Here’s a look at African American issues and people making headlines throughout the country.
The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) recently announced the winner of its 52nd annual Miss National UNCF competition–Tiffany Renae Donaldson–a sophomore majoring in journalism at Stillman College, one of UNCF’s 39 member institutions, in Tuscaloosa. The competition matches student-led fundraising teams and the winner is the UNCF member-school student whose team raises the most money to benefit UNCF, its students and colleges. This year, under Donaldson’s leadership, students from Stillman College raised a total of $30,108, and she will therefore receive a $3,000 scholarship.
The Inner City Education Foundation (ICEF) has been trumpeted as a leader for closing the achievement gap for African Americans who have been plagued by sub-standard scores and under achievement for years. However at present, the schools in financial peril and approximately 4,500 students may have to find new schools, if money isn’t accumulated to keep the doors open. The school system is critical to the Black community and make up about seven percent of the Black population in Los Angeles Unified School District.
District of Columbia
With Domestic Violence Month already underway, there’s a push locally to bring light to one of the most overlooked issues in the African-American community. Howard University and Prince George’s County are both using different events to address this phenomenon. The university helped launch the Red Flag campaign to address dating violence and promote prevention. The campus was littered with warning signs or “red flags” of abusive relationships in addition to posters highlighting the issue. According to the campaign, young women between the ages of 16-24 have the highest rate of intimate partner violence, while one-fifth of all college women in relationships are being abused.
The second-largest bottler of Coca-Cola products in the nation will pay $495,000 to settle a federal case involving charges of racially discriminatory hiring practices. The Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated will pay the money in back wages plus interest to 95 Black and Hispanic job seekers who applied for sales positions in 2002, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In addition, the bottler has agreed to offer jobs to those applicants until at least 23 are hired. The bottler agreed to the settlement, but admits no wrongdoing in the case, according to a statement provided by Alison Patient, director of corporate affairs at the company.
Rocky Dawuni will appear at the Hawaii Spirit Music Festival-a four-day celebration of yoga, music, movement and Hawaiian culture- Oct. 23 in Oahu. He will perform with an international band including saxophonist Dave Ralicke from Dengue Fever Fame. Dawuni-Ghana’s international music star-has leveraged his popularity within and outside of the continent to champion social causes and inspire a generation of artists and fans alike.
Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has joined in the race seeking the Chicago mayoral seat after incumbent Richard Daley announced he would not seek re-election. Meanwhile the city’s Black ministers, in an effort to zero-in on issues important to the African American community, recently gathered to decide whether they could throw their collective weight behind a single candidate. State Sen. James Meeks was listed among the top possible vote getters in a poll of 100 ministers from Chicago’s South and West sides. Meeks is currently gathering the 12,500 signatures needed to have his name placed on the February ballot. He has also begun fundraising efforts. However, Emanuel comes to the race armed with a $1.75 million war chest, name recognition, a knack for fundraising and is considered a heavyweight contender.
Indiana’s first African-American federal judge, Tanya Walton Pratt, 51, was sworn-in Friday to the U.S. District Court. She has taken the seat once occupied by equal opportunity advocate Hugh Dillin, who is best known for ordering the desegregation of Indianapolis public schools. Pratt earned her bachelor’s degree from Spelman College in Atlanta in 1981 and her law degree from Howard University in Washington in 1984.
Laurie Burkett came in second to Jeff Joyce in the campaign to win a seat on the Monroe City Court. The race resulted in ruthless campaign tactics to get the Black vote. Although neither candidate is Black both campaigns appealed to Black voters, but Burkett had to overcome negative publicity generated by her husband, Shane Smiley, who reportedly routinely votes against Black community issues as president of the Parish Police Jury. Joyce carried all precincts in which the registered voters were more than 95 percent Black. Joyce was unable to fully campaign in any areas because he was at the bedside of his two-year-old daughter who had surgery for cancer during the weeks preceding the campaign. Burkett’s campaign shifted into high gear pulling out the stops to get Black support, despite her husband’s negatives.
Councilwoman Helen Holton, who represents Baltimore’s eighth district, has been removed as chair of the City Council’s Taxation and Finance Committee. Holton pleaded no contest to charges that she violated state campaign finance and election regulations in 2007. For the misdemeanor offense, Holton received one year of unsupervised probation and was ordered to pay a $2,500 fine.
Two sisters locked up now for more than 15 years for stealing $11 have been interviewed by representatives of that state’s parole board, a step their attorney and supporters hope moves them closer to release. Chokwe Lumumba, lawyer for Jamie and Gladys Scott, said the sisters were questioned last month following a rally and a petition to Gov. Haley Barbour calling for their release and clemency. Parole Board Chairman Shannon Warnock said the board is reading trial testimony and reviewing the sentencing guidelines given the jury at the time of the Scott sisters’ trial. Under the current guidelines, Jamie and Gladys Scott would not be eligible for parole until 2014. In 1993, the Scott sisters were two of three teenagers who struck two men in the head with a shotgun and took their wallets. The Scott sisters were convicted of robbery and use of a deadly weapon.
The North Carolina Caucus of Black School Board Members held a public forum to discuss leadership and African American male achievement on the campus of North Carolina Agriculture and Technology State University. Officials from school boards all across the state were at the forum, and shared their opinions on leadership and education. A major concern is the achievement gap for Black male students. The caucus was looking at ways to close that gap, and community leadership emerged as a major theme. In terms of Black male achievement, or the lack thereof, Ralph Mitchell said that Black males become angry very early, starting in kindergarten and circumstances in their lives factor into generating that anger, and whether it’s been diffused, affect students’ academic success.
The Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh recently held an open house to remind the public of the services they offer. The event also commemorated the 100th anniversary of the National Urban League. President Esther Bush also explained that her branch earned a perfect five out of five on a recent performance review conducted by the National Urban League. Still, after listing her branch’s many accomplishments Bush highlighted the still dire conditions in Pittsburgh’s African-American community, with unemployment at the top of the list. She also touched on a recent U.S. Census Bureau report that showed the Pittsburgh region has the highest rate of poverty among working-age African-Americans of any of the 40 largest metropolitan regions in the country. So, in effort to change that, the new league facility comes complete with a slew of conference rooms and private counseling rooms for programs in education and youth development; employment, training and economic empowerment; family growth and child development; housing; and research, public policy and community development.
A book was thrown toward President Barack Obama’s head, during a rally Wednesday in Philadelphia. The book missed the president, and it has not yet been determined what the book was, who threw it, or for what reason. Interestingly enough, Obama seemed not to even notice the incident. As if that wasn’t eventful enough, a man was also arrested for streaking at the rally, admitting that he was hoping to receive a million dollars as part of a publicity stunt.
On Oct. 23, the Freedom Sisters traveling exhibit will reach its ninth and final stop at the Reginald Lewis Museum. The exhibit is a collaboration between the Cincinnati Museum Center and the Smithsonian Institution made possible by a grant from the Ford Motor Company Fund, and highlights the lives of 20 African American women. The life stories of these women, from historical figures to contemporary role models, demonstrate their strength and courage as each fought for equality for all people.