NABJ names Soledad O’Brien Journalist of the Year

DSN Newswire

The National Association of Black Journalists named CNN’s Soledad O’Brien Journalist of the Year at its spring Board of Directors meeting. O’Brien will join other top honorees at the association’s Salute to Excellence Gala, on July 31 in San Diego, during NABJ’s 35th Annual Convention and Career Fair, the largest gathering of minority journalists in the country.

O’Brien is the impetus of CNN’s acclaimed “In America” franchise, which began with CNN’s “Black In America” in 2008, a groundbreaking documentary, which took an in-depth look at the challenges confronting blacks in America. In 2009 CNN followed up with “Black In America 2,” a project which didn’t just seek to highlight challenges, but also acknowledged the efforts by those in the community to come up with proven solutions to the most pressing issues facing the black community. “Black In America 2” was the highest-rated cable news documentary of 2009, sparking conversations and town hall gatherings across the country to further examine the intersection of race, class and gender, subjects that can be challenging for the media to explore.
“Soledad’s work in the ‘Black in America’ series offered extraordinary and gripping stories of successful community leaders who are improving the lives of African-Americans,” said NABJ President Kathy Y. Times. “This was an example of great reporting, and through her work and platform she shared the stories in our communities that often go untold. She is truly worthy of NABJ’s Journalist of the Year honor.”

O’Brien crisscrossed the U.S. and included reporting from Ghana and South Africa as she uncovered the people and programs at the forefront of change – people inspiring volunteerism, programs that are improving access to quality healthcare and education, and leaders working to address financial disparities and develop strong families.

“Soledad is a solid journalist with a long list of accomplishments,” said Bob Butler, NABJ Vice-President of Broadcast. “Her reporting is always done with great thought and perspective. We are proud to have her in the NABJ family.”

O’Brien is currently an anchor and special correspondent for CNN. She joined the network in July 2003 as the co-anchor of the network’s flagship morning program, “American Morning,” and distinguished herself by reporting from the scene on the transformational stories that broke on her watch, including Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami in Southeast Asia.

During CNN’s Katrina coverage, O’Brien’s reports on the storm’s impact included an in-depth interview with former FEMA chief Michael Brown. She also covers political news as part of CNN’s “Best Political Team on Television.”  Earlier, O’Brien spent 12 years at NBC News where she anchored Weekend Today, and was one of the original anchors of MSNBC.
The Salute to Excellence Awards Gala recognizes journalism that best covered the black experience or addressed issues affecting the worldwide black community during 2009.

NABJ’s 35th Annual Convention and Career Fair will take place July 28- August 1 in San Diego, Calif.

African-American Unemployment up in March 2010, Black Men 19%

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, African-American Unemployment rose to 16.5% in March.  That’s up from 15.8% in February and 13.5% in March of 2009.

What’s even worse is the outlook for African-American men.  The unemployment rate for Black men in March was 19%.  That’s up from 17.8% last month and 16.4% this time last year.  The unemployment rate for Black women in March was 12.4%.

All this comes as the overall unemployment rate held at 9.7% for the third straight month.  And just in case you were wondering, the unemployment rate for African-Americans 16-19 years old is 41.1% compared with the overall rate of 23.7% for all Americans 16-19 years of age.

Green Equity and Grassroots Organization Creating Jobs where there were none

Came across this video where our friend and blogging peer Chris Rabb works with ColorLines to profile green jobs that are being created across the country in areas where work is scarce.  As I continue to say, it doesn’t matter if you believe in the virtues of sustainable living, the money that is being spent across the globe is green enough.  Hopefully the nation will catch on and stop missing out on this huge economic driver.

Blogger and Radio Host Kevin Ross to debut “America’s Court With Judge Ross” this fall

(From 3 Baas Media)

Fellow Blogger and Blog Talk Radio Host Kevin Ross is moving up, getting ready to hit televisions this fall in a new courtroom show.  Congrats to my friend and brother Kevin.  I look to support Kevin and his show any way that I can and can’t wait to see what he has in store for us.

Entertainment Studios will premiere America’s Court With Judge Ross on broadcast and cable this fall, having cleared the legal strip in 75% of the country.

Kevin Ross

Kevin Ross

“We are pleased to have greatly expanded our company’s nationwide clearance of America’s Court with Judge Ross,” said Andrew Temple, President of Domestic Television Distribution for Entertainment Studios.

