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

As the finale of the first season of Fox’s new hit talent competition show (The X-Factor) came and went, America named British Virgin Islands singer Melanie Amaro as the show’s first winner. With the win comes a $5-million recording contract with Sony. Amaro will also star in a new Pepsi commercial. She beat out other crowd favorites Josh Krajcik and Chris Rene to take home the coveted title. After receiving the news, Amaro fell to her knees to thank God while fighting back tears.

Mariah Carey announced on Twitter Wednesday that her husband, rapper and actor Nick Cannon, is in an Aspen hospital suffering from what she called mild kidney failure. “Please pray for Nick as he’s fighting to recover from a mild kidney failure,” the singer tweeted. On her website, Carey posted a photo of herself lying in a hospital bed with Cannon, 31. “We’re trying to be as festive as possible under the circumstances, but please keep Nick in your thoughts because this is very painful,” she wrote in a message on the site. This is the couple’s first visit to a hospital since delivering their twins Moroccan and Monroe in April.

District of Columbia
The memorial service for Ofield Dukes, the veteran Washington public relations adviser to presidents, civil rights leaders, and elected officials, who died Dec. 7, has been moved to Jan. 13 at noon at the Shiloh Baptist Church, 1500 Ninth St., NW Washington. Confirmed attendees include Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray; former Mayor Sharon Pratt; representatives of the Congressional Black Caucus; Dorothy Leavell, executive director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, and former Labor Secretary Alexis Herman. Dukes operated his PR firm, Ofield Dukes & Associates, for more than four decades in the nation’s capital. For more information, contact (202) 302-2271 or

Since Pastor Zachery Tims died suddenly in August, questions had abounded about who would take over the 8,000-member megachurch he co-founded with ex-wife Riva Tims. Apparently, Pastor Paula White has become the new senior pastor of New Destiny Christian Center, and she assumed her new role when she led the church’s annual New Year’s Eve services on Saturday. Pastor White was selected after an exhaustive search conducted by the NDCC board of directors in close cooperation with the church’s board of regents, according to Gospel Today magazine. White’s focus will be on preaching and ministering to the church family. Tims, however, has led a band of supporters protesting the appointment, claiming that she is the rightful successor to the pastorate of New Destiny.

For the fourth consecutive year, Allstate Insurance Co. is paying tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by encouraging individuals to volunteer in their communities on MLK Day 2012 (Jan. 16) through its Give Back Day program ( Rodney Peete, former NFL quarterback and co-founder of the HollyRod Foundation, is helping launch the program along with four outstanding community heroes who are recognized as leading volunteers in their communities. Peete and the four heroes will be guiding Give Back Day activities in their home cities with Allstate. The four individuals who have been named as 2012 Allstate Give Back Day Heroes are: Joyce Calvin, Chicago; Robert Cradle, Baltimore; John Darjean, Dallas; and Alexandria Phillips, Atlanta. On behalf of the Give Back Day Heroes, Allstate is making a donation of $2,500 to a charity of each hero’s choice. The heroes will attend the King Center’s “Salute to Greatness” Awards in Atlanta on Jan. 14, for a celebration of individuals and organizations who exemplify excellence in leadership.

The 2012 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in addition to celebrating its 25th year, will also celebrate the induction of its first-ever African American chairman, Bill Perkins. Last year, Who’s Who Publishing Co. took a big step by documenting how African Americans like Perkins helped to build the industry with the launch of “Driven: A Tribute to African American Achievement in the Automotive Industry.” This inaugural edition of the exhibit far exceeded expectations with more than 800 industry professionals in attendance. For 2012, Driven II will again be launched as an official event of NAIAS. The unveiling will take place on Jan. 11 in the Riverview Ballroom at Detroit’s Cobo Center. The second edition promises to dig deeper into several aspects of the industry to detail how African American’s were integral to the initial success and current resurgence of the automotive industry. The upcoming publication will also pay special tribute to the women in the automotive profession who overcame great odds to leave their mark on the historically male-dominated industry. The project will also honor outstanding African American dealers across the country and profile the contemporaries who today are instrumental in the rebound the industry is experiencing.

New York
Local New York residents are being encouraged to support NYC Outward Bound at an upcoming special theater event in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater. “The Mountaintop,” starring actors Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett, is a “gripping theatrical experience that re-imagines the night before the assassination of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” The play was written by Katori Hall, and is directed by Kenny Leon. Taking place on Jan. 17, at 7 p.m., the evening will include an exclusive post-show talk with playwright Katori Hall. Ticket sales support NYC Outward Bound and its work with NYC’s public schools. All seating is orchestra. Tickets are on sale until Friday and are $125 per ticket, $40.50 of which is a donation that will directly benefit students.

Nine-time Grammy winning recording artist John Legend has recently taken himself off of the marriage market and proposed to model girlfriend Chrissy Teigen while vacationing in the Maldives for the holidays. The couple has been dating since 2007.

Mathew Knowles, founder, president and CEO of Music World Entertainment, will resume teaching his signature college course, “The Recording Industry,” during the spring 2012 semester at the Texas Southern University’s School of Communications. The course begins Jan. 23 and will meet weekly in the Martin Luther King Jr. Center. The recording industry course offers students the opportunity to learn a 21st century approach to the music business in an interactive setting. Knowles gives his students a rare glimpse into the functions of a record company. Students will learn the function of each department, such as A&R, business affairs, marketing, digital marketing, radio promotions, sales, public relations and publicity, international, distribution, video production, art and creative services, production and others. This course also explores other specialized areas of the music industry including artist management, artist development, branding, merchandising, songwriting, music publishing, booking agents, touring and concert promotions and more.

Deputy Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks recently became Acting Public Printer for the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), the first woman to lead the agency. Vance-Cooks assumes her new role effective immediately, following the completion of Public Printer Bill Boarman’s term. She will serve as the CEO and lead the 1,900 GPO employees in carrying out the agency’s 150-year mission of keeping America informed on the three branches of the federal government. “I am honored and humbled to serve as GPO’s acting Public Printer, and I look forward to continue working with GPO employees as we serve the needs of Congress, federal agencies, and the public,” said Vance-Cooks. “I want to thank Bill Boarman for the opportunity to serve as his deputy and chief of staff. I have enjoyed working every day, side-by-side with Bill as we reinvented GPO into the digital information platform it is today.”

A new free service,, is helping women find local jobs that pay as much as $30 an hour. Interested women are encouraged to visit the website, sign up for email alerts, and wait for local job opportunities to start coming. According to CNN, MSNBC and other media outlets, millions of Americans are either unemployed and underemployed. Women job seekers are on the rise, as many households are struggling financially to make ends meet. In the UK, from 2008-2009, women accounted for only around a fifth of the fall in employment, but with the current recession hitting public sector jobs, and reducing the number of part-time roles in services such as retail, it is expected that female unemployment will increase at a greater rate in the near future. The same is expected in the United States and Canada.