Here’s a look at African American issues and people making headlines through-out the country.
Birmingham Health Care and Dr. Edwin Moyo recently announced the opening of Moyo Ensley Health Center. Birmingham Health Care has served Jefferson County and Birmingham, Alabama for more than 25 years in health care. The center held an celebratory opening for the residents in the community, complete with free dental screenings, diabetes testing, and blood pressure checks.
Stray bullets hit a gas meter and the inside of an occupied apartment in south Sacramento County recently, said a spokesman for the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. Nobody was hurt, but three children, and an adult were asleep in the apartment when the shooting occurred. The shooting occurred at an apartment complex in the 7400 block of Power Inn Road about 4 a.m. A resident of the apartment said she heard three shots from outside her apartment. One bullet went through her bathroom and bedroom doors. Another round hit a gas meter, causing a small leak that has been fixed.
District of Columbia
Alleging that Mayor Adrian Fenty’s administration wanted a “different kind of workforce” in place at the Child and Family Services Agency, nine of its former workers recently filed a class action lawsuit charging that their terminations were laced with race and age discrimination. There was a pattern of dismissing primarily Black employees, all over age 40. Prospects in line for the new, mostly paraprofessional, jobs now also had to have a bachelor’s degree, which he said discounted the experience of people who had already been doing the work. However, George Johnson, executive director of the AFSCME District 20 Council, described the reduction in force (RIF) as a hoax to disguise the CFSA and Fenty’s administration’s obsession with shifting the city workforce in a direction that increasingly marginalizes African-American workers. The lawsuit, filed on Sept. 13 in U. S. District Court, charges that when CFSA sent out 91 RIF letters dated May 6, all but two were addressed to African Americans, although they had performed their duties satisfactorily. It further states CFSA misread federal guidelines regarding the requirement of college degrees for certain jobs – and that paraprofessionals, in this instance, are not held to such restrictions.
Three men have filed lawsuits this week accusing Bishop Eddie Long of exploiting his role as pastor of an Atlanta-area mega church to coerce them into sexual relationships when they were young members of his congregation. The men who filed the first two lawsuits were 17- and 18-year-old members of Long’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, when they say Long abused his spiritual authority to seduce them with cars, money, clothes, jewelry, international trips and access to celebrities. When asked about a possible motive for the accusations, Gillen, Long’s attorney, referred to a break-in at Long’s office in June. Bernstein, the plaintiff’s attorney, said one of the plaintiffs is facing a burglary charge in the incident. She said the break-in was a way of lashing out at Long. Bernstein said she contacted the U.S. Attorney’s Office earlier this month when she became aware of the young men’s allegations. She did not know what action, if any, the agency planned to take.
A federal appeals court in Chicago has rejected U.S. Sen. Roland Burris’ bid to run in a special election for his seat. The special election will decide who serves the final two months of the term. Burris was appointed to the seat after Barack Obama became president. Burris isn’t seeking a full Senate term in November, but he is challenging a federal court’s decision to limit the special election to candidates running for a full U.S. Senate term. The Chicago Democrat contends that the decision unfairly disenfranchises other candidates for the short-term vacancy, but the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Burris’ argument.
There are 17 eighth grade students in the Monroe City Schools who are nearly 17 years old, have failed repeatedly, can barely read and are becoming a problem on junior high campuses. Three junior high principals put their heads together and came up with a plan to move them off of their campuses into their own, one room school. That was the plan pitched to the Monroe City School Board Tuesday night by Superintendent Kathleen Harris who wants to spend nearly $250,000 to set the students up with their own private instruction to try to salvage their educational prospects. Harris’ plan was reported to the board and was received well until someone asked the question, “How much will this cost?” Trying to sell her idea Harris said the principals, along with her senior staff, sent names of the “neediest” students to participate in the program that would be housed on the Career Development Campus.
National Law Group (NLG) recently made history as they are the first and only Black-owned coalition of law firms that offers legal services to customers nationwide. Recently launched, the company is made up entirely of talented and experienced Black lawyers that have collectively won more than $50 million in verdict settlements. They have nearly 100 years in combined experience. They offer their clients (individuals and families) affordable representation in nearly every legal area including: Racial Discrimination, Gender Discrimination, Age Discrimination, Family Law (Divorce, Child Support, Child Custody), Personal Injury, Criminal Defense, Bankruptcy, Wrongful Death, Medical Malpractice, and more. They are a full-service, one-shop stop. Via their online presence at www.BlackLawyers.net their goal is to especially help African Americans because of the limited availability of legal assistance and resources that is common in urban communities.
The Detroit Public School district is investigating an assault on a Southeastern High School student by a DPS police officer, according to DPS spokesperson Steve Wasko. Eleventh grader Shawanna Elmore, a special education student Southeastern, was allegedly rough-handled by officer C. Green when she was waiting at the corner of the campus for her cousin to be picked up. Green claimed that she told Elmore to get off of the corner three times and reacted when she didn’t comply, while Elmore claimed she never heard the officer say anything until she was being slammed up against a patrol car. Elmore’s family contacted the principal about the situation but Green has not been removed from the school resulting in the disable youngster being traumatized about attending school each day. The family is planning to file a lawsuit against the district.
