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


Fifteen local high school students from 10 different schools recently competed in the August Wilson Monologue Competition regional finals at the Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum. The top three student performers received scholarships and the opportunity to compete again in New York City. Christopher Smith of Fullerton Union High School won the top prize of the evening, collecting a $500 scholarship and a guaranteed spot in the national finals that will take place at the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway on May 7. Jasmine Hogan of San Jacinto High School took second place, with a $250 scholarship, and Tyler Edwards of Orange County High School of the Arts took third place and a $100 scholarship. Both Jasmine and Tyler are national semi-finalists and will compete in a semi-final round in New York City against students from six other regions for a chance to move on to the national finals round.

The Debbie Allen Dance Academy (DADA) recently joined forces with the Inglewood Unified School District to link creativity to academic excellence for the students of the district. Between now and June 15, 2012, the Debbie Allen Dance Academy will send dance instructors from its faculty to seven schools. Students between the ages of 7-15 years old will be offered classes in African, Ballet, Hip Hop, Jazz, Contemporary and Tap.


Reginald E. Gilliam Jr., an African American lobbyist and most recently Sodexo senior vice president, government affairs, succumbed at the age of 67 on March 28, after battling lymphoma. Gilliam was nominated by President Jimmy Carter to serve as vice chairman and commissioner of the U.S. Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 1980 and sworn into office by his father, an original member of the A. Philip Randolph’s Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and longtime employee of the railroad industry regulated by the ICC. As commissioner and vice chairman, Gilliam promoted the inclusion of minorities throughout the transportation industry. For the past 10 years Gilliam had worked at Sodexo Inc. in Gaithersburg, Md., establishing its government affairs department in 2002. Sodexo is a leading food, facilities and energy management company with more than 125,000 employees in North America.


Brother Bedford, founder of the Association of Black Entrepreneurs, has been on a mission seeking advice from Black millionaires and thought leaders on what it really takes to start, grow, and sustain a successful business. “I started seeking as much knowledge and advice as I could from those who have built successful 6, 7, and 8 figure businesses,” said Bedford who was shocked to see how some of legendary millionaire entrepreneurs were willing to share their challenges and what they did to succeed. Business hall of famer, George Fraser; Radio One and TV One founder, Cathy Hughes; motivational speaker, Les Brown; NBC’s Donald Trump’s Apprentice winner, Randal Pinkett, and star of “The Secret,” Lisa Nichols, are just a few of those interviewed. Bedford shares this information through his websites and free reports. Bro. Bedford is preparing for a national tour titled “You Were Born an Entrepreneur” to further inspire Blacks to think like entrepreneurs to solve the deepening economic crisis in the Black community. For more details about his free training, visit


Romeo Miller and his sister Cymphonique team up with College League Apparel, the city of Jackson’s Department of Parks and Recreation, and radio station WJMI to host the Golden Eggs of Success event, which will take place Saturday, April 7, at 12 p.m. at Battlefield Park at 953 Porter St. for its annual Easter egg hunt. The event will provide several prizes: College Boyys and College Girlls clothing gift certificates, cash prizes and scholarships to place in the “Golden Eggs.” The campaign inspires kids to dream big by making college a reality. College League Apparel promotes education with optimistic messages, and uses fashion as the vehicle to change lives and set trends in the clothing business. Along with the Easter egg hunt, there will be a fashion show in which kids will be able to participate by submitting an essay about the importance of education and going to college.

New York

“Droppin’ jewelz” is a Hip Hop slang term for sharing wisdom. It is also the title of a new training video created by ex-offender O.T. Stewart that is now being made available free to every federal and state prison, as well as juvenile correctional facilities. Shot in what appears to be a prison library, it contains 18 commentaries on simple but powerful ideas. These ideas can be put to use by young people as they face daily challenges, such as confronting the many negative options that even adults find difficult to resist. Prison ministries, inmate organizations or institutional staff can request the material by emailing a request to: Prisoners can also purchase the DVD for their children by sending a $10 check or money order payable to O.T. Stewart, along with the shipping address to: 244 Fifth Ave. Suite 2656 New York, NY 10001. A percentage of the profits from these purchases will be reinvested in programs targeted to the children of the incarcerated, thereby giving them financial incentives and rewards as they apply their “jewelz” in pursuit of educational, political and economic empowerment. For more information, visit

North Carolina

The Carolinas Aviation Museum at Charlotte Douglas International Airport will host the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Red Tail Squadron’s Rise Above Traveling Exhibit and P51-C Mustang honoring the Tuskegee Airmen. Sponsored by Duke Energy, the Traveling Exhibit and Mustang will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, April 11-13, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 14, at Carolinas Aviation Museum. While there is no charge to experience the exhibit, there is a fee for museum admittance. For this event, however, the museum has waived that fee for those 18 and younger.