Delta Sigma Theta Helps Create Anna Pearl Barrett Memorial Scholarship at Texas Southern University for Students to Study Abroad

Source: Nell Reed / Delta Sigma Theta

Anna Pearl Barrett, an alumna of Texas Southern University, along with the Houston Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta are creating new opportunities for students to study abroad in the future.

According to blackamericaweb.com, the sorority presented TSU with $150,500 from Barrett’s bequest to DST, which Texas Southern University’s Foundation matched to create one of the HBCU’s largest endowments: the Anna Pearl Barrett Houston Alumnae Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Memorial Endowed Scholarship.

To quote Black America Web:

The $301,000 investment will financially assist students who desire to study in other countries and happens to fulfill one of the goals of International Awareness and Involvement, part of DST’s Five-Point Programmatic Thrust.

Barrett, a career educator who passed in 2014, was the first TSU exchange student to study in Spain. The school’s study abroad program began its initial journey to Tanzania in 2001 and today, more than 100 students travel abroad every year, per Gregory Maddox, Ph.D., Dean of the Graduate School and Director of International Programs.

The scholarship helps raise the profile of studying abroad. According to the Institute of International Education, undergrad students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities participate in study abroad programs at lower rates than their counterparts across the U.S.

The Anna Pearl Barrett Memorial Endowed Scholarship was celebrated with a reception hosted earlier this month at TSU and attended by more than 200 Deltas as well as Barrett’s relatives, Mayor Sylvester Turner, TSU Acting President Ken Huewitt, TSU Vice President of University Advancement Melinda Spaulding, and a representative from the Office of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.

To read more: https://blackamericaweb.com/2020/02/20/delta-sigma-theta-gift-creates-301000-endowed-scholarship-at-texas-southern-university-2/

Baroness Valerie Amos Appointed Master of University College at Oxford University in England

Baroness Valerie Amos (photo via Oxford University)

Baroness Valerie Amos has been appointed master of University College at Oxford University in England. When she takes office on August 1, she will be the first woman master of University College and the first Black person to lead any college at Oxford University, according to the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.

Since 2015, Baroness Amos has served as Director of the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. From 2010 to 2015, Amos served as undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator at the United Nations.

Earlier in her career, Baroness Amos was the first Black woman to sit in the British cabinet as Secretary of State for International Development. She became Leader of the House of Lords and served as the United Kingdom’s High Commissioner to Australia.

Born in Guyana, Amos earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Warwick and a master’s degree in cultural studies from the University of Birmingham. She was given the title of Baroness Amos of Brondesbury in 1997.

Read more: https://www.univ.ox.ac.uk/news/valerie-amos-appointed-new-master/

Students at LeBron James’ I Promise School in Ohio to Receive Free Tuition to Kent State

Photo via Kent.edu

The inaugural class of NBA superstar LeBron JamesI Promise School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, has received some life-changing news, according to CNN.

All 193 students, who are high school juniors, will be receiving free tuition to Kent State University. The students, who were visiting the Kent State campus, erupted in cheers when they were told of the news, while many of their parents, watching from a live feed in a separate room, burst into tears.

Video of the announcement was released on Wednesday by the LeBron James Family Foundation. To see the video on Twitter, click here.

To quote the CNN article:

On Wednesday, James told reporters that his school has a great relationship with Kent State and the University of Akron. When the school opened in 2018, plans were announced to promise free tuition to the University of Akron when the students graduate.

“We have so many options, and I just know that so many kids in my community just don’t have many options,” James said. “So for me to be able to be in a position where I can give these kids options to decide what they want to do with their future, it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever done.”

According to a press release, the students will be guaranteed free tuition for four years as well as one year of a free room and meal plan. The students will be eligible for the package as college freshmen for the 2021-2022 academic year. To be eligible, they must be admitted to Kent State, fill out required financial aid forms and have completed a required number of community service hours each semester.

To remain eligible, students need to remain in good academic standing, take part in a required number of community service or volunteer hours and complete a minimum number of credit hours per year.

“We are so pleased to take our partnership with the LeBron James Family Foundation to this next level and welcome these students fully into the Kent State family,” said Kent State President Todd Diacon. “Kent State looks forward to the time when our campus is teeming with I Promise students.”

Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass Statues Installed in Maryland State House

Bronze Statues of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman (via Kingsport Times-News)

During a ceremony Monday night in the Maryland State House, bronze statues of famed abolitionists Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass  (sculpted by Ivan Schwartz of StudioEIS) were unveiled, according to ABC News.

To quote abcnews.go.com:

The life-sized statues were dedicated during a special joint session of the Maryland General Assembly in the Old House Chamber, the room where slavery finally was abolished in the state in 1864.

“A mark of true greatness is shining light on a system of oppression and having the courage to change it,” House Speaker Adrienne Jones, the state’s first Black and first female House speaker, said in prepared remarks. “The statues are a reminder that our laws aren’t always right or just. But there’s always room for improvement.”

While the commissioning of the statues was put in motion more than three years ago, their arrival coincides with new leadership in the state legislature. This is Jones’ first session as speaker, and the first new Senate president in more than three decades was elected by senators last month.

The statues, dedicated during Black History Month, were made to show Tubman and Douglass as they would have appeared in age and dress in 1864.

Both Tubman and Douglass were born on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Tubman escaped from slavery to become a leading abolitionist who helped scores of enslaved people through the Underground Railroad.

Douglass also escaped slavery, and he went on to become an author, speaker, abolitionist and supporter of women’s rights. His autobiography, published in 1845, was a bestseller that helped fuel the abolitionist movement.

The statues aren’t the only recent examples of the state taking steps to reflect its rich Black history.

Last month, a portrait of Verda Welcome, who was elected to the state Senate in 1962, is the first portrait of a black person to adorn the Maryland’s Senate walls. The painting of Welcome replaced one of a white governor who had been on the wall for 115 years.

Maryland also has removed several painful reminders of its past in recent years.

In 2017, the state removed a statue of Roger B. Taney, the U.S. Supreme Court justice and Maryland native who wrote the 1857 Dred Scott decision that upheld slavery and denied citizenship to African Americans.

State officials voted to remove the Taney statue days after a woman was killed in Charlottesville, Virginia. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed when a man rammed his car through the crowd of people who were there to condemn hundreds of white nationalists who were protesting the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Read more: https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/maryland-unveil-statues-tubman-douglass-capitol-68878494

BHM: Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner – The Forgotten Inventor Who Revolutionized Menstrual Pads

From Vice:

Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner (1912–2006) always had trouble sleeping when she was growing up in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her mother would leave for work in the morning through the squeaky door at the back of their house and the noise would wake Kenner up. “So I said one day, ‘Mom, don’t you think someone could invent a self-oiling door hinge?’” She was only six at the time, but she set about the task with all the seriousness of a born inventor. “I [hurt] my hands trying to make something that, in my mind, would be good for the door,” she said. “After that I dropped it, but never forgot it.”

This pragmatic, do-it-yourself approach defined her inventions for the rest of her life. But while her creations were often geared toward sensible solutions for everyday problems, Kenner could tell from an early age that she had a skill that not many possessed. When her family moved to Washington DC in 1924, Kenner would stalk the halls of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, trying to work out if someone had beaten her to it and led a patent for an invention first. The 12-year-old didn’t find any that had done so.

In 1931 Kenner graduated from high school and earned a place at the prestigious Howard University, but was forced to drop out a year and a half into her course due to financial pressures. She took on odd jobs such as babysitting before landing a position as a federal employee, but she continued tinkering in her spare time. The perennial problem was money; filing a patent was, and is, an expensive business. Today, a basic utility patent can cost several hundred dollars.

By 1957 Kenner had saved enough money to her first ever patent: a belt for sanitary napkins. It was long before the advent of disposable pads, and women were still using cloth pads and rags during their period. Kenner proposed an adjustable belt with an inbuilt, moisture-proof napkin pocket, making it less likely that menstrual blood could leak and stain clothes.

“One day I was contacted by a company that expressed an interest in marketing my idea. I was so jubilant,” she said. “I saw houses, cars, and everything about to come my way.” A company rep drove to Kenner’s house in Washington to meet with their prospective client. “Sorry to say, when they found out I was black, their interest dropped. The representative went back to New York and informed me the company was no longer interested.”

