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

The Los Angeles Urban League Young Professionals (LAULYP) has selected actor Larenz Tate (“House of Lies”) as one of the Divine 9 to be honored at its third annual To The Nines Affair on Friday, April 26, 2013, at The Beverly Hilton. To the Nines is hosted by the LAULYP, an auxiliary of the L.A. Urban League comprised of young African American professionals committed to economic empowerment and social change. The swanky Beverly Hills bash will be the official after-party for the prestigious 40th annual Whitney M. Young Awards Dinner, officiated by the Los Angeles Urban League.
Hundreds of digitally preserved speeches, sermons and correspondence of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be on view at the California African American Museum (CAAM) May 5 -11, 2013, as part of an unprecedented effort to showcase the work of the civil rights leader. A team of more than 300, including U.S. veterans and students, have digitized more than 200,000 pieces of paper, including Dr. King’s I Have a Dream speech, the Letter from Birmingham Jail, and his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. Those documents are now traveling around the country in an interactive display called The King Center Imaging Project. JPMorgan Chase organized the project as part of its Technology for Social Good initiative, which provides technological solutions to social organizations across the globe.

The Delaware Senate passed House Bill 10, the Hazel D. Plant Voter Restoration Act by a vote of 15-6, to automatically restore the voting privileges of nonviolent offenders who have completed their sentences. “As Americans we believe in second chances and the right to vote,” said Ben Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP. “Delaware did the right thing. The vote in the Delaware Senate ensures that a fellow citizen who has made a mistake, done their time, and paid their debt to society will be able to join the rest of their fellow Americans in performing our civic duty of voting.” Last year, leaders from the NAACP and partner organizations met with state legislatures to talk about the impact of felony disenfranchisement laws on Delaware voters and appeal for restoration of rights.

District of Columbia
The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and ExxonMobil recently honored three universities with the 2013 Impact Award for their efforts in retaining underrepresented minority students in engineering programs. Northwestern University, The Ohio State University and the University of Michigan were each awarded $10,000 during an event held at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C. Calvin A. Young, NSBE’s national chair, and Kenny Warren, vice president of engineering, ExxonMobil, presented the awards. “NSBE salutes these outstanding academic institutions for their success in keeping Black, Latino and other underrepresented minority students in engineering,” Dr. Carl Mack, executive director of NSBE, said. “These universities are among the few that not only understand the urgency of solving the retention problem in engineering, but are also creative and determined in coming up with solutions.”
Capitol Hill Supportive Services (CHSS) will present a special showing of “Love in a Day” as a part of the organization’s grand opening and ribbon-cutting gala. CHSS, along with Tenacious Productions and award-winning author Darryl James, will present an evening of art, music and theater featuring the hit stage play on May 17-18. CHSS provides services to individuals with developmental disabilities. Their programs and residential home are located in the historic Capitol Hill area. The event will introduce the program to the Greater Washington, D.C., area, while also delivering an evening of high quality entertainment to board members, supporters and the general public.

On five Thursday nights in May, ASPiRE will air a series of “Groundbreakers in Film,” including premieres of Spike Lee’s incandescent first two films; a popular sequel to Sidney Poitier’s “In the Heat of the Night;” and an acclaimed 2008 TV revival of one of the most important plays of the 20th century. “These five films each represent distinct achievements in our entertainment history, from true leaders and entertainers who always stir and provoke us,” said ASPiRE General Manager Paul Butler. “The films remain as thought-provoking and fun today as ever.” The five films airing in May on ASPiRE include: “She’s Gotta Have It,” “School Daze,” “Bustin’ Loose,” “They Call Me Mister Tibbs!,” and “A Raisin in the Sun.”

The Essence Festival, the leading African American destination for music, culture, community, empowerment and inspiration, has announced a renewed focus on family in 2013. The 19th annual festival will kick off the holiday weekend in New Orleans on July 4 by introducing it’s first-ever, free and open-to-the-public, Family Reunion Day. Festival attendees will experience a day of empowerment panels, family-friendly games and activities, delicious food from New Orleans’s best barbecue vendors, cooking competitions, fireworks and exciting musical guests; all designed to strengthen the entire family in soul, health and heart. For registration information and the latest news about the Essence Festival, visit

Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins joins Bishop Jakes’ annual leadership conference, adding to the all-star lineup of entertainment industry experts who will be sharing firsthand insight on the ins and outs of music production, songwriting, music business, technology, and much more. Jerkins is best known for No. 1 hits for world-renowned artists, including the Winans, Mary Mary, Yolanda Adams, Kirk Franklin, Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, and Michael Jackson. The Potter’s House’s own Grammy Award-winning record producer, Myron Butler, Stellar and Dove Award-nominated producer, Marcus Dawson, and Jamar Jones, super producer, composer, and executive director of music, will be on hand to discuss all aspects of music in ministry. The conference will be held today through the 27th at the Dallas Convention Center.

Waterkeeper Alliance, the global environmental organization dedicated to clean water, announced the locations of its third annual SPLASH Event Series. SPLASH events will take place in waterways across the United States to raise funds to support Waterkeeper Alliance and local Waterkeeper member organizations by engaging community members and clean-water enthusiasts in water-based recreational activities, including swimming, paddling, fishing and boating. The first in this season’s series of SPLASH events, was Stand Up for Clean Water, which took place in Santa Monica, at the Annenberg Community Beach House over Earth Day weekend. The day was filled with a variety of educational and watersport activities for the whole family, including competitive and non-competitive stand-up paddleboard races.
Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholars and alumni were on the fields in the nation’s stadiums as Major League Baseball and the teams hosted the annual Jackie Robinson Day event that pays tribute to Jackie Robinson. All the players, managers and officials of 18 of the 30 teams wore No. 42 to celebrate the 66th anniversary of Robinson’s heroic entry into the major leagues that broke the color barrier in baseball and forever changed the social landscape of the country. Forty JRF Scholars and alumni participated in pre-game ceremonies celebrating “JR Day.”

Compiled by Juliana Norwood.