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

California
Towne Street Theatre’s fifth annual “Ten-Minute Play Festival” will showcase 12 unique plays that provide a glimpse of Black love. Selected from more than 150 nationwide submissions and a diverse group of playwrights who range widely in age, ethnicity, and gender, the plays embody the theme of this year’s festival “The Black Experience: Part 2–Love.” The 10-minute festival features an ensemble cast of 30 actors in plays that explore love in all of its incarnations through race, relationships, family, sexuality and the history of Blacks in America. The festival will open Friday, Feb. 3, and continue through Feb. 19. All performances are at the Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd., (corner of Hollywood and Highland), Los Angeles. Show times are 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. on Sundays. All seats are $12. Website: www.townestreet.org.

District of Columbia
Howard University recently announced the start of the inaugural class for its new online degree–the online Executive MBA program. Students in the program will gain a comprehensive understanding of business, and learn to strategically think and act from the perspective of senior leadership. Drawing upon the legacy of one of America’s top business schools and the nation’s preeminent historically Black college, this distinguished program equips mid-career professionals and emerging leaders with the skills and perspective to lead in global business. Consisting of 42 credit hours, the online Executive MBA program is designed to be completed in about 18 months. The online format is designed to deliver a robust management education that is accessible to professionals who desire to work full-time while completing their degree.
Georgia
Reggie Kelly, a current 14-year NFL veteran with the Atlanta Falcons, has his eyes set on creating a lasting legacy for his children through his new food line, KYVAN, which was derived from their names (Kyla and Kavan). Kelly and his wife, Sheila, have been working on the brand since 2005 when they decided to take his family recipes and mass produce them and sell to various retailers throughout the country. KYVAN is making it’s official arrival in several Wal-Mart locations throughout Metro Atlanta, South Carolina and Kentucky starting Monday, and can also be purchased in various venues throughout Mississippi and Ohio.
Minnesota
General Mills’ Box Tops for Education recently enlisted the help of the Steve Harvey Morning Show to award one school 100,000 Box Tops valued at $10,000 and a special visit from the famed comedian, author and syndicated radio talk show host. On Jan. 26, Phillips Academy’s Principal Mark Sullivan will have the opportunity to relinquish his daily responsibilities, allowing Steve Harvey to serve as the school’s principal for the day. Phillips Academy thanks one parent Angela Strozier, who entered the Steve Harvey Morning Show’s recent Principal-for-a-Day essay contest sponsored by Box Tops for Education. In her essay, Strozier shared the additional support needed from Box Tops to assist her daughter’s school after devastating tornadoes hit the Birmingham area last April. “There is something to be said for a school with such strong parental and community involvement. This mom’s letter spoke volumes. I am looking forward to serving as the honorary Principal of Phillips Academy with the hope of sharing some inspiration, insight and a little bit of humor, to encourage the students along in their academic journey,” says Steve Harvey.
New York
Actor Hill Harper has partnered with Scholastic teen author, Pamela Wells, to create a multicultural children-publishing imprint called Harper & Wells Books. “I’ve been wanting to have my own multicultural children book publishing imprint for some time,” Harper said. “My focus is on publishing books about Black issues. I have always wanted a childrens book imprint that represents our voices. This is an extension of my belief that you manifest your own destiny in life.” The first two titles from Harper & Wells Books are middle grade titles targeted to 8-to-12-year-old readers. “The Wiley Boys” by Hill Harper, is about three sports-obsessed adopted brothers who stumble across an advertisement that leads them to being junior agents at the Sports Bureau of Investigations. This book is available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online stores, including the book’s website at www.wileyboys.com. The second title, “Willow Fedler’s Rules for Girls” by Pamela Wells, is about a 12-year-old “Oprah” who shares advice and experiences as she shares stories about growing up. This book is available on the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook. The company plans to publish Black celebrity books for children, and in the future, will offer publishing opportunities for multicultural writers.

Tennessee
Rising Gospel music superstar Vashawn Mitchell topped the list of winners during the 27th annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards announced Saturday night during the show’s taping at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry House Theater. Mitchell took home six awards, including Artist of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Contemporary Male of the Year, and Praise and Worship CD of the Year for his 2011 album, “Triumphant.” “I am grateful to stand here,” Mitchell said, also acknowledging other artists in the category, his family, label and social media fans. “I’ve been coming to the Stellar Awards a long time and I’m glad I waited my turn.” Other top winners of the evening included Mary Mary, Kim Burrell, Smokie Norful and The Rance Allen Group who were honored with two trophies each. The New Artist of the Year award was presented to Y’anna Crawley.

INTERNATIONAL
Attorney Roy E. Boggs Jr., an African American who retired to the Philippines in 2009, became so miffed when he saw this picture of Aretha Franklin in The Philippine Star newspaper on Jan. 14, that he fired off a letter to the editor stating, “In all the years that I have been reading your newspaper I have never seen any woman of any nationality or ethnic background shown in so vulgar a photograph. I cannot help but see this editorial decision to use the particular photo of Ms. Franklin that you chose from the thousands that must exit of her, given her long career, as an unfortunate, but, in my view, typical Filipino show of contempt for people who look ‘Aeta-like.’ That is, people who have very dark skin, ‘African-looking’ features and hair, etc.” Obviously, the Queen of Soul seems quite at ease in the photo, and unperturbed by the prospect of being photographed in this way.