Undeterred, Kenner continued inventing for all her adult life. She eventually filed five patents in total, more than any other African-American woman in history.

Read more: The Forgotten Black Woman Inventor Who Revolutionized Menstrual Pads – VICE

Director Merawi Gerima Wins Awards for Feature Debut “Residue” at 2020 Slamdance Film Festival

Director Merawi Gerima (photo via blackfilm.com)

According to deadline.com, writer/director Merawi Gerima’Residue  won the Audience Award at the 2020 Slamdance Film Festival, as well as receiving an Honorable Mention for the Grand Jury Prize.

First-time feature director Gerima is the son of acclaimed independent filmmaker Haile Gerima (Sanfoka). Merawi Gerima also produced and directed Residue, and his cast includes Obinna Nwachukwu, Dennis Lindsey, Taline Stewart, Jacari Dye, Julian Selman, Melody Tally, Ramon Thompson, and Derron Scott.  

Check out the trailer below:

Residue tells the story of Jay, a young man who arrives home to find his neighborhood gentrified beyond recognition. Demetrius, his childhood best friend, is missing, but none of the remaining black folks trust Jay enough to provide any answers. Jay’s frustration compounds as he also finds himself alienated in the city at large, attacked from all sides. Jay visits his last friend Dion in prison, but leaves feeling powerless and infuriated. One final, chance confrontation results in Jay succumbing to the same forces as did his friends.

African American Miniature Museum Founder and Artist Karen Collins Has”Greensboro Four” Piece Highlighted by Google to Kick off Black History Month

“The Greensboro Four” by Karen Collins

Sixty years ago, four African American college students sat down quietly at a whites-only Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. They received no service, only requests to leave, but they kept waiting for hours. And the next day, they returned and waited again. Within three days of their protest, more than 300 students joined the young people who became known as the “Greensboro Four” in their sit-in.

The Four’s actions set off a wave of similar demonstrations throughout the South, drawing national attention to the fight against Jim Crow-era segregation and marking a turning point in the civil rights movement. Today’s Google Doodle commemorates these brave activists to kick off Black History Month.

According to CNN.com, the doodle is actually a photo of a diorama by Compton-based artist Karen Collins, who is also the founder of the African American Miniature Museum. “Organized by four Black college freshmen, the protest against segregation served as a catalyst for similar demonstrations throughout the nation,” Collins wrote in a blog post.

Artist Karen Collins (photo via CNN.com)

Collins has been creating dioramas that capture moments in black history for 24 years through the African American Miniature Museum, a project she started with her husband Eddie Lewis.

Collins had always wanted a dollhouse as a little girl, but as the daughter of a single mom, her family couldn’t afford it, she wrote in a blog post. When she bought her first dollhouse 40-some years later, she discovered her passion for using dioramas to tell stories.

That passion gained a new meaning when her son was incarcerated, she wrote. In the midst of her pain and anguish, she started the African American Miniature Museum. The museum began as a mobile project in the 1990s, when Collins displayed her work in venues like schools, libraries and churches as a way of contextualizing black history for children.

Today, she continues to operate the museum from home. Collins says on her website she hopes to have a permanent location one day for the more than 50 dioramas she has created, which depict events from the Middle Passage to the Black Lives Matter protests. Below are some examples of her work from an exhibit of her collection Collins had at the Los Angeles Public Library in 2018:

“Black Lives Matter” by Karen Collins
Madam CJ Walker by Karen Collins

“For me, the museum was a way to turn the negativity into something positive and share the stories of our ancestors’ strength and perseverance through hardship,” Collins wrote in a blog post.

“I want young people to learn about those that came before them who sacrificed to help make the lives they live today possible. Most importantly, I want them to see that we each have the power to make it through difficult times to thrive and hopefully make things better for those who come after us.”

Neveah Woods, 9, Gets Noticed by Mattel for her Clothing Designs for Barbie Dolls

Naveah Woods (photo via Click On Detroit)

Creative 9-year-old Nevaeh Woods from Detroit decided to make her passion for making clothing for Barbie dolls into a business and her designs have gotten attention of a big name company, according to WDIV Detroit.

