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Across Black America for May 31, 2012


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

African American young men from the San Francisco Bay Area who are graduating from high school and heading to college will take center stage June 3 at a unique graduation ceremony aimed at celebrating and amplifying their achievements. The event is part of the Mitchell Kapor Foundation’s College Bound Brotherhood, a college readiness program that aims to expand the number of young Black men in the San Francisco Bay Area who are prepared for college. Youth participating in the event will be eligible for a $100 stipend to defray the cost of college books. Across the nation and locally, African American young men are graduating from high school at alarmingly low rates, and even fewer are ready for a college education. Since the launch of the College Bound Brotherhood in 2008, the Kapor Foundation has distributed more than $1 million in grants to organizations that support young Black men through college readiness workshops, college tours, academic coaching and mentoring.

Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol are partners in owning a racehorse–a 4-year-old gelding named Siempre Mo–which made its first start at Betfair Hollywood Park on Saturday. The horse was entered in the sixth race, and was ridden by Joy Scott. The teammates purchased 25 percent of the gelding at a team charity auction in April. Part of their deal is that neither Bryant nor Gasol pay any expenses in the horse’s care and training. Santa Anita CEO Mark Verge and Chris Quinn, also an executive at Santa Anita, are the horse’s other owners. Siempre Mo won a $25,000 claiming race in his last start. He’s trained by Doug O’Neill, whose coltse I’ll Have Another, won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, and will try to win the Triple Crown when he runs in the Belmont Stakes on June 9. Bryant and Gasol’s horse will carry the Lakers gold and purple colors.

District of Columbia
Nearly 300 people attended the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation’s 15th annual Spirit of Democracy Awards Gala in Washington, D.C., last week. As the night was dedicated to “Celebrating Our Brothers,” six men doing constructive work to empower the African American community were honored. There was also a special Servant Leadership and Community Service Award established in memory of the former manager of the annual Spirit Awards, Ruby Campbell Pulliam. “It was important to take a moment to lift up and celebrate what the brothers are doing in our communities across the country,” said president and CEO of the Coalition, Melanie L. Campbell. “The men who dedicate their lives to mentoring, social justice, training and creating opportunities for our youth–especially those running Black male initiatives–are truly the fabric of our community.”

With 12 months of conservation work now complete, the historic Talladega Murals will be presented to a national audience for the first time in a new exhibition–“Rising Up: Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talladega College” at the High Museum of Art June 9 to Sept. 2, 2012. In March 2011, the High Museum of Art and Talladega College in Alabama began a five-year collaborative project to restore, research and exhibit Hale Aspacio Woodruff’s renowned Talladega murals. Commissioned in 1938 to commemorate the 1867 founding of Talladega College and celebrate its success as one of the nation’s first all-Black colleges, the murals have been continually viewed on campus since their installation in Savery Library. Comprising six monumental canvases arranged in two cycles of three, the vibrant murals portray heroic efforts to resist slavery as well as moments in the history of the college, which opened in 1867 to serve the educational needs of a new population of freed slaves.

In the latest issue of Ebony Magazine, an article penned by author Chevonne Harris takes a look at how Christians, who are unmarried, but not so young anymore, are balancing their faith while having premarital sex. A young woman in her 30s admits to being “Single, Saved and Having Sex,” the title of the article, and struggling to remain abstinent until she marries, the preferred way God intended Christians to live. Author Kenny Pugh, known as “the relationship strategist,” responded to the article on social media after several requests from his followers familiar with his platform of promoting sexual abstinence until marriage, the crux of his best-selling title, “Can You Do IT Standing Up? A Different Position on Relationships.” His position garnered the attention of author, Sophia Nelson who was also quoted in the book, along with editors at Ebony Magazine.

Black Enterprise (BE) recently marked 40 years of listing America’s largest Black companies at the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference and Expo hosted by Nationwide  at the Chicago Hilton. The evening drew more than 1,000 African American executives, businesses owners and professionals to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the first publication of the magazine’s flagship roster, the BE 100s, which has been lauded as the most authoritative analysis and ranking of the nation’s top-grossing Black-owned companies. When BE first compiled its top 100 in 1973, combined sales for the 100 component companies totaled $473 million. Today, the top 100 African American industrial/service companies–the core of the BE 100s report–collectively grossed more than $18.7 billion. The list has become the cornerstone of Black Enterprise magazine’s June issue.

Lt. Wesley Brown, the first African American graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, in Annapolis, Md., died of cancer on Tuesday, May 22. He was 85. Brown served in the Korean and the Vietnam wars and served in the U.S. Navy from May 2, 1944, until June 30, 1969. After retiring from the Navy, Brown became a construction project manager for the state of New York and a facilities planner for his alma mater, Howard University. Brown is survived by his wife Crystal, two daughters, two sons, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. In 2008, the Naval Academy built the Wesley Brown Field House in his honor.

“The Wiz,” a dance production by Ballet On Wheels Dance School & Company, will take the stage on Saturday and Sunday at Hutchison School, located at 1740 Ridgeway Road. “The Wiz” is an urban retelling of L. Frank Baum’s children’s novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” The musical was first featured on Broadway in 1975, showcasing an entirely African American cast, winning seven Tony awards, including one for Best Musical. In Ballet On Wheels’ production of “The Wiz,” the local cast of nearly 100 youth dancers comes primarily from Ballet On Wheels Dance School & Company. “This production really incorporates all things dance,” says Chauniece Conner, founder of BOW. “The show features Jazz, Modern, Classical ballet and Hip Hop production numbers–something for everyone to enjoy.”