Category: Education

Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. Awarded the 2018 Creativity Laureate Prize

Henry Louis Gates Jr.

via jbhe.com

Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University, received the 2018 Creativity Laureate Award from the Benjamin Franklin Creativity Collaboration at a recent ceremony at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

The prize honors the most gifted and creative thinkers, innovators and professional catalysts in all areas of human endeavor — the arts, humanities, sciences, technology and public service. Previous winners have included Sandra Day O’Connor, Meryl Streep, Yo-Yo Ma, Ted Turner, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and Johnnetta Cole.

Professor Gates was chosen for the award for his important work in the areas of arts and criticism, humanities and historical research, genetic science, documentary film, and public service. He has authored or co-authored 22 books and created 18 documentary films. His six-part documentary – The African American: Many Rivers to Cross – aired on PBS television and won an Emmy Award for outstanding historical program. According to the Collaboration, Professor Gates “exemplifies the spirit that inspired the Creativity Laureate Award – the multi-disciplinary creativity of Benjamin Franklin.”

Professor Gates joined the faculty at Harvard University in 1991 after teaching at Duke University, Cornell University, and Yale University. A native of West Virginia, Dr. Gates is a summa cum laude graduate of Yale University. He earned a Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge in England.

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/04/henry-louis-gates-jr-awarded-the-2018-creativity-laureate-prize/

Ieshia Champs, Single Mother of 5, to Graduate Magna Cum Laude From Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law

Ieshia Champs stands at center with her children (left to right)  E’mani, 5, Kaleb, 8, Khassidy,11, Davien, 12, and David, 14. (Photo: Richard Holman Photography) 

by Kerry Justich via yahoolifestyle.com

Ieshia Champs never could have imagined what she would achieve when she grew up, as she bounced around family homes, entered into the foster care system, and had her first child at age 19. But nearly 14 years and a total of five kids later, this mom is about to graduate from law school after a difficult journey — and she says her faith led her through it all.

The 33-year-old, who is originally from Port Arthur, Texas, has been through a lot. However, from the looks of her beautiful family in her recent graduation photos, it seems like the more trying times might have been worth her consequent path. From leading her to Houston and to a church that provided her with guidance, as well as the people she would quickly call family, Champs is now seeing that her earlier struggles are coming full circle. And it all goes back to one Child Protective Services caseworker, Gail Covington, who picked her and her siblings up when Champs was just around 7 years old.

“I’ll never forget it,” Champs tells Yahoo Lifestyle, of the moment Covington brought them to a home outside of the chaos that the little girl was used to. “I cried so hard because I missed my familiar surroundings, even though they were horrible. And one day, I woke up in time for school. I actually had a bed to sleep in, and we had brand-new clothes on the floor. It was then that I realized my friends had no idea about this type of life.”

What Champs explains as the “drug-filled environment” where she lived with her mom was the norm for everyone in their neighborhood. Once she had an idea of another type of lifestyle, she began to wonder what she could do about all of the people left behind without help. Her teachers introduced her to the idea of becoming an attorney and providing a service similar to what Covington provided Champs. However, she would eventually return to a toxic environment soon thereafter.

Being adopted by a maternal uncle, Champs says that she and her siblings eventually ended up back in an apartment with their mom — which ended up leading her down a bad path. “We really didn’t have much guidance,” Champs explains. “My sister ended up having her first baby at 14. I ended up dropping out of school my 10th or 11th grade year, and I ran across my kid’s father. We ended up having our first child, and then we had a second. And it just kept going.”

It was when Champs had three children and a fourth on the way that her life began to change. Her sister enticed her to attend a service at the Ministers for Christ Christian Center in Houston, led by Bishop Richard and Louise Holman, who she now refers to as dad and mom. Champs recalls a service where Louise, who serves as a prophetess, called the mother of five up to the front of the church and offered up information about her future. Louise said that God wanted Champs to go back to school to get her GED, so she could eventually follow her dream of becoming a lawyer — a dream that Champs had never shared with Louise.

