Here’s a look at African American people and issues making headlines throughout the country.
“Verses & Flow” will begin filming its second season on June 11 at the historical Belasco Theater in Downtown Los Angeles. This year’s host is actor and Georgia native Omari Hardwick. Known for his performances in award-winning television series and films, including “CSI: Miami,” “Dark Blue” and “For Colored Girls,” he will be a significant addition to the celebrated series. In addition, Hardwick will be making a debut in the summer release of “Sparkle,” playing alongside the late Whitney Houston. This season “Verses & Flow” will be comprised of eight 30-minute weekly variety shows. Each episode will consist of a performance by a music artist as well as performances by three featured poets.
NFL former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Hank Baskett rallied a star-studded list of Hollywood and athletic celebrities to host his inaugural Hank Baskett Classic Golf Tournament, saying he was launching his “biggest challenge ever” to wage a war on cancer. He’s fighting on behalf of his father, who is being treated for lung cancer. Teaming up with the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, a recognized global leader in lung cancer research and awareness, Baskett rallied about 25 celebrities to play in the tournament at Trump National Golf Club, Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., on May 21. Celebrities included Alfonso Ribeiro, Antonio Pierce, Jermaine Dye, Kris Humphries, Marcellus Wiley, and his wife Kendra Wilkinson and 2-year-old son, Hank IV.
When psychologist, Alduan Tartt, got a call from Brian Puterman of Mike Mathis Productions and Nikki Webber of TV One Cable Network to perform “love interventions” for people trapped in toxic relationships on national television, he thought the idea was crazy–crazy enough to actually work. “The idea of using reality TV to do something positive, fix toxic relationships and showcase the healing power of therapy to millions was too tempting to pass up on,” Tartt states. Tartt is joined by fellow therapists, Thema Bryant-Davis and Hasani Pettiford to form a diverse team of healers for TV One’s new show “Love Addiction.” The show has only aired four episodes, addressing dating unavailable men, dating older women, dating users and dating playboys. However, this week’s show covers dating verbally abusive men. Tartt says, “Viewers will connect with this topic because relationship abuse is a community problem that silently affects thousands of men and women daily.”
To encourage entrepreneurship among African Americans, Dante Lee, author of “Black Business Secrets: 500 Tips, Strategies and Resources for the African American Entrepreneur,” recently gave away 100 free print copies of his book at the 2012 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference in Chicago. The conference was held at the Chicago Hilton where Lee held a book-signing at his company’s booth in the Dealmaker’s Expo (Exhibit Hall). Lee comments: “According to federal statistics, Black business owners are five times more likely to fail in business than their White counterparts. Therefore, my goal is to help as many entrepreneurs as possible to become more successful in business.”
Leading up to Teacher’s Appreciation Week earlier this month, the Black McDonald’s Operators Association of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana partnered with Chicago radio station WGCI-FM to promote a contest asking listeners to share, in 200 words or less, why their teacher deserved to win a free trip to New Orleans for the 2012 Essence Music Festival. Tiffini Cooley and Randall Powell from Joseph Brennemann Elementary School were selected as the winners. As their students shrieked with excitement, the surprised teachers were each presented an oversized airline boarding pass highlighting a trip for two to New Orleans. Their prizes also include Essence Music Festival VIP access, hotel accommodations and spending money. Drawing more than 350,000 attendees annually, the Essence Music Festival features some of the top names in R&B and Soul music. This year’s lineup includes D’Angelo, Mary J. Blige, Estelle and Aretha Franklin.
Jay Hopson was recently announced as the 18th football coach at Alcorn State University and, according to school officials, he is the first White head football coach in the history of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. “I don’t see White or Black; we’re purple and gold,” said Hopson, a Vicksburg native who played defensive back at the University of Mississippi and has been an assistant coach at nine different colleges since 1992. “This is home,” he said. Zelmarinn Murphy, a 1966 graduate of Alcorn affectionately called Mama Brave by players past and present, said “I am ecstatic. I watched Jay grow up. We were looking for someone to carry us to the next level. We think he has the contacts and the ability to do that.”
New York radio pioneer Harold “Hal” Jackson, a staple of New York radio died Wednesday May 30. He was 96. Called the “godfather of Black radio,” Jackson is credited with making it possible for African Americans who followed him to work in the medium. Jackson began his career in Washington, D.C., as the first African American play-by-play sports announcer. He moved to New York in the 1950s, where he hosted three different radio shows, broadcasting a mix of music and conversation, including jazz and celebrities. Jackson later co-founded the Inner City Broadcasting Corp., one of the first broadcasting companies wholly owned by African Americans. The company acquired WBLS, which pioneered the urban contemporary format. Jackson continued to host a program each week on WBLS. In 1995, Jackson became the first African American to be inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.
For more than nine months, the Harlem School of the Arts (HSA) has worked with Disney Theatrical Group to develop adaptations of Disney’s musical “The Lion King” for young performers. Aubrey Lynch is an original cast member and former associate producer of the Broadway production, and he has overseen the school’s workshop presentations of Disney Theatrical Group’s newest in-development musical for young people. This process has become a vehicle for the school to further its mission and develop a fifth discipline, musical theatre. During January 2012, more than 150 children, ages 8-13, auditioned to participate in a student-focused workshop to discover whether young children could sing in Zulu, learn the choreography and illuminate the story, while exploring African cultures and the world performance traditions celebrated in the award-winning stage production. As part of the project, HSA students have the experience of working with actual cast members of Broadway’s “The Lion King.”
Floyd Mayweather Jr. reported to Judge Melissa Saragosa’s courtroom inside the Clark County Justice Center in downtown Las Vegas this week and was handed over to authorities to begin serving the remainder of a 90-day jail sentence. The unbeaten Mayweather, a five-division world champion, pleaded guilty in December to misdemeanor domestic violence charges after accepting a plea agreement. He had been facing 34 years on a variety of felony charges. There was plenty of outrage on Jan. 6 when Saragosa delayed Mayweather’s report date by five months so he could fight Miguel Cotto. For delaying the sentence, something that is commonplace, Saragosa took more criticism than Mayweather, who pled guilty to domestic battery after a 2010 incident in which he assaulted Josie Harris, the mother of three of his children.
Compiled by Juliana Norwood