Here’s a look at African American issues and people making headlines throughout the country.
The Carroll High School Choir has received a $20,000 donation from the Monroe School Board to send the 25 students to New York to sing at Carnegie Hall. Dozens of schools with only the best choirs around the country are invited to Carnegie Hall. In addition to Carroll, all other middle and high schools in the area will also receive $20,000 to enhance their arts programs.
Roslyn Brock, the new chairwoman of the board of directors for the NAACP, has been invited to be the keynote speaker at the Maricopa County NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner. The purpose of the dinner is to honor and highlight the accomplishments of outstanding Black women. The event will be held on April 16 at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix.
The Los Angeles Superior Court announced recently that they will cut 330 jobs and close several courtrooms in an effort to deal with the $79 million budget deficit. Seniority is definitely being considered but the court is expecting even more cuts made within the next six months.
Two Colorado mayors, John Hickenlooper and Ed Tauer, have announced that they will join together to create their new economic development project, which is a 1,800-acre community that sits on the border of their two cities, Aurora and Denver. The project, “High Pointe at DIA,” will include a full golf course, hotel/conference center, business park, retail space, and a residential community for single/multi-family homes. The project is expected to bring thousands of jobs to the area and strengthen the two communities by bonding them.
District of Columbia
The National Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation hosted Black Press Week at the Omni Shoreham Hotel last week. The event was a momentous occasion recognizing the 183 years since the first Black newspaper went into print. Dorothy Height, chair and president emeritus of the National Council of Negro Women, and many other advocates for civil rights and social justice were honored.
Two Black-owned companies, N-tersections Communications Group and Steele Communications Group, and the Florida Black Chamber of Commerce are part of a lawsuit against Governor Charlie Crist in an effort to stop him from awarding a $420,000 U.S Census contract aimed at Black Floridians to White-owned company Moore/Ketchum. The fact that Moore/Ketchum is being considered for the contract even though they are reportedly less experienced than the two Black-owned companies with regards to serving the Black community is causing suspicion of discrimination.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Atlanta City Council President Ceasar C. Mitchell have recognized the HBCUBusTours.com for their contribution in helping future college students accomplish their dreams of attending historically Black colleges and universities by giving them the opportunity to visit schools that they otherwise would not have the ability to see. As part of the proclamation, March 8 through April 8 will now be recognized as HBCU Bus Tour Month in Atlanta.
Cheryle Jackson, president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League, has decided to step down claiming that she accomplished what she set out to accomplish and now is ready to move on to other things. Jackson tried to run for President Obama’s open Senate seat last year but did not win. She is now the vice president of government affairs and corporate development of AAR Corp., which she regards as a huge step forward.
The Kingdom Door Christian Worship Center has implemented a Mind Over Matter Youth Entrepreneur Community Service Program that serves to help youth by providing them with mentoring, counseling, and training to get their lives back on track. The program’s goal is to help these youth find their God-ordained purpose in life and to stop them from having to endure a life full of violence and crime.
In approximately 90 days, smoking will be banned in public places in Glasgow, Kentucky. Many residents aren’t happy about the Glasgow City Council imposed ban. That includes Councilman Doug Isenberg, who started a petition against it, but the council did not take it into consideration when making its decision.
The Institute for Social Justice and Israelite Baptist Church are sponsoring a international crime summit, “Global Initiatives in the Prevention of Violence and Crimes,” from March 24-26. Community leaders, teachers, and residents from all over the world will be in attendance to hear speakers from the U.S. Department of Justice, police departments, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) voice their opinions, goals, and solutions to ending violence and crimes in neighborhoods everywhere.
The Baltimore City Health Department has partnered with Santoni’s Supermarket to provide healthier food options to people in low-income areas by creating “virtual supermarkets.” People living in poorer areas of the city have fast food restaurants more readily accessible and affordable which causes them to, by default, make more unhealthy choices. The virtual supermarkets will enable people to order healthier, reasonably priced food online, and pick them up at the Orleans and Washington Village branches of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.
The Assistant Secretary for Access and Opportunity Ron Marlow has been honored for his efforts to increase business opportunities for minorities. Marlow has been named the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2010 New England and Massachusetts Minority Business Champion. Marlow has also partnered with Jennifer James from the Workforce Development to create a Task Force on Chronically Unemployed and Underemployed Persons.
Tyler Perry will be the speaker for the Perfecting Community Development Corporation Platinum Gala. The corporation provides food, clothing, and job skills training to those in need. Perry, who recently won an NAACP Image Award, will talk about his road to success. The event will be held on May 10 at the Marriott Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit and tickets are $200 and $500. All proceeds will go to the Perfecting Community Development Corporation.
After being in the development stages for more than 15 years, Minnesota hopes to have its second Black history museum. Until now, The African American Historical and Civil Rights Museum (AAHCRM) has had no permanent home. It was used as a traveling exhibit to schools and then housed in the storefront of another building. Now with the stimulus funding trickling in, founder Leola Seals hopes that she will finally be able to have her own facility.
The Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement and Jackson State University are hosting their fifth annual conference, “The Loss of Civil & Human Rights in a Time of Economic Crisis: Creating a Blueprint for the Future.” The event will last from March 25-27 and will be held at the Mississippi e-Center at Jackson State University. The purpose of the conference is to encourage youth to be interested and involved in social activism.
