She Met Her Prince (for Real!) at a D.C. Nightclub – New York Times

Ariana Austin and Joel Makonnen aka Prince Yoel (Credit: Jared Soares for The New York Times)

by Katie Rogers via nytimes.com

Few love stories resemble a fairy tale as much as the courtship and marriage of Ariana Austin and Joel Makonnen. Of course, it helped that the groom is an actual prince and the bride has a prominent lineage of her own. Mr. Makonnen, known as Prince Yoel, is the 35-year-old great-grandson of Haile Selassie, the last emperor of Ethiopia. And Ms. Austin, 33, is of African-American and Guyanese descent; her maternal grandfather was a lord mayor of Georgetown, the capital of Guyana.

As the couple noted on their wedding website, their union happened when “Old World aristocracy met New World charm.” The old and new combined on Sept. 9, in a marathon day of events that lasted from 11 a.m. until late in the evening, and took place within two states.

The festivities began with a ceremony at the Debre Genet Medhane Alem Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Temple Hills, Md. In an incense-filled sanctuary, guests in stockinged feet watched as at least 13 priests and clergymen helped officiate the Ethiopian Orthodox ceremony between Mr. Makonnen and Ms. Austin, who just days before had converted to the religion.

Hours after the ceremony, the pair celebrated with a formal reception at Foxchase Manor in Manassas, Va., with 307 guests, amid gold sequins, platters of Ethiopian food and preboxed slices of Guyanese black cake for people to take home. Their marriage had been more than a decade in the making. In the nearly 12 years since they first met on a dance floor at the Washington nightclub Pearl, in December 2005, Mr. Makonnen and Ms. Austin have pursued degrees, jobs and, at times, each other. Eventually, planning a wedding just became the next item on this ambitious couple’s to-do list. “I think we both had this feeling that this was our destiny,” Ms. Austin said. “But I felt like I had things that I had to do.”

When the two met, Mr. Makonnen didn’t tell Ms. Austin about his royal background, and Ms. Austin, who was 21 at the time, wasn’t necessarily looking to meet her future husband. She was in the middle of a time in her life she fondly referred to as “the summer that never ended.” Mr. Makonnen, himself in bachelor mode, approached Ms. Austin and her friend Jami Ramberan, and told the two women that they looked like models for a brand of alcohol. “I said, ‘You guys look like an ad for Bombay Sapphire,’ or whatever the gin was,” Mr. Makonnen recalled of the pickup line, one now infamous with Ms. Austin’s family. (At the wedding, even Ms. Ramberan, a bridesmaid, recalled the strangeness of that evening: “You don’t expect to meet the person you’re going to marry at Pearl.”) Mr. Makonnen quickly focused on Ms. Austin: “Not even five minutes later I said, ‘You’re going to be my girlfriend.’ ”

To read full article, go to: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/13/fashion/weddings/she-met-her-prince-the-great-grandson-of-haile-selassie.html

Columbia University to Invest $100 Million in Faculty Diversity Programs

Columbia University students at Commencement (mailman.columbia.edu)

via jbhe.com

Lee C. Bollinger, president of Columbia University in New York, has announced a major new commitment to increase the diversity of the university’s faculty. Over the next five years, Columbia University will invest $100 million in the effort to support recruitment and career development for professors, doctoral, and postdoctoral students who have traditionally been underrepresented in higher education.

The new program comes on the heels of $85 million invested in similar initiatives since 2005. Some of the funds will be earmarked for faculty retention programs. Additional funding will provide for the recruitment of dual-career couple and for mid-career research grants.

President Bollinger stated that “the aim is to develop new leaders and expand scholarship, initiatives and programming to meet the needs of the University. This is a longstanding initiative inseparable from Columbia’s identity and core values.” Dennis Mitchell, vice provost for faculty diversity and inclusion at Columbia University, added that “diversity changes the climate and the culture of the university. We can’t have excellence without diversity, and the belief that they are separate things is a fallacy.”

Source: Columbia University to Invest $100 Million in Faculty Diversity Programs : The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education

Barack Obama’s Name to Replace Jefferson Davis’ on Mississippi Elementary School

Former President Barack Obama speaks in New York on Sept. 20. (Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)

by Dan Corey via nbcnews.com

A public elementary school in Mississippi named after the president of the Confederacy will be renamed to honor the first black president of the United States.

