Category: Teens

Chicago Police Officer Convicted of Second-Degree Murder in Shooting of Laquan McDonald

(photo via aljazeera.com)

by Jaweed Kaleem via latimes.com

A jury has found white Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder in the 2014 high-profile shooting death of a black 17-year-old, Laquan McDonald. He was also found guilty of 16 counts of aggravated battery.

The verdict marks the first time in five decades that a Chicago police officer has been found guilty of murder in a shooting.

The shooting led to widespread protests and political upheaval in the city, as many residents viewed it as a clear case of police abuse. Dashboard camera video, which a court forced the city to release in 2015, showed that McDonald was shot as he was walking away from Van Dyke and continued to be hit by bullets as he writhed on the ground. In all, Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times in less than 15 seconds.

The murder verdict, announced in a courtroom three miles from the site of the shooting, means Van Dyke will face between four and 20 years in prison. He could face additional time for aggravated battery.

The killing happened on Oct. 20, 2014, after police received reports that somebody was breaking into vehicles in a trucking yard. Officers began following McDonald, who had a 3-inch folding knife.

They radioed a request for an officer with a Taser, but Van Dyke fired before that officer arrived. Van Dyke was charged with murder, aggravated battery and official misconduct.

During the trial, prosecutors argued that Van Dyke intended to kill the teen even though he was not a threat to Van Dyke’s life or that of other officers. Van Dyke and his lawyers argued the opposite: that McDonald seemed dangerous and had waved his knife at the officer even after falling to the ground.

Illinois law authorizes an officer to use deadly force when it’s “necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or such other person” or “necessary to prevent the arrest from being defeated by resistance or escape.”

The 12-member jury, which civil rights groups criticized for including only one black juror even though African Americans make up 31% of the city’s population, began deliberations on Thursday after three weeks of proceedings that included more than 40 witnesses.

Over the years, the case led to the resignations of a county prosecutor and the police superintendent as well as criticism of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who said last month that he would not run for reelection.

The killing also led to an investigation of Chicago policing by the Department of Justice, which was released last year and found that officers routinely violated the civil rights of minorities and treated them as “animals or subhuman.”

Last year, two former and one current officer were charged in conspiring to cover up for Van Dyke after the shooting. Those officers will go to trial later in the year.

Source: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-jason-van-dyke-verdict-2018-story.html

College Student Kalan Haywood Jr., 19, Becomes Youngest State Legislator in History of Wisconsin

Kalan Haywood, 19,  in front of Fiserv Forum, in downtown Milwaukee.
(Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

by Ricky Riley via blavity.com

At only 19 years old, Kalan Haywood Jr. will be the youngest state legislator in Wisconsin. He may also be the youngest legislator in the nation, according to political experts.

Haywood will represent Milwaukee’s 16th District after a hard-fought primary against five Democratic challengers, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. That battle would be his last. There was no Republican challenger.

“Being young is going to play well with some people, but there will also be people who doubt me because of my age, which is fair — it’s new,” Haywood told the Journal Sentinel. “My age is my biggest asset,” Haywood added.

While he won’t be sworn in until January of 2019, he is likely the youngest person to serve in any state legislature in the nation. The Cardinal Stritch University student has been involved in politics since he was very young. When he was 13, he worked on Democratic Representative David Bowen‘s campaigns learning the tricks of the trade.

Then, Haywood served on the Milwaukee Youth Council at 14 and ultimately was elected president of the council. He spent the majority of his teenage years working and building a political career.

As a newly elected state representative, he wants to improve voting rights and the conditions of people’s lives in his city.  “Adding the requirement of registering to vote is very important, especially in my district where we get a very low [voter] turnout compared to a total population,” Haywood said.

His father, real estate developer Kalan Haywood Sr., believes, along with his son, that the state legislature needs young people to generate new ideas. “The state legislature as a whole — they are missing a young person’s perspective,” he said. “I want to make sure MPS (Milwaukee Public Schools) gets proper funding — I am a proud MPS graduate.”

Source: https://blavity.com/this-19-year-old-will-make-history-as-the-youngest-state-legislator-in-wisconsin

Beyoncé & Jay Z Announce New Program Offering $1 Million in College Scholarships

Beyoncé and Jay Z (photo via eatmytickets.com)

by Melanie Eversley via thegrio.com

Beyoncé and husband Jay Z may be raking in the dollars with their highly acclaimed On The Run II tour, but they are pouring those dollars back into communities all over the country, too.

