Kansas City Teacher Darryl Chamberlin Creates Youth Orchestra With his Own Money

A-Flat Orchestra creator Darryl Chamberlain (photo via blackamericaweb.com)

by Michael H. Cottman via blackamericaweb.com

Darryl Chamberlain was determined to create a youth orchestra come hell or high water. In these uncertain times, where public school budget cuts are impacting African American students perhaps more than ever before, Chamberlain, a history teacher in Kansas City, Missouri, began thinking out of the box.

Chamberlain wants to change young lives through music but he had limited resources. So with the money he received playing piano in local churches, Chamberlain bought 70 used instruments, some from pawn shops, and cleaned them up for the students in his class.The result: The A-Flat Orchestra.

“The A-Flat Orchestra doesn’t have a funding arm behind it,” Chamberlain said, “just wit and ingenuity,” Chamberlain told The Kansas City Star. “And with a little ingenuity you can do anything.”

Chamberlain is delivering on a random act of kindness – a much-needed effort during a time when activities like music could be sacrificed in public schools across the country. “I’m doing more than teaching music,” Chamberlain, 59, told The Star. “I draw parallels to life situations and help them to understand how music connects to everyday life.”

He has assembled an orchestra of about 15 students so far but Chamberlain’s goal is to have a much larger symphony. He accepts all students regardless of their musical abilities. Chamberlain is shaping young lives every day and recent studies suggest that Chamberlain’s interaction with black students is critical.

Here is how Johns Hopkins University explains it: In a new study, low-income Black students who have at least one Black teacher in elementary school are significantly more likely to graduate high school and consider attending college, according to a study co-authored by a Johns Hopkins University economist. Having at least one Black teacher in third through fifth grades reduced a Black student’s probability of dropping out of school by 29 percent, the study found. For very low-income Black boys, the results are even greater – their chance of dropping out fell 39 percent.

Previous research has shown there are short-term benefits to pairing students with teachers of the same race, but this study, a new working paper published by the Institute of Labor Economics, demonstrates the positive impacts of having just one of these teachers can continue over many years. “Black students matched to black teachers have been shown to have higher test scores but we wanted to know if these student-teacher racial matches had longer-lasting benefits. We found the answer is a resounding yes,” co-author Nicolas Papageorge of Johns Hopkins said in a statement.

“We’re seeing spending just one year with a teacher of the same race can move the dial on one of the most frustratingly persistent gaps in educational attainment — that of low-income black boys. It not only moves the dial, it moves the dial in a powerful way.”Chamberlain is certainly moving the dial in Kansas City. “Music students have the lowest rate of teenage pregnancy, lower rates of violent crime,” Chamberlain told The Star. “

Source: Kansas City Man Creates Youth Orchestra With His Own Money | Black America Web

College of William and Mary Creating Mural to Honor Lynn Briley, Karen Ely and Janet Brown, 1st Black Students Who Lived on Campus

Left to right: Janet Brown Strafer, Karen Ely, Lynn Briley were the first African-American students to live at William & Mary. (Photo by Ameya Jammi ’12)

via jbhe.com

The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, is commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the first Black residential students on campus by creating a mural that will be permanently displayed at the university’s Swen Library.

In the fall of 1967, Lynn Briley, Karen Ely, and Janet Brown became the first African American students to live in residential housing. All three graduated four years later in 1971. The three women all came to the university last month to have bronze casts made of their faces, which will be included on the mural.

Bob Leek, a local potter who participated in the creation of the bronze masks, stated that “this is an amazing process, and what we’re going to create is just going to be amazing; it’s just going to be very powerful.” The mural will be unveiled on August 31.

