Across Black America
Here’s a look at African American people and issues making headlines throughout the country.
The Annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee is held the first full weekend of every March to commemorate “Bloody Sunday,” the March from Selma to Montgomery, and the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Jubilee, which takes place at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, is attended by more than 30,000 people and consists of a street festival of music, art and history. The event will begin on Thursday March 3 with a mass meeting, inductions into the National Voting Rights Museum on Friday; followed by a plethora of events over the weekend including golf tournaments, parades, breakfasts, banquets and more. (Bloody Sunday is the historical event where Alabama State Troopers attacked civil right demonstrators on March 7, 1965.)
Members of the Black Economy Council (BEC), the Latino Business Chamber of Greater Los Angeles (LBCGLA) and the National Asian American Coalition (NAAC) protested outside Google’s headquarters about the multinational corporation’s refusal to disclose its workplace diversity data. “Google can google anything,” said Faith Bautista, president and CEO of the Asian Coalition. “But if you google Google, you can’t get anything.” While Apple, Yahoo, Oracle and Applied Materials—some of Silicon Valley’s largest corporations—have also declined to share their data, minority leaders hold that Google’s exceptional growth and visibility warrants singular attention. A report released last year found that Blacks and Hispanics comprised a smaller share of the company’s roster in 2008 than they did in 2000. There was also a decline in the share of management-level jobs held by women between 1999 and 2005. In a written statement, however, Google made clear it valued staff diversity, pointing to its support of internships and scholarships with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU’s). “Our philosophy has always been that a diversity of perspectives, ideas and cultures means better products for our users,” the letter reads.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
A coalition of 130 ethnic and minority groups announced recently that they are working to create a National Museum of the American People. The museum will tell the stories of all of the groups who came to this nation from prehistoric times up to the present. The groups identified the museum’s mission as to advance and disseminate knowledge about the story of the making of the American people, to reflect upon questions that are raised by that story, and to take pride in it. It will also highlight the diversity and richness of the cultures from which Americans came.
“Jazz in the Gardens,” in the last six years, has established itself as the must-see jazz/R&B music festival. The city of Miami Gardens recently announced that nationally syndicated radio personality, Michael Baisden, will be the official host of the 2011 festival that will be held March 19-20 at the SunLife Stadium.
First Lady Michelle Obama recently visited Atlanta to mark the first anniversary of Let’s Move!—a national initiative dedicated to combating the epidemic of childhood obesity. In front of a crowd of students at Burgess Peterson Academy, a local Atlanta public school, Obama highlighted the faculty’s effort to bring the principles of her campaign to life through gardening and healthy eating programs.
Georgetown President William Crouch recently addressed his students and faculty members concerning several racially charged incidents that occurred last month. “We have been reeling over a reported racial slur directed at one of our outstanding African American students-identification of racially insensitive symbols in isolated places on campus, hateful graffiti and hostile remarks made in a classroom setting,” said Crouch in a school-wide letter. “These events have momentarily shaken our feelings of safety, collegiality and unity. I hurt for every student on campus [who] feels they have ever been treated in a degrading way. It is not right nor just under any circumstances.” Although Georgetown City Police have been asked to be on campus 24 hours a day as a precaution, local pastor Rev. Lamont Jones believes more should be done. “It’s clear that they have a huge racial problem on campus, [but] we don’t hear about these incidents at Campellsville [University] or other Christian schools, he told reporters. “There appears to be something wrong here systemically.” Rev. Jones called for a meeting with Crouch, after a Black male student, Remy Okonkwo, was found hung on campus in 2007. The young man’s death was later ruled a suicide, which has left many unanswered questions still lingering among members of the community. “This is huge,” continued Jones. “It appears that the administration is weak and that Caucasian students feel that there is no consequence, and they can do whatever they feel in regard to race. They must have zero tolerance for this type of behavior.”
Mississippi State University (MSU) is observing Black History Month by bringing scholar-in-residence Houston A. Baker Jr., to campus and holding a “Talking About Books” series. According to the school’s website, the Scholar-in-Residence program is a chance to bring the nation’s best minds to MSU. The African American Studies Scholar-in-Residence program brings to MSU renowned faculty from top universities, as well as leading professionals in various disciplines, for one week during the academic year. While in residence, the scholar will contribute to the intellectual life of the university and the wider community under the auspices of the African-American Studies Program. Baker, a professor at Vanderbilt University will give a presentation on his book, “I Don’t Hate the South: Reflections on Faulkner, Family, and the South,” as well as participating in other campus activities.
The number of African American-owned businesses jumped by 66.3 percent in New Jersey in recent years, outpacing the overall percentage growth of businesses, according to a U.S. Census survey released on Tuesday. The Survey of Business Owners found the number of Black-owned businesses grew to 60,336 in New Jersey, a jump from 36,280 in the 2002 survey. Meanwhile, the number of overall businesses grew to 782,028, up 10.3 percent. “While black-owned businesses remain relatively small, the fact that there’s an increase in business ownership and increasing interest in entrepreneurship means that by focusing attention on helping Black-owned businesses to grow, you can create jobs and economic growth in your community,” said Marc H. Morial, president and chief executive officer of the National Urban League.