“She told me that God would take care of me,” Champs says of Louise’s encouragement. “During that same year — it was 2009 — I ended up having a house fire, I lost everything that I had. I got laid off from my job, the father to two of my children died of cancer while I was seven months pregnant, I literally tried to kill myself, and I ended up going back to get my GED.”

Champs credits the inspiration and prayers from the Holmans for her getting an associate’s degree in paralegal studies at Houston Community College, and a bachelor’s degree at the University of Houston. Both degrees eventually brought her to the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University, where she’ll be graduating in May. Although receiving her Juris Doctor degree was far from easy, she commends her five children for making it possible.

Giving her time to do both her work and rest, Champs says that her eldest son, who is now 14, has been amazing at taking the other four children — ranging in age from 5 to 12 — to a quiet place in the house to do activities or eat a snack. In order to honor this commitment, she decided to include them all in her graduation photos, which were taken by Bishop Richard.

“I’ve been attending Ministers for Christ for about 10 years, and [Richard] is not just my bishop,” Champs says. “He’s a professional photographer, and he knows my story. So I wanted him to be very active in that.”

Champs’s children pose proudly around her. (Photo: Richard Holman Photography)

Now, as the bishop’s photos circulate around the internet, Champs’s older children are beginning to understand what “going viral” means. However, Champs remains focused on what she wants to do with her doctorate once she passes the bar exam, which is to become a general attorney with a specialization in family law and juvenile law, and eventually become a judge.

“I feel like with what I’ve been through as a child and in my upbringing, I can probably help some of these juveniles who may feel like there’s no hope for them,” Champs explains. “I want to be the one to fight for those children who are in these horrible living arrangements. To try to help them reconcile with the family, or if not, give them the same opportunity that I had.”

Source: https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/single-mother-5-proudly-poses-children-law-school-graduation-photos-012231390.html

Linda Oubré Selected as President of Whittier College in California

Whittier College President Linda Oubré (photo via biz journals.com)

via jbhe.com

The board of trustees of Whittier College in California, has chosen Linda Oubré as the educational institution’s fifteenth president. When she takes office on July 1, Dr. Oubré will be the first African American and the first person of color to serve as president of Whittier College.

Whittier College, located east of Los Angeles, enrolls about 1,600 undergraduate students and approximately 450 graduate students, according to the latest statistics supplied to the U.S. Department of Education. African Americans make up 4 percent of the undergraduate student body. The college’s most famous graduate is Richard M. Nixon.

For the past six years, Dr. Oubré has served as dean of the College of Business at San Francisco State University. Earlier, Dr. Oubré was executive director of corporate relations and business development, and chief diversity officer for the Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Davis.

Dr. Oubré holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles, an MBA from Harvard Business School, and a doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania.

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/04/linda-oubre-selected-as-the-fifteenth-president-of-whittier-college-in-california/

Spelman College Student Deanna Hayden Works to Raise Literacy Rates with “House of Knowledge” Project

by Robin White Goode via blackenterprise.com

It’s National Library Week, and at Spelman College a student is changing lives by improving a community’s literacy. Deanna Hayden, a junior Comparative Women’s Studies major, volunteers in an impoverished neighborhood in Atlanta, the West End community.

“I grew up in rural Mississippi,” Hayden said, “where there was an overwhelming lack of educational resources. When I started volunteering at Paul Laurence Dunbar Elementary School in the West End, I noticed parallels between the education system here and in Mississippi.”

BOOKS TRUMP POVERTY

Hayden relayed there are students with low reading scores, ironically in a school named after a literary giant. “I sat in on third-grade classes and could see that there is a need to improve their literacy,” she says.

Hayden had noticed that in wealthy communities there are what she calls “free libraries”—not library buildings from which books can be borrowed, but small, house-shaped structures full of books that can be taken for keeps, or added to. (Hayden was most likely referring to the Little Free Library book exchange.)

Regular reading is critical to raising literacy and reading levels, but book ownership also makes a huge difference. According to a 2014 study cited in a New York Times article, the number of books in a home is “the most important predictor of reading performance” after gross national product. “The greatest effect was seen in libraries of about 100 books, which resulted in approximately 1.5 extra years of grade-level reading performance.”

