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Melinda Williams stars in Christmas movie; Colgate Total launches 'Watch Your Mouth' campaign; Starz launches Encore Black

Juliana Norwood | 11/14/2013, midnight
African American news headlines for the week of November 11, 2013.
Malinda Williams

Arizona

A new program was launched this week focusing on the needs of the African American community in Tucson. The African American Initiative, a program of the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, seeks to improve collaboration among organizations that serve this community and establish a $1 million endowment to fund permanent resources. The Community Foundation has offered to match up to $25,000 in donations to the initiative to help it accomplish its goal of giving away $50,000 in grants this year.

California

Citing the nation’s evolving demographics, Starz has made changes to its Encore package of channels that translates to shuffling some of the eight Encore-branded channels to target baby boomers, Black and Latino audiences and the company acquiring older TV series to serve them, something rarely done on premium cable which is traditionally built on movies and original series. Starz also is launching a horror block on Encore Suspense. Beginning Dec. 2, Encore Drama will be replaced by Encore Black, a channel catering to the African American community, traditionally over-indexed on premium channel viewership. The channel’s programming lineup will include “Martin Lawrence’s 1st Amendment Stand Up” and off-network series “What’s Happening!,” “Diff’rent Strokes,” “227,” and “Amen.” The December launch will spotlight actor Samuel L. Jackson with films such as Unbreakable, Losing Isaiah, Freedomland and One Eight Seven.

District of Columbia

Two of the original Tuskegee airmen were honored at a Veterans Day wreath-laying ceremony. Washington residents William Fauntroy Jr. and Major Louis Anderson were honored during a ceremony at the city’s African American Civil War Memorial and Museum. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton presented Anderson with a bronze replica of the Tuskegee Airmen’s Congressional Gold Medal. Anderson was part of the ground support service for the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of Black pilots who fought in World War II. Fauntroy was honored with the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007.


A group of U.S. Senators led by Barbara Boxer (D-CA), has introduced bipartisan legislation to amend Article 32 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) to help prevent abusive treatment of sexual assault victims in a pre-trial setting. A story on the front page of the New York Times recently detailed the case of a female midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy who was subjected to roughly 30 hours of intimidating and invasive questioning by attorneys for her alleged assailants during an Article 32 proceeding—a pre-trial investigation required under the UCMJ before a case can be referred to a general court-martial. Specifically, the bill would limit the scope of Article 32 proceedings to the question of probable cause to help prevent abusive and unwarranted questioning of sexual assault victims, among other provisions.

Georgia

Production began this week in Atlanta on the UP original movie “Marry Me For Christmas,” a romantic holiday drama. Malinda Williams (“Soul Food”) headlines a talented ensemble cast and serves as an executive producer. “Marry Me For Christmas” will premiere exclusively on UP on Saturday, Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. EST, with encores at 9 and 11 p.m. EST. Along with Williams, the cast includes Brad James (“For Better or Worse,” “Prisoners”), Tamara LaSeon-Bass (“Boston Public,” “The Fugitive”), Jason Weaver (“The LeBrons,” “The Ladykillers”), Karon Riley (“Necessary Roughness,” “Single Ladies”), Deetta West (“Between Sisters,” “JD Lawrence’s Community Service”), Greg Alan Williams (“Necessary Roughness,” “The West Wing”) and Victoria Rowell (“Single Ladies,” “The Young and the Restless”).