Across Black America
Here’s a look at African American people and issues making headlines throughout the country.
Nine patients in Alabama have died after receiving intravenous nutrition, a method of feeding vitamins, minerals, and other natural therapeutic substances directly into the bloodstream, which is alleged to have been contaminated, despite uncertainty as to its role in the deaths. Alabama authorities mentioned they were investigating an outbreak of Serratia marcescens bacteremia, a bacterial infection in the blood, in 19 patients at six hospitals in the state, all of whom received total parenteral nutrition (TPN). TPN is a nutritional solution fed to patients by injection. “Of the 19 that received the substance, nine of those are no longer living.... These were very fragile individuals, and it’s not clear whether the bacteria contributed to their deaths,” said Dr. Jim McVay, a senior official with the Alabama Department of Public Health.
President Barack Obama recently announced that he will visit Facebook this month for an online town hall event with CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Obama, who announced Monday he would seek re-election, is using the two-day visit to Silicon Valley and San Francisco as an initial lap of the 2012 presidential campaign. Facebook and the White House jointly announced Tuesday that Obama will visit the Palo Alto headquarters of the social network on April 20, where the president will hold a special “Facebook town hall” event that will stream live over Facebook and the White House website, starting at 1:45 p.m. Zuckerberg and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg will moderate and sit onstage with the president, in front of an audience of about 1,000 Facebook employees, small-business leaders and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. While the president is expected to take some questions from the audience, the majority will be selected from questions people post for Obama on Facebook or the White House website over the next two weeks.
District of Columbia
Changing the politics of hunger is the focus of Bread for the World’s national gathering to be held in Washington, D.C., this June. Speakers will include world-renowned preachers, high-level government officials, members of Congress and staff, development and nutrition experts, and journalists. The event will also include a special international meeting on ending maternal and child malnutrition. The meeting, co-organized by Bread for the World Institute and Ireland’s Concern Worldwide, will bring together non-governmental organization leaders, nutrition experts, and decision makers from nearly a dozen developing countries. The conference aims to build political support and momentum for a global campaign that focuses on the right nutrition for mothers and children during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, from pregnancy to the child’s second birthday.
Jennifer Carroll, Florida’s first Black lieutenant governor, will be celebrated for her groundbreaking achievements at a reception welcoming President Henry Lewis, III, to Florida Memorial University (FMU). The event will be held Saturday, April 9. President Lewis and the FMU administration will present Lt. Governor Carroll with an award officially recognizing her accomplishments in public service to the state of Florida, including serving as director of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs, seven years in the state Legislature and 20 years in the U.S. Navy. Carroll will join the growing list of political, civic and corporate leaders visiting Florida Memorial as the new president puts the school’s renewed vision into practice.
First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver the commencement address to the Spelman College Class of 2011 on Sunday, May 15, at 3 p.m., at the Georgia International Convention Center. Obama looks to inspire more than 500 graduates with this message: leave your mark on the world. The first lady will also receive an honorary degree, as will director, actress and choreographer Debbie Allen, and her sister, actress and director Phylicia Rashad. Wendy Kopp, CEO and founder of Teach for America, will receive the National Community Service Award. “Having Mrs. Obama as our 2011 commencement speaker is a true honor because she embodies the Spelman College mission, which is to prepare women to change the world in a meaningful way,” said Beverly Daniel Tatum, president of Spelman College. “I know our students will be inspired by her powerful presence.”
“The Oprah Winfrey Show” is shutting down at the end of the season, but the lights won’t be going out at Winfrey’s studio in Chicago. That’s because Rosie O’Donnell’s new talk show will be produced at Harpo Studios on Chicago’s West Side . Executives at Harpo announced the move on Tuesday. O’Donnell is slated to return to daytime TV with the one-hour show on OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) in the fall. In a recent statement, Winfrey addressed the announcement and her delight to welcome O’Donnell to the studio that’s been “her home for years.” The final episode of Winfrey’s show is scheduled to air May 25.
Lawmakers on Monday approved a bill authorizing the multimillion-dollar construction of two new Mississippi museums—one devoted to the civil rights struggle and another focused on the state’s overall history. The legislation, which had the backing of Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, passed after being stalled in a debate over whether private money had to be collected before state funds would be released. “The Civil Rights Museum and the Museum of Mississippi History will serve as outstanding projects to teach the lessons of our past and honor those who shaped our great state. Both will be positive for our state’s image,” Barbour said in a statement.
