Here’s a look at African American issues and people making headlines throughout the country.
The second annual Summit on Homelessness in Birmingham and Advocacy Training Institute held August 27-28. This year’s event was designed to bring attention to the civil and human rights injustices perpetuated in Birmingham and also to bring attention to the misplaced priorities of the political will of the city with regard to the implementation of the Birmingham Plan to Prevent and End Chronic Homelessness 2007-2017 specifically the building of permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless was addressed.
Hundreds of African American Compton residents attended Project IMPACT and World Vision’s back-to-school celebration at Compton Community College, where children were given backpacks, pens, pencils, scissors, notebooks and binders, and the opportunity to register for tutoring. They were also given community resource information guides and a free health screening. “This is an event that is all about preparing our children for the future,” said Matt Harris, executive director and founder of Project IMPACT. “It’s a collaborative event that says that we’re just not looking to give out backpacks or a service, but we’re introducing them to community.”
District of Columbia
The Prostate Health Education Network Inc. (PHEN) will put a major focus on enhancing partnerships with churches in the fight against prostate cancer, when it hosts its “sixth annual” African American Prostate Cancer Disparity Summit” September 16 and 17, in Washington, D.C. The summit session on Friday, September 17th at the Washington Convention Center, when is part of the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference, will be entirely devoted to PHEN’s outreach efforts working with Black churches nationwide.
Mary Pat Hector is not your average 12-year-old. She is founder and president of Youth in Action, a Stone Mountain-based organization committed to solving community problems. The group highlights such issues as child abuse and civil rights, while working to overcome youth and gang violence through peer counseling. On Aug. 28, Hector led two busloads of her peers and community activists to Washington, D.C., to celebrate the 47th anniversary of the historic March on Washington. “A lot of people are forgetting the dream, and I think it’s very important for youth to get out there and honor his dream,” said Hector.
“Spice” or “K2,” is legally sold in stores as incense, but lawmakers in Baltimore County are taking action to get it off the market. County officials will vote in October on whether to ban the substance and make its possession and sale illegal. Baltimore County Councilman Kevin Kamenetz said he plans to introduce legislation in September and that he has support from other council members, parents, and local business owners. Under Kamenetz’s proposal anyone caught distributing or in possession of “spice” and similar compounds would face misdemeanor charges, a $500 fine and 60 days in jail. When “spice” is smoked they produce similar effects to THC-the active ingredient in marijuana-in the brain.
A consortium of law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal levels held a town hall meeting at Fellowship Chapel to focus on how to build better relationships between communities and police agencies. Rev. Wendell Anthony, head of the Detroit Branch NAACP and pastor of Fellowship Chapel, was moderator. Special Agent Tom Brandon of the U.S. Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said, “This department has been working diligently to get dangerous weapons and contraband off the streets to improve the quality of life for Detroiters.” Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee added, “The department wants to reduce crime, but we don’t want to do it at the expense of disrespecting our community. Any person who thinks that’s a soft way of policing, they’re totally misguided.”
A plan that would let Pioneer Consulting Company set water and sewer rates was denied by the Monroe City Council. The council killed an ordinance that would have authorized Mayor James E. Mayo to contract with Pioneer to study the city’s water and sewer fees, make a report and set a rate commensurate with its findings. Southside council members, led by Arthur Gilmore complained that the proposal would leave minorities vulnerable. “They are looking at numbers, I’m looking at humanity,” said Gilmore who believed minorities would adversely be impacted by rate increases.
News that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority was looking to raise its $89 monthly unlimited Metro Card to $130 rocked the city this week. MTA reported that the agency faced a deficit of $900 million in 2010 and it is imperative to increase revenue due to the cuts in state assistance and a dramatic downturn in tax revenue. MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan added, “Given the magnitude of the shortfall, we have had to take a series of extremely painful actions.” These painful actions come at a dear cost to the commuters of the state and those who rely on the subways and buses for transportation. He stated that the $130 price tag was not etched in stone.
A North Carolina woman, Carla Robinson, says she found racist comments printed on a pizza delivery receipt and now claims to be receiving harassing phone calls. She ordered a pizza from Domino’s recently, and when her niece checked the receipt, she found the “N” word written on it, followed by “Don’t Tip.” The owner of the nearby Domino’s Pizza where the Robinson ordered from formally apologized for the incident. “I’m horrified this occurred,” Pat O’Leary said. “Upon learning of the incident, the general manager of the store fired the responsible person immediately. Local authorities are currently investigating the case because the motives behind the incident remain uncertain.
