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

Alabama
The U.S. Department of Education recently announced that 97 historically Black colleges will receive $227.9 million in federal funds as part of its annual Strengthening Historically Black Colleges and Universities grants. Of the 97 colleges receiving funds under the program, 15 are in Alabama. Alabama State University gets about $3.9 million, Alabama A&M University gets about $3.2 million, Lawson State Community College gets about $2.9 million, and Tuskegee University gets about $2.2 million. Other schools on the list receive anywhere from $250,000 for Gadsden State Community College to $1.7 million for Stillman College based on the number of students qualifying for Pell Grants.

California
The Oakland Unified School District and the U.S. Department of Education reached an agreement last week that would allow federal officials to monitor the district’s efforts to curb the number of out-of-school suspensions of its African American students. The resolution closes an investigation by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights into whether African American students were disciplined more frequently and harshly than their White classmates. Last school year, African American students made up about 39 percent of the district’s total enrollment but accounted for 63 percent of students with at least one suspension and 61 percent of those who were expelled, said Russlynn Ali, the department’s assistant secretary for civil rights.
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Students and workers recently stood together to fight for fair and dignified working conditions for campus workers and to defend universal access to public education for students. This demonstration focused on the recent decision by UC management to issue layoffs to five custodial workers (called the Eshleman 5) at UC Berkeley’s Lower Sproul Plaza. Ruben Reyes, one of the five laid off workers, explains: “I have been loyal to this university for six years as a senior custodian and I take pride in serving the students at UC Berkeley. My co-workers and I have recently been notified by the university that we are being laid off. These layoffs threaten the job security of all workers at UC and come at a time when the university is understaffing all our departments and hiring private subcontractors.” Despite several open custodial positions in other departments, the Eshleman 5 have been denied the opportunity to transfer and are being required to reapply with no guarantee of rehire.

District of Columbia
Six Black professionals were honored by the National Congress of Black Women during its annual brunch following the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference on Sunday, Sept. 23. E. Faye Williams, national chair of the organization, presented the honorees with the 2012 Truth Awards and the Good Brother Award before an audience of nearly 800. Named for abolitionist and rights activist Sojourner Truth, the Truth Awards are given each year to women who display remarkable leadership in their fields. A Good Brother Award is also given to a man for outstanding leadership. Pictured, from left are: Good Brother Award recipient John Hope Bryant, founder of Operation Hope, America’s first nonprofit social investment banking organization; NCBW chair, Williams; and Truth Award recipients: veteran journalist Hazel Trice Edney; award-winning Secret Service veteran Paula A. Reid; nationally renowned psychiatrist and race-theorist Dr. Francis Cress Welsing; retired Air Force pilot Monica Smith, accepting the posthumous award for Mildred Hemmons Carter, who was Alabama’s first Black female pilot; and integrative family physician Sakilibi Mines, a prolific health educator and medical director at the Institute of Multidimensional Medicine and Medical Spa.

Georgia
Thousands of business owners, budding entrepreneurs and others seeking financial security for their families are expected to convene in Atlanta for Conquer Business 2012, a two-day conference to equip, empower and prepare those with a vision for success. The conference will be held on Nov. 15-16 (Thursday and Friday) at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park, an Atlanta suburb. Conquer Business 2012 will offer workshops from some of the most renowned business owners and financial leaders to help others succeed by providing tangible tools, models and formulas for success. Additionally, conference attendees will receive private question and answer sessions with T.D. Jakes, secrets for establishing and maintaining successful businesses, meetings with top investors and financiers, and ways to develop sound reliable business plans for immediate financial success.
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Actress T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh was recently inducted into the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame during the organization’s 26th annual weekend conference in Atlanta. Keymáh joined more than a hundred fellow HistoryMakers across the country for the third annual Back-to-School with the HistoryMakers event. This year she spoke at Atlanta’s Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy. The trip was a break from rehearsals for the ever youthful Chicago native’s 50th birthday celebration of song, dance, poetry, drama and comedy, in An Evening with T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh & Friends. This extravaganza will be held on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012, at St. Sabina Academy, 7801 S. Throop St. in Chicago.
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A Georgia Superior Court judge granted John McNeil’s petition for habeas corpus [brought before a judge]. McNeil was convicted of killing Brian Epp despite evidence that he was defending himself and his family on his own property. The court’s agreed that McNeil received ineffective counsel during his trial when his attorney, among other things, “failed to request charges based on the theories of defense of habitation and/or defense of property.” Georgia’s attorney general has 30 days to appeal the court’s decision. The NAACP has sent out a petition urging Georgia Attorney General Olens not to pursue an appeal in McNeil’s case. The petition already has more than 14,567 signatures. Earlier this month, NAACP President Ben Jealous, along with NAACP Georgia State Conference President Edward DuBose and NAACP North Carolina State Conference President Rev. William Barber, met with McNeil in prison to discuss the case and their efforts to secure his freedom. A judge could grant McNeil his freedom or a new trial.

