Katherine G. Johnson Computational Facility Opens at NASA Langley Research Center

NASA Legend Katherine Johnson with Dr. Yvonne Cagle (photo by Megan Shinn via 11alive.com)

via 11alive.com

HAMPTON, Va. (WVEC) — An American treasure is being honored in Hampton. A new facility at the NASA Langley Research Center is named after Katherine Johnson. She’s the woman featured in the movie “Hidden Figures” for her inspiring work at NASA Langley. People knew the mathematician as a “human computer” who calculated America’s first space flights in the 1960s. “I liked what I was doing, I liked work,” said Katherine.

The 99-year-old worked for NASA at a time when it was extremely difficult for African-Americans — especially women — to get jobs in the science field. “My problem was to answer questions, and I did that to the best of my ability at all time,” said Katherine. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015. She said, “I was excited for something new. Always liked something new.” U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck, and “Hidden Figures” author Margot Lee Shetterly were among the dignitaries who were on hand to honor Johnson.

Governor McAuliffe said, “Thank goodness for the movie and the book that actually came out and people got to understand what this woman meant to our county. I mean she really broke down the barriers.” The Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility (CRF) is a $23 million, 37,000-square-foot energy efficient structure that consolidates five Langley data centers and more than 30 server rooms. One NASA astronaut, Doctor Yvonne Cagle, said Katherine is the reason she is an astronaut today. “This is remarkable, I mean it really shows that when you make substantive contributions like this, that resonate both on and off the planet. There’s no time like the present.” Doctor Cagle said she’s excited the new building is named after Katherine. “Thank you all, thank everyone for recognizing and bringing to light this beautiful hidden figure,” said Cagle.

The facility will enhance NASA’s efforts in modeling and simulation, big data, and analysis. Much of the work now done by wind tunnels eventually will be performed by computers like those at the CRF. NASA Deputy Director of Center Operations, Erik Weiser said, this new facility will help them with their anticipated Mars landing in 2020.

Source: NASA legend Katherine Johnson honored in Hampton | 11alive.com

As the National Museum of African American History and Culture Turns One, Director Lonnie Bunch Looks Back

NMAAHC Reflection Pool (Photo by anokarina)

by Rachel Sadon via dcist.com

Since Ruth Odom Bonner joined President Barack Obama in ringing the bell to open the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture last year, more than 2.5 million people have visited the site.”What’s been so moving is that it’s clear after a year, the museum has already become a pilgrimage site,” says Director Lonnie Bunch, who began the “great adventure” of opening the museum in 2005. What followed was more than a decade of building a collection and a building from scratch. It culminated on September 24, 2016 when the daughter of a slave and the nation’s first black president tolled the 500-pound bell that had been lent by the historically black First Baptist Church in Williamsburg, Va. and ushered people in.

Visitors to the African American History and Culture Museum tend to stay more than triple the typical amount of time they spend at most museums. Even a year later, a pass system remains in place to prevent overcrowding, and the free tickets remain difficult to come by (they are released monthly, and a limited number of same-day tickets are available online starting at 6:30 a.m.). The cafe serves up over 1,500 meals a day. Bunch attributes the success in part to a pent up demand—generations worked to get the museum built, and the long-held dream was only fulfilled after more than a century of effort. But he also believes that the way the museum presents its subject matter has a lot to do with it.”It tells the unvarnished truth,” Bunch says. “I think there are people who were stunned that a federal institution could tell the story with complexity, with truth, with tragedy, and sometimes resilience. So I think the kind of honesty of it appeals to people.”

Museum officials know that even many Washingtonians still haven’t managed to get through its doors. So as they celebrate the year anniversary, much of the programming and performances they’ve planned are taking place outdoors. Music and tours of the grounds will take place on both Saturday and Sunday, and the museum’s hours have been extended for those who have passes to go inside.Ahead of the celebration, we spoke with Bunch about what it’s been like to shepherd the museum through its first year. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Lonnie G. Bunch accepts The President’s Award onstage at the 48th NAACP Image Awards on February 11, 2017. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images )

Congratulations! You’ve made it to a year.