A video about the making of the masks of the three women can be seen below:

Source: College of William and Mary Honoring the First Black Students Who Lived on Campus : The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education

Meet Kayla Robinson, the Teen Who Made Frank Ocean’s Powerful Panorama Tee via Green Box Shop

Green Box Shop creator Kayla Robinson (l); Frank Ocean (r) [photos via mtv.com]

by Hilary Hughes via mtv.com

Since launching Green Box Shop in 2016, social media has played a huge part in how Kayla Robinson, 18, runs Green Box Shop: She heavily relies on Instagram and Twitter to promote her line of T-shirts bearing progressive, all-caps messages, and she’s found inspiration for some designs by connecting with people online and checking her feed, too.

A couple of famous fans have snapped up Green Box Shop shirts — including Zendaya, who posted an image of a Green Box tee on Snapchat before saying she’ll snap up a few shirts (or all of them) herself — thanks to their popularity on these platforms, and it was one of these well-known customers who let Robinson know that Frank Ocean was rocking one of her shirts for his headlining set at the Panorama Music Festival on July 28.

“Well, Jessica Williams, she DMed me,” says Robinson of the moment she realized her shirt was about to go viral. The star of The Incredible Jessica James and former Daily Show correspondent has been a Green Box shopper for a minute, and was all too eager to share that Ocean was broadcasting Robinson’s WHY BE RACIST, SEXIST, HOMOPHOBIC, OR TRANSPHOBIC WHEN YOU COULD JUST BE QUIET? design to a thousands-strong crowd.

“She texted me in all caps, all excited, like, ‘FRANK OCEAN IS WEARING ONE OF YOUR SHIRTS!’ I was like, ‘That’s not true! You’re lying!’ I didn’t believe her at first, but then she sent me some pictures, and I was like, ‘That’s crazy.’ I just started freaking out. I just remember doing something in my kitchen, and I just immediately started running around.”

Robinson’s reaction is completely understandable given the intense surge of interest in Green Box. During a typical week, Green Box sees a daily average of 50 orders. On July 29, the day after Ocean’s set, Robinson says that 3,500 orders were placed (though not all for the shirt he wore, specifically); an additional 1,000 orders came in before this article went to press on July 30. That means that Green Box sold ten times what they typically do in a week in a single day thanks to the exposure Ocean provided — and it also means that Green Box has a chance to give back more than they already do.

For Robinson, the focus of Green Box has always been more about freedom of expression than about fashion, as she launched the company to sell tees with activist messages she’d actually wear (and raise money to fund her yoga teacher certification in the process).

“I never really had an interest in fashion — you know, as in being really trendy or fashionable,” she says. “I was already in the phase of tie-dying a lot of shirts, and so I decided to put my ideas on shirts and sell them to raise money. I first started doing this through GoFundMe, and then the business grew. It basically came from a passion of speaking my mind and tie-dye.”

To read full article, go to: Meet The Teen Who Made Frank Ocean’s Powerful Panorama Tee – MTV

Philadelphia Resident Vashti Dubois Turns Home into Museum Dedicated to Black Women

Museum founder and proprietor Vashti Dubois (photo via metro.co.uk)

by Adam Smith via metro.co.uk

There is a museum like no other in Philadelphia. You would not have heard it, it is not listed anywhere and there are no signs from the motorway. Only the hand carved wooden sign in the garden hinted that the Victorian house was not like any other home in the world – and the woman who opened the door had the smile of someone who knew she was about to amaze you.

For years Vashti Dubois was sick of not seeing any images of black girls or women in museums and art galleries, so three years ago she decided to do something about it. The 56-year-old turned her house into The Colored Girls Museum, celebrating everything about black women and their place in the universe. Standing in the hallway, which screams with colour due to every inch being painted, she said: ‘If things ain’t right you got to make them right, and if you can change things, you gotta change them.’

After opening one room to the public, she decided to turn her bedroom, the bathroom, the kitchen and her son’s bedroom into art galleries. Dubois said: ‘There are a lot of museums about a lot of different things, so we thought there should be one about the colored girl because there are no places that look at their experiences. We want to show who she is in her day-to-day life as a sister, a lover, a friend, an artist, a victim. We want to show that if there were no coloured girls, the system would collapse.’

