U.S. Representative Maxine Waters will celebrate her 80th birthday on Wednesday, August 15th. To pay tribute to this iconic woman who has dedicated 37 years to serving the people, speaking up against injustice and side-eyeing all manner of foolishness from all quarters, GirlTrek is joining AFROPUNK, Color of Change, and thousands of Black folks across the country in a nationwide #BeLikeMaxine celebration.
GirlTrek, the largest national public health nonprofit and movement for Black women and girls, is organizing 80 walks across the United States in honor of Congresswoman Waters’ 80th turn around the sun. With more than 150,000 members nationwide, GirlTrek encourages Black women and girls to use radical self-care and walking as the first practical step to leading a healthier, more fulfilled life.
“We did it for Harriet Tubman because she showed us the way. Reminded it us that it’s OK to walk alone. We did it for Fannie Lou Hamer because she taught us how to organize. Showed us that every woman can be a leader,” said GirlTrek cofounder T. Morgan Dixon. “Now, we do it for Auntie Maxine because she teaches us daily how to find our voice, how to speak truth to power, how to stand in grace against the storm and how to reclaim our time in the process.”
Elected in November 2016 to her fourteenth term in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 43rd Congressional District of California, Rep. Maxine Waters is considered to be one of the most powerful women in American politics today. She has gained a reputation as a fearless and outspoken advocate for women, children, people of color and the poor.
GirlTrek is inviting women everywhere to reclaim 30 minutes of time in honor of Auntie Maxine by hosting a #BeLikeMaxine walk in their community with their friends and loved ones. “No walk is too small. You + a friend = a celebration,” Dixon said. “Maxine Waters is a living foremother. We walk in her footsteps. We celebrate her.”
GirlTrek encourages women to use walking as a practical first step to inspire healthy living, families, and communities. In five years, GirlTrek has mobilized more than 150,000 Black women and girls nationwide. By 2020, GirlTrek’s goal is to motivate 1 million Black women and girls to walk for better health. GirlTrek has been featured in The New York Times, Essence, shondaland.com, E! News, People magazine, The Tom Joyner Morning Show, and many other national and regional outlets. The TED Talk, Walking as a Revolutionary Act of Self-Care has received more than 1 million views.
Author-filmmaker Sequoyah Guess was given a lifetime achievement award. The poets-musicians Heroes are Gang Leaders were cited for oral literature and an Editor/Publisher Award was given to the late Charles F. Harris, who championed the works of Alice Walker, Nikki Giovanni and other black writers.
Since becoming the creative director for American Express Platinum in December 2016, Pharrell Williams has worked closely with the financial services company to bring awareness to the importance of arts education and advocacy. Nearly two years later, the “Happy” singer is taking his efforts one step further with the inaugural Yellow Ball gala.
The event will take place on Monday, Sept. 10 at the Brooklyn Museum and will benefit the Young Audiences Arts for Learning, the nation’s largest arts-in-education network. The Yellow Ball title was chosen by Pharrell himself, as the color has many meanings — and ties in with the purpose of the event.
“Pharrell views the color and event as helping to shine a light on the need for arts education and its ability to pave the way for a brighter future,” Elizabeth Rutledge, chief marketing officer of American Express, says. Pharrell adds, “That’s what this is about — bringing light to this cause.”
The Yellow Ball will feature musical performances, including a special set from Missy Elliott. Along with music, the event will also include multi-room art experiences from American Express Platinum Collective member Daniel Arsham, and a multi-course dinner experience by American Express Global Dining Collection Chef Dominique Crenn.
Ahead of the announcement, Billboard chatted with Pharrell about his latest initiative, his thoughts on today’s young generation of artists, and why the arts (and the color yellow) are so important for all ages.
When you were named creative director of AmEx Platinum, what were your goals and where does the yellow ball kind of fit into all of that?