Astonishingly, a home library appears to matter more than the family budget. The Times article goes on: “… in the United States, with the size of libraries being equal, students coming from the top 10% of wealthiest families performed at just one extra grade level over students from the poorest 10%.”

THE HOUSE OF KNOWLEDGE

Spelman
(Courtesy of Spelman College)

Similar to both the Little Free Library and Barbershop Shops, which sets up books targeting black boys from age 4 to 8 in barbershops, the House of Knowledge is a literacy initiative that Hayden developed in response to the struggling readers she encountered.

There are now seven Houses of Knowledge throughout the West End community “in places frequented by children, such as churches, recreation centers, and doctor’s offices,” Hayden told me. Each holds 25 books targeting readers in kindergarten to eighth grade.

“Each House of Knowledge has its own theme,” Hayden says. “Some offer books on science and technology—others are all about black women.” Each box has a sponsor which is responsible for monitoring the box to make sure there is always a selection of books inside. The sponsor—organizations like the NAACP, the National Council of Negro Women, and others on the Spelman campus—determines what books will be offered.

Hayden, who graduates next year and plans to study public health and educational policy in graduate school, still has plans for the House of Knowledge project. “I’d like the kids to do surveys and quizzes on the books,” she says. “Eventually I’d like to develop an after school component as well.”

In the meantime, she’s also hoping for a grant that will make the program more sustainable.

To learn more, visit the House of Knowledge website.

Source: http://www.blackenterprise.com/spelman-student-raising-literacy-skills/

A New Generation of African-American-Owned Bookstores; Numbers No Longer in Decline

Mahogany Books opens in Washington D.C. (photo via publishersweekly.com)

by Alex Green via publishersweekly.com

When Troy Johnson began tracking the number of black-owned bookstores in the U.S. in 1999, there were more than 325. By 2014, that number had dwindled to 54, a decline of 83%.

“They were closing left and right, and the major ones were struggling,” said Johnson, who runs the African American Literature Book Club, an online book database. Today, Johnson estimates, there are at least 108 black-owned independent stores, a number of which have opened in the past six months, marking a substantial reversal. “Last year was the first year I added more stores to the list than I took away,” he noted.

The surge in black-owned indie bookstores is notable at a time when both bookselling and publishing are wrestling with issues of workforce diversity.

Ramunda and Derrick Young, wife-and-husband owners of the newly opened MahoganyBooks, looked for a physical location for years, but a wave of gentrification in Washington, D.C., left them with few promising options. That changed in early 2017, when they found a location in the Anacostia Arts Center, in the historically African-American neighborhood of Anacostia in Southeast D.C. Ramunda, a former general books manager of the Howard University Bookstore, said opening a store was a logical step toward diversifying the couple’s business after having run a books website serving predominately African-American readers for a decade.

MahoganyBooks opened in February and is the first bookstore in Anacostia in 20 years. The 500-sq.-ft. store has an adjacent events space for large readings. With tablets for readers to locate books online while they browse, the store fulfills the couple’s vision of “a bookstore 2.0,” Derrick said.

“Bookstore 2.0” is shorthand for the Youngs’ effort to integrate the physical store and the long-standing digital operation, creating independent sources of revenue that stand alone but point to one another. In-store technology points to the website, and the website now points to the physical store’s events. “We thought, if there were another big crazy economic downturn, how would we prepare ourselves so that we would have multiple streams of income?” Derrick said.

Opening the bookstore is also a homecoming. Derrick’s grandmother lived in Anacostia when he was a child, and he frequented the neighborhood’s black-owned bookstores. He later worked at the black-owned Karibu booksellers with Ramunda. Speaking about himself and Ramunda, he paid tribute to those earlier stores: “We were both kind of nurtured in that way. We both made an effort to be mentored and to understand the experience that readers want when they come into a bookstore.”

When forensic anthropology professor Christina Benton opened Janco Books in Las Vegas in October 2017, readers asked if she would model her store after Native Son, a neighborhood African-American specialty bookstore that closed in 2008. Benton expanded the store’s African-American section, but she said her interest is in catering to as broad a community as possible. “It’s a general bookstore owned by an African-American person,” she said. With a selection of new and used books, Janco caters most of all to families that homeschool in the area. “They buy the most, because they need to have the resources,” Benton said.

