Category: Awards/Honors

Universities Partner to Produce the Official Oral History of Barack Obama’s Presidency

President Barack Obama is photographed during a presidential portrait sitting for an official photo in the Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza via commons.wikipedia.org)

The Obama Foundation has selected the Columbia Center for Oral History Research to produce the official oral history of Barack Obama’s presidency, according to the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.

The project will provide a comprehensive, enduring record of the decisions, actions, and effects of his historic administration. The University of Hawai’i and the University of Chicago will also serve as contributing partners for the project, documenting Obama’s early life in Hawaii and his years in Chicago, respectively.

“Michelle Obama famously observed, ‘You can’t really understand Barack until you understand Hawai’i,’” said University of Hawai’i President David Lassner. “UH and our extraordinary Center for Oral History are looking forward to exploring those early days with those who were part of President Obama’s story.”

“We are pleased to collaborate with Columbia on this exciting project,” said University of Chicago faculty members Adam Green and Jacqueline Stewart in a joint statement. “The stories of Michelle and Barack Obama are intertwined with the story of Chicago and the South Side in particular. We look forward to contributing to that historic narrative, with a focus on how their city helped to shape them as civic leaders.”

Starting this summer and over the next five years, the Obama Presidency Oral History Project will conduct interviews with some 400 people, including senior leaders and policy makers within the Obama administration, as well as elected officials, campaign staff, journalists, and other key figures outside the White House.

The project will also incorporate interviews with individuals representing different dimensions of daily American life, whose perspectives will enable the archive to include how the general public was affected by the Obama administration’s decisions. Additionally, the research team will collect information about Michelle Obama’s work and legacy as First Lady.

“We are honored to document the legacy of President Obama. Our goal is to set a new benchmark for presidential oral histories in terms of the diversity and breadth of narratives assembled and depth of understanding achieved,” said Mary Marshall Clark, director of the Columbia Center for Oral History Research and a project co-investigator. “Central to our project is a commitment to candidly document the stories of key administration alumni and bring them into conversation with the varied experiences of Americans from all walks of life.”

In addition to hosting the project, Columbia has announced the formation of the Obama Presidency Oral History Advisory Board, composed of leading presidential historians, authors, and scholars who can speak to how the Obama administration affected the lives of those inside and outside of Washington D.C.

To read more: https://www.jbhe.com/2019/06/universities-partner-to-produce-the-official-oral-history-of-barack-obamas-presidency/

Physicist Walter E. Massey to Receive Vannevar Bush Award from National Science Foundation For Contributions to Public Service and Technology

Walter E. Massey (Credit: Bree Witt/School of the Art Institute of Chicago)

The National Science Board (NSB) recently announced that Dr. Walter E. Massey will receive the prestigious Vannevar Bush Award. The award honors science and technology leaders who have made substantial contributions to the welfare of the nation through public service in science, technology, and public policy.

Dr. Massey will receive the Vannevar Bush Award on May 14 at the National Science Foundation Annual Awards Ceremony held in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Massey, chairman of Giant Magellan Telescope Organization and president emeritus of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Morehouse College, is being recognized for his exceptional lifelong leadership in science and technology. The range of institutions he has led with distinction is astonishing — from physics, to public policy, to public and private boards, to college president.

Walter Massey’s breadth of contributions and remarkable leadership in science, technology, and education are unparalleled,” said Kent Fuchs, chair of the NSB’s Committee on Honorary Awards. “Walter has dedicated his life to serving our citizens. Through his training in mathematics and physics, and his determined and extraordinary leadership, he has narrowed the gap between science and society with an immeasurable and lasting impact on our nation.”

Dr. Massey is a graduate of Morehouse College where he studied theoretical physics. He holds a Ph.D. in physics from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Two overarching principles have inspired Massey’s notable career — that science and technology are necessary to sustain the nation’s quality of life and the standard of living of its citizens; and that the general public’s understanding of science and technology is a critical component of a democratic society.

Guided by these principles for more than half a century, Massey has worked to strengthen applied research capacity and science education in the United States and to increase the representation of minorities and women in science and technology. Continue reading “Physicist Walter E. Massey to Receive Vannevar Bush Award from National Science Foundation For Contributions to Public Service and Technology”

Author Toni Morrison and Curator Thelma Golden to Receive 2019 Awards from American Academy of Arts and Letters

Toni Morrison and Thelma Golden (photos via artsandletters.org)

The American Academy of Arts and Letters has announced the recipients of its highest honors for excellence in the arts, to be presented at its annual ceremony in May. Toni Morrison will be awarded the Gold Medal for Fiction. The Gold Medal is awarded to those who have achieved eminence in an entire body of work.

