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Across Black America for September 20, 2012

9/19/2012, 5 p.m.

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

California
Major progress toward the creation of the new Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital occurred recently when the MLK hospital board named Dr. Elaine Batchlor as the institution's new chief executive officer. Now as the hospital, still under construction, is built, Batchlor will begin to assemble its staff--physicians, personnel and also oversee the equipping of the new facility. Scheduled for completion in 2014, the hospital will have 130 beds, including a 21-bed emergency department and a critical-care unit. It also will provide a range of healthcare and social services. Batchlor, a doctor of internal medicine and rheumatology, previously served as chief medical officer for L.A. Care, the largest public health plan in the United States.

District of Columbia
A new class is opening up its doors to teach Hip Hop as an after-school activity. A Plus Kids, a nonprofit agency, has added the curriculum to a variety of other courses that include radio broadcasting, music, dance, acting, fashion and photography. The multi-faceted music and arts school, which also has a Spanish division, is designed to cultivate young talent for a future in the entertainment industry. The class, taught by renown Hip Hop historian and Rap artist Sean XLG, teaches kids, teens and young adults how to rap. The class begins with an overview of Hip Hop history to educate students on how the art form was created. "In learning the origins, students will develop an appreciation and respect for the craft and the pioneers who developed Hip Hop culture," stated Sean XLG. The class will focus on the disciplines of songwriting, vocal performance and recording.

Georgia
The Georgia and North Carolina State Conferences of the NAACP, in conjunction with the NAACP recently held a press conference and rally to demand justice for John McNeil, an African American man who was sentenced to life in prison for defending his family and himself at his home. NAACP National President Benjamin Todd Jealous, along with NAACP State Conference presidents Edward Dubose (Ga.) and William Barber (N.C.) recently visited with McNeil in prison. In 2006, McNeil returned to his home to protect his son from Brian Epp, an armed trespasser on his property. After calling the police and firing a warning shot into the ground as Epp approached him near the backdoor of his home, McNeil shot and killed Epp, who was White. Despite the investigating officers' conclusion that McNeil did not commit a crime, 274 days later the Cobb County district attorney charged McNeil with murder regardless of the "Castle Doctrine" that gives property owners the right to protect themselves with a weapon, without a duty to retreat, if they feel threatened on their own property. McNeil was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Illinois
Fifth Third Bank Chicago and the DuSable Museum of African American History will host an exclusive free showing of a one-hour documentary entitled "Whatever Happened to Idlewild?" on Sunday, Sept. 23, at the DuSable Museum in Chicago. From the 1930s through the 1960s, Idlewild was considered to be the Black mecca for African Americans. In this time of strict racial segregation, people wanted the opportunity for recreational pursuits in a setting far removed from racism and discrimination in the cities. Idlewild was one of only a few resorts in the country where African Americans were allowed to vacation and purchase property before this discrimination became illegal in 1964. This story is told by the people who actually lived it and experienced the delight of seeing up-close-and-personal some of the greatest African American entertainers of the time, including Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Dinah Washington, B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, and others.