February is an important month for many Americans. It stands as an opportunity to celebrate and honor the all-too-often ignored or underappreciated accomplishments of African-Americans. In my line of work, I understand the importance of anyone who strives to make a positive impact on their community, even their country. Historical figures such as Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr., and Thurgood Marshall aimed and succeeded at making a substantial difference in our country. February became known as Black History Month through the efforts of Carter G. Woodson, a journalist, author, and American historian. Woodson strongly believed that prejudice could and would not triumph in the face of truth and reason. Part of his legacy is the founding of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. In 1925, Woodson arranged Negro History Week, which first took place in February 1926. It was established that month because the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass occur in February, which he hoped would foster a deeper meaning. The response across the nation was enthusiastic — school teachers demanded to be given materials in order to properly educate their pupils; clubs dedicated to black history began to appear; and other communities, political leaders, and scholars took steps to involve themselves and support the effort. To do my part to honor this month, I wanted to talk about an attorney I had the pleasure of working with for about three years who carried on the legacies of Douglass, King and Marshall: Johnnie Cochran. Although he passed away Black History Month Honoring Those Who Fought
in 2005, Johnnie is still known by many to be one of the most accomplished trial lawyers in American history. Being able to work with him and get to know him personally was an extraordinary experience. He had the ability to take complicated legal arguments and make them relatable to clients and juries. Johnnie practiced criminal law and civil litigation at the highest levels in many jurisdictions. His accomplishments in both realms are too numerous to list here. That I have been able to work with a historical figure is something I’m still in awe of today. Johnnie often took cases other lawyers would refuse point-blank, such as cases of police brutality or misconduct. I will relay an example that few people have heard of. Our main conference room in Memphis was named after the family of star athlete Ron Settles, whose family lived in Memphis. In 1981, Johnnie successfully took on the Signal Hill Police Department in California; a member of the police force choked Ron to death and told the family he committed suicide. It is my understanding that there is a movie in pre- production that will cover this case. As a lawyer, I get to see the effects of what we attorneys do and understand how much of it is tied to historical events. Lawyers are often the ones that bring about social change through their legal efforts at the courthouses across the country. African-American attorneys, at great peril to themselves, should be recognized for these efforts. I recommend that you pick up
a copy of “Contempt of Court: The Turn of the Century Lynching that Launched a Hundred Years of Federalism” by former acquaintances of mine, Leroy Phillips and Mark Curriden. Set in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1906, it tracks the effort of an African-American attorney named Noah Parden and his colleague to save the life of an innocent man named Ed Johnson, who was falsely accused of rape. The book notes that in the history of American jurisprudence, there has only been one criminal trial conducted in the United States Supreme Court. This book reveals the story around the circumstances of the murder of Ed Johnson by a mob and the subsequent criminal trial of the sheriff for contempt of court in the United States Supreme Court. I believe it’s important to take this time to reflect on the people who fought and succeeded in their efforts to change history for the better. This year, to honor and get to know the history of this culture, I encourage you to visit the National Civil Rights Museum right here in Memphis.
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3 TIMES THE DIVISION OF ASSETS GOT OUT OF CONTROL Wild Divorce Settlements
When you’re untying the knot, it’s important to be specific about the assets you hope to walk away with. These three over-the-top divorce settlements are good examples of what not to do when dissolving your marriage.
he and his wife should divide their assets in half — literally. Moeun and his relatives cut the home down the middle, dismantled his portion, and hauled it away. Vat’s half was left standing with one wall missing.
YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDNEY ME
‘HERE, MY DEAR’
Back in 2001, Dr. Richard Batista donated his kidney to his ailing wife, Dawnell, to save her life. Sweet, right? It was — until Dawnell filed for divorce in 2005 and Dr. Batista demanded she give back his kidney or compensate him for $1.5 million in damages. In the end, his request was thrown out in court because the kidney was a gift — and because removing it would be potentially fatal to his ex-spouse.