The Carters announced a new scholarship program that will award $1 million in scholarships to “exceptional” high school seniors with financial needs, the couple’s representatives announced Saturday. The scholarships of $100,000 each will go to one qualified student in each of the following cities: Atlanta, Orlando, Miami, Arlington, New Orleans, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Clara and Seattle. Each of the cities is a site where the OTRII tour is appearing.

The Boys and Girls Club of America will choose the winners, according to the announcement.

The students must demonstrate “academic excellence” and “financial need” so great that it threatens to prevent them from attending college for the 2018-2019 academic year.

This is not the first time that the power couple has extended outreach toward needy students.

The Shawn Carter Foundation hosts tours to historically Black colleges and universities and offers scholarships to students headed to college. The organization was founded in 2003 by Jay Z and his mother, Gloria Carter.

The BeyGood initiative, headed by Beyoncé, has created a merit program called the Formation Scholars Award. The program helps female students reach educational goals. Another program, the Homecoming Scholars Award, provides resources for students to study at HBCUs, according to the announcement.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of America is based in Atlanta and has been in existence for 150 years. The organization runs more than 4,300 clubs that serve about 4 million young people and provides mentoring and youth development programs during non-school hours. Clubs are located all over – in cities, towns, public housing and Native American lands as well as on military installations.

Source: https://thegrio.com/2018/08/26/beyonce-jay-z-1000000-college-scholarships/

Young Guru Encourages Coding Interest With $1 Million In Scholarships

Young Guru is looking to provide resources for the best of the best in the world of coding. On Wednesday (Aug. 22), the famed audio engineer for Jay Z and renowned beatsmith, announced the give away of one million dollars in scholarship funds for people of color interested in coding.

In partnership with Opportunity Hubs and Rodney Sampson, Guru will also team with the Flatiron Schoolwhich is dedicated to this field and serves as an incubator of knowledge for 10,000 people. The announcement was accompanied by a national Tech To Wealth tour, ending on Oct. 3 in Seattle.

In an interview with Highsnobiety, Guru discussed how music and technology go hand-in-hand and why creatives should take advantage of the tools that are at their disposal.

“The technologies we have, some of them are better than what we’ve imagined on Star Trek,” he said. “Those type of things, as an engineering feat, are amazing. Also, what these technologies do in terms of power, what they give to the user and to the artist in terms of creative power is just incredible.”

Source: https://www.vibe.com/2018/08/young-guru-coding-scholarships/

Applications Now Open for 2019 Disney Dreamers Academy to be Held at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida

Disney Dreamers Academy Class of 2016 (photo by Gregg Newton)

100 high school students to be selected for all-expenses-paid mentoring experience of a lifetime

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Applications are being accepted now through Oct. 31, 2018, for the Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and Essence magazine. This annual outside-the-classroom mentoring program is scheduled for March 21-24, 2019, at the Walt Disney Resort in Florida.

The program helps 100 select high school students, ages 13-19, from across the United States jump-start their life goals and pursue their dreams. Disney Dreamers Academy turns the entire magical setting of Walt Disney World into a vibrant classroom.

Disney Dreamers learning how to build rides in Imagineering workshop (photo courtesy of Disney)

Students participate in a series of sessions and workshops designed to help them imagine bright futures, make exciting discoveries and learn how to put their goals into action. Disney Dreamers engage in a wide variety of experiences at Walt Disney World while working side by side with celebrities, community and industry leaders and Disney cast members.

For more than a decade, Disney Dreamers Academy has inspired young people from across the country by fueling their dreams and showing them a world of possibilities as they prepare for the future.

Each year, students participate in hands-on, immersive career seminars in a wide range of disciplines found at Walt Disney World. Participants learn how to improve their communication skills, what it means to be a leader and networking strategies, among other skills. They are also inspired by celebrity speakers and other special guests who share their stories and provide insights on how to achieve their life goals.

