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

Alabama

The Ambassadors men’s basketball team of Oakwood University, a Seventh-day Adventist and United Negro College Fund institution, won the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) 2012 Division 1 Championship after defeating Rochester College 54-51 this week. Similarly, the men’s basketball team from Andrews University, also a Seventh-day Adventist institution, won its USCAA Division 2 championship contest, during the same tournament. More than just winning the championship, these men stood up for their Bible-based faith, according to Cedric Francois, producer and play-by-play announcer for Ambassador Radio Network. “This is the first time in the USCAA’s history the championship games for both Men’s Division 1 and 2 were rescheduled to respect the religious convictions of Oakwood and Andrews Universities, respectively.”

California

The Finaza Foundation hosted its first annual fundraiser this week at Nirvana in Beverly Hills. Several civic leaders and celebrities gathered in support of the organization, including cast members of the hit Broadway show “Fela!”–Duain Richmond, Aimee Wodobode, Paulette Ivory, and Danny Soto, as well as singer CJ Francis, and actor J. August Richards. Founded in 2009, the Finaza Foundation is committed to transforming the lives of children in the impoverished region of Kono, Sierra Leone. The foundation provides annual academic scholarships for children who could otherwise find themselves working year-round in the region’s diamond mines. To date, more than 300 students have received scholarships. Finaza encourages continued support from individuals, groups, and organizations. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.FinazaFoundation.org.

Some innovative, young, social entrepreneurs from the San Francisco Bay Area G.U.R.LS. Rock Leadership Program have developed their own line of positive message apparel called Pretty $mart G.U.R.L.S.(TM) and are competing in Walmart’s “Get on the Shelf” contest, a competition where the voting public can decide the fate of a product to be sold online at Walmart and ultimately obtain shelf space for its merchandise in Walmart stores. To support these girls, vote for Pretty $mart G.U.R.L.S. daily from now until April 3, 2012, at www.getontheshelf.com/product/4937/Pretty-$mart-G-U-R-L-S–. Pretty $mart G.U.R.L.S. apparel is designed by the girls, inspired by their vision to create positive messages and their message to the world is that they are in charge of their future. Sales proceeds enable scholarships for individual girls to attend G.U.R.L.S. Rock Leadership Summits.

Illinois

One in every three women is sexually assaulted and one in every six women experiences domestic abuse in her lifetime. The book “Married to Him” inspires women and teen girls to overcome sexual assault and domestic abuse. Senica Evans wrote “Married to Him,” a true story of her personal experiences with domestic abuse and sexual assault and how she ultimately overcame them. She feels it is imperative that women and teen girls learn “to break the cycle of destruction and shift their mindset from victim to survivor.” With the book, Evans hopes to empower, educate, and enlighten women and teen girls to overcome domestic abuse, sexual assault and to recognize the signs of destructive relationships.

Kansas

Rep. Valdenia Winn, chairperson of the Capitol Preservation Committee, is issuing a national call for artists/artistic teams to submit a Request for Qualification (RFQ) to design a mural in the Kansas State Capitol commemorating the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Brown v Board of Education. “The significance of the Oliver L. Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, is known throughout the world and . . . has paved the way for the modern revolution for human rights in the United States,” said Winn. In 2010, the Kansas Legislature passed Senate Bill 54, which created the Capitol Preservation Committee and authorized the Committee to develop plans for the placement of a mural within the Kansas State Capitol to commemorate the landmark court case that ended the “separate but equal” law across the United States. The deadline for submitting an RFQ is 5 p.m. CST on May 1, 2012. The contact person for submitting an RFQ is Cyndi Morrison at Mulvane.info@washburn.edu. The mural will be paid for by private dollars with the projected completion in October 2014.

New York

Nicol Turner-Lee, Ph.D., has been selected as president and CEO of the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC). For more than 30 years, NAMIC has educated, advocated and empowered to promote multi-ethnic diversity in the cable and telecommunications arena. Turner-Lee will begin her new post at NAMIC, effective April 2. Currently, Turner-Lee is vice president and the first director of the Media and Technology Institute at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a 42-year-old public policy institute focused on issues of concern to African Americans and other people of color. During her tenure at the Joint Center, Turner-Lee developed the Media and Technology Institute into a signature policy and research arm that is focused on increasing representation and ownership in broadband and broadcast for people of color.

Ohio

The University of Akron’s Office of Multicultural Development will be hosting its fifth Black Male Summit on April 13-14. Keynote speakers throughout the summit include author and reality TV show winner of “The Apprentice,” Randal Pinkett; pastor of The Word Church in Cleveland; Pastor R.A. Vernon; and Professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of California, Irvine, Joseph White. Since its inception in 2008, The Black Male Summit has aimed at bringing important topics relevant to the success of African American males to the attention of education practitioners. The summit features several keynote addresses from some of today’s leading research experts on African American male success. More than 30 concurrent sessions will be offered, with topics including retention and graduation, career and professional development, mentoring, health issues, fatherhood initiatives and identity and masculinity.

Pennsylvania

The U.S. Army is partnering with the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) to support students interested in pursuing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers during NSBE’s Annual Convention. The Army is partnering with NSBE against a backdrop of continued decline in high school graduation rates and the number of college graduates with science and technology degrees. The NSBE believes diverse, world-class STEM talent pool is critical to America maintaining superiority in national security, technology innovation and global competitiveness. The convention will take place March 28-April 1 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh. More than 8,000 college and high school engineering students are expected to attend. For the second consecutive year the Army will showcase small military robots, judge student robotic competitions, interview future Army leaders and present Army STEM opportunities to NSBE attendees.

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