Here’s a look at African American people and issues making headlines throughout the country.
Two Southern Californians were among three inducted into the NAESM Black Gay Men Hall of Fame during the National African American MSM Leadership Conference on HIV/AIDS and Other Health Disparities held at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport. Archbishop Carl Bean of Unity Fellowship Church Movement and Alan Bell of BLK Publishing Co. were among the initial inductees along, with Dr. Ron Simmons of Us Helping Us People into Living, based in Washington, D.C. Archbishop Bean and members of the Unity Fellowship Church founded the Minority AIDS Project in 1985. Alan Bell founded the Black LGBT monthly newsmagazine BLK in 1988.
Flavor Battle, America’s premier DJ competition, has been taking place since November with DJ Clue, Just Blaze, Funkmaster Flex and Spinderella serving as judges to find America’s next hottest mix-master. Fans everywhere have voted for their favorite of 24 contestant-created videos. More than 400,000 votes have whittled the competition down to just three finalists–DJ Jena Red of Los Angeles represents the Big Mac and the West Coast; DJ Arty J of St. Louis represents the Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese and Central Region; and DeeJay Element of NYC represents the Angus Third Pounder and the East Coast. Now, these three final contenders will sound off against one another in Miami on Feb. 7, all for a chance to win $10,000 and bragging rights as the 2013 Flavor Battle Champion. Fans can tune in live via webcast at FlavorBattle.com as the judges lend their expertise in order to crown this year’s champion.
More than 13,000 youth across Louisiana are expected to participate in the third annual Lemonade Day on Saturday, May 4. This year will mark the first year that Lemonade Day has expanded statewide. Lemonade Day Louisiana is a free, community-wide program that fosters entrepreneurship among Louisiana’s youth by supporting them in operating their own lemonade businesses. Young entrepreneurs are provided with a free backpack, which contains detailed support to help them establish their lemonade stand. These “lemonaders” are advised to spend a little, save a little and share a little, donating a portion of their proceeds to a local charity of their choice. After covering their expenses and paying back their investors, children are encouraged to open a youth savings account.
Missouri leads the nation in the rate of Black homicide victimization for the third year in a row according to a new analysis of unpublished Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Supplementary Homicide Report data released by the Violence Policy Center. The annual study, “Black Homicide Victimization in the United States: An Analysis of 2010 Homicide Data,” uses 2010 data–the most recent data available from the FBI–and ranks the 50 states according to their Black homicide victimization rates. The vast majority of victims nationwide–83 percent–were shot and killed with firearms, primarily handguns. In Missouri, 91 percent of victims were killed with guns. The top 10 states are Missouri, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Indiana, Maine, Louisiana, Ohio and California.
Ron J. Williams, CEO and co-founder of social networking site Knodes, was the keynote speaker at the 11th annual SmartPitch Challenge kickoff at Baruch College. A diverse set of young entrepreneurs from U.S. colleges and universities competed in the challenge, hosted by Baruch College and IBM. The competition, which celebrates New York City as a center for innovation and new business development, gives student entrepreneurs an opportunity to create and validate a business concept, pitch their ideas and follow a business plan to ultimately launch their business. A series of supporting events will be hosted throughout the challenge that will lead up to the formal SmartPitch competition scheduled on June 6. A list of events and updates can be found on Facebook.
The National Afro-American Museum reopened its doors to reveal the first phase of its year-and-a-half-long renovation. Patrons were invited to the grand opening events featuring a ribbon-cutting ceremony, speeches from local dignitaries, guided tours and musical entertainment. Guests also had access to one of the two exhibition spaces, which featured the new installation “How I Got Over,” a mixed media exhibition that reflects the African American experience and focuses on three themes of celebration, spirituality and protest.
The Black Love Lives Conference will be presented at the University of Pennsylvania on Saturday, March 16, in an effort to encourage strong families, healthy relationships and healing in the African American community. The conference will utilize dynamic workshops facilitated by leading experts who will address transformational mental, physical, spiritual and emotional aspects of sustaining lasting relationships. The conference was inspired by the award-winning documentary, Black Love Lives, a short film that explores relationships in the African American community featuring couples in ages ranging from 20s through 90s.
Demetria Tucker is the recipient of the 2013 Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement. The announcement was made by the American Library Association during the its midwinter meeting in Seattle. Tucker has served as youth services coordinator within the Roanoke Public Library System and library media specialist at the Forest Park Elementary School and coordinates a teen urban literature club and many other programs that support the youth of her community. The Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement is co-named in memory of beloved children’s author Virginia Hamilton. The annual award is presented to an African American practitioner for substantial contributions through active engagement with youth using award-winning African American literature for children and/or young adults.
Former WNBA star Lisa Leslie and former NBA star Jalen Rose have pledged their support for educational choice and will appear at a number of events in conjunction with National School Choice Week taking place at thousands of locations all across the country. The American Federation for Children will partner with the two stars in efforts to raise awareness of the plight of children who are stuck in learning situations that do not fit their individual learning needs.
Andrea Davis Pinkney, author of “Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America,” and Bryan Collier, illustrator of “I, Too, Am America,” are the winners of the 2013 Coretta Scott King Book Awards honoring African American authors and illustrators of outstanding books for children and young adults.
The Jackie Robinson Foundation presented its Chairman’s Award to two giants in the sporting world. Team owner and author Jerry Colangelo and baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson were honored at the annual birthday celebration for Jackie Robinson. Colangelo, a former college basketball player and the owner of the Phoenix Suns and the Arizona Diamondbacks, expressed his gratitude for being recognized by the foundation that bears the name of the barrier-breaking Jackie Robinson. Frank Robinson, the first African American hired to serve as manager in Major League Baseball history, told the audience about his regret that Jackie Robinson didn’t live long enough to see him rise to manager of a major league team, a hope Jackie Robinson expressed during his final public appearance.
In recognition of Black History Month, Sony Movie Channel is turning over its Take Two Tuesday-night programming franchise to movies featuring some of film’s top African American stars. Each film in the double-feature block is connected to each other in a way that cinema enthusiasts will appreciate. Richard Pryor fans, especially, will be able to enjoy some of his stand-up concert comedies, uncut and uncensored.
Compiled by JULIANA NORWOOD