Here’s a look at African American people and issues making headlines throughout the country.
Prolific writer-director, Don B. Welch will return to the Los Angeles main stage with his latest piece “My Brother’s Keeper” live at the Wilshire Ebell Theater in Los Angeles, March 30-31. The all-star cast is led by Emmy Award winner and five-time NAACP Image Award winner, Loretta Devine, as well as Vanessa Bell Calloway, Vanessa Williams, Flex Alexander, Shanice Wilson and a number of other stars. The story surrounds two brothers who own and operate the Legends nightclub, their family business in L.A. Recent events and unforeseen circumstances pit brother against brother in what may be the battle of their lives.
The Tavis Smiley Foundation hosted the second of its national series of parent education seminars in Atlanta to give parents tools and information on how they can ensure their child’s success in learning. The “Too Important to Fail Parent Education Summit” was held at Spelman College and, in addition to the workshops, the program featured a presentation by James Shelton, the assistant deputy secretary for innovation and improvement for the U.S. Department of Education. The Tavis Smiley Foundation and Hyundai Motor America also announced a $5,000 grant to a local nonprofit organization that provides parent workshops on education issues.
Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s,” the family docu-series on OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, will premiere 10 new episodes beginning Saturday, March 31, at 9 p.m. “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” follows former Ikette Miss Robbie Montgomery and her family at their well-known soul food restaurant, Sweetie Pie’s. The hourlong series premiered last October, generating positive responses among viewers with its series debut. “We are truly honored to be back with all-new episodes,” said Montgomery. “Last season was a roller-coaster ride, but we survived it together. This season, viewers can expect more of our family drama, ups and downs, and definitely a lot more loving soul food.”
Maj. Michael Burns recently received A BEYA (Black Engineer of the Year Award) from Black Engineering and Information Technology magazine at the 26th annual BEYA Global STEM Conference in Philadelphia. Burns was recognized for his achievement in the category of “Promotion of Collegiate Education.” The award was presented by Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, Army deputy chief of staff, during a special breakfast for HBCU deans. Maj. Burns is the minority admissions officer at the Military Academy at West Point where he and his team have increased the number of historically underrepresented students each year since Burns took the position in 2009. Burns and his team are credited with the highest enrollment of African Americans in the academy’s history in 2011.
Produced by Our Stories Films, an RLJ Co., and released by TriStar, a Sony Pictures Entertainment company, “Jumping the Broom” took home three top honors during the 43rd NAACP Image Awards ceremony. Laz Alonso won best actor, comedian/actor Mike Epps won supporting actor, and Salim Akil received the best director award in a film category. “We are pleased with ‘Jumping the Broom’s’ success and for the recognition our writers and actors continue to receive,” said producer Tracey E. Edmonds. “Each member worked exceptionally hard and was dedicated to helping tell this particular story of the African American family and each is incredibly deserving of the honors they receive during this year’s awards season,” she said.
Marquis Liggins of the Brotherhood Crusade, along with 18 young adults from communities across California, recently traveled to Cambridge, Mass., to take part in the launch of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation (BTWF). The singer’s new effort focuses on empowering youth leaders to become better advocates in their communities. Deepak Chopra, Oprah Winfrey and Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, joined Lady Gaga and the youths during the event, which took place at Harvard University. The foundation has partnered with the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The California Endowment (TCE) and The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard to explore the best ways to reach youth. As a nonprofit charitable organization, BTWF (www.BornThisWayFoundation.org) will address how to instill self-confidence, a sense of well-being and a resistance to bullying while also fostering mentoring and career development.
The NAACP national board of directors recently elected Lamell McMorris as one of the board’s youngest and newest members. The election took place at the 103rd NAACP annual meeting at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City. “I am both humbled and honored to be elected to the NAACP national board of directors. This great organization has been at the forefront of all civil rights organizations for more than a century, and is continuing to advocate each day for the political, educational, social and economic equality rights of all people,” said McMorris. “I am excited to be part of the leadership that will shape policy for the NAACP, and continue the fight in eliminating discrimination in our nation and throughout the world.”
The Lula Washington Dance Theatre is inviting presenters to join in a tour of the Mid-Atlantic region in spring 2013. Dates have been booked from Feb. 12 to March 8 in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. Nine presenters are already on board for the tour. Interested presenters should contact Jim Woland at Jim.Woland@gmail.com. Jim is representing Lula Washington Dance Theatre in the Mid-Atlantic states. The Lula Washington Dance Theatre will tour signature works for the Mid-Atlantic tour, including her “Ode to the Sixties,” which uses music from the Beatles and James Brown to look back at the 1960s cultural revolutions. Washington will also tour her high-energy “Global Village” created for her 12-city tour of China in May of 2011. It celebrates cultural diversity through dance. Other works include her “Healers,” “Spontaneous Combustion,” “For Those Who Live And Die For Us,” Rennie Harris’ “Reign” and “Love Is…” by Christopher Huggins.
The 2012 Allstate Gospel Superfest will take place on Friday, March 23, at 7:30 p.m. at Temple of Deliverance Church of God in Christ in Memphis. Vivica Fox will host the 2012 Allstate Gospel Superfest, joined by superstar sensations Grammy Award-nominated singer and actor Tyrese, David & Tamela Mann, Regina Belle, Crystal Aikin, Bishop Paul. S. Morton, and a host of others. The Allstate Gospel Superfest production is approaching its twelfth consecutive year in TV syndication. Listed as one of the nation’s largest TV recordings in the field of urban-Gospel music and entertainment, it will be seen in over 500 million households worldwide.
Author Carl Ray has long shared his account of witnessing his father’s murder and trial that followed. Lawyers for the defendant appealed to the Alabama courts to banish Ray from the state until he “had learned how to talk to White people.” Through all of that the author says he learned the power of forgiveness. In his new autobiography, “Cured: The Power of Forgiveness,” not only does he impart a detailed account of his horrific experience, but also shares tales of his life as a Black boy growing up in the segregated South in the 1950s, and as a Tuskegee University student, an electrical engineer, a stand-up comic, an educator and activist.