Here’s a look at African American people and issues making headlines throughout the country.
Services for the wife of veteran San Diego Chargers defensive tackle Tommie Harris were held in New Orleans on Friday. Ashley Harris was 29. She died on Sunday, two days after checking into Norman Regional Hospital in Norman, Okla. Doctors suspect a stroke or a brain aneurysm, but an official cause of death has not been determined. Ashley and Tommie married in January. Their second child was born four months ago. Before joining the San Diego Chargers, Harris spent seven years with the Chicago Bears. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that several of his Bears teammates flew to Oklahoma to be by his side.
District of Columbia
More than 150 leaders of Mocha Moms Inc., the national nonprofit organization that supports at-home mothers of color, recently visited the White House for a briefing with President Barack Obama, administration officials, and celebrity mothers, as part of the administration’s celebration of Black History Month. Mocha Moms Inc. National President Kuae Mattox moderated the discussion on everything from motherhood and work-life balance to health and education. Mocha Moms and their families also went on a tour of the White House East Wing. The unique two-day opportunity was a historic milestone for the grassroots organization, which was founded in 1997 by four mothers in Maryland and continues to support the changing needs of mothers of color in the workplace and at home.
Shirley Strawberry, best-selling author of “The Strawberry Letter: Real Talk, Real Advice, Because Bitterness Isn’t Sexy” and co-host of “The Steve Harvey Morning Show” will seek to empower women in business at the third annual Stiletto Woman in Business Awards (SWIBA) in Atlanta on March 17. The SWIBA Awards, designed to be part business conference, empowerment workshop, and networking social; is one of the first comprehensive award programs to honor everyday women in the solo and micro-business sector on a national level. Stiletto Woman Media has celebrated women business owners across United States and Canada for the past three years.
Out of the 233,000 registered architects in the United States, 1,858 are African Americans and only 278 of those are females–a number that is too low, says Dina Griffin, an African American female architect. So, in addition to being president of a successful architecture firm in Chicago, Interactive Design Inc. (IDEA), Griffin actively promotes the field of architecture to students around the country through lectures and mentorship in hopes of introducing and attracting more minorities and minority women to the field. “So many minorities are not encouraged into subjects such as math and sciences,” says Griffin. “And, many elementary and middle schools don’t even introduce the study of architecture to students. I try to make myself available to such schools so that I can talk to the students about what I do, what it takes to become an architect and, with any luck, spark an interest. We need to get the numbers up in terms of minority architects.”
Iowa State University has backed out of a project that was regarded as a massive land grab in Tanzania. More than 160,000 small farmers would have been evicted under the plan. In its announcement on Feb. 10, the university said it was tired of defending its role in the African project and its partnership with AgriSol Energy, which had called the project involving 800,000 acres “an effort to bring modern farming methods, machinery and high quality seeds to the region.” But critics saw it as a plantation-style land grab. “This land has been feeding many families,” said Anuradha Mittal, executive director of the Oakland Institute which first spotted the controversial deal. “The proposed large-scale commercial agriculture is mechanized–it does not create jobs for these small-holder farmers . . . it’s going to deny them food security,” she said.
The American Automobile Association joins Omega Psi Phi fraternity in honoring civil rights advocate, educator and religious leader Nannie Helen Burroughs (1879-1961) at a tribute sponsored by Project ENRICH Saturday at Charles Herbert Flowers High School in Sprindale. ENRICH is an outreach to Maryland high school students sponsored by the fraternity’s Gamma Pi chapter. A letter from the Library of Congress shows Burroughs was declined membership in AAA in 1930 for “. . . not meeting the criteria for membership.” Representing AAA, featured speaker Yolanda Cade, managing director, AAA national public relations, presented a posthumous membership card to the Nannie Helen Burroughs Project.
Actor/model Anthony Michael Hobbs will co-star in the DreamWorks’ documentary “How to Train Your Dragon: Dragons and Dinosaurs,” soon to tour the world starting at the Australian Arenas in March 2012. The young actor also begins shooting the popular online kids show “SkWids.” The documentary explores the history and mythology of dragons and how that history relates to dinosaurs. It is also anticipated to air on PBS and other science/history channels. Hobbs stars in the documentary as an inquisitive kid assisting the paleontologists and host in connecting the relationship between dinosaurs and dragons.
More than 25,000 at-risk preschool and elementary students in Senegal will benefit from a new daily lunch initiative supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and implemented by the nonprofit Counterpart International. The program starts in March and provides U.S. commodities, technical assistance and other resources to children in 156 schools in Senegal’s remote province of Matam, as well as providing rations for 1,600 pregnant and lactating women. The program, known as the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education, also seeks to improve overall education standards by training school administrators and constructing classrooms. Other health, nutrition and education activities are included.