Here’s a look at African American issues and people making headlines throughout the country.

Birmingham Water Works Putnam Filter Plant has received, for the fifth consecutive year, the Five-Year Directors Award for their superior water quality that surpassed both state and federal drinking water standards, and recognized additionally for identifying areas of possible improvement in plant design, operations and management. “We are extremely proud of our plant,” said Assistant General Manager Darryl Jones. “We consistently work hard to make sure we deliver top-quality water, and it feels good to have our people recognized for our efforts.”

Catherine Key-Williams, who has been an author since 1995, started the Teen Poetry Workshop at the Perris City Public Library in 2004, and ever since then has held free eight-hour workshops for youth ages 12 to 18. The program teaches writing skills in poetry, short stories and screenplay writing. Williams hopes to further inspire the children by taking them on their first field trip to see a professional stageplay of “The Last Emancipation” at the Lewis Family Playhouse, but needs individuals, churches, and local businesses to sponsor the 20 children. (951) 254-4208.

District of Columbia
The public swimming pools in many of the African American communities in D.C. have extended their pools hours because of the increase in heat to more than 100 degrees lately. The Department of Parks and Recreation made the decision considering the high summer temperatures expected. Their goal is to reduce the amount of extreme heat related medical problems, such as strokes.

Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) has been ranked number one in the nation for its social mission score. The tool measures schools performance in regards to providing a sufficient number of primary care physicians, distributing physicians to underserved areas, and placing an adequate number of minority physicians in the workforce. The school focuses on providing primary care in underserved communities, which it believes is most important in improving healthcare overall in America.

Leiana Gary has started a movement to beautify and unite her community by planting flowers in the huge empty cement pots that line Cottage Grove Avenue. She was inspired to do it after her mother, who always commented on their emptiness, died. Gary wrote letters to the city aldermen to get permission to plant the flowers and began to do the work. Soon after her start, members of the community, including children, adults, and even gang members, became interested and asked to be involved. They have now planted more than 75 plants lining 10 blocks, and all of the cement pots have quotes from famous Chicago African Americans on their side.

The Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity is already planning its Centennial Celebration and 80th Grand Chapter Meeting for next year. The fraternity was founded in 1911 at Indiana University in Bloomington and the celebration and activities will be held at the Indiana Convention Center and the JW Marriot Hotel. All Kappa members are encouraged to attend and bring their families. Numbers are expected to exceed 20,000 bringing in millions of dollars in revenue for local businesses.

McDonald’s recently hosted the 365 Black Awards in New Orleans as part of the Essence Music Festival. The purpose of the award program was to acknowledge African American who have had a positive impact on society through their achievements and community service. Radio personality Tom Joyner and television talk-show host Sherri Shepherd hosted the program.

The Becker College Board of Trustees recently appointed Morehouse alumnus Dr. Robert E. Johnson as the 10th president of Becker College. He is the college’s first African-American president. “Through extensive dialogue over the past several months, Dr. Johnson has developed a solid appreciation of Becker–our history, culture, strengths, challenges and opportunities,” said Arthur “Jay” DiGeronimo, Jr., chair of the Becker College Board of Trustees. “The trustees are confident that Dr. Johnson, with his excellent leadership qualities, experience, energy and commitment to our mission, will be an outstanding president.”

The Michigan Supreme Court recently ruled that insurance companies can now use credit scores to determine insurance rates. The original ruling that made this illegal was determined to have been made out of the jurisdiction of the insurance commissioner-meaning he had no power to place the ban in the first place.

Majora Carter, an advocate of environmental justice and urban development, has pitched a new idea, “Greening the Ghetto,” to community stakeholders that are influential in urban communities across the state. The initiative suggests that incarcerated people, who already cost our cities money, be trained and put to work in green areas that save our cities money. It gives them jobs with dignity, helps the environment and the community and, reduces recidivism.

The John Cochran VA Medical Center will hold a public meeting to inform patients and concerned citizens about the recent dental safety lapses. According to Congressman Russ Carnahan, thousands of veterans may have been exposed to HIV or hepatitis because dental equipment at the VA Dental Center in St. Louis was not properly sterilized. The VA recently mailed letters to about 1,800 veterans who had dental procedures at the VA from February 2009 to March of 2010 alerting them to the safety lapses.

New York
Many members of the community gathered on Liverpool Street in Queens recently for a ceremony to change the street’s name to Sean Bell Way, in remembrance of the young man who was shot more than 50 times, at the hands of the NYPD, before his wedding day.

The 100 Black Men of Greater Ohio are planning to host their Summer Mentor Fundraiser on Wednesday July 21 at Bodega’s restaurant. Expect a buffet, live music from a jazz band, a social networking hour, followed by a happy hour event. Proceeds will go to training for “Mentoring the 100 Way.”

United States Attorney Dwight Holton and Multnomah County Board of Directors have come together to create Human Trafficking Awareness Month, after Portland was named the number two city in the nation for underage prostitutes. According to the laws of the state prostitution is illegal, but the trafficking awareness treats the young girls and women as victims.

Abbotsford Falls Family Practice and Counseling–a nurse-managed medical center–has been impacting the lives of Philadelphia residents. The center primarily serves residents of the Abbotsford and East Falls public housing developments. This center and others like it are going to benefit from a federal investment of $15 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This will help these facilities to expand and better care for the medically underserved communities

South Carolina
For the first time in 27 years, the Columbia Council District 2 voters will be choosing from eight African American candidates, to hold the council seat left empty by Councilman E.W. Cromartie, who resigned after admitted income tax evasion. The candidates are Catherine Fleming Bruce, Alexzena Irving Furgess, Harold “Puff” Howard, Emma McGraw Myers, Gary Myers, Brian DeQuincey Newman, Josh Stroman and Antonio Williams.

Houston City Councilman Jarvis Johnson was arrested recently for what the police are calling a “slow-speed chase.” Johnson was pulled over by the police but instead of stopping immediately, he opted to drive further to a well-lit, more familiar area. Johnson was taken into custody and spent the night in jail. He was charged with evading arrest, a felony. Community activists are rallying to get the Houston police chief to drop the charges.

West Virginia
Students and faculty at Marshall University are excited about their new transfer student from Dakar, Senegal. Youssoupha Mbao, is a 7-foot-2, 220 pound center and will be the tallest player in Marshall basketball history, averaging 13 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 blocked shots per game.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has implemented a new insurance plan geared at people who have had difficulty finding coverage. The Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) is specifically for individuals who have been uninsured for more than six months and have not been granted coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions. The program is transitional until 2014 when it will become illegal to discriminate against individuals with pre-existing conditions.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a jobs bill that offered an extra $1 billion to fund 400,000 summer jobs for high school students. The Senate has yet to pass it because of the fear that it will only put the country deeper into debt. Although more individuals working is normally expected to improve the economy, the amount of funding that is needed to allocate the jobs, is money that the country doesn’t necessarily have. Nevertheless, Black lawmakers are continuing to push for the jobs bill because the unemployment rate for Black teenagers is the highest of any group in the nation.