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Benjamin Jealous will step down; Justice Department fights Louisiana school vouchers; Whole Foods comes to Southside Chicago

9/12/2013, midnight
Whole Foods market.

California

More than 500 Moreno Valley residents recently turned out for the city’s first African American Family Reunion Celebration. About 50 vendors also took part in the event, held at Celebration Park by the California Democratic Party African American Caucus of Region 13 and other groups. The purpose of the event was to impact, educate and empower the community with available resources. The NAACP, Tuskegee Airmen, Riverside Mental Health, Salvation Army, Riverside County Sheriff Department and other vendors encouraged the community to get out and vote, and participate in education and legislative events.

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Angela Benton

Florida

Angela Benton, founder and CEO of NewMe Accelerator, will speak at the Identify, Connect, Activate the Black Accomplished Business at Breakfast, (ICABA) on September 27. Benton is the youngest Hall of Fame inductee of the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC) and has been honored by Goldman Sachs as one of the “100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs.” “We are excited to have a national business leader of Angela’s stature share her knowledge and expertise with our network,” states Jerome Hutchinson Jr., ICABA president and CEO. Launched in 2011, NewME’s mission is to accelerate underrepresented entrepreneurs around the world, and the organization works to ensure that technology entrepreneurship is accessible to women and minorities. Since it’s launch, NewME has accelerated more than 150 startups through a 12-week program in San Francisco and national three-day program in cities around the country.

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"Checkmate" Hudson

Georgia

Be Someone founder Orrin “Checkmate” Hudson will bring his innovative, unique use of the game of chess to teach lessons that can make a difference in young lives. At the annual family event hosted by radio station V103, Hudson will face 20 chess opponents simultaneously. Be Someone will also host two-hour chess training sessions for children. “This is a fantastic opportunity for Atlanta youth to learn not only chess, but several important life lessons,” said Hudson. “Be Someone teaches children critical thinking skills through chess, including analytical thinking, using failure as a learning opportunity, and that actions have consequences.”

Illinois

Whole Foods Market, the Austin, Texas-based, organic- and natural-foods supermarket chain, announced last week that it would build a new supermarket in Englewood, a Chicago neighborhood that often leads the news for gun violence. Keith Stewart, a spokesperson for Whole Foods Market Midwest in Chicago, said, however, that the market’s scheduled opening is one part of an effort to make Englewood a safer place to live. “We think that improved services will be just one part of the solution,” Stewart said. The market, which is small-to-medium in size, is slated to open in 2016 and will provide 100 new jobs. Some 2,648 residents live within a mile of the grocery store.

Louisiana

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit in federal court to try to stop Louisiana from issuing school vouchers to students who would otherwise attend public schools under federal desegregation orders. But a local educational group, the Black Alliance for Educational Options, has come out in favor of the vouchers. “Our primary focus is advocating for high-quality educational options for low income Black children,” said Eric Lewis, state director of the Black Alliance for Educational Options. Louisiana’s school voucher program allows students to transfer out of failing public schools and into private schools using taxpayer dollars. The Obama administration argues that the vouchers have impeded the desegregation process in at least 13 districts, but Lewis claims that the voucher program has increased opportunities for kids in failing schools.