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Across Black America for September 6, 2012


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

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa recently announced the creation of the city of Los Angeles’ first Poet Laureate Program in collaboration with the Los Angeles City Council, the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Partnerships (OSP), and the Department of Cultural Affairs. The Los Angeles Poet Laureate will serve as the official ambassador of Los Angeles’ vibrant poetry and literary culture. The Poet Laureate will use the position as a platform to promote the city’s greatest writers and the transformative qualities of poetry and the written word throughout all parts of the community. Nominations will be accepted until 5 p.m. Oct. 10. The Poet Laureate announcement will be made in October. Los Angeles’ Poet Laureate will serve for a term of two years. The first Poet Laureate honored with this distinction will serve from November 2012 to October 2014 and receive a $10,000 annual grant from the Department of Cultural Affairs.

District of Columbia
The Library of Congress exhibition commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War will feature more than 200 unique items, many never before on public view. “The Civil War in America” will be free and open to the public, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, from Nov. 12, 2012, to May 23, 2013, in the Southwest Exhibition Gallery of the Thomas Jefferson Building at 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. The exhibition will reveal the complexity of the Civil War through those who experienced it firsthand. Never-before-seen items in the library’s collections offer a human perspective on the war and shed new light on the many ways that the terrible conflict helped shape the American people and the nation. The Library of Congress blog ( will begin a special series of posts on Wednesday, Sept. 17, to complement “The Civil War in America” exhibition. Every Wednesday until the exhibition opens, the blog will spotlight a never-before-seen item of interest, offering an in-depth look into the documents and other artifacts that tell the story of the nation’s greatest military and political upheaval.

The Gerald A. Williams Legacy Foundation Charity Open will take place on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012, at the President Country Club, 2300 Presidential Way, in West Palm Beach, Fla. Proceeds from the Charity Open will benefit the Gerald A. Williams, Esq. Law Academy Scholarship Fund at the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties, and the Gerald A. Williams Endowed Memorial Scholarship Fund at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. Williams’ lifelong work in the areas of labor and employment law, and public education helped to empower men and women throughout Florida. In a legal career spanning more than 30 years, he was an inspiration to many teachers and students. He advocated tirelessly for public education, serving as counsel to numerous school boards. Registration for the event is $150 per person and $500 for a foursome. For additional information about Charity Open, call (877)252-2577, ext: 222, or visit the website at www.GAWLF4CHARITY.ORG.
Thirteen-year veteran Circuit Judge Debra Nelson has replaced Judge Kenneth Lester. A three-judge panel has ruled that former neighborhood watch leader George Zimmerman should be granted a new judge in his murder case for the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal ruled that Lester should enter a motion to disqualify himself. Zimmerman’s attorney Mark O’Mara argued that Lester should disqualify himself after he said the judge made disparaging remarks about Zimmerman’s character and advocated for additional charges against him in setting his $1-million bond in July. Zimmerman remains free on bail. He’s pleaded not guilty, claiming self-defense in the fatal Feb. 26 shooting of Martin, 17, in a gated community in Sanford, Fla.

McDonald’s USA recently held the 2012 McDonald’s Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour, a free summer concert series that featured multi-award-winning Gospel artist Fred Hammond, raised more than $46,000 to support local Ronald McDonald House Charities and the charity’s mission of helping improve the health and well being of children and families. Currently in its sixth year, McDonald’s pioneered the annual Gospel tour as a way to bring positive, uplifting messages and entertainment to communities nationwide and emphasize the importance of giving back. With Hammond as the 2012 headliner, the free, nine-city tour also featured contemporary and urban Gospel artists Byron Cage, 21:03, Canton Jones, J Moss, Myron Butler and VaShawn Mitchell, in select cities.

New Jersey
The United States Naval War College Foundation will honor Lt. Gen. Walter E. Gaskin, deputy chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, at a dinner Sept. 21 aboard the U.S.S. New Jersey, the retired battleship on the Delaware River in Camden. The event is entitled, “A Patriotic Evening Aboard Battleship New Jersey” and is open to the public. Lt. Gen. Gaskin, United States Marine Corps, is stationed at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, where he has served since 2010. Admission to the dinner is $100 for adults and $50 for children ages 8 to 12. Reservations will be accepted until Sept. 14 and can be made by calling (401) 848-8308 or going online at Admission incl-udes a tour of the ship and a reception at 5 p.m., followed by dinner and remarks by Lt. Gen. Gaskin at 7 p.m.

New York
Chris Lighty, founder of Violator Entertainment and manager to such music heavyweights as Missy Elliott and Mariah Carey has died at the age of 44. Police responded to a call at 670 West 232nd Street in the Bronx, New York, at approximately 11:30 a.m. on Aug. 30, where they discovered Lighty with a gunshot wound to the head. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Authorities recovered a Black semi-automatic pistol at the scene and said the wound appeared to be self-inflicted. According to reports, Lighty had been dealing with some personal issues that included a divorce from his wife last year and an IRS debt that totaled around $5 million.

Denny’s and Tom Joyner recently launched a nationwide sweepstakes to send one lucky fan and a guest to Philadelphia for a VIP experience at the “Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day Health Festival.” The health festival, a new addition to the “Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day” celebration, will take place Oct. 19 and 20 at the Liacouras Center in downtown Philadelphia. The event will include a health expo where attendees can receive more than $1,000 in free health services, including immunizations and dental exams, as well as lifesaving health information, seminars and live entertainment. Fans can enter the Denny’s and Tom Joyner “Take a Loved One to Philly” sweepstakes online at In addition to hotel accommodations, spending money and event transportation, the winner will have exclusive photo opportunities with Tom Joyner as well as VIP access and seating at all festival events.

The Links Foundation Inc. announced the awarding of grants totaling $100,000 to support four nonprofit organizations that are making a significant impact in communities around the nation. Grant recipients are Club Esteem’s Challenging Youth–Embracing Excellence after school program, which provides the children of Melbourne, Fla., with the skills and inspiration they need to break the cycle of poverty and develop into healthy, productive, vision-driven adults; the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey’s arts education programs, which teach youth critical life skills through dance, and make dance accessible to at-risk youth in the Kansas City metro area; Legacy Media Institute’s the Rose Mapendo Project, to share the work for peace and reconciliation of this Congolese woman who, along with her family, endured 16 months in a death camp and the murder of her husband; and the National Dental Association’s NDA Health Now program, which aims to elevate the oral health and overall health status of underserved and vulnerable populations, in communities of color, in the Chicago and Dallas areas.