Donna Summer Dead — Disco Legend Dies After Battle with Cancer


Donna Summer — the Queen of Disco — died this morning after a battle with cancer … TMZ has learned.

We’re told Summer was in Florida at the time of her death. She was 63-years-old.

Summer was a 5-time Grammy winner who shot to superstardom in the ’70s with iconic hits like “Last Dance,” “Hot Stuff” and “Bad Girls.”

She continued her dominance in the ’80s with “She Works Hard for the Money” and “This Time I Know It’s for Real.”

Summer and her producer Giorgio Moroder defined the dance music era of the ’70s and influenced acts like Duran Duran and David Bowie to enter the genre.

Summer married Brooklyn Dreams singer Bruce Sudano back in 1980. They had two daughters together.

Dick Clark Dies — Dead at 82





Update: Clark’s rep tells TMZ, the TV icon had been in St. John’s hospital in L.A. after undergoing an outpatient procedure last night. Clark suffered the “massive” heart attack following the procedure. Attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.

Dick Clark — famed TV producer, and “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” host — died from a massive heart attack this morning … TMZ has learned.

He was 82.

Details surrounding his death are unclear, but Clark had suffered a significant stroke in 2004 — forcing him to retire from his hosting gig at “New Years’ Rockin’ Eve,” which he created in 1972.

Ryan Seacrest took over in 2006. Dick has co-hosted the show ever since.

Before suffering a stroke, Clark told Larry King he suffered from Type 2 diabetes.

Clark has been married 3 times — and has 3 children from his first two marriages. He is survived by his current wife Kari Wigton.

“For now, Dick Clark … so long.”

Text from Shawn Williams Keynote Address to Society of Professional Journalist Conference

Society of Professional Journalists – Region 8 Luncheon
March 23, 2012, Hilton Hotel Downtown Ft. Worth
Shawn P. Williams

I would like to thank the Society of Professional Journalists for the opportunity to speak with you today.  It was my intention to discuss with you some of my thoughts on the state of journalism, as I did when I shared with the local group last year.

As a member of the Advisory Board at the Poynter Institute I’ve had the opportunity to see so much of what’s working and not working in news.

To look at various models that individuals and companies are using to try to generate revenue in these times of struggle and tumult.  I wanted to encourage our young journalists to understand that though they are looking towards a media/news industry whose business model is under duress, the content they produce is becoming more and more valuable everyday.

I wanted to share with you how Google Panda, a change to Google’s search algorithm, is rewarding quality journalism and penalizing sites with poor quality content. I was gonna tell a few jokes.  And I also planned to give subtle hints about how my book Blogging While Black is available on

Believe me it would have been a great talk. And since I’m working my way up the ranks, maybe the national organization will invite me to share my thoughts on these topics at the national meeting in Ft. Lauderdale.

But I would be remiss if I did not spend the few minutes you’ve been gracious enough to give me today to share a few thoughts on the situation with Trayvon Martin, the 17 year old African-American male who was shot down after a trip to the convenience store.

You know when I started in 2006, I thought maybe I would be able to help portray positive images of African-Americans to combat the negative images we often saw (and still see for that matter) on television.

My hope was that we might reach a point where we was a community in Dallas and we as a nation would not automatically judge a young black man by the fact that he’s wearing a hoodie.

I must respectfully disagree with a journalist who I once greatly respected.  Geraldo Rivera said on Friday he would “bet money” that Trayvon Martin wouldn’t have been fatally shot if he had not been wearing a hoodie.  Geraldo went on to say that When you see a black or Latino youngster, particularly on the street, you walk to the other side of the street. You try to avoid the confrontation, Geraldo says.

Back in 2006, there were very few outlets where African-Americans could go to express their outrage at comments like Geraldo’s or injustices like what we’ve seen over the last few weeks with Trayvon Martin, where a neighborhood patrolman cold pull the trigger on kid walking down the street and hide behind a Stand Your Ground Law.

Let me take a second to say from what I heard on the 911 tapes and it sounded like Mr. Zimmerman was not standing his ground, he was staking his ground.  The plight of Trayvon’s parents have been greatly helped by social media.

