Here’s a look at African American people and issues making headlines throughout the country.
The South Region Minority Supplier Development Council (SRMSDC) recently named George Perdue Jr. as its president. SRMSDC is an affiliate of the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), and is located in Birmingham. Perdue brings more than 30 years of legislative, management, financing, contract writing, grant writing, supply chain and procurement, and minority business development experience to SRMSDC, and has served as both chair and past chair of the SRMSDC board of directors.
District of Columbia
President Barack Obama recently signed H.R. 6118 into law. It names the United States Postal Service office located on Massachusetts Avenue in northeast D.C. after civil rights pioneer Dorothy Height. “This bill, (marks) the first time a federal building in the nation’s capital has been named for an African American woman, and is cause for celebration,” Eleanor Holmes Norton said in a statement. “Dorothy Height was an icon for social justice who lived here, and the Congress has recognized that she deserves a visible place of honor and distinction in the nation’s capital. Renaming the post office next to Union Station will remind D.C. and the nation alike of the achievements of one of America’s great women.”
Savannah State University (SSU) President Earl G. Yarbrough Sr., Ph.D. has named Marilynn Stacey-Suggs as director of Intercollegiate Athletics effective at the start of 2011. Suggs, who has served as interim director of Intercollegiate Athletics since early January, will be responsible for all matters related to managing Savannah State’s 16 NCAA Division I sport teams for men and women including budgeting; compliance with university system of Georgia and NCAA policies and rules; and fundraising for programmatic needs. Prior to serving as interim director of athletics, Suggs was SSU’s assistant athletics director/senior women’s administrator, a position she held since 2008. Yarbrough’s announcement, made during an afternoon media conference at Tiger Arena, ended a four-month, nation-wide search that attracted more than 50 applicants for the director position.
Rep. Elijah Cummings was recently named ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform for the 112th Congress by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “I am honored by the trust shown in me by my Democratic colleagues,” Cummings said in a statement. “Oversight and Government Reform will be a committee of great importance over the next two years, as we continue to seek the causes and solutions of our economic downturn as we attempt to stem the tide of fraudulent foreclosures in America and as we ensure our citizens’ money is spent effectively and efficiently by the Federal Government.” The committee is the primary investigative committee in the House. It has the authority to investigate any federal program and any matter that affects federal policy. As ranking member, Cummings will now become the highest ranking Democrat on the committee putting him in a difficult position as Republicans take control of the House in the new session.
Harrison County motorist Christopher Adams, 33, was killed recently when he lost control of his motorcycle on Interstate 10, near the Harrison-Jackson County line. Reports allege that the victim drove into a blocked-off construction zone before abruptly hitting a section of uneven pavement. As a result, Adams was thrown into the open lanes, and subsequently hit by two separate vehicles. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Adams is the second motorcyclist killed on I-10 recently. On Dec. 10, Danny Lee Lindsay, 62, of Moss Point , perished after being catapulted from his Harley-Davidson, and then struck by a vehicle near Big Point Road.
The National Black Tourism Network (NBTN) looks ahead to January, when they will commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. “We’re having a slave sale on the courthouse steps,” said network representative Angela da Silva to the St. Louis American newspaper. “This will be the very first event of the sesquicentennial.” The NBTN, National Parks Service and other community partners will stage a period re-enactment of a slave auction on the west Broadway steps of the Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis. Da Silva will portray one of the seven slaves sold on auction at the re-enactment on Jan. 15. The other actors and actresses playing slaves are veterans of the Mary Meacham Freedom Crossing event, held by the NBTN every May. The cast will also include a slave auctioneer, buyers and abolitionists. “We will have orphan children being sold, and husbands separated from wives,” da Silva warned. “We want people to understand the travails Black people endured for over 250 years. This was a commercial venture. There was no humanity in it.”
The 16th and Ridge Avenue Property Owners Association (RAPOA) and the Francisville Neighborhood Development Corporation have announced the start of construction for the Vineyards and Francis Village Marketplace. The residential and commercial space aims to revitalize the community. The Vineyards development will consist of 20 green, three-family townhomes. The project, which is led by a group of African-American real estate developers, was born from the challenge of achieving sustainable economic diversity in a predominately low-income neighborhood.
