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Richelieu Dennis has stepped down as CEO of Essence Communications after former and current female staffers wrote a lengthy essay on Medium.com detailing years of sexual harassment against female staffers.

The scathing essay, titled "The Truth About Essence" was published on Sunday with the byline, Black Female Anonymous, according to Page Six.

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The authors demanded the resignation of Essence's board members whom they accuse of contributing to the toxic environment at Essence:

"We demand the immediate resignation of Chief Executive Officer Richelieu Dennis, Essence Ventures board member and former Essence Communications CEO Michelle Ebanks, Chief Operating Officer Joy Collins Profet, and Chief Content Officer Moana Luu."

The essay described the workplace environment under CEOs Dennis and Ebanks as a "surface-level commitment to Black women" and that Dennis is "driven by greed and a debaucherous sexual appetite".

They accused Dennis of "a history of sleeping with women on the Sundial staff, (the parent company of Shea Moisture he sold to Unilever in 2017) and for the women who don't seemingly consent, he openly sexually harasses them at private company events."

On Monday, Essence Communications released a statement denouncing the allegations as baseless.

However, on Tuesday, Essence Communications released another statement saying Dennis will be stepping down as CEO.

"Out of an abundance of caution and an unwavering commitment to transparency, ESSENCE is in the process of hiring law firms and other independent external experts to assess and review the company's policies and practices and conduct comprehensive employee interviews," the statement reads.

Dennis, who founded Shea Moisture products, purchased the iconic Essence magazine from TIME magazine in 2018.

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The grandson of the real "Aunt Jemima" Anna Short Harrington is speaking out about Quaker Oats Company's plan to "erase" his grandmother from the brand.

"This is an injustice for me and my family. This is part of my history, sir," Larnell Evans Sr. told Patch.com.

"The racism they talk about, using images from slavery, that comes from the other side -- white people. This company profits off images of our slavery. And their answer is to erase my great-grandmother's history. A black female... It hurts."

Evans said his grandmother took the place of the original "Aunt Jemima" character, enslaved woman Nancy Green who debuted the first "Aunt Jemima" at the Chicago's World Fair in 1893.

Harrington replaced Green when she died in 1923.

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The erasure of Black characters from brand packaging continues. The B&G Foods company said Wednesday it will "review" its Cream of Wheat packaging to ensure the brand did not contribute to "systemic racism."

The Cream of Wheat packaging features a logo of a Black chef. B&G foods made the announcement on Wednesday.

"B&G Foods, Inc. (NYSE:BGS) today announced that we are initiating an immediate review of the Cream of Wheat brand packaging. We understand there are concerns regarding the Chef image, and we are committed to evaluating our packaging and will proactively take steps to ensure that we and our brands do not inadvertently contribute to systemic racism. B&G Foods unequivocally stands against prejudice and injustice of any kind."

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The decision follows on the heels of Quaker Oats company's plan to retire Aunt Jemima, and Mars, Inc said it will retire the Black character on Uncle Ben's rice packaging.

Also on Wednesday, Conagra Brands food company said Mrs. Butterworth's pancake syrup packaging is "under review".

"We understand that our actions help play an important role in eliminating racial bias and as a result, we have begun a complete brand and packaging review on Mrs. Butterworth’s," said Communications Manager Dan Skinner.

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Quaker Co., Mars, Inc.

Uncle Ben's rice will no longer bear the likeness of a Black rice farmer on its packages, Mars, Inc. announced Wednesday.

The news comes after the Quaker Oats Company, which is owned by PepsiCo, decided to retire the Aunt Jemima logo from its packaging due to the company's long history of racial stereotypes.

Mars, Inc. said the change was long overdue "to put an end to racial bias and injustices." The company added it will look at "all possibilities" to replace the familiar logo on it's rice products.

Mars did not indicate if the "Uncle Ben" name would remain on the packaging.

"As we listen to the voices of consumers, especially in the Black community, and to the voices of our Associates worldwide, we recognize that one way we can do this is by evolving the Uncle Ben's brand, including its visual brand identity,' spokeswoman Caroline Sherman said in a statement.

Earlier, the Quaker Company announced it would retire the famous Black character who graced bottles of Aunt Jemima pancake mix and syrup for over a century.

"We recognize Aunt Jemima's origins are based on a racial stereotype. While work has been done over the years to update the brand in a manner intended to be appropriate and respectful, we realize those changes are not enough," said Kristin Kroepfl, vice president and chief marketing officer of Quaker Foods North America.