On March 27, St. Louis will hold its first Community Action Fair to let members of the community know what they can do to help out with the issues that affect them every day, such as environmental issues and education. The meeting will be from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the History Museum in Forest Park. Many organizations will also be participating in the fair, such as Jobs for Justice, Organization for Black Struggles, and the YWCA.
University of Nevada-Reno officials and members of a student comedy troupe recently apologized for a skit during which a White actor appeared in blackface as President Barack Obama, and “instructed” a Secret Service agent on how to hold a gun like a “gangsta.” He also talked about his love of basketball was seen eating chicken. The Wolf Pack Comedy Troupe actor who portrayed the president said, “there was genuinely no intent of racism or connection to minstrel shows. The make-up was a stage make-up base and not blackface, and was there to look like the character, to seal the impersonation . . . In another skit, I wore a wig and played a female character.”
The Lawrence School Board is proposing budget cuts and tax increases this year even though their budget spending is less than $2 million than it was last year. They are expected to cut at least 50 jobs and are removing positions that are held by retiring employees. The school system is doing this because they will lose 66 percent of their state funding next year.
ACORN, the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now, an advocacy group for poor and working class people that focuses on housing issues and community organizing, has had the charges brought against them dropped after conservative activists tried to lure them into illegal activity. The activists posed as pimps and prostitutes and videotaped their interactions with three employees from ACORN, but the tapes presented as evidence were clearly edited to make ACORN employees look guilty of illegal activity, as they would not release the unedited version. Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes found no wrongdoing on the part of the ACORN employees and the case was dismissed.
Members from Guilford County have banned together to create the Guilford County Community Political Action Committee which will find political candidates that truly have an interest in creating and endorsing policy that helps the underserved and underrepresented members of the community, and then recommend them to voters. The goal is that the committee will make it easier for the people to understand politics so that they can become more involved in the policies that directly affect them.
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference held a meeting this week to discuss what actions will be taken against Chairman Raleigh Trammell and Treasurer Spiver Gordon, who are accused of “financial mismanagement.” The meeting lasted over three hours and a majority of the members are requesting the two step down. The SCLC has also hired an attorney to get Trammell and Gordon out by legal means if they do not willingly step down.
The Independent Police Review’s Citizens Review Committee held a forum recently to demand that policy be changed to make it mandatory for police officers to get tested for steroids. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, law enforcement is one of the four most common professions involved with steroids, but they aren’t tested. The community is pushing for a change policy, especially in cases when officers are reprimanded for excessive or deadly force.
Beginning on March 29, Oprah Winfrey and two students from her Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa will appear in Philadelphia court to testify in a defamation case that was bought forth by Nomvuyo Mzamane, the school’s former headmistress. Winfrey commented in 2007 that she had “lost confidence” in the headmistress after the alleged sexual abuse scandal at the school. Mzamane’s argument is that Winfrey’s comments, allegedly not based on fact, made it difficult for her to find employment after being fired from the academy.
Last weekend Keep Colleton Beautiful and the Community Response Alliance launched their “Great American Cleanup” event. Members from both groups and volunteers in the community came together to clear trash and wreckage from the roads and highways and plant trees in response to the event and for Earth Day. The group will continue on in their beautification project until the end of March.
As part of the Alpha Phi Alpha “Night of Enlightenment” lecture series, Spike Lee attended the University of Memphis recently to share his experiences and discuss the image of Black America and the politics of film and media. The event was free and open to the public and the Michael D. Rose Theater, where it was held, was packed to capacity with students and film lovers eager to get advice and hear the story of Lee’s rise to success.
The Texas Education Agency held a board meeting to discuss the social studies curriculum for the coming years. Controversy arose when the board decided to deny highlighting African American and Hispanic recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor Award, and they voted against including hip-hop as a major cultural movement but instead decided to include country music. Barbara Cargill, a Caucasian member of the board said that “highlighting persons of color was no longer necessary.” Marvis B. Knight, an African American member of the board, said that the majority Caucasian board still does not realize how African Americans are still treated today.
The State Corporation Commission approved a resolution that will cause electric bills for Virginians to become significantly lower and approximately $154 million in refunds will be given back its residents. Dominion Virginia Power will also be reducing its staffing by six percent but rather than standard layoffs they will offer severance packages to 4,800 employees.
Governor Chris Gregoire signed a bill into law this week that will give high school dropouts, ages 16-21, the opportunity to turn their lives around and get back in school. The new program will offer these potential students GED preparation, job training, and college preparation. The students may also be able to take college courses without having to pay tuition. The program is still a work in progress and is being modified by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Schools will have the final decision on whether they want to embrace the program.
Recently, the NAACP, the Leadership Conference for Civil Rights, and Wisconsin Voices hosted the 2010 Census People of Color Media Luncheon. The event was held at Stella’s Restaurant and lasted most of that afternoon. The purpose of the luncheon was to discuss the importance of the census and to encourage people to fill it out so they get their share of the $400 billion dollars being distributed to improve education, transportation, roads, and hospitals. It also gave churches, media groups, and various businesses the opportunity to network.