Jackson_obamaJesse Jackson Endorses Obama In Presidential Bid 

Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson tells The Associated Press Obama has his vote.

Jackson twice sought the Democratic presidential nomination himself, but now is giving his support to a new generation of black politicians. His son, Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Junior, has already endorsed Obama.

Jackson has a long history with Senator Hillary Clinton, one of Obama’s chief rivals for the Democratic nomination, and her husband former President Clinton. He counseled the two when the president’s affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky became public.

But Jackson says that doesn’t complicate his decision to back Obama. He says Obama hasn’t asked him to campaign for him and he’s not in Obama’s inner circle. But Jackson says, "I just have an appreciation of him."

Serena3Serena Wins in Miami

Serena Williams had been shut out of the first set 6-0 and was down two match points in the second set of the women’s finals at Miami’s Sony Ericsson Open on Saturday. She was teetering on the brink of losing to the No. 1 ranked player in the world, Justin Henin of Belgium. 

But suddenly, the tennis star from Compton, Calif. channeled her inner Australian Open and won the next point, then the next, then the game, then the next five games to take the second set and go up 3-0 in the third. Dazed and confused, Henin recovered briefly to squeeze out three more games before she was eventually put to rest for good (0-6, 7-5, 6-3).

“It’s just not in me to give up. I just keep fighting,” Serena told interviewer Mary Jo Fernandez following her victory. “I feel when I get down a part of me plays better. I think all champions have that, when they get down you can’t hold them down.”

With overwhelming support from the crowd – which included both of her parents, big sis Venus, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade and Star Jones Reynolds – Serena charged toward her fourth Sony Ericsson title and 28th career win.      

Her run through the tournament was as dramatic and authoritative as her monstrous tear at the Australian Open earlier this year, which culminated in an unexpected win over then No. 1-ranked Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-2. Critics had written off Serena, believing she was not “match fit” after spending much of 2006 sidelined with injuries. No such talk followed her play last weekend.      

The Sony Ericsson victory boosts Serena’s world ranking up from No. 18 to 11.

Creolashaquanda_cotton2006medwide

15-year-old Black Teen Freed

After an exhaustive media and Internet campaign calling attention to the plight of 15-year-old Shaquanda Cotton – the Paris, Texas girl who served a year of a seven-year prison sentence for shoving a teacher’s aide –  has been released from jail.      

Shaquanda was 14 and had no prior criminal record when she was thrown into the Texas Youth Commission prison under an indeterminate sentence that could’ve lasted until her 21st birthday.

Her story drew national attention and civil rights protests after a March 12th Chicago Tribune story detailed how a 14-year-old white girl convicted of the more serious crime of arson (for burning her family’s house down) was given probation by the same judge.      

"I feel like I have a second chance," she said, speaking to the Tribune after her release Saturday. "I’m going to be a better person now. I’m a good person, but I want to be a better person.”

Cotton was picked up from the prison in Brownwood, Texas by her mother, Creola, for the 5-hour drive home to Paris, the small northeast Texas town that’s become embroiled in racial tension over the case. Being back in Paris could be problematic for the teen.

"I don’t want to place my daughter in danger," Creola Cotton said. "I hope we can stay in Paris because this is where my family is. I would hate to have to pick up and leave."