Here’s a look at African American issues and people making headlines throughout the country.
The Monroe Police Chief Ron Schleuter may get charged with lying under oath and illegal wire tapping. Schleuter allegedly had a phone conversation with Mayor Jamie Mayo in which they discussed Black preachers they should pay close attention to, and how to avoid the control of the Black Ministerial Union, among other topics. Later, Mayor Mayo said he was not aware he was being recorded. When Schleuter had to testify about his actions, he responded, “I do not recall” to most of the questions asked of him. If it is determined that he lied, he will face federal prosecution.
The Arizona State Correctional Facility released Charles F. Long II, founder of the Buffalo Soldiers Re-Enactors Association, from prison three months shy of his six-year term for reckless manslaughter and aggravated assault. He allegedly was responsible for the death of 14-year -old Anthony Hayes, during the teen’s stay at Long’s tough-love boot camp. New evidence showed that Hayes’ mother withheld information about her son’s medical history as well as the fact the he had suicidal tendencies. Had Long known the information ahead of time, Hayes would never have been permitted to attend the camp, according to Long.
The predominantly White sorority Zeta Tau Alpha (ZTA) from the University of Arkansas shocked and outraged many Black Greek organizations when they entered and won the first-place prize of $100,000 at the Sprite Step-Off National Step Competition in Atlanta last week. Their talent was not really a question. Most Greeks concentrated on the fact that no White sorority should have taken first place in a historically Black competition. The anger from the results caused Sprite to recount the votes. They found a “scoring discrepancy” and decided to make ZTA and Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) both first-place winners. The decision calmed some of the controversy, but most people agree that the White sorority ZTA were the true winners, regardless of their race. See the videos at www.ourweekly.com.
Barrington Irving, the youngest and first Black pilot to fly around the entire world, held a program at Morningside High School and Crenshaw High School recently to share the story of his adventure, and to encourage Black youth to consider aviation as an occupation. “I want to show them [students] that pursuing a career in this exciting industry can enable them to realize their dreams, just as I did,” says Irving, who is also the founder of Experience Aviation, which helps students with their math and science skills.
The trial has begun for Willie Clark who is accused of shooting and killing Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams early New Year’s Day 2007. There was allegedly a confrontation between the two and numerous friends, which began at the Shelter nightclub and ended at a nearby intersection when Williams was shot in the neck. Clark has pled not guilty to the charges.
Teachers at Torrington Middle School make it a point to teach Black history all throughout the year rather than just in the month of February. The teachers infuse the ideas of Black culture into everyday lessons by creating the theme Education Leads to Freedom. Using this theme, they are able to teach the students about the importance of education by discussing people like Frederick Douglass, who was born a slave and dedicated his life to promoting the reality that Blacks were not intellectually inferior to Whites.
In an effort to help low- income families, the Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) is implementing a program that provides developers of low-income housing $2.5 million in tax credits. The program will provide developers with credits on their federal taxes for 10 years. DHSA is the only agency in Delaware to offer the incentive and as a result over 7,700 new housing units have been built. Developers have until April 9, to apply for the program.
District of Columbia
Desiree Rogers has announced that she is going to step down as the White House social secretary. Rogers said this was a good time for her to explore new opportunities in the corporate world. Many felt that her decision was based on the controversy that erupted after the dinner she set up for the Obamas and the Prime Minister of India was wrecked, when two uninvited guests showed up. It was a problem that the secret service admitted was their fault. The blame has still fallen on Rogers. She denied her decision was based on the incident and said she already had plans to step down, before the mishap occurred.
The African American Research Library and Cultural Center in Fort Lauderdale will be hosting a Book Talk for Barbara Diana Gilbert, a spoken word poet and author from Trinidad and Tobago, who has relocated to South Florida. She will read from and answer questions about her new book, Spiritual Journey of a Child.
The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is turning the nation’s last pre-Civil War railroad station into a museum that will house and honor African American art. The museum will be named after Walter O. Evans, who is donating 70 prized pieces of African American art dating as far back as the 19th century. Evans and SCAD hope to work in conjunction with Savannah public schools to create the new museum. The goal is an educational department complete with classrooms that will teach students the significance of African American literature and culture. The SCAD Museum of Art Walter O. Evans Center for African American Studies is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2011.
Residents of Hawaii were put on alert of a tsunami after an 8.8 magnitude earthquake hit Chile. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported that waves topping out at least 6 feet could possibly damage homes and businesses along the coastline. President Barack Obama urged the citizens of his home state to pay close attention to the warnings of the officials in case an evacuation was necessary and to follow directions. President Obama also vowed that the people of Chile will have America’s support.
