Here’s a look at African American people and issues making headlines throughout the country.
Tuskegee University is helping develop the next generation of pilots through a new nonprofit program called the Legacy Flight Academy, aimed at reaching at-risk youth through aviation education. The first class of students graduated from the academy in a ceremony following a groundbreaking for new hangars at Golden Eagle Aviation. The academy is a collaborative effort of the Tuskegee University, the Tuskegee Airmen, Golden Eagle Aviation and the National Park Service. Founded by U.S. Air Force Capt. Kenyatta Ruffin, the Legacy Flight Academy is a two-week training program for teens ages 16 to 19. Located at historic Moton Field, the site where the renowned Tuskegee Airmen trained, the academy teaches the teens some of the skills necessary to become private pilots. The students also live and study on the campus of the university during some of their training.
Cal State L.A.’s Veterans Affairs Coordinator Laura Shigemitsu has been named a member of the U.S. Army Los Angeles Community Advisory Board to, among other duties, provide opportunities for students interested in serving their country while in college, and help link veterans who have graduated to Officer Candidate School. Comprised of civic leaders and members of the entertainment, business and education communities, the advisory board is dedicated to ensuring the Army continues to attract high-quality soldiers from the region into its ranks. Shigemitsu and her fellow board members coordinate with the U.S. Army Los Angeles Recruiting Battalion to host and support events, conduct media outreach and other strategies to ensure the Army’s story is told, and that potential recruits become aware of the benefits and opportunities Army service has to offer.
Walton Isaacson, an independently held, minority-owned, full-service advertising and marketing agency, has just been named Supplier of the Year by the Southern California Minority Business Development Council for an unprecedented third consecutive year. No other agency has accomplished this feat. Isaacson’s third straight Supplier of the Year honor reinforces the agency’s commitment to supporting other minority business enterprises as well as its investment in the community at large. Walton Isaacson has supported foundations such as the Jackie Robinson Foundation, Rodney and Holly Robinson Peete’s HollyRod Foundation, the Magic Johnson Foundation and the Immigrant Archive Project, as well as BET’s Internship Program founded by Louis Carr, president of media sales for BET. Its network of corporate partners include Unilever, Lexus, Caesars Entertainment Co., White Memorial Medical Center and Jim Beam Brands.
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Actress and activist Jada Pinkett Smith urged Congress recently to step up the fight against human trafficking in the U.S. and abroad when she testified during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee. She plans to launch a campaign to raise awareness and spur action against human trafficking and slavery. “Fighting slavery doesn’t cost a lot of money. The costs of allowing it to exist in our nation and abroad are much higher,” the actress said. “It robs us of the thing we value most–our freedom.” Smith said the issue was brought to her attention by her daughter Willow, 11, who sat nearby with actor Will Smith, Pinkett Smith’s husband and Willow’s father. The Smiths all wore blazers over T-shirts that read, “Free Slaves.”
K&G Fashion Superstore and the Blair Underwood Collection have partnered with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to launch the “Purchase with a Purpose” campaign. From now through Dec. 31, shoppers with the special Thurgood Marshall College Fund coupon or code will receive 10 percent off their entire in-store, or online purchase. In addition, at the end of the campaign, K&G has agreed to donate 10 percent of each purchase back to the fund.
Rahn Kennedy Bailey, associate professor and chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Meharry Medical College, will be installed as president of the National Medical Association on Tuesday, July 31, during the National Medical Association’s 2012 Annual Convention and Scientific Assembly in New Orleans. The association represents more than 50,000 African American physicians and is the largest and oldest national organization representing these physicians and the patients they serve. Bailey begins his term as the 113th president with an eye toward implementing a policy agenda that includes support of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act. Additionally, his administration will focus on eliminating health disparities and raising awareness of the unmet need for mental healthcare for African Americans.
The New Jersey Amistad Commission will hold its fifth annual Summer Institute at Montclair State University on Aug. 6-8. This year’s event will culminate with a closing reception and 10-year anniversary commemoration of the signing of the Amistad legislation at the Newark Museum. During the three-day sessions, 50 educators will have the opportunity to work in collaboration with knowledgeable historians and scholars, and take part in film screenings and talks related to the slavery theme.
Prudential Financial Inc. earned a spot, for the second consecutive year, on Black Enterprise’s annual “40 Best Companies for Diversity.” The magazine has published this list for the past eight years. Black Enterprise composed its list after checking companies for a policy of inclusion as well as recruitment and retention of employees, the expansion of senior management, composition of corporate directors and development of a supplier pool. The magazine surveyed 1,000 publicly traded U.S. companies and 100 global companies with strong U.S. operations.
Sonja McCord has been working for four years to develop a pageant system that would serve as a social enterprise and an enrichment program that would create a new generation of promising Black leaders. Her solution: the Miss Black United States Program. In 2013, the organization will inaugurate the first Miss Black United States National Pageant, culminating with a rigorous enrichment program and celebrating the accomplishments of 51 innovative, experienced, and empowered leaders. Entry into the competition began with an online competition launched July 22. The program is open to natural-born females ages 20-35 who have at least 25 percent African lineage and identify themselves as Black American. Applications for the national preliminary competition are open through the official website, www.missblackunitedstates.com.
StudentsFirst, a bipartisan grassroots education reform organization, recently conducted a national survey, which found widespread support for school choice, parental empowerment and teacher evaluations. The survey was issued in a continuing effort by StudentsFirst to educate underserved, low-income communities about innovative reform measures. Throughout the survey, a clear theme emerged–voters are supportive of education reform proposals that give parents more influence in public schools. Most notably, there is strong support on a national level for “parent trigger” legislation with 70 percent of likely voters supporting such a policy. Support is similarly strong among African American voters, whose communities have disproportionately been affected by low-performing schools–year after year–with 68 percent supporting such a policy. Parent trigger, which was recently endorsed unanimously by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National Black Conference of Mayors, is a revolutionary idea that empowers parents to mobilize, sign a petition demanding change, and help turn around failing schools.