The second decade of Disney Dreamers Academy is focused on challenging young people to relentlessly pursue their dreams through the “Be 100” campaign. This promotional push is inspired by the powerful impact Disney Dreamers Academy has made on graduates, who have gone on to become doctors, nurses, engineers, pilots, journalists and more. Some have started their own public relations firms, while others have worked with national political leaders.

Applicants must answer essay questions about their personal journeys and dreams for the future. Studentsare selected based on a combination of attributes, including strong character, positive attitude and determination to achieve their dreams. A parent or guardian accompanies each student on the trip.

This four-day, all-expenses-paid experience at Walt Disney World will continue to help change the lives of young people in 2019.

For more information or to apply, visit DisneyDreamersAcademy.com

Jordan Thomas Wins Harvard Debate Competition as He and 24 Other Students from Atlanta Make History

Atlanta students celebrate win at Harvard Debate Council (photo via huffingtonpost.com)

by Jenna Amatulli via huffingtonpost.com

A group of 25 black students from Atlanta, competing against hundreds of young scholars from around the world, made history over the weekend with winning performances in a Harvard debate tournament.

Jordan Thomas, from Atlanta’s Grady High School, won the competition. He said in a press release that he “was determined to represent my city and my story. I wanted people to see where I came from and how I could keep up with them.”

“Being a young, middle class, black, public school student from the South created a stigma that automatically set me back in comparison to the competition, most of who were international students or from preparatory schools in the Northeast,” said Thomas.

“To bring the championship back to Atlanta was the most satisfying feeling, and to walk onto the campus of one of the most elite universities in the world and meet personal and council goals, brings a unique and new satisfaction that I’ve never experienced.”

The young scholars were the first backed by scholarships through the Atlanta-based Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project to participate in Harvard’s summer debate council residency.

Harvard Debate Council, which runs the annual summer program at the school’s campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, divided nearly 400 participants, including high school students from Asia, Europe and Russia, into 12 teams for debate competitions.

Harvard Debate Council (photo via huffingtonpost.com)

The 25 Atlanta scholars, selected for Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project’s inaugural class from about 150 applicants, began the residency program with a daily, 10-hour academic regimen to learn research, analysis, argumentation and political science. Then, using their new skills, they were split into teams for the competition with other high school students from around the world.

Thomas described the project as “not a competition between each other, rather it is an incubator of intellect and a cultivator of brilliance.”

Notably, most of the Atlanta students were inexperienced debaters. They were from 16 different schools in the region. Brandon Fleming, a Harvard assistant debate coach who founded Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project, said the project aims to be a “pipeline that would recruit, train and send students of color to Harvard on full scholarship.”

Nigerian-Born Taofeek Abijako, 19, is Youngest Designer to Show at Men’s New York Fashion Week

Head-of-State+ founder Taofeek Abijako (Photo by Nicolas Hunt via Getty Images)

by  via teenvogue.com

At just 19-years-old, this week, Nigerian-born designer Taofeek Abijako became the youngest designer to present a collection at New York Fashion Week: Men’s. Taofeek held a presentation for his brand Head of State+s spring/summer 2019 collection, which paid homage to 70s afro-futurism styles and West African youth culture.

Head-of-State+ first caught the eye of the fashion community weeks after its official launch in 2016. According to The New York Times Style Magazine, Japanese luxury retailer United Arrows found his self-produced lookbook on Twitter and began stocking the brand shortly after. The following year The New York Times Style Magazine labeled Head of State+ a “brand to watch”, and sure enough, the industry took notice. At the time, Taofeek was a senior in high school living in his parents Albany, New York home. He had only immigrated from Nigeria just two years prior and had just retired his soccer cleats to focus on fashion completely.

The brand’s latest offering, entitled Genesis, is the fourth collection from Taofeek. Genesis reflects the high-end streetwear aesthetic Taofeek has been exploring since its inception, and featured light trucker jackets, white tailored pants, and fitted knitwear. Speaking to the CFDA Taofeek explained, “Genesis is the translation of Afro-futurism portrayed by the likes of Parliament-Funkadelic and Sun Ra through the lens of West African youth – while at the same time celebrating the vibrancy of West African youth culture in the ‘70s and drawing parallels to modern time. The continuous homage to Fela Kuti is also portrayed.”

