August 16, 2007 — Vol. 43, No. 1
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UMass chooses former HBCU president as interim chancellor

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — The former president of a historically black college is set to take the helm at the University of Massachusetts’ flagship campus for the next year, replacing a chancellor who left at odds with its administrators.

The university’s board of trustees was expected to approve Thomas Cole Jr.’s appointment as interim chancellor of the Amherst campus Wednesday, board Chairman Stephen Tocco said Tuesday.

“We’re thrilled to have him,” Tocco said. Cole is expected to serve for about a year.

Cole, 66, led Clark Atlanta University from 1989 until his retirement in 2002, when he was named president emeritus. Tocco said Cole is a good fit to help the campus boost its fundraising, oversee several building projects and bolster the school’s faculty.

Cole replaces John Lombardi, who is leaving UMass after clashing with trustees and president Jack Wilson over plans to restructure the five-campus system. Lombardi will take over next month as president of Louisiana State University.

Cole could not be reached for comment Tuesday. A UMass spokesman said he was traveling between Boston and Atlanta.

Cole was Clark Atlanta’s first president and was one of the architects behind the school’s creation when Atlanta University merged with Clark College in 1988.

Clark Atlanta is the largest of the United Negro College Fund institutions, with an enrollment of 5,000 students. It is the only private historically black college classified as a doctoral or research-intensive institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Obama’s wife decries blackness question

CHICAGO — The wife of Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama on Sunday admonished those who question her biracial husband’s credentials as a black man, calling the issue “nonsense.”

“We’re still playing around with the question: Is he black enough?” Michelle Obama told those gathered at a campaign event on Chicago’s South Side. “Stop that nonsense.”

Michelle Obama, who was raised on the South Side, was speaking at a predominantly black “Women for Obama” rally, which cheered her comment about the U.S. senator from Illinois.

She added that raising the specter of whether her husband — whose mother was white and whose father was Kenyan — was sufficiently black sent a confusing message to kids.

“We are messing with the heads of our children,” she said.

At the gathering, Michelle Obama also thanked the South Side community for supporting her family over the years.

“This community of people has raised us … has helped create our moral fabric,” she said. “We couldn’t do it without the South Side.”

She also told the several hundred people at the elaborately decorated Grand Ballroom that she hoped her husband serves as a role model in how he helps raise their two young daughters.

“If you can’t run your own house, you certainly can’t run the White House,” she said.

Judge orders troubled Black Muslim bakery to liquidate assets

OAKLAND, Calif. — A judge has ruled that Your Black Muslim Bakery will have to liquidate its assets to pay off debts, a move that might be the final blow for the troubled business linked to the recent shooting of a newspaper editor.

In papers filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Oakland, the bakery’s attorney, Fayedine Coulter, had asked a judge to dismiss an order liquidating the bakery’s assets, saying a potential buyer had emerged.

But U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Edward Jellen said the bakery’s management problems are not improving and Chapter 7 liquidation is the best way for the business to repay the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), its mortgage company and other creditors.

In her filing, Coulter said organization leader Yusuf Bey IV had been “making great strides in correcting its deficiencies” until an Aug. 3 police raid led to his arrest in connection with an alleged kidnapping. The raid also led to the business being closed for health code violations.

The raid came a day after the fatal shooting of Oakland Post Editor Chauncey Bailey. Bakery handyman Devaughndre Broussard, 19, has been charged with Bailey’s murder. Police say Broussard confessed to the killing and said he was angry over Bailey’s investigation into the bakery’s finances.

Broussard told local television station KTVU that he is innocent, and that police beat a confession out of him. Police denied Broussard was mistreated in any way.

Bey IV has not been charged in Bailey’s death. He and two other bakery associates have been charged with kidnapping a woman in May.

The bakery, which was founded 40 years ago with the goal of helping Oakland’s poor, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October. Jellen had converted the case to a Chapter 7 liquidation Aug. 3.

In court papers, Coulter had said a potential buyer for the bakery had emerged and the purchase price would be enough to pay off the mortgage company, the IRS and two other creditors. She did not identify the buyer.

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