Here’s a look at African American issues and people making headlines throughout the country.
The Birmingham Black Nursing Association recently traveled to Montgomery to rally and shed light on the nursing shortage, and lack of access to healthcare. The organization’s goal was to get the message to legislators to pass the bills that will enable nurses to provide quality healthcare to citizens of Alabama.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has helped the Phoenix Neighborhood Services Department create more than 1,400 housing units as part of a weatherization program. The effort is being funded by the Obama administration to help generate jobs.

More than 400 students marched through the streets of Richmond, Calif. to show support for peace in their neighborhoods. The march began at Harbour Way and Florida Street and concluded at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park. The march was in celebration of King’s birthday and the arrival of Black History Month.

District of Columbia
The 100 Black Men of America Inc, has partnered with the American Heart Association to raise awareness about the possibility of decreasing heart problems like strokes, by researching an individual’s family tree. The program will include African American males ages 11 to 18 from different cities around the country. The boys will be given materials to fill out about their families which they will then give to their health care providers. Ideally, this will help medical practitioners recognize possible risks before they arise.

Two city council members recently walked out of a budget discussion in Rohnert Park, when the topic of cuts for police officers and other public safety officials was raised. Cuts have already been made to the department, and the city government is looking at more than a million dollar deficit this year. The families of public safety employees have not ceased protesting to show their disapproval about being a constant target for cuts. Public safety makes up about 60% of the budget, and Public Safety Director Brian Masterson says, “the only way I can reduce my budget is layoffs.”

Celebrations resound in Atlanta, as new Mayor Kasim Reed tries to reunite Atlanta with the rest of Georgia. Rifts have existed for some time between the capital and the rest of the state but the divide became worse once the Republicans gained power. The discord negatively affects Atlanta which is the cash cow of the entire state. Mayor Reed’s platform is to bridge the gap between the governments and hopefully bring Atlanta the help it needs.

Perhaps because of the recent success of President Barack Obama, many politicians are finding it to their advantage to appeal to Black voters. Both Caucasian Democratic candidates for governor, Pat Quinn and Dan Hynes, recently released campaign ads clearly geared towards Black, although neither will admit it. Hynes’ ad showed video of Harold Washington, Chicago’s first Black mayor speaking of why he fired Quinn, and Quinn’s ad spoke of Hynes’ neglect of Chicago’s historic black cemetery.

The Hennessy Community Support Program, continuing its efforts to help urban communities, has donated to three charities in Indiana–Bridges to the Baccalaureate, National United Merchants Beverage Association, and the Mozel Sanders Foundation. The different charities will support students transitioning from community college to four-year universities; young adults wanting to break into the beverage industry, and those serving Thanksgiving dinners to families in need, respectively. Hennessy donated in excess of $13,000 to these charities.

The excitement happening in New Orleans right now is more intense than it has ever been. The Cinderella-story Saints made their first Super Bowl appearance, and won, the first parades of Mardi Gras have begun to roll. Smiles and Saints paraphernalia is all that everyone is wearing while shouting “WHO DAT” and singing the lyrics to “Black and Gold in the Super Bowl.” City officials worried that all of the excitement would overshadow the race for mayor happening right in the midst of the celebrating, but this didn’t appear to be the case for voting in general as Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu was elected as the first White mayor in 32 years. Black voter turn-out, however was low.

Many in Baltimore seem to have already made the decision that Councilman Bernard Young will take the position of Baltimore city council president. Nothing is official yet, but Young is the favorite among all six state senators; and the fact that he is a 13-year veteran and has great credentials doesn’t hurt. The senators even wrote a letter to the exiting President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake urging her to support him.

An autopsy recently revealed that Iman Luqman Ameen Abdullah, an anti-war crusader, was killed Oct. 28 by the FBI in what some are saying can only be called excessive force. He was shot 21 times including shots to the back and scrotum. About 1,500 milliliters of blood was in his chest due to the pulverization of all his vital organs. Protests led by the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice followed the incident. People interviewed said it was nothing but an expression of the lengths the U.S Government will go to wipe out opposition to its wars.

In an effort to rectify what they are calling a sub-par school system, African American parents, teachers and other community members involved with the Minneapolis Public School System have created African American Mobilization for Education. They have written different plans for improvement but seem to have run into a hiccup when it comes to who is responsible for determining the final plans.

Sixteen year old Linda Nash is behind bars today for allegedly stabbing her newborn. The teen claims she killed the infant because she didn’t want her parents to find out, and said she was unaware of the Safe Haven Law. The day after the stabbing Nash, accompanied by her parents, brought the dead child to the hospital. She has obtained a lawyer to work in her defense.

