Here’s a look at African American issues and people making headlines throughout the country.
Tabatha Lawson, is an eighth grade teacher at Center Street Middle School, and is being highlighted for her dedication to her students. Always pushing them to go above and beyond, she encouraged all of her pupils to enter the Birmingham Urban League’s essay contest on the history of being economically empowered and three of her students placed. The first place winner in the competition was Omari Williams, also one of her students.
Alaska governor Sarah Palin and Fox News were exposed after rapper/actor LL Cool J outted them on Twitter. Palin’s new show “Real American Stories” highlights people who have overcome adversity in their lives and made significant accomplishments. Apparently they were going to take an old interview LL Cool J did elsewhere and pass it off as part of the show, without permission. After Palin (who Cool J has never met) and FOX heard about his comments they removed him from the show.
Young men ages 14-17 are being encouraged to join the Men of Impact Leadership Academy a program designed to prepare young men for their transition into manhood. The program is held at Phoenix College on Saturdays and is one of the first of its kind tailored exclusively to this demographic. Organizers hope to help the young men on the road to self discovery.
The NAACP is upset that no Black federal judges are being nominated for federal judge positions in Arkansas. Currently they have only one Black jurist–Brian Miller. The civil rights organization expected to see more judges, when President Barack Obama and the Democrats took power last year, and are holding Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor responsible.
Controversy has arisen as California prisons ignore the new Trans Fat Law. The legislation prohibits school food services and food facilities from using hydrogenated oils ,and next year the law will also go into affect for bakeries. Prison officials, however, are claiming that they are not qualified as a food facility, and therefore do not have to comply with the law. Research shows that hydrogenated oils even in small amounts have been linked to diabetes and heart disease.
Community colleges in Colorado are seeing a drastic increase in enrollment as the economic downturn has made a more inexpensive education a priority for many. The president’s new health care law includes $2 billion for community colleges, $2.5 million of which will end up in Colorado. The money will be dispersed in the form of grants beginning in the Fall of 2011.
Governor Jodi Rell has declared a “state of emergency” in response to the flooding that is occurring as the streams and rivers keep rising. The Coast Guard, the military and the state police are all on stand-by, in case things continue to progress towards the worst case scenario stage.
Kendrick Meek is the first Florida candidate to get his name on the ballot by way of petition. Florida requires either a payment of around $10,000 (filing fee) or obtaining 112,467 residents to sign a petition. Meek made history, when he managed to get the signatures of 140,000 residents to put his name on the ballot for U.S. Senate.
Georgia. The world’s largest hair and fashion show, the 2010 World Natural Hair, Health and Beauty Show will be at the Georgia International Convention Center on April 10-11. The event will include different workshops on how to properly care for natural hair, barber competitions, healthy eating and nutrition tips, and will feature hair and skin care products.
Chicago residents who are HIV positive recently put on a groundbreaking series of plays, delving into the lives of people in the city, who are HIV positive. Held at the DuSable Museum of African American History, the productions touched up on their struggles and treatments.
Naeemah Jackson, deputy director of the Devington Community Development Corp. has created a new initiative called Green Earth-Golden Character which encourages healthy eating and strives to reduce the levels of hypertension, obesity and diabetes in urban communities. The program incorporates gardening into communities by turning open grassy areas into gardens for families and residents to work together. Jackson said, “Gardening is what Blacks do. Feeding your child Ramen noodles and Kool-Aid is not healthy. We’re going back to our roots.”
Witchita resident Anthony Scott was livid after receiving his Census form and seeing that the categories that best described him were “Black, African-American or Negro,” and he isn’t the only one. Thousands of Black Americans around the country shared his distaste over the term “Negro.” So many people were upset that Director M. Groves of the 2010 U.S. Bureau had to issue an apology. He claimed that in 1990 and 2000 “about 56,000 persons took the time to write “Negro” in the “some other race” category, so they thought it would be fitting to add it.
Councilwoman Mary C. Woolridge, has recently received the 2010 Community Service Award and the Golden Broom Award for her contribution to cleaning up the city of Louisville. She was honored for recruiting the largest number of volunteers for the city-wide cleanup..
Residents of Louisiana are doing all that they can not to be removed from their homes but the process has already started. The order in which people will be moved, called phases, has already begun. The purpose of moving the low-income residents out is to move in a new wave of mixed income residents and a retail shopping center. The tenants have tried to combat the new project to no avail.
President Obama traveled to Portland recently to thank his supporters for their dedication toward passage of the health care reform bill. More than 2,500 people came out to the Portland Arena to hear him speak. Obama thanked his supporters saying: “You knew this wasn’t about the fortunes of any one party–this was about the future of our country.”
The Baltimore branch of the NAACP recently donated a $500 check to the Boy Scouts of America Baltimore Area Council to commemorate 100 years of the organization’s existence, and encourages other organizations to try to match its donation. The goal of this partnership is to encourage African American boys to join the Boy Scouts to keep them off of the streets.
The Epiphany School in Dorchester has been highlighted for being one of a kind. Since it’s founding in 1998, the school has been extremely dedicated to starting children out on the right path and keeping them there. The Epiphany students are in school for 12-hour days. They are fed breakfast, lunch and dinner, take eight classes, plus athletics, recess and a study period. The teachers claim the students adapt quickly to the rigorous schedule and that it prepares them for a future of focus and dedication to education. Some of the graduated students even return to teach.
