Monday's intriguing people
Albertina Sisulu and husband, Walter Sisulu, smile for the camera after Walter's 1989 release from prison.
June 6th, 2011
11:11 AM ET

Monday's intriguing people

Albertina Sisulu

The mother of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement has died. “Ma Sisulu,” as she was known throughout the movement, was 92 years old. As the wife of Walter Sisulu, an anti-apartheid activist and mentor to Nelson Mandela, she supported him during 26 years of imprisonment on Robben Island, often being imprisoned and harassed herself, The New York Times reported. In 1956, she organized the historic protest by 20,000 women that is now marked each August 9 as a national holiday called Women’s Day, The Times said. In 1994, she was elected to South Africa’s parliament, where her son, Max, is now speaker of the National Assembly. Daughter Lindiwe Sisulu serves as the nation’s defense minister, and another daughter, Beryl, is the country’s ambassador to Norway. Walter Sisulu died in 2003.

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Filed under: Civil Rights • Human rights • Protest • Race • South Africa • World
Shirley Sherrod may work with USDA again
Shirley Sherrod speaks at a press conference last August at the Department of Agriculture.
May 16th, 2011
03:48 PM ET

Shirley Sherrod may work with USDA again

Shirley Sherrod, who made headlines last summer when she was forced to resign her job with the Department of Agriculture after incomplete video footage of a speech she gave was posted online, may yet work with the agency again.

A spokesman for the USDA said Monday that Sherrod’s community organization, Southwest Georgia Project For Community Education, will be one of three groups chosen to work with the agency on civil rights issues.

“We anticipate that Mrs. Sherrod herself will be involved in working with the Department through the Southwest Georgia Project on a contractual basis through one of USDA’s programs that promote outreach and diversity,” Justin DeJong, spokesman for the USDA, said in an e-mail to CNN.

“Secretary [Tom] Vilsack had previously asked Mrs. Sherrod to join USDA’s Office of Advocacy and Outreach and deal directly with similar issues at USDA,” DeJong said.

Sherrod, the department's director of rural development for Georgia, resigned under pressure last July after conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart posted a portion of a speech Sherrod gave online. In that video footage, which was heavily edited and incomplete, she seemed to suggest that she did not offer her full help to a white farmer.

Sherrod later received an apology and a job offer from USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, which she turned down, saying at the time that she wanted to work in some capacity on racial issues affecting America.

In an interview with CNN last fall, Sherrod said her rejection of the job offer was not because she didn't want to work, but she needed time to sort out her next course.  

"When you look at everything that has happened in the last four or five weeks, it makes it difficult to go back to that position," she said. "I feel at this time I could do more to address issues not as a full-time employee of USDA."

The extent of Sherrod's hands-on involvement with the USDA remains to be negotiated, Dejong said. "Conversations with Mrs. Sherrod have been positive and are ongoing."

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Filed under: Georgia • Race • Shirley Sherrod
Wednesday's intriguing people
Gov. Jerry Brown says he wants California voters to decide if tax extensions are the way to cure the state's budget ills.
March 23rd, 2011
11:06 AM ET

Wednesday's intriguing people

Jerry Brown

California’s governor used YouTube this week to discuss the state’s budget woes. He is calling for a special election for voters to decide between tax extensions or cuts in state services. “This is a matter of we the people taking charge and voting on the most fundamental matters that affect all our lives,” Brown said in the YouTube video.

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Filed under: Budget • California • Crime • Economy • Jerry Brown • Military • Most Intriguing People • Politics • Race • U.S. • Virginia • YouTube
On the radar: Player dies, Libyans fight, NFL negotiates, states wrestle budgets
Libyan rebels fire into the air Friday on their way to fight loyalist forces in the city of Ras Lanuf.
March 4th, 2011
12:12 PM ET

On the radar: Player dies, Libyans fight, NFL negotiates, states wrestle budgets

Player makes winning shot, dies

A high school basketball player in Michigan collapsed and died Thursday night after making the winning shot in overtime to cap his team's 20-0 regular season.

An autopsy will be conducted to determine a cause of death for Fennville High School player Wes Leonard, 16, CNN affiliate WOOD-TV reported.

