Here’s a look at African American issues and people making headlines throughout the country.
Eric Guster, an Alabama lawyer is making headlines, but it’s not just because of what he does in the courtroom. Guster hosts his own weeknight radio show. He still practices law full-time but once he is off, he goes to job number two. On the show he talks about social issues, current events, business, and gives advice to those who call in. Guster’s show can be heard on the radio, and a live stream can be viewed on the Internet at www.ericguster.com
Newton Marshall is a Jamaican dog musher who arrived in Alaska recently to make a name for himself as the first Jamaican Iditarod racer and, hopefully, winner. He is planning to embark on a three-month training program put together by three-time champion Lance Mackey, who has also agreed to lend Marshall the winning lead dog from last year. There is already conversation about turning his incredible journey into a movie called “Underdog.”
Mr. and Mrs. Soul Train (Luciana Bell and Daryl Khalid) have combined their years of experience on Soul Train, dance training, and fitness to create a junior dance team in Glendale. The team will consist of elementary school and junior high school youth. Previous team members have been featured in television, movies and in local and national shows.
Titus III, a Christian band, will put on a Haiti relief concert this Saturday March 13, 2010, from 6 -9 p.m. Tickets are on sale for $5 and all proceeds will go to World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization, which is currently in Haiti helping the victims of the earthquake.
Three White teachers from Wadsworth Avenue Elementary School are still on administrative leave after they allegedly mocked Black History Month by giving their classes pictures of Dennis Rodman, O.J. Simpson, and RuPaul to carry in the Black History Parade. The NAACP and the Superintendent of the LAUSD Ramon Cortines are livid about the incident. The teachers will remain on leave until the investigation of the matter is completed.
Colorado legislature has introduced a bill that protects victims of discrimination. According to the bill, if an employee files a discrimination case, the employer, should they lose, will be responsible for compensation for the victim, and the employer will be subject to punitive damages.
District of Columbia
The White House released a document recently entitled “Expanding Opportunities for African-American Families” to the Black Leadership Forum. Its purpose is to provide African Americans with the extra assistance that they need to succeed in a time when unemployment among Blacks is the highest in the country. The program has outlined $301 billion to create jobs, support Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and assist in providing child care.
Miami City Commissioner Richard P. Dunn has announced that he is considering running to keep his seat as commissioner. The controversy is that he is holding the seat because the previous commissioner, Michelle Spence-Jones, was suspended after being indicted on bribery charges. The seat should have gone to replacement Francis Suarez, but he offered it to Dunn, based on the stipulation that he would not try to keep the seat when the next election came, and Dunn agreed. He is now stating that if the people of the city want him to remain in office, if they are pleased with his service, he will consider running to keep the seat. No laws or rules say that he can’t run, but there is still debate over whether he should. Suarez has declined to comment but is waiting to see how things unfold.
Atlanta’s Top 100 Black Women of Influence were honored at the 15th Annual Atlanta Business Leagues Women of Vision Breakfast. The newest Hall of Fame member was Dr. Juel Pate Borders-Benson, the first African American woman to practice gynecology and obstetrics in Atlanta. Benson is also the first woman ordained as minister of the Gospel at Wheat Street Baptist Church.
Illinois will be opening its Chicago Gospel Heritage Museum this year after trying to get funding for it since 2002. Rev. Stanley Keeble, who is one of the founders of the museum, stated that it will take $250,000 to finish and open the museum. The museum is significant because many believe that Chicago is the birthplace of gospel music.
Eight teenage boys were shot after leaving a concert held at World of Skates in Gary, Indiana. Allegedly a fight began in the parking lot and someone began shooting. All of the injured boys are expected to live, but none of them were clear on what exactly happened. No arrests have been made.
Kansas residents are waiting to see more of the benefits that others states are seeing as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. States have been given millions of dollars to expand businesses and create jobs and Kansas is no exception, they just aren’t spending the money. City Hall, for example, which received $26 million, has only spent $2.6 million. Mayor Carl Brewer has said the reason for the delay is, “the city is being careful not to produce any horror stories of people getting stimulus money who don’t qualify or have half-baked projects.”
