The White House and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) this week honored Bill Bridgeforth, a fourth generation farmer from Tanner as a Champion of Change. He is one of 15 from across the country who is a leader in the farming industry and in their communities, while inspiring others to seek out careers in the agriculture sector. Bridgeforth, chairman of the National Black Growers Council, works with Darden Bridgeforth & Sons, which grows corn, wheat, canola, soybeans and cotton. He is a graduate of Alabama A&M University with a degree in soil science. Bridgeforth advocates on behalf of Black farmers in the U.S. and abroad. During the event discussions were included on how to continue growing and supporting the next generation of American farmers.


Kermit Crawford has joined the USC School of Pharmacy as executive in residence and senior adviser to the dean. Crawford is retiring from Walgreens, where he served as president of Pharmacy, Health and Wellness. He was with Walgreens for 31 years. Crawford is already a member of USC’s board of councilors. “After 31 years with Walgreens, starting as a pharmacy intern in my 20s, the time is right to retire from the company to broaden my horizons and seek new ways to serve,” Crawford said in a release. “I look forward to continuing to advance the role of community pharmacy in healthcare through my work as USC.” Crawford has received a number of awards, including being included on the list of the Top 100 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate American by Black Enterprise magazine, Top Most Influential Blacks in Corporate America” by Savoy magazine and Pharmacy Executive of the Year by Chain Drug Review.


The Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) Atlanta is scheduled for Aug. 7-10. More than 30 new films from around the globe will be screen at the newly renovated Plaza Theatre. In addition to the movie previews, the festival hosts panels and workshops featuring top industry executives and playmakers. One workshop that will be held on Aug. 9, features renowned casting director Twinkie Byrd. Actors can compete to perform their dialogues live in front of Byrd and her panel of celebrity judges that includes successful actors, agents and producers. The public can attend specific screenings and events (starting at as little as $12 each) or buy a pass for the whole festival for $175. Set up in 1992, the PAFF is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of cultural and racial tolerance and understanding through the exhibition of film, art and creative expression. For more info, go to www.paff.org.

The National Bar Association presented its first-ever Top Trailblazers Under 40 last week in Atlanta. The awards were established to honor legal trailblazers who have achieved distinction and prominence in their fields. In addition to the 40 winners, the National Bar Association also presented four legacy awards in honor of Fred Gray, Allie B. Lattimer, Forest Johnson and the late Maynard Jackson. The awards gala took place at the Marriott Marquis, with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed delivering remarks. For a complete list of the honorees, go to www.nationalbar.org.

Atlanta-based National Black Latino Council (NBLC) will hold its first Black, Brown and Green Supplier Diversity and Sustainability Summit in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Aug. 25-27. The event is expected to attract major multinational companies and create paths for economic stimulation. The summit’s focus is to bring together top African American and Latin businesses as mentor program participants and to share information on supply chain and purchasing sustainability. Included in the summit will be information on how firms can do business with Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Companies sponsoring and participating in the summit include Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Wal-Mart, UPS, Turner Broadcasting, Goya Foods, the Federal Reserve Bank, Hilton, Hartsfield Jackson Airport and more. For additional info, go to www.NBLCsummit.com.


The state is pushing legislation that will change how it funds schools, perhaps brought on by recent cutbacks in cities such as Chicago, where the reduction in staff seems to hit hardest in communities heavily populated by minorities. The proposed bill reportedly was designed similarly to California’s relatively new Local Control Funding Formula. The bill would create a single funding formula that provides equitable ways to distribute education funds to the state’s various school districts. In addition, the bill calls for the state system to prioritize resources and place them where they are most needed by students. The proposed bill would be phased in over a four-year period so that districts could adjust to the new process and spending levels. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Andy Mahar (D), has already passed the state legislature and is being considered in the House.