Thank you. That’s the easy part. The hard part was getting it open.

You worked on this for more than a decade before it opened. What was it like to finally see it open after all that work, gathering all those artifacts, building this up from the ground (really a giant hole in the ground) up?

In many ways, it was probably one of the most emotional moments of my life, both professional and personal. To actually not only fulfill a dream of all the staff, but a dream of generations who wanted this, it was really very humbling. But quite honestly it was also very motivating. Whenever you hit a bump or you worry about how you’re going to pull it off, recognizing that I didn’t want to let down all these other generations who had tried, that was a great motivating factor.

You had this moment celebrating the opening, you had the president and all these people who had traveled to D.C., and then it was day one on the grounds. What’s been your experience like shepherding it through this first year?

It’s been wonderful in that it’s become, within the first year already, part of the American lexicon. There’s almost no one that doesn’t know about the museum, doesn’t know about how hard it is to get in, or how much they enjoyed it. But also I think that what’s been so moving is that it’s clear after a year, the museum has already become a pilgrimage site—that there are thousands of people who come to share their story with their grandchildren or to connect over an object with people who shared maybe a comparable experience in the Civil Rights movement. I think it’s really become what we wanted, which was to be a place that was as much about today and tomorrow as it is about yesterday.

You’ve had a long museum career. How has this particular museum been different from previous places you’ve worked at?

It’s different in that you had to start from scratch—you didn’t have a collection, you didn’t have a building. What it allowed us to do is say “what should a 21st century museum that explores race, what should it do?” So it helped us put the way that museums interpret race on its end. Instead of saying “this is a story about the African American community,” we’re saying “this is a story about America through the lens of the African American community.” And so that’s very different.Being able to start from scratch allowed us to think innovatively about how do you actually collect by working with communities and going into peoples homes, in their trunks and attics. In essence, because we had nothing, it forced us to be different than most museums. We have to be more creative, more nimble.

I’ve heard you say this a number of times, that this is an “American story told through an African American experience.” That story is obviously still happening; what is the museum’s role in responding to that story as it occurs, as we’re seeing things like Charlottesville happen in real time.

First of all, part of the museum’s job is to collect today for tomorrow, so that there are things—like we’ve collected Black Lives Matter artifacts, we’ve collected things in Ferguson, things in Baltimore—and some of those are on display in the museum. Some maybe won’t be in display until a curator 30, 40, or 50 years from now wants to use it. Our goal is to make sure that it never happens, like it used to happen early in my career—there were exhibits I wanted to do, stories I wanted to tell, and museums didn’t have those collections. I wanted to make sure that future curators wouldn’t have that problem.  Continue reading

Hurricane Maria: Here’s How to Help Victims in the Ravaged Caribbean

RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/GETTY

by Jason Duaine Hahn via people.com

On early Wednesday, Hurricane Maria made landfall on the 100-mile-long island of Puerto Rico, causing such tremendous damage with its 155-mph winds that it knocked out power for all 3.5 million residents.

Maria killed at least nine people on Dominica before it moved to Puerto Rico, where it toppled trees, tore roofs from buildings, and damaged reservoirs and rivers that—along with heavy rain—have caused severe flooding.

Though the hurricane is expected to move toward the Dominican Republic late Wednesday, Puerto Rico and Dominica will feel the effects of the storm for a long time to come. This comes just two weeks after ferocious Hurricane Irma destroyed much of the U.S. Virgin Islands and killed three people in Puerto Rico.

If you’d like to help out in helping victims of the storm, here some verified organizations assisting in the efforts.

Unidos Por Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico First Lady Beatriz Rosselló helped to establish Unidos Por Puerto Rico to help victims of Maria on the island, and donations can be sent by way of their website.

HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/GETTY

Dominica Hurricane Relief Fund

Much of Dominica is in need of aid after Maria destroyed much of the small island. Officials say 70 to 80 percent of the island’s structures sustained storm damage, whether it be ripped-off roofs or complete destruction. Donations can be sent to the JustGiving page of the organization here.

ConPRmetidos

The nonprofit is based in Puerto Rico, and is accepting donations that will be first be used for the immediate needs of food, shelter and water, and later transitioned to long-term recovery efforts. You can donate to the organization here.

UNICEF

The United Nations fund is currently leading efforts to help young victims of both Irma and Maria, and the earthquake in Mexico. “We put children first in emergencies, committed to addressing the needs of the most vulnerable kids in the world,” the organization says. You can donate to them through their website.

GoFundMe

The fundraising website has collected a running list of dozens of pages that are collecting funds for hurricane relief in Dominica and Puerto Rico.

HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/GETTY

Puerto Rican Hurricane Relief Fund

Started by a collection of Los Angeles-based groups connected to the Puerto Rican community, the Puerto Rican Hurricane Relief Fund will collect money until September 29, 2017, when they will pass the donations to nonprofits on the island.

To read more, go to: http://people.com/human-interest/hurricane-maria-heres-how-to-help-victims-in-the-ravaged-caribbean/

University of California Berkeley Receives Federal Funds for Black Panther Party Legacy Project

Black Panthers, New York, New York, November 17, 1969. The protesters were demanding the release of 21 Black Panther members suspected of plotting various bombing incidents around the city. (Photo by David Fenton/Getty Images)

via blavity.com

Over the years, the Black Panther Party has gained a somewhat negative image, with its detractors highlighting its revolutionary nature and some of its more violent aspects. But the University of California Berkeley wants to change all of that, and is making a conscientious effort to honoring the legacy of BPP.

News One reports that the university will be receiving a federal funding grant of $98,000 for the “Black Panther Party Research, Interpretation & Memory Project.” Per the funding announcement, the project will last from August 30, 2017 to September 30, 2019, and will include “a comprehensive collection of local BPP history through acquisition of additional materials from diverse sources including video oral history, photographs, news coverage and other media; disseminating publications that incorporate primary sources from BPP organizational records.”

The project will be led by Dr. Ula Taylor, the chair of the Department of African American Studies at UC Berkeley. Dr. Taylor plans to involve several notable BPP members in the project, such as J. Tarika Lewis. Lewis was the first woman to join the BPP in Oakland.

The project also plans to “compile an annotated bibliography of information (oral histories, literature, art, exhibits or other media/format) as a resource for understanding the complex history of the Black Panther Party” and “will collect additional oral histories, and additionally, interviews will be conducted with people who were not yet born in 1966 but are eager to reflect on how the events affected their lives, their families and their future.”

Overall, the project hopes to “bridge generational, cultural and regional gaps in dialogue on race relations, economic inclusion and opportunity and other critical imperatives that divide diverse populations.”

To read full article, go to: Power To The University Of California Berkeley: School Receives Federal Funds For Black Panther Party Legacy Project | BLAVITY

Chicago Deposits $20 Million into Illinois Service Federal and Loan Association, the City’s Last Black-Owned Bank 

(Photo credit: Nancy Harty via blavity.com)

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The Illinois Service Federal and Loan Association (ISF) is the last black-owned bank in Chicago. According to CBS Chicago, Kurt Summers, the city’s treasurer, has decided to make a momentous investment in the bank. Summers announced Monday that the city will be depositing $20 million into the black-owned institution.

At the announcement, the treasurer called this investment his department’s first step towards addressing the city’s history of segregation, something that he claims is one of the root causes of the city’s current violence. So, what will this investment mean for the city? According to Summers, the contribution will increase the number of successful black-owned businesses in Chicago.”If we’re going to be serious about supporting those communities and supporting community banks and what they do for small businesses, we have to look for opportunities like this,” he said, Business Day reports.