The Kentucky Restaurant Association is holding a “Taste of Bowling Green” fundraiser today at the Sloan Convention Center. Tickets are $35 per person and all of the money raised will go to The Dream Factory, an organization that grants wishes for children who are terminally ill.
Former aldermen Steve Hunter and Simeon Profit battled it out this week in a public debate, as part of their race for mayor of Richwood. Steve Hunter, who has already been serving as mayor, was recalled from the position mid-term for allegedly questionable fiscal practices. Profit is holding the seat temporarily and hoping to fill it permanently.
The Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and the University of Baltimore (UB) have collaborated to make a mural that will grace the walls of the Penn Station. The mural is a manifestation of the song “Baltimore” written by locals Caleb Stine and Saleem Heggins. “The song celebrates everyday life in Baltimore,” the colleges said in a joint statement. “Its message of hope and faith in our city needs to be conveyed as broadly as possible.” The students of MICA and UB hope that their mural, which will stay up the entire month of March, serves the same purpose.
Tamara Nall, Harvard graduate and CEO of The Leading Niche, has been honored by the National Minority Business Council, Inc. for her outstanding achievements as a business owner. Nall was awarded the Outstanding Global Business Award. The Leading Niche serves businesses by introducing new strategies and technologies to keep them competitive in the market.
The Detroit Public Schools (DPS) have received $152 million as part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and have been approved to receive $500 million for building new facilities and DPS is still pursuing at least $800 million more in funds. The question of how the money will be disbursed is up for debate and will be discussed at the Pancakes and Politics 2010 forum at the Detroit Athletic Club on March 19, 2010.
Minneapolis church and community members have come together to create a place of refuge for prostitutes. The center will be called the Northside Women’s Space and it will be free and open to women who need a place to sleep, a hot meal, a telephone, and/or a hot shower. The program will also provide HIV/AIDS testing, drug counseling and spiritual support if needed. Northside Women’s Space believes that prostitution is not a career choice, but a decision many women make out of desperation. The program needs $15,000 more to open their doors to the public but the founders are confident they will raise the money.
Indianola, Mississippi is credited for bringing forth blues greats such as B.B. King, Muddy Waters and Sam Cooke and is honoring that legacy by incorporating a new cultural arts center, “The House of Khafre,” complete with an African art boutique. The center opened last week and has began showcasing new talented artists from all over the state.
Sean Fitzgerald and Zachary Taylor have been arrested for what is considered a hate crime incident at the University of Missouri, where they scattered cotton balls all over the front lawn and steps of the Black Culture Center. Fitzgerald and Taylor have not been charged yet but they have offered an apology to the students, faculty, and everyone who was offended by their lack of judgment. The boys have been suspended.
Nevada’s unemployment rate is currently 13 percent. This is similar to what is going on in the rest of the country especially when you account that the majority of the unemployed are men and minorities. 13.4 percent of men and 18.2 percent of Blacks are unemployed. “We’re looking at a period of correction that will likely result in continued job loss through the balance of 2010,” said researcher Brian Gordon.
School children in Jersey City came together with The Special Olympics New Jersey division to publicize the new campaign to stop using the word “retarded.” The word is offensive to those who are mentally challenged. Special Olympics New Jersey has launched Project Unify: Spread the Word to End the Word,” at St. Peter’s College and they sang songs and held up banners to raise awareness of the offensiveness of the word.
Vanz Chapman and Eric McKay, filmmakers from New York, are releasing their film, “For Our Sons.” The film is a documentary to discuss the unfortunate future of African American males in America if nothing changes. It is based on the statistics that one out of three Black males born in the last ten years into a home where the father isn’t present, will end up in prison. The film strives to offer inspiration and guidance to Black sons and give them positive ideals to aspire towards. The film will be distributed to the public free of charge and can be ordered at www.4oursons.com or www.foroursons.com.
African Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal Zion and Christian Methodist Episcopal are coming together for the good of the African American community, particularly Black males. The goal will be to preserve the Black family by lowering the incarceration rates and increasing the amount of Black men in institutions of higher learning. They believe that churches are the best institution to reach Black men because of their closeness to the community.
Cleveland celebrated Black men last week with a forum called “Something to be Proud: Profiles of Real Black Men.” The purpose of the forum was to highlight the contributions of Black men to society. It was also to discuss the challenges that men face and to collectively construct plans to overcome those challenges. The 100 Black Men of Greater Cleveland and the Ohio Commission on African Males hosted the event.
As part of the Diversity Speaks Series, the Seattle Vocational Series hosted the Northwest Hip Hop Leadership Conference to discuss the positive and negative aspect of not only hip-hop music, but its culture as a whole. The conference will discuss the undertones of hip-hop, the way that it affects the way we dress and speak, and the use of the N-word. It will also discuss the positive influences of certain artists who have become advocates for voting, safe sex, and education.
Pittsburgh is trying to get the message out that gun violence and homicides among Black men needs to stop. Out of the 14 homicides that have occurred in Pittsburgh this year, 10 involved African Americans and all of them were because of gun violence. The New Pittsburgh Courier has decided to compile a list each month to highlight the new Black homicides in the hope that it will express the message more fervently. It will include names, ages, and a blurb about what happened, to show how real this issue is.
Potential business owners are being encouraged to enter the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition. The deadline to enter is April 5, and the winners will be announced on May 4, 2010, and awarded with over $130,000 to get their businesses started. The RI Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship will be holding free workshops on how to write and present successful business plans to help the competitors.
The Friendship Liberty Baptist Church is reaching out to the Walterboro community by encouraging youth to live a life, not only in accordance with their religious teachings, but in a way that helps them to be prosperous so they can have a better future. The church brings in speakers from different businesses and organizations to give encouraging and inspirational speeches and all members of the community, youth and adults, are encouraged to attend.
In honor of Women History Month, the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis, the Shelby County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and the Delta Research and Educational Foundation are holding a weekend celebration to honor Ida B. Wells, civil/women’s rights and anti-lynching activist. The weekend will be filled with educational activities and fundraisers to gain funding for the three organizations.
Fort Worth’s Southern Christian Leadership Committee (SCLC), the NAACP, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and the U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service have decided to come together to form a civil/human rights coalition. The purpose of the new organization will be to support each others’ causes and to handle all cases of discriminatory nature in Fort Worth. The hope is that together they will become a stronger entity; they will bridge the race gap, and they will be able to address the issues of discrimination in Fort Worth more assertively.
The United Way, which strives to better the lives of people in the community by raising money for education, health care and more, has raised $17 million in fundraising from residents in Richmond and Petersburg. The money will be distributed to the Daily Planet, which has services for the homeless, the Boys and Girl’s Clubs, the Friends Association for Children, and over 40 other organizations that help the community.
Lois Eason, Antwinett Lee, Vivian O. Lee, Frankie Manning, Vanetta Molson, and Rosa Young, members of the Mary Mahoney Professional Nurses Association (MMPNO) volunteered their time to do free high blood pressure testing at Black barbershops in the Seattle area to bring awareness to the ever-increasing levels of high blood pressure in Black men. They also provided the participants with resources for follow-ups on their health care.
Pro-choice advocates in West Virginia are outraged at the proposed new pre-abortion ultrasound bill that will make doctors ask patients if they would like to see an ultrasound image of the baby before it is terminated. The anti-abortion group West Virginians For Life and supporting the passage of the bill. Among those not in favor is House Health and Human Resources Committee member Barbara Fleischauer, who said, “This reminds of me of potty training, when you take somebody’s nose and rub it in the poop.”
Men Who Cook held its annual Scholarship Fundraiser this week. The purpose of the fundraiser is to raise money for graduating high school students to help them to pay for college. Families came out in support of the cause and paid $20 for adults and $10 for children to stuff there faces with great food for a great cause. Since the beginning of the fundraiser in 1989, Men Who Cook has raised over $800,000 for students and charities.