My goals were to work with a company that I felt like had the means to make a difference, but just maybe needed a nudging, or maybe needed some direction. But then when I started working with them and got an education on all the things that they’ve done — from the Tribeca Film Festival to the sales program they have for small businesses on Saturdays — I realized that they had been doing this the entire time. When we talked about doing the Yellow Ball and I told them I wanted it to be about arts and education, they didn’t blink. What I wanted to do with them was just going to be just yet another great thing that they do in the world.
Why did you decide on the name the Yellow Ball, and what does the color yellow mean to you?
Not to get all esoteric, but yellow is like the color of the solar plexus. Yellow is the color for creativity, yellow is the color for curiosity. Art is largely diminishing throughout the curriculum throughout this country, and we need to protect the creative mind.
Everything around you right now versus everything you’re using, it’s just not organic, it was someone’s epiphany. That’s creativity, that needs to be protected. If we don’t have that, I don’t know what kind of future we have. We have to protect the artist community at all costs, across all artistic disciplines.
Why do you think it’s so important for people to be exposed to the arts and learn from it at a young age?
On a more paramount level, everyone is a creative. Everyone that makes a move or does anything in life is a co-creator, but the ones who actually create things that we use and things that we need, that needs to be protected. There is a future that will have corporations that will have more say. You see all the things happening with lobbyists now, you just can never doubt that. In the artistic community, it’s the educational portion of it is eroding, what kind of future is that for us? So we need to talk to all the corporations that we can — that care — now.
Did the controversy surrounding the funding cuts for the NEA change the course of action for you in your involvement with AmEx platinum in any way?
A lot of decisions that are being made are having a domino effect on programs like the [NEA]. And while we might not like that, the powers that be are the powers that be, but we are still the people and we can do things to help the people with the resources that we have access to. That’s literally all we’re doing, there’s no political stance, it’s more of a people’s stance.
Has becoming a father had an impact on the way you think about how art can affect lives?
I want all children to have access to that kind of creative growth, access and support. All kids, not just my own. There’s a lot of variables in a situation as to why something falls apart, but there’s only one scenario where it holds together, and that’s when all the variables are there. The environment, the family, the school, the system — there’s so many things. We just want to do what we can to balance the odds so that as many kids as we can afford, or help and assist in whatever ways, get this access and support.
What do you think the younger generation of today’s musical artists are bringing to the table?
I love what they do and how they express themselves. It’s like these amazing pockets of lyrics or melodies that feel good to them. The music just takes on a direction of its own, it’s not so formatted. I love that this generation is just grabbing the instruments and using them in whatever way feels good to them. That’s just like a sign of how the times have changed.
It’s kind of like the fourth time that I’ve seen music and the spirit of it change — like drastically change. It’s been amazing to see it. You see certain things that feel familiar, then you see things that you’ve never seen or thought of in your entire life. As a musician I can feel connected to it.
DAKAR, Senegal — When Salma Sylla was a little girl, she tried to find relief from Senegal’s steamy hot season by retreating to the roof of her home to sleep. Restless and overheated, she would lie awake staring at the stars.
The area where she lived outside Dakar, the capital, had no electricity, and the heavens sparkled. She tried to count the stars, realizing more shone on some nights than on others.
Ms. Sylla, now 37, was intrigued. But studying the stars in Senegal was not easy: High school courses were limited; libraries rarely had books on space; telescopes were few and expensive.
Not much has improved since Ms. Sylla was a girl; astronomy offerings are extremely limited in Senegal’s universities. But officials here hope to change that, as part of a mission to improve science, technology, engineering and math skills by bolstering the country’s university programs and building a science and research center.
The undertaking is part of “Emerging Senegal,” a broad development strategy by President Macky Sallthat also includes plans for a planetarium.
The viewing was intended to help the team prepare for when the plutonium-powered New Horizons spacecraft passes by the object — nicknamed Ultima Thule (Beyond the Known World) — on New Year’s Eve. “This is the farthest exploration of anything in space that has ever taken place, by quite a lot,” said Alan Stern, project leader for NASA’s New Horizons mission. “We are way, way out there.”
