05-20-2018  3:17 am      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Raina Croff to Speak at Architectural Heritage Center

'When the Landmarks are Gone: Older African Americans, Place, and Change in N/NE Portland’ describes SHARP Walking Program ...

Portland Playhouse Presents August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ Through June 10

May 20 performance will include discussion on mental health; June 10 performance will be followed by discussion of fatherhood ...

Peggy Houston-Shivers Presents Benefit Concert for Allen Temple CME

Concert to take place May 20 at Maranatha Church ...

Family Friendly Talent Show, May 18

Family Fun Night series continues at Matt Dishman Community Center ...

Oregon State study says it's OK to eat placenta after all

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — First experts said eggs are bad for you, then they say it's OK to eat them. Is red wine good for your heart or will it give you breast cancer?Should you eat your placenta?Conflicting research about diets is nothing new, but applying the question to whether new mothers...

US arrest, raids in Seattle pot probe with China ties

SEATTLE (AP) — U.S. authorities have arrested a Seattle woman, conducted raids and seized thousands of marijuana plants in an investigation into what they say is an international black market marijuana operation financed by Chinese money, a newspaper reported Saturday.Authorities are still...

State sees need to reduce elk damage in the Skagit Valley

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) — Elk are easy to spot against the green backdrop of the Skagit Valley, where much of the resident North Cascades elk herd that has grown to an estimated 1,600 is found.For farmers in the area — especially those who grow grass for their cattle or to sell to...

Famed mini sub's control room to become future exhibit

BREMERTON, Wash. (AP) — The U.S. Naval Undersea Museum at Keyport has a new addition to its archives — the salvaged control room of the legendary, one-of-a-kind Cold War-era miniature submersible NR-1.Adm. Hyman G. Rickover, the father of the nuclear Navy, conceived the idea for the...

OPINION

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...

Will Israel’s Likud Party Ever Respect the Rights of Palestinians?

Bill Fletcher weighs in on the precarious future of the two-state solution between the Israeli government and the Palestinian people ...

The Future of Medicinal Marijuana in Pets

Dr. Jasmine Streeter says CBD-derived products show beneficial therapeutic benefits for pets ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Guess who's coming to Windsor? Royal ceremony weds cultures

BURLINGTON, New Jersey (AP) — With a gospel choir, black cellist and bishop, Oprah, Serena and Idris Elba in the audience and an African-American mother-of-the-bride, Saturday's wedding of Prince Harry to American actress Meghan Markle was a blend of the solemn and the soulful.Guess who's...

A royal wedding bridges the Atlantic and breaks old molds

WINDSOR, England (AP) — The son of British royalty and the daughter of middle-class Americans wed Saturday in a service that reflected Prince Harry's royal heritage, Meghan Markle's biracial roots and the pair's shared commitment to putting a more diverse, modern face on the monarchy.British...

First class for Mississippi school after desegregation deal

CLEVELAND, Miss. (AP) — A small Mississippi Delta town whose rival high schools were combined last year under a desegregation settlement has held its first graduation ceremony.No longer Trojans and Wildcats, they're all Wolves now at Cleveland Central High School, whose seniors collected...

ENTERTAINMENT

Reggie Lucas, who worked with Miles Davis and Madonna, dies

NEW YORK (AP) — Reggie Lucas, the Grammy-winning musician who played with Miles Davis in the 1970s and produced the bulk of Madonna's debut album, has died. He was 65.The performer's daughter, Lisa Lucas, told The Associated Press that her father died from complications with his heart early...

Broadcast networks go for milk-and-cookies comfort this fall

NEW YORK (AP) — If provocative, psyche-jangling shows like "The Handmaid's Tale" are your taste, head directly to streaming or cable. But if you're feeling the urge for milk-and-cookies comfort, broadcast television wants to help.The upcoming TV season will bring more sitcom nostalgia in the...

Met says it has evidence Levine abused or harassed 7 people

NEW YORK (AP) — The Metropolitan Opera said in court documents Friday that it found credible evidence that conductor James Levine engaged in sexually abusive or harassing conduct with seven people that included inappropriate touching and demands for sex acts over a 25-year period.The Met...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

On time, on target: LeBron, Cavs pound Celtics in Game 3

CLEVELAND (AP) — Before taking the floor, LeBron James stood in the hallway with his teammates outside...

