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Kym Whitley to host Merge Summit; Jessye Norman awarded Spingarn Medal; Mossvile residents get relocated

Les Brown (25011)


The California Black Chamber of Commerce Foundation has named Les Brown as the keynote speaker for the upcoming 18th annual Ron Brown Business & Economic Summit. The event will be held at the Radisson Hotel in Fresno, on Aug. 16. The summit seeks to reinforce the mutual benefits between state government, Fortune 500 companies, and the small businesses that utilize the foundation’s products and services.

Kym Whitley (25012)

Relevé Entertainment has announced that The Merge Summit 2013 will be held Aug. 22-24 at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. The event is presented in association with partners RCA Inspiration, Walgreens, BET Music Matters and Upscale magazine. Integrating faith and entertainment, the Summit provides a platform for men and women of faith to partner with leading executives and talent in the entertainment industry. Nearly 100 of the industry’s top entertainers and executives will lead more than 20 interactive panel discussions, workshops and master class sessions covering music, television, film, creative development, branding, marketing and new media. This summit kicks off its weekend events with Opening Night at The Merge, hosted by actress Kym Whitley of “Raising Whitley,” with a special musical performance by recording artist Michelle Williams.

Jessye Norman (25013)


The NAACP board of directors awarded Opera singer and honorary U.N. Ambassador Jessye Norman the Spingarn Medal, the association’s highest honor. Norman became the 98th recipient of the award, and she was honored during the NAACP National Convention in Orlando. “Jessye Norman is a true inspiration,” said NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock. “Her work embodies the power of music and its ability to serve as the soundtrack to our movement for social justice.” The Spingarn Medal, first instituted in 1914 by then-NAACP Chairman Joel E. Spingarn, is awarded to an American of African descent who has demonstrated outstanding and noble achievement during the preceding years.

PGA National Resort and Spa will host the 20th annual “Black Enterprise/Pepsi Golf & Tennis Challenge,” Aug. 29-Sept. 1. The event is the largest African American sporting event of its kind and brings together some of the nation’s top corporate executives and entrepreneurs for fun, entertainment, and networking opportunities in a relaxing environment. Entertainers slated to appear include R&B artist Charlie Wilson and actor Anthony Anderson, among others. For more details, visit


After passing an emergency resolution during the 104th NAACP Annual Convention, President and CEO Benjamin Jealous sent letters to the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, and Sumter County District Attorney Plez Hardin asking them to stay the execution of Warren Hill and reconsider clemency. The letters asked that his death sentence be commuted to life without parole. Approximately 2,200 delegates passed the resolution advocating for clemency and state laws that prevent the execution of those who are classified as mentally retarded. In 2002, a Georgia state court found that Hill was mentally retarded based on evidence. That same year, the United States Supreme Court in Atkins v. Virginia banned the execution of mentally retarded defendants because of the “special risk of wrongful execution.” Since Hill’s conviction, several members of the jury have also stated that they would not have given him the death penalty if life without the possibly of parole had been an option.


The people of Mossville, living in the shadow of chronic toxic chemicals exposure from 14 petrochemical facilities, will have the opportunity to voluntarily relocate, according to a statement announced by the South Africa-based energy and chemicals company Sasol. Mossville is a historic African American community located in the southwest portion of the state. A Sasol representative announced plans to introduce the Voluntary Property Purchase Program. A third party contractor, Community Interaction Consulting Inc. (CIC), will administer the program, opening an office in the community in early August and will launch a website to provide program specifics, timelines and contact information. Sasol has said that CIC will host small-group information sessions at the program office for prospective participants around mid-August.


First Lady Michelle Obama and Mayor Rahm Emanuel will visit Urban Alliance Chicago, a year-long career education and employment program for underserved high school seniors that enriches students’ lives through paid internships, formal training, and mentoring. The visit is part of the Obama’s focus on youth empowerment and providing more opportunities for young people to achieve their full potential. Over the course of the year, Urban Alliance students participate in more than 750 hours of work and professional development training. In its first year in Chicago, Urban Alliance served 71 students from six Chicago Public High Schools in south and southwest neighborhoods with a 100 percent high school graduation rate and more than 95 percent of students college-bound this fall.

Alia Jones-Harvey (25014)

New York

Stephen C. Byrd and Alia Jones-Harvey of Front Row Productions have joined the team of producers for the Broadway revival of “Romeo and Juliet,” which is set to open at the Richard Rodgers Theatre this fall. The award-winning producers will join Susan Bristow in presenting this retelling of one of William Shakespeare’s best known and most beloved plays. International film star Orlando Bloom (“The Lord of the Rings”) and two-time Tony Award nominee Condola Rashad (“Stick Fly,” “The Trip to Bountiful”) will play the star-crossed lovers in this new production of Romeo and Juliet, which will be directed by five-time Tony Award nominee David Leveaux (“Arcadia,” “Cyrano de Bergerac,” “Nine,” “The Glass Menagerie,” “Jumpers”). The production also features Tony Award nominees Jayne Houdyshell (“Follies,” “Dead Accounts”) as the nurse and Tony Award winner Chuck Cooper (“The Life,” “Chicago,” “Finian’s Rainbow”) as Lord Capulet. The new production will mark the first time in 36 years that “Romeo and Juliet” will be produced on Broadway.


Students looking for a virtual internship position in the healthcare field are encouraged to apply for a Zuriworks for Women’s Health internship. The position is looking for online community manager interns who can work from home. Interns will be involved in efforts to increase communications and knowledge of Zuriworks, a new organization that provides support services to women affected by cancer. Responsibilities will include various activities that connect the organization to communities. Interns may write articles and blogs, manage Facebook and Twitter editorial schedules and podcasts, and attend weekly virtual team meetings. Interns work 10 hours per week and are unpaid. The internships are from August through October. Applicants must have good writing, communication and interpersonal skills. They must have a strong desire to contribute to a health advocacy environment. Strong computer skills and a knowledge of social media are necessary. For more details about this internship and/or to apply, visit: FindInterships website.

Compiled by Juliana Norwood.