For the scientists, coming to Senegal was a process of elimination. Most of the areas that offered the best viewing were in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The other options — in neighboring Mali, for example — were in areas patrolled by violent extremists.
The countryside of Senegal is peaceful, parts of it do not have electricity, and many rural areas are sparsely populated. That was a bonus for the scientists, who wanted a clear sky, free of light. Still, Senegal was a risky proposition. The area is on the cusp of the rainy season, and cloudy skies threatened to block the event, which occurred early Saturday and lasted less than a second.
Scientists are still evaluating data from the viewing, but the skies turned out to be clear and they are hopeful. Senegal was an enthusiastic host. About two dozen Senegalese astronomers and scientists, including Ms. Sylla, accompanied the New Horizons team in the field and contributed to the viewing.
African countries have racked up their own space achievements. Moroccan astronomers have discovered comets, asteroids and planets outside our solar system. Ghana’s first satellite is now orbiting the earth. Students in Tunisia have organized public events to observe the sky, even though they do not have an observatory.
“Astronomy is virtually as popular in Africa as it is everywhere in the world,” said David Baratoux, the president of the African Initiative for Planetary Sciences and Space, who is based in France.
The biggest hindrance is money. The United States spends more on its space program than the value of Senegal’s entire economy. The 21 high-powered telescopes brought by the New Horizons team were nearly double the number of telescopes available in all of Senegal.
The National Academy of Engineering has 83 new members this year. The new members bring the total number of U.S. members to 2,293. The new members will be inducted in a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on September 30.
Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to “engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature” and to “the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/ implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.”
The academy does not disclose the racial makeup of its membership, but past JBHE research has shown that Blacks make up about one percent of the members. According to an analysis of the new membership list by JBHE, it appears that there are three Black engineers among the 83 new members. Two of the three have current academic affiliations.
Lynden A. Archer is the James Friend Family Distinguished Professor of Engineering in the Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He joined the faculty at Cornell in 2000. Professor Archer was recognized by the academy for “advances in nanoparticle-polymer hybrid materials and in electrochemical energy storage technologies.” Dr. Archer is a graduate of the University of Southern California, where he majored in chemical engineering. He holds a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Stanford University.
Gary S. May is the chancellor of the University of California, Davis. He became the seventh chancellor of the university in August 2017. Previously, he was dean of the College of Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. Dr. May was selected to the academy for his “contributions to semiconductor manufacturing research and for innovations in educational programs for underrepresented groups in engineering. A native of St. Louis, Professor May is a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he majored in electrical engineering. He holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Berkeley.
The third African American in this year’s cohort of new members is Gabriel C. Ejebe, the senior project manager for energy trading and markets for Open Access Technology International in Minneapolis.
ABFF Ventures, parent company of the American Black Film Festival, recently announced the current class of student fellows accepted into its 2018ABFF Greenlighters Academy. The second annual event, sponsored by Turner, is a pipeline program designed to give students of color with an interest in the executive track, a firsthand look inside the corporate footprint of the film and television industry.
The ABFF Greenlighters Academy is a three-day intensive boot camp, where five students will attend sessions with top artists and industry executives. The program includes “Day in the Life” seminars, Power Lunch sessions, and “Ask Me Anything” roundtable discussions, as well as visits to corporate headquarters of film and television studios and talent agencies. Additionally, the program’s laser-interviews are designed to prepare students for summer internships.
“The ABFF Greenlighters Academy is another extension of our company’s 22-year commitment to fostering diversity in Hollywood. We could not be more pleased to partner with Turner, a major festival supporter, on this effort to usher in the next generation of industry executives,” states Nicole Friday, General Manager of ABFF Ventures, LLC.
“Diversity fuels our stories and more importantly, our future,” says Danette Johnson, Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion for Turner. “We are proud to partner with ABFF’s Greenlighters Academy to invest in these talented students who will help shape Turner’s future as we seek to become an even better reflection of our audiences and build deeper connections with our fans.”
