Across Black America
Here’s a look at African American people and issues making headline throughout the country.
Former Jefferson County Commissioner Chris McNair has been ordered to report to prison as soon as legally possible, city officials say. A federal judge recently ordered McNair to begin serving a five-year sentence for his convictions on bribery charges involving the county’s $3.2 billion sewer construction project. U.S. District Judge Lynwood Smith denied a request to reduce McNair’s sentence to probation. McNair’s attorney, Doug Jones, said the only hope for keeping McNair out of prison is a petition for clemency with the Obama administration. McNair is among 21 defendants charged in a criminal probe into the construction and financing of the Jefferson County sewer system. Of those sentenced to prison, all but McNair either have served or are serving their sentences.
California Prisons Secretary Matthew Cate recently announced that he will offer a deal to companies that bid for the next contract to provide phone service for state inmates. Cate wants the companies to provide technology that blocks cell phone calls from prisons and the added incentive is that the provider will also see an increase in profits, if cell phones are disabled and inmates are forced to use the pay phones which are monitored. In recent years, smuggled cell phones have become increasingly popular. In a test done this year, the blocking mechanism was used for one day and intercepted more than 4,000 placed calls, text messages, and attempts to access the Internet from a single prison. Pay phone usage increased 64 percent in days following.
District of Columbia
The Minority Access National Internship Program is offering paid internships to undergraduate and graduate students who want to experience the diversity and scope of career opportunities available in the federal government and other participating entities. Available only to African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans, the program allows young people to merge academic theory with practical application in the workplace. There are many opportunities available for the 2011-2012 fall, winter and summer seasons and most of the positions are located in the Washington, D.C., area. All interns will receive pre-employment training, counseling on career choices, financial management and professional development assistance, and recognition for fulfilling the requirements of the program. To apply, applicants must submit an online application with all attachments; must provide documents to prove U.S. citizenship; must have a minimum 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA) on 4.0 scale; and must have completed at least their undergraduate freshman year in college.
Scottie Pippen was recently immortalized at the United Center in Chicago during a half-time ceremony at last week’s game featuring the Bulls and the Celtics. Amid a packed arena of thousands, the hall-of-fame forward looked on as his bronze bust was unveiled, showing him in his No. 33 jersey. Pippen is one of the game’s all-time greats, who along with Michael Jordan led the Bulls to six NBA championships in the 1990s. Pippen told the crowd he was “truly honored” and said he appreciated “the love, [and] the drive” they gave him. The statue, which is now on display in the arena concourse, was crafted by Omri and Julie Rotblatt-Amrany of Highland Park, Ill., the same duo responsible for Jordan’s likeness outside the United Center. “This truly ranks at the top of all the honors I received,” Pippen said.
Citing a doctor’s strong recommendation that he “give strong consideration to a less demanding routine,” Mayor Rudy Clay told the media recently he is dropping his bid to be elected to a second term as Gary’s mayor. Clay made the announcement from city hall late last Friday morning, saying his doctor’s advice came after a diagnosis of prostate cancer. “I owe it to my family, myself and the great people of Gary to suspend this campaign for another term,” Clay said. “I want to sincerely thank the God-fearing people of Gary who always supported and voted for me to serve my community as Indiana State Senator, county councilman, county recorder, county commissioner, and Mayor of Gary.” Although he used the word “suspend,” Clay’s press secretary confirmed that he is indeed ending his campaign. The 76-year-old city leader was elected to the office in 2007, and was initially appointed the year earlier to replace Scott King.
The 17th annual ESSENCE Empowerment Experience is taking place July 1-3 in New Orleans and will deliver compelling conversations featuring artists, experts and speakers all under one roof at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. “A Weekend of Transformation” as it is themed, is kicks off on Friday (July 1), with appearances by Steve Harvey and Iyanla Vanzant, as well as an opportunity for attendees to meet the producers and audition for a chance to appear on “Family Feud.” Author Terry McMillan will present an exclusive “book club” experience with up-and-coming authors. On Saturday (July 2nd), ESSENCE will be “Transforming Your Community” through conversations with Rev. Al Sharpton, Soledad O’Brien and McMillan, as well as a panel discussion entitled, “America I Am” featuring: Tavis Smiley, Cornel West, PhD., Vanzant, Tom Burrell and Chef Jeff Henderson. Sunday (July 3rd), ESSENCE and Verizon will present a day of praise and worship during an “All-Star Gospel Salute to CeCe Winans and Marvin Sapp” featuring Bishop Lester Love, Kierra Sheard, Deitrick Haddon and Juanita Bynum.
In response to the surge in violence in the township of Irvington, N.J., the Newark Anti-Violence Coalition (NAVC) and community leaders recently organized a community forum calling on 10,000 concerned citizens to come and participate in a massive anti-violence town hall meeting. The main body of the program was a panel discussion on the topic of “Black on Black: Are We on the Verge of Self-genocide” (self-destruction) and discussed, analyzed, and offered solutions to the pandemic disease of Black and Brown self-genocide plaguing the township of Irvington and across America.