On April 10-11, Detroit will recognize Proof, from Eminem rap group D12 (Detroit 12). He was shot and killed at a club on April 11, 2006 and now the city, along with the Highland Park NAACP, will celebrate his life and advocate for nonviolence over the two day period. The 10th will feature a tribute at the club Detroit Pub and the 11th (officially Proof Day) will feature activities at Woodlawn Cemetery.
The Minnesota House of Representative recently passed a bill that will create 5,000 to 12,000 new jobs, but the legislation is partially funded by taking away a $25 gas tax credit low-income people now receive. State Representative Bobby Joe Champion is in favor of the job increase, but is pushing for an amendment to keep the gas tax credit in place. “We have a responsibility to make sure the decisions we make don’t ask those who are struggling the hardest to sacrifice the most,” said Champion.
First Baptist Church of Meridian–with the help of The Wesley House, Focus on Hope, local businesses and Meridian residents–have turned an empty grassy field, used by drug dealers, gang members and prostitutes, into the “Playground for Jesus” and a safe haven for children in the neighborhood to play, enjoy extracurricular activities, and spend time with their friends and families. The $60,000 it took to create the park was raised solely from donations.
Larry McCulley has been named the new CEO of the Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation which will operate in 17 towns in Illinois. He has been responsible for 35 medical offices and a staff of over 600 employees. Willie B. Nelson, chairman of the SIHF Board of Directors said, “He has done an outstanding job and we are pleased to have such a talented and dedicated new CEO and President to lead us into the future.”
For the first time in 44 years, Newark New Jersey has gone an entire month without one single murder. Police Chief Garry McCarthy said, “There’s a palpable sense on the streets of Newark that things are changing.” Homicides in Newark are down 58% since McCarthy became chief.
Bernalillo Commissioner Michael Weiner made a public apology in Albuquerque Civic Plaza recently for an allegedly racist and homophobic e-mail he sent. The e-mail made jokes that implied that all African American men in prison have sex in the shower, etc. Many civil rights activists, members of the Democratic party and members of the community protested in the hopes of forcing him to resign. Weiner said he would apologize, but would not resign.
Governor David Paterson announced that an education payout of $2 billion that was supposed to be distributed to school boards recently has been delayed until June because of “critical fiscal problems.” The cuts that have been proposed by the state Senate and the Assembly have not been substantial enough to close the deficit and many students will suffer because of it.
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. North Carolina chapter recently celebrated 90 years of existence with their “90 Years of Finer Womanhood, Celebrating Service, Scholarship and Sisterly Love.” More than 100 members attended the celebration, and six women, including Superior Court Judge Patrice A. Hinnant and former Greensboro Mayor Yvonne J. Johnson were honored as “Community Pearls” for their contribution to society.
Ohio State Representative W. Carlton Weddington expressed his satisfaction with the new DNA legislation that was passed recently. The bill will expand the use of DNA testing to help people wrongly accused prove their innocence. “This historic piece of legislation could save the lives of the wrongfully accused and convicted as well as those who might meet their untimely demise because the true perpetrator still runs loose.”
The Reverend Jesse Jackson made an appearance in at Self Enhancement Inc. in Portland recently to announce that he will be open a local chapter of the Rainbow/ PUSH Coalition in the city. His civil rights organization handle concerns such as police shootings, transportation services losing money, home foreclosures, as well as other issues affecting the Black community.
Recently Judge Joseph James dismissed challenges filed by Councilwoman Tonya Payne against her opponents in the race for the state legislature. Payne claimed her opponents didn’t have the number of signatures they needed to be eligible to run, but investigations showed that they did. Contenders called her challenge an empty tactic designed to discourage opponents with less time and money from running.
More than 100 supporters showed up to hear Denise Barge, president of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, deliver a report on the new Safety for Children initiative whose objective is to assess the effects of the custody and visitation process on domestic violence victims and their children, and to create solutions to improve the system.
Black legislators in South Carolina are trying to discourage African American students from playing for any of the University of South Carolina’s sports teams because they only have one African American on their Board of Trustees. The school hasn’t offered any comment, and it isn’t clear if any students are complying yet.
The residents of Hickory Hill were ecstatic about the reopening of the Hickory Ridge Mall over the Easter weekend. The mall was destroyed after a storm in 2008 but has since been purchased by World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church Inc., and the Hickory Hill Community Redevelopment Corp. The mall was rebuilt and is now expected to bring hundreds of jobs back to the area.
Nineteenth Century Texas Black Legislators and Constitutional Convention Delegates are being honored with a monument at the Texas State Cemetery. These Black men are being recognized for their dedication working in the legislature three years after the abolition of slavery.
The United Negro College Fund held a conference recently to figure out new ways to reach youth and get the interested in higher education. Today, because of the prevalence of technology such as cell phones, computers, social media, and MP3’s, UNCF is trying to determine what the effect will be on African American students and how these outlets can be used to encourage more to attend college. The conference entitled, “Opportunities and Issues for Engagement in Digital Culture,” will take place April 8.
The Seattle School District has been holding meetings to discuss changing the name of Brighton Elementary to Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary. The reason for the change is the elementary school that used to be named after him was closed, and the board vowed that another school would be named in his honor.
Tommy Walls has been named the 2010 Youth of the Year by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, and has received $2,500 in scholarships. He will now be eligible to compete against students in 13 other states for an opportunity to receive a $10,000 scholarship and be named the Midwest Youth of the Year.