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Filed under: Basketball • Libya • Michigan • On the Radar • Politics • Pro football • Race • Sports • U.S. • Wisconsin
Monday's intriguing people
Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan says Tunisian-style protests will erupt in the U.S.
February 28th, 2011
10:53 AM ET

Monday's intriguing people

Louis Farrakhan

The leader of the Nation of Islam predicts that uprisings like those in the Middle East will happen in the United States, according to the Chicago Tribune. He is calling on President Obama not to attack the protesters when they revolt. During an address Sunday, Farrakhan told his followers: “What you are looking at in Tunisia, in Egypt … Libya, in Bahrain … what you see happening there … you’d better prepare because it will be coming to your door.”
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Filed under: Academy Awards • Budget • California • Economy • Human rights • Illinois • Minnesota • Most Intriguing People • Movies • Politics • Protest • Race • Religion • Showbiz • U.S.
Thursday's intriguing people
Sunday will mark Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s 400th race of the Sprint Cup series.
February 17th, 2011
10:16 AM ET

Thursday's intriguing people

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Ten years ago, his legendary father died after a crash at the Daytona 500. His death in the final turn of "NASCAR’S Super Bowl" shook the sports world. Since then, according to USA Today, NASCAR and the surviving Earnhardt have struggled. Dale Earnhardt Jr. initially catapulted to fame, yet he feuded with his stepmother and left Earnhardt Racing. Though he was slated to start in pole position at the Daytona 500 this weekend, he wrecked his car in a practice Wednesday and landed at the back of the pack. Still, Sunday will be Earnhardt's 400th race of the Sprint Cup series. The last driver who won on his 400th career start was Earnhardt Sr.

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Wednesday's intriguing people
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour says a license plate honoring Klansman Nathan Bedford Forrest won't actually pass.
February 16th, 2011
10:30 AM ET

Wednesday's intriguing people

Haley Barbour

The Mississippi governor, who is reportedly considering a 2012 presidential bid, refused to denounce an effort to put a Confederate-era member of the Ku Klux Klan on state license plates, saying, "I don't go around denouncing people." Barbour also said of the ex-Klansman, "He's a historical figure."

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Budget • District of Columbia • Economy • Education • Football • Health • History • Mississippi • Missouri • Most Intriguing People • Pennsylvania • Politics • Race
Mother who put kids in wrong school released from jail early
Ohio mother Kelley Williams-Bolar is led off to jail after her conviction last week.
January 27th, 2011
11:06 AM ET

Mother who put kids in wrong school released from jail early

An Ohio woman who was jailed for tampering with records to get her children into a better school district has been released from jail a day early, according to a local newspaper.

Kelley Williams-Bolar left the Summit County Jail on Wednesday, having served nine days of her 10-day sentence, the Akron Beacon Journal reported.

Williams-Bolar, a single mother living in subsidized housing in Akron, used her father's address to register her two daughters in the high-achieving suburban Copley-Fairlawn school district.

Copley-Fairlawn said the improper registration cost it $30,000 in lost tuition and $6,000 in investigative costs.

The case has drawn national media attention and outrage, much of it due to its racial undertones: Williams-Bolar is black, while the Copley-Fairlawn schools are predominantly white.

A Google search for Williams-Bolar's name turns up 131,000 results.

Williams-Bolar told CNN affiliate WEWS-TV in Cleveland that she plans to appeal her conviction. The local chapter of the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network is trying to raise money to fund the appeal, the Beacon Journal reported.

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Filed under: Crime • Education • Justice • Ohio • Race • U.S.
Tuesday's intriguing people
December 7th, 2010
12:49 PM ET

Tuesday's intriguing people

Navi Pillay

The U.N. high commissioner for human rights says she has a good reason for not attending the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

Friday’s ceremony coincides with Human Rights Day, and Pillay is scheduled to host a meeting with human rights defenders in Switzerland, spokesman Richard Colville told Foreign Policy.

Yang Jianli, another Chinese dissident who represents Liu before the Nobel committee, isn’t buying it. He called Pillay's decision not to attend “a clear and unequivocal abdication of her responsibilities as high commissioner.”

He also blasted U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for failing to raise Liu’s case when he met with Chinese President Hu Jintao shortly after the Nobel committee’s announcement.