Preston Hood Chevrolet recently agreed to pay a total of $120,000 to settle two employment discrimination lawsuits, one for sexual harassment and one for race harassment. According the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Preston Hood subjected a class of female employees to harassment based on their sex and forced one employee to quit. In the race harassment lawsuit, the car dealership subjected an African American male to harassment based on his race. Lisa Battaglia, Rebecca Gonzalez and a class of former female employees alleged they were subjected to sexually explicit, provocative and insulting language, pornographic material and unwelcome sexual advances. The women will split $85,000. Rickey Hayes claims he was subjected to racial slurs and racially derogatory language. He will receive $35,000. In both cases the employees reported that they complained to management but no corrective action was taken.
The fight for fair testing and hiring practices within the Official Fire Department City of New York (FDNY) continues as the city now refuses to hire new firefighters and rejected options to revamp the current test that was proposed by Federal District Court Judge Nicholas Garaufis, who ruled that the test was unfair because it was biased against minority candidates and does not successfully establish a difference between qualified and unqualified candidates. The court gave the city the opportunity to chose from among five options that involved hiring individuals who had passed the 2007 entrance exam until such time that a new test is created. The judge, recognizing the city’s hiring needs, determined that the city could do interim hiring, as long as it was done in a non-discriminatory manner. This was supported by the Vulcan Society, the professional association of Black firefighters. The city however has rejected all five of Judge Garaufis’ proposals, deeming them to be illegal, race-based quotas, choosing instead to delay the hiring of some 300 firefighters and increase overtime for current firefighters at an estimated cost of $2 million.
Dallas Police Chief David Brown is handling the latest case of brutality towards a Black male at the hands of White police officers. At a recent town hall meeting organized by the Dallas chapter of the National Black United Front and the New Black Panther Party, Chief Brown announced that one officer has been fired and four others are under investigation. Brown spoke in detail to the audience about decisions regarding the case where police dashboard cameras showed motorcyclist Andrew Collins beaten by Dallas police officers. The entire incident was recorded by the camera that is stationed in the dashboard of police vehicles.
For more than 15 years, Carnegie Mellon University has hosted the Center for African American Urban Studies and the Economy (CAUSE) Speaker Series. This year at the opening reception local historians received recognition for their dedication to uncovering the history of Black Pittsburgh. “The real reason we’re here tonight is to present awards of appreciation to historians of the African American experience,” said Joe Trotter, director and Giant Eagle professor of history and social justice. (The Giant Eagle Foundation established the professorship to support and outstanding faculty member in Carnegie Mellon’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences). “Today is a good time to come together in fellowship.” The CAUSE Speaker Series introduces the public to African American culture throughout history and as it relates to current events. Led by Carnegie Mellon professors and scholars as well as those from other universities across the country, the series tackles subjects related not only to the African American experience in America, but globally as well.
The Goodwill Development Association will hold their third annual silent auction and banquet this weekend to support the Aridell Mitchell and Teen Parent Home which provides stable and safe living environment for teen parents in the Greater Seattle Area. The program also helps teen mothers to get their GED, transition to permanent housing and help to support their families. The first host of BET’s 106 & Park and founder of the Free4Life Foundation, Marie “Free” Wright will be the keynote speaker.
The NAACP and Starbucks have partnered to launch the One Nation Spoken Word Showcase Tour, a youth empowerment tour that will travel to Chicago, New York City, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Houston and Washington DC. In each city, the tour will bring a number of activities for young people to get involved, including empowerment seminars at local high schools and colleges, with a focus on positive self development and human rights using a fusion of poetry, the spoken word, theater, hip hop music and culture; youth-led community service projects; and a spoken word showcase featuring local youth talent. In most cities, the spoken word showcase will be held in a local Starbucks store, underscoring the NAACP and Starbucks’ commitment to the community.
U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan recently awarded $7.4 million to 10 historically Black colleges and universities to help revitalize neighborhoods, promote affordable housing and stimulate economic development in their communities. The funding is provided through HUD’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Program. Donovan made the announcement to the Congressional Black Caucus’ Annual Legislative Conference in Washington.
A new effort led by the National College Access Network (NCAN) and the USC Rossier School of Education’s Center for Urban Education (CUE), will try to align college access programs with student achievement goals at two Boston high schools. The objective for the Kresge Foundation-funded initiative is to expand the pool of college-eligible high school students of color by improving the quality of college access programs and integrating these efforts with the schools’ academic goals. Program administrators are often unaware of the students they serve and whether the services are helping students improve their grades and fulfill the course requirements for college admission. Only 35 percent of Boston Public Schools’ college-bound graduates from the class of 2000 had actually earned degrees by 2007. Tia Brown McNair, assistant director for NCAN, the grant recipient, says the funding will provide her advocacy organization with the resources to increase the effectiveness of college access programs.
The Senate should act immediately to fund the Black farmers discrimination settlement, said John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association just days after marching with more than 100 Black farmers to Capitol Hill, where key members of the Senate and House of Representatives echoed their call. Joining Boyd at the press conference were Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Kay Hagan (D-NC) as well as Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) the Chairperson of the Congressional Black Caucus, Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), and Bobby Scott (D-VA). “I am told that bipartisan efforts continue in good faith – compromise on offsets are needed now to get this done this week,” said Boyd. “Even as the partisan election period nears, the strong commitment we have from both parties to get this issue resolved this week is evidence that on critical issues our leaders can still come together.”