Here’s a look at African American issues and people making headlines throughout the country.
Many civil rights leaders and community members came together recently to recreate the 1965 attempted march to Montgomery. When civil rights advocates tried to cross the bridge to fight for their voting rights, they were beaten by state troopers on an Alabama bridge. The event has since been referred to as “Bloody Sunday”. This time, the march was very successful. President Barack Obama marked the 45th anniversary by saying he is happy for the progress that has been made, but there is still much to be done.
2010 marks the first year that the Black Woman’s Task Force of Tucson held a ceremony for its college scholarship recipients. The three driven young women this year are Beatrice Abiero, Christina Rigaud, and Shahayala Byrd who all attend the University of Arizona. The ceremony was held at the Tucson Southern Arizona Black Chamber of Commerce.
The San Francisco bay area’s Urban Financial Services Coalition held its Economic Update Summit: Business and Personal Aspects. The summit was moderated by California State Assembly Speaker Emeritus Karen Bass. The summit discussed challenges and opportunities facing businesses and the economy and was held at the Federal Reserve Bank in San Francisco.
One of the men who were arrested for alleged threats to kill President Barack Obama on his Inauguration Day has been arrested again on unrelated charges of theft. Shawn Robert Adolf has been ordered to pay more than $88,000 in restitution. The threats on the president were not taken further by the U.S Supreme Court because it claimed the threats were the ravings of “meth heads.” The men were, in fact, caught with the high-powered sniper rifle they said they were going to kill the president with.
State Representative Douglas McCrory has spoken out against Governor Jodi Rell’s intended cut of $700,000 to the Children of Incarcerated Parents Program in response to the state budget. Although cuts must be made to prevent the state from enduring an ever-increasing deficit, McCrory stressed this program provides a necessary and invaluable service to the community. “When we begin cutting programs that directly influence the future of our communities, town, and quality of life we begin entering dangerous territory,” the state representative said.
District of Columbia
Same-sex marriage has officially been legalized in Washington, D.C., making it one of only five states that allow the practice. Mayor Adrian Fenty signed the bill to legalize same-sex marriage last year and the courthouse started processing marriage licenses last week. More than 150 couples have already begun the process of getting their license and becoming official.
The only African American-owned jet service in the world will be closing on March 31, 2010. Opa Locka Flightline had only a five-year temporary lease that will expire on April 1, 2010 and, with the company also being in the middle of a lawsuit with Miami-Dade County and AA Acquisitions Orion Jet Center, they are having trouble acquiring a new one.
In an effort to combat childhood obesity, one principal has implemented a “Sugar Free Zone” at her school. Dr. Yvonne Sanders-Butler from Browns Mill Elementary School has turned Browns into the only school in the country that provides only sugar-free snacks and completely healthy lunches. Sanders-Butler does not even allow ice cream trucks to lurk around her campus. Since the change, the number of overweight children has dropped, the school has seen higher test scores, and there has been a 28 percent drop in disciplinary referrals.
The PCC Community Wellness Center in Austin, has announced the opening of its new Austin Family Health Center. The new facility will be a major upgrade to the center, taking it from handling 13,000 to more than 32,000 patients a year. Later this year, PCC will also incorporate comprehensive dental care.
The TRiO Association, which consists of Federal outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, has named Roxanne Gregg as its president for this year. Gregg is also the director of the Indiana University/Purdue University Upward Bound Program.
Thanks to the $40.7 million provided by the stimulus, 462 new jobs are being generated in Kentucky for construction on nine concrete monoliths. The jobs are not permanent, but they will last for 27 months and pay $23 per hour for machine operators and $20 per hour for laborers. 85 percent of the jobs will go to Kentucky residents.
Monroe recently celebrated its Black Heritage Parade with local school bands, churches, and many businesses traveling down Desiard Street for more than three hours. Thousands of members of the community came out to support Black heritage, catch candy and gifts, and cheer for Dr. James O. McHenry, a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity’s “Omega 100.”
Allen Zaruba from Towson University has been fired for using the N-word. He used the word in reference to himself as a worker on a “corporate plantation”. In an interview, Zaruba stated that he was extremely apologetic about using the word but he felt the university went overboard by firing him. The university stated, “Such patently offensive language on the part of university employees will not be tolerated and does not reflect our value system.” They will stand by their decision.
The Department of Education is implementing more rigorous plans to increase civil rights efforts in schools. The department plans to do at least 38 compliance reviews in schools this year, which they have done in the past, but are now doing it more diligently to find the impacts that the districts practices have on students of different races. Schools could possibly have funding withheld if cases of noncompliance are found. These new and seemingly more strict practices on the part of the Board of Education are to ensure that students from low-income families get the same opportunities as those from wealthy families; that Black and Latino students have the same opportunities as White students.
Former City Council President Monica Conyers has been sentenced to 37 months in prison for taking more than $6,000 in bribes for her votes. Conyers reportedly made an outburst at the hearing saying that she will appeal. She has 10 days to do so. She must report to prison on July 1, 2010.
Minnesota is facing problems with the accuracy of the census because of their high levels of immigration. Many immigrants and refugees from Africa and other countries have expressed their fear of filling out the census for fear of deportation. Others are worried that the information will get back to their landlords that they have more residents living in their household than the lease allows. The Census Bureau has tried to stress that any information obtained will be kept completely confidential and is only for purposes of getting an accurate population count. But many immigrants are not confident in that promise and do not believe it is worth the risk.