Though Yang claims that the U.N. is buckling to pressure from China, Colville said Pillay – a South African lawyer who got her start defending opponents of apartheid – simply couldn’t bow out of the Swiss event.

According to BBC, 19 countries including China will not attend the ceremony in Oslo, Norway. Forty-four will attend.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Jiang Yu told the BBC that China would not change because of “interference by a few clowns.”

China has mounted a campaign to dissuade nations from attending the ceremony and said through its state-run media that 100 countries back its stance. Xinhua further cited a professor as saying that Liu was a “Chinese criminal [who] challenged China’s judicial authority and interfered in China’s internal affairs."

The Nobel Committee, of course, sees it differently and applauds Liu’s calls for multi-party democracy and human rights reforms.

In other developments this week: Liu’s lawyers said they were prevented from appealing their client’s charges; they say they were also prevented from visiting Liu’s wife, who has been under house arrest since the Nobel announcement; and an Australian-based Chinese dissident was detained in Shanghai en route to Oslo, The Australian reported.

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August 19th, 2010
01:33 PM ET

Web Pulse: Dr. Laura, Air Force, party boat, McAfee

Here's a look at some of the stories that are popular on Twitter, Google and other news and social media sites.

Curiosity about Dr. Laura Schlessinger is running high after the radio talk show host announced on CNN's "Larry King Live" that she is leaving radio. Schlessinger sparked outrage by repeatedly using a racial epithet on her show last week in an effort to make a point. Read about the controversy here.

The U.S. Air Force's web portal drew heavy traffic Thursday morning as the service posted its tentative list of airmen being promoted to the rank of staff sergeant. More than 28,000 airmen sought the higher rank, but fewer than half were promoted. Look for your name here.

A lurid blog post by a woman who claims to have worked aboard Florida U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Greene's yacht is grabbing clicks. At the website of Broward-Palm Beach New Times, Sharyn Peach tells tales of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, complete with photos. See for yourself here (Warning: NSFW).

A lot of people want to know the details of Intel's decision to purchase software-security company McAfee, which you can read about here.

Entertainment items at the top of trend lists include the testosterone-driven movie "The Expendables"; the escapist "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World"; and Rolling Stone's 'True Blood' cover, featuring three stars of the HBO show naked and covered in blood.

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Filed under: Military • Most Popular • Politics • Race • Showbiz • Technology • Web Pulse
August 13th, 2010
04:45 PM ET

Dr. Laura's rant: In her own words

Racial comments made by talk radio host Laura Schlessinger during an on-air conversation with a caller this week have created a national furor. The issue has spawned heated responses from commentators and her listeners. iReporters are also weighing in.

In an apology posted on her blog, Schlessinger acknowledged she "did the wrong thing" in using the N-word several times during a conversation with a caller on Tuesday. The African-American woman had called to seek advice on how to deal with racist comments from her white husband's friends and relatives.

The conversation evolved into a discussion on whether it's appropriate to ever use the word, with Schlessinger arguing that it's used on HBO and by black comedians.

"I was attempting to make a philosophical point," she said on her blog. "I ended up, I’m sure, with many of you losing the point I was trying to make, because you were shocked by the fact that I said the word."

Here is a complete transcript of the exchange after the break, with the exception of the full N-word when used by Schlessinger and the caller.

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Filed under: Race
August 12th, 2010
10:21 AM ET

On the Radar: Stabbings arrest, Fantasia, Beckham, Section 8


Arrest in stabbings case made: A man was taken into custody Wednesday night at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in connection with the stabbings of 20 people, police said Thursday. Five of the victims died. The attacks began in May and occurred in Michigan, Virginia and Ohio. Police were conducting a multistate search for a suspect and had recently released a composite sketch.

Former 'Idol' behavior: Singer Fantasia Barrino is out of the hospital and resting Thursday after overdosing on "aspirin and a sleep aid", her manager Brian Dickens said. The incident happened when Barrino become overwhelmed while reading a court complaint from a woman who alleged that the singer carried on a year-long affair with her husband.  Release of the 911 call has prompted broad speculation on the internet that Barrino's pill-popping was a suicide attempt. North Carolina is one of only a few states that allow a spouse to sue a third party who interferes with a marriage for alienation of affection.