The ABFF Greenlighters Academy is open to sophomore students and above, matriculated in a four-year bachelor degree program at an accredited college or university, with a minimum GPA of 3.0. This years’ fellows listed below were selected from over 100 submissions representing a wide-range of colleges and universities across the country.
Kiana Chambers, Howard University Zontre City, Loyola University Jazmin Johnson, Florida A&M Jordan Landy, Drexel University Stevee-Rayne Warren, Southern University and A&M College
Last year’s participants were able to secure internships and employment with companies including Viceland, Facebook Watch and Full Sail University.
ABOUT THE COMPANY
ABFF Ventures L.L.C. (ABFFV) is a leading entertainment company producing live events, film and television primarily targeted to African American audiences. The company’s mission is to produce global platforms that showcase the work of people of African heritage and promote camaraderie among multicultural artists in Hollywood. Its tentpole properties are the American Black Film Festival (ABFF), cited by MovieMaker magazine as “One of the Coolest Festivals in the World,” and ABFF Honors, an award season gala saluting excellence in Hollywood. Together, they represent two of the most prestigious events in the Black community and parallel the Sundance Film Festival and the Golden Globes. In creating ABFF Ventures, CEO Jeff Friday channeled his discomfort with the under-representation of people of color in Hollywood into an organization that has become a highly respected enterprise, generating goodwill throughout the industry at large.
Cancer has long been a leading killer in the black community. One in nine African-American women in the United States will develop breast cancer during their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. Of those, 42 percent more are likely to die of the disease than white women.
“The disparities are shocking,” said Andrew Asato, CEO the local Komen organization.
But there’s little comparable at the a local level, something the Oregon and Southwest Washington chapter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation hopes to change. The group launched an initiative this week to collect data about health disparities in the black community to learn how health care providers can reduce barriers for black women to access support.
They received a grant from the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Community Partnership Program to survey the region’s demographics, breast cancer screening habits and barriers to screening and treatment.
The team will be led by Angela Owusu-Ansah, Ph.D, a professor at Concordia University in Portland. It also includes Kelvin Hall, an adjunct professor and doctoral candidate at Concordia, and D. Bora Harris, a diversity consultant.
“As an African-American person, I realize the load on people impacted by cancer,” said Hall, who has had several family members die of the disease. “There needs to be support pieces out there, because it falls on the shoulders of just a few family members.”
The team also will look at the social as well as institutional obstacles African-American women face to health care.
“In addition to health disparities within our underserved and underrepresented communities, as African American women, we have historically been taught to ‘hush’ concerning many things,” Harris said. “This tradition of silence may have negatively impacted several phases of our quality of life in respect to our health.”
Once that data is collected, the nonprofit advocacy group plans to bring a set of recommendations to public and private health care providers, hospitals and community groups to help reduce the rate at which black Portlanders die from breast cancer.
“It is time to move beyond education and do what we can to encourage action,” said Asato.
The former first lady is teaming up with several celebrities to launch a new voter registration initiative ahead of this year’s midterm elections. The new nonprofit, “When We All Vote,” is a nonpartisan organization with the goal to get more voters registered.
“Voting is the only way to ensure that our values and priorities are represented in the halls of power,” Obama said in a statement “And it’s not enough to just vote for president every four years. We all have to vote in every single election: for mayor, governor, school board, state legislature and Congress. The leaders we elect to these offices help determine just about every aspect of our lives and our democracy.”
According to Politico, the initiative is scheduled to be launched on Thursday and will also involve several other high-profile names, including actor Tom Hanks, singer Janelle Monae, “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and singers Faith Hill and Tim McGraw.
Also, former Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett will serve as president of the board. The initiative is its own non-profit entity and will operate independently of the Obama Foundation, the personal offices of Barack and Michelle Obama, and Citizen 44.
“I got a hit-list so long I don’t know how to finish, I bought the Chicagoist just to run you racist b—-s out of business.”
