Here’s a look at African American issues and people making headlines throughout the country.
Oachita Parish resident Ezra Richards committed suicide recently after two attempts to murder Damon Williams, the man who allegedly was having an affair with his wife. In the first attempt, Richards threw two containers of gasoline into Williams’ home and set it ablaze. Because Williams survived, Richards later chased him down with a gun, shot him, and then turned the gun on himself while police were in pursuit.
Johannes Mehserle, a former Bay Area Rapid Transit District officer, faces murder charges for the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant III. But the trial is sparking additional interest because none of the five potentials African American jurors expected to be on the jury will be present. The Nation of Islam Student Ministers are requesting that the Black press pay extra attention to the case to ensure that justice will be served.
District of Columbia
Many prominent NBA athletes came to join in the D.C. Goodman Summer League Kick-off recently. Gilbert Arenas, Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Aundray Blatche, Sam Cassell and Micheal Beasley were only a few of the players to enjoy the freedom and excitement of the first of many streetball summer league games this year.
The organization 100 Black Men of America Inc., which is headquartered in Atlanta and dedicated to making a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of young African American males across America, is holding is 24th national conference at the Westin Diplomat Resort in Hollywood, Florida June 16-20.
Candidates Cedric Alexander, Interim Chief George Turner and Louisville Police Chief Robert C. White each attended a town hall meeting to address the public’s concerns and share their positions on different controversial topics, as they continued their race for the position of chief of police for the city of Atlanta.
Chicago author and advertising executive, Tom Burrell recently launched the “Positive Push” Experiment, a national campaign that will use the power of social media to support positive Black music artists and videos in honor of Black Music Month. The campaign continues the message Burrell is trying to portray in his book “Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority,” and hopefully will combat the negative images that infect the Black community.
The St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Department recently sent federal immigration agents to oil spill repair sites to check workers’ immigration status in an effort to stop criminals from coming into the area posing as migrant workers. The sheriff’s office claimed this was common practice during the Hurricane Katrina disaster and said they will continue to periodically check workers’ immigration status.
Nine African American students were selected as contest winners in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County for the essays they entered in the “Laws of Life Essay Contest” which encouraged students to write about the values they believe will help them live successful and productive lives.
Thousands of Massachusetts residents are pushing to make sure Deval Patrick, the state’s first Black governor, continues to implement change by electing him to a second term. In his first term, Patrick is credited with improving the healthcare system, student achievement, competition in auto insurance, job growth, and public transportation reform.
Many neighborhood organizations are calling on the Detroit City Council to reconsider their proposed $9.1 million in budget cuts to the General Services Department. The reductions would impact ground maintenance, vehicle maintenance, maintenance of city buildings and janitorial services. Approximately 140 parks will close, if the council’s planned ground maintenance cuts pass.
There has been a significant increase in the African American population in Minnesota over the past few years, but the state still is approximately 90 percent White. The Black student population has still managed to rise to the same level and in many cases higher than their White counterparts in terms of high school graduation, college enrollment and early college graduation.
President Barack Obama recently nominated Mississippi Supreme Court Justice James Graves Jr. to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals. Graves is the only African American on the Mississippi Supreme Court. “Throughout his career James E. Graves has shown unwavering integrity and an outstanding commitment to public service,” President Obama said.
Shots were fired into Wellston City Hall in what officials say was an expected retaliation for the recent crackdown on crime in the St. Louis area. Although many employees were present, none were injured. The suspects have not been caught.
Johnson C. Smith University and Livingstone College recently announced their plan to expand the Commemorative Classic–the annual football game between the schools. The game will still be played Saturday, November 6, 2010, but in addition to the contest, a two-day symposium on the Black and Minority Male Crisis will take place on Nov. 4-5.
Cleveland recently hosted the groundbreaking ceremony for its new Huron Community Health Center which will benefit the African American community by providing care that focuses on chronic illnesses and disease management–specifically diabetes, hypertension, kidney failure, and mental illness.
Pittsburgh recently held the Race in America: Restructuring Inequality National Conference, one of the largest conferences on race in history. Speakers from across the country came together at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum to find solutions to some of the most pressing race issues of our time.
The annual Kuumba Festival will be held in Knoxville on June 24-27. The event is the largest cultural arts festival in Tennessee, and provides four full days and nights of music and other live performances, an African marketplace, artists, and numerous food vendors.
Amobi Okoye, defensive lineman for the Houston Texans, members of the community and the Amobi Okoye Foundation, recently held a series of community events for kids including a Kick Off 4 Kids-Physical Activity & Football Camp in celebration of the lineman’s 23rd birthday. More than 200 children participated in the program.
The African American Historical Society of Portsmouth (AAHSP) is fundraising to save Virginia’s first historically Black library from being demolished, and instead plans to convert it into a museum to display memorabilia, photographs, and other materials that document Portsmouth’s Black History. The fundraiser “High Five for History” is encouraging people to donate five dollars to help them reach their $150,000 goal. To contribute, please send checks with donations to the African American Historical Society of Portsmouth, P.O. Box 2048, Portsmouth, Va. 23202.
Seattle recently hosted the Blacks in Government Regional Training Conference and encouraged attendees to set new standards and to pave the way for future generations, especially regarding the low graduation rate of African American males and the fact that more that 30 percent of African Americans in Seattle are in poverty. The keynote address was given by City Councilmember Bruce Harrell.
Reverend Jesse Jackson, CEO of the Chicago-based Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, believes that new levels of Black business participation are on the horizon as activists continue to press for economic inclusion and fair share in hiring, contracting and advertising dollars.
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The Internal Affairs Bureau of the Baltimore Police Department and the FBI are investigating the fatal shooting of Tyrone Brown by off-duty police officer Gahiji Tshamba. Reports say that the two men were in engaged in a verbal altercation, after Brown touched Tshamba’s female friend on the rear end. Tshamba shot 13 times, nine of which hit Brown, who was unarmed. The shooting occurred at a local bar, and Tshamba was seen holding a glass in one hand; it may have contained liquor. This incident is the second in which Tshamba’s alcohol intake has been in question.
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Conservative talk show host Glenn Beck recently made a public apology to President Barack Obama and his daughter, Malia, after mocking her on his show. He criticized her level of education, after she asked her father if he had “plugged the hole yet” referencing the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. He received much condemnation for his comments which were seen by most as “low-blows.”
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The NAACP Youth and College Division will hold their annual convention in July in Kansas City, Mo. The convention is expected to highlight a new civil rights agenda that will specifically address the issues affecting young people.