It serves as a reminder that African-Americans were the first to use the internet and social media as an effective tool for social change.

The reason why I wrote my book Blogging While Black was because I wanted to make sure the history of the Black Blogging Movement was not forgotten.  Before the Tea Party, Before the Arab Spring, before Occupy Wall Street, African-Americans used the internet to express generations of frustration with the media.

The case of a 14 year old black female in Paris, Texas became the tipping point.  When Shaquanda Cotton was reported to have received a 7 year sentence for pushing down a hall monitor at her high school, the story spread across the internet like wildfire. To be fair, the actual sentence was one to seven years, but it was the possibility of serving 7 years for the incident that got everyone’s attention.

Howard Witt of the Chicago Tribune brought the story to national prominence in a March 12 2007 article.  I’d actually heard about the story prior to Witt’s article from a cousin who referred me to the African American News and Issues newspaper.  But it was Witt’s article that brought the incident to national prominence.

The reason I feel the need to revisit March 2007 is because I think it’s easy to forget just how much technology has changed the way we interact, how we report, and how we advocate for the things we believe in.  Shaquanda Cotton’s plight was an aha moment, not just for black bloggers, but for African-Americans in general.  Many of us realized that there were others our there who had the same feeling of frustration with how things were going.

The problems relating to race faced in Dallas, were similar to those in Philadelphia and Los Angeles and in Cinncinnati.  African-Americans across the country used the internet to express their frustration by blogging and commenting and emailing about the events in my hometown.

The Cotton case became a focal point, drawing a line in the sand saying something’s gotta change.  And while the justice system was the main focus, the media came under scrutiny as well.

Why was it the Chicago Tribune that brought this story to national prominence?  Why not the Dallas Morning News?  In the weeks following his initial article, Witt was the first to write about the Black Blogosphere as a collective, chronicling the way African Americans were pushing the story and putting pressure on the juvenile justice system.

As Witt gave updates he actually started reaching out to Black Bloggers to help get  his stories a broader audience.  The night before his articles hit the front page of the Chicago Tribune, Witt had already emailed a link to the story out to bloggers who were discussing and commenting on them before print readers sat down at the table with their morning cup of Joe.

It doesn’t seem that out of the ordinary today for a newspaper man or woman to use bloggers as a source. To use bloggers as a mean to help promote their stories.  But in 2007 this was far outside of mainstream behavior.

Witt used the same formula after writing an article about the Jena 6 in May of 2008.  Black bloggers began to weigh in on the plight of 6 young men who had be jailed after a school fight fueled by racial unrest in the small town.  One of the young men was charged with second degree attempted murder.

For weeks and months the story was kept alive by Black Bloggers and after a day of Blogging for Justice in late August the mainstream media began to take note.  News organizations asked themselves again, why was The Chicago Tribune the only major paper outside of Louisiana to tell this story. The Guardian was reporting about Jena before many newspapers stateside.

After the election of President Obama in 2008, the Black Blogosphere saw a steep decline.  It was as if everyone believed the myth that electing a Black President had solved America’s race problems.

And while it was more difficult to get issues of race heard after the election of President Obama, the real difficulty for bloggers came with the new tools of social media.  When we were writing about Paris, Texas, Facebook was still most popular on college campuses.  And Twitter was celebrating it’s first birthday.

Once Facebook and Twitter became everyday tools for everyday people, Black Blogging lost it’s luster.

Conversations that once took place solely on blogs like Electronic Village and Field Negro and Black and Missing but Not Forgotten were now being held on millions of Facebook walls across the world.

It wasn’t long before many of these sites that had played such a vital role in over the previous two years began to fade into the background.  We didn’t Adapt to the new technologies, at least as tools for activism.

But over the last few weeks, we’ve seen a renewal of the spirit from the Black Blogger Movement.  As Facebook and Twitter and You Tube spread the story of 17 year old Trayvon Martin, shot down in cold blood holding only a bag of skittles and a can of ice tea.

While I have yet to write about the story, I’ve shared updates on my Facebook wall, posted a photo of LeBron James and the Miami Heat wearing hoodies on my Tumblr, and got in a Twitter war of words on the topic with another local writer.

