Here's a look at African American people and issues making headlines throughout the country.
The Desert Caballeros Western Museum will hold a special exhibit in honor of Black History Month with a Buffalo Soldiers display in the Artist at Work Masterworks by Kenneth M. Freeman. Freeman (1935-2008), who was called the Rembrandt of the Rodeo, was a Jewish artist who painted depictions of the Buffalo Soldiers and served as a captain in the 9th Memorial Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers. On Saturday, Feb. 18, members of the Calvary will be at the museum to meet and greet visitors and answer questions about this important part of Arizona history. In addition, Bonnie Adams Freeman, curator of the Legacy Collection, will also attend as a lady of the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers. There will be photo opportunities with all of the members.
In celebration of Black History Month, Union Bank has partnered with KCET to honor two extraordinary African Americans as part of the Local Heroes program. The program recognizes and pays tribute to exemplary leaders who are making a difference and enriching the lives of others by improving their work place, profession, neighborhood, community, region and the world. The 2012 Black History Month honorees are Shirlee Smith and Samella Lewis. In addition to Black History Month local heroes, honorees will also be identified during Women's History Month (March); Jewish American Heritage Month (April/May); Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May); Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month (June) and Hispanic Heritage Month (September). The yearlong program will culminate in October 2012 where honorees will be formally recognized as part of the annual Local Heroes Awards.
District of Columbia
Black Movie Oasis aspires to provide an avenue for independent films to make it through distribution without the bias and racial undertone attached. CEO/founder Dedric Thomas comments: "As we (African Americans) become more integrated and diverse in the movie industry, independent filmmakers are finding it difficult to distribute and disseminate movies that focus on our history, culture and passions. Our company acknowledges the void, and looks to offer alternative methods of distribution for our clientele." Founded in 2005, Black Movie Oasis (blackmovieoasis.com) focuses on servicing its target demographic. The website offers the opportunity to reflect on the past through film while simultaneously acknowledging the contributions of such celebrities as: Sammy Davis Jr., Ossie Davis, Melvin Van Peebles, Etta James, Pam Grier, Fred Williamson, Richard Pryor and Sidney Poitier.
Charlita Shelton, president of the University of the Rockies, will moderate "Embracing Change: How to Get Unstuck and Uncover Your Next Move" at the Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit on Feb. 17 in Orlando. The seventh annual event, offering professional and lifestyle success strategies to executive women of color through an array of sessions and personal assessment workshops, is being held through Feb. 18 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. The Embracing Change panel includes Eve Wright Taylor, vice president and associate general counsel, Miami Heat and American Airlines Arena; Marcea Bland Lloyd, senior vice president, chief administrative officer and general counsel for Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc, and Kheri Holland Tillman, vice president, Trade Marketing & Sales Strategy, Heineken. Moderated by Shelton, the panel will address specific strategies to shake the doldrums and target one's next opportunity.
Tyler Perry's recently launched initiative, Good Deeds: Great Needs, is designed to support Covenant House, a nonprofit organization that provides for homeless youth. Through GiftCardGiver.com, Good Deeds: Great Needs will be collecting unused gift cards and donating all collected to Covenant House. In addition, Lionsgate will be making a financial donation to Covenant House from ticket sales of the upcoming film titled "Good Deeds." The film opens in theaters everywhere on Feb. 24, and stars Tyler Perry, Thandie Newton, Brian White, Rebecca Romijn, Jamie Kennedy, Eddie Cibrian, Jordenn Thompson, and Beverly Johnson with Phylicia Rashad and Gabrielle Union.
"Dogjack," an independent feature film, tells the story of a young man enslaved since birth. Jed (Ben Gardner), who escapes the plantation and travels north along the Underground Railroad with his beloved dog Jack, joins the Union Army with the hope of returning to the South to free his mother and sister. The film has been the recipient of many awards, including The Black Harvest International Film Festival Audience Choice Award and the San Diego Black Film Festival Best Drama, and has been shown at the St. Louis International Film Festival, the San Francisco Black Film Festival, the Redemptive Film Festival, and the International Family Film Festival. "Dogjack" is currently available for rental in all Red Box locations, Family Video and online at Amazon.com and Buy.com, among others. The film will hit shelves at Walmart nationally on April 4, and will be available on On-Demand, Video on Demand and Netflix by early March.
The Rev. Clenard H. Childress Jr. is director of LEARN Northeast and founder of BlackGenocide.org. Childress, along with a team of social activists, travels the country taking the message of Black genocide to conventions, college campuses, churches and public demonstrations. BlackGenocide.org was designed solely to bring attention to the decimation of the African American community by the abortion industry, Childress said. But Childress pointed to others who are leading the fight against abortion. "When it comes to the issue of abortion in the Black community, the Rev. Dr. Johnny Hunter and his wife Patricia have been the national forerunners for truth," said Childress.
The Allstate Gospel Superfest will be held on Friday, March 23, at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Memphis and actress and producer Vivica A. Fox has been selected to host the event. The show is set to include more than 30 national recording artists who will represent a "who's who" in the Gospel and mainstream urban music fields. Tentatively scheduled to appear are Tyrese, Bishop Paul. S. Morton, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, and a host of others, including the 2011 opening act contest winners, Men Of God's Heart. Tickets for the TV taping are on sale now at all Ticketmaster locations nationwide and the Cannon Center Box office. To purchase tickets by phone call (800) 745-3000.
Dallas will host an educational symposium called "Love for a Black Brotha." The program utilizes the history of Black men of the past to the present to connect with today's African American boys by using a strategy of mirroring. The actual event will be held on Friday, Feb. 17, at the African American Museum in Dallas. Psychologist Umar Abdullah Johnson will present an educational workshop from 2-3:30 p.m. for community educators. The theme is "Changing Behavior Without Drugs: Effective Behavior Modification Strategies for the Classroom and Home" and "Navigating the World of Special Education: Successful Tips and Strategies for Parents."
More than 25,000 at-risk preschool and elementary students in Senegal will benefit from a new daily lunch initiative supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and implemented by the nonprofit Counterpart International. This three-year program starts in March and provides U.S. commodities, technical assistance and other resources to children in 156 schools in Senegal's remote province of Matam, as well as providing rations for 1,600 pregnant and lactating women. "U.S. food will jump-start strong minds and bodies for the children of Matam, and distributing in schools will keep them in school so they can build a future," says Joan Parker, president and CEO of Counterpart International.