Category: Community

Tech Investor Arlan Hamilton to Fund Scholarships for Black Students at Oxford & Dillard Universities

Arlan Hamilton (photo via backstagecapital.com)

According to USA TODAY, technology investor and entrepreneur Arlan Hamilton is funding a brand new scholarship for black undergraduate students at Oxford University in the U.K., a first for the world-renown educational institution.

To quote the article:

The scholarship, partly named for Hamilton’s mother, will cover fees and living costs for one undergraduate student a year for three years beginning in 2020. The value of the scholarship fund is about £220,000 (or nearly $300,000), Oxford said.

Hamilton is a former music tour manager without a college degree who bought a one-way ticket to San Francisco with the goal of backing underrepresented entrepreneurs. She was so broke that she met with tech investors by day and slept on the floor of the San Francisco airport at night until one of them cut her a check.

Today she runs Backstage Capital, a venture capital firm that backs women, minority and LGBTQ founders who are overlooked by Silicon Valley and reflects Hamilton’s determination to overcome the complex set of biases and barriers that begin in preschool and persist in the workplace that keep women and people of color from gaining equal access to some of the nation’s highest-paying jobs.

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove Wins $100,000 Wallace Stevens Award From Academy of American Poets

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove (photo via commons.wikipedia.org)

Rita Dove, Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia, received the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, according to jbhe.com. The award is given annually to recognize “outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry.” Established in 1994, the award comes with a $100,000 prize.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1987 for Thomas and Beulah, Dove also served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 1993 to 1995. She is the only poet to receive the National Humanities Medal and the National Medal of Arts.

Dove has published 10 collections of poetry including her latest book Collected Poems, 1974-2004 (2016). In addition to poetry, Dove has published a book of short stories and the novel Through the Ivory Gate (1992).

Dove is a summa cum laude graduate of Miami University in Ohio, where she majored in English.  She holds a master of fine arts degree from the University of Iowa, and joined the faculty at the University of Virginia in 1989.

(WATCH) Lumberjack Robert Rising Creates Furniture out of Rescued Wood from Fallen Trees

“Robert Rising, known as “the black lumberjack,” creates furniture out of rescued wood from fallen trees. He also mentors young people of color who want to enter an industry that often boxes them out.”

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, Widow of Rep. Elijah Cummings, to Run for His Seat in Congress

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings and the late Elijah Cummings (photo via heavy.com)

According to baltimoresun.com, Maryland Democratic Party Chairwoman Maya Rockeymoore Cummings,  widow of the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, is running for her husband’s seat in Congress.

“I am, of course, devastated at the loss of my spouse, but his spirit is with me,” Rockeymoore Cummings, 48, said. “I’m going to run this race and I’m going to run it hard, as if he’s still right here by my side.”

Cummings passed away on Oct. 17 from cancer after serving more than two decades in the U.S. House of Representatives. He left a record of fighting for the needy and battling for social justice and voting rights.

Rockeymoore Cummings, a public policy consultant who is founder of the Washington consulting firm Global Policy Solutions LLC and a former 2018 candidate for governor, said her husband told her months before he died he would like for her to succeed him.

Rockeymoore Cummings plans to kick off her campaign Tuesday at her home office in Baltimore’s Madison Park neighborhood. She said she will focus on issues important to the late congressman, such as battling the opioid crisis and “fighting for the soul of our democracy” against the Trump administration, but also on her areas of expertise, which include health and education policy.

Rockeymoore Cummings also said she will have a preventative double mastectomy Friday. She said her mother died from breast cancer in 2015, and her sister was diagnosed last year with the disease.

To read more: https://www.baltimoresun.com/politics/bs-md-pol-maya-cummings-20191112-ptsbywxf45ecjgyu5ovdeyqvyy-story.html

Human Rights Campaign Foundation Launches Leadership Program for Black and Latinx Trans Women and Non-Binary People

(photo via hrc.org)

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC) recently welcomed the first cohort of Elevate: A Fellowship Advancing Public Health Leadership for Transgender Women of Color. Ten Black and Latinx transgender women and non-binary people participated in the pilot program that focuses on developing transgender women and non-binary leaders of color in the South to increase their career opportunities and ability to work on improving public health systems.