In Brooklyn’s rapidly gentrifying Crown Heights neighborhood, a general bookstore is as far from what Afro-Latina owner Kalima Desuze and her Caribbean husband, Ryan Cameron, wanted to open when they launched the Afro-feminist Cafe Con Libros in late December. Desuze, a retired U.S. Army JAG corps member with master’s degrees in social work and public administration, grew up in Prospect Place and credits her trajectory in life to reading feminist African and African-American authors.

“A lot of the reason why I opened up the store is because feminism has not always been the province of women of color,” Desuze said. “Part of my challenge as a black woman, calling my bookstore a feminist bookstore, is that some black women do not identify with the word feminism. But if they took the time to explore they would discover that they are already living it.”

To read more, go to: https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/bookselling/article/76545-a-new-generation-of-african-american-owned-bookstores.html

Denzel Washington Paid for ‘Black Panther’ star Chadwick Boseman to Study at Oxford

"Black Panther" star Chadwick Boseman
“Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman (Albert L. Ortega | Getty Images)

by  via cnbc.com

Chadwick Boseman, the 41-year-old star of Black Panther, may have Oscar-winner and 2018 nominee Denzel Washington to thank for some of his success. While studying at Howard University in the late ’90s, Boseman and some of his peers applied to a prestigious summer theater program at The University of Oxford. The group of students got in, but they couldn’t afford to go.

One of their acting teachers at Howard, actress Phylicia Rashad from The Cosby Show, “pushed for us,” Boseman told Rolling Stone. “She essentially got some celebrity friends to pay for us to go.” It wasn’t until after the program when he got a beneficiary letter and found out who funded the program: “Denzel paid for me. I’m sure he has no idea. … I’ve been waiting to meet him, so I can tell him.”

Boseman wrote Washington a thank-you letter, but he didn’t tell anyone else about it for two decades. “I’ve basically been holding this secret my whole career,” he told Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show, explaining that he didn’t want Washington to feel like he owed him anything else.

Boseman wanted to meet Washington in person before saying anything. He hadn’t met him before the Rolling Stone interview but, after 20 years, he figured it was OK to reveal the detail. As Boseman told Fallon: “I think I’ve made it to the point where he’s not going to think I’m trying to get something from him by saying it.”

Coincidentally, just before the Rolling Stone feature came out, Boseman got to meet his benefactor. Washington came to the New York premiere of “Black Panther,” and, “I met him, before the article came out,” Boseman told Fallon. “So I actually lived up to what I originally wanted to do. It was amazing.”

When Fallon asked how the introduction went, Boseman recalled how he thanked him for paying for Oxford a while back, to which Washington jokingly replied: “Oh, so that’s why I’m here. You owe me money! I came to collect!”

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/02/denzel-washington-paid-for-chadwick-boseman-to-study-at-oxford.html

Malachi Jones, 17, Wins Prestigious $10,000 Scholastic Art & Writing Award for 2018

Teen Wins Prestigious Writing Award That Stephen King, Capote, and Other Famous Writers Won
Malachi Jones (Charleston County School of the Arts Middle & High School)

Malachi Jones, the 17-year-old wunderkind who is heading to Columbia University this fall, has been awarded a Gold Medal Portfolio, the highest honor of the 2018 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards presented by the nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.

The high school senior, who attends the Charleston County School of the Arts in Charleston, South Carolina, says he greeted the news, which he received by phone, with a “loud silence.”

“I felt like a siren was going off inside my head, but I was speechless,” Malachi is quoted as saying in a Charleston Chronicle article. “I had been submitting work to Scholastic since 7th grade, so it is insane to me to think an audience outside my family and peers wants to read and appreciate my work.”

The honor includes a scholarship of $10,000.

Malachi has joined a prestigious group of former youth winners, now all household names, including Truman Capote, Sylvia Plath, Joyce Carol Oates, and Stephen King, according to the Post and Courier website.