Created by multihyphenate Byron Allen, Entertainment Studios is set to produce and deliver a minimum of 26 weeks of original episodes of America’s Court in high definition as well as 26 weeks of repeats. The show joins weekly E/I program The Young Icons, which also has been cleared for a 2010 launch under the Entertainment Studios banner, and Career Day, recently picked up by the Sinclair Broadcast Group for 2011.

In entering the daytime syndication arena, Allen assumes his place among a select group of African Americans (think Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry) who are successfully producing content they own, control and distribute to increasingly diverse audiences looking for quality programming.

As America’s Court continues to generate strong buzz, television stations are still being offered the one-hour block as two half-hour episodes.

Groups who have already signed on include Weigel, Scripps, Media General, Acme, Cox, Raycom, Barrington, Ellis, Journal, Belo, Bonton, LIN, New Age and Sinclair.

Scheduled to film in Los Angeles, ‘Court’ joins The Nate Berkus Show (Harpo/Sony) and Swift Justice with Nancy Grace (CTD) as one of three freshman daytime skeins confirmed to debut in 2010.


Byron Allen

And according to, America’s Court will also run on one of Entertainment Studios six high-definition cable networks that were launched on Verizon’s FiOS broadband systems last September.

America’s Court with Judge Ross shows litigants unique ways in which they can responsibly deal with their unlawful or wrongful acts, and also forces wrongdoers to reflect on the consequences of their transgressions.

Judge Kevin A. Ross, 46, has been a judge, prosecutor and media personality in Southern California. He is also president and CEO of 3BAAS Media Group, which will serve as a producer on the show.

Statement by the President on the Settlement in the Black Farmers Lawsuit against USDA

From the Office of the Press Secretary

My Administration is dedicated to ensuring that federal agencies treat all our citizens fairly, and the settlement in the Pigford case reflects that commitment. I applaud Secretary Vilsack for his efforts to modernize operations at the USDA, as well as the work of the Justice Department in bringing these long-ignored claims of African American farmers to a rightful conclusion. I look forward to a swift resolution to this issue, so that the families affected can move on with their lives.


The settlement agreement reached today, which is contingent on appropriation by Congress, will provide a total of $1.25 billion to African American farmers who alleged that they suffered racial discrimination in USDA farm loan programs.  The settlement sets up a non-judicial claims process through which individual farmers may demonstrate their entitlement to cash damages awards and debt relief.

Remarks of United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk at The United Negro College Fund

From the Office of the United States Trade Representative

“Thank you all for having me here today. Thank you to Michael Sorrell for that introduction and for his work at Paul Quinn College, and my thanks as well to Michael Lomax for his incredible dedication as President of the UNCF.

As United States Trade Representative, I spend my time working to tear down barriers to trade and open new markets to American goods, services, and intellectual property.

Just last week I traveled to Singapore for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and then to Beijing for meetings with Chinese leaders. I joined the President in pursuing increased economic engagement across the Pacific, creating new opportunities for Americans to do business with some of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Because we know that when Americans do business with the world, that can generate jobs here at home.

We are laying a strong foundation for trade, but the world is changing rapidly, and the expertise necessary to succeed is changing with it. For America to compete in the global economy, American workers need to have the skills to meet the ever-changing needs of the world’s population.

Whether it’s developing new energy resources or marketing new health care solutions, today’s problems require inventive answers. And the competitive edge will go to whichever country develops forward-looking products and ideas. In today’s world, it’s not enough just to have the best minds – to be competitive in the global economy we need the best-educated minds.

Take a look at the educational advances of the 20th century: from free public schooling to the GI bill, America opened the doors of learning wider to each successive generation. And each new class of graduates built new businesses, invented new tools, and helped to make America a world leader in manufacturing, commerce, and trade.

President Obama knows that our economic future hinges on how we educate our students today. And he is committed to helping every American student receive a quality education. Because the bottom line is, diplomas and degrees are still the tickets to success.

That’s true for individuals, and it’s also true for countries. The nations with the best talent have an advantage in the global marketplace, and that advantage shows up in the numbers. According to one of the most respected studies of student performance worldwide, countries like Canada and Korea are doing a better job of equipping their students to meet the needs of the 21st century. And the gap between the best educated nations and American students is estimated to cost the United States more than a trillion dollars a year.