Thelma Golden will be recognized with the Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts for her significant contribution as Director and Chief Curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem. Sculptor Lee Bontecou will also be honored this year.

The American Academy of Arts and Letters was founded in 1898 as an honor society of the country’s leading architects, artists, composers, and writers. Early members included Henry James, Theodore Roosevelt, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Mark Twain, and Edith Wharton. The Academy’s 250 members are elected for life and pay no dues.

In addition to electing new members as vacancies occur, the Academy seeks to foster and sustain an interest in Literature, Music, and the Fine Arts by administering over 70 awards and prizes, exhibiting art and manuscripts, funding performances of new works of musical theater, and purchasing artwork for donation to museums across the country. This year’s total expenditures on awards and grants will be $1.2 million. Continue reading “Author Toni Morrison and Curator Thelma Golden to Receive 2019 Awards from American Academy of Arts and Letters”

Intersection in Harlem Renamed in Honor of Acting Legends and Activists Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis

Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee (photo via Facebook)

According to New York Amsterdam News, on Saturday the northeast corner of 123rd Street and Saint Nicholas Avenue in Harlem was renamed in honor of famed acting and civil rights couple Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee (Purlie Victorious, Countdown At Kusini, Do The Right Thing, Jungle Fever).

The Dwyer Cultural Center hosted the ceremonial unveiling of ‘Ruby Dee Place’ and ‘Ossie Davis Way’. Dee and Davis’ children, Nora Day Hasna Muhammad and Guy Davis, attended the event, as did the Rev. Al Sharpton, former New York City mayor David Dinkins, Assemblywoman Inez Dickens and State Sen. Brian Benjamin.

The Dwyer opened its gallery to the public to view an exhibit dedicated to Dee and Davis with numerous storyboards displayed related to the work of the couple and Cliff Frazier. The public also participated in a community mosaic mural.

To learn more about Dee and Davis’ lives, work, philanthropy and scholarships, go to: https://ossieandruby.com or follow @EverythingOssieandRuby

Or check out their story in their own words:

To see video of the street re-naming, watch below:

Kenyan Science Teacher Peter Tabichi Wins $1 Million Global Teacher Prize

Peter Tabichi (photo via globalteacherprize.org)

According to bbc.com, Peter Tabichi, a science teacher from rural Kenya, who gives away most of his salary to support his students, has won the 2019 Global Teacher Prize, a $1 million prize for the world’s best teacher.

Tabichi, a member of the Franciscan religious order, has been lauded for his achievements in a deprived school with crowded classes and few text books.

The award, announced in a ceremony in Dubai, recognizes the “exceptional” teacher’s commitment to pupils in a remote part of Kenya’s Rift Valley.

“It’s not all about money,” says Tabichi, whose pupils are almost all from very disadvantaged families. Many are orphaned or have lost a parent.  He gives away 80% of his pay at the Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School in Pwani Village, Nakuru to pupils who otherwise could not afford uniforms or books.

“As a teacher working on the front line I have seen the promise of its young people – their curiosity, talent, their intelligence, their belief,” Tabichi said.

“Africa’s young people will no longer be held back by low expectations. Africa will produce scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs whose names will be one day famous in every corner of the world. And girls will be a huge part of this story.”

The award, in a competition run by the Varkey Foundation, came from 10,000 other nominations from 179 countries.

Tabichi’s pupils have been successful in national and international science competitions, including an award from the Royal Society of Chemistry in the UK.

The judges said that his work at the school had “dramatically improved his pupils’ achievement”, with many more now going on to college or university, despite resources at the schools being “severely constrained.”

The founder of the prize, Sunny Varkey, says he hopes Tabichi’s story “will inspire those looking to enter the teaching profession and shine a powerful spotlight on the incredible work teachers do all over Kenya and throughout the world every day.”

To read more, go to: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-47658803

T.I. Honored by Georgia Senate For His Philanthropy

T.I. (photo by ConcertTour.org via commons.wikipedia.org)

Grammy Award-winning hip hop artist, actor and Atlanta native T.I. was honored at the Georgia State Capitol last Friday.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Democratic State Senator Donzella James sponsored a resolution applauding T.I. (née Clifford Joseph Harris, Jr.), for spearheading several non-profit organizations, including Harris Community Works, which works with the disadvantaged, and For The Love of Our Fathers, which aids people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

T.I. is also credited for mentoring youth at local area schools in his hometown, hosting Thanksgiving turkey drives and delivering Christmas presents to families in need throughout Atlanta. He also started a real estate company called Buy Back The Block to help rebuild his old neighborhood in the Center Hill section of Atlanta.