In the divorce agreement between the late Marvin Gaye and his ex, Anna Gordy, it was decided that Anna would be paid from the royalties of Gaye’s next album since he had gone broke from his lavish spending. At first, Gaye decided he’d phone in the production, but he quickly discovered an opportunity to make a unique artistic statement: “I’ll give her my next album, but it’ll be something she won’t want to play and it’ll be something she won’t want the world to hear because I’m gonna tell the world the truth.” In the end, the album was a commercial flop, though critics continue to praise its raw, emotional core.
A LIFE RENT IN TWO
When Moeun Sarim and Vat Navy decided to divorce after 18 years of marriage, Moeun apparently decided that, to keep the split equitable,
Embracing ‘Spendophobia’ WAYS TO INVEST IN YOURSELF AFTER RETIREMENT
INVEST IN YOUR HOME
You’ve spent your entire life being told to save, save, save. Now you’re finally retired, so it’s time to spend some of that money — but you’re scared! This is only natural because it means breaking a lifelong habit of socking away money and refusing to touch it. You’re not alone. A recent study of retirees’ spending habits showed many people actually spend less than they can afford to. They’re scared of the “what ifs” that come with living on a fixed income. However, at age 70 1/2, you have to start taking the required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your traditional IRA and 401(k) whether you want to or not. Instead of stressing over the fact that you’re pulling money out of these accounts, embrace the opportunity to do something for yourself.
Once you no longer have to work five days a week, you’ll be in your home more often, so why not make it amazing? An in-ground pool or a private tennis court might be outside your budget, but new kitchen countertops or a deeper tub will add a touch of luxury to the space you spend the most time in. Upgrading your home is almost always a good investment because it adds equity, which will pay off down the road. That extra cash will come in handy if you decide to sell later on in order to downsize or you plan to enter assisted living. Don’t forget to set aside money for ongoing maintenance, such as a new water heater or roof repairs. It might sound counterintuitive to go to college when you’re not planning to go back to work, but continuing your education after retirement offers many benefits. Many individuals find themselves with more time on their hands than they’re accustomed to, and without a plan to fill this time, it’s easy to become depressed or isolated. Numerous studies have shown that continuing to exercise your brain has a positive impact on cognitive function, so taking a few classes can be the perfect way to stay busy and keep your mind sharp. Attending school late in life is also a great opportunity to indulge your passions and learn more about subjects you’ve always been interested in. Many colleges offer free classes or reduced tuition to seniors, so check with your local schools and see what classes or programs they have available. GO BACK TO COLLEGE
It can be tempting to hold off spending money as long as possible. After all, who knows how long you need your savings to last? Travel, however, is one thing you can indulge in early without feeling guilty. Even the most leisurely trips can be physically demanding, so it’s better to see the world at 70 rather than wait until you’re 90. To keep yourself on track financially, use the bucket system to set up a separate savings account just for travel.
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TAKE A BREAK
ONE FOR THE AGES
How Super Bowl XXXIV Made an Icon Out of a Grocery Store Clerk
Going into the 1999 NFL season, no one expected anything from the St. Louis Rams. When starting quarterback Trent Green went down with a gruesome knee injury in the preseason, ESPN The Magazine slated the Rams to be the worst team in the NFL that year. With few options, coach Vermeil named a virtually unknown player as his new starting quarterback, humbly stating in a press conference, “We will rally around Kurt Warner, and we’ll play good football.” Five years before his start, 22-year-old Kurt Warner was stocking shelves at a Hy-Vee grocery store in Cedar Falls, Iowa, for $5.50 an hour. However, he had amassed a whopping 16 snaps in the NFL prior to taking the reins for the 1999 season, and what proceeded to transpire on the field was utter pandemonium, giving the Rams the nickname “The Greatest Show on Turf.”This improbable season and the resulting MVP award for Warner set the stage for one of the most dramatic games in Super Bowl history. After going up 16–0 against the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV, Warner and the Rams looked poised to coast on their way to the Lombardi Trophy, but the late Steve McNair and the Titans had different plans. The Georgia Dome was rocking after two Eddie George touchdown runs, and a field goal brought the Titans level at 16–16, with just over two minutes of play remaining. In response, Warner dropped back and found receiver Isaac Bruce for a 73-yard touchdown, bringing the score to 23–16 with 1:54 left on the clock. But the Titans weren’t done fighting. Quickly moving the ball down the field, Titans quarterback Steve McNair found himself with a third and 5 inside the Rams 30-yard line with 22 seconds left. Scrambling around and fighting off two players trying to pull him down, McNair threw the ball to Kevin Dyson at the 10-yard line. A quick timeout left six seconds on the clock, and the Titans were one play away from tying the game. What proceeded was a play that will be forever known as “the tackle.”McNair found Dyson on a quick slant, and when he caught the ball at the 4-yard line, it appeared a touchdown was imminent. Suddenly, linebacker Mike Jones wrapped the receiver up at the hips. As he fell to the ground with the ball in his hand, Dyson extended his arm, but when he hit the AstroTurf, he was 1 yard short of the goal line. The Rams had pulled off the impossible, earning their first Super Bowl title ever.