Illinois
In recognition of Dignity Day and at the call of legendary Black business icon Ed Gardner, thousands of Black residents rallied in the streets of Chicago to unite and start a new campaign at fighting for Black contracts and Black construction workers on city projects. The rally’s purpose was to put a focus on communities where Blacks have suffered through violence while watching thousands of qualified workers who could be involved in construction and other economic empowerment projects, forced into the gang, drug, and other illegal street economies.

New York
A leading source on African news will be debuting a dynamic documentary on today’s African society, including business, politics and technology. Africa.com, one of the leading sources for Africa news and information, is set to globally release the 30-minute film “Africa Straight Up” on Oct. 8, 2012, on www.Africa.com. Written and executive produced by Teresa Clarke, narrated by South African Warren Adams, choreographer of the highly anticipated Broadway play “Motown: The Musical,” and with a sound track of Africa’s hottest music stars, multi-platinum South African singer Lira and Nigerian Hip Hop star M.I., the film takes viewers on a journey across the continent to witness the progress and passion of Africa through the eyes of its people.

Pennsylvania
NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous addressed reporters outside the Harrisburg, Pa., courthouse recently as Judge Robert Simpson heard arguments about the state’s voter photo ID law. “We are cautiously optimistic that the court will file an injunction against the voter photo ID law,” stated Jealous. The law, passed by the Pennsylvania Legislature and signed by the governor this year, requires voters to present government approved photo ID in order to vote. Reports show that hundreds of thousands of registered and eligible Pennsylvania voters do not have an acceptable ID. Proponents of the law have indicated that the law is intended to prevent voter fraud, but have acknowledged that the voter fraud prevented by the new requirement has not occurred in the state in recent history and is unlikely to occur even without the ID requirement. Since 2000, only 10 cases of in-person voter fraud have been proven nationally.

Texas
Frederick D. Haynes III, pastor of the Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas, was recently honored by the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Foundation Inc. during the organization’s 27th annual Hall of Fame Weekend Conference in Atlanta. Haynes is a member of the 2012 Class of Inductees and is being recognized for his “exceptional achievements” in the field of faith/theology and support of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Under Haynes’ leadership, Friendship-West is one of the largest contributors within the faith community to the United Negro College Fund. He was nominated for the Hall of Fame by Paul Quinn College where he serves on the board of directors and has taught as an adjunct professor.
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The State Fair of Texas and the Southwest Airlines State Fair Classic football game are back for the third year, which also includes the official State Fair Classic after-party, The LaTex Classic, the only official Grambling vs. Prairie View after-party, LaTex (which is an abbreviation for Louisiana and Texas party), will be held at the Dallas Convention Center. Also for the third year in a row LaTex officials are expecting approximately 10,000 people in attendance for what has grown to be the largest indoor after-party in the South. LaTex features some of the top DJ’s and hosts from Texas and Louisiana, including DJ Alo from Houston, DJ Frosty from Dallas, B Solo from Louisiana and DJ Phat from Louisiana. In addition to the star-studded DJ lineup, the event will be co-hosted by talent from Dallas urban radio stations. The radio talent includes Hollywood Bay Bay and Ki Ki J from K104 as well as M Squared and J Kruz from 97.9 The Beat.

COMPILED BY JULIANA NORWOOD