Black Farmers Receive Long-Awaited Justice
By Zenitha Prince

“At last,” read the title of the AFRO story on Congress’ approval of legislation that would release the funds for a settlement owed to the nation’s Black farmers. The two words were a sigh of relief from an embattled people in whom lay a tightly coiled mixture of emotions—angst, disillusionment, anger, sadness, fatigue—after decades without justice.

Justice, for Black Americans, is often a fickle reality. And for African-American farmers awaiting reparation from the settlement of a lawsuit alleging the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s discrimination against Black agrarians, it proved particularly capricious. But, in the end, right prevailed. The victory was a bittersweet one—many Black farmers had died before seeing a resolution to their cases—but a triumph it was just the same.

It’s nice to see the little guys win.

Zenitha Prince is the AFRO’s Washington Bureau Chief.

‘Leading Actresses Look beyond the Rainbow at Life’s Harshest Realities’
By Kristin Gray

Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls brought to life a plethora of women’s issues too large for one news article – racism, sexism, sexual abuse, poverty, homosexuality – and the list goes on. Watching the film during a press screening, I wondered how I’d review a larger-than-life film replete with a bevy of A-list actresses who delivered strikingly realistic performances. It proved a challenge, but writing about a film which showed Black women at their best, worst and every nuance in between was refreshing, particularly in an entertainment realm filled with one-dimensional characters and reality show drama queens.

While I didn’t think For Colored Girls was a perfect adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s 1970s literary gem, the 2010 release highlights some of the obstacles “colored girls” and all women face.

Kristin Gray is the AFRO’s managing editor.

‘Fenty Messed Up’
By Dorothy Rowley?

The most impactful story for me was the work I did on the mayoral race and more specifically, Mayor Adrian Fenty’s fall from grace. Fenty, who was overwhelmingly voted into office four years ago by the city’s Black constituency, proved his leadership ability with mandates that decreased crime and improved neighborhoods. Seen as a much-needed lightning rod for change, the District’s youngest mayor was a force to be reckoned with and was credited for bringing in the right person to turn around the long-troubled public school system.

But then the public began to get glimpses of Fenty’s personality: He would blow off the people who needed his ear the most in favor of hobnobbing with high-powered developers, the well-to-do White establishment and the like. In other words, Fenty became inaccessible to the working class, largely East-of-the-River set, and that was his downfall.

The City Paper was on target in its assessment this past summer ? the mayor’s race had boiled down to a referendum on Fenty’s personality. In addition to what many have described as an abrasive nature, Fenty also lacked the transparency needed to be a likeable government official.

On the other hand, I found that Gray was more of what voters wanted and needed. He was accessible, inclusive, approachable and most importantly, adept at showing he had the people’s best interests at heart.

I learned through my work on this article that D.C. residents place a lot of stake in the people they chose to lead them. However, if they feel they’ve been blindsided by empty promises, blank stares and blatant put offs, they will react in kind.

Dorothy Rowley is the AFRO’s senior Washington writer.

O’Malley Election Rally
By George Barnette

My favorite story of the year was the Gov. Martin O’Malley-Sen. Barbara Mikulski rally at Bowie State University that was attended by President Obama. It wasn’t my favorite because Obama spoke. It was my favorite because it symbolized the power that African Americans, particularly those living in this region, wield politically and economically.

Often times criticism is thrown around by and at Black people for lack of action, and that’s why that rally was strategically planned at Bowie State. There was no way either Mikulski or O’Malley were going to be re-elected without the voters in Prince George’s going to bat for them at the polls. Country residents did, and both candidates were celebrating on election night.

Now, while time will tell whether those were the right choices for Maryland, it does show what a motivated and unified population can achieve. There is no doubt that there are some flaws in Prince George’s County. However, if focused correctly, there’s enough political and financial capital in the county to affect the kind of change residents want to see.

There are people around the region and around the country that love to beat Prince George’s while it’s down – sometimes giving country residents low self-esteem about the place they live.

However, just think about what residents have been able to do when united and motivated to make projects happen. Prince George’s County residents wanted the Boulevard and it was built. Prince George’s County residents wanted an upscale grocer and it got Wegman’s. Prince George’s County residents wanted a tourist attraction and it got National Harbor. Prince George’s County wanted O’Malley and Mikulski for another term and that’s what it got. That’s why the first jurisdiction in the state O’Malley thanked in his victory speech was Prince George’s.

George Barnette is the AFRO’s Prince George’s County staff writer.

Church Protests Nearby Liquor Store
By Shernay Williams

What an exciting year! I enjoyed covering almost every news story, but my favorite was a church’s protest of a liquor store opening in their rental complex. I loved the rush and investigative-like quality of this story. My editor learned of the protest on a Monday afternoon. Discovering a news story on a Monday can be rather hectic since our deadline is the following day, so in a mad dash, I completed my other stories so I could begin this one.

I missed the actual picketing, but I was able to get in contact with the church’s head pastor. He chronicled the situation—the church moved to this new location February 2010; by spring, congregants noticed construction in the storefront below them and by summer, they learned the production was for a liquor store. It is actually illegal for a liquor store to be within 300 feet of a church. The pastor said he discussed the uncomfortable arrangement with the liquor board, zoning board and city council members but didn’t receive appropriate responses. So, he resorted to protesting. The church had staged a similar