Here’s a look at African American people and issues making headlines throughout the country.
A mass meeting at the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Selma, Ala., will kick off a March 5 Bridge Crossing Jubilee featuring the original Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Freedom Singers and the president of Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Eric P. Lee. The Jubilee is a five-day event that will celebrate the 47th anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the victories of the voting rights movement. Organizers say that this year’s Jubilee is not just a commemoration but a recommitment to protect the right to vote. “For the past two years, assaults on immigrants, healthcare, worker rights and voting rights have soared to alarming heights. Consequently, the Jubilee, NAACP, National Action Network and the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute are sponsoring a series of workshops to address vital issues plaguing our nation,” said state Sen. Hank Sanders. The workshops will coincide with the all-day music festival at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge and all are encouraged to attend both events. The conference, featuring speakers from across the nation, is free to the public.
U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) will be honored by Loyola Marymount University’s African American Alumni Association on Saturday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m., at the organization’s 10th annual awards dinner and scholarship fundraiser. Bass, who represents California’s 33rd Congressional District, will receive the organization’s Legacy Award for her pioneering achievements as an elected official and a community activist. LMU’s Legacy Award marks the association’s commitment to academic excellence and the spirit of community service. Approximately 6 percent of LMU’s student body is African American, and the university has been cited by the Education Trust as one of the most successful universities at graduating African American students. Proceeds from the awards dinner will fund scholarships for deserving students. Over the last 10 years, LMU’s African American Alumni Association has raised nearly $600,000 in scholarships for 185 students.
District of Columbia
In celebration of Black History Month, Amtrak is featuring “The Great Migration of African Americans” exhibit on their MyBlackJourney.com (MBJ.com) microsite. The Great Migration exhibit chronicles the exodus of thousands of African Americans from the rural South aboard America’s passenger trains to the Northeast and other regions of the country in search of better wages and job opportunities. The exhibit was first unveiled last year during National Train Day at Amtrak’s historic 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. It has also been on display in Washington, D.C.’s Union Station. To view the Great Migration exhibit online, log-on to www.MyBlackJourney.com, which was developed by Amtrak to house information regarding popular African American cultural destinations.
During Black History Month, a Detroit-based company is pushing for a national movement. Pretty Brown Girl is asking all girls and women across the United States and around the world to celebrate themselves, families and friends. This is a great way for brown girls of all ages, cultures and ethnicities to empower themselves and boost their self-confidence. On Saturday, Feb. 25, Pretty Brown Girl is encouraging families, youth mentoring groups, civic organizations and churches locally and nationally to embrace the differences among their youth. It is important for girls to understand that no matter what their skin tone they are beautiful inside and out, the company says. The Pretty Brown Girl collection includes the book, “My First Day of School” and the Pretty Brown Girl pledge, which encourages girls to dream big. There are also T-shirts, bags, other accessories and the anticipated Pretty Brown Girl Doll, available this spring.
Monday, Feb. 13, is the TV broadcast premiere of “Slavery by Another Name” on PBS. This film, from award-winning director/producer Sam Pollard, has been generating buzz since its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival last month. The feature is also one of the marquee films at the Pan African Film Festival. The film will premiere on Saturday, Feb. 11, at 5:15 p.m., followed by a special reception with Bernard Kinsey, Douglas Blackmon and Sam Pollard.
On Valentine’s Day, Grammy-winning saxophonist Kirk Whalum will hold a live two-hour concert streaming at 11:30 p.m. EST/8:30 p.m. PST in conjunction with the release of his 29th album, “Romance Language.” In partnership with Portland Prime, Hilton Portland & Executive Tower and BMW & Mini Portland, the Feb. 14 webcast powered by Stage It and shared around the world via Whalum’s Facebook page will include a backstage camera offering viewers a rare glimpse behind the scenes. On Feb. 18, there will be a rebroadcast of the Valentine’s Day concert with a live question-and-answer session with Whalum. Tickets for Whalum’s Valentine’s Day “Romance Language” live concert stream and the Feb. 18 rebroadcast can be purchased for $3 from www.StageIt.com or www.Facebook.com/KirkWhalum.
A coalition of consumer groups, media activists, clergy and concerned citizens are launching a national online survey to ask African American households to tell their preferences about the kind of relevant programming choices they want to see on television. The coalition is being brought together by the Black Heritage Network, a new cable channel planned for launch this year that will offer what it calls “Black-oriented nonfiction programming.” The network hopes to use the information gathered as a guide for its own programming plans. According to Nielsen data, African Americans watch 40 percent more television per month than the general population. Despite being one of TV’s most important audiences, programming that addresses their varied interests are not being offered, according to the group. Coalition members says that there is plenty of research on what African American are watching, but virtually nothing on what they would prefer to see on television. The survey will be available online at www.WhatIWantToSee.com beginning Jan. 15, the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King until Feb. 29, the end of Black History Month.
GMC TV will present the 27th annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards, an event that recognizes and honors the greatest Gospel artists. Hosted by Dorinda Clark-Cole and Marvin Sapp and taped before a live audience at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry House Theater, the two-hour show will air on GMC, Saturday, Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. EST, with encore broadcasts at 9 and 11 p.m. In addition, at 6 p.m., GMC will present an exclusive one-hour, behind-the-scenes Red Carpet preview of “The Stellar Awards Backstage,” hosted by comedian Jonathan Slocumb. “I’m thrilled the Stellar Awards is airing on GMC,” said Gospel artist Kirk Franklin. “Their commitment to quality, original faith-based programming is also evident in the network’s fresh new lineup of shows. I’m honored to be involved with GMC and I look forward to being featured in the upcoming reality series ‘The Song That Changed My Life,’ coming in June 2012.”