“Black and Latinx transgender women and non-binary people are often overlooked within the workforce, specifically in public health,” said HRC Foundation’s Director of HIV & Health Equity J. Maurice McCants-Pearsall. “In many ways they are relegated to solely working in community outreach and HIV testing roles. As we seek to give voice to those who have been pushed to the margins, it is important that we develop and expand access to equitable professional development opportunities.”

The first group of leaders to take part in the groundbreaking Elevate fellowship program include Atlantis Narcisse of Houston; Desiree Pittman of Montgomery, Ala.; Donte Oxun of Houston; Jholett Hernandez of Montevallo, Miss.; Laneyana Henderson of Jackson, Miss.; Mahogany Toney of Birmingham, Ala.; Samantha Rose Montemayor-Morales of McAllan, Texas; Jayla Sylvester of Houston; Bee Kelley of Little Rock, Ark.; and Nakia Green of Little Rock, Ark..

During this inaugural year, Elevate will focus on skill-building as well as professional and leadership development, including intensive in-person training and a series of interactive webinars. This past week’s initial gathering focused on policy and advocacy; navigating social stigma; organizational leadership; community building and mobilization; public health systems; and self-care.

Elevate is designed to help participants develop skills and access tools to advance their work on improving  health outcomes within the Black and Latinx transgender community in Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas, all part of HRC’s Project One America program. For more details, visit: https://hrc.im/elevatefellowship

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

Four African-American Academics Named MacArthur “Genius” Fellows in 2019

2019 MacArthur Fellows (l to r):Emmanuel Pratt, Saidiya Hartman, Kelly Lytle Hernandez, Walter Hood (photos via MacArthur Foundation)

via jbhe.com

The Chicago-based MacArthur Foundation announced the selection of 26 individuals in this year’s class of MacArthur Fellows. The honors, frequently referred to as the “Genius Awards,” include a $625,000 stipend over the next five years which the individuals can use as they see fit.

Fellows are chosen for their “extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits.” The goal of the awards is to “encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations” without the burden of having to worry about their financial situation.

This year, five of the 26 MacArthur Fellows are Black and four have current ties to academia:

Saidiya Hartman is a professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University in New York City. Professor Hartman’s major fields of interest are African American and American literature and cultural history, slavery, law and literature, and performance studies.

She is the author of Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007) and Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval (W.W. Norton, 2019). Dr. Hartman is a graduate of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. She holds a Ph.D. from Yale University.

Walter Hood is a professor of landscape architecture and environmental planning and urban design in the College of Environmental Design at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Blues & Jazz Landscape Improvisations (Poltroon Press, 1993).

Professor Hood is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University. He holds two master’s degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master of fine arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Continue reading “Four African-American Academics Named MacArthur “Genius” Fellows in 2019″

Rutgers University Report Finds HBCUs Aid Upward Economic Mobility of its Graduates

(image via rutgers.edu)

According to The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, a new report from the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University in New Jersey has found that Historically Black Colleges and Universities are doing a terrific job fostering the upward mobility of their students, especially considering a significant share of their students that come from lower-income backgrounds.

The study also found that HBCUs are furthering upward mobility of their student population, which is drawn from the lower economic rungs, than the general college-going population at predominately White institutions.

A key finding of the report is that despite the fact that nearly 70 percent of students at HBCUs attain at least middle-class incomes after graduation. Two-thirds of low-income students at HBCUs end up in at least the middle class.

The report also identified HBCUs that are doing a particularly good job of having their graduates move up the ladder of economic success. For instance, 16.7 percent of the student body at Xavier University of Louisiana is low-income and almost one-third of these students move into the top fifth of income earners.

Tuskegee University, Bennett College, Florida A&M University, Dillard University, and Clark Atlanta University also do a particularly good job fostering upward mobility for their large share of low-income students.

