"Empire" star Taraji P. Henson says racial profiling of her son in southern California has prompted her to send him to historically black Howard University, in Washington, D.C., for his college education.
"My child has been racially profiled," Henson, 44, told Uptown magazine. Her son, Marcel, "was in Glendale, California," she said, "and did exactly everything the cops told him to do, including letting them illegally search his car. It was bogus because they didn't give him the ticket for what he was pulled over for. Then he's at University of Southern California, the school that I was going to transfer him to, when police stopped him for having his hands in his pockets. So guess where he's going? Howard University. I'm not paying $50K so I can't sleep at night wondering is this the night my son is getting racially profiled on campus." (Glendale police did not respond to a Newsday request for comment.)
Henson, a 2008 Academy Award-nominee for her supporting role in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," had tweeted on Jan. 5, "Racial profiling is VERY REAL!!! It has happened to me but to my son more and he is only 20!!! Something needs to be done. #SERIOUSLY."
Henson herself had gone to Howard, after first attending North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University with plans to be an electrical engineer. Pursuing her dream of acting, she transferred to Howard and graduated in 1995 with a theater degree.
She had become pregnant in her junior year with high-school sweetheart William Johnson, and after Marcel was born would take the infant around to classes with her. Johnson, whom she did not marry, was murdered in Washington in 2003.