12 charged with manslaughter in FAMU drum major’s death

From the Associated Press:

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Twelve former Florida A&M University band members were charged Monday with manslaughter in the 2011 hazing death of a drum major.

Ten of the band members had been charged last May with third-degree felony hazing for the death of 26-year-old Robert Champion, but the state attorney’s office said they are adding the charge of manslaughter for each defendant. They also have charged two additional defendants with manslaughter, though they have yet to be arrested.

The second-degree manslaughter charge announced during an afternoon status hearing carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.

Champion died in Orlando in November 2011 after he collapsed following what prosecutors say was a savage beating during a hazing ritual. It happened on a bus parked in a hotel parking lot after Florida A&M played Bethune-Cookman in their annual rivalry football game.

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Emory president’s big faux pas on slavery

Photo Credit: Emory University

Emory University President James Wagner has come under increasing fire for lauding the “three-fifths compromise” in the U.S. Constitution. This measure allowed slave states increased power in the federal government by counting slaves in federal censuses and assigning representation in Congress based on three-fifths of their numbers. In other words, for every 100,000 slaves within its borders, Georgia was credited with having 60,000 citizens. Meanwhile, the slaves themselves had no rights as citizens, being treated as chattel property. The South wanted all the slaves counted; Northern interests wanted none of them coutned. So Southerners pretty much got their way.Nowadays, the three-fifths compromise is not considered an example of  good governance.  Instead it is widely seen as dishonest pandering to a great evil.

Now, here’s what Wagner originally wrote in Emory Magazine:

One instance of constitutional compromise was the agreement to count three-fifths of the slave population for purposes of state representation in Congress. Southern delegates wanted to count the whole slave population, which would have given the South greater influence over national policy. Northern delegates argued that slaves should not be counted at all, because they had no vote. As the price for achieving the ultimate aim of the Constitution—“to form a more perfect union”—the two sides compromised on this immediate issue of how to count slaves in the new nation. Pragmatic half-victories kept in view the higher aspiration of drawing the country more closely together.

Some might suggest that the constitutional compromise reached for the lowest common denominator—for the barest minimum value on which both sides could agree. I rather think something different happened. Both sides found a way to temper ideology and continue working toward the highest aspiration they both shared—the aspiration to form a more perfect union. They set their sights higher, not lower, in order to identify their common goal and keep moving toward it.

This caused a firestorm of criticism. Since then, Wagner has disavowed slavery (snark) and apologized for the “clumsiness and insensitivity” of his remarks.

The latest: Emory’s Arts and Sciences faculty censured Wagner—but they stopped short of issuing a vote of no confidence.

Obama to give Morehouse commencement

From Politico:

President Obama was just in Atlanta this week, but will be back in May to deliver the commencement address at Morehouse College, the White House confirmed to POLITICO.

“Morehouse College, one of the nation’s leading Historical Black Colleges and Universities, is among the best and brightest institutions of higher education in the country,” the White House said in a statement. Commencement is scheduled for May 19.

“Known for its high standard for excellence in learning and social consciousness, Morehouse is home to a long list of notable alumni that spans the last three centuries,” the White House added. Alumni of the all-male liberal arts college include Martin Luther King, Jr., Spike Lee and Maynard Jackson, the first African-American mayor of Atlanta.

It won’t be Obama’s first commencement speech at an HBCU — he addressed graduates of Virginia’s Hampton University in 2010.

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