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

A San Francisco Bay Area newlywed couple, Kevin Weston and Lateefah Simon, have started a national effort to register 1,000 African Americans as possible bone marrow donors and find a match for Kevin, who needs to undergo a transplant in less than two months for an extremely rare form of leukemia. Kevin was diagnosed with T-cell Prolymphocytic Leukemia (T-PLL), which primarily affects adults over the age of 30. The cancer is very rare and aggressive, with only 10 cases per year in the United States. The couple urges African Americans to find and attend a local drive-in their communities and to join the Be the Match bone marrow registry. Registering takes just a few minutes, and involves a pre-screening and swab sample of the inside of the cheek. People can also go online to to order a kit to be sent to their homes. For more information on Kevin and Lateefah’s story visit
Metta World Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest, star forward for the Los Angeles Lakers, leads the roster of judges for the statewide high school student video contest called Directing Change. The contest is part of statewide efforts to prevent suicide, reduce stigma and discrimination related to mental illness, and to promote the mental health and wellness of students. High school students throughout California are invited to Direct Change by submitting 60-second public service announcements in two categories: suicide prevention and eliminating stigma about mental illness. Deadline to submit video entries is March 1, 2013.

District of Columbia
U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer announced during President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Luncheon that a statue of the civil rights icon Rosa Parks will be added to the National Statuary Hall, where the luncheon took place at the U.S. Capitol, before the end of the year. Parks will be the first African American woman to have her likeness depicted in the hall, said Schumer, who also was in charge of organizing the inauguration. Schumer is chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, and in that position he oversees the capitol’s artwork.

Florida A&M University, still embroiled in a wrongful death lawsuit for a student band member, has submitted a 27-page response to a state investigation. Florida lawmakers want to know why FAMU failed to stop widespread hazing on campus, which ultimately led to the death of band member Robert Champion Jr. in 2011. He was beaten to death by fellow band members in a hazing ritual. FAMU has responded by insisting that its current anti-hazing program “embraces and exceeds 16 best practices for anti-hazing programs.” The school has created new administrative positions, including a newly hired anti-hazing official. FAMU has also launched a website encouraging students to report hazing, and has put much greater institutional control on its famed “Marching 100” band.

Bronner Bros. International has announced the 2013 BB ICON award honorees. Presented by Clairol Professional, the awards will pay homage to individuals and businesses that impact the world of beauty and style. The black-tie event will take place on Monday, Feb. 18, at the historic Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University in downtown Atlanta. The event will feature “Evolution of Style” vignettes with models donning iconic hairstyles, makeup and fashion from the ’60s through today. “These special vignettes will represent each of the six decades in which Bronner Bros. has been in business,” said Gerald Render, vice president of marketing. “The presentation will also visually reminds us of the power and influence that beauty and fashion industry professionals hold, particularly [for] African Americans.”

New York
For the first time in its 13-year history, The Black Reel Awards will be presented in New York City. The awards presentation will take place on Feb. 7 at MIST Harlem, the Foundation for the Advancement of African Americans in Film (FAAAF) announced. MIST Harlem is the country’s first completely minority-owned, converged entertainment center to consist of a three-screen digital cinema, live performance venue and restaurant combined. The Black Reel Awards annually selects and spotlights films and performances featuring African Americans, as well as people of color throughout the African Diaspora. The 13th annual Black Reel Awards will simultaneously reveal the winners from a live presentation at MIST and on the Black Reel Awards Live Broadcast on BlogTalkRadio.

The 2013 Urban Invitational, which is returning to Houston for the second consecutive year, will exclusively feature four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) for the first time in the event’s history. The four participating collegiate baseball programs are Alabama State University (Montgomery), Southern University (Baton Rouge, La.), Prairie View A&M University (Prairie View, Texas) and Texas Southern University (Houston). The Urban Invitational is the annual, round-robin collegiate baseball tournament designed by Major League Baseball to give HBCUs and their baseball programs national exposure. All Urban Invitational games will be played at Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros Feb. 22-24. The games on Saturday, Feb. 23, will air live on MLB Network and, beginning at 4 p.m. CST (5 p.m. EST), with play-by-play by MLB Network analysts Joe Magrane and Paul Severino.

Cleveland native Lorenzo Herman, 39, currently studying to become a Jesuit priest, was installed as president of the National Black Catholic Seminarians Association (NBCSA). For the former Air Force in-flight refueling specialist, community activist and actor, it was just the latest in a series of diverse accomplishments. And a surprising twist for a boy raised Baptist. As incoming president of the NBCSA, Herman takes the reins from outgoing president Rev. Mr. Dwayne Davis, who attests to Herman’s strengths: “It’s no surprise to me that Lorenzo Herman was chosen as our new president. I believe that Lorenzo is the next stepping stone to make our group a success.” The NBCSA, founded in 1968, is committed to building brotherly fraternity and spiritual bonds among black Catholic seminarians across the United States.

Salt Lake Community College celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. with a series of events. Professor Michele Goodwin provided the college’s Martin Luther King Jr. Keynote address, entitled: “Assisted Reproductive Technologies, Social Justice, Race and Civil Rights.” SLCC also presented a Humanitarian Awards ceremony and panel discussion on Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Beloved Community.” The event also honored the 2013 “Embracing the Dream” award recipients, artist and activist Ruby Chacon, Bishop Scott Hayashi, and Jack Hesleph, SLCC director of Student Employment and Cooperative Ed. Services. This annual award recognizes individuals and/or organizations for outstanding service and advocacy toward fulfillment of “The Dream.”

Award-winning content producer Keith Clinkscales, who launched Vibe magazine with Quincy Jones and Time Warner, is starting a new venture with ESPN–an online Internet destination on sports and culture. Clinkscales’ promises engaging, insightful and entertaining coverage of the intersection of sports, pop culture and race. ESPN announced a relationship with The Shadow League that consists of funding as well as the potential to develop various content opportunities. The Shadow League remains an independent company with its own editorial voice. Clinkscales said will be a go-to website for edgy, forward-thinking perspectives, led by editor in chief Vincent Thomas (“The Black Quarterback Is Dead”), and supported by the site’s deputy editor Khalid Salaam and social media editor James Carr (“Marijuana Propaganda and Mathieu”).

The African Union has called on its member countries, the economic community and Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the continental organization, according to the Global Information Network. The AU Commission said that the actual date should be celebrated with cultural activities, debates, school contests and public inquiries. Plans for the 50th anniversary celebrations will be submitted by AU Commission chairwoman Nkozasana Dlamini-Zuma to the 20th summit of AU heads of state and government at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa under the theme “Pan-Africanism and Renaissance.”