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

California Community Foundation has launched IamBLOOM (, a new website and online community, as part of a strategic initiative to create a viable pathway to better educational and job opportunities for Black male youth who have been involved with the probation system. BLOOM’s spokesperson, Larenz Tate, has taken a great interest in the well being of Black male youth and continues to be a voice for these marginalized youngsters. IamBLOOM features the profiles of the Black youth who are turning their lives around, as well as opportunities for companies, government agencies, charitable foundations, service organizations and concerned individuals to provide much-needed support. BLOOM seeks to create jobs and educational opportunities for at least 2,000 young Black men, ages 14-18, by 2017.
Essence, the magazine for African American women, continues its commitment to recognizing excellence and achievement during its fourth annual Essence Black Women in Music event on Feb. 6, in Los Angeles. The invitation-only, red-carpet Grammy-week event will highlight the contributions of Black women in music, with a special salute to what’s current, what’s new and what’s next. Hosted by global, multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning artist Kelly Rowland and Essence editor-at-large Emil Wilbekin, the 2013 event will shine a spotlight on artists Lianne La Havas and Solange Knowles, who will each perform live as part of the celebration.

The 11th annual Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase, presented by Verizon and official banking sponsor SunTrust Bank, will welcome celebrated actress and Grammy-winning singer Brandy to the stage as a special guest performer at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Jan. 26, alongside eight of the nation’s top Historically Black College and University (HBCU) marching bands. This year’s “House Party” theme will be brought to life with additional performances and an on-the-field fan-participation dance contest. The 2013 Invitational Showcase will feature performances from the HBCU marching bands from Edward Waters College, Albany State University, Tennessee State University, Alcorn State University, Jackson State University, Winston-Salem State University, Bethune-Cookman University, and North Carolina A&T University. In honor of this year’s theme, the showcase will open with a performance by American dance music singer and songwriter, Crystal Waters, popular for her dance music hits.
The Black History Month Parade committee has announced that it will hold the annual parade in downtown Atlanta, on Saturday, Feb. 23. The parade will celebrate the culture, heritage, history and accomplishments of Black Americans in the United States and around the world. The 2013 Black History Month parade is scheduled to take place on Peachtree Street leading to the historic Underground in downtown Atlanta. The route will wind through the location of many corporate headquarters, special attractions and an area that is the central most traveled historic tourist attraction in the South. A post-parade event will feature live entertainers performing modern music, live arts performers and artists, public speakers, food, beverages, art and family-oriented programs in the historic Atlanta Underground plaza. For more information, visit

Johnson Publishing Co., LLC, has named Cheryl Mayberry McKissack as chief operating officer, a newly created position at the company. In her role, McKissack will be responsible for media sales, marketing, production, operations, and research; she will also assume the role of president of the company’s digital business unit, which houses properties, including the Ebony Collection, and She joins the company after serving as a digital strategy consultant for the firm for the past 18 months. McKissack is the founder, president, and CEO of Nia Enterprises, LLC, a Chicago-based online research, marketing, and digital consulting firm she has operated for the past 12 years. Prior to that, she served as worldwide senior vice president and general manager for Open Port Technology, and was vice president for the Americas and a founding member of the network systems division for 3Com (formerly U.S. Robotics). McKissack started her technology career with the IBM Corp., where she enjoyed a 14-year career in sales, marketing and management.

Nine-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis just made Oscar history as the youngest actress ever to be nominated for Best Actress. She is starring as Hushpuppy in the film “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” which was also nominated as Best Picture and won rave reviews at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. From Houma, La., Wallis was just 5 years old when she auditioned for the role, and has received major recognition and critical acclaim for her performance.

New York
In February 2010, Laverne Wilkinson of Brooklyn felt chest pains and thought she was having a heart attack, according to an article in the New York Daily News. She went to see a doctor at Kings County Hospital, but despite her X-ray showing a suspicious nodule in her lung, she was told to go home and take pain medication. Now, she has Stage 4 lung cancer that has spread to her liver, spine and brain, and has only six months to live. The radiologist’s recommendation for Wilkinson to have a follow up X-ray and CT was never communicated to her, not even during two years of follow-up appointments. When she returned to the ER in spring 2012–wheezing and short of breath–a new chest X-ray showed the nodule was cancerous, had more than doubled in size and spread to her left lung. According to experts, had she been properly diagnosed in 2010, the nodule could have been easily removed and it would have never spread.

South Carolina
Mamie Rearden, recognized by Guinness World Records as the oldest living American, has died at 114 years old. Rearden was born on Sept. 7, 1898, in Edgefield, where she was raised and lived all her life. She was a school teacher for a short time, and was married for 59 years until her husband’s death in 1979. She raised 11 children. At the time of her death, she lived in the family homestead with a son and a daughter on land that had been in the family since her father’s accumulation of acreage that made him one of the area’s largest Black landowners.

As part of the company’s continued commitment to education and support for Historically Black Colleges amd Universities, Wells Fargo has announced a $3 million donation to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). As part of the donation, Wells Fargo will invest $1 million annually in the UNCF during the next three years to help students get an education that prepares them for college coursework and college success.
Lifetime television will celebrate Black History Month in February with an impressive trio of world premiere movies featuring major award-winning casts, including “Betty and Coretta,” starring Golden Globe Award-winner and Academy Award-nominee Angela Bassett and executive-produced by nine-time Grammy-winning recording artist Mary J. Blige; “Twist of Faith,” with six-time Grammy-winner Toni Braxton, Mykelti Williamson, and David Julian Hirsh, and “Pastor Brown,” featuring Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Nicole Ari Parker and Michael B. Jordan. The premieres of “Betty and Coretta,” “Twist of Faith” and “Pastor Brown” come on the heels of Lifetime’s 10 NAACP Image Award nominations–more than any other basic cable network–for “Steel Magnolias,” 2012’s No. 1 cable movie telecast among key demographics.

The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund (CBHF) began winding down its operations on Dec. 31, 2012, after having committed the remaining $54 million in aid. The CBHF is taking a step back as the Haitian people continue the work the fund started. Leading the efforts is Haitian native and former NBA player, Olden Polynice, who was recently named by the president of Haiti, Michell Martelly, as ambassador to Haiti for sports and entertainment. In a private ceremony held on Jan. 12, exactly three years from the date of the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake, Polynice discussed the progress made, plans, and the work still needed to help Haiti become self-reliant. The event was held at the Galarie Lakaye, an art gallery in Los Angeles dedicated to representing Haitian and Caribbean artists. As the ambassador for sports and entertainment, Polynice invited his sports and entertainment colleagues to join him at this exclusive red carpet event and his U.S. inauguration for his role as ambassador.