BISTECCA ALLA FIORENTINA
For a delicious Valentine’s Day dinner, turn to this classic Italian steak preparation. It’s simply flavored with rosemary and lemon, allowing the meat to take center stage.
• 2 bone-in porterhouse steaks • 1/4 cup olive oil • 2 sprigs rosemary
• Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste • Lemon wedges, for serving
1. 30 minutes before cooking, remove steaks from fridge to bring them to room temperature. 2. Heat a grill or large cast-iron skillet to high. While heating, brush steaks with half the oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. 3. Place steaks on the hottest part of the grill or pan and cook for 5 minutes. 4. Flip steaks and baste with remaining oil, using rosemary sprigs as a brush. If cooking in a pan, place sprigs next to steaks after basting. 5. Cook for 5–6 minutes for medium-rare. 6. Let steaks sit for at least 5 minutes, slice against the grain, and serve with bone.
Inspired by Saveur magazine
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INSIDE THIS ISSUE
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Black History Month
3 Wild Divorce Settlements Ways to Invest in Yourself After Retirement Bistecca Alla Fiorentina The Most Iconic Super Bowl in NFL History
Let’s Retire These Health Myths
The 5-Second Rule Will Make You Sick 3 Health Myths You Probably Believe
BOTTLEDWATER IS SAFER THAN TAP WATER
We live in the golden age of information. The answers to many of life’s questions are just an internet search away. Despite this readily available wisdom, we still have a bad habit of believing health-related myths. Here are three popular health “facts” that are total works of fiction.
The official stance from the John Hopkins Arthritis Center states, “There is no evidence that cracking knuckles causes any damage such as arthritis in the joints.” Still, chronic knuckle- cracking can lead to reduced grip strength, so you might want to break the habit anyway. You’ve probably heard these myths for years, but just because something is common knowledge doesn’t mean it is true. With information so easily available, always take the time to research the facts, especially when it comes to your health.
Seeking out safer water alternatives increases the sales of bottled “spring water” each year. However, bottled water is more expensive, bad for the environment, and, as Dr. Morton Tavel of the Indiana University School of Medicine pointed out, over 50 percent of bottled water is just filtered tap water. The same effect can be achieved with a home filtration system. Of course, if the tap water in your area has been contaminated, bottled water is a safer alternative. However, in most circumstances, bottled water is no healthier than tap water.
THE 5-SECOND RULE KEEPS FOOD SAFE
Obviously germs and bacteria don’t really wait five seconds to pounce, but snatching your chip off the floor fast keeps most of the germs away, right? Not according to a 2006 study published by Dr. Paul Dawson. He found conclusive evidence that when food comes into contact with a contaminated surface, bacteria are transferred immediately. Even one second spent on tile, wood, or carpet is enough to infest your food with salmonella or another serious contaminant.
CRACKING YOUR KNUCKLES CAUSES ARTHRITIS
The connection between knuckle-cracking and arthritis came from studies where participants self-reported their habits. Modern medical research has shown these results to be false.
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