In the politically charged song, Chance raps over a vocal loop of Jamie Foxx repeatedly singing “f–k you” and calls for the resignation of Chicago’s embattled mayor, Rahm Emanuel. The entertainer also accuses Emanuel of granting paid suspensions to police officers who’ve fatally shot unarmed black people.
According to the Chicagoist’s sister site the Gothamist, Chance’s newly formed company, Social Media LLC, purchased the site from New York Public Radio’s WNYC station, which acquired both the Chicagoist and the Gothmaist as well as the other -ist network of sites in February. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
“I’m extremely excited to be continuing the work of the Chicagoist, an integral local platform for Chicago news, events and entertainment,” said Chance in a statement. “WNYC’s commitment to finding homes for the -ist brands, including Chicagoist, was an essential part of continuing the legacy and integrity of the site. I look forward to relaunching it and bringing the people of Chicago an independent media outlet focused on amplifying diverse voices and content.”
Laura Walker, the president and CEO of New York Public Radio, also released a statement, saying:
“We are delighted that the Chicagoist assets are finding a new home in the hands of a proud Chicagoan. WNYC has a strong commitment to local journalism and building community, and we are pleased that these assets will be used to support local coverage in the great city of Chicago.”
In addition to combatting racism, Chance’s nonprofit SocialWorks has helped the homeless, empowered Chicago public school students learning how to code, and funded college-bound high school students. Now, with Social Media LLC, Chance promises to promote local investigative journalism, diversity, and representation for people of color in the media.
Dr. René Revis Shingles made history this month when she became the first African American Woman inducted into the National Athletic Trainers’ Association prestigious Hall of Fame – an honor that to date has been bestowed on only 317 of the association’s 45,000 members. Dr. Shingles – a long-time professor at Central Michigan University – became one of the first African American women to become certified as an athletic trainer in 1987. The Hall of Fame is the highest honor an athletic trainer can receive and recognizes individuals who exemplify the mission of NATA through significant lasting contributions that enhance the quality of health care provided by athletic trainers.
“While I may be the first, my goal is to ensure that I am not the last. Being an athletic trainer is about providing the highest quality of care to our patients and a tireless dedication to learning, growing and serving. That is what has been bestowed to me by my mentors, and what I hope to continue to contribute to the generations that follow,” said Shingles.
At Central Michigan University, more than 650 students have graduated under her Shingle’s tutelage. She co-authored the first book on cultural competence in athletic training and is considered a national expert on diversity and inclusion in the profession. In 1987, Shingles became the thirteenth African American woman to become a certified athletic trainer. Over the years, she has volunteered in numerous capacities with NATA, the Board of Certification for athletic training and the NATA Research & Education Foundation. For more than 20 years, Shingles has volunteered on the medical staff for the Special Olympics Michigan State Summer Games. In 1996, she was selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee as an athletic trainer for the Olympic Games in Atlanta and marched in the opening ceremonies with Team USA.
Shingles is also a founding member of the NATA Ethnic Diversity Advisory Committee (EDAC), established in 1991 as an advisory committee to the NATA board of directors, to identify and address issues relevant to the ethnically diverse populations as well as members of the profession. Shingles currently serves as a mentor both professional and personally to advance the next generation of athletic trainers. She is also a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
“We champion the outstanding contributions Dr. Shingles has made – and continues to make – to the profession of athletic training, as well as her commitment and passion for the profession,” says NATA President Tory Lindley, MA, ATC. “The NATA Hall of Fame recognizes the best among the best in our profession, and Dr. Shingles is truly deserving of this award,” said Lindley.
About NATA: National Athletic Trainers’ Association – Health Care for Life & Sport Athletic trainers are health care professionals who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and sport-related illnesses. They prevent and treat chronic musculoskeletal injuries from sports, physical and occupational activity, and provide immediate care for acute injuries. Athletic trainers offer a continuum of care that is unparalleled in health care. The National Athletic Trainers’ Association represents and supports 45,000 members of the athletic training profession. Visit www.nata.org.