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

The BET Honors 2013 award show aired this week with an important tribute to Jenesse Center’s esteemed ambassador, Halle Berry, with the 2013 Service Award for her decade of service to Jenesse’s mission to aid women, children and families who suffer from domestic violence. Karen Earl, CEO of Jenesse said, “The BET Honors program highlighted people who are a picture of what extraordinary looks like. Halle has for more than 12 years, day and night, been a part of Jenesse’s critical lifesaving work. She has asked for nothing; however, the very light of what she helps us to accomplish, brings visibility to her big heart and a voice to our mission and our cause. We join BET in honoring Halle for her selfless work to save families in crisis.”
Congresswoman Maxine Waters recently received the Delta Chapter of Chi Eta Phi Sorority’s Humanitarian Award. Chi Eta Phi is a national organization of registered professional and student nurses that aims to elevate the profile of the nursing profession and enhance interest in the field. “Congresswoman Waters has been our voice in Washington and a very strong one,” said Delta Chapter President Terri Taylor-Hopkins. “She received the Humanitarian Award for her outstanding commitment and dedication to expanding access to healthcare services for all Americans. She has been a leading advocate in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and is also the author of legislation to expand health services for patients with diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.”

A new lawsuit alleges that the city of Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department’s (JFRD) hiring, transfer and assignment policies have a disproportionately adverse effect on Black employees. The lawsuit, filed by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, also alleges that JFRD subjects African American employees to a hostile and racially charged work environment in violation of the Civil Rights Act. The Lawyers’ Committee and pro bono local counsel Kirsten Doolittle filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Jacksonville, on behalf of the Jacksonville Branch of the NAACP and the Jacksonville Brotherhood of Firefighters (JBOF), an organization representing present, past, and aspiring Black firefighters, after three years of efforts to resolve the allegations failed. While Jacksonville’s population is 30.7 percent African American, as few as 20 percent of firefighters are Black and many of them are set to retire in the next two years.

Michael Jordan, the former basketball superstar and now National Basketball Association team owner, is selling his mansion near Chicago for $29 million. The three-level 56,000-square-foot home in Highland Park, Ill., has nine bedrooms, five fireplaces and 15 bathrooms, according to a news release issued by Baird & Warner, a Chicago-based real estate firm. In addition, the estate features a three-bedroom guest house, an indoor-outdoor swimming pool and entertainment area, a tennis court, a putting green, a deep-water pond and three multi-car garages.

Reinvigorating efforts to diversify the National Park System, legislation was reintroduced by senators Ben Cardin, Barbara Mikulski, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Charles Schumer this week to honor Harriet Tubman, by creating national park sites along Maryland’s eastern shore and in Auburn, N.Y. “The legislation reintroduction is appropriately timed, as our country celebrates Black History Month. House and Senate legislation was also introduced this week for the Interior Department to allow the National Park Service to study the historic importance of Buffalo Soldiers in our national parks, and examine opportunities to share this piece of history with visitors from across the country and beyond, through a potential future national park site,” said Kati Schmidt, senior media relations manager, National Parks Conservation Association.

New York
Grammy Award-winning DJ Spinderella, alongside renowned spin veterans/beatsmiths DJ Clue and Just Blaze, crowned DJ Element of Brooklyn, N.Y., as the McDonald’s Flavor Battle champion. Hundreds of audiophiles assembled at Miami Beach’s Cameo nightclub, where DJ Element brought the most flavor and out-spun two contenders–DJ Jena Red of Pasadena, Calif., and DJ Arty J of St. Louis, Mo.–to ultimately win $10,000 and bragging rights. “It feels incredible to be the Flavor Battle champion,” said DJ Element. “This competition has been an amazing journey, from advancing in three online rounds to being hand-picked by some of the most well-known DJs in the industry. I will always be grateful to the fans, McDonald’s and the judges for giving me this opportunity.”
The Network Journal (TNJ), an award-winning business magazine offering vital trade and industry news for today’s African American professionals, corporate executives and small-business owners, is currently seeking nominations for its 16th annual 40 Under Forty Achievement Awards. The selected group of honorees will be recognized for their contribution to the community and the success they have achieved in their business or professional career. The winners will be profiled in the May/June 2013 issue of the magazine, and will be honored at an awards ceremony on June 13, 2013. The deadline for submission is Friday, Feb. 22. The awards are open to Black men and women who are business owners or senior executives in the public, private, or nonprofit sectors. The Network Journal seeks applicants with a proven track record, as well as exceptional up-and-coming individuals in a given field. The ideal candidate will be an accomplished professional or business owner with a commitment to excellence and dedicated to his or her community. For more information

The Oshea Group, founded and operated for the past 22 years by former NBA player, Steffond Johnson, chose this year’s NBA All-Star weekend in Houston as the backdrop to announce several bold new initiatives for his marketing and development arm, Beyond The Game. The first was naming veteran corporate branding and Internet developer Charles C. Gaines as CEO. “I am extremely excited about the opportunity to join Steffond in taking an amazing brand like BTG to heights beyond even our wild imaginations,” commented Gaines. “Initiatives for Beyond The Game include a heavy dose of technology, as evidenced by a completely revamped website and a newly launched mobile app currently available for iOS and Android called “Beyond The Game Houston.”
Sisters Network Inc., 2013 National African American Breast Cancer Tour will be hosted in Durham, N.C., on Feb. 23, 2013, at the Radisson Hotel Research Triangle Park. Sisters Network Inc., is the only National African American breast cancer survivorship organization. The Durham area conference is hosted by Sisters Network Inc. Triangle Chapter in partnership with the organization’s national office.

Children’s book author T.A. Barron believes that today’s youth can make a difference in their world. To inspire young people, he created the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes. The Barron Prize honors young people ages 8 to 18 that have made a significant positive difference by helping others and/or the environment through a service project. Every year, 10 national winners each receive $2,500 to support their service work or higher education. Nominations can be made by teachers, advisers or activity leaders and the entry deadline is April 30. For more information and nomination packets, visit

Compiled by Juliana Norwood