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

California
Caribbean Heritage Organization (CHO) and the Institute of Caribbean Studies announced that actors Antonio Fargas, Lorraine Toussaint, Sheryl Lee Ralph and screenwriter and producer Rob Edwards will be honored at the 2012 Salute to Hollywood & The Arts gala to be held at the Sheraton Universal City in Los Angeles on Friday, June 29, during the 2012 Caribbean-American Heritage Month celebrations. The Caribbean Heritage Organization (CHO) was formed in January 2007 to celebrate the rich and diverse contributions of Caribbeans, Caribbean Americans and friends of the Caribbean international society through conservation and education of Caribbean arts and culture.
***
The 9th annual “Omni Youth Music & Actor Awards” Red Carpet Gala was recently held at “The Grammy Museum” at L.A. Live. The award recognizes and acknowledges the talent of young professional and emerging artists and strives to encourage, embrace, empower and give the audience an experience and learn to appreciate all genres of music. The gala was co-sponsored by “Beyond the Bell Branch,” a division of the Los Angeles Unified School District. This year’s honorees were the Gooding family–Cuba Gooding Sr., Cuba Gooding Jr., and Omar Gooding.

District of Columbia
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has announced that Congressman John Lewis will serve as grand marshal of the organization’s 50th Anniversary Campaign and National Advisory Commission. Since 1986, Lewis has served as U.S. Representative of Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District and recently published a new book entitled “Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change” (2012). He has championed legislation and initiatives central to voting rights, equal employment and workers’ rights, education, housing and foreclosure, LGBT rights, and more.

Florida
Rev. Thabo Makgoba, Anglican archbishop of Cape Town and metropolitan of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, recently attended service at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church for a special service in Jacksonville. “This was a unique and wonderful opportunity to host an Anglican leader on the world stage and hear of his efforts in South Africa,” said the Rev. David L. Austell, rector. The archbishop succeeded the Rev. Desmond Tutu as the primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa and as chancellor of the University of the Western Cape.

Georgia
Bounce TV celebrated Juneteenth by televising the highly acclaimed TV drama “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.” The film had not aired on broadcast television in more than 30 years. Considered to be the first made-for-TV movie to portray African American characters with depth, “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” is the story of a Black woman in the South who was born into slavery in the 1850s and lives to become part of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. The film won eight Emmy Awards, including Best Lead Actress in a Drama for Cicely Tyson as Miss Jane Pittman and Best Director for John Korty. Juneteenth, honors the African American heritage by commemorating the abolition of slavery in the United States.

Illinois
In the last few months, Chicago’s homicide rate has jumped more than 50 percent. One Chicago-based organization, The Black Star Project, has been calling for thousands of residents to march for peace. Led by the Rev. Father Michael Plfeger and guest speaker Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the marches brought together thousands of people against violence. The marches happen regularly and Chicago residents can get involved by visiting The Black Star Project website. Thousands showed up to march over the weekend and special recognition was given to Kidz Off The Block, National Block Club University, Temple of Mercy Association, Mark and Paul (Westside), The Nation of Islam, the Faith Community of Saint Sabina, CeaseFire, P.E.A.C.E., Green Acres, and other peacekeeping organizations for their work to make Chicago safer.

Maryland
In an address to the Conservative Black Forum hosted by Congressman Allen West (R-Fla.) focusing on the economic empowerment in the African American community, Robert L. Johnson, founder and chairman of The RLJ Companies, called for a renewed national discussion on the growing wealth gap which he referred to as a “wealth gap Tsunami threatening African Americans.” Johnson cited a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center, which concluded that “The wealth gap between White and African American families has more than quadrupled over the course of a generation; the racial wealth gap increased by $75,000, from $20,000 to $95,000; the median wealth of White households is 20 times that of Black households; and at least 35 percent of African Americans have no assets.” In response to this compelling national crisis, Johnson stated that, “We must admit the harsh reality of a history of institutionalized racism and economic discrimination against African Americans is the primary cause of wealth disparity between Black and White Americans.”

New York
By fall, an organization known as BlocPower will be helping minority churches, nonprofits and small businesses nationwide reduce their energy bills with retrofit construction projects that also create jobs in communities of color. Another organization, Visible Men Inc., in Sarasota, Fla., is working with schools and community agencies to spread stories of successful African American men, exposing Black youths and their parents. Visible Men officials say they focus on what is working for Black men and youths, rather than what is failing. These programs and six others are run by social entrepreneurs who are the inaugural Black Male Achievement fellows. In partnership with Echoing Green, an organization in New York that has provided entrepreneur fellowships for 25 years, Open Society Foundations in New York has launched a special fellowship program designed to improve communities of color and life outcomes for African American males. Donnel Baird of BlocPower and Neil Phillips of Visible Men are two of the nine entrepreneurs making a difference in their communities.

Texas
Lack of funding threatens to destroy the only remaining historically African American hospital in the nation. Riverside General Hospital has had a stellar and unblemished reputation as a leading healthcare provider and pillar of the community. Now the hospital is in a fight to remain open and keep more than 300 persons employed. In an effort to help raise funds, The hospital has co-hosted a community health fair and has other planned future fundraisers. Originally, Riverside General Hospital was established in 1918 as Union General Hospital on the corner of Andrews and San Felipe. In 1923, in answer to an appeal for assistance from several Black doctors, Joseph S. Cullinan, a Houston philanthropist, established a fund to erect a 50-bed hospital. Maurice J. Sullivan was hired as an architect. Sullivan was commissioned to design the new hospital, as well as to develop a master plan for the site. Construction began in 1924 and was completed in 1926. The new hospital was named the Houston Negro Hospital.

National
Saunders Music, LLC, has launched a new website, www.saundersmusiccompany.com, that attempts to address the needs of the entire worship experience. Providing instantly downloadable tracks after purchase, the selection catalog includes hymns and communion selections for first Sunday services. Gospel music has always been an integral part of worship in the Black church. SaundersMusicCompany.com showcases a large collection of gospel music songs, and many of today’s more recent artist songs can be found there as well.
COMPILED BY JULIANA NORWOOD