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SS19 “Genesis” – LOOK 5 (Jean Mark)

A post shared by HEAD OF STATE+ (@headofstate_) on

Now in its second year of operation, Head of State+’s visions as a brand is beginning to manifest into something that is much bigger than clothing. “I approach Head of State+ as less of a brand and more of a case study,” Taofeek told the CFDA. “It’s me digging into my cultural upbringing while trying to have a firm grasp and understanding of it.” In addition to his cultural advocacy, Taofeek is making a case for youth culture and providing the blueprint for how young designers can bypass the fashion industry’s hierarchy and establish a solid brand with minimal financial backing or formal training.

Source: https://www.teenvogue.com/story/taofeek-abijako-mens-nyfw-youngest-designer

Students Jayla Tolliver and Taylissa Marriott, 15, Win Settlement in Racist Bullying Lawsuit in Nevada

Jayla Tolliver and Taylissa Marriott thank students at Swope Middle School, who wrote them letters of support. (Screenshot via rgj.com)

by Clarissa Hamlin via newsone.com

Two students now have some relief after being bullied for months at their Nevada high school because of race.

Jayla Tolliver and Taylissa Marriott, who are 15-year-old sisters and freshman at Yerington High School in Yerington, have won a settlement in their federal lawsuit against Lyon County School District on Monday (June 25), the Reno Gazette Journal reported. Their case has pushed the school to re-examine how it deals with bullying and racist behaviors from students, and it is making changes to existing policies.

Tolliver and Marriott suffered through some of the worst taunts and bullying from their peers — actions that are known to have driven many students of color to consider or commit suicide. The young women were called slurs on social media and were targeted in an online photo of the son of a Lyon County sheriff’s deputy holding a gun with the caption, “the red neck god of all gods…we bout to go [racial slur] huntin” last October.

Yerington school officials didn’t do enough to help the teens, who were harassed for at least six months over the 2017-18 school year. While the school was supposed to be a welcoming safe space for them, it became a nightmarish hell.

Police weren’t involved in any investigation of the social media threats against the teens. Yerington Police Chief Darren Wagner told the Reno Gazette Journal last October that the threats were protected by free speech, and the family’s statements to police about the matter were shredded accidentally. However, what was called “free speech” was in fact hate speech.

Fast forward to now. Tolliver and Marriott, who filed the lawsuit in January, have renewed hope despite their horrible experience. “In the beginning, we didn’t realize how much of a change we have made, and by us being some of the many to stand up and let their voice be heard, [it] made me feel that we did change the way people judge and look at someone before they actually know them,” Marriott said.

The school district has agreed to consult the U.S. Department of Education’s racial harassment experts and pay for counseling for the teens. They will also pay a lump sum to the teens’ family and for all attorney fees, an amount totaling $160,000.

Jayla and Taylissa released the following statements:

I would like to thank everyone who had our back and listened when no one would, through this long painful experience. I learned that you should never let your voice be unheard even when people turn their backs and tell you to lower your voice. Racism is something I never thought I’d go through. Racism is also something many people have done nothing about, but I am proud to say that I am one of the few who stood up when my race was an issue to others. I will always look back on this tragedy knowing that it made me the strong African-American woman I am today! Racism is something that I knew went on through the world but for a long time I forgot it existed. I cannot dream about having so much hate for another group of people because of their skin color yet there are people all over the world who find people of color disgusting and repulsive because we are different but don’t realize how beautiful and unique we are because we are different. I hope that our story inspires others. Always remember no matter where you are from, what you look like, how different you talk, or how you walk we are all equal. Jayla Tolliver

I just wanted to start off saying my sister Jayla and I are so thankful. I would never in a million years believe we would have to go through what we did. For having you guys say that you are here for us and standing by our sides gave us so much hope that we could fight and overcome all the horrific behavior. In the beginning, we didn’t realize how much of a change we have made and by us being some of the many to stand up and let their voice be heard made me feel that we did change the way people judge and look at someone before they actually know them. But I want to say a BIG thank you to Swope Middle School for being some of the biggest supporters and some of the first to reach out to my sister and me. Taylissa Marriott

Source: https://newsone.com/3814608/black-students-racist-bullying-lawsuit-settlement-nevada/

Christina Lewis’ All Star Code Nonprofit Raises Over $1 Million to Expand STEM “Summer Intensive” Program for Boys of Color

by Selena Hill via blackenterprise.com

All Star Code (ASC) will carry out its mission to educate, prepare, and place young men of color in the tech industry through its fifth annual “Summer Intensive” STEM summer program. The nonprofit announced Tuesday that it raised over $1 million for the growth and development of the program. ASC also received a record number of applicants—nearly 1,000 for just 160 spots. According to Christina Lewis, who founded ASC in 2013, the organization is on track to educate a total of 10,000 young black and Latino men in tech and entrepreneurship by 2022.