When Marian Peters attends Penn State this year, she will be following in her sister’s footsteps. Not only is she attending the same university, but she is also the recipient of a $1,000 Clean Slate Scholarship presented by the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh. Peters was one of 10 scholars who received the scholarship this year as part of the authority’s E3 Program. Clean Slate E3 is a nonprofit subsidiary funded by private donations, employee contributions and the authority’s annual charity golf classic. The scholarship program is designed to reward minority students who maintain good grades and set an example for their peers.
Police say long-shot Democratic Senate candidate Alvin Greene was kicked out of a South Carolina restaurant after his companion got into a fight with people eating there. Oconee County Democratic Party officials had asked Greene to speak at their monthly meeting over the weekend in Seneca but rescinded the invitation, after Greene was indicted Aug. 13 on a felony charge of showing pornography to a college student. Seneca Police Chief John Covington said that Greene showed up anyway and the woman with him got into an argument with people at the restaurant. Party officials called police, who kicked out the pair and ended the party’s meeting. No charges were filed.
A disturbing report released recently, stated that only 47 percent of Black males graduated from high school in the 2007-2008 school year. “Yes We Can: The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males 2010,” also noted that its findings should set off alarm bells regarding how many Black males read at or above the proficiency level. Using the eighth grade level as a measuring stick, Kentucky and New Jersey were the states with the highest scores at a dismal 15 percent of students hitting the target. Several states only had five percent.
For more than 10 years, thousands of Black farmers have been denied justice and a share of a $1.25 billion government settlement as compensation for decades of discrimination in federal farm loan programs. Many have lost their farms waiting. And on August 5th the Senate prolonged the wait by, once again, failing to appropriate the funds. The legislative body is stuck in a stalemate over the Black farmers’ settlement due to concern over how it will be financed. President Barack Obama included money for the settlement in his current budget and the House of Representatives approved the funds in July. But the Senate has repeatedly refused to add its stamp of approval. John Boyd Jr., president of the National Black Farmers Association said, “It shows that some of the same treatment that happened to the Black farmers at the Department of Agriculture is transpiring with the Senate’s inaction to help Black farmers.”
Wyclef Jean, the Hip Hop artist who has been shaking things up since he announced his bid to run for president of his poverty stricken home country, Haiti, recently got the news that he will not be able to run because he did not meet the residency requirements of living in the country five consecutive years before running. Jean was initially optimistic about his chances, feeling that being named a roving ambassador by current president Rene Preval would make him eligible to run. The Haiti electoral council felt differently.
Faith Evans, Grammy-winning R&B artist and widow of Christopher Wallace, better known as the Notorious B.I.G, was arrested recently on suspicion of misdemeanor drunken driving. Evans’ car was impounded, and she was held for a few hours before being released on bail. Some skepticism has arisen because some believe the incident was to generate buzz around the artist, who will soon have a reality series in production and has a new album scheduled to release in October.
Biracial director Carolyn Battle Cochran, has just released a groundbreaking documentary, “Biracial, Not Black, Damn It!” which chronicles the lives and opinions of men, women, and children who struggle with their identity, and are constantly pushed into one group (Black), where they don’t necessarily feel they best fit. The documentary strives to change “one-drop” thinking, and even calls out President Barack Obama to outwardly accept his “biracialness.”
Young leaders from across the country recently joined Tavis Smiley, Antwone Fisher and Grammy-winning gospel artist Erica Campbell from Mary Mary for five days of leadership training, community service, and an opportunity to spread awareness about prevention of youth obesity. The theme of the conference was “Never Too Young to Change the World,” and was held at UCLA. The program chose 150 students from 16 states based on their academic achievement, leadership ability, essay entry, and a letter of recommendation.
The Association of Christ-based Clergy, Counselors, Educators, and Education Systems (A3CEES) recently held the nation’s first Christian Women Seminary to recognize the contributions of women to the church and to provide support to those preparing for church leadership “A lot has changed in the 40 years that I have been in-tuned to ministry. The clergy-circles who were staunchly against a women speaking publicly have softened. Now, some believe women can speak, but not lead men. However, I have found biblically that women must lead, when men are incapacitated, irresponsible, insistent, or by God’s incredibility,” said A3CEES Senior Ministry Leader and Christian educator Steven DavidSon, who said he truly believes in the principles that call women to lead.
Don Abram Harris owner of Don Abram Harris Cigars LLC recently landed a huge contract with the Navy Exchange, which is a United States Military retail store to sell cigars. The Don Abram Harris Cigar line was first introduced at the 76th annual International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) Trade Show in Las Vegas in 2008. Since then, the line has rapidly gained popularity and the brand is growing nationally. Don Abram Harris Cigars is owned by the first African American cigar manufacturer in the United States.