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People: Winfrey, Belafonte are Du Bois winners

From wire reports

Oprah Winfrey and songwriter Harry Belafonte were among those honored at Harvard University for their contributions to African-American culture.

Winfrey also accepted a posthumous award at Tuesday’s ceremony for poet Maya Angelou, who died earlier this year.

The university’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Research presented its annual W.E.B. Du Bois Medals to eight honorees, including British architect David Adjaye, Congressman John Lewis, “12 Years a Slave” director Steve McQueen, “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal” creator Shonda Rhimes and movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

The medal has been awarded since 2000 and is Harvard’s highest honor in the field of African and African American Studies.

Du Bois was a Massachusetts native and Harvard graduate and scholar who founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Morgan ‘can’t believe’ Wal-Mart claim

Tracy Morgan said Tuesday that he “can’t believe” Wal-Mart’s assertion that he and others were partly to blame for their injuries in the highway crash on the New Jersey Turnpike that killed one of his friends.

In a statement released by Morgan’s publicist, the actor-comedian said, “I can’t believe Walmart is blaming me for an accident that they caused. My friends and I were doing nothing wrong.”

The former “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” star was returning from a performance in Delaware in June when a Wal-Mart truck slammed into the back of a limo van he and others were riding in. James McNair was killed and several others were injured.

Morgan suffered leg and rib injuries and spent about a month in rehab in New Jersey.

Morgan sued over the crash, and Wal-Mart said in a court filing Monday that Morgan and his traveling companions caused their injuries “in whole or in part” because they weren’t wearing seat belts.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., based in Bentonville, Arkansas, issued a statement Tuesday saying the company filed the response as legally required “that included facts and defenses that may impact the case moving forward.”

The truck driver, Kevin Roper, of Jonesboro, Georgia, pleaded not guilty to death by auto and assault by auto charges in a New Jersey court. A criminal complaint also accuses him of not sleeping for more than 24 hours before the crash, a violation of New Jersey law.

The birthday bunch

Former President Jimmy Carter is 90. Actress-singer Julie Andrews is 79. Baseball Hall-of-Famer Rod Carew is 69. Actor Randy Quaid is 64. Actor Christopher Titus is 50. Actress-model Cindy Margolis is 49. Actor Zach Galifianakis is 45. Singer Keith Duffy is 40. Actress Sarah Drew is 34. Actress Brie Larson is 25.

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