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

Essence will recognize the extraordinary achievements of Black women in film and television with its sixth annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon, taking place on Feb. 21 at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Essence will honor six of the industry’s most inspiring African American female talents, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes, with an esteemed Black Women in Hollywood Award: Oprah Winfrey (Power Award), Alfre Woodard (Vanguard Award), Gabrielle Union (Fierce & Fearless Award), Mara Brock-Akil (Visionary Award), Naomie Harris (Lincoln Shining Star Award), and 2013 Oscar nominee Quvenzhane Wallis (Breakthrough Performance). One of Hollywood’s most anticipated events during awards season, this star-studded affair commemorates Essence magazine’s annual Hollywood issue (March), which will be available on newsstands on Feb. 8.
Hollywood actress Alysia Rogers, best known for her roles in the classic movies “Boyz n the Hood” and “Kid N’ Play’s Class Act,” will visit students at John Muir Junior High School in Los Angeles, located at 5929 S. Vermont Ave. Rogers will speak on Jan. 31, and emphasize the importance of rising above negativity. An in-demand actress who left Hollywood to raise her daughter, Rogers believes in empowering and motivating youth, and is committed to encouraging people to change their lives for the better–regardless of their past. Rogers recently made a comeback to the Hollywood scene after a 20-year hiatus and landed a leading role in 4 Heart Productions’ short film, “Beyond Merritt,” the true story of Lynda Merritt, a drug-addicted single mom who finds herself in the grips of drug addiction, poverty, loss, and despair.
Known as innovators of the game of basketball for decades, the world famous Harlem Globetrotters are again introducing something unparalleled in the history of sports and family entertainment, taking kid participation and fun to a whole new level on their 2013 “You Write the Rules” World Tour. For the first time ever, fans will decide the rules for the game that could affect the final outcome. The new rules will be on display during four games in 2013 in the L.A. area between Feb. 16-18, including the Honda Center, Staples Center, and Citizens Business Bank Arena. Fans can go online with their kids to to vote for which ground-breaking rule they want to see implemented in the game. Then, fans can purchase tickets to see the winning rules live at the game. Tickets are on sale now at and each respective box office.
District of Columbia
On the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, a new book offered a deeply personal and unique look at racism from an unlikely vantage point. In “My Black Family, My White Privilege: A White Man’s Journey Through the Nation’s Racial Minefield,” author Michael R. Wenger presents a unique perspective as a Jewish man from New York City who marries an African American woman from the segregated South. This retrospective work chronicles his 11-year marriage and the evolution of his Black family, as well as his work in promoting racial justice during an historic time of tumult and civil unrest spurred by persistent and widespread racial bias and injustice across the United States. Wenger, now a senior fellow at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies and an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Sociology at George Washington University, previously served as deputy director for outreach and program development for President Clinton’s Initiative on Race.

Mitch Duitz and Mark Peterson, co-founders of Ereptus, announced the launch of Rescue, the firm’s first-ever mobile application for deal sharing and payment. Available for the iPhone and Android smartphones, the new app provides users with the means to manage and share deals with family and friends through a variety of social media. “Ereptus is a leading provider of deal-management mobile solutions targeted at small, minority and women-owned businesses,” said Peterson, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and Atlanta’s Black Founders. The new app allows consumers to experience cost savings on products they already purchase and receive greater discounts or free merchandise when they share with others. Rescue users can use the app to scan barcodes and check online pricing, create personal shopping lists, and store and manage their shopping receipts.

Churchgoers attending Sunday worship services at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church received the good word and some good news too, as Pastor Charles Jenkins announced that the historic church is now the proud owner of a historic property–the former headquarters of the Soft Sheen beauty products company. The 14.5-acre site will be the new location of the church and a mixed-use development project, which promises to enhance the social fabric of the community marking a major milestone in a broad vision for the property at 8522 S. Lafayette Ave. The landmark multimillion-dollar donation comes from the foundation of Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., an Oklahoma City-based national arts and crafts chain, which bough the property, that has contributed to faith-based initiatives nationwide for many years.

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra OrchKids Artistic Director Daniel Trahey will be a featured speaker at TEDxBaltimore’s 2013 event, “Baltimore ReWired” on Jan. 25 at Morgan State University. The event’s theme is “Reconceptionalizing the Urban Landscape.” Trahey will describe how OrchKids’ revolutionary methods of using music as a vehicle for social change is revitalizing young lives and entire neighborhoods in Baltimore City. His talk will be followed by a performance by the OrchKids Orchestra. TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 26 years ago, TED has grown to support those world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. At TED, the world’s leading thinkers and doers are asked to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. Talks are then made available, free, at
The world’s oldest intercollegiate fraternity founded by African American men–Alpha Phi Alpha–celebrated the official installation of new general president and Detroit resident, Mark S. Tillman. The celebration and recognition attracted well-known community and national names like Congressman Bobby Scott of Virginia, Congressman John Conyers, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Damon Keith, news anchor Vic Carter, and Fox Detroit’s own Huel Perkins. The inauguration ceremony was a weekend filled with greetings, celebrations and community involvement including Brenda Lawrence, the mayor of Southfield, Mich., who declared Jan. 6, Mark S. Tillman Day in the city of Southfield.

Microsoft has announced that it is giving away millions in scholarships this year. The company is offering four different types of technical scholarships for the 2013-2014 academic year to current undergraduate students: General Scholarships, Women’s Scholarships, Minority Scholarships, and Scholarships for Students with Disabilities. To be eligible, applicants must be enrolled full time in a bachelor’s degree program at a four-year college or university in the United States, Canada or Mexico. Further, students must be making satisfactory progress toward an undergraduate degree in computer science, computer engineering, or a related technical discipline such as electrical engineering, math or physics. In addition to submitting an application, students must submit a resume, an academic transcript, answers to essay questions, a letter of referral, and a confirmation page from the online application. The deadline to apply is Feb. 1, 2013. For information, go to