The Rhode Island Black Heritage Society was founded in 1975 to preserve and collect historical materials relating to the state’s African American community but was closed in 2009 due to the recession. Founders Al Klyberg, Joyce Stevos, and Michael Van Leesten have joined forces with the society’s former presidents and board of directors in a massive effort to revive the organization that was once rated as having one of the nation’s finest collections of African American history. The organization plans to launch a membership drive and find a new facility. The society also plans to implement a fundraising strategy that will help them increase their resources. “The former society leaders that comprise our committee are excited to embark on this collaborative effort,” said Ray Rickman, former president. “We are driven by the motive to instill a better understanding of African American tradition, values, and history; all of which have significance to Rhode Islanders regardless of race and ethnicity.”
In recognition of Beatrice Taylor McKnight, one of South Carolina’s civil rights and community leaders the Columbia Urban League has renamed its annual Christmas food giveaway, which feeds 350 elderly families every year, in her hand. James T. McLawhorn Jr., president and CEO of the organization said that with the recent passing of McKnight, a South Carolina icon it is only befitting to recognize the contributions Mrs. McKnight made to help improve the lives of thousands of people. She dedicated most of her life to serving others and for nearly 30 years, worked diligently to make sure poor people in communities throughout the city and beyond had food to eat during the Christmas holiday, he said.
The Lee County Grand Jury will decide the fate of 23-year-old Anthony Turner, who is set to appear in court next month on rape charges. Turner was arrested on Nov. 14, when he reportedly lured a female victim to a church parking lot and sexually assaulted her. Plantersville Police Chief Maury Schuh said the victim was acquainted with Turner and offered to give him a ride before the alleged assault. “She’d known him,” he added. “But she hadn’t seen him in several years. It was early morning, about 3 a.m., and they met up and she gave him a ride. He directed her to a church parking lot on Shannon Street, so he could get out there. And that’s where [the rape] occurred. “Authorities say the victim managed to break free from Turner, but was recaptured after being denied assistance by Turner’s relatives, whose residence she ran to for help. “That’s what she said,” Schuh continued. “The people refused to help her. When they first got to the parking lot, [Turner] attempted to rape her, but she managed to get free. And when he caught up with her afterwards that’s when he actually committed the (assault).” Turner was arrested later that day near the scene of the alleged crime, and taken into custody without incident. Turner remains behind bars and the case is still under investigation.
Washington County resident Ricktavion Richardson has recently been charged with arson and attempted murder, after burning down his ex-girlfriend Deidra Simmons’ home with her still in it. Police believe Richardson started a fire at the reside residence that Simmons shares with her current boyfriend Anthony Gray who told police Richardson had threatened to burn the house down before, and on the night of the fire, suspected Richardson’s involvement. The house was completely destroyed. Prior to the fire, Richardson reportedly broke into the residence and stole several personal items and car keys to both Gray’s and Simmons’ vehicles. He was also charged for this. Richardson is currently in jail awaiting his first court appearance.
The Wisconsin Wins (WI Wins) program prevents tobacco sales to minors, and through the Wisconsin African American Tobacco Prevention Network (WAATPN), it recently completed 373 compliance checks in the City of Milwaukee; of those there were 44 tobacco sales to minors. In 2002 to comply with federal law, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services created WI Wins to reduce the number of sales to minors. At that time, sales to minors represented 33 percent of all tobacco sales in the state. Governor Doyle recently announced that sales to minors are now down to 4.7 percent. For some cities and counties the percentages are higher. In the City of Milwaukee, the 44 retailers that sold to minors represent 8.5 percent of the city’s tobacco sales.
As part of President Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, he vowed to end the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy governing homosexuality disclosure in the military. The Senate voted 65 to 31 to pass the measure. The DREAM Act, which would have laid out a path to citizenship for hundreds of thousands illegal immigrants through higher education or military service, failed to reach the Senate floor for debate. The Senate voted 55 to 41 to move the bill forward, but fell five votes shy of the 60 votes needed to bring it to the Senate floor for debate. Obama and democrats also won a victory on the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) which will establish new guidelines between the U.S. and Russia for inspection of nuclear weapons, and limit the stockpiles the two countries would be allowed to keep to 1,550 warheads and 700 launchers each.