The Providence Effect is an inspirational true story about Paul J. Williams III, the principal of Providence St. Mel Charter School in Chicago, who turned a school on the brink of closing into a gem. Through fundraising, he raised the money to hire new dedicated teachers, and created a new curriculum which challenges students to reach new heights and attend college. His efforts changed the fate of the school and its students, and now each year 100 percent of the students who graduate attend college. His story, recently aired on TV ONE, can be seen on Youtube.
The Arc of Indiana calender will feature 12 new women this year that are influential in the state. The organizations purpose is to support people with disabilities and to help them to lead normal lives. The calendar is to show that people with disabilities can still gain respectful employment. Each of the women featured will be photographed at their job to show that just because people are disabled does not mean they should be discriminated against when it comes to gainful employment.
Dr. David Nichols held a Book Talk last week on President Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance at the Augusta Public Library. The purpose was to discuss the president’s Kansas upbringing and to compare the similarities between President Obama and Dwight D. Eisenhower. The topic of his discussion was “Ike and Obama: Kansas Roots, Troubled Fathers, Civil Rights.” The Book Talk was free and open to the public.
The University of Kentucky has been named one of the top 50 employers of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, HBCU-Connect. It is one of Kentucky’s largest employers offering positions as teachers, lawyers, managers, healthcare professionals and more. The University of Kentucky is dedicated to embracing diversity within its student body and faculty.
Michael Lohman, an ex-lieutenant for the New Orleans Police Department pled guilty to a charge of obstruction of justice. Lohman admitted that officers under his command killed unarmed citizens who were searching for food after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. He also admitted that officers planted guns on civilians to cover up what they had done. For cooperating with officials to uncover more information about the events following the hurricane, Lohman only faces five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Habitat for Humanity has built it 276th home in the Chesapeake/Baltimore area. The recipient of the new home is Debbie Belt, who has been living in public housing for the last 10 years. Belt is one of the first residents to get housing through the new organization, Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake, which is a joint venture of the earlier, Arundel Habitat and Chesapeake Habitat of Baltimore.
Mayor Thomas Menino is giving teens between age 15 and 18 in Boston the opportunity to finds jobs this summer with the help of the Boston Youth Fund. The program will place youth in jobs as tutors, mentors, camp counselors, as well as jobs in churches or working with city officials. The announcement came as more than 700 students, predominantly Black and Latino, marched through downtown Boston demanding funding for youth jobs.
Four Black filmmakers in Detroit had guns pulled on them and were held under arrest for filming outside an actor’s home. They allegedly told the officers that they had a permit to do the filming, but they were cursed at and thrown to the ground anyway. The entire incident was caught on the crew’s camera. The city is still pursuing the charges for filming without a permit but the judge said that if the proper paperwork is produced, the charges may be dropped.
Hopkins High School is embracing its growing population of Black students by incorporating multi-cultural groups, and other events and activities for them. The Deeply Royal Dance Troupe is the school’s hip-hop dance team, which is 90 percent Black, even though campus Blacks only make up 28 percent of the population this year. The school’s success with embracing Black culture has attracted members of the community and students from other schools, especially during February, when they hold their annual Black History Month program. The school is expected to be 50 percent African American by 2012.
As a part of her continued effort to battle childhood obesity, First Lady Michelle Obama will travel to Jackson, Mississippi to talk to city officials and school board members about the “Let’s Move!” campaign, which focuses on healthy eating and physical education for students.
Many students and faculty at the University of Missouri are outraged after the area in front of the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center was vandalized by being covered in cotton balls. It was reported to campus police that two individuals were seen running away from the area early that morning. Many believe it was an act of racism and requested that the cotton be left alone so that every minority on campus will be outraged at the apparent hate crime. Others are not sure the incident was race based, but are still upset that it happened.
Nevada schools are preparing themselves for overcrowding, after a bill passed that is requiring all schools in the state to cut their budgets by 6.9 percent. No layoffs will be made to full-time employees, but there will be no new hires for teachers who leave or retire. Therefore, more students will be squeezed into classes taught by fewer faculty. Studies show that students who attend overcrowded schools have a harder time learning because of the distraction of so many students and the lack of time for teachers to give them the special attention they may require.
Lauretta Pierce is happy to have her life on track after being hospitalized by the hands of an abusive mate, taking care of a sick child, and being unemployed and homeless. Today she is the creator of Covenant Cookies, a company that prints Bible verses and daily inspirational messages on cookies in numerous languages, including Braille. She also launched a coffee line and is now touring her products throughout the world. The tour began last week and will run through August.