Winton Hills Academy Students in Cincinnati Win National Contest with Book about Civil Rights Icon Marian Spencer

Congratulations to fourth-grade students Serenity Mills, Janyia New, Aliyana O’Neal and Nakiyah Ray at Winton Hills Academy in Cincinnati!

These ambitious young women  won a national book-writing contest for authoring and illustrating “Marian Spencer: A Light in the Darkness” about Ohio civil rights pioneer Marian Spencer.

To learn more, go to: wcpo.com

Hypertension Study Based in African-American Barbershops Honored By Clinical Research Forum For Saving Lives

Barber Eric Muhammad takes patron Marc Sims’ blood pressure at his Inglewood, CA shop A New You. (Photo by Cedars-Sinai)

The Clinical Research Forum recognized the Cedars-Sinai’s Smidt Heart Institute with a 2019 Top Ten Clinical Research Achievement Award for its study aimed at developing a blood-pressure control program for African-American men in the comfortable and convenient environments of their barbershops.

In just six short months, the study – first published in the New England Journal of Medicine and led by the late hypertension expert Ronald G. Victor, MD – improved the outcomes and control of high blood pressure in more than 60 percent of participants.

The 12-month data published recently in the peer-reviewed journal Circulation backs up the results, proving that a pharmacist-led, barbershop-based medical intervention can successfully lower blood pressure in African-American men who face a higher risk of disability and premature death due to uncontrolled high blood pressure.

Not only are black men disproportionately affected by hypertension, they’re also the least likely population to seek treatment.

Nearly 64% of the study participants who worked with their barber and a pharmacist at the barbershop were able to lower their blood pressure.

Barber Eric Muhammad says that’s one reason he was so enthusiastic about the study. He’d hosted other single-day awareness events about hypertension, but Dr. Victor’s study aimed to find a long-term solution for treating high blood pressure.

“High blood pressure has cost the lives and health of a lot of good men,” Muhammad said. “What’s different about this study is it looks at bringing down blood pressure by using the men’s community—their friends, family, and support group.”

The collaboration between physicians, pharmacists and barbers showed that medical intervention in neighborhood settings can profoundly improve the health of hard-to-reach, underserved communities. Cedars-Sinai was nominated for the award by researchers at UCLA, the University of California, Los Angeles.

Continue reading “Hypertension Study Based in African-American Barbershops Honored By Clinical Research Forum For Saving Lives”

Dr. Warren Washington Wins 2019 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement

Dr. Warren Washington (Photo credit: Joshua Yospyn; Source: tylerprize.org)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to jbhe.com, Warren Washington, Ph.D., a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, has received the 2019 Tyler Prize for environmental achievement.

The award, administered by the University of Southern California, recognizes passionate environmental science dedication across a spectrum of environmental research fields. It is the premiere international award for environmental science and is often referred to as the “Nobel for the Environment.” Dr. Washington will share the award’s $200,000 honorarium with this year’s other winner, Michael Mann.

Dr. Washington’s research focuses on creating atmospheric computer models that use fundamental laws of physics to predict future states of the atmosphere and help scientists understand climate change. His past research involved using general circulation models and the Parallel Climate Model.

Before computers, our understanding of Earth’s climate was based purely on observations and theory; scientists were simply unable to calculate the complex interactions within and between Earth’s land, ocean, and atmosphere.

Recognizing the potential of early 1960’s computers, Washington overcame extraordinary technical limitations to collaborate on the construction of one of the first-ever computer models of Earth’s climate. As computing power increased, Dr. Washington lead a cooperative effort to make additions to his atmospheric climate model, including oceans, sea ice, and rising CO2 levels.

These early models allowed scientists to predict the impact of increasing CO2, and were instrumental to the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment – for which Dr. Washington shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. His current research involves using the Community Earth System Model to study the impacts of climate change in the 21st century.

Considered a global leader in climate modeling, Dr. Washington advised six U.S. Presidents on Climate Change: Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, Bush Jr., and Obama. Dr. Washington’s public service was recognized by President Obama, who awarded him the 2010 National Medal of Science.

“Dr. Washington literally wrote the earliest book on climate modeling,” said Shirley Malcom, Director of Education and Human Resources at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), of his seminal work, An Introduction to Three-Dimensional Climate Modeling – co-written with Dr. Claire Parkinson.