We’ve seen million hoodie marches in New York and Philadelphia.  Yesterday Paul Quinn College honored the slain young man with Trayvon Martin Day.  And on Monday UT Arlington students will host a Justice for Trayvon Martin Hoodie March.

It was almost a year from the time that Shaquanda Cotton was sentenced until Howard Witt wrote his article that stirred the Black Web Roots.  It was nine months between the fight in Jena and the Jena March.  It’s been less than a month since Trayvon Martin was killed by a neighborhood watch patrolman who was told to quit following him by a 911 dispatcher.

I think the media landscape is better than it was 6 years ago.  There are still negative portrayals of African-Americans to be sure.  And missing black women still don’t get the airtime as women of other ethnicities.

But as much as anything else, I believe the mainstream media has come to realize some of their problems.  The institutional biases that still exist from the days of segregation and Jim Crow. The inherent biases that we all bring to stories we write and editorialize about.  And the lack of diversity in newsrooms that has only gotten worse with the recent media turmoil and upheaval.  Though the effort to fix the problems are slow, I think acknowledging the issues are a major step.

Let me say that we still see journalists and reports making the same types of judgements as the trigger happy patrolman.

Maybe it’s not a hoodie that leads to a rush to judgement, but maybe it’s the preacher in a 5 button suit.  Maybe it’s a council person who splits his or her verbs.  Maybe it’s the community leader with a think accent.

While pen to paper or fingers to keyboard may not inflict a fatal wound, character assassinations have real consequences that too few reporters acknowledge these days.  Like it or not, our biases and judgements affect our reporting, and too often people of color are disproportionately affected.  This can be evidenced by the reporter who flippantly calls a Black Police chief a nasty, vile name or by the perpetuation of the Angry Black Woman meme against the first lady.

Yesterday my son and daughter and I were at McDonald’s.  We ordered pancakes and I sent Isaiah to the counter to get a couple of packets of butter.  I noticed he was wearing a hoodie, with the hood pulled up on his head.  I saw a 10 year old boy who loves to have fun, play with his sister, a gifted student who I wish would study just a little bit harder in school.   Trayvon’s been described as being a fun loving kid who loved sports, Avatar The Last Airbender, and still liked to go to Chuck E. Cheeses.  Those same things could be said about my son, a probably the same for many of you in the room who have kids.

As I looked at my son in McDonalds, I realized someone could see him with his hoodie on and let their preconceived notions and bias influence how they treat him.  I thought about how devastated Trayvon’s parents must be, as they ask only that the man who shot and killed their son be arrested and let the justice system decide his fate.

If any of you are ever asked to write a story about my son, about his greatest successes or the inevitable failures that we all must experience in life.  All I ask is that you be fair. Acknowledge the biases that you bring to the story.  Acknowledge the opposing views that may be held by people who do not look like you, who may have had different experiences, whose opinions you may not understand. I ask that you don’t spin the story to sell more paper or entice more clicks.

That you don’t see him as an opportunity for gotcha journalism, passed off as investigative reporting.  Though the business of journalism is hurting, the need for the true principles represented by the profession have never been more valuable.  And the individuals who choose to use the news to make a difference are also more valuable than ever.

Whether it’s for a newspaper, or a website or even a public relations agency, all I ask, is that you be true to yourself, and true to those who need you most.  Someone like my son Isaiah or like soemone like Trayvon Martin.  Thank you so much for the opportunity, and thank you for listening.

Remembering the Legacy of Civil Rights Pioneer Bayard Rustin

By Wade Henderson and Joe Solmonese

One hundred years ago this past Saturday, an unsung hero of the civil rights movement was born. Bayard Rustin’s contributions to the world far outweighed his credits – and his 100th birthday is an opportunity to appreciate how his lifelong fights for equality live on today.

Rustin was the key strategist in every campaign waged by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the architect of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and a passionate advocate for pacifism, workers’ rights, and freedom for marginalized peoples around the world. There is not one American movement for social change that his leadership did not touch.

