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

Jordan Allen was recently selected to participate in Nationals’ 2010 Miss Jr. Pre-Teen Birmingham pageant competition that took place last week. Jordan will be competing for her share of thousands of dollars in prizes and specialty gifts that will be distributed to contestants. She will be competing in the Miss Jr. Pre-Teen division and if Jordan were to win the title of Miss Jr. Pre-Teen Birmingham, she would represent Birmingham and the surrounding communities at the Cities of America National Competition that will take place in Orlando, Florida.

President Barack Obama said last week that a new strategy for combating HIV and AIDS fulfills America’s obligation to stop the spread of the virus and root out the inequities and attitudes on which it thrives. The strategy sets a goal of reducing new infections by 25 percent during the next five years; getting treatment for 85 percent of patients within three months of their diagnosis; and increasing education about the virus, even in communities with low rates of infection. The strategy for lowering new infections relies on targeting HIV prevention efforts at the highest-risk populations, which include homosexual and bisexual men as well as Black Americans, far more than is done today. About 56,000 people in the United States become infected each year, a rate that has held steady for about a decade.

Many historically Black colleges, like Florida A&M University, will be receiving an additional $61 million in funding over the next 10 years because of changes in the student-loan policy established by President Barack Obama. The initiative will cut out middle-men in the loan process saving students and taxpayers’ money, and will also get more money to the schools that need it the most allowing them to decrease class sizes and improve their resources.

Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, Rosa Parks and her brave refusal in 1955 to relinquish her seat on a Montgomery city bus, Fannie Lou Hamer and her courageous stand at a 1968 political convention are stories of courage and commitment, and are among the many featured in Freedom’s Sisters, a collaboration between the Cincinnati Museum Center, Ford Motor Company and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. The exhibit which showcases 20 extraordinary African-American women, starts on July 24 at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum and ends Oct. 3. It closes out the tour at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture in Baltimore, Md., from Oct. 23-Jan. 2, 2011. Organized around four themes–“Dare to Dream,” “Inspire Lives” “Serve the Public” and “Look to the Future”–Freedom’s Sisters is designed especially as an educational tool targeting students with historical simulations and interactive displays to drive home messages and meanings central to each woman’s life.

High amounts of sodium are lurking in many of the foods we eat and not all of the edibles are salty. The American Heart Association reports that the sodium (salt is sodium chloride) in the average American diet is greater than 3,400 mg daily. The recommended daily sodium intake is 2,300 mg for people without a personal or family history of high blood pressure (BP). But the recommended daily amount of sodium for most Black people and those with high BP is 1,500 mg daily. Blacks have higher BP, compared to other groups. Part of the reason is because Blacks have a higher sodium-sensitivity; meaning sodium leads to more water retention and higher BP. Lowering the sodium in your diet can lower your BP and lower your risk for heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure.

Internal Revenue Service Taxpayer Assistance Centers in several Louisiana cities were open last week to provide help to taxpayers impacted by the BP oil spill. Individuals who had questions about the tax treatment of BP payments or who experienced filing or payment hardships because of the oil spill were able to work directly with IRS personnel at any of these locations on Saturday.
IRS staff also assisted oil spill victims by suspending collection and examination actions.

A 21-year-old Reisterstown woman threw her newborn baby out of a window last week. Rebecca Himes of the 100 block of Virginia Ave. gave birth to a baby in the bathroom of her home Thursday, placed the baby into a plastic bag and threw the bag out the window into some bushes. However, the baby was found alive. Yet, the mother was not arrested and has not been charged in the incident.

Springfield police are seeking a warrant for 32-year-old women who tried to kill her 40-year-old ex-boyfriend. The woman walked into his new girlfriend’s north-end apartment and placed a loaded gun to the her ex’s head and pulled the trigger. Luckily, the man ducked and missed the bullet by inches. The police have not yet released the identity of the woman involved.

