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

The Birmingham Board of education recently incorporated the Excelsior Program, which is a dropout recovery program for people ages 17 to 21 who have dropped out of high school. The program enables students to complete their graduation requirements quicker than they would be able to if they returned to a regular school setting, and at completion, students are granted with a high school diploma rather than a GED. “This is just one part of the district’s multi-pronged effort to reduce dropouts, increase the graduation rate and provide more diverse learning opportunities for students,” said Superintendent Craig Witherspoon. “We must do everything we can to ensure student success.”

Congresswoman Laura Richardson announced that Long Beach Community College (LBCC) has received a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to provide entrepreneur business training for at-risk teens in Compton and the Watts and Willowbrook neighborhoods.” This grant will directly improve the lives of hundreds of teens in Compton and the communities of Watts and Willowbrook by providing young people, who face serious economic and social challenges every day, with the opportunity to learn the skills they need to create careers for themselves and be positive influences in their neighborhoods,” Congresswoman Richardson said.

District of Columbia
After reading an article in Clubhouse Jr. Magazine, second-grader Justice Flora decided to respond to the publication’s summer challenge to collect shoes for those displaced in Haiti. Flora established a goal of 500 pairs of shoes collected by Aug. 15 and with a little help from his parents Justice began sending personalized letters to friends and family members in early July asking for their donations. Through the Flora family-concentrated effort, Justice’s goal was reached quickly. By the time his cutoff date arrived, his summer labor had translated into 1,120 pairs of donated shoes. The youngster’s contribution was substantial enough to place as the largest donation by a single family to the Shoes 2 Share Ministry, the nonprofit organization that sponsored the challenge.

Unemployment concerns dominated conversations during two meetings meant to discuss the county’s proposed 2010-2011 budget this week. County Commissioners Barbara Jordan of District 1 and Dorrin Rolle of District 2 held the meetings to get input from residents. Jordan warned during her meeting at the North Dade Regional Library in Miami Gardens that the budget situation looked bleak.” For the last several years, we have faced very serious budget challenges,” said Jordan. “Even though this budget looks really bleak, you need to ask questions about those things that are important to you.” Due to lower property values and resulting drops in revenue from property taxes, the budget has a $444 million hole. One proposal to help meet the shortfall is to lay off workers, including 193 positions in the Water and Sewer Department and 237 in other departments such as General Services Administration, Finance and the Office of Strategic Business Management. Resident Thelma Brentwood suggested the county close some offices close one day a week or a few days a month as an alternative plan.” It would be nice to keep those jobs and remind our citizens that we are our brother’s keeper,” said Brentwood. “We need to save those jobs, save those people the hardship they would be going through if they lose their jobs.”

Alveda King, Ph.D., daughter of the late Rev. A.D. King and niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is calling for a boycott of the abortion industry as she participated in Fox News personality Glenn Beck’s rally on the National Mall last weekend. On the 47th anniversary of the Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, many Black leaders are accusing Beck and those involved in his “Restoring Honor” rally of dishonoring Dr. King’s legacy of civil rights advocacy. “The Tea Party and allied conservatives are trying to break that national stance on justice and, in turn, break the crux of what the civil rights movement symbolized and what Dr. King fought and literally died for,” said activist Al Sharpton said in a statement.

Thanks to an anticipated $106 million in federal funds the Chicago Public Schools not only plans to rehire teachers but also will not zero out its reserve fund. The Chicago School Board recently approved a $6.4 billion budget, which is $400 million higher than last year. The district’s 2011 budget is greater than the city of Chicago’s $6.3 billion budget for 2010. “The only changes to our budget we presented to the school board last week is how we plan to replenish the reserve fund, maintain high school class sizes and rehiring of teachers,” Diana Ferguson, chief financial officer for CPS, told the Defender. “But all other changes remain intact.” At last week’s school board meeting the public schools CEO Ron Huberman said the district hopes to restore up to 1,300 teaching jobs by Sept. 7, including those high school teachers who lost their jobs due to proposed class size increases.

A 10-year-old girl was killed recently while playing in her Indiana home. The girl was accidentally shot after her mother’s boyfriend was acting carelessly with the gun and it went off, hitting the girl in the torso. The young girl was rushed to a hospital where she died. The boyfriend, 27-year-old Steven Bixler was arrested on preliminary charges of reckless homicide, but has since been released on bond.

A couple that lives together in an apartment and are engaged to be married, but when the man refused to have sex with his partner on religious grounds she tried to strangle him. Monday, police arrested Chitella L. Cleveland, 20, on charges of domestic battery by strangulation. According to police reports, Monday night police were called to the Arkansas Road apartment and were told by the victim that he and his girlfriend had been arguing over sex. He told police that he refused to have sex with her due to his religious beliefs. Cleveland, according to police reports, became very angry and attacked the victim, choking him and biting him on the shoulder. Cleveland told police that she did bite and choke him but she was just playing. She did not give a reason why they were arguing.

