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

The vice president and Black leaders, commemorating a famous civil rights march on Sunday, said efforts to diminish the impact of African Americans’ votes haven’t stopped in the years since the 1965 Voting Rights Act added millions to Southern voter rolls. More than 5,000 people followed Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma’s annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee. The event commemorates the “Bloody Sunday” beating of voting rights marchers–including Lewis–by state troopers as they began a march to Montgomery in March 1965. The 50-mile march prompted Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act that struck down impediments to voting by African Americans and ended all-White rule in the South. Biden, the first sitting vice president to participate in the annual re-enactment, said nothing shaped his consciousness more than watching TV footage of the beatings. “We saw in stark relief the rank hatred, discrimination and violence that still existed in large parts of the nation,” he said. Biden said marchers “broke the back of the forces of evil,” but that challenges to voting rights continue today with restrictions on early voting and voter registration drives and enactment of voter ID laws where no voter fraud has been shown.

District of Columbia
The 2013 Symposium on U.S. Healthcare at Howard University has announced Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, as its keynote speaker on Wednesday, April 10. Health professionals from across the nation will assemble at Howard for the one-day event, held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Armour Blackburn Center, 2397 6th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. Attendees and speakers from health professions will focus on minority health disparities, building the capacity to combat issues through education, research and community leadership, and establishing a pipeline for minorities in STEM careers. Health disparities among minority U.S. populations and ethnic groups are apparent in the adult deaths, infant mortality rates and other oft-cited health measures. By promoting minority preparation for leadership roles and improving access to a more diverse group of health professionals, health outcomes can be improved in vulnerable communities. The event is free and open to the public, although registration is required. To register, visit

For the ninth year, Spelman College will host its annual Leadership and Women of Color Conference featuring actress/entrepreneur Nicole Ari Parker and famed crisis communications expert/author Judy Smith–the real-life inspiration for ABC’s hit series “Scandal”–as two of its honorees and keynote speakers. The two-day event will be held at the Georgia International Convention Center, May 15-16. Convened by Jane E. Smith, Ed.D., executive director of the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement at Spelman, the conference will feature notable thought leaders and industry influencers engaging attendees from business, public policy, and education in detailed discussions centered on the theme: “Strategic Leadership: Building Wealth, Entrepreneurship and Paying It Forward.” This event will provide information and tools to help 21st-century women of color strategically focus on building wealth, creating businesses and using both to make important, sustainable contributions to their communities.

A jury on Monday convicted former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick of most of the federal charges against him–including racketeering conspiracy, extortion and the filing of false tax returns–in a case that accused him of using the mayor’s office to enrich himself and associates. Kilpatrick was sent to a federal detention facility by U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Edmunds hours after being convicted in the corruption trial. Kilpatrick was the biggest target of a years-long Detroit City Hall corruption probe that led to the convictions of two dozen people. The former mayor was found guilty on 24 of 30 counts in federal court in Detroit. He could face up to 20 years in prison. Sentencing did not take place Monday morning.

Liberty Counsel has joined Personhood Mississippi in announcing a Life at Conception Citizen’s Initiative, which states: “The right to life begins at conception. All human beings, at every stage of development, are unique, created in God’s image, and shall enjoy the inalienable right to life as persons under the law.” The new proposed amendment was filed this week with the Mississippi secretary of state’s office. Once the ballot title and summary have been finalized, ballot sponsors will have 12 months to collect nearly 108,000 signatures. In 2010, Personhood Mississippi submitted about 40,000 more signatures than the required number.

New York answered first lady Michelle Obama’s call for parents to get involved in the fight against childhood obesity. The grassroots organization kicked off National Nutrition Month with a “Food Power” conference and film screening to promote healthy eating habits and urge participants to support the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recently released guidelines on school meals. A video welcome from the first lady motivated moms, dads, bloggers, and community activists gathered in Brooklyn, N.Y. “I’m so thrilled to have and all of your grassroots muscle and passion working right by our side because, as we’ve seen again and again through ‘Let’s Move,’ people like you play a vitally important role in helping our kids eat healthier and get the physical activity they need,” Michelle Obama said. “If you all are not leading the way in your community then who will?”
In light of the recent Supreme Court hearings on Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Affirmative Action, Marriage Equality, and the pending Trayvon Martin trial, the Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network have called an emergency conclave of civil rights, religious, immigration, and gay and lesbian activists. These leaders will join government and elected officials for an emergency conclave at its 15th annual convention to discuss strategies on what can be done to sustain these rights and movements regardless of what the court’s decisions may be. The conclave will take place at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers from April 3-6. The convention is free and open to the public. Several cabinet members from the Obama Administration have confirmed to attend as well as leading members of Congress and activists such as Martin Luther King III, National Urban League President Marc Morial, NAACP President Ben Jealous, League of Latin American Citizen President Margaret Moran and many others. The families of Hadiyah Pendleton, the 15-year-old who was fatally shot a week after performing with her high school band at the inauguration of President Barack Obama, and the family of Trayvon Martin will be in attendance.