Woods started making doll clothes out of whatever she could get her hands on and now her creations are getting noticed by the Barbie Mattel team.

“When I grow up, I want to be a fashion designer,” Neveah said. In a way, according to NewsOne, she already is a fashion designer. She makes clothes for her Barbie dolls out of everyday items like ribbon, socks and scissors.

Her mother, Sha’kvia Woods, watches and encourages her daughter, but they still surprised her.

“I just took pictures of them, so I was really amazed,” Woods said. “I shared it to Facebook and then I got a lot of my friends say make this public and when I made it public it just went viral.”

Her designs caught the attention of Mattel, the maker of Barbie. “Barbie sent me this amazing box, but we don’t know what’s inside it yet. Today we’re going to find out,” Neveah said.

Inside the box were plenty of new Barbies to style.

“It made me feel special because I’m achieving my goal to be a fashion designer and that’s what I really want to do,” Neveah said. “So I can be famous and make stuff and encourage people to follow their dreams.”

STUDY: Racial Gap in High School Dropout and Completion Rates Is Close to Non-Existent

via jbhe.com

A new report from the U.S. Department of Education offers new data on high school dropout and completion rates that state the gap between White and Black students in 2019 is no longer measurably different.

The status completion rate is the percentage of 18-to-24 year-olds who have left high school and who hold a high school credential. From 1977 to 2016, the status completion rate for White 18-to-24 year-olds was consistently higher than the rate for Black 18-to-24 year-olds.

Now, for the first time in 40 years, the status completion rate for Black 18-to-24 year-olds was not measurably different from that of White 18-to-24 year-olds. In 2017, 93.8 percent of young Blacks had completed high school compared to 94.8 percent of Whites.

Between October 2016 and October 2017, the number of 15-to 24-year-olds who left school without obtaining a high school credential was approximately 523,000. This so-called event dropout rate was 5.5 percent for Black students and 3.9 percent for White students.

The status dropout rate is the percentage of 16-to 24-year-olds who are not enrolled in school and have not earned a high school credential. In 2017, the status dropout rate for all 16- to 24-year-olds was 5.4 percent. For Blacks the status dropout rate was 6.5 percent, compared to a rate of 4.3 for White students.

The full report, Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2019, may be downloaded by clicking here.

Jada Pinkett Smith’s “Red Table Talk” Renewed Through 2022 by Facebook, Gets Spin-Off

Willow Smith, Adrienne Banfield-Norris and Jada Pinkett Smith of “Red Table Talk”

Jada Pinkett Smith‘s “Red Table Talk,” one of the most popular shows on Facebook Watch, will stay exclusively on the platform with new episodes of the talk show streaming through 2022, according to Variety.com. The series features host and executive producer Smith, her daughter Willow Smith and mother Adrienne Banfield-Norris (aka “Gammy”).

In addition, “Red Table Talk” is becoming a franchise: Smith and Westbrook Studios will produce “Red Table Talk: The Estefans,” bringing the trademark red table to Miami and feature Grammy-winning singer Gloria Estefan, her daughter and musician Emily Estefan, and her niece Lili Estefan discussing trending and personal topics with celebrity guests and experts.

To quote Variety:

“Red Table Talk,” which was nominated for a 2019 Daytime Emmy, debuted in May 2018 and has aired 50 episodes on Facebook Watch over two seasons. The show has over 7 million followers on Facebook and spawned a main discussion group with over 600,000 members as well as other group forums. “Red Table Talk” promises candid conversations of current social and cultural issues including race, divorce, domestic violence, sex, fitness and parenting.

“I’m incredibly proud of ‘Red Table Talk’ and thrilled to build upon this franchise with my family and with Gloria, Emily and Lili,” Pinkett Smith said in a statement. “‘Red Table Talk’ has created a space to have open, honest and healing conversations around social and topical issues, and what’s most powerful for me is hearing people’s stories and engaging with our fans in such a tangible way on the Facebook Watch platform. I’m excited to see the Estefans put their spin on the franchise and take it to new places.”