John Jay College of Criminal Justice recently presented the John Jay Medal for Justice to Marian Wright Edelman, an African American social activist and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF). The ceremony was held in the Harold M. Proshansky Auditorium at the City University of New York Graduate Center. The national leader for justice award was given to Marian Wright Edelman and the CDF for their commitment to improving the lives of all children. As founder and president of the CDF, Wright Edelman has dedicated her career to helping poor, minority and disabled children.
Citing the confirmed relation between self-employment and wealth creation, OICA of America, recently launched a focused initiative designed to encourage more African Americans to think like and become entrepreneurs. The national nonprofit network of employment and training programs expects to reach more than one million people in the years to come. The Entrepreneurial Mindset Initiative will be subsidized by an endowment, raised in two parts. The first $10 million will come from the community nationwide, through “OIC-10,” a funding initiative designed to turn one million $10 contributions into a $10 million endowment. The remaining $90 million will come through winning “challenge grants” from various minority-oriented foundations and their sponsors. The endowment will fund grassroots programs that encourage, train and support individuals in their quest to become successful business owners. “Consistent with our history, OIC of America will not wait for someone to wave a magic wand and eliminate the economic disparities for African Americans. It has not happened in the past and will not happen in the future,” said OIC of America Chairman, Art Taylor.
Some states are making revisions to the rules that permit them to deny welfare benefits and food stamps to people convicted of felony drug crimes. The rules were intended to prevent selling or trading food stamps for drugs, but widespread budget deficits and steep recidivism rates are prompting state governments that enforce the benefit bans to rethink the policy amid high unemployment and escalating prison costs. New Jersey and South Dakota are the latest to reverse course and allow drug felons to receive public assistance.
Children of color are four times more likely than their White peers to be born into a poor family and suffer a lifetime of consequences, ranging from diminished academic standing to increased financial insecurity, a study prepared by the California-based Insight Center for Community Economic Development recently revealed. Even practical dreams of education and savings remain an elusive idea for many non-White Americans, it added. “You could say that, ‘oh these poor children of color, they are doing so badly. We should help them out of generosity,’” said Trina Shanks, associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work, who authored the report. “But this is a different conversation. What we are saying here is look at the numbers. Children of color will represent the majority of children in the United States in 2024. Right now, so many of these children are living and learning in conditions that diminish their potential as early as 2 years old. If we help families build just the most basic of assets, it can benefit the country over a longer period of time.”
Disneynature’s plans to work with the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) to “Save the Savanna” have gone viral. As the April 22 opening of the documentary “African Cats” approaches, Disneynature is tapping into the power of social media by building awareness of its “See ‘African Cats,’ Save the Savanna” program. During the film’s opening week (April 22-28), a portion of the proceeds from that week’s ticket sales will be donated to AWF through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund to protect the Amboseli Wildlife Corridor, a passage between the Amboseli, Tsavo West and Chyulu Hills National Parks in Kenya that is frequently used by lions, cheetahs, elephants, zebras, giraffes and a host of other animals in the African savanna.
COMPTON, Calif. — Former Compton Fire Department Deputy Chief Marcel Melanson is scheduled to be arraigned Friday on grand theft and arson charges related to a fire at the department’s headquarters.
Melanson is suspected of stealing thousands of dollars worth of Motorola radios, selling them online and intentionally setting the Dec. 11, 2011 fire to destroy evidence of the thefts, Steve Whitmore of the sheriff’s department said.
LANCASTER, Calif. — A registered sex offender accused of using a cellphone camera to capture video up hundreds of women’s skirts in Lancaster and elsewhere in Los Angeles County was in custody and facing prosecution, authorities said.
People often describe me as troubled. I’m not going to say that I’m not. But I’m not crazy. I have troubles. A lot of us do. But you need to understand where I’m coming from and why I am the way I am. Considering what I’ve been through, it’s a miracle that I’ve been able to hold it together. I’m just trying to find my way. [I’ve read newspaper stories about me that] say, “Experts testify [that boy] is psychotic.” The way they describe me is wrong—bi-polar, depression, pyro, whatever. I know I’m not at all.
Public affairs expert and human rights advocate Lamell McMorris has been appointed chairman of the National Diversity Advisory Council of the American Red Cross.
McMorris is the founder and CEO of Perennial, a Washington, D.C.-based family of businesses.
He will fulfill a one-year term beginning immediately. “I am excited and humbled by the trust and confidence that Chairman Bonnie McElveen-Hunter and the board of governors have placed in me,” said McMorris.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — AEG Live considered “pulling the plug” on Michael Jackson’s comeback concerts 11 days before the pop icon died, the show’s choreographer testified Tuesday.
Travis Payne, who worked closely with Michael Jackson in his final days, earlier testified that in Jackson’s last rehearsals before his death he was “not at show standards but he was rehearsing, he was processing.”