The new Aunt Jemima syrup bottles and pancake mix packages will debut in stores in the fourth quarter of 2020, the company said. The name change will be announced soon.

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Police shut down one of rapper 2 Chainz's Atlanta, Georgia restaurants on Monday, May 25, because it was packed with customers celebrating Memorial Day.

Police officers shut down Escobar Restaurant & Tapas on Monday night after noting too many patrons partying in the establishment.

Customers ignored all social distancing rules put in place by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

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According to a police report obtained by TMZ, the cops "noticed that the location was rather loud, busy, and occupied to be operating as a restaurant at that time of night", and after speaking to Mychel "Snoop" Dillard, the restaurant's manager (pictured), the place was shut down for "violating executive orders regarding protocol issued due to COVID-19".

Escobar officials promoted the fun on Instagram prior to the police visit, posting video footage of people dancing, smoking hookahs, and ordering bottle service with no face masks.

The news comes a month after 2 Chainz and his business partner Snoop decided against re-opening the dining area at their Atlanta businesses after their friend, Mayor Keisha, pleaded with them not to reopen.

2 Chainz and Snoop wanted to take advantage of Georgia Governor Brian Kemp's relaxed coronavirus restrictions to kick-start the economy after a weeks-long shutdown, against the advice of Mayor Keisha and many medical experts.

The rapper eventually re-opened the restaurant in early May because they were losing revenue.

Source: WENN.com

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The line queued down the block outside one Atlanta barbershop on the first official day of Georgia's reopening.

Friday, April 24, was the first phase of Gov. Brian Kemp's plan to reopen Georgia. On Monday, Kemp announced that local establishments could reopen for business following a one month lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

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Graphic: WSB-TV

Customers waited in line after 7 a.m. outside Peachtree Battle Barber Shop in Atlanta's upscale Buckhead neighborhood.

Matt Maddox was one of the customers waiting in line to get his hair cut amid the fear and uncertainty.

"I certainly don't want to spread it to anyone so I've got a mask, but I'm not really concerned," Maddox told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "If you're cutting hair or you're a waiter, you haven't been working, so it helps get the economy started again."

At Studio 151 in Dallas, Georgia, the first appointment was at 6:20 a.m., according to the salon's owner.

Stephen Richardson's salon in Dallas, Ga, started losing business the week of March 10, according to the AJC.com. By March 26, he was ordered to shut his doors because he wasn't an essential business.

"I went from 100% to zero," Richardson told the AJC. He said he had to comply with a 14-page list of safety guidelines issued by the state. He added some of his own to keep his customers safe.

"We have our very own concerns, but we need our clients," he said. His protocols include one client at a time and temperature checks at the door.

By noon Friday, Richardson and another stylist were seeing a steady stream of clients.

"People are pretty much getting in and out," Richardson said. "I give the clients credit. Every client that has shown up has had a mask."

Barber shops and hair salons were grateful to do brisk business after a month of no revenue. But Some businesses were so devastated by the coronavirus lockdown that they will never recover.

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Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is facing heavy criticism over his decision to reopen the state for business on Friday, April 24.

While many in the business community applauded the governor for his courage, others in the Black community expressed contempt toward Kemp for putting Black lives at risk.

Prominent Black business owners in Atlanta say they won't reopen their establishments until they get the green light from the CDC.

Rap producer and DJ Jermaine Dupri called Kemp's decision "reckless and unilateral".

And the city's mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, is also encouraging people to use "common sense" and continue to stay at home.

But rapper/entrepreneur 2 Chainz is appreciative of Gov. Kemp’s efforts to jumpstart the local economy.

The rapper and his business partner Mychel "Snoop" Dillard (pictured above) are reopening their Atlanta restaurants for sit-down service.

Both restaurants, Escobar and Tapas, are serving dine-in meals starting Monday, according to Snoop, who tells TMZ they're making public safety a top priority.

The co-owners are mindful of the fears expressed by many in the community, but they have a plan to keep folks safe from COVID-19.

In a recent interview, Snoop, who manages both restaurants, said the lack of business forced her to lay off 80% of her staff.

"I have seen a significant decrease in revenue by 80 percent and my income has been reduced to zero dollars," she told The Atlanta Voice magazine.

With dine-in service resumed, Snoop says they're planning to bring back 65% of restaurant staff -- 80 people -- and the hope is to have everyone back at work eventually.

According to TMZ, 2 Chainz and Snoop donated hundreds of meals to medical workers on the frontlines, and they plan to give more free meals to workers at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and Piedmont Atlanta Hospital.

