LISTEN: Churches In Congo Call for Peace; Arrest Made In ‘Vote Trump’ Burning of Mississippi Black Church (BCNN1, 12/22/2016)

1. According to Al Jazeera, the Catholic Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has appealed for a resolution to the ongoing political standoff over the future of current President Joseph Kabila. The call by the church comes after 34 people were reportedly killed and 45 others wounded in clashes between police and protesters who took to the streets to protest against Kabila’s refusal to step down from power. The protests took place in Kinshasa and the eastern city of Lubumbashi. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday urged the government and opposition to work constructively to reach a deal.

2. According to the Clarion-Ledger, state law enforcement officials say a member of the Greenville church that was burned and vandalized with “Vote Trump” in spray paint is in custody for the Nov. 1 crime. Greenville police on Wednesday arrested Andrew McClinton, 45, of Leland for setting Hopewell Baptist Church on fire and scrawling “Vote Trump” on the side in spray paint, according to Warren Strain with the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation. McClinton is charged with one count of first degree arson of a place of worship. Strain said the investigation is ongoing and declined to comment further. A motive has not been released.

3. According to Broadway World, Soul Train Award nominated and Stellar Gospel Music Award winning recording artist Charles Jenkins’ “Holiday Praise” yuletide musical program will air Sunday, December 25 at 8:00 a.m. (ET) with a repeat broadcast at 9:00 a.m. (ET) on Bounce TV, the fastest-growing African-American network on television. The hour-long holiday celebration was filmed at the historic Fellowship Chicago church in the Windy City with an all-star musical lineup.

4. According to the Houston Chronicle, two months after a black Houston doctor’s viral Facebook post alleged discriminatory treatment aboard a Delta Air Lines flight, the company has apologized and announced policy changes. As of Dec. 1, Delta flight attendants are no longer required to ask for a physician’s credentials during in-flight medical emergencies. In addition, the airline is requiring that all employees receive inclusion training, part of an effort to combat the unspoken bias that led a white flight attendant to reflexively assume that a young black woman wasn’t a doctor. Dr. Tamika Cross, the 28-year-old Houston physician who sparked the changes, said in an interview Wednesday: “I commend Delta for doing this.”

5. According to PEOPLE, Hidden Figures star Octavia Spencer says the lack of diversity in films shouldn’t be blamed on the Oscars. Following last year’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy — when only white actors and actresses were among those nominated in the four acting categories for the second year in a row — the 46-year-old actress explains that more films about minorities need to be made in the first place. Spencer said: “I think that people really are putting the label of diversity in the wrong spots. Diversity starts when you’re casting films, when you’re greenlighting films. I think putting that at Oscars’ feet when it’s the end of the road — that’s the frosting on the cake if you get nominated for Oscars. We want to get these movies greenlit.”

6 . According to Reuters, Denzel Washington is excited. Not so much because he is an Oscar front-runner for his role in “Fences,” but because bringing the award-winning stage play about blue collar African-Americans to the big screen has been a long-held dream. Pulitzer-Prize-winning “Fences,” which opens in U.S. movie theaters on Dec. 25, is the first play by the late, influential black playwright August Wilson to be turned into a film. Washington and Viola Davis reprise their 2010 Tony-winning roles as egotistical garbage worker Troy Maxson and his long-suffering wife Rose in the intense family drama about lost hope, betrayal and race prejudice in 1950s America. With strong reviews, “Fences” has put Washington and Davis front and center of a Hollywood awards season looking to redeem itself after the #OscarsSoWhite furor of the past two years.

7. According to CBS News, celebrated actress Viola Davis is going to kick off 2017 with a career milestone. The Emmy-winning “How to Get Away with Murder” star will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in a ceremony set to take place January 5, 2017. Her “Doubt” co-star, Meryl Streep, will be on hand to salute Davis at the ceremony. The ceremony will take place just three days before the Golden Globes, where Davis — a two-time Oscar nominee — is nominated for her work in the film “Fences.” This year marks her fifth Globe nomination. Walk of Fame producer Ana Martinez said in a statement: “Viola is one of the actresses who always mesmerize fans with her talent. She is amazing and we are thrilled that she will grace our world famous Hollywood Walk of Fame.” Davis’ will be the 2,597th star dedicated on the Walk of Fame.