So President Obama has issued a call to action. He knows that we must equip students with more than just the basics – in today’s economy, they need advanced knowledge. And that means a college education.

To that end, the President has set an ambitious goal. He wants the United States to produce a higher percentage of college graduates than any other country in the world by the end of the next decade.

Right now, only about 40% of Americans hold a college degree. To reach President Obama’s goal, we need to help millions more students graduate from college. That won’t be easy. To succeed, we need partners like the UNCF – organizations with the resources and the drive to help students navigate the challenges of higher education. The effects of education are so dramatic, we simply can’t afford not to educate a single child.

That fact has not changed in 200 years. We all recognize the wisdom of an education, but somehow, we are still aren’t getting the job done. Too many of our students aren’t even making it through high school, much less going to college. They are falling behind and dropping out. In some schools, less than half of the African-American students who enter as freshman will graduate as seniors. We have to do more to get these kids through school.

And we can’t stop at their high school graduation. The unemployment rate for individuals with a bachelor’s degree is half that for those with only a high-school diploma. College-educated workers aren’t just more likely to find a job; they’re more likely to hold higher-paying, higher-quality jobs.

That’s why organizations like UNCF are so critical. Historically black colleges and universities have been a path to higher paying jobs and better lives for generations of young students.

Both of my parents attended a historically black university. Their education was the foundation of my family’s success, and the starting point of everything I have achieved. Even today, historically black colleges and universities grant about one in every five degrees handed to an African-American student.

We need to support their work, and I know you are. Your focus on increasing graduation rates and closing the achievement gap is paving the way for their success. That is good for minority students, and it’s good for all of America. Closing the racial achievement gap between white and minority students could increase this country’s productivity by hundreds of billions of dollars and vastly increase the pool of trained minds available to American businesses.

Employers will pay a premium for skilled, educated workers who can better help them to succeed. And when American companies outshine their competitors in the global marketplace, that creates additional jobs and opportunities here at home.

Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live outside of America. Our future is going to depend upon our ability to sell our goods, services, and intellectual property to those customers. And we’re going to have to compete for their business. Because countries around the world have set their sights on global consumers.

Nations on the cutting edge of creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship – in other words, nations with a highly educated, highly skilled work force – will be the world’s export leaders.

With that urgency in mind, President Obama devoted $100 billion in stimulus funds to education, including $31 billion dedicated to improving college access. That money is the single biggest investment in student aid since the GI bill. And it is an investment for a more prosperous future.

Next year, students will have access to billions of dollars in new grants, loans, and assistance. It is estimated that more than 14 million students will use this assistance to pay for college. And as this organization knows, even a little money can go a long way toward helping a college student earn their cap and gown.

President Obama is also supporting new efforts to ensure that students who start college actually finish. Right now, almost half of all college freshmen fail to earn a degree within six years. For poor and minority students, that percentage is even higher.

When we arm students with the knowledge to succeed, that enriches us all. Every degree conferred enhances America’s prospects for the future. President Obama has said that our commitment to education, “will determine not just whether our children have the chance to fulfill their God-given potential…but whether we as a nation will remain, in the 21st century, the kind of global economic leader that we were in the 20th.”

Now, we have a lot of work to do, but we’re certainly not starting from scratch. Historically black colleges and universities like your members have educated premier minds from Thurgood Marshall and Langston Hughes to Spike Lee and Barbara Jordan. And American universities across the board are among the best in the world.

That educational excellence has paid dividends to us all. According to World Bank data, America’s per capita income is over 40 percent higher than the average in other high income countries around the world. In part, that difference can be attributed to a long-time focus on. And it shows the vast promise of renewing and reinvigorating that focus.

It will take all of us doing everything we can do. The first building on Paul Quinn College’s campus was constructed through a “ten cents a brick” campaign; little by little, the community gave what they could toward the dream of an education. And in 1944, Dr. Frederick Patterson, President of Tuskegee University, brought the UNCF into existence through an “appeal to the national conscience.”

Our nation needs to train every American mind to take advantage of the incredible opportunities that exist in the 21st century. We need to help today’s students dream big, and then we need to give them the tools to realize their dreams. Because America needs their dreams, their skills, their inventions, and their innovations to continue to thrive in the global economy. And we need a strong and healthy UNCF to help them along the way.