As well as the museum’s collection of artefacts, paintings, dolls, textiles and sculptures, artists take over rooms and spaces for art installations. At first Dubois sought the help of artists she knew personally – but word soon spread, and soon she was being contacted by some of the world’s best upcoming artists.

To see related video, click herehttp://metro.co.uk/video/lack-female-images-exhibited-led-woman-create-gallery-1502225/?ito=vjs-link

And unlike most museums, this is personal. There are no walking tours headsets, no bored-looking security guards, and not a gift shop in sight.

So to enjoy culture for culture’s sake in Vashti’s home felt like an honor.

The Colored Girls Museum is a memoir museum, which honours the stories, experiences, and history of black girls. And it is Vashti’s story too.

She said: ‘Colored girls are an important part of the universe. You see us walking down the street. Everyday colored girls. You walk past us, but here we are in all of our extraordinary splendor doing the things that we do to make this world a great place to live.

‘We aren’t all Michelles (Obama) and Beyoncés. But look at how we are holding everything together for families across the world.’

The Birmingham Girls at The Colored Girls Museum. (Picture: TCGM)

When visitors arrive, Vashti explains to them that she started collecting paintings and sculptures three years ago after a personal tragedy. Then she takes them a tour of the house.

‘She distinguishes herself by exclusively collecting, preserving, honoring, and decoding artifacts pertaining to the experience and “her story” of colored girls,’ Vashti said.

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Sierra Leonean-American Dancer Michaela DePrince: ‘I Went From Being a War Orphan to a Ballerina’

Michaela DePrince photographed for “The Female Lead” by Brigitte Lacombe

by Michaela DePrince via positive.news

Sierra Leonean-American ballet dancer Michaela DePrince was orphaned at the age of three. Born Mabinty Bangura to a Muslim family, she was sent to an orphanage where the ‘aunties’ who cared for the children believed that her skin condition, vitiligo, was a curse and called her the ‘devil’s child’. In 1999, DePrince was adopted by a US couple. Inspired by a picture of a ballerina she saw on a magazine in Sierra Leone, DePrince trained as a ballet dancer, winning a scholarship for the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at the American Ballet Theatre. In 2013, she joined the Dutch National Ballet. Her story features in a book called The Female Lead.

My uncle took me to the orphanage after my father was shot and my mother starved to death. He knew he’d never be able to get a bride price for me, because of my vitiligo. There were 27 children in the orphanage and we were numbered. Number 1 got the biggest portion of food and the best choice of clothes. Number 27 got the smallest portion of food and the leftover clothes. The aunties thought I was unlucky and evil because of my vitiligo. I was number 27. I was always dirty. They used to braid my hair too tightly because they wanted me to be in pain and they told me I’d never be adopted.

The only moments I was happy were because of my friend, who was also called Mabinty. We slept on the same mat and she used to sing to me and tell me stories when I couldn’t sleep. She was number 26. I thought nothing good would ever happen to me and then, one day, I found a magazine outside the gate of the orphanage. On the cover was a picture of a ballerina in a tutu. I thought she was a fairy on her tippy toes in her beautiful pink costume. But what struck me most was that she looked so happy. I hadn’t been happy in a long time. I ripped off the picture and hid it in my underwear.

We had a teacher who came to give us English lessons and I showed it to her. She explained to me that the girl was a dancer. I was walking with this teacher one day when some rebels came towards us. A boy was following them and another truck full of them around the corner. They had been drinking, I think. They saw Teacher Sarah was pregnant and started betting whether she was having a girl or a boy. So then they thought they’d find out and they got their machetes and cut her open. Her baby was a girl. They killed her and my teacher in front of me. The small boy thought he should imitate the older ones and he cut my stomach.

