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

The board of directors of the Black AIDS Institute elected new officers to take on the challenges and opportunities in 2013 and lead the organization in a new strategic direction while continuing to tackle the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Black communities. The new board chair is Neil Lowe, Ph.D. Lowe is a partner at NoLimitss, a boutique business intelligence and data analytics firm focused on new revenue identification and organizational transformation. He has served on the Institute’s board for six years, most recently as first vice chair. The officers have the task and responsibility of leading the Institute in a new direction. The approach includes five strategic objectives: fully implement the Affordable Care Act; support people living with HIV to come out of the closet; increase demand for treatment; integrate biomedical and behavioral interventions; and promote organizational retooling for an evolving response to the AIDS epidemic in a post-healthcare reform world and one where biomedical interventions will play an ever increasing role in ending the AIDS epidemic.

Singer Toni Braxton said she is happy to be home after being admitted to a hospital for treatment of lupus, an autoimmune disease that affects a high-percentage of Black women. Officials at a Los Angeles hospital admitted the 45-year-old singer on Dec. 14. Physicians also treated her for blood clots.

District of Columbia
Alterations will be made to a controversial paraphrase carved into the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The plan, which must be submitted to the Commission of Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission, calls for the removal of paraphrase, “I was a drum major for peace and righteousness.” The memorial opened in 2011, and the paraphrase immediately became a source of controversy because it was taken out of context, complained Maya Angelou, the poet and writer. The wording made it sound as though King was boasting, Angelou said. The full quotation, taken from a 1968 sermon King delivered two months before his assassination by James Earl Ray, reads: “I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.” Work on the removal will begin in February and be completed by spring 2013.

Univision Communications Inc., the leading media company serving Hispanic America, and Bounce TV the broadcast television network for African Americans, jointly announced a distribution agreement in which Univision Television Group, which owns and/or operates 62 television stations in major U.S. Hispanic markets and Puerto Rico, will carry Bounce TV as a multicast channel of their stations in San Francisco, Boston, Miami, Denver, Sacramento, Raleigh and Tampa. The Univision launches will drive Bounce TV’s coverage to 86 percent of African American television homes and 68 percent of the total United States. Bounce TV will now be in all of the top 10 markets and 24 of the top 25 African American markets.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. launched an aggressive campaign to recruit and train environmental leaders at colleges and universities across the country through a new partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation and the sponsorship of Toyota. Under the new partnership, nine paid-internships for college students will be offered to engage Alpha Kappa Alpha chapters in tree-planting events and help their respective campuses achieve Tree Campus USA recognition. Alpha Kappa Alpha previously worked with the foundation and Toyota in 2012 on a series of campus tree-plantings, primarily at historically Black colleges and universities. The foundation will lead a pilot orientation training session this week for the newly selected Arbor Day Foundation interns, comprised of undergraduate members of the sorority from various U.S. chapters. Attorney Sharon Bridges, chairman of the International Program Committee, and committee members Jennifer Congleton and Manitia Moultrie are among those participating in the training.

New York
This week self-proclaimed fitness activator Jennifer Turner, an Athleta Sponsored Athlete and a 2012 ING New York City Marathon Featured Athlete, is launching her new health and wellness brand for real women called, Mad Cool Fitness. She will feature the first product from the Mad Cool Fitness brand, which is a new workout DVD called, Mad Cool Cardio Dance Party, at the Athleta store in New York City. The Mad Cool Cardio Dance Party is a total body, cardio dance workout that is low impact, but, high in results. From working the abs and arms to toning the “junk in your trunk,” the Mad Cool Cardio Dance Party DVD is designed for beginners to more health conscious persons to combat the holiday season weight gain blues and take charge of their health.
White Collar actor and community activist Sharif Atkins, along with actress Bethany Hotchkiss, co-hosted a benefit reception for Elevate New York. Atkins and Hotchkiss helped to raise upwards of $100,000 to support the foundation’s efforts to reduce dropout rates and increase college enrollment and graduation for at-risk youth.
Public Enemy, whose anthem is “Fight the Power,” is now part of the Rock & Roll establishment. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced that Public Enemy, Albert King and Donna Summer would be inducted into the Hall of Fame in the performer category for 2013. Joining the three as performer inductees are Heart, Randy Newman and Rush. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame also will induct Quincy Jones and Lou Adler in the non-performer category for the Ahmet Ertegun Award. Ertegun was founder and president of Atlantic Records. He is credited with discovering Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin.
WASHINGTON WATCH WITH ROLAND MARTIN earned a third NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding News/Information Series. The show’s host and managing editor Roland S. Martin scored his sixth consecutive nomination and the fifth honor with TV One for the political analyst who also received a prior recognition for his work with CNN. “I am thankful that the NAACP Hollywood branch has once again recognized the hardworking staff of Washington Watch,” said Martin. “Our goal each week is to provide Black America with a comprehensive look at the political, social and cultural issues affecting us north and south, east and west. Whether its the Trayvon Martin story, voter suppression, or the shameful images of Black women depicted in reality TV, Washington Watch will continue to be the premiere voice that speaks to the African American experience.
In recognition of International Migrants Day on Dec. 18, 2012, the Black Immigration Network, a national network of African American and Black immigrant organizations, announced its collaboration to uplift Black voices in the immigrant rights debate. The network cites the need for an understanding of racial justice as a key principle for immigration reform and for the contemporary struggle for racial equity for all people of color. The Black Immigration Network was conceived through the efforts of Oakland-based organization Black Alliance for Just Immigration, the Chicago-based Center for New Community’s Which Way Forward Program, and American Friend Services Committee’s Third World Coalition with particular help from their Northeast Regional offices. They began their efforts in 2009 and have now grown to involve over 20 organizations nationally and several hundred Black participants in a variety of convenings and advocacy efforts over the years. The observance of International Migrants Day is significant to the Black Immigration Network’s analysis of how globalization has changed the political and economic landscape in the United States and throughout the world. Various international policies, wars, corporate greed and environmental conditions ultimately displace millions of people and force them to migrate to other countries in order to survive.