End it like Beckham? David Beckham's glittering international career has been brought to an end after England coach Fabio Capello announced his fate in a pre-match television interview. Capello said the 35-year-old Beckham was now "a little bit old" - ending the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star's hopes of adding to his 115 caps. Who knows? Maybe this will allow Beckham to delve deeper into acting.

Crush for subsidized housing: Officials in East Point, Georgia, got a snapshot of the housing woes Americans face when 30,000 people showed up Wednesday to apply for Section 8 housing.  The city took measures Thursday to avoid the disorder that erupted when thousands of people - many of them camped out for days - clamored for housing vouchers in the summer heat.  The crush is widely seen as a side effect of the diminished U.S. job market.

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Filed under: Justice • Michigan • On the Radar • Race • Tiger Woods
July 23rd, 2010
07:26 PM ET

Hugs and joy as Sherrod, farming family reunite

Redeemed former Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod reunited Friday with the Georgia couple whose story  - albeit heavily edited to the point of slant - sparked a national firestorm on racial politics.

Roger and Eloise Spooner waited patiently as Sherrod approached them, arms outstretched. "I want the first hug," Roger playfully said as they embraced.

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Filed under: Civil Rights • On CNN.com today • Race
July 21st, 2010
05:07 PM ET

Vilsack apologizes to Sherrod, offers new job

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says he has apologized to Shirley Sherrod, who resigned from her Agriculture Department position under pressure this week over a video showing her making comments about a white farmer.

"I started off by extending to her my personal and profound apologies for the pain and discomfort that has been caused to her and to her family over the course of the last several days," Vilsack told reporters late Wednesday afternoon in Washington, D.C.

"She was extraordinarily gracious," Vilsack added. "I wanted to make sure that she understood that I regretted the circumstances, and that I accepted full responsibility for that."

Vilsack said he told Sherrod by phone that the USDA would have another position for her should she want it. Sherrod answered that she needed some time to think about it, Vilsack said.

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Filed under: Civil Rights • Race • U.S.
July 21st, 2010
12:05 PM ET

Race and resignation, 24 hours of Shirley Sherrod

Tuesday was all about ex-USDA official Shirley Sherrod, who said she was pressured to quit her job after she was accused of making racist comments. Those remarks were part of a video clip that was posted over the weekend on a conservative blogger’s website and subsequently aired on Fox.

CNN picked up the story Tuesday morning, telling Sherrod’s side of the story, and by Tuesday night there had been a complete 180 in the matter. Those who initially criticized her, including the NAACP, have now said they were duped by the clip. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Wednesday that he’s reviewing Sherrod’s case.

– Last week, the NAACP accused the Tea Party of protecting racist elements in its movement.

– Over the weekend, conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart published part of a video of Sherrod giving a speech at a March 27, 2010, NAACP dinner. In the 2 1/2-minute video, she appears to be talking about how she treated a white farmer in a 1986 case. At the time, she was not employed by the USDA. Her remarks seem racist.

Fox News picks up the video, airs it and writes about it on its site.

– Monday, Sherrod resigns. She says she was pressured by at least four phone calls from her superiors telling her the "White House" wants her to leave her job as the head of the Department of Agriculture's rural development office in Georgia.

– Tuesday morning, CNN breaks the story about Sherrod's resignation.

– Sherrod defends herself on CNN, saying her comments have been taken out of context. She urges everyone to watch the full video of her speech in which she goes on to tell the audience that she learned from working with the farmer that all people must overcome their prejudices.

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Filed under: Civil Rights • Race • U.S.
July 15th, 2010
11:13 AM ET

Tea Partiers 'racist'? iReporters sound off

iReporters Jason Asselin, left, and Omekongo Dibinga sound off on the NAACP's recent resolution regarding Tea Partiers.

CNN.com readers and iReporters have had a passionate response to the NAACP’s resolution condemning Tea Partiers for having “racist elements.”

“We take issue with the Tea Party’s continued tolerance for bigotry and bigoted statements. The time has come for them to accept the responsibility that comes with influence and make clear there is no space for racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in their movement,” NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous said.

iReporter Omekongo Dibinga posted a video, telling CNN, “If the Tea Party wants to become a credible organization, it has to show leadership when racist acts are committed by its members."

Watch: NAACP, Tea Party at war?

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