Here's a look at African American people and issues making headlines throughout the country.
Allied Integrated Marketing recently announced it is launching a new African American marketing division, Allied Moxy. The new division will create innovative campaigns that integrate publicity, promotions, digital and grassroots outreach to speak directly to the full diversity of African American consumers. Spearheading Allied Moxy are industry veterans Kim Walters and Gloria Jones. Walters will oversee national strategy from Los Angeles, while Jones will oversee regional/local strategy from Washington, D.C. Walters brings more than a decade of marketing experience working with entertainment companies such as Codeblack Entertainment, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, and A&E Lifetime Television, as well as consumer brands such as KIA and L.A. Gear and awards programs such as NAACP Image Awards and Soul Train Music Awards. Jones has been with Allied for five years running publicity and promotional campaigns for clients, including Universal Pictures, Focus Features and Relativity Media, and previously worked for WBDC-TV in D.C. and MTV Networks' Nick @ Nite and TV Land.
Representing Los Angeles and Center Theatre Group, Tyler Edwards, a senior at the Orange County High School of the Arts, placed third at the national finals of the fifth annual August Wilson Monologue Competition (AWMC) at Broadway's August Wilson Theatre in New York City. "I am thrilled . . . I'm so glad that I took it for L.A. the first time we got up . . . that's what we're talking about!" said an elated Edwards following the competition. Edwards, an aspiring actor, describes the soaring, lyrical monologues found in the plays by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson as "very inspirational," and said prior to the Los Angeles Regional Finals of the August Wilson competition, "I would love to share a bit of that inspiration with any audience, in hopes that they leave with more appreciation than they walked in with."
Bounce TV, the nation's first-ever over-the-air broadcast television network for African Americans, will launch a second new original comedy series, "Uptown Comic," on June 18, immediately after the series premiere of the just-announced sitcom "Family Time." "Uptown Comic" is a half-hour series featuring stage and skit performances by some of the hottest up-and-coming comics in the country. The show is currently in production in front of a live studio audience at the longest-running African American comedy club in the U.S.--Uptown Comedy Corner in Atlanta. Actor and comedian Joe Torry (Russell Simmons' Def Comedy Jam) hosts. "Family Time," a half hour situation comedy created by Bentley Kyle Evans ( "The Jamie Foxx Show," "Martin," "Love That Girl") and produced by Evans and partner Trenten Gumbs is set to launch Monday, June 18, at 8 p.m. The series premiere of "Uptown Comic" will follow and be seen weekly at 8:30 p.m. (All Times Eastern.)
A young musician whose activism and devotion to the Occupy Movement mimics that of his mentor and hero, Dick Gregory, has composed a song and video that has energized protesters at past rallies. Since the video captures dramatic footage of confrontations between Occupiers and law enforcement, protesters will utilize it during the upcoming NATO Summit as a reminder to be vigilant and to deploy nonviolent tactics in dealing with police. Titled "Oh-No," and written by Chicago native William "Wril" Brown, the video and song can be viewed and downloaded at www.ohnorevolution.com. Brown penned the tune while in jail after being arrested--along with Gregory--during an Occupy protest against BP.
Essence will take over New Orleans and expand its reach and programming by adding more free entertainment to the 18th annual Essence Music Festival experience. For the first time, Essence will showcase a daily pre-show to the nightly concerts featuring some of music's preeminent artists. Doug E. Fresh will kick off the nightly concerts with the Essence Music Festival Block Party in Champions Square July 6-8 from 3-6 p.m. In addition to featuring Doug E. Fresh each day, Essence will present dynamic DJs such as MC Lyte and DJ Spinderella. Local acts such as Kourtney Heart, Dee I, and F. Stokes are scheduled to perform. The block party is free and open to the public.
The Reverend Darlene Nipper, deputy executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; and Bishop Harry Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville; were among the guests on Washington Watch With Roland Martin this week discussing the political, religious and civil rights implications of President Obama's remarks supporting gay marriage. Another panel tackled the impact of the foreclosure crisis on Black wealth and what can be done to rebuild middle class in the African American community. This panel included Michelle Singletary nationally syndicated award-winning columnist for the Washington Post, Kelvin Boston, host of public television's Moneywise program and financial expert Jennifer Mathews. TV One's hourlong weekly public affairs series focuses on issues of importance to African Americans, through interviews with officials from the presidential administration, Congress and other policymakers who represent Black communities, as well as discussions with journalists and commentators, and a wide range of policy experts.
Professional race car driver Tia Norfleet is the first, youngest and only African American female driver on the NASCAR circuit and is opening the doors of diversity in a highly controversial and predominantly male-oriented sport. With lawsuits that have been filed by African Americans as well by other minorities accusing NASCAR of racial discrimination, many wonder how can Norfleet compete in this division of racing. "It is sheer passion and instinct that drives this youngster to want to compete in this sport. She was born to compete," says Isaac Hayes, spokesperson/CEO of the online fund-raising organization, Tiapower.com. With many accolades of her own including being spokesperson for the Safe America Driving program, appearing in commercials such as Verizon Wireless, numerous magazine ads and radio and television interviews, Norfleet has given Black women everywhere new hope about following their dreams.
River Naija Productions, a division of the Nigerian Chamber of Commerce-USA, has launched African Women Are Gorgeous International (AWAG), an online lifestyle and entertainment platform that empowers everyday women of African descent to celebrate and share their inner and aesthetic beauty with the world. The website underscores newsworthy people and events, lending insight into the plight of the African woman and her desire to be recognized as beautiful, strong, self-reliant and integral to the sociological underpinnings of our world. It also features sections on health, education, beauty, relationships, fashion, faith, and the AWAG International competition, which is an interactive virtual beauty contest specifically designed to uplift African Women. The AWAG International competition is the most popular feature of the site, enabling users to nominate their friends, colleagues and/or loved ones into a global voting pool for a chance to win luxurious products and services furnished in part by Burke Williams Spa, Villa Blanca Beverly Hills and Sprinkles gourmet cupcakes.
Compiled by JULIANA NORWOOD