Davis Magnet International Baccalaureate Elementary in Jackson, which is named for Jefferson Davis, will be renamed Barack Obama Magnet International Baccalaureate Elementary beginning next school year, the school’s PTA president, Janelle Jefferson, said at a Jackson Public Schools Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday night. The prospect of changing the name of what Jefferson called the best elementary school in Mississippi was raised by a student, she told NBC News. “They know who [Davis] was and what he stood for,” she said. “This has a great impact on them, because [Obama] is who they chose out of anybody else they could. This is the person that the whole school supported. He was their Number One choice.”

The PTA asked the Davis Magnet community to submit suggestions for the new name, Jefferson said. Parents, students and school staff were given two weeks to submit recommendations, and they voted using paper ballots on Oct. 5. Students from every class researched and gave presentations about their candidates at an assembly before the vote, Jefferson said. The decision to name the school after Obama was made on Oct. 6. School buildings must be named “for persons of good character and prominence who have made outstanding contributions to the school system,” according to the school board’s facility-naming policy. “A facility named to honor a person shall not be renamed except for compelling reasons.”

“Every generation has a right to choose how it represents itself,” Jake McGraw, public policy coordinator the University of Mississippi’s William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, told NBC News. “Having a school where there was input from parents, teachers and students — along with the school board — it seems like a model for how these decisions should be approached across the country.” About 98 percent of current Davis students are black, Jefferson said. The students chose Obama because they were alive during his administration and felt that he shared their principles, Jefferson said. McGraw said: “It shows that we don’t need to shy away from exploring these controversial topics. It’s important not just in the symbolism of an elementary school, but here we’re having a real genuine examination of our history in an elementary school — within the broader school system in Jackson — which is exactly where it needs to happen.”

To read more, go to: Obama’s Name to Replace Jefferson Davis’ on Mississippi School – NBC News

Diana Ross to Receive Lifetime Achievement Honor at American Music Awards 

Diana Ross (photo via eurweb.com)

via eurweb.com

Diana Ross will be given a Lifetime Achievement honor at the 45th annual American Music Awards, and also perform during the broadcast, which airs Nov. 19 on ABC from Los Angeles’ Microsoft  Theater. Ross has history with the AMAs, having attended her first ceremony in 1974 and serving as host in 1986 and 1987. She has seven AMA wins under her belt and has performed many times on the show, which is produced by Dick Clark Productions.

“I have endless memories of all the years that I have appeared on the American Music Awards,” Ross said in a Wednesday release about honor. “It started with Dick Clark and The Caravan of Stars and American Bandstand. It was Dick Clark who said, ‘Music is the soundtrack of our lives.’ So true. I am so excited to be receiving this honorable award.”

The American Music Award for Lifetime Achievement, given to those who’ve had significant contributions to the music industry, has previously honored Sting, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Gloria Estefan and Prince. Nominations for the 2017 AMAs were announced last week, with Bruno Mars leading with eight and followed by Ed Sheeran, The Chainsmokers, Drake, Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd, each with five.

To read more, go to: Diana Ross to Receive Lifetime Achievement Honor at American Music Awards | EURweb

Scholarship Fund Established for Children of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson

Sgt. La David Johnson (Photo: Department of Defense)

by David J. Neal via miamiherald.com

The death of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson of Miami Gardens, FL, one of four soldiers killed Oct. 4 by ambush in Niger, wasn’t just another tragedy involving a constituent to U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson. So, she and her 5,000 Role Models of Excellence program decided to do something for Johnson’s survivors.

Wilson knew Johnson, his parents, his two kids and wife Myeshia Johnson, who is pregnant with their third child. Johnson hadn’t just gone through the 5,000 Role Models of Excellence program Wilson founded in 1993, he’d been a leader among leaders. Johnson’s cousins went into the program also, saying they were followed his example. Wilson couldn’t help but recognize the numeric parallel of Johnson being killed at 25 early in the program’s 25th school year. “He was a true role model,” Wilson said of the young man known as Wheelie King for his bicycle tricks before he enrolled in the Army.

While part of an advisory group in Niger, Johnson didn’t make it out of an attack the Department of Defense blames on The Islamic State. ISIS increasingly teams up with fellow extremist Islamic group Boko Haram, the terrorists in Wilson’s prime international cause, the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls in Nigeria. So, the 5,000 Role Models of Excllence program has established Role Model Army Sgt. La David Johnson Scholarship to ensure Johnson’s three children will have money for college.

A gofundme page has been set up for those who wish to contribute.

