Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Diversity Data Explores USA Melting Pot

We often think of black history in terms of past achievements by exceptional individuals.

If you wanted a broad general snapshot of most African American people today, the trends in their neighborhoods, and the factors that will influence the emerging black leaders of tomorrow, where would you turn?

A new website has created an extremely easy way to discover information about racial and ethnic groups in the USA by using census data gathered by the U.S. government.

According to the creators, “Diversity Data is an online tool for exploring quality of life data across different metropolitan areas, for people of different racial/ethnic groups in the United States.”

Diversity Data “provides values and rankings for the largest U.S. metropolitan areas on different indicators in 8 areas of life (domains), including demographics, education, economic opportunity, housing, neighborhoods, and health."

Just pick a state, select a metropolitan area, then instantly observe what the trends reveal.

By using an option called “customize profile,” you can dissect and analyze the information in more ways than you could ever imagine.

Each state can be searched by selecting from the largest counties.

The brainchild of this fantastic free tool is the Harvard School of Public Health.

I highly recommend Diversity Data for:

  • Population Demographics and Diversity
  • Health
  • Housing Opportunities
  • Economic Opportunities
  • Education
  • Residential Integration and Neighborhood Characteristics
  • Crime
  • Physical Environment

Where are the rural or urban centers in the USA where different racial and ethnic groups are striding ahead?  You’ll discover the answer to this question and a lot more by digging into Diversity Data online.

The trends reflect possible history in the making.  If you spot differences in your state that are surprising, let the information challenge you to think about some ways you might influence your community’s destiny.

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Posted by Hugh Smith on 01/30 at 02:05 AM
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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Oprah's Roots Traces Family Tree

Genealogy research and DNA analysis have been the rage the last few years.

More African American families are using these technologies to discover African ancestral connections.

The PBS television series African American Lives, hosted by Henry “Skip” Louis Gates Jr., (shown above with Oprah Winfrey), debuted in February during Black History Month, 2006.

African American Lives is fascinating.  Famous black history people in the USA trace their lineage to Africa with Gates guiding the series along.  I was very glad I watched several episodes last year.

It’s Oprah’s chance this week, with a new, updated episode.  One good thing about PBS, the programs are always repeated, so you’ll eventually get a second chance to watch Oprah’s Roots: An African American Lives Special.

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Posted by Hugh Smith on 01/24 at 08:09 AM
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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Ella Fitzgerald gets a Stamp of Approval

Ella Fitzgerald, (1917 - 1996), a jazz great, was one of the first African American singers to appeal to both black and white audiences.

Poverty could not suppress the raw talent that was to lead to her eventual success.

She was born in Newport News, Virginia.  Her family chose to make New York City their adopted home.

As a teenager in the 1930’s, Fitzgerald began six decades of performance encompassing 250 recordings and 13 Grammy Awards.

She popularized the jazz style called scat singing.  Her 1938 hit, “A-Tisket, A-Tasket,” derived from nursery rhymes, became her trademark song.

She sang the songs of the best songwriters, and performed with most of the greats, including Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie.  Diabetes eventually claimed her life at the age of 79.

On January 10, 2007, Ella Fitzgerald, became the 30th honoree in the popular Black History Heritage commemorative stamp series issued by the U.S. Postal Service.

The stamp image is a portrait based on a photograph taken around 1956.  As you can see, this likeness captures the joy and excitement that Fitzgerald brought to music.

Fitzgerald won the National Medal of Arts, presented to her in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan. She was one of five artists awarded Kennedy Center Honors in 1979.

In 1989, the Society of Singers created an award for lifetime achievement, called it the “Ella,” and made her its first recipient.

In 2005, Jazz at Lincoln Center inducted Fitzgerald into its Nesuhi Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame.

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Posted by Hugh Smith on 01/17 at 09:30 PM
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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Martin Luther King 15

Happy New Year!

Martin Luther King Day is January 15.  This year, the holiday falls on his actual birthday.

To raise awareness of the campaign to make his birthday a national holiday in the USA, I proudly secured the license plate “King 15” several years before Congress passed the law.

Unfortunately, today I’m asked by clueless citizens if my license plate refers to a gang!

How much do you know about Martin Luther King Jr.?

Go to our website, Black History People Quiz, and add a simple question with the correct answer about the life of MLK.

I will select the best submissions between now and January 16.  Winners will receive a free copy of our black history software, “Empower Encyclopedia."

You must submit both your question with the correct answer to be eligible to win.

All winners will be contacted by email, so make sure you use your correct email address.  Good luck.

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Posted by Hugh Smith on 01/04 at 08:00 AM
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