The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP has galvanized several residents to join in the Fifth annual HKonJ (Historic Thousands on Jones Street) March. Rev. William J. Barber, state president of the North Carolina NAACP, recently visited both Greensboro and Winston-Salem to address supporters of the march. “This is a movement for the people,” he stated during a community rally. “We are determined to push the people one step further and not one step back.” This year’s march will address issues such as the re-segregation of the public school system in Wake County; undermining of civil rights laws; the marginalization of the Latino community; the building of more prisons to continue the cover-up of injustices within the criminal justice system; and redistricting designed to weaken minority and progressive representation in elected offices. The march will also cover regressive tax cuts; tax breaks to the wealthy; and the undercutting of good jobs and labor rights for working North Carolinians. “We need to lift the foundation up first, which are the people who are on the bottom and need things like healthcare services. We need to decide what is essential for the people.”
Gov. John Kasich named Michael Colbert the director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services adding the first person of color to his cabinet in the process. Colbert was formerly chief financial officer at the department and has served as interim director since Kasich took office. Colbert previously served as a senior audit manager in the state auditor’s office. He is a U.S. Army veteran and hold’s a bachelor’s degree in finance and accounting. He will serve as director of the largest state agency, with an annual budget of more than $20 billion and about 3,700 employees. It oversees unemployment, work force development, public assistance, adoption and other services.
Olivewood, Houston’s first incorporated African American cemetery, is one of 10 sites that Preservation Texas has named to its 2011 list of Texas’ most endangered historic places. Preservation Texas Inc. President Jim Ray recently made the announcement that the cemetery which was incorporated in 1875, is having trouble maintaining itself. Several gravesites have already collapsed and the graveyard workers have been working to stop grave erosion. Many volunteers have spent thousands of hours clearing vegetation from the gravesites, where some of Houston’s most prominent early African American residents are buried.
The Virginia Supreme Court’s first Black chief justice, Leroy R. Hassell Sr., died on Wednesday in a Richmond Hospital after succumbing to a long illness. Hassell stepped down from the court’s top position last month but remained a member even though he missed the January session. He joined the court in 1989 as the second African American appointed and then became the chief justice in 2003.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund has joined Mumia Abu-Jamal’s defense team, as he continues to appeal a capital murder conviction. “Mumia Abu-Jamal’s conviction and death sentence are relics of a time and place that was notorious for police abuse and racial discrimination,” said John Payton, director-counsel of the fund in a statement. “Unless and until courts acknowledge and correct these historic injustices, death sentences like Mr. Abu-Jamal’s will invite continued skepticism of the criminal justice system by the African American community.”
Actress Tisha Campbell-Martin, best known for her role as “Gina” on the comedy sitcom “Martin” is battling Stage 2 sarcoidosis (a disease in which swelling or inflammation occurs in the lymph nodes, lungs, liver, eyes, skin, or other tissues). She was diagnosed earlier this year. In a recent interview with Essence.com, Campbell-Martin discussed her illness, the effect it’s had on her family, and her dedication to healthy living. “I’ve only got one body, and I really want to take care of it by working out and eating right,” she said earnestly. Campbell-Martin’s other notable accomplishments include the role of Janet Kyle on the sitcom “My Wife and Kids,” Peaches on the sitcom “Everybody Hates Chris” and “House Party.”
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — A top AEG executive referred to Michael Jackson as “a freak” and another called him “creepy” just hours before their company signed the pop icon to a huge concert deal.
The revelation brought an audible gasp in the Los Angeles courtroom at the wrongful death trial Wednesday and left fans crying.
Jackson’s mother and children are suing AEG Live for the negligent hiring, retention or supervision of Dr. Conrad Murray, the physician convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the singer’s death.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Every issue in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial is so disputed that even giving candy to jurors caused an argument.
AEG lawyers gave a bag of peppermint candy to the bailiff to hand out to the jury this week. Even Katherine Jackson — the pop icon’s mother — enjoyed the treat.
But Jackson’s lawyer raised an objection Tuesday afternoon, suggesting jurors might be influenced if they realized the source of the sweets.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — A man in his early 20s suffered life-threatening wounds to his upper back this morning in a shooting in the Leimert Park, police said.
The shooting in the 3800 block of Third Avenue, near 39th Street, was reported around 12:20 a.m., said Lt. H. Fanfassian, watch commander of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Southwest Station.
The victim, who was hospitalized “in extremely serious condition,” did not provide police details of the shooting or a suspect description, Fanfassian said.
INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Los Angeles County probation officers asked for help today in finding a parolee who threatened to kill school children.
Frank Edward Edmonds, 40, who authorities consider “extremely violent and an imminent public threat,” may be in Compton, South Los Angeles or Inglewood, his last known address.
Two “Saturday Night Live” sets, an Instagram snapshot and 66 projector images later, we now have a better picture of what’s to come on Kanye West’s anticipated new album.
As promised, the rapper — not to be confused with a celebrity — didn’t take part in any of the skits for “SNL’s” season finale/swan song for cast member Bill Hader. But he didn’t need to — over the course of two songs, West still left a lasting impression.