The NAACP held its annual meeting in New York last week and collectively voted for Roslyn Brock to be the new chairwoman of the board of directors. At 44, the Maryland native is the youngest person to ever hold that position. Brock has a master’s degree in health services and is a vice president at Bon Secours Healthcare. It is expected that as NAACP chairwoman, healthcare for African Americans will be number one on her list of priorities.
The Central Intercollegiate Athletics Association (CIAA) held its 65th Annual Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament in Charlotte last week. In addition to great basketball, the CIAA sponsored a plethora of other events and activities for the community to participate in. Lamman Rucker, star of Tyler Perry’s “Meet the Browns,” participated in the activities and mingled with community members in the Fan Zone.
Nationwide Insurance, based in Columbus, exceeded its annual donation of $100,000 by donating $120,000 to the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) this year. All year, Nationwide is involved with the CIAA sponsoring career fairs, and providing not only athletes, but other students with scholarships and internship opportunities. Because of their generous contribution, the CIAA named Nationwide Insurance the 2010 Corporate Sponsor of the Year.
The Oregon Department of Justice has created a new Civil Rights Division under Attorney General John Kroger, who has been pushing the department to handle more of these special cases. Kroger held a meeting at Portland State University to discuss the goals of the new division but many in attendance were outraged that the most notable civil rights battle happening in the state, the case of Aaron Campbell, the potential suicide victim who was alledgedly murdered at the hands of the police department, cannot benefit from the Civil Rights Division because it is out of “jurisdiction”.
Former Judge Doris Smith-Riebner announced this week that she will run for Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania. Reibner has served as a judge in Pennsylvania for more than 20 years and is most noted for her decision to require kindergarten to be full days.
The Rhode Island Free Clinic (RIFC) was awarded a national grant from the Kresge Foundation of $300,000 for all of their work and dedication to the community. RIFC serves the poor and uninsured and now, with the help of the grant, they will be able to bring on more physicians and extend the clinic hours to better serve the community.
The community members of South Carolina have implemented a School Equalization Program to fight the inequalities still remaining in the school system, post-Brown vs. Board of Education. Some schools are still in the middle of old cotton fields and some of the facilities have chipped paint and broken windows. Many of the schools do not have school bus transportation in place. Their efforts have caused the state to begin building bigger, better schools claiming it would be easier and more cost effective to completely abandon the old schools. Instead of tearing them down, they will be included in the National Register of Historic Places because their history is still important to the state.
Wake Forest University’s Business School is offering a free Master’s Program (MBA) and jobs to minorities under the Corporate Fellowship Program and so far there have not been many responses. Wake Forest is a top graduate school and this is a great opportunity. Anyone who is interested should call (336) 758-4514 for more information.
The family of Michael Patrick Jacobs and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) are filing a federal civil rights suit against Cpl. Stephanie A. Phillips and the city of Fort Worth because a TASER was used against him and ultimately resulted in his death. Phillips allegedly shocked Jacobs, who suffers from bipolar disorder, for 54 seconds (the recommended dose is no more than five seconds). Phillips also sent the fire department and the Emergency Medical Technicians away as if she had the situation under control, yet neglected to provide CPR when Jacobs stopped breathing. The Medical Examiners Office ruled it homicide but internal affairs cleared Phillips. Jacobs’ family and the SCLC are pushing the suit further and the case has even gotten the attention of the United Nations Committee Against Torture.
The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus is opposing charter school legislation that will give complete authority to the State Board of Education. The rationale is that local school board members are elected and trusted by the community. This new legislation essentially voids the power by giving the State Body the final say on all decisions. The Black Caucus feels this is unconstitutional.
The Make Our Community Count Campaign is hosting a forum on the importance of filling out the 2010 Census and how it will specifically affect the Seattle community. Representatives from many different organizations will be speaking to encourage full participation in the count. The forum will be held March 6, at the New Holly Gathering Hall from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The West Virginia Police Department held a ceremony to honor their living Black retirees. The honorees are all people who began working near the end of the Civil Rights Movement when racial tension in Charleston was still high. In spite of the obstacles, they chose to serve and are being honored for their bravery and dedication to the force.
The Wisconsin State Senate has passed a bill that will rename a portion of the I-45 Milwaukee Highway, the Jeannetta Simpson-Robinson Memorial Highway. Simpson-Robinson was a community leader who was an advocate of nonviolent change. She and her mother founded Career Youth Development (CYD) which began as an afterschool program to keep youth off of the streets. CYD quickly morphed into a communitywide program that provides gang intervention, counseling and drug treatment. Simpson-Robinson was an influential member of the community, and the highway dedication is the city’s way of making sure no one will ever forget her contribution.