Thank you all for your work on behalf of America’s college students. I look forward to hearing more from all of you about how we can work together to help the next generation succeed.”

Salazar Approves Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Construction on National Mall

Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At a ceremony with Harry E. Johnson, Sr., President of the Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc., Christine King Ferris, sister to Martin Luther King Jr.; EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and members of the Black and Hispanic Caucuses, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today signed a permit allowing construction of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the National Mall.

“Dr. King is one of America’s greatest heroes – a Nobel Peace Prize winner who inspired America to live up to the meaning of its creed of freedom, justice and opportunity for all people,” said Secretary Salazar. “It is fitting and appropriate that we honor Dr. King’s extraordinary life and legacy with a memorial here on the National Mall, alongside the timeless landmarks of American democracy and freedom. May this sacred ground help us draw strength from Dr. King’s courage, dedication and sacrifice, and inspire us to always seek a more perfect union.”

“I am excited to move forward with construction and share that we are in the home stretch of the fundraising campaign to build this national memorial to Dr. King,” said Harry E. Johnson, Sr., President of the Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc. “I call on all Americans to participate in our Build the Dream: Countdown to Completion phase of the fundraising campaign by donating $1 or more to become a part of history.”

Now that Secretary Salazar has signed a construction permit, the non-profit Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc. can proceed with construction of the memorial. The new memorial will be situated adjacent to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and in a direct line between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. Dr. King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream Speech” at the Lincoln Memorial in August, 1963.

Congress passed Joint Resolutions in 1996 authorizing Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. to establish a memorial honoring Dr. King to be built in Washington, D.C. The ceremonial groundbreaking took place on November 13, 2006, and the memorial is expected to be completed in 2011.

The design of the four-acre memorial includes the use of water, stone and trees to symbolize Dr. King’s call to America for justice, opportunity and hope for all people.

“Dr. King’s dream is America’s dream,” Salazar said. “This new memorial honoring him and his legacy will help us share this dream – and America’s story – with future generations.”

Dr. King, a Baptist minister, dedicated his life to promoting civil rights and opposing discrimination and segregation. He led the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957, serving as its first president.

In his “I Have a Dream” speech, he challenged the conscience of the nation to finally live up to the ideals upon which it was founded, helping to convince Congress to pass landmark laws, including the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

In 1964, he became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end segregation and discrimination by peaceful protest and other non-violent means.

King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and Congressional Gold Medal in 2004. Congress established Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a U.S. national holiday in 1986.

Video: Ludacris talks about fixing communities and responsible leadership

Is Ludacris the leader we’ve been looking for?

Chris Bridges a.k.a Ludacris is offering a refreshing image for an art form that has seemed to lose its way over the last decade.  This past weekend he made the circuit, promoting his foundation and asking for a new look at philanthropic leadership.  This 4 1/2 minute video is worth the time.

Good Look Luda.

Strong Black Mothers Do They Help or Hurt Their Kids?

This is from a post by Lorrie Irby Jackson (who also writes for that was posted at Chick Talk Dallas.  Visit to read this entire post.

  • It was 1999. I was only 27 years old, but I was worn-down, weary and depressed. I was working full-time at a job that I despised and coming home to two kids, only one of which I gave birth to. One was a sweet toddler, and the other was my so-called husband. We’d just had another ferocious fight over the finances, and instead of paying his share of the bills, the man I’ll call “Marvin” pretended they didn’t exist, allowed things to get cut off or repossessed and thought he could smooth things over this time by leaving a bouquet of roses and a card waiting for me in the bedroom.
  • I decided that it was no longer enough. The following year I filed for divorce. It was hard to be the one to accelerate my descent into becoming yet another tired statistic—that of a ‘black single mother’—but to spare my sanity, I had no other choice. I had a life to live and a child to raise.
  • What did concern me, after getting the legalities handled, was keeping a stable household for my fragile, impressionable three-year-old. I needed to keep a roof over our heads, food on the table and childcare in place in order for me to work. I needed life to be as drama-free as possible to show him that parents could still love and care for him even from separate addresses, and most of all, I had to prove to him with my actions that instead of languishing as part of a couple, it was better for me to struggle on my own.