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Memphis Rescues LeMoyne-Owen With Pledge of Millions


Financially strapped LeMoyne-Owen College has collected about $4 million in pledges in recent months, allowing classes to begin as planned on Aug. 20.

The school needed up to $4 million by the end of June to pay debts and avoid losing its accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Interim president Johnnie Watson said the city of Memphis pledged $3 million over three years. The first $1 million was delivered June 29. School officials received other private pledges and also are hoping for another $3 million combined from Shelby County and the state, pending legislative approval.

Opponents argued that the city’s pledge should be considered illegal because it gives public funds to a private institution, but a Memphis judge in June ruled against barring the city from giving the money.

In approving the pledge, the Memphis City Council said it is constitutional because it helps an institution that creates jobs and benefits the community.

In the last decade, LeMoyne-Owen’s debt has more than doubled from nearly $5.3 million in 1997 to nearly $9.75 million in 2005 while its enrollment dropped by more than 40 percent, to 589 this school year. It’s accreditation has been in jeopardy, with SACS placing it on probation for the last two years.

“There was never any question in my mind as to whether LeMoyne-Owen College would be open this year or not. …” Watson said. “I’ve lived in this community over 60 years, and the community has been very responsive when needed. The greater Memphis community has responded.”

Besides the city, substantial pledges came from the United Negro College Fund, Cummins Inc., radio host Tom Joyner and the United Church of Christ.

Newark Shooting Claims Four Victims, Including Delaware State Students


Four young people were shot in the head at close range in a school parking lot, and all but one were killed, authorities said Sunday.

The victims were shot overnight after they were lined up against a back wall near a set of bleachers at the K-8 Mount Vernon School, prosecutor’s office spokesman Paul Loriquet said.

A woman, Ofemi Hightower, and two men, Terrance Aeriel and Deshawn Harvey were killed, said Loriquet, who did not know their ages. Aeriel’s 19-year-old sister, Natasha, was in fair condition at a hospital Sunday afternoon.

“All four were good kids,” Loriquet said. He added that three of them had student identification from Delaware State University.

No one has been arrested in the case, and investigators had no information on a motive.

Loriquet also reported a fourth homicide in the city Sunday morning. Detectives believed the killing might be related to a shooting earlier Saturday night on the same street.

Civil Rights Attorney Hill Dies at 100


Oliver W. Hill, a civil rights lawyer who was at the front of the legal effort that desegregated public schools, has died at age 100, a family friend said.

Hill died peacefully Sunday at his home during breakfast, said Joseph Morrisey, a friend of the Hill family.

In 1954, he was part of a series of lawsuits against racially segregated public schools that became the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, which changed America’s society by setting the foundation for integrated education.

In 1940, Hill won his first civil rights case in Virginia, one that required equal pay for black and white teachers. Eight years later, he was the first black elected to Richmond’s City Council since Reconstruction.

A lawsuit argued by Hill in 1951 on behalf of students protesting deplorable conditions at their high school for blacks in Farmville became one of five cases decided under Brown.

Born May 1, 1907, Hill spent much of his childhood in Roanoke. While his parents worked out of town at The Homestead resort, he stayed with the Pentecost family, who taught him about pride in being Black.

“Consequently, from childhood I developed personal esteem and expected White folks to treat me like they did one another in such settings,” Hill wrote in his autobiography.

He graduated second in his class from Howard University Law School in 1933, behind his classmate and longtime friend, Thurgood Marshall.

In 1999, he received the President Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Clinton.

In 2003, Hill urged a Virginia legislative committee to support a resolution expressing “profound regret” for what was known in the 1950s as “Massive Resistance,” the state-led effort to defy the Supreme Court’s desegregation order. Rather than desegregate, Virginia chose to close entire public schools.

This past May, state officials unveiled images of a memorial planned on the state Capitol grounds in Richmond that features Hill and the students who staged the 1951 walkout at Farmville. The $2.6 million monument is to be unveiled next July.

–Associated Press
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