Maryland Senator Ulysses Currie has been indicted in federal court on charges that he took bribes from grocery chain Shoppers Food and Pharmacy. The 48-page court document claims Shoppers and Currie conspired to commit certain offenses against the United States. Currie, who chairs the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, has been charged with conspiracy, extortion, mail fraud, making false statements and bribery. Also indicted was Bill White, Shoppers former chief executive, and Kevin Small, a former Shopper’s official.

The St. Louis Department of Health recently announced they have verified the first infection of the West Nile Virus in a human this year. The victim, a 51-year-old North County man, has made a successful recovery from the incident. Infections of the West Nile Virus are rare in humans but can be potentially fatal, especially in cases of children and the elderly.

Tensions have been rising in Minneapolis as Africans Americans and Whites have had numerous disagreements regarding the building of a new dog park. More that 15 percent of the dog owners in the city are African American, and they are all for a new dog park in the area, the controversy is regarding location. It has been suggested that the dog park be built on the already existing Martin Luther King Jr. Park. Most African American looked at even the suggestion of putting a dog park on the same property as a slap in the face to Dr. King, but most Whites were supportive of the idea. Blacks suggested that the $30,000 that would be spent to incorporate a dog park in the property would be better used to build an information trail in the park where at each stop you could read something new about the significant things that Dr. King did and said.

Civil Rights activist and Rainbow/PUSH Coalition founder and president, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. and Rev. D. Alexander Bullock, president of the local Detroit Rainbow/PUSH Chapter and Highland Park Branch NAACP, along with local clergy, have shared their plan to get Michigan residents back to work. The coalition, which also includes the UAW, Detroit NAACP and Urban League, will visit cities across the state including Detroit, Flint, Saginaw and Benton Harbor, delivering the message of the Rebuilding America Jobs, Justice and Peace Campaign. Jackson says there’s a state of emergency in Detroit and called the city ground center for the urban crisis across the country. Jackson says the answer us for citizens to get out and vote. Nov. 2. The last day to register is Oct. 5. “The less than 12 percent that turned out for the [primary] election was disgraceful,” Jackson said.

Police said a Lucedale man has been charged with the unlawful touching of a child after allegedly molesting a 7-year-old boy in a restaurant’s bathroom. Anthony Holland was arrested after the incident which occurred on Aug. 19. Authorities said the boy and his family were eating at a local Lucedale restaurant, when he and his friend went to the bathroom. The young boy told his parents of the incident and Holland was taken into police custody. Holland’s bond was set at $5,000 which he later posted and was released.

North Carolina
The Greensboro Police Department has had a lot of firings lately of African American and Hispanic officers, and the officers believe that they are being subjected to harassment, retaliation, and discrimination stemming from corruption in the department. The department recently swore in new chief Kenneth Miller who has promised that there will be a massive revamping of the way the system works in regards to disciplinary processes, and will give officers more of an opportunity to appeal decisions that they feel are unjust.

Residents and community activists in Columbus recently held a march and rally in order to encourage a ceasefire in their community. So far this year the homicides have reached 75, a devastating increase compared to the 54 homicides that had occurred by this same time last year. The mayor, and numerous religious leaders, marched along Cleveland Avenue with residents holding signs and funeral limousine companies also participated lining the streets with banners reading, “Put the guns down. We don’t want your business that bad.” and “Don’t let this be your next ride to church.” The community hopes that the rally truly gets the message across to the youth.

South Carolina
Shaquan Duley, 29-year-old mother of three, now faces murder charges in the killings of her two young sons. She confessed to the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Department that she suffocated her 2-year-old son Devean Duley and her 18-month-old son Ja’van Duley, before putting them into their carseats and rolling her car into the North Edisto River. Initially Duley lied saying that it was an accident, but confessed after numerous inconsistencies in her story were brought into question such as the fact that her clothes were dry when the police arrived.

The Shelby County Ryan White Program, which provides free primary medical and support services to people living with HIV/AIDS in Shelby and surrounding counties, has launched a new campaign to raise awareness about the program in the Memphis area and to promote treatment. The “Know Now. Live Longer” campaign is part of the Ryan White Minority AIDS Initiative in response to the disproportionate impact of HIV/AID on the area’s African American population. Of the 6,673 people living with HIV/AIDS in the Memphis area, 78.7 percent are African American. “The goal of the campaign is twofold,” said Lisa Krull, Ryan White Program contracts coordinator. “First, we want to educate the community about the services offered by the Ryan White Program. Second, we want to raise awareness that treatment for HIV/AIDS is available and make it possible for those living with the disease to live long, healthy, productive lives.”

There is good news for residents in Milwaukee after a recent Harvard study showed that funding from President Barack Obama’s stimulus package saved 836 families from eviction this year. The study showed that from August 2009–when Community Advocates’ stimulus-funded landlord-tenant mediation programs (which provide financial assistance for rent arrears and case management) began–to March 2010, 836 fewer eviction cases were filed than compared to a year earlier. The comparison showed more than a 15 percent decrease in evictions. Community Advocates distributed a total of $200,000 in eviction assistance aid to eligible clients, 30 percent of the total funding it received through the stimulus.