Across Black America for April 15, 2010

4/14/2010, 5 p.m.

Here's a look at African American issues and people making headlines throughout the country.

Birmingham City Councilman Jay Roberson announced that next week he will temporarily trade in his suit and tie and work alongside the city workers such as gardeners, police officers, and firemen. "If I'm going to learn the process," Roberson said, "I need to be a part of the process." In order to make beneficial policy changes, Roberson believes he needs to be aware of what these workers go through on an everyday basis.

Harlem Globetrotter guard Erving "Rocket" Rivers visited Woodriver Elementary School recently to make a little girl's dream come true. The fifth grade class at Woodriver was given an assignment to write a letter to their heroes. Jewelynn Henry's letter showed so much admiration for the team that teacher, McKenzie Staiger, actually sent the letter, and the Globetrotters were happy to oblige.

Parole is becoming a lot easier for convicts, in the midst of the states budget crisis. The program has eliminated random drug tests, travel restrictions, and "check-ins." The reality is, there isn't enough funding and man power to manage it. The prisons are also expecting to release 6,500 convicts.

The Vail Symposium, a non-profit organization that provides educational programs for the Vail Valley community, recently held a conference called "Rethinking Race" where participants discussed whether or not--in the light of having the first Black president and our first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor--race in this country is still an issue. Benjamin Jealous, president of the NAACP and Hispanic leaders expressed how these milestones, while great, are only the first steps.

The Saint Francis Hospital has named its new men's health institute after Black businessman Curtis D. Robinson, after he donated $1 million dollars to the hospital after surviving his battle with prostate cancer.

Residents on the west side of Odessa are angry because they feel they aren't treated as well as those on the east side. During slavery, the west side housed the free African American communities and has since remained the "poor side." While many westside residents and even business owners agree there is a divide, residents from the east don't acknowledge it. "On this side of town we get nothing; nothing at all, and its bull," said westside resident David Fox.

District of Columbia
Prince George's County Police Chief Roberto Hylton has put together a task force to handle gang violence, in the wake of a recent shooting, that resulted in four deaths. Officials are implementing new policy that would cause convicted offenders to serve extra time for committing crimes that were done so to strengthen a gang.

Florida has reduced the business it conducts with Black entrepreneurs more than 80 percent in the last 10 years, and much of the blame is being pointed at Black Republican, Ward Connerly. Many civil rights advocates view him as an "Uncle Tom" for his tireless efforts to end affirmative action by calling it "reversed-racism" and campaigning against it across the country. Since he began campaigning in Florida, it has been increasingly hard for Black businesses owners. "When you talk about eliminating [affirmative action], you talk about eliminating the opportunities that those programs create," said Leon Russell, president of the Florida NAACP.