Across Black America for August 26, 2010

8/25/2010, 5 p.m.

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

Following last month's revelation that African Americans are more than four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana-related offenses than Whites in Los Angeles County, the National Black Police Officers' Association announced that it is endorsing Proposition 19 which would legalize marijuana possession in California for those 21 and over. "When I was a cop in Baltimore, and even before that when I was growing up there, I saw with my own eyes the devastating impact these misguided marijuana laws have on our communities and neighborhoods," said Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. "It's not just in Baltimore, or in Los Angeles, prohibition takes a toll on people of color across the country."

District of Columbia
Natalie Randolph is making history as one of the nation's only female football coaches. The team at Coolidge High School has seen a change since she has become the coach and immediately instituted college-level practices, and required the boys to attend study hall four days a week to do their homework and SAT preparation. She made these requirements because she believes in order to play football, you need mental fitness before size and strength. The principal recalls that is the main reason Randolph was hired. In her interview she spoke about what she would do for the students, on and off the field.

Parents preparing their children to attend school in Pinellas County are doing so under a wave of controversy about student achievement and behavior. Recent reports from the Pinellas County School District indicate that eight of their elementary schools that have a heavy population of African American students have received D and F grades from Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) testing results released by the Florida Department of Education. This rating influences how students, teachers and faculty will be assigned to schools. In addition to the dismal test results, discipline problems are extremely high. The Pinellas County School Board has a scheduled workshop to discuss the possibility of establishing more "fundamental high schools" which operate under stricter guidelines regarding students dress code, behavior, and curriculum.

A predominantly Black Atlanta church is facing foreclosure and says banks aren't doing enough to help keep it, and other churches like it, open. Higher Ground Empowerment Center Pastor Dexter Johnson says the bank has given the church until Aug. 31 to pay up or move out. Johnson says they're trying to work with the lender to modify the loan, but suffered membership loss and damage during the 2008 Atlanta tornado and don't have a lot of resources. Johnson and a coalition of clergy leaders of other Black churches believe banks are putting unfair pressure on them. Recently, a bank evicted another Southeast Atlanta church, dumping the church's belongings in the parking lot.

The Chicago Public School District faces such a gaping deficit that Ron Huberman, CEO of the district, plans to use reserves to help resolve the problem. Chicago School Board President Mary Richardson-Lowry is unsure if depleting the school district's reserve fund to balance the budget is sensible. "I have not seen the proposed budget in its entirety, but whether or not depleting reserve funds is the right way to go is something I and the board will examine carefully," she says. "These are tough economic times and without sufficient funding, everything must be considered." She added that the board will take up the proposed $6.4 billion budget in its upcoming meeting.