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Prominent Atlanta business owner Ryan Wilson slammed Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp for reopening the state on Friday, April 24.

The CEO and co-founder of Atlanta's thriving private membership club, The Gathering Spot, made a public PSA informing Gov. Kemp that the renown club will keep it's doors closed, despite Kemp's removal of the shelter-in-place order.

Like many other prominent business owners, mostly Democrats, Ryan expressed his "great concern" with the early opening of the state, saying regardless of what Kemp states, he will not put his staff or members in harm's way, while Georgia is still working to "flatten the Covid-19 curve."

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Photo: Instagram.com

Wilson, pictured at right with entrepreneur Killer Mike, states, "This is a complete failure of leadership. I don't understand the decision. We're not opening despite the order. We could technically open on April 27, but we're not going to because it's not safe to do so. The worst thing that could happen is we open our space up and someone gets sick or dies as a result of coming into contact with someone here. We just simply are not at the point where the data suggests that it’s a responsible move to make."

Wilson is calling on other local businesses to join him, by remaining closed, as well as urging citizens to stay at home.

He is also asking patrons to continue to support their small local businesses the best way they can throughout this troubling time. In the past 4-weeks of Georgia's closure, The Gathering Spot has donated over $16,000 in grants for small local businesses. They will continue to raise funding with their "We All We Got" fund, to continue to provide resources to local businesses in need.
 

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Shaquille O'Neal was positioned to be the face of Papa John's Pizza after the company spent $50 million to scrub founder Joe Schnatter's face from pizza boxes and delivery vans.

But now it seems O'Neal may get the pink slip for missing too many shareholder's meetings.

O'Neal is pictured with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms at the grand opening of his Papa John's franchise store in Atlanta in August 2019.

Last year, O'Neal reportedly approached then-CEO Steve Ritchie and activist investor Jeff Smith and told them, "I would like to be involved, if I can be on the board and if I can purchase a couple franchises.”

Papa John's signed O'Neal to a lucrative partnership last year that included nine franchises and a seat on the board.

O'Neal, who is in high demand as a product endorser, apparently took the money and ran -- at least that's what he's being accused of by an advisory firm.

Institutional Shareholder Services, a corporate advisory firm, is encouraging Papa John's to kick O'Neal off the board for missing 75% of shareholder meetings.

ISS wants the board members to vote to remove O'Neal at its April 23 shareholder's meeting.

In its SEC filing, Papa John's revealed every member attended at least 75% of meetings "except for Shaquille O'Neal," who was unable to attend board meetings due to prior business commitments.

O'Neal also has sponsorship and endorsement deals with Ring, Steady, Forto Coffee Shots, Carnival Cruises, Icy Hot, Krispy Kreme, and National General Insurance, as well as a sports analyst gig with TNT.

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President Donald Trump is doubling down on his recommendation that all government employees return to work within 2 weeks.

15 states are under lockdown and half of the country is under self-quarantine to curb the spread of the virus that causes mild flu-like symptoms in most healthy people.

"We have to get back to work," Trump said during a Fox News virtual town hall in the White House Rose Garden on Tuesday.

"I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter," Trump added. "I gave it two weeks... We lose thousands of people a year to flu and we don't turn the country off."

Easter falls on Sunday, April 12 this year.

"We'll assess at that time and we'll give it some more time if we need a little more time, but we need to open this country up. We have to go back to work, much sooner than people thought."

Earlier, Trump tweeted:

"Our people want to return to work. They will practice Social Distancing and all else, and Seniors will be watched over protectively & lovingly. We can do two things together. THE CURE CANNOT BE WORSE (by far) THAN THE PROBLEM! Congress MUST ACT NOW. We will come back strong!"

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The White House is encouraging lawmakers to pass a $2 trillion economic stimulus package that will include checks ranging from $1,200 to $4,500 for individuals and small business owners who are impacted financially by the virus.

The Senate is set to vote on the bill on Tuesday afternoon after voting no on Monday.

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Byron Allen is furious over a U.S. Supreme Court decision in his discrimination lawsuit against cable TV giant Comcast.

The billionaire TV mogul criticized the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Monday that dismissed a lower court's ruling that had allowed him to move forward with his case.

Allen accused Comcast of discriminating against him because he is Black, saying Comcast discriminates against minority-owned programming.

Allen argued that Comcast refused to license his TV channels Cats.tv and Pets.tv because he is Black.

But the Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Allen failed to prove Comcast would have licensed his channels if he was not Black.

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"This is a vey bad day for our country," Allen told Yahoo Finance in a statement on Monday.

"Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has rendered a ruling that is harmful to the civil rights of millions of Americans."

Allen added: "We will continue our fight by going to Congress and the presidential candidates to revise the statute to overcome this decision by the United States Supreme Court, which significantly diminishes our civil rights."

In a separate statement, Comcast said it was pleased with the Supreme Court's decision.

"We are proud of our record on diversity and will not rest on this record. We will continue to look for ways to add even more innovative and diverse programming that appeals to our diverse viewership and continue our diversity and inclusion efforts across the company."

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Ayesha Curry, wife of Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, lost the lease on her trendy restaurant in Houston after one-and-a-half years in operation.

The 30-year-old Food Network host opened the "grill obsessed" International Smoke restaurant in Houston's upscale CityCentre in 2018.

The restaurant closed last week after the lease on the 6,000-square-foot space was abruptly canceled over failure to pay back rent.

Regulars were surprised to see the restaurant shuttered last week, but Ayesha's name caused many Houstonians to shun the place.

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"This is absolutely the worst place to go," wrote one reviewer. "Her husband ripped our hearts out and now she has the guts to open up a place here? I would never set foot in this place even if it was the last place on earth."

According to a press release, International Smoke is a collaboration between Curry and chef Michael Mina, who operates restaurants in South Florida and the West Coast.

"Curry and Mina believe food is the heart of community, and International Smoke spices up any city it calls home," according to the company website.

Curry and Mina also co-own 5 restaurants in locations including San Francisco, Aventura (Miami), and San Diego.

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NBA legend Michael Jordan opened a medical clinic to serve the disadvantaged in his native North Carolina.

According to the Charlotte Observer, the 6-time NBA champion teared up on Thursday as he unveiled the Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Medical Clinic which has already treated 300 patients.

During his speech the Charlotte Hornets owner fought back tears as he dedicated the clinic to the community that supported him.

"I've gone off and made my life in Illinois and other places, but I know where it all begins. And I don't need my mother to constantly remind me about that," Jordan said as the crowd laughed.

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"I can only give in gratitude for what I can never repay. I stand here before you as a proud parent, son, obviously a member of this community. My mother, my brothers, my daughter, my grandson, we all represent the name 'Michael Jordan,'" the NBA Hall-of-Famer said. "As you can see, it's a very emotional thing for me. To be able to give back to a community that's supported me over the years."

The clinic was funded by a $7 million philanthropic donation from Jordan.

Jordan's goal is to bring more medical clinics to disadvantaged neighborhoods in North Carolina.

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Jordan, 56, and his second wife, Yvette Prieto share twin daughters, Victoria and Ysabel.

He also has three grown children, sons Jeffrey and Marcus, and a daughter, Jasmine, by his first wife, Juanita Vanoy.

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Byron Allen expanded his media holdings by purchasing 11 more television stations for $290 million, according to Variety.com.

The deal with Atlanta-based USA Television brings the 58-year-old's investments this year in small- and mid-sized market TV stations to $455 million, according to Variety.

Byron Allen's rags-to-riches story is inspiring. He started out as a comedian when he was 14, and made his debut on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson when he was 18.

Unlike most comedians who retire broke or burned out on drugs, the former stand-up comic became a television producer, philanthropist, and the founder of his own production company, Entertainment Studios.

Allen rustled feathers in Hollywood when he filed a $20 million racial discrimination lawsuit against cable giants Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable in 2015.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case in June 2019.

The billionaire, who was born under the Taurus zodiac sign, acquired the television assets of The Weather Channel for approximately $300 million in March 2018.

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In 2019, Allen announced the launch of THE WEATHER CHANNEL ESPANOL. Also in 2019, he partnered with Sinclair Broadcast Group to acquire Fox Sports Networks, which The Walt Disney Company was forced to sell as a condition of its purchasing 21st Century Fox.

Allen and his wife, TV producer Jennifer Lucas share three children.

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Sean Combs waited until the smoke cleared before stepping up to defend his friend, rap mogul Jay-Z, two weeks after the NFL announced a lucrative deal with Roc Nation. Commissioner Roger Goodell announced a partnership with Jay-Z and Roc Nation earlier this month. Jay-Z and Roc Nation will direct halftime entertainment and create a social justice campaign for the NFL.

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The Internet continues to drag Jay-Z over his joint partnership with the NFL to produce halftime shows and a social justice campaign. Jay-Z, 50, and the NFL were reportedly in talks for over a year. Some say that was long enough for Jay-Z to bring blackballed quarterback Colin Kaepernick in on the discussions.

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