The full report, Income Mobility at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, can be downloaded here.

To read more: https://www.jbhe.com/2019/10/report-finds-hbcus-do-a-great-job-in-aiding-the-upward-economic-mobility-of-their-graduates/

R.I.P. U.S. Congressman and Chair of House Oversight and Reform Committee Elijah E. Cummings, 68

Rep. Elijah Cummings, a key Trump opponent, dies at 68
— Read on www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2019-10-17/us-representative-elijah-cummings-dies

Tyler Perry to Build Compound for Displaced Women, Children and LGBTQ Youth at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta

 

Filmmaker and entrepreneur Tyler Perry told Gayle King on CBS This Morning this week that his eponymous film studio in Atlanta will soon provide a safe haven for homeless women, displaced LGBTQ youth, and sex trafficking victims.

Perry is the first African American man to own a major movie studio, a 330-acre property that was once a Confederate Army base. But he is most excited about the aspect of helping those in need. “You know, the studio’s gonna be what it is,” Perry said.

“I’ll tell you what I’m most excited about next is pulling this next phase off, is building a compound for trafficked women, girls, homeless women, LGBTQ youth who are put out and displaced … somewhere on these 330 acres, where they’re trained in the business and they become self-sufficient.”

“They live in nice apartments. There’s day care. There’s all of these wonderful things that allows them to reenter society. And then pay it forward again,” Perry continued. “So that’s what I hope to do soon.”

The land for Tyler Perry Studios was acquired by Perry in 2015 and is located on the historic grounds of the former Fort McPherson army base in Atlanta, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“Think about the poetic justice in that,” Perry said. “The Confederate Army is fighting to keep Negroes enslaved in America, fighting, strategy, planning on this very ground. And now this very ground is owned by me.”

The major motion picture studio includes 40 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, 12 purpose-built sound stages named after African-American luminaries such as Oprah Winfrey, Diahann Carroll, and Harry Belafonte, 200 acres of green space, and a diverse backlot.

To read more: https://www.blackenterprise.com/tyler-perry-studios/

Steven L. Reed Elected Mayor of Montgomery; 1st African American to Lead Alabama’s Capitol Since its Founding

Newly-elected Montgomery, Alabama mayor Steven L. Reed (photo via wtvm.com)

Voters in Montgomery, Alabama made history Tuesday by decisively electing Steven L. Reed as their new and very first African American mayor in the 200 years since the city’s founding.

To quote the Washington Post:

Reed, already a trailblazer as Montgomery County’s first black probate judge, defeated David Woods, owner of the local Fox affiliate, in a non-partisan runoff election with 67 percent of the vote and all precincts reporting, according to the unofficial election results.

“This election has never been about me,” Reed, 45, said during his victory speech. “This election has never about just my ideas. It’s been about all of the hopes and dreams that we have as individuals and collectively in this city … and the way we found the opportunity to improve outcomes regardless of neighborhood, regardless of Zip code, regardless of anything that may divide us or make us different from one another.”

His victory reverberated well beyond Montgomery as many celebrated the milestone in a city remembered as both the cradle of the Confederacy and the birthplace of the civil rights movement. Montgomery, where about 60 percent of residents are black, was the first capital of the Confederate States of America, becoming a bastion of racial violence and discrimination in the Jim Crow era but also of protests and resistance in the civil rights era.

It’s home to the Montgomery bus boycott against segregation led by Rosa Parks, and it’s home to the Selma to Montgomery marches for voting rights led by Martin Luther King Jr. It was in Montgomery where, after the third march in March 1965, King addressed a crowd of 25,000 people on the steps of the Alabama Capitol, famously saying, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

“This is a historic day for our nation,” Karen Baynes-Dunning, interim president and chief executive of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is based in Montgomery, said Tuesday on Twitter. “The election of Steven Reed, the first black mayor of Montgomery, AL, symbolizes the new inclusive & forward thinking South that so many have worked to achieve.”

To read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/10/09/steven-reed-montgomery-first-black-mayor-alabama/