It specifically said that JAY-Z would be involved with the systemic racism and the entertainment. Right now, that’s an F.”

Luke also hit up his Instagram to criticize Jay and the NFL for choosing Shakira and Lopez as Super Bowl halftime performers.

“I have a serious problem with the @NFL and the people they pick to perform at the Super Bowl, Uncle Luke captioned a video posted on his Instagram page. “The @NFL has totally disrespected the African American along with Miami entertainment community. Jay-Z this your first job.”

He was referring to Jay’s partnership with the NFL to curate the Super Bowl halftime shows. 

Jay-Z’s appointment of Collins makes him the first-ever Black executive producer of the halftime show.

Collins called it “an honor to be a part of such an iconic show at such an important time in our history.”

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