Later, the rebels occupied the orphanage and threw us out. We walked across the border to Guinea. There were plans for most of us to be adopted, but not me. Finally, there was a plane to Ghana. I was miserable because I thought I would never see my best friend, number 26, again. Then a lady with blonde hair, which seemed amazing to me, and wearing bright red shoes grabbed my hand and my friend’s hand too, and said: ‘I’m your new momma.’ Number 26 became my sister Mia.

My parents made me see that it is OK to be different and to stand out. When we got to the hotel, I started looking through my momma’s luggage for my tutu and pointe shoes. I thought all Americans were doctors, models or ballerinas and she would have brought my clothes with her. I didn’t speak English so the only way I could explain was to take the picture out of my underwear and show her. She understood straight away. She said I could dance if I wanted to.

When we got to America, I started going to ballet class once a week, then twice a week. I found a video of The Nutcracker and I must have watched it 150 times. I begged my mother to take me to a performance and I knew it so well that I could tell when they went wrong. By the time I was ten I was going to ballet classes five times a week.

I worried that my vitiligo would be a problem but my skin turned out to be an issue in a different way. A lot of people are still very traditional in their views and they want to see the same thing in the corps de ballet – white skinny dancers. Early on, my mother was told by one of my ballet teachers, ‘We don’t put a lot of effort into the black girls. They all end up getting fat, with big boobs.’ I have strengths as a dancer. I am muscular and I have strong legs. More importantly, I work very hard.

To read full article, go to: ‘I went from being a war orphan to a ballerina’

Sci-Fi Writer Octavia Butler’s Inspirational Notes to Herself on Display at Huntington Library in CA Through 8/7

Octavia Butler is pictured in 2004 near some of her novels at a store in Seattle. (Joshua Trujillo / Associated Press)

by Karen Wada via latimes.com

Octavia E. Butler was a powerful and pioneering voice in science-fiction. The first black woman acclaimed as a master of the genre, she was known for vivid, expertly crafted tales that upended conventional ideas about race, gender and humanity. Although her creations were bold, Butler, who grew up poor in Pasadena, was “a private, reflective person who struggled with shyness and self-doubt,” said Natalie Russell, curator of a new exhibition at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, CA.

How such struggles influenced her life and art is one of the themes explored in “Octavia E. Butler: Telling My Stories.” Russell said the show uses an invaluable resource — the author’s archive — to examine both her published work and “who she was as told through her personal papers.”

One of Octavia Butler’s Notes to Self (photo via latimes.com)

Butler, who died at 58 in 2006, willed the Huntington 354 boxes of materials, a bequest Russell describes as “huge and unedited because Octavia kept everything and passed away unexpectedly after a fall.” She said the exhibition, which runs through Aug. 7, presents about 100 items, including manuscripts, photographs and notebooks filled with writing and self-motivational notes, including one that reads in part, “My novels go onto the bestseller lists. … So be it! See to it!”

Butler started writing science-fiction as a child. She spent years working to establish her career — and a new vision of what’s possible in a genre dominated by white men. Along the way, Russell said, she needed reassurance and reinforcement.

To read more, go to: At the Huntington, see the inspirational note black sci-fi writer Octavia Butler wrote to herself – LA Times

Serena Williams Embraces Motherhood on Cover of Vanity Fair

Serena Williams (photo via vanityfair.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to colorlines.com, Serena Williams recently paid homage to the famous Vanity Fair cover of a nude, pregnant Demi Moore, by having the same photographer, Annie Leibovitz, shoot her recent pregnancy cover in a similar pose (the hand on that hip though – all Serena). Leibovitz also shot all of the story’s photos, including black-and-white images of Williams with Alexis Ohanian, her Armenian-American fiancé who co-founded Reddit.

The cover story focuses on Williams and Ohanian’s account of their year-and-a-half courtship, engagement last December and her subsequent pregnancy. Williams also discusses her plan to return to tennis in January, roughly three months after her child’s anticipated birthdate.

Read the article and view the full set of photos here.