The American Cancer Society’s High Plains Division will present The Empowerment Network Inc. with the Harold P. Freeman Service Award this weekend for the organization’s leadership in serving the uninsured, underinsured, diagnosed and undiagnosed African American men with prostate cancer in the city of St. Louis. Dr. Harold P. Freeman is a past president of the ACS who placed priority on issues relating to the underserved. The award is presented to individuals, groups, organizations and/or companies that demonstrate exemplary achievement in the areas of patient care and cancer research development. “The Empowerment Network Inc. is dedicated to educating and offering resources in underserved populations about prostate cancer,” said Craig Boring, regional vice president of the Eastern Missouri Region for the American Cancer Society. “We are honored to recognize them for the second year with the Harold. P. Freeman Award. In 2010, more than 600 people were helped through their efforts, and we believe their new cancer center will only enhance TEN’s commitment to providing the community with cancer information.”
Famed African American studies scholar Manning Marable died recently after a long battle with lung disease, for which he was forced to undergo a lung transplant last summer. Marable, 60, served as director of the Institute for African American Studies at Columbia University, which he founded, and was famous for his progressive political views and writings, penning more than ten books, including his latest work, “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention,” set for publication on April 3. Marable was also elected chair of the Movement for the Democratic Society, sat on the board of the Hip Hop Summit Network and was a member of the New York Legislature’s Amistad Commission. Funeral arrangements have not yet been released.
A Philadelphia fifth-grader Mahlon Graham received a special citation from the Philadelphia Fire Department for the way he handled a fire emergency at an assisted living center in his neighborhood. On the morning of Feb. 16, Graham and his sister were walking to school in West Philadelphia when they saw smoke coming from a nearby assisted living facility and a woman at one window screaming for help. At a school assembly this week Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers recounted the 11-year-old’s extraordinary presence of mind when he pulled out his cell phone and made the call to 911. Fire official said the information Graham provided brought more equipment immediately to the scene and probably saved lives.
More than 700 United Federation of Teachers members and community residents held a “Workers Rights are Civil Rights” candlelight vigil outside Battery Park’s Castle Clinton on April 4, one of more than 1,200 “We Are One” events marking the 43rd anniversary of the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. King, who was assassinated in Memphis in 1968 while supporting a strike by city sanitation workers. Speakers from the labor, religious, civil- and human-rights communities at the Battery Park event focused remarks on King’s legacy in the fight for education, worker and immigrant rights, and against union busting.
President Barack Obama formally launched his re-election campaign Monday, urging those grass-roots supporters who were central to his first White House run to mobilize again to protect the change he’s brought over the past two years. The official start of his second White House bid following three international wars, a budget war with Congress, and sluggish economic recovery, comes 20 months before the November 2012 election. “We’ve always known that lasting change wouldn’t come quickly or easily. It never does,” the president said in an email announcing his candidacy to more than 13 million supporters. “But as my administration and folks across the country fight to protect the progress we’ve made—and make more—we also need to begin mobilizing for 2012, long before the time comes for me to begin campaigning in earnest.”
ESPN has suspended former pro and college hoops star Jalen Rose from broadcast duty for failing to inform the network about his recent drunken driving arrest. Rose failed a blood-alcohol test after crashing his truck on an icy road in Bloomfield, Mich., on March 11. He neglected to tell ESPN management about the incident until after a Detroit TV news station had contacted ESPN with its intent to break the news on March 29. “Jalen has accepted full responsibility for his actions. Both parties are taking this very seriously, and as a result, we’ve agreed that he will not be on our air while he addresses this situation,” ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said in an email to USA Today.
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) recently launched its major grant competition for candidates who want to open a business in either the Upper Midwest, Northeast, or West Coast (specifically Southern California) of the United States. Awards range from $225,000 to $355,000 annually, and can only be attained by serious applicants who can submit a solid, viable business proposal focused on such topics as prospective strategic business consulting services to minority firms, increased public and private-sector contracting opportunities and capital investments, as well as viable channels through which the production of new U.S. jobs for unemployed minorities can be achieved. The grant award covers a five-year period, and selected candidates will initially be funded for the first award year with subsequent funding periods subject to their center’s performance and funding availability. Eligible applicants include for-profit entities (sole-proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies and corporations), nonprofit organizations, state and local government entities, American Indian Tribes and educational institutions. To apply, download the application from the Announcement of Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) at www.MBDA.gov. The deadline is May 5, 2011.
A community prayer vigil was recently held in Detroit for Aretha Franklin. The legendary queen of soul is reported to have undergone surgery last Thursday, which caused her to cancel all concert dates and personal appearances through May. City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson was one of the hundreds in attendance to offer support. Franklin wasn’t at the vigil, but in a statement she thanked the City Council, saying, “all prayers are good.”
Disgruntled New York City resident Jimmy McMillan stole the show at a debate for the state’s gubernatorial candidates as he introduced himself and his self-created political “Rent is Too Damn High” party to the public. “The people I’m here to represent can’t even afford to pay their rent.”
Juan Williams, a longtime NPR news analyst, was fired two days after claiming that Muslims make him “nervous” and “worried” on planes, when asked if the country was facing a “Muslim dilemma” on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor.”
NPR announced that same evening that they were ending Williams’ contract with the company.
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.