New York

The wife of Eric Garner, the Black man who died during an arrest by New York City police officers, is asking that federal prosecutors launch a civil rights investigation into the death of her husband. Garner died as a result of a choke hold put on him as officers tried to arrest him for allegedly selling illegal cigarettes. The incident was caught on video and shows officers wrestling the 43-year-old father of five to the ground, with one officer executing the choke hold to bring him down to the ground. He is heard on the tape saying, “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe” before going still and dying. U.S Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement released last Friday that, “we are closely monitoring the city’s investigation into the incident.”


Herndon-based Strayer University has formed a partnership with TV/radio talk show host Steve Harvey to deliver an initiative to help people break down barriers that can keep them from succeeding in their professional and personal lives. The initiative is called “The Success Project” and will kick off with a year of national and local functions and activities to raise awareness of paths to success. The program is aimed in particular at adults already in the workforce who are pursuing a college degree. “Education is a key to success for many,” Harvey said in a release. “But it is important to recognize that there is no one path to earning a college degree nor to success. Working adults who are contemplating going back to school in order to further their careers and improve their lives often stop before they start because they are held back by doubts about whether they can handle it all or fears of being back in school after a long time away.” In addition to the partnership with Harvey, as part of the project, Strayer will offer a panel of professional success coaches to its students.

Washington, D.C.

On July 25, the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity presented a $500,000 endowment to Howard University. Established in 1914, Phi Beta Sigma is a service organization that consists of college-educated men and has a membership that exceeds 150,000 in the U.S. alone. The presentation is historic, because Phi Beta Sigma began at Howard University.

The 2014 Library of Congress National Book Festival will include a poetry slam, a contest in which poets read or recite their works to be judged by a panel. The slam, scheduled for Aug. 30, will include the top slam groups from D.C., who will be judged by a panel that includes Maryland State Sen. James Raskin. Details about the poetry slam and the book festival can be found at www.loc.gov/bookfest/.

The U.S. Dept. of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) announced its 2014 National Minority Enterprise Development Award winners, which include 13 organizations and individuals that have demonstrated leadership in advancing minority business. Award winners included Michael Grant for the Abe Venable Legacy Award for Lifetime Achievement. Grant is president of the National Bankers Association. A ceremony takes place Aug. 1, in Washington, D.C. Other awardees include Michael Robinson (a program director at IBM) given the Ronald Brown Leadership Award; Sue Au Allen (national president and CEO of U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce) for Advocate of the Year; and the Access to Capital Award to Ronald Newsome, director of Stonehenge Capital Co.

The National Week of Non-Violence, Aug. 16-23, was announced Tuesday by the Black Women for Positive Change, which will sponsor the week along with the National Summit Council. The initiative is endorsed by a number of political figures, including Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) and a number of governors. A national summit will be held on Aug. 23, at the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church in Washington, D.C. Each city that has a Black Women for Positive Change chapter will also hold its own events. Black Women for Positive Change’s goal is to inspire and motivate others to join the effort to be a catalyst for positive change that results in social justice and economic parity. For more information, go to http://www.blackwomenforpositivechange.org/.

Actor Lance Gross, best known for his role as Calvin on Tyler Perry’s “House of Payne,” has taken on the role to represent Howard University’s Freshman Leadership Academy. As part of the organization’s program this year, Gross and 60 students headed to China, where they learned about the methods the Chinese use in education, business and finance. The group also experienced the country’s different foods and cultures while on the excursion. “I wish this program had been at Howard when I was a student,” Gross said in a press release. “Every parent, teacher, professor, adviser and employer should support making international experiences an essential and affordable component of a well-rounded education.”


President Barack Obama is set to rename an African young leaders program after the late Nelson Mandela. Obama brought up the proposal Monday while speaking out against gender oppression in Africa that he said is “crippling” parts of the continent. He urged young leaders in African countries to empower women and stop violence against them. His speech was given as he introduced a new class of African fellows who are in the United States to get six weeks of leadership training. President Obama said the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders will now become the Mandela Washington Fellowship.

Compiled by Carol ozemhoya.