When going to large, national banks, Chicago’s black business owners only receive the full amount of their loan requests 47 percent of the time. White business owners receive all the money they ask for 76 percent of the time. Summers hopes that this investment will give black small business owners some place to go to find funding for their endeavors. “The community banks are often more capable of evaluating the risks of local borrowers than large remote financial institutions,” said Summers.

This is only one of the changes Chicago politicians are anticipating following the deposit. Alderman Roderick Sawyer told CBS that he believes that this investment will help resolve the issue of economic disparity in Chicago, and, ultimately, even violence. Papa Kwesi Nduom, the chairperson of the Illinois Service Federal and Loan Association, agrees with him. Nduom said the deposit will give his bank a “much-needed boost to our financial foundation, ensuring that we can strengthen the economic base of our communities and help people fulfill their dreams.”

The black-owned bank has been providing services to the black communities of the South Side of Chicago for more than 80 years.

To read more: Chicago Deposits $20M In City’s Last Black-Owned Bank | BLAVITY

Colin Kaepernick Pledges $25K Toward Efforts to Keep DACA

Pro Football QB and Activist Colin Kaepernick (photo via theundefeated.com)

via eurweb.com

Colin Kaepernick has pledged $25,000 toward aid for immigrant youth and efforts to keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in place. The news comes in the wake of Donald Trump’s announced end of DACA, leaving the fate of some 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children up to Congress.

Kaepernick, who remains a free agent for the NFL, has been at the center of political controversy since his decision to take a knee last year during the National Anthem in protest of racism and police brutality. Additionally the former quarterback had pledged to donate $1 million toward efforts to help communities affected by systemic racism, social injustice and police brutality.

Kaepernick announced that a quarter of the $100,000 he donates to that end each month (for 10 months) will go toward children of immigrant backgrounds who are being affected by Trump’s planned repeal of DACA. In partnership with United We Dream – the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the U.S. – he will contribute a percentage of the amount to the following areas:

• Addressing the inequities and obstacles faced by immigrant youth. Over 100,000 members. Current focus: Organize and work for immigrant children to keep DACA in force.

• $10,000 for upcoming travel. Air, hotel, lodging, and ground transportation. United We Dream recently held event in Washington DC and sent 300 dreamers to lobby to keep DACA. This budget will pay for 75-100 attendees for a similar rally upcoming.

• $10,000 for series of upcoming local gatherings in NY, CT, TX, FL, NM. Facilities rent and security, transportation, food, technology

• $5,000 for text service for the network of over 100,000 members.

Source: Colin Kaepernick Pledges $25K Toward Efforts to Keep DACA | EURweb

Donald Glover, Lena Waithe and Sterling K. Brown Make Emmy Awards History

Emmy Winners Donald Glover, Sterling K. Brown and Lena Waithe (photos via vibe.com)

by Camille Augustin via vibe.com

At the 69th edition of the Emmy Awards, there was more diversity among nominees, and therefore winners, than there has been in previous years. Compelling actor Sterling K. Brown took home the hardware for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his role in NBC’s This Is Us. According to Entertainment Weekly, Brown is the first black actor to win the prize since Andre Braugher in 1998 for his role in Homicide: Life on the Street. During his backstage speech, Sterling reflectively acknowledged this achievement. “When I first got to [NYU] there was a poster of Gideon’s Crossing above the Public Theater, so I would see [Braugher’s] face all the time when I left my apartment to go to school,” he said, per The Ringer. “So, I’m bugging out. I never thought that this was a possibility, and to be standing here 19 years after him! I wanna represent.”

Another epic win went to Donald Glover, who became the first black director to garner the Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series. For his brilliant acting in Atlanta, the “Redbone” artist (as Childish Gambino) became the first black performer to join the legion of comedic outstanding lead actors. The achievements kept pouring in as actress/screenwriter Lena Waithe went down in history as the first black woman to win Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for Master of None. She also won the hearts of the audience and viewers with her motivating acceptance speech to the LGBTQIA community.

To read more, go to: Sterling K. Brown, Lena Waithe, Donald Glover Make Emmys History