Here’s a look at African American people and issues making headlines throughout the country.
Kevin Frazier of The Insider showed his support for the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) by stepping up as team captain at the celebrity bowling tournament and fundraiser. Hosted by actress Nia Long and ABFF founder Jeff Friday and sponsored by Cadillac, athletes, artists and industry influencers converged on Lucky Strikes in the heart of Hollywood with all proceeds going to the Film Life Foundation. Founded in 1997, the ABFF is dedicated to strengthening the Black filmmaking community through resource-sharing, education, artistic collaboration and career development. The festival was born out of the need to develop distribution opportunities for independent Black films and promote cultural diversity within the motion picture industry.
District of Columbia
Maurice Jones was recently sworn in as the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Jones was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on March 29. As the second most senior official at HUD, Jones will be charged with managing the department’s day-to-day operations, a nearly $47 billion annual operating budget, and the agency’s 8,900 employees. “President Obama and Secretary Donovan have blessed me with the opportunity to join HUD during this critical period when we continue to support a fragile recovery from an historic housing crisis,” said Jones. “I’m ready to help continue transforming an organization charged with moving beyond the yesterday’s experiences to tackle today’s challenges and those we’ll face tomorrow.” Said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan: “Maurice has one of the strongest public and private sector track records I’ve seen for building consensus and solving big problems. As we continue to confront our current housing challenges, HUD will certainly benefit from Maurice’s intellect, his proven management experience and his great people skills.”
More than 1,000 high school students recently received a surprise visit from a robot powered by U.S. Army engineers during a National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) luncheon in Pittsburgh. Less than a block away, another group of students participated in a daylong robotics entrepreneur competition and received pointers from Army engineers who also served as competition judges. Both efforts targeted African American engineering students and were outcomes of Army partnerships designed to contribute to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education and to promote STEM career opportunities. Teachers, parents, students and community leaders are encouraged to become familiar with these programs by visiting the Army Education Outreach Programs (AEOP) and/or Army Ed Space websites. Information on more than 55 partnerships is listed including web-based programs like March2Success and ECYBERMISSION.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) hosted a four-day convening with the nation’s leading civil rights, social justice and community leaders to engage participants in a collaborative process toward moving America from a “racialized democracy” to a more inclusive one. The gathering explored ways for diverse communities to engage in authentic efforts to address racial bias and to heal the racial wounds of the past that continue to create fear, antagonism and barriers to opportunities for vulnerable children. The convening, held in New Orleans, featured leaders such as Harry Belafonte, entertainer and civil rights pioneer; Marc Morial, former New Orleans Mayor and President and CEO of the National Urban League; Ben Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, and many others.
Detroit Circuit Judge Wade McCree, recently responded to allegations that he sent a picture of himself partially clothed to a married female employee, admitting that the picture is him and that he’s sent it to other women. “Oh yeah, I’ve sent that out to other women, sure,” McCree told Fox 2 reporter Charlie LeDuff. “No shame to my game.” McCree was first appointed to the 3rd Circuit Court of Michigan by Gov. Jennifer Granholm and has since been re-elected to the seat. He is the son of Wade H. McCree Jr., solicitor general of the United States under Jimmy Carter, who was also a U.S. Appeals Court Judge. When Gov. G. Mennen Williams appointed him to the Wayne Circuit Court in 1954, McCree Jr. became the first African American to sit on a Michigan court of record, according to the University of Michigan, where he later served on the faculty.
LeRoy T. Walker, a leading American track and field coach, who was the first African American to coach a United States men’s Olympic track team and to serve as the president of the United States Olympic Committee, died Monday in Durham, N.C. He was 93. His death was announced by North Carolina Central University, where he gained coaching renown and was later the chancellor. As the head track and field coach, Walker developed Olympic medalists and numerous national champions and all-Americans. The best known of those athletes, Lee Calhoun, won gold medals in the 110-meter hurdles at the 1956 Melbourne and 1960 Rome Games, and Larry Black, Julius Sang and Robert Ouko won gold in relay events at the 1972 Munich Games.
Deion Sanders’ estranged wife denied Tuesday that she attacked her husband at their home and said she’s not getting a fair shake because of her husband’s stature in the community as a former star player for the Dallas Cowboys. Pilar Sanders, was released Tuesday after spending the night in jail on a misdemeanor domestic assault charge. A magistrate judge ordered her to stay away from their home in the Dallas suburb of Prosper for 60 days and barred her from threatening or harassing her husband, KTVT-TV reported.
R&B singer Brian McKnight–known for hits such as “Anytime” and “Back at One”–posted a preview of a racy new song called “If You’re Ready to Learn.” While some fans were feeling the track, many had negative things to say via Twitter. In a YouTube clip explaining why he was attempting to release an adult mixtape, McKnight told fans that he was hoping to explore new territory. “If You’re Ready to Learn” didn’t leave much to the imagination with McKnight crooning, “Let me show you how your p—- works, since you didn’t bring it to me first/I have lots of things to show you if you’re ready to learn. Let me show you how your p—- works, bet you didn’t know that it could squirt. I have lots of things to show you if you’re ready to learn.” The backlash prompted McKnight to pull the video from his pages, but it’s already made the rounds. This week he continued the back-and-forth with his fans on Twitter, deciding whether he should re-post the video.