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Across Black America for January 3, 2013


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

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) welcomed Carla Peterman as Commissioner following her appointment by Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. Peterman comes to the CPUC from her role as a commissioner at the California Energy Commission, to which she was appointed by Brown in 2011. Peterman has conducted research at the University of California Energy Institute and also served on the board of directors for the Utility Reform Network from 2008 to 2011. Peterman will complete her doctoral studies this year in energy and resources at the University of California, Berkeley. She earned a master of science degree in environmental change and management and a master of business administration degree from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar.
The California African American Museum (CAAM) hosted a Day of Learning II, a curated tour of Exposition Park venues for more than 1,100 children. From select Boys and Girls Clubs in Los Angeles and Orange County, as well as various schools and organizations from L.A. City Council Districts 8 and 9, the children toured CAAM, the California Science Center, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Welcomed by the sounds of the Children’s International Choir of Long Beach, the children started the morning off with learning about civilian space travel from Will Pomerantz, vice president, special projects, Virgin Galactica.  Also there to greet the children were Charmaine Jefferson, CAAM executive director; Elex Michaelson, KABC7 reporter and host for the opening ceremonies; Councilwoman Jan Perry, who presented several commendations from her office and the office of Councilman Bernard Parks; State Senator Curren Price; Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and sponsors. Representatives from the Los Angeles city and county firefighters were present and accepted awards for their contributions to the “Spark of Love” campaign.
L.A. Care Health Plan, the nation’s largest health plan, announced that Sheryl Spiller, head of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services (DPSS), has been nominated to L.A. Care’s board of governors. The board is a 13-member stakeholder group that includes representatives of community clinics, hospitals, federally qualified health centers, doctors, members, advocates and the county of Los Angeles. Spiller replaces Phillip Browning, who served on the board for four years representing DPSS. Spiller brings years of public service experience. As head of DPSS, she plans, organizes and directs all department’s operations.

District of Columbia
Gene Hale, chairman of President Obama’s Small Medium Enterprise Export Committee, will serve four more years as its chair. Hale was appointed by the president on July 6, 2010. The President’s Export Council (PEC) is the principal national advisory committee on international trade. The council advises the president of government policies and programs that affect U.S. trade performance; promotes export expansion and provides a forum for discussing and resolving trade-related problems among the business, industrial, agricultural, labor, and government sectors. Hale is CEO and president of G&C Equipment Corp., one of the nation’s largest Black-owned businesses. President George W. Bush appointed Hale to the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He was also appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to the California Small Business Board and was appointed by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to the Los Angeles County Small Business Commission. He is currently chairman of the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce.

New Jersey
DeForest Soaries Jr., senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, N.J., and author of “dfree: Breaking Free from Financial Slavery” (Zondervan) has launched a 40-city tour across the nation to combat consumer debt, predatory lending, and financial illiteracy among African Americans. This tour coincides with the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the “Emancipation Proclamation.” Soaries’ crusade will promote dfree®, his church-based strategy to emancipate Blacks from the second slavery–debt. Furthermore, he is challenging Black America to pay down $1 billion of personal and family debt. The tour began with a citywide Emancipation Day Service in Durham, N.C., on New Year’s Day and will include Atlanta, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Baltimore, Boston and other major cities. In most cities, he will be hosted by Black churches that will take part in a curriculum to use with church members uniquely designed by Soaries.

South Carolina
Led by Lt. Col. Phillip M. Bragg, the 2nd Battalion, 10th Marines, held its Marine Corps Birthday Ball in Parris Island with Infor CEO Charles Phillips, a former Marine captain, as the keynote speaker. Nov. 10 marked the actual 237th birthday of the Marines Corps, but the battalion was deployed at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan and returned in December after a highly successful deployment. Sgt. Maj. Christopher J. Campbell is the senior non-commissioned officer of the battalion. The first official “Birthday Ball” was held in 1925 in Philadelphia. No official records of the event were held prior to that date. Guests at the ball in 1925 included the Secretary of the Navy, General Lejeune, well-known national leaders, and representatives from all the military services.

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Lincoln in 1863, artist Gail Anderson was commissioned by United States Postal Service art director Antonio Alcalá to produce the stamp. “To evoke the look of broadsides from the Civil War era, they employed Hatch Show Print of Nashville, Tenn., one of the oldest working letterpress print shops in the United States.” Stamps can be pre-ordered at or 800-STAMP24 for delivery a few days following the dedication ceremony. Five thousand limited-edition 16-by-23-inch posters featuring the stamp art will be available for purchase. The posters were printed in letterpress printing process, each one has been numbered, and the first 1,000 will be autographed by Anderson.

American Voices, in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is now accepting ensemble applications for the American Music Abroad 2013-2014 touring season. To represent the full spectrum of the American musical landscape, musical ensembles from across the United States that specialize in Hip Hop, Rock and Roll, Jazz, Country, and other American roots music, including but not limited to Native American, Latin, Afro-Caribbean, Blues, Bluegrass, Cajun, Gospel and Zydeco, are invited to apply for this international exchange program. The American Music Abroad program offers the opportunity to conduct musical exchange tours abroad, particularly to countries not often visited by American musicians, to foster cross-cultural engagement and understanding. The application deadline is Jan. 18, 2013.

Orrin C. Hudson, an international chess champion and master motivational speaker, recently traveled more than 10,000 miles to the capital city of Manila, Philippines, to teach children (and adults) how to make the right moves in the game of chess and in life. Hudson, who has been featured on CNN, “Good Morning America,” and in People magazine, has an award winning leadership chess program for kids and parents. His nonprofit organization, Be Someone Inc., based in Atlanta, has the goal of helping 1 million young people worldwide. To accomplish this, he travels the globe teaching children to value KASH–Knowledge, Attitude, Skills and Habits. His sessions with the children taught them that for every move there is a consequence in the game of chess . . .  and so it is in life. “One bad move without proper thought can be a game-changer.” In addition to the free chess lessons and motivational speeches, he donated free copies of his book “One Move at a Time,” audio CDs, chess boards, T-shirts, and more.