Missouri officials are trying to clean up drug abuse in the state by implementing drug courts, but there is some debate about whether they are actually helping. Drug courts are alternatives to prison, more like rehab, and participants follow the program for a year. Criticism of the courts say they are usually not located in poor, minority-filled neighborhoods, and that they are geared towards middle-class people who want to clean up their record.

New York
New York’s Department of Education has their work cut out for them now that the NAACP, teachers, and other community groups are going to be rallying against them in a lawsuit about a decision made to close 19 schools around the city. The president of the United Federation of Teachers, Michael Mulgrew, says he is confident those behind the lawsuit will prevail because the department did not take into account the effect closures would have on the 13,000 displaced students, and didn’t give parents, students, or community members any say in the decision.

North Carolina
Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke at the historic opening of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, which is in the same building where 50 years ago four students from North Carolina A & T, known as the A & T Four, staged a sit-in defending their civil rights. There was a ribbon-cutting ceremony as well as a breakfast and a march. Members of the Obama Administration were also present.

In the face of the economic downturn this past year, Ohio has managed to continue to flourish. The state’s budget is balanced; enrollment in colleges and universities is growing, while tuition remains the same. There has been in an increase in African Americans and women in judicial positions, and minority-owned businesses are being given equal opportunity and incentives to grow. In addition, Governor Ted Strickland has put into affect an urban workforce initiative to get unemployed people back to work as quickly as possible.

Two brothers are dead in Portland today. One brother died of sickness while the other was shot in the back by police 12 hours later. Aaron Campbell was feeling depressed, after his brother died and was contemplating suicide. He was talked out of it by family members and was surrendering to police, when he was shot with beanbags, except for Officer Ronald Frashour, who shot Aaron in the back with a rifle. Police were called to the scene of the shooting because of a report that Campbell had a gun. The family intends to sue for wrongful death, which isn’t new to the Portland Police Department which is already in the middle of a lawsuit for a case of similar nature.

Chester Eastside Ministries in Philadelphia has partnered with the Bokamoso Youth Ensemble from South Africa as part of a cultural exchange program to share hope and encouragement through song and dance with Philadelphia students and residents. The African students are from a poor neighborhood in Africa and have struggled through crime and the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and are now sharing their stories of triumph to encourage Philadelphia residents in the same fight.

Rhode Island
Jasmine Woodbury, a 19-year-old, African American girl is being honored by the Ms. Foundation for Women, for her tireless work trying to help the Providence school system through programs such as DARE (Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education). She also implemented focus groups for high school students to try and pinpoint why the dropout rate in Providence is so high. Her efforts have not gone unnoticed, and the college nursing student will receive the Young Women of Vision Award.

South Carolina
The South Carolina Sentencing Reform Commission is striving to combat the high rates of recidivism by implementing a more effective sentencing process. This comes at a time when crime rates are at an all time high, incarceration rates have risen substantially in the last 20 years, and too much money is being spent in the prison system, according a new report by the commission. The new reforms are suppose to create ways to use tax dollars more wisely, and to make sure violent criminals stay behind bars.

The Boulevard Bolt Steering Committee has donated money to the Davidson County Health Court to help the homeless. A program will be initiated to help people with either mental health issues or drug abuse get housing and rehabilitation. An estimated $185,000 in donations were raised by the Boulevard Bolt five mile run/walk, which drew more than 8,000 participants.

Texas is celebrating Tamia Gaines, a fifth grade student at John Neely Bryant Elementary School for winning first place in the Martin Luther King Jr. Oratory Competition. She delivered an amazing speech crediting, of course, Dr. King for paving the way for her to have a voice. She received $1,000 and a trip to New York to appear on the Early Show.

Caressa V. Cameron, an African American broadcast journalism student at Virginia Commonwealth University, never imagined last year when she took home the title of Miss Virginia that she would be back in Las Vegas a few months later taking home the crown for Miss America. She is taking a second year off from school to travel the country to raise money for charity.

The governor of Washington, Chris Gregoire, announced that thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, 14,500 jobs have been created in his state. Approximately $7.4 billion in grants have been given to Washington to use for creating new businesses, helping businesses stay afloat, and enabling existing businesses to hire more employees.

Joy Degruy, a pioneer in the study of slavery and post traumatic stress disorder, will hold an open forum at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee Feb. 13 to discuss her research and critically acclaimed book “Post Dramatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Enduring Legacy of Injury and Healing.“