MLK Insights, Selma Celebration and School STEM Grants

Jan 19, 2015

Doug Shipman, CEO of Atlanta's National Center for Civil and Human Rights

Today is the day the nation observes the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

With the incidents in Ferguson, Mo., New York City and the recent release of the film Selma, civil rights are once again at the forefront of people's minds.

Doug Shipman is the CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. He believes if Dr. King were still alive, he would be still be working towards his goal of equality.

“He talked about building a community or facing chaos in society, he really wanted America to reflect a place where everyone could participate and I think he would continue to be challenging all of us and the government on whether or not that is the case.”

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights works with organizations in Alabama including the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery and the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham.

Martin Luther King Day celebrations in Selma are featuring stars from the critically-acclaimed historical drama set there.

Selma director Ava DuVernay, lead actor David Oyelowo who depicts MLK in the film, and producer Oprah Winfrey were in town Sunday afternoon for a march through the city.

The movie Selma depicts the three-month period in 1965 as Dr. King and other civil rights leaders planned and conducted the march from Selma to Montgomery for voting rights equality.

The movie's stars marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge Sunday, where protestors were famously beaten and tear gassed by state troopers in an attack known as “Bloody Sunday”.

Producers will hold two free screenings of the film in Selma today in honor of the national holiday.

Today’s the moment of truth for participants in a statewide weight loss program.

Scale Back Alabama is holding weigh-ins at the start of this year’s program to help people shed pounds after the holidays. The Alabama Hospital Association and the State Department of Health are teaming up on this program which has helped Alabamians lose more than a million pounds since 2007.

Molly Killman is the Nutrition and Physical Activity Director for the Department of Public Health. She thinks the program is effective because participants have the support of a partner.

“We feel like having that partner will help hold you accountable; you’ll have that person to cheer you on and provide encouragement. We feel that is the best way to work towards making healthy behavior changes.”

The program will last ten weeks with the final weigh ins starting in early April.

There’s a follow-up campaign after that to help people keep the weight off.

A prominent Mississippi defense contractor is issuing more than $100,000 in grants for school STEM projects in Mississippi and Alabama.

28 schools across the gulf coast region will receive grants from Ingalls Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries.

The grants will cover projects in a variety of subjects. For example, Baker High School in Mobile will be purchasing physics equipment to conduct experiments in physics and math classrooms with their nearly $5000 grant.

The contractor has issued more than $600,000 in grants to area schools in the past seven years.

An Ingalls vice president said the projects are to aid workforce development along the Gulf Coast.