Source: Scholarship fund for kids of Sgt. La David Johnson, killed in Niger | Miami Herald

Jordan Peele and ABC President Channing Dungey to Be Honored by African American Film Critics Association

Filmmaker Jordan Peele (l), ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey (r) [photo credit: Getty Images via hollywoodreporter.com]

by Arlene Washington via hollywoodreporter.com

The African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) has named Get Out writer-director Jordan Peele and ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey among the recipients of its special achievement honors.

Alcon Entertainment’s co-CEOs Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove and Los Angeles Film Festival president Claudia Puig will also be recognized at AAFCA’s special achievement luncheon in 2018, which along with its annual awards ceremony will be a “Celebration of Women in Cinema.” The success of female-helmed films this year, from big-budget features including Patty JenkinsWonder Woman to Dee Rees‘ anticipated Mudbound (which recently screened at New York Film Festival), has inspired AAFCA — the largest group of black film critics — to proclaim 2017 the “Year of the Woman in Cinema.”

The organization stated that with films including The Zookeeper’s Wife, A United Kingdom, Detroit and The Beguiled, “women are rightfully being recognized for their long overdue equity in potential for quality, successful filmmaking.” “There is no argument that women have made a bold step forward this year in Hollywood,” says AAFCA president Gil Robertson, who co-founded the organization in 2003 with Shawn Edwards. “The evidence demonstrated during the past year speaks for itself both in terms of box office and critical recognition by women, and we predict that there will be continued momentum going forward. We are also pleased that African American women are a part of this progress and are taking advantage of increased opportunities to make their cinematic imprint.”

The organization also said that future projects, including Ava DuVernay‘s A Wrinkle in Time in March 2018, show that women and African American directors are heading toward a normalcy in getting more big-screen opportunities. “Women wrote, produced and directed some of the year’s most compelling, provocative and culturally relevant movies,” adds Edwards. “However, there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that women have a permanent place at the table with equal representation.”

In addition to the AAFCA special achievement luncheon on Feb. 3 in Marina del Rey, Calif., the organization’s annual awards program will take place on Feb. 7 at the Taglyan Complex in Hollywood.

Source: Jordan Peele, ABC’s Channing Dungey to Be Feted by AAFCA | Hollywood Reporter

Former NASA Administrator and Astronaut Charles Bolden to Receive 2017 Nierenberg Prize at UC San Diego

Charles Bolden, Former NASA Administrator and Astronaut (Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls via ucsdnews.ucsd.edu)

by Brittany Hook via ucsdnews.ucsd.edu

Retired U.S. Marine Corps Major General and former NASA Administrator Charles Frank Bolden Jr. has been selected as recipient of the 2017 Nierenberg Prize.

While many young people dream of becoming a NASA astronaut and exploring space, only a select few actually make this dream a reality. Some seemingly “fall into” this remarkable career path. One of those people is retired U.S. Marine Corps Major General and former NASA Administrator Charles Frank Bolden Jr., who spent 34 years serving in the Marine Corps and 14 years as a NASA astronaut (1980-1994), logging more than 680 hours in space during four space shuttle missions, twice as commander and twice as pilot.

In honor of his remarkable career and lifetime of service to science, his country, and the public, Bolden has been selected as recipient of the 2017 Nierenberg Prize by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. All are invited to attend the award ceremony and a presentation from Bolden in a free event on Oct. 17 at 6 p.m. at the Robert Paine Scripps Forum for Science, Society and the Environment.

Bolden grew up in the segregated South and overcame great obstacles to become a transformative leader. He is the first African American to serve as NASA Administrator, a position he held from July 2009 to January 2017 which was appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. During his time at the helm, Bolden oversaw a new era of exploration with science activities including an unprecedented landing on Mars by the Curiosity rover, launch of a spacecraft to Jupiter, and continued progress toward the 2018 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope.

UC San Diego News sat down to chat with Bolden about his incredible journey, from his early days in science to space and beyond.

Q: What inspired you to get involved in science?

Charles Bolden: I always liked taking stuff apart and putting it back together, but I think I became seriously involved in seventh grade, in middle school when my seventh-grade science teacher Mr. J.P. Neal not only encouraged but almost mandated us to participate in science fairs in school. I fell in love with it and I never missed a science fair after that.

Q: Have you ever followed up with that teacher to let him know the impact he had on your life?

CB: I periodically see him when I get back home. And I frequently mention him and my seventh-grade math teacher Mr. King Benjamin Lindberg Jeffcoat in my talks when I discuss the people who inspired me and who were responsible for changing my life. Continue reading