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

According to US Weekly, 33-year-old singer Brandy is engaged to groom-to-be Ryan Press, a music exec she’s been dating for about a year. A family friend said the two are “thrilled and happy.” The couple went public with their romance last year about this time, and just four month later in March Brandy openly expressed her desire to get married in an interview with People magazine. Brandy, who has a 10-year-old daughter Sy’rai, has never been married before.

In 2001, the Healthy Start Coalition of Miami-Dade created a leading community-based prenatal care agency for mothers and babies to ensure that babies grow up healthy. Since its inception, Healthy Start has remained committed to this cause. Today, the agency takes great pride in serving more than 24,000 pregnant women, 30,000 infants and 3,000 women between pregnancies to give families a healthy start from the very start. To further ensure that its mission is carried out effectively, the agency has developed a one-of-a-kind publication, entitled the Family Resource Directory–a guide for all things healthy. The Family Resource Directory is a free publication that will also include a comprehensive listing of birthing hospitals and pediatricians, plus information on breast-feeding, vaccination, and more. More than 10,000 copies of the directories will be printed and available in spring 2013.
The upcoming Jan. 14 issue of Jet magazine asks the question “Is Your Child Next?” and addresses the recent death of Jordan Russell Davis, the Georgia teen who was recently shot and killed by a Caucasian man in Florida because he was playing his music too loud. The case is the second of it’s kind in the state of Florida, following the well-known Trayvon Martin case. Inside the issue, Davis’ parents, Ron Davis and Lucia McBath, sit down with journalist Denene Millner to talk about how they are seeking justice for their son and why they want to see the laws changed. The family is petitioning the Obama administration to declare the state’s Stand Your Ground law illegal.

The Allstate Gospel Superfest will hold its 14th national TV recording and festival in Atlanta on Saturday, March 9. The show will take place at the Georgia International Convention Center (Atlanta airport area) and feature some of America’s most accomplished names in the field of inspirational and R&B music. Artists scheduled to appear include The Chicago Mass Choir, Tramaine Hawkins, Dorinda Clark Cole, Dottie Peoples, DeWayne Woods, Byron Cage, Anita Wilson, Earnest Pugh, Beverly Crawford, Ricky Dillard & New G, Regina Belle, LEXI, and Lonnie Hunter. The show will be hosted by accomplished actress and TV star Wendy Raquel Robinson, who is known for her lead role as the character “Tasha Mack” on the hit BET Network series “The Game.”
Exactly 500 people were murdered in Chicago in 2012. The 500th person was 40-year-old Nathaniel Jackson, who was shot in the head while standing outside a store in the city’s West Side Austin neighborhood. It was a grim milestone for Chicago, as the city had not reached 500 homicides since 2008, which ended with 513 homicides. According to the Chicago Tribune, prior to 2008, the city had not seen the homicide rate above 500 since the year 2004. Although 500 seems very high, the numbers have actually decreased since its all-time peak of 667 homicides in 2001.

Multi-award-winning child actor Anthony Michael Hobbs co-stars as a young Frederick Douglass in the PBS Special “The Abolitionist,” which premiered on Jan. 8. Actor/director Richard Brooks (“Law & Order,” “The Crow”) plays the adult Douglass. The three-hour documentary airs in two more parts on Jan. 15 and 23, as part of PBS’ American Experience Series. Douglass is one of five abolitionists highlighted that rallied to end slavery. The other four include William Lloyd Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe, John Brown and Angelina Grimke.

Soul legend Bobby Womack has been diagnosed with the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. “The doctor said you have signs of Alzheimer’s,” the 68-year-old singer revealed on BBC 6 music. “He said it’s not bad yet but it’s going to get worse. How can I not remember songs that I wrote? That’s frustrating.” Womack, whose career has spanned more than 50 years, wrote and performed numerous hits, including “California Dreamin,” “That’s the Way I feel About Cha,” and “Across 110th Street.” He also wrote the Rolling Stones’ first UK No. 1 hit, “It’s All Over Now,” and was more recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. “With the support of many good doctors, my family, and all of my wonderful fans, I will continue to write and perform and bring the good music to the people for as long as I can,” Womack told CNN following his diagnosis.

The Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, who co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and fought for Black civil rights alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., will be the keynote speaker in this year’s commemoration of King at the University of Virginia. With the theme, “Montgomery to Main,” the 2013 Community MLK Celebration spans a month of events, beginning with the 28th annual Martin Luther King Community Celebration at Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church on Jan. 13 and concluding with a screening of “Walk On: The Rosa Parks Story” on Feb. 8 at the Paramount Theater. Other special guests include Julian Bond, the comedian Akintunde and historian James Patterson.

As the U.S. economy continues to rebound, the number of scholarships available to students also is increasing. Every year, more than $40 billion dollars in scholarships are given away, and experts estimate that in the year 2013 that number will climb even higher. Contrary to popular belief, 97 percent of all scholarships are given away by colleges and universities themselves, and the other 3 percent are given away by nonprofit organizations and local/federal government agencies. The amount of funding that most give away depends on how much revenue and donations are being generated. It’s estimated that a staggering $50 billion in scholarship money will be given away this year. One website,, a free online directory of the latest scholarships and education grants, is already publishing available 2013 scholarships for students, parents and teachers.
The February cover of Ebony magazine’s special Black Love issue will hit the presses soon. Ebony pays tribute to different aspects of Black Love with three diverse cover subjects: Bishop T.D. Jakes and wife Serita, who opened their home in Fort Worth, Texas, for the first time for the shoot; hip hop/R&B and reality TV’s favorite couple T.I. and Tiny, and Hollywood newlyweds Meagan Good and DeVon Franklin. This is the first time each couple has been featured on an Ebony cover. In this feature, each couple explores the dynamics of their relationships and how they truly found happiness, whether it was asking a higher power to guide them down the aisle or the “ride-or-die” needed when faced with adversities. The couples discuss marriage, secrets to making it work, and finding “happily ever after.”