“All Star Code’s impact continues to spread as we establish a pipeline of talented and ambitious young entrepreneurs who are ready to enter the tech industry,” said Lewis in a statement. “Tech is one of the most influential and lucrative industries, so it’s vital that Black and Latino young men are better represented in this space to capture its economic opportunity.”

BOYS WILL LEARN WEB DEVELOPMENT AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN STEM SUMMER PROGRAM 

ASC’s flagship “Summer Intensive” program is a free six-week course that teaches students web development skills and about entrepreneurship. It also empowers students with soft skills and a network of like-minded peers. It will take place in New York City and Pittsburgh.

The effectiveness of All Star Code’s curriculum is amplified by corporate partners like AT&T, Cisco, Goldman Sachs, Google, JPMorgan Chase, MLB, and Medidata, as well as the academic institutions Chatham University and the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, which provide operational and financial support and services. Through these partnerships, students will gain access to mentorships, speakers, and professional work culture.

Since its creation in 2013, about 300 students have participated in ASC’s flagship summer programs. Of the summer intensive students, 95% of All Star Code graduates have gone on to four-year colleges, while half of the graduates have created their own business or tech-related project, reads the press release.

Lewis says she was inspired by her late father, iconic businessman Reginald F. Lewis, to launch ASC as a vehicle to diversify the tech space. “I channeled his legacy to start All Star Code,” she said. Before his death in 1993, Reginald created TLC Beatrice International Holdings, the first black-owned global enterprise to earn more than a billion dollars in revenue. “I realized that if my father were a young man today, he would no doubt be working in technology, the growth industry for building wealth in the 21st century,” Lewis told Black Enterprise.

Source: http://www.blackenterprise.com/black-boys-stem-summer-program/

Fraternal Twins Malik and Miles Georges, 18, Named High School Co-Valedictorians, Set to Attend M.I.T. Together

Fraternal twins Miles and Malik George were Woodbridge High School’s co-valedictorians. Now, they head to MIT together in the fall. (MILES GEORGE)

by Christopher Brito via cbsnews.com

To be named high-school valedictorian is an honor for any family. For the Georges, that distinction came in the form of fraternal twins, Malik and Miles, who are now heading to their dream school together: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The 18-year-old brothers from New Jersey delivered a rousing and light-hearted speech at their Woodbridge High School graduation ceremony on Thursday, capping off years of academic excellence and hard work. The twins took turns giving their combined oratory address to their nearly 400 classmates, each one putting a spotlight on subjects dear to them like climate change and having support groups.

“It was an amazing experience,” Malik said. “To have all four years to culminate that moment is an enriching experience.”

The graduates, who earned near perfect SAT scores and didn’t have a grade lower than an A-minus in high school, now head to M.I.T., the school they’ve been laser-focused on since freshman year at Woodbridge High. So much so, the George brothers applied early –– and found out they got in weeks before their birthday in December.

“It was our dream school,” Miles said. ” We were looking at top ten schools and we fell in love with everything it had to offer.”

In addition to MIT, the brothers were also accepted into Harvard and Johns Hopkins University. They attribute much of their achievements to their parents, who recently celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary.

“From a very young age, our parents have been active in our education,” Malik said. “If we ever did get a B, they never forced us to do anything, they just wanted us to do our best.”

Away from their parents, now the brothers have each other to look out for once they head to college. Malik is 11 minutes older, but Miles is two inches taller.

“We’re each other’s big brother in a way,” Malik said.

Source: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/new-jersey-fraternal-twins-named-co-valedictorians-head-to-mit-malik-miles-george-woodbridge/?ftag=CNM-00-10aab8d&linkId=53447969