Across Black America
Here’s a look at African American people and issues making headlines throughout the country.
District of Columbia
The National Veterans Coalition recently added a twist to its 150th anniversary celebration of the start of the Civil War by honoring Black participation in the iconic battle with a presentation on African American service and a screening of the blockbuster movie, “Glory.” The event, held at the University of the District of Columbia, is part of an ongoing community outreach by the Coalition to publicize African American military involvement. The group’s key focus is obtaining an honorary posthumous promotion of Col. Charles Young to brigadier general. He was denied the honor because of the color of his skin and, at the time of his death in 1922, was the highest ranking Black man in the United States military. “It’s vital to recognize the contributions of Black soldiers in the defense of the nation; it’s a part of American history,” said Charles Blatcher III, chairman of the Veterans Coalition. “Our goal in sponsoring this event is threefold. First, we are acknowledging the occasion of African American participation in the Civil War. Second, the occasion offered the opportunity to introduce or re-introduce the importance of learning the facts and preserving our history. Third, this occasion was appropriate in providing us the opportunity to publicly embrace the National Museum of African American History and Culture.” The Coalition, along with the Congressional Black Caucus Veterans Brain Trust and the University of the District of Columbia, sponsored the event.
The Joseph E. Lowery Institute for Justice and Human Rights recently held “His Words—Our Gift,” a musical and theatrical experience at Atlanta’s Symphony Hall, in celebration of the 90th birthday of legendary civil and human rights pioneer, Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery. The event, which was hosted by CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien, and included performances by Stevie Wonder, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Jennifer Holliday, the Blind Boys of Alabama, was also attended by Cicely Tyson, Tramaine Hawkins, Peabo Bryson, Dawnn Lewis and other special guests.
Sybil Haydel Morial, the wife of New Orleans’ first Black mayor, Ernest “Dutch” Morial, is being feted as the Feeding Dreams Outstanding Mom for 2011-2012. Recently, more than 70 of the city’s community leaders gathered at the historic Dooky Chase restaurant to celebrate her. Morial’s recognition should come as no surprise when one looks at her children. Eldest son Marc is former mayor of New Orleans and now CEO and president of the National Urban League; eldest daughter Dr. Julie Morial Cruz is medical director of the Baton Rouge Peoples Health Network; son Jacques is a respected business and political consultant; daughter Cheri Ausberry, serves as vice president of CRA and business development at Capitol One Bank in Baton Rouge; and youngest daughter Monique Morial was recently elected as a judge at First City Court in New Orleans. Feeding Dreams Get Togethers is a grassroots program that provides intimate forums across the country to discuss efforts to positively impact health and education in African American communities.
October is National Dental Hygiene Month and celebrity dentist and author Catrise Austin of VIP Smiles in New York City has launched a local consumer awareness campaign to alert residents in the New York/Tri-State community about the potential risks of postponing dental appointments and neglecting their oral health. Austin’s Oral Healthcare Can’t Wait Campaign is a local component of a national awareness initiative sponsored by the Dental Trade Alliance. According to Austin, “There’s no denying that the last three years have been tough financially for many Americans across the nation including New York residents. The current economic climate is causing many people to either postpone the dental treatment plans recommended by their dentists, or to put off dental visits altogether. Unfortunately, there are long-term health risks associated with postponing oral care.” Austin will make an appearance at the New York Public Library 96th Street Branch on Oct. 22 to further discuss the importance of good dental hygiene.
The National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) recently held its annual Black America’s Dialogue on Health Conference at the Indiana state capitol. This year’s topic, “Disease Prevention Through Transformative Living,” focused on the link between spiritual, physical, and mental health; what practitioners can do to coordinate prevention and care; and how legislators can support their efforts. African Americans suffer from a disproportionate percentage of chronic diseases when compared to the rest of the American population. Yet, dozens of studies have revealed the positive impact the African American church, as an institution, has often had on the length and quality of life for regular attendees. Researchers have found that regular religious attendance extends lifespan by five to seven years for the overall American population and up to 14 years for African American men. NBCSL’s health dialogue focused on the importance of collaboration with local organizations and the faith community educate and support their members making positive choices as well as the legislative impact NBCSL members can have by shaping comprehensive, practical state action plans.
Erykah Badu encourages midwives
The International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC) will convene African American and other midwives of color at a Summit Friday through Sunday in D’lberville, Miss., to focus on improving birth outcomes and reducing health disparities in the pre- and postnatal care of women and infants. Afternoon keynote speaker at the Southeast Black Midwives and Healers Summit will be Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter and doula Erykah Badu, who recently joined with ICTC as its national spokeswoman. Badu will deliver the Friday afternoon keynote address to supporting the organization’s mission of improving birth outcomes for African American and other babies of color. The summit is designed to reduce health disparities, improve breastfeeding rates and build capacity in the southeast region of the U.S. to support women and infants. ICTC annually convenes African American and other midwives and doulas of color in order to increase the number of women and babies who have access to culturally competent pre- and postnatal healthcare. The summit is also aiding the many women and men who strive to become leaders in their communities to stop the high infant mortality rates.
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.
Mark Whitaker has joined CNN Worldwide in a newly created role as executive vice president and managing editor, reporting directly to Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide.
Thousands of fans cheered on as America’s top Black cowboy and cowgirls headlined the National Western complex’s Martin Luther King Jr. African American Heritage Rodeo on Monday. Champion Black rodeo athletes including Lawrence Greer, Lee Vann, Justin Richard and Aliza Fulbright competed in the Pony Express relay, ladies’ steer undercoating, bull-dogging and more traditional rodeo events.
For more Across Black America follow this link.