Civil Rights Activist Autherine Lucy Foster Honored with Historical Marker at University of Alabama

Autherine Lucy Foster (photo via universityofalabama.tumblr.com)

via jbhe.com

On June 11, 1963, Vivian Malone and James Hood, under the protection of federal marshals and the federalized Alabama National Guard, broke the racial barrier and enrolled as undergraduate students at the University of Alabama. That day, Alabama Governor George Wallace made a ceremonial stand in the schoolhouse door protesting the federal court order that called for the admittance of the Black students. But Malone and Hood were not the first Black students at the university.

Autherine Lucy Foster Historical Marker

In 1952, after graduating with an English degree from Miles College, Autherine Lucy Foster applied to the graduate program in education at the University of Alabama but was rejected because of her race. After a three-year legal battle, she was admitted to the university by court order. In 1956 Foster enrolled in a graduate program in education at the university. Angry protests by White students ensued. Foster was suspended three days later “for her own safety” and she was later expelled.

In 1988, the University officially annulled her expulsion. The next year she re-enrolled at the University of Alabama with her daughter, Grazia. Foster earned a master’s degree in elementary education in 1991 and participated in the graduation ceremony in May 1992 with her daughter, a corporate finance major. In 1998, the University of Alabama named an endowed fellowship in Foster’s honor and unveiled a portrait of her in the Student Union Building. She was recognized again in 2010 when the university dedicated the Autherine Lucy Clock Tower.

Recently, the Autherine Lucy Foster Historical Marker was unveiled on the Tuscaloosa campus near where the mob gathered to protest her presence at the university. A video of the dedication ceremony for the historical marker can be seen below.

Source: A Historical Marker at the University of Alabama Honors Autherine Lucy Foster : The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education

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

Abolitionist Sojourner Truth and Rutgers’ 1st Black Graduate James Carr Have Buildings Named After Them on Campus

via jbhe.com

Sojourner Truth

Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey has renamed its College Avenue Apartments to honor Sojourner Truth. Born into slavery, Sojourner Truth became a leading abolitionist and advocate for women’s rights.

While a slave, Sojourner Truth and her parents were owned by relatives of the first president of Rutgers University. The Sojourner Truth Apartments house 440 upper-class students.

Azra Dees, a sophomore in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers, stated that “it shows a dedication to the history that we have and moving forward. And I’ll always know that I have a meaning behind the building that I’m living in, rather than just being a beautiful new building.”

James Dickson Carr (photo via libraries.rutgers.edu)

In addition, the former Kilmer Library on Rutgers-New Brunswick’s Livingston Campus in Piscataway has been renamed the James Dickson Carr Library after Rutgers’ first African-American graduate. James Dickson Carr completed his degree in 1892 and went on to attend Columbia Law School.

To read more, go to: Rutgers University Honors African Americans Who Are Part of Its History : The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education

Dr. Vivian Penn Honored by University of Virginia Medical Center with Hall Dedicated in her Name

Dr. Vivian Pinn (photo via nbc29.com)

via nbc29.com

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -As part of University of Virginia’s efforts to reconcile its controversial past, Wednesday, it formally dedicated Pinn Hall in honor of Dr. Vivian Pinn. Pinn is one of the earliest African-American women to graduate from the UVA School of Medicine. She went on to found the Office of Research on Women’s Health at the National Institutes of Health.

The school celebrated her life and legacy during the “Medical Center Hour” held Wednesday. “I don’t see this as an honor for me but really as a symbol for women, people of color, and others who struggled to see this name just as a symbol for them, for the pioneers who proceeded me and hopefully the many who will come behind me,” Pinn said.

Pinn College, one of the medical school’s four colleges, is also named after Pinn.

To read more and see video, go to: University of Virginia Medical Center Dedicates Hall to African- – NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

HISTORY: Rosa Parks House in Berlin Returns Home to America

Ryan Mendoza, an American artist, in front of the exhibit he made in Berlin of the Rosa Parks house. (photo: Gordon Welters/NY TIMES)

by Yonette Joseph via nytimes.com

LONDON — In a backyard in Berlin, a ramshackle house that was once a haven for the civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks is preparing for its third life — back in the United States. It had almost been lost to history, falling into blight, abuse and foreclosure, in Detroit. But in 2016, the American artist Ryan Mendoza shipped the dismantled facade in two containers to his home in Germany. There, it was restored as an art exhibit in his garden in the Wedding neighborhood.

Then the strange and itinerant journey of the wood-frame house took another turn recently, when a member of the Nash Family Foundation, based in Manitowoc, Wis., formally agreed to pay for its passage back.“I never wanted to rebuild it in my backyard,” Mr. Mendoza said by phone from Berlin. “But I wanted to protect it.”“ It’s time for the house to return home,” he added. “It’s needed for people to have another major point of reference for how to treat each other with dignity. This will be a marker on the ground.”

While the house has a ticket back to America, the question of where it would find a permanent home remains unanswered. The hurdles seem huge, the logistics daunting, but calls and emails have gone out for help to institutions including Brown University in Rhode Island, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit and the Brooklyn Museum, among others, Mr. Mendoza said. At least two institutions — Brown and Wright — said they were seriously considering the project. “The house has a symbolic importance — it’s important in the narrative of her life,” said James Nash, a board member and the driving force behind the foundation’s pledge. “She suffered for a huge act of courage. It should be here, not in Berlin.”

To read full article, go to: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/02/world/europe/rosa-parks-house-berlin.html?_r=0

Confederate Statues Come Down at University Of Texas at Austin

A statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee is removed from the University of Texas campus early Monday morning in Austin. (Eric Gay/AP)

The president of the University of Texas at Austin has ordered the immediate removal of statues of Robert E. Lee and three other Confederate-era figures — Albert Sidney Johnston, John Reagan and James Stephen Hogg — from a main area of campus.

President Greg Fenves announced the statues’ fate Sunday night, and the removals should be complete by mid-morning Monday. A university spokesman says the area has been blocked off. Lee and Johnston were Confederate generals, Reagan was a Confederate postmaster and Hogg was the first native-born governor of Texas and the son of a Confederate general.

In a letter to the university community, Fenves connected the events with the decision to remove the statues now: “[T]he horrific displays of hatred at the University of Virginia and in Charlottesville shocked and saddened the nation. These events make it clear, now more than ever, that Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism.” …”The University of Texas at Austin has a duty to preserve and study history. But our duty also compels us to acknowledge that those parts of our history that run counter to the university’s core values, the values of our state and the enduring values of our nation do not belong on pedestals in the heart of the Forty Acres.”

“We do not choose our history, but we choose what we honor and celebrate on our campus.”The statues of Lee, Johnston and Reagan will be added to the collection at the university’s Dolph Briscoe Center for American History for “scholarly study,” Fenves wrote. The Hogg statue will be considered for relocation elsewhere on campus. In 2015, the university removed a statue of Confederacy President Jefferson Davis.

On Saturday, Duke University announced that it had removed a statue of Gen. Lee that was in the entry to the large chapel on its campus.

To read full article, go to: Confederate Statues Come Down At The University Of Texas : The Two-Way : NPR