The B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola has been awarded a $200,000 grant from the Foundation of the Mid South. The foundation strives to improve the quality of life by investing in people and strategies that promote racial, social, and economic equity. The museum is now implementing many afterschool programs in the arts and now has a very popular Fannie Lou Hamer Empowerment Program for young ladies.
The Griot Museum of Black History in North St. Louis is fundraising to hopefully earn the $50,000 needed to complete their “Torchbearer of Justice” exhibit. The exhibit will honor former Fire Chief Sherman George, the first African American fire chief in St. Louis, and other Black firefighters.
President Barack Obama attended a town hall meeting in Henderson, Nevada recently to discuss the new housing initiatives he has put in place. Money that was originally intended for the bank bailout is now being used to turn vacant homes into affordable housing for Nevada residents. It will also stop struggling homeowners from going into foreclosure by lowering their monthly payments.
Governor Chris Christie is up for a challenge as he plans to cut more than $800 million in aid to New Jersey schools. Christie already has cut $475 million for the current school year. Officials, who preferred to remain anonymous, stated that Christie will more than likely be taken to court on this, and that he is not planning on making the $3 billion payment to the already suffering pension system. Municipal aid is also expected to be cut by $445 million.
First Corinthian Baptist Church is holding a Write the Vision: Make it Clear Conference on March 27th to inform the community of their effort and their role in closing the education achievement gap. The event will be from10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will be held at the Cowin Center Auditorium in the Horace Mann Building at Teachers College, Columbia University. The event is free and open to the public but space is limited. Spots can be reserved at http://www.tc.edu/calendar/rsvp/writethevision.htm.
Duke University has invited the public to be a part of a groundbreaking course in music called “Sampling Soul.” The course will be based on Nas’ hit 1994 album “Illmatic.” Every week there will be discussion on another aspect of sampling music: from its beginning to its popularity today and legal issues that it sometimes poses. The class will be a live webcast and can be watched every Tuesday at 6 p.m. at http://ustream.tv/dukeuniversity. To participate or ask questions in advance or during the screening, send emails to email@example.com.
The Black Professionals Association Charitable Foundation (BPACF), whose purpose is to support and advance educational and charitable activities as well as to oversee the distribution of scholarship funds, held its annual meeting recently to discuss its goals for this year and to name its new officers. Natoya Walker Minor is now the president of the Black Professionals Association.
Mt. Olivet Baptist Church and the National Society of Black Engineers held their second annual “Career Information Day” recently. Many successful business professionals showed up to speak to the audience about business opportunities. They also offered summer jobs and internships to high school students.
The Negro Emergency Education Fund (NEED) recently launched its fundraising campaign for the year with its 47th annual Scholarship Dinner at the Pittsburgh Hilton. The goal of NEED is to provide college-bound African American students with the financial help they need to make it to college. By the end of the year, NEED hopes to raise $10 million for students’ college tuitions.
In an effort to makes the streets in South Carolina safer, Aimwell Presbyterian Church in Neyles and Rock of Ages CME Church in Walterboro are hosting a Gun Buy Back. Persons who have illegal guns or simply guns they no longer want can turn them in at either church without question or consequence. An extra incentive is that businesses have donated gift certificates to be given to those who turn in guns. The Gun Buy Back will be held on March 27, 2010 from noon to 3 p.m. For more information, contact Reverend Maxwell at 843-810-1731.
The Memphis & Shelby County Music Commission is celebrating Women’s History Month by honoring nine women who have greatly contributed to the progression of Memphis music. The commission will hold its second annual Emissaries of Memphis Music Power Luncheon at the Holiday Inn on March 26, and all the proceeds from the lunch will go to the commission’s healthcare plan for Memphis musicians.
After years of Blacks being underappreciated for their contribution to the military, Texas officials declared March 1, 2010, as Dr. Jimmy Johnson Day. Dr. Johnson was an enlisted officer medic, a combat medic in Vietnam, and he volunteered numerous times for Dedicated Unhesitating Service To Our Fighting Forces (DUSTOFF). He participated in more than 800 missions and saved over 2,000 lives. Dr. Johnson is also the first African American to be given the DUSTOFF Hall of Fame Award.
The Verizon Foundation has given a $300,000 grant to Gloucester Institute’s Emerging Leaders Program. The program works in conjunction with Virginia’s historically Black colleges and universities “to prepare campus leaders, recent graduates, and young professionals for future success in the market place and the business community.” The Gloucester Institute’s program will use the money to fund 10 leadership summits helping over 300 new emerging leaders over the next three years.
Senator Rose Franklin, who has always been an advocate of tax reform, introduced new ideas in the Senate Ways and Means Committee meeting recently. Washington residents will be given the option to vote for increasing taxes for higher wage earners, therefore turning the state tax back to 5.5 percent, the same as 30 years ago. Franklin is excited about the possible new tax structure saying, “This will give the public the ultimate say on how we pay for public services and an opportunity for people to learn how taxation really works and whether our existing tax structure benefits or hurts them.”
Many students gathered outside of Superintendent of Schools Tom Deadrick’s office recently in protest of more cuts in education. Deadrick asked the students to leave but they would not and more continued to come. Deadrick stated that it was not the expected behavior of intelligent students and criticized them for not calling to make an appointment instead.
Alma Powell, chair of the board of directors of America’s Promise Alliance and wife of Colin Powell, held a conference for “Graduation and the Health of a Nation.” The initiative that encourages medical school graduates to help in the push for the education of our youth. Powell stressed the disproportionately high levels of high school dropouts correlates to the number of Blacks in prison, 95 percent of which are high school dropouts. “The education of our children is truly a civil rights issue that has protections under the law and we must be made accountable; these children are our children,” said Powell.