Wade Henderson

Rights to vote, to join a union, or to marry the person one loves are today at the forefront of the struggle to build an America that reflects its ideals.  And Rustin was reliably positioned at the vanguard of these battles from the 1930s until his passing in 1987. So it’s only appropriate that we take this opportunity to pause and reflect on where our movements have traveled over 100 years and to look ahead to our future.

Today we work to stop the rollback of voting rights happening across the country – rights Rustin helped to secure through indefatigable organizing in the civil rights movement and his mentorship of Dr. King.

Today we work to end discrimination and advance marriage equality for gays and lesbians – and we do so in Rustin’s footsteps as one of the first openly gay activists.

Today we advance global and domestic human rights alongside civil rights – because Rustin broadened the conversation to speak out against South Africa apartheid, anti-Semitic Soviet power, and British colonial power in India.

Rustin saw social change in a plan broader than political organizing. He was active in the Quaker church and in the arts.  He was a prolific doodler, a vocalist, a writer, and an accomplished chef.  Rustin would exhort activists to speak up from all corners, saying “we need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers.”  His inclusive, coalition-centric approach is so effective because it wasn’t just about work – it was about finding joy in activism and ensuring that every community can reap the benefits of equality’s march forward.

Joe Solmonese

Rustin’s philosophy personifies the shared goals we all have in our work, whether we’re fighting for LGBT rights, working to protect our country’s laborers, or advocating for the civil and human rights of society’s most vulnerable populations.

We saw this brand of coalition building just this year in Maryland, where people of faith, African American communities, LGBT advocates, and fair-minded supporters of basic human and civil rights came together to achieve a historic victory for marriage equality in the Free State. It sent a clear message that social justice wasn’t a gay issue, or a black issue, or a woman’s issue: rather, we can and must continue to work together to ensure that all members of our society achieve the rights, dignity, and respect they deserve.

As we celebrate Bayard Rustin’s 100th birthday, we must do more than just look back on his life and his contributions. We must draw inspiration from his brand of inclusive social activism as we gear up for future fights, from protecting women’s health to advancing LGBT equality. We still have much to accomplish, but Bayard Rustin has left our united movement a strong foundation on which to continue building.

Wade Henderson is the president and CEO of CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States.

Joe Solmonese is president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization.

Monique Woodard: Creator of Speak Chic App

I could probably blog for weeks (since I’m only going once or twice a week now, maybe years) about all the great peeps I met at South By Southwest.  But I want to give the first shout out to Monique Woodard, Co-Founder of Black Founders and creator of the mobile app Speak Chic.

According to the Black Founders website, the principals wanted to “…create an organization that would empower entrepreneurs and provide founders with access to advice, mentorship, and funding.”  Their mission is to increase the number of successful black entrepreneurs in technology.

Monique’s app Speak Chic app allows consumers of fashion brands to “quickly and discreetly search for the correct pronunciation, read the phonetic spelling, and listen to the audio.”

I’m gonna take a little time to go through my SXSW experience, which was literally the best experience I’ve had since the DNC Convention in 2008.  If I had known what I was doing it would have been event better.

The best part was meeting people like Monique, getting familiar with organizations like Black Founders, and learning about new apps like Speak Chic.  More to come….

Let’s get caught up

With my sister Yulanda McCarty Harris, Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity at Youngstown State University

First off I’m thankful to be back on the blog.  It’s been a busy year so far but you really can’t tell that here.  So that will get better….promise.

Last week I was blessed to be a guest lecturer at Youngstown State University during their Black History Month calendar of events.

I also was keynote speaker at the Paris NAACP Heritage Banquet and a panelist for the White House Project Go Run Dallas event.

In Wednesday’s Dallas Morning News I write about the News Trinity River Bridge and how it will only live up to expectations when the river that runs through it fulfills its promise. If you’d like to read the first couple of paragraphs of this subscriber protected article be my guest.

This past weekend I spoke to the Entrepreneurial Journalism and Future of News Symposium held by SMU Division of Journalism and Dallas Press Club.  I had the chance to share the podium with Dallas South News new suitemate Mark Lowry from

So I’m going to work on getting this info up before the fact, so now’s the time to say that I’ll be on a panel at South by Southwest on Monday March 12th titled The Hyperlocal Hoax: Where’s The Holy Grail.  Stop by if you’re in town.

