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Southern TV chef Paula Deen
June 19th, 2013
07:22 PM ET

Celeb chef Paula Deen admits using 'N' word

By Alan Duke, CNN

(CNN) - Celebrity chef Paula Deen denies she's ever told racial jokes, but she did acknowledge using the "N" word, according to her deposition in a lawsuit.

A former manager at Deen's restaurants in Savannah, Georgia, is suing her and her brother for sexual and racial harassment.

LIsa T. Jackson's lawsuit alleges that Deen and Bubba Hier committed numerous acts of violence, discrimination and racism that resulted in the end of her five-year employment at Deen's Lady & Sons and Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House eateries in Savannah.

Deen's lawyer called the allegations false.

"Contrary to media reports, Ms. Deen does not condone or find the use of racial epithets acceptable," her lawyer, Bill Franklin said. "She is looking forward to her day in court."

Deen was questioned by Jackson's lawyers in May and the deposition was just filed with the court.

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Filed under: History • How we live • Race
February 5th, 2013
05:09 PM ET

Strom Thurmond's secret biracial daughter dies at 87

By Alan Duke, CNN

(CNN) - Essie Mae Washington-Williams, the biracial woman who revealed nine years ago she was the illegitimate daughter of former segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond, died Monday, her family's spokesman said. She was 87.
Washington-Williams kept her father's identity secret until six months after Thurmond, a segregationist leader for decades, died in June 2003 at age 100.
"I never wanted to do anything to harm him or cause detriment to his life or to the lives of those around him," Washington-Williams said at a 2003 news conference, six months after her father died at the age of 100.

"I never wanted to do anything to harm him or cause detriment to his life or to the lives of those around him," Washington-Williams said at a 2003 news conference, six months after her father died at the age of 100.

She died at her Columbia, South Carolina, home Monday morning, according to Frank Wheaton.

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Filed under: Black in America • History • Politics • Who we are
Gay men sue counselors who promised to make them straight
A lawsuit contends conversion therapists made false promises to turn gay teens straight.
November 27th, 2012
10:24 AM ET

Gay men sue counselors who promised to make them straight

By Alan Duke, CNN

(CNN) – Before Sheldon Bruck told his orthodox Jewish parents he was gay, the teenager looked for a way out of homosexuality.

His search led him to JONAH - Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing - which claimed on its website to help people "struggling with unwanted same-sex sexual attractions."

JONAH co-director Arthur Goldberg promised Bruck, then 17, that "JONAH could help him change his orientation from gay to straight," according to a consumer fraud lawsuit filed Tuesday against JONAH, Goldberg and a JONAH counselor.

"This is the first time that plaintiffs have sought to hold conversion therapists liable in a court of law," said Samuel Wolfe, a lawyer with the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The defendants did not respond to CNN calls and e-mails for comment on the lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in Hudson County, New Jersey, Superior Court. A page on the organization's website touts success stories from the program with letters from past participants and their family members.

Bruck and three male plaintiffs contend they were defrauded by JONAH's claim that "being gay is a mental disorder" that could be reversed by conversion therapy - "a position rejected by the American Psychiatric Association four decades ago," the lawsuit said.

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Filed under: History • How we live • Sexual orientation
June 26th, 2012
12:56 PM ET

Immigration fight changes Arizona, groups say

By Alan Duke, CNN

(CNN) - The biggest change in Arizona since the state adopted a tough immigration enforcement policy two years ago has been a more tolerant climate for immigrants, representatives from several groups said Monday.

"There has been a change in Arizona, without a doubt," said Clarissa Martinez, director of immigration for the National Council of La Raza, which led a coalition of civil rights groups in a tourism boycott of the state after SB 1070 became law in the spring of 2010.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that three of the law's four key provisions infringed on the federal government's constitutional jurisdiction over immigration. The high court let stand the provision allowing police to check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws.

There were dire warnings by critics when the law took effect in July 2010 that it would keep businesses and people from moving to the state and that it would drive families away. There is no good measure of how many Hispanic families, fearing persecution by law enforcement, moved from Arizona.

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Filed under: History • Immigration • Where we live
Acura apologizes for seeking 'not too dark' actor
Acura said it was taking appropriate measures to ensure that such language is not used again in work performed on its behalf.
April 19th, 2012
12:09 PM ET

Acura apologizes for seeking 'not too dark' actor

By Alan Duke, CNN

Los Angeles (CNN) - Acura apologized Wednesday for a casting document that called for an African-American actor who was "not too dark" in the car company's Super Bowl ad.

The controversial casting call document, published Wednesday by the celebrity gossip site TMZ, "pulls back the curtain" on the widely known practice of casting based on skin tone in Hollywood, a longtime manager said.

TMZ reported that it got the audition posting from "an African-American actor who didn't fit the profile, and who's pissed."

The role was for an "African-American Car Dealer" who would appear in a car showroom scene with Jerry Seinfeld. Jay Leno also appeared in the ad.

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Filed under: Black in America • Discrimination • How we look • Race