Here’s a look at African American issues and people making headlines throughout the country.
The Democratic candidates for the United States Senate, Blanche Lincoln and Bill Halter, believe Black voters could decide their race, and both are conducting an uncommonly intense campaign in the Black community in the concluding days before the election. Huge numbers of union workers supporting Halter are going out into primarily Black cities in East Arkansas trying to influence any remaining undecided voters. Meanwhile, Lincoln and her associates are blanketing the airwaves ahead of Tuesday’s election with ads reminding voters of President Barack Obama’s support of the current senator. In mainly Black towns such as West Memphis, union organizers were handing out Halter literature at African Americans’ homes as Obama’s voice endorsing Lincoln was blaring from the radio.
Edward (Eddie) Nelson has been named one of the most in-shape 70-year-old men in the world. The Washington D.C. native says his goal in life is reflecting a healthy lifestyle for the human body. In his book, “Old School Workout,” he talks about his health routine and what he wants out of it. He also gives tips and advice on how to maintain a healthy body. He became more active at the age of 64, while working out at the World Gym. Besides his gym workouts, Nelson also does public speaking and appearances. His most recent trip was to Los Angeles, Calif. with Mike Torchia, head of “Shaping Up America.” Nelson also actively competes each year in the Jacksonville Senior Olympic Games for the javelin, hammer, and discus. He holds the world record for doing the most wide-arm pull-ups with a 45-pound plate tied to his waist, which is in “Ripley’s Believe it or Not.”
Gov. Sonny Perdue announced recently that three new Georgia broadband projects, to provide high-speed Internet service to homes and businesses in rural areas, will receive almost $13 million in federal funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Windstream Corporation received two of the three awards. The first award is $6.9 million and will be matched with an additional $2.3 million in outside funds, according to a news release. Windstream plans to expand its broadband network to 29,000 people, 750 businesses and 50 other community institutions in North Georgia. A second award of $5.1 million will be matched with $1.7 million from Windstream to bring broadband services to 44,000 people, 2,000 businesses and 120 community institutions. Blue Ridge Telephone Company gets $853,768 to provide broadband to its service area, benefiting 1,000 people and 16 businesses. The company is matching the award with $284,590.
The fish Louisiana residents have been eating may taste fine, but many are wondering, was it adequately tested for the dispersant COREXIT, which was used by BP to break oil into smaller pieces. Seafood inspections since the spill have been mostly sniff tests for oil. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, however, say new dispersants tests for seafood are in the works and should be ready soon. Fish in local markets were classified safe to eat by the United States Food and Drug Administration in mid-July. Since then, eating shrimp or snapper has required a leap of faith by many Louisiana residents.
Detroit residents Hollis and Kim Smith recently opened a market that is beginning to attract the attention of Detroit shoppers who are hungry for fresh food. Kim’s Produce market sells locally grown fruits and vegetables. In addition to daily morning trips to Eastern Market, where they get their produce, the Smiths are buying produce grown within the city limits. They have recently added chicken wrap sandwiches made-to-order, salads, and fruit cups made daily for clients.
Black stars such as Chuck Berry and rapper Nelly performed this past weekend to entertain hundreds of people in order to promote St. Louis as the destination for the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Cedric the Entertainer and rapper Chingy made appearances as well, along with a who’s who of political heavyhitters and East St. Louis’ Olympic great Jackie Joyner Kersee. African American Country singer Wild Bill Young, rapper Yung Ro and R&B rising star Bradd Young also provided entertainment.
Monique Johnson was diagnosed with one of the rarest forms of dwarfism called Diastrophic Dysplasia Dwarfism yet this limitation has not stopped her from accomplishing what she wishes. The 24-year-old is an amazing and talented artist. Only two feet tall, she uses a motorized wheelchair to get around, and is a graduate from North Carolina Agriculture & Technical State University and is currently enrolled in the Elon University School of Law. Johnson wanted to use her art as a way of giving back so she held an art show recently giving a portion of the proceeds to charity.
Cleveland Clinic recently broke ground for a $75 million building to house the hospital’s Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Institute and Cleveland Clinic Laboratories, a project that will improve medical testing capabilities and create hundreds of new jobs. The Carnegie Avenue facility will offer state-of-the-art testing. “The new building will feature state-of-the-art laboratories for testing of tissues and other samples to help the medical community detect, diagnose and treat diseases,” Kandice Kottke-Marchant, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Institute. “This will allow us to provide critical pathology and lab testing services to Cleveland Clinic patients and other healthcare institutions throughout the country. The lab will attract new business opportunities through our reference laboratory, Cleveland Clinic Laboratories, and fuel development of better, faster tests.”
Arson fires broke out recently in seven buildings within a couple blocks of one another, destroying a Black church, heavily damaging another one, and doing lesser damage to five vacant houses. “All of them have been intentionally set,” said Mayor Tom Pedigo of Sparta. No injuries were reported in the fires, which broke out just before 5 a.m. As firefighters arrived to fight one fire, they looked down the street and the other church was fully involved. No arrests have been made but the mayor said authorities are pursuing some tips. Roberts Street Church of Christ was destroyed while Kynette United Methodist Church was heavily damaged. About five percent of Sparta’s 5,000 residents are Black, according to census figures. “I think as far as the total community is concerned, I don’t see any racial implications to it,” Pedigo said. “We’re searching all avenues we can.” Besides Sparta police, the FBI, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and White County Sheriff’s Department are also investigating.
A dozen suspected drug dealers have been arrested in Floyd County this week, and Prestonsburg City police say more arrests are coming. The arrests are part of a six-month undercover investigation. One of the arrested is Rachel Wallen, who investigators say was selling Oxycodone and Percocet from her home. “We just want to take a real aggressive approach here in Prestonsburg,” Detective Trint Combs said. Police also arrested Ricky Stanley, Linda Wood, and Jodi Carroll at their homes. Investigators claim they were selling HydroCodone and other pills. There were several investigations going on from street level to out-of-state drug trafficking, and Prestonsburg police say these arrests will make the neighborhoods safer. “That’s the ultimate goal of the police department, and the initiative we took, is if you’re in Prestonsburg and you’re selling narcotics, eventually it’s going to come around and we’re going to find out about it and we’re going to do something about it,” added Combs.
More than 50,000 members of Alpha Phi Alpha from across the U.S. and around the world will begin implementing new plans to improve local communities after holding their 104th annual convention in Las Vegas recently. They discussed a number of issues affecting the African American community, and brainstormed ideas on how to make improvements. Particularly of note, the fraternity agreed to build an academy in earthquake-torn Haiti, to help educate young people there.
President Barack Obama signed legislation last week narrowing the longstanding federal sentencing disparities between those caught with crack cocaine and those arrested with powder cocaine. The Fair Sentencing Act unanimously passed in the Senate in March and was approved by the House last week. The reform also eliminates the mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession of crack cocaine. Critics have long said that the old law disproportionately affects young African American and Hispanic drug users. Under the old law, a person caught with five grams of crack received a mandatory sentence of five years in prison, while a person caught with powder cocaine had to have 500 grams to get the same term.