Just finished Clay Johnson’s book Information Diet last night.  I also started listening to Johnson’s interview with KERA’s Krys Boyd today too.  Most of what they talked about is in the book, but if you haven’t read it, Krys does a good job getting an overview.  It’s really changing (process) the way I’m interacting with information in the couple of weeks since I started.

Of course don’t forget about my book Blogging While Black.  Find out what all the buzz is about and get your copy today!  It’s available at in paperback in for the Kindle.

The Root Spotlights the Nation’s Top Young African-American Trailblazers Meet The 2012 Young Futurists Honorees

The Wire

Blake Leeper an athlete who is changing people’s perspectives on people with disabilities and who is vying to compete at the Paralympic Games this year in London.  Adam Holland: a 16 year-old young capitalist who started a highly successful shaved ice business to help pay for his sister’s education.  Adele Taylor: a 16 year-old who launched a book donation program called Adele’s Literacy Library that has distributed more than 5,000 books in her hometown.  Today, leading African-American news site The Root unveiled this year’s 2012 Young Futurists List– an annual list spotlighting the top young African-American leaders and innovators of the future.

The Young Futurists are between the ages of 16 and 22 and are committed to making the world a better place in which to live.  Each year, The Root conducts an open nomination process, seeking candidates who are not only achievers but also innovators in the worlds of green innovation, science and technology, arts and culture, social activism and business enterprise.  Past Young Futuristshave started non-profits and invented unique technologies, among other creative and praiseworthy ventures.  Nominations are submitted from across the U.S. and only 25 are selected each year.

“The Young Futurists list honors trailblazing African-American leaders under 21 who will shape our future, our communities, and our daily conversations with work that matters,” said Managing Editor Sheryl Huggins Salomon. Their range of talent, drive and commitment is so inspiring and they are clearly having an impact on our lives and our communities.”

Other Young Futurists include green innovator Kendyl Crawley-Crawford, a 2012 Marshall Scholar who has traveled to the South Pacific to document environmental issues; Sydney Shaves, a 16 year-old who filmed a documentary “Elvira’s Eyes” that chronicles a genealogical journey through 106 years of her slave ancestor’s life; and Brandon Turner, a Wake Forest University senior whose investigation into the molecular structure of proteins for future drug development led him to be one of just 30 U.S. students named Rhodes scholars this year.

The 2012 Young Futurists list including biographies, photos, and details on why each honoree was selected can be found

Live Stream of President Obama’s State of the Union Address

The White House has released a number of ways for Americans to connect with the President’s State of the Union address as well as participate in the conversation through social media.  You can watch a stream of the President’s speech here or through the White House Live App on Facebook YouTube  and their Google+ page.

Tomorrow I’ll share information about a State of the Union interview that will take place with President Obama on Monday through a Google Plus Hangout.






Streaming Schedule for Tuesday evening: 
7:00 PM EST  Pre-program video begins with 2011 highlights

9:00 PM EST  The President’s State of the Union Address

Immediately after a Live Panel from the White House to answer public questions (45 minutes)

The Twitter hastag for tonight’s event will be #SOTU.

My Sunday Dallas Morning News Column Looks at Gen X/Gen Y relationship

I write a column for Sunday’s Dallas Morning News (on stands now) that talks about the relationship between Generation X and Millennials.

The context is how some of those before us have refused to “pass the torch” and the point is coming where we may have to take it.

I’ve watched our elders hold on to the keys of the church, the family reunion and the mantle of public office. It’s not just because they enjoy the perks of authority, which they do. It’s also that they don’t trust us.

While we grew up in a wait our turn world, Generation Y seems to be content in creating their own world, (see Mark Zuckerburg).  Meanwhile Gen X is caught between the realities of getting older but feeling younger.

While many of us still look and feel youthful, the reality is we’re really not that young. It’s the ultimate moment of transition for us. I have classmates who are new grandparents while others are still welcoming their own newborns into the world.


The full column is available behind the pay wall in the subscriber content portion of the website.  If you buy a paper or have access to the premium content please take a moment to check it out.