US, China agree to cut American trade deficit

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and China have agreed to take measures to "substantially reduce"...

Rural Hawaii communities face various volcano threats

PAHOA, Hawaii (AP) — In the weeks since Hawaii's Kilauea volcano began erupting, dozens of homes have...

The Latest: Royal newlyweds to spend night in Windsor Castle

WINDSOR, England (AP) — The Latest on the royal wedding (all times local):9:20 p.m.The Duke and Duchess of...

Ebola deaths rise to 26, says Congo health ministry

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Congo's health ministry says there is one new death from Ebola, bringing to 26 the...

Insect ambassadors: Honeybees buzz on Berlin cathedral

BERLIN (AP) — On the roof of Berlin's cathedral, bees are buzzing.Beekeeper Uwe Marth pulls out a honeycomb...

Stacy M. Brown (NNPA News Wire Contributing Writer)

Russell Simmons is just starting to regain a little normalcy in his life.

He’s back at yoga and the hip-hop and business mogul is even able to run some errands without worrying about whether a disgruntled RushCard holder might verbally attack him -- or worse.

Simmons never hung his head despite mounting criticism that rocked the music impresario when his innovative pre-paid RushCard experienced a computer glitch last fall that prevented hundreds of thousands of card holders from accessing their money.

“I took full responsibility. It’s my card and I made sure to reach out to cardholders personally and I reached into my own pocket to help people with their rent, their medicine or whatever emergency that may have come up,” Simmons said.

“All I knew how to do was to make good on it and try to make the people that were damaged whole again,” he said.

Simmons has done even more and he continues his push to have the underbanked and the underserved benefit.

“My mission is to eventually see that when someone pays their rent on time, pays their light bill on time, that these things go on their credit reports,” Simmons said. “It should be and if I can’t get regulators and the credit bureaus to do it, then I will have to start my own credit bureau.”

If that sounds like a bit of a stretch, Simmons points to his starting the RushCard as proof that real change can happen.

“I was first. No one else did this until I came out with my card,” he said, noting that he’s not just the face of RushCard. Along with his American Express and other items in his wallet is his own RushCard that he regularly uses.

“Look, we were the ones who invented this and what I don’t like is when people refer to us as a celebrity company,” Simmons said. “All of what American Express is doing, all of what Chase Manhattan did, we did first. We’re a virtual bank. The other thing is that we didn’t build this company to make money when we started and, really, I didn’t think it would become a business but it did and I go to work every day to try and improve the service we provide.”

Simmons said his fight for credit building is an uphill battle, but it’s a battle that can be won.

It’s as much part of his life as yoga, he said.

“You pay rent every month for eight years on a RushCard -- why can’t you get a mortgage? I think that’s a travesty. I think a lot of the big companies like MasterCard, the Visas, the others that do the processing and infrastructure work; a lot of us could come together and force them to accept this information on credit reports of the world,” Simmons said.

As Simmons pushes for changes in policies in the credit industry, he’s leaving the door open for starting his own credit reporting agency.

In the aftermath of the much-publicized computer glitch – which Simmons still refers to as a “tsunami” – the business leader provided free service to card holders for five months, sacrificing all of his company’s profits to do so. He also reached a more than $20 million settlement from a class action lawsuit filed against RushCard, because of the glitch.

“I’m glad to do it. I had put aside $25 million,” Simmons said, noting that the card isn’t just for communities that have been forgotten and underserved by banks. “There’s no reason why small businesses can’t use a Rush Business Card. We just added a feature, just now where if you lose your card, you can turn your card off instantly through an app. Then you can turn it back on.”

Simmons continued: “This card should be for affluent people as well as underserved community members and it should be the wave of the future for millennials. This is the bank for millennials and the growth rate for our company is 70 percent millennials, when it used to be single mothers. Millennials who don’t like banks are coming in our direction and we haven’t even begun the branding exercise to speak to them.”

Simmons said that he didn’t mind paying the $20 million settlement.

“I don’t mind paying the $20 million. I don’t mind that that was our cost. I am going to spend a lot more money than that in the community, in my peacekeeping programs, in RUSH and art education,” he said.

Simmons said so much more will soon be announced and he’s confident that RushCard holders and others will be pleased.

“We are going to be in the community in a way that we’ve never been,” Simmons said.

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