Here’s a look at African American people and issues making headlines throughout the country.
Students from the University of Alabama in Birmingham’s (UAB) “Make It Happen Performing Ensemble” present “Extraordinary Americans Who Happen to be ….” The stage play—which includes singing and dancing—features a snapshot look into the lives of such Black personalities as Blind Tom, Mary McCleod Bethune, Bojangles, Langston Hughes, Thurgood Marshall, Joe Louis, Nellie Conley, Ophelia Devore, Fred Shuttlesworth, Leontyne Price, Etta James and Ntozake Shange. This is the ensemble’s third active year. As a part of the program, participants are given the responsibility to write, rehearse and finally present a public performance.
Jeri Williams was recently sworn in as the new police chief in Oxnard, Calif. Williams, 44, is the city’s first Black female police chief. She succeeds John Crombach, who retired in November after more than 20 years of service. Williams began her career as a patrol officer in Phoenix, Ariz., and was eventually elevated to assistant chief of that city’s southern division. “I’m looking forward to working with and meeting all the folks here in the city of Oxnard, so we can further build on some of the things that our former Chief Crombach built on, and that’s community-based policing and support,” the new appointee said during her speech. “We’re just here to make it better, make it stronger, to be more accessible, more accountable, and more responsible to you, the people that we serve.”
Luther Campbell, former leader of the 2 Live Crew, recently announced his candidacy for mayor of Miami-Dade County. In a recent article, Campbell, a columnist for the Miami New Times, expressed grave concern about the condition of his hometown. “I get in my car, ride around Liberty City, and everything looks the same as when I was in the neighborhood growing up,” he said, detailing the factors that motivated him to run for mayor. “I see the same crimes in the same areas. Officers and residents are still getting killed in the community I grew up in. I go to a city like Atlanta that has sensible affordable housing, and no one is being murdered. I go to Miami International Airport and see the same construction that has been going on for like a hundred years. All of that frustrates the hell out of me. Why aren’t we getting it right in Miami-Dade? Why is our government only serving one set of people? That’s what is pushing me to run.”
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently kicked off a nationwide program at Morehouse College designed to recruit and train 80,000 Black male teachers by 2015. The Department of Education is joining forces with a number of private foundations and educational institutions to fill the need for Black male teachers in the nation’s public school systems. “I’m tired of talking about the lack of Black male teachers in the classroom, I’m ready to do something about it,” Duncan said during a town hall meeting before hundreds of Black male college and high school students.