“Dr. Washington has been a pioneering climate scientist for over 40 years and has been at the leading edge of climate model development,” said Prof. John Shepherd, former Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. “Much of what is known about the Earth’s climate system and climate modeling is directly traceable to the lifelong work of Dr. Washington.”

Dr. Washington has served on the National Science Board as a member from 1994 to 2006 and as its chair from 2002 to 2006. In 2010, he was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Obama.

Washington holds a bachelor’s degree in physics and a master’s degree in meteorology both from Oregon State University, as well as a Ph.D. in meteorology from Pennsylvania State University.

Spike Lee, Regina King, “Black Panther” and More Win at 91st Academy Awards

Best Supporting Actress nominee for ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ Regina King accepts her Oscar during the 91st Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 24, 2019. (Credit: Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

2019 is arguably the year of #OscarsSoBlack. According to the Los Angeles Times, this year set the record for the most individual Black winners of Academy Awards, with seven victors in six categories.

Regina King kicked it all off by winning first award of the evening for Best Supporting Actress for her work in “If Beale Street Could Talk.” Already a recipient of a Golden Globe for the same role, King gave an emotional, touching acceptance speech.

“To be standing here, representing one of the greatest artists of our time, James Baldwin, is a little surreal,” King said. “James Baldwin birthed this baby, and Barry [Jenkins, the director], you nurtured her, you surrounded her with so much love and support. So it’s appropriate for me to be standing here because I am an example of what happens when support and love is poured into someone.”

“Black Panther” collaborators Ruth E. Carter and Hannah Beachler made history with their wins, becoming the first African Americans to take home Oscars for Best Costume Design and Best Production Design, respectively.

“Marvel may have created the first black superhero, but through costume design, we made him an African king,” Carter said. Among those she thanked was director Ryan Coogler, whom she called “a guiding force.”

Beachler also acknowledged Coogler in her acceptance speech. “I stand here with agency and self-worth because of [director] Ryan Coogler, who not only made me a better designer, a better storyteller, a better person. When you think things are impossible, remember ‘I did my best, and my best is good enough.’”

Spike Lee accepts the Oscar for adapted screenplay for “BlacKkKlansman.” (Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

Spike Lee, along with writers Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott (who is black), won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for “Black KkKlansman.”

After full-body hugging presenter (and “Jungle Fever” alum) Samuel L. Jackson, in his acceptance speech Lee paid tribute to his grandmother, whose mother was a slave, who lived to be 100 years old and put him through Morehouse College and New York University film school.

Lee also made the first direct political comments of the night: “The 2020 presidential election is around the corner. Let’s all mobilize, let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate,” he said.

“Let’s do the right thing!” Lee added. “You know I had to get that in there.”

Additionally, Peter Ramsey, co-director of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” won for Best Animated Feature.

Mahershala Ali won the Best Supporting Actor award for the second time in his career for his portrayal of pianist Don Shirley in “Green Book.” That movie also went on later in the evening to win the Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture categories.

Below is the full list of winners:

Best Picture

“Black Panther”
“BlacKkKlansman”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“The Favourite”
“Green Book” (WINNER)
“Roma”
“A Star Is Born”
“Vice”

Director

Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”
Pawel Pawlikowski, “Cold War”
Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”
Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma” (WINNER)
Adam McKay, “Vice”

Lead Actress

Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”
Glenn Close, “The Wife”
Olivia Colman, “The Favourite” (WINNER)
Lady Gaga, “A Star Is Born”
Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Lead Actor

Christian Bale, “Vice”
Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born”
Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”
Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody” (WINNER)
Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”

Original Song

“All The Stars” from “Black Panther” by Kendrick Lamar, SZA
“I’ll Fight” from “RBG” by Diane Warren, Jennifer Hudson
“The Place Where Lost Things Go” from “Mary Poppins Returns” by Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman
“Shallow” from “A Star Is Born” by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, Andrew Wyatt and Benjamin Rice (WINNER)
“When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” from “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch

Original Score

“BlacKkKlansman,” Terence Blanchard
“Black Panther,” Ludwig Goransson (WINNER)
“If Beale Street Could Talk,” Nicholas Britell
“Isle of Dogs,” Alexandre Desplat
“Mary Poppins Returns,” Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman

Adapted Screenplay

“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” Joel Coen , Ethan Coen
“BlacKkKlansman,” Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee (WINNER)
“Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
“If Beale Street Could Talk,” Barry Jenkins
“A Star Is Born,” Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters Continue reading “Spike Lee, Regina King, “Black Panther” and More Win at 91st Academy Awards”