Steve Vandyke recently jumped into Lake Michigan to rescue 9-year-old Daniel Scheuer, after he saw him and his father’s heads bobbing in the surf. Daniel’s father, 40-year-old Mark Sheuer, was trying to save his son before he drowned. Vandyke says that Mark should be remembered as a hero because, he went in after his son and managed to keep him above water to the point where he could be saved.

A study from the Annie E. Casey Foundation recently reported that Mississippi is ranked the worst for children’s well-being. It ranks the worst nationally in 7 out of 10 categories. Mississippi has the highest percentage of low birth weight babies, infant mortality, child deaths and births to teenagers. They also have the highest percentage of children in families with parents who have no full-time or year-round jobs, and children who live in poverty and single-parent homes.

Mary Jean Price Walls, the first African American applicant to Missouri State University, was denied access four years before Brown v. Board of Education. Now, 60 years later, the school is acknowledging her with an honorary degree and ceremony on July 30 along with the other summer graduates.

North Carolina
Classified Afghan war documents were leaked on Monday. More than 91,000 secret documents were compromised, and this is one of the largest military unauthorized disclosures in history. This has already caused friction with Pakistan over allegations about its spy agency. It also raises questions about Washington’s ability to protect military secrets. The leaks are not expected to affect a $60 billion war funding bill.

South Carolina
Wateree Correctional Institution is a farm where inmates come twice a day to milk cows. The prisoners milk about 200 cows. This operation saves the state thousands of dollars a year. The farm produces beef and eggs. These are foods that the inmates eat in addition to to milk. The inmate’s work holds down expenses since they earn no salaries. Next year the farm plans to open up a $7 million farm that will help them milk 1,000 cows a day.

Caucasian Tennesee Rep. Steve Cohen, in the past has tried to gain membership to the Congressional Black Caucus but was denied access, and at one point the organization actually endorsed his challenger. The tables seemed to be turned now as the caucus is endorsing Cohen and sending him money, helping him to run against well-known Black politician Willie Herenton, in a majority Black district. The CBC PAC’s mission is to increase the number of African-Americans in the U.S. Congress (and) to support non-black candidates who champion CBC interests, said Rep. Gregory Meeks. Apparently Cohen fits the criteria.

A new study by Dr. Ian K. Komenaka, of Wishard Memorial Hospital in Indianapolis, shows that African American women die more frequently from breast cancer than their White counterparts but the problem isn’t the difference in care. Even in cases when both women are uninsured, and go to the same hospitals and get the same care, Black women die at a 26 percent rate while the death rate among non-Hispanic White women is 18 percent. Some social and demographic factors are being investigated but definitive answers to why this is the case, have not been found yet.

UnitedHealthcare is continuing its fight against childhood obesity by transforming family reunion season. While reunions are a time to come together, enjoy family traditions and meet new family; they also are a time for great food and the passing down of old family recipes. The problem is, especially in the Black community, many of these recipes are high in saturated fat and calories and are overall unhealthy. UnitedHealthcare has created the “Generations of Wellness Virtual Reunion” which provides healthy alternatives and nutritional information on popular recipes. The hope is that this season, families will pass down stories and traditions to the younger generation, but not a legacy of obesity.

The NAACP has received death threats after they publically stood up against the racially motivated actions of the Tea Party, by incorporating a new resolution to end them. Since the passing of the resolution the organization has gotten a flurry of letters, protests and phone calls regarding the issue. One voicemail was made public which captured an angry Tea Party supporter calling the NAACP “a bunch of racist n—ers.” The Tea Party still maintains that they do not promote racism.

A new study by the Rochester Medical Center showed that African American newborns are far more likely than White newborns to be screened for prenatal drug exposure. Most neonatal intensive care units (NICU) have guidelines for when they should screen a child, but even with the guidelines set in place there is still a huge discrepancy between the two. More than 35 percent of Black babies were tested in comparison to only 13 percent of White babies. Additionally, results showed that Black babies were less likely to return positive results. Only four percent, compared to the 12 percent positive drug rate in the White babies.