None of them, however, have grappled in their writing with the constraints of race in the arresting way Malachi has. According to the Post and Courier, Malachi has rejected the trope of the stereotypical black man and instead chosen to forge his own way of being black in the world.

The article states, “Jones’s award-winning work—a collection of lyric essays and free-verse poems—revolves around his experience as a black teenager struggling with and finally coming to terms with his identity.

“In a poem titled ‘Pantoum for my Mother,’ Jones writes, ‘Stripped of my blackness, / uprooted by judgement. / I was never dark enough for you / or for the ones who called me whitewashed.’

“It’s about the questions and judgment he endures from both his white and black peers for not fitting the stereotypical ‘formula of a black male.’”

According to the Poetry Foundation, a pantoum is a Malaysian verse form.

To read more: http://www.blackenterprise.com/17-year-old-wins-prestigious-writing-honor-10k-scholarship/

Civil Rights Leader and Educator Clara Luper Has Department Named in her Honor at University of Oklahoma

Civil Rights Leader and Activist Clara Luper (photo via blackthen.com)

via jbhe.com

The University of Oklahoma has announced that it is recognizing educator and civil rights leader Clara Luper by naming the department of African and African American studies in her honor.

Known as the “Mother of the Oklahoma Civil Rights Movement,” Luper led a sit-in at the segregated lunch counter at the Katz Drug Store in Oklahoma City in 1958. She later led campaigns for equal rights in employment opportunity, banking, open housing, and voting rights.

David L. Boren, president of the University of Oklahoma, said that “we honor Clara Luper as a trailblazer for human rights and as a symbol of the university’s commitment to equal opportunity for all people.”

Clara Luper was born 1923 in rural Okfuskee County, Oklahoma. She graduated from an all-Black high school and then enrolled at historically Black Langston University in Oklahoma. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1944. She later earned a master’s degree in history education at the University of Oklahoma.

Luper taught history in high schools in Spencer, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma City for 41 years. She was the first African American vice president of the Oklahoma City Social Science Teachers Association and the first African American vice president of the Oklahoma County Teachers Association. Luper also hosted her own radio show for 50 years.

A state highway bears her name and the Clara Luper Scholarship Program has been established at Oklahoma City University. More on the life of this civil rights pioneer can be found in her autobiography Behold the Walls (1979).

Clara Luper died in 2011.

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/03/university-of-oklahoma-names-an-academic-department-to-honor-clara-luper/

UMBC President Dr. Freeman Hrabowski to Receive American Council on Education’s Lifetime Achievement Award

Hrabowski has propelled UMBC from a small, regional college 25 years ago to an institution known for its excellence in math and science, as well as for the high numbers of students of color who go on to earn doctorates and medical degrees.

In speaking at the UMBC graduation in 2016, Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust said that Hrabowski had made the university into “a shining example of innovation in STEM education — and a premier pathway for students from all economic, racial and ethnic backgrounds to achieve doctoral degrees in medicine, science and technology.”

“The Meyerhoff Scholars Program alone is a ladder that has lifted more than 900 minority and low-income graduates to advanced degrees in math, science and medicine,” she said.

Hrabowski co-founded the Meyerhoff Scholars Program in 1988 with philanthropist Robert Meyerhoff. The program is open to high-achieving students interested in pursuing advanced research in science and engineering.   The award is the latest of Hrabowski’s accomplishments. He has been named one of “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News & World Report. He chaired the National Academies’ committee that produced a 2011 report on expanding minority participation in science and technology. In 2012, then-President Barack Obama made him chair of the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

“I am honored to accept this award on behalf of the UMBC community,” Hrabowski said in an email. “This achievement represents the work of so many colleagues here, people who have given their careers to serving students.”

Source: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/education/bs-md-co-freeman-hrabowski-award-20180227-story.html

CUNY Professor Patricia Smith Wins the $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award

Patricia Smith is the 2018 winner of the $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award for her collection “Incendiary Art: Poems.” (Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths)

via jbhe.com

Patricia Smith, who teaches in the English department at the College of Staten Island of the City University of New York System, has been selected to receive the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. The award, which comes with a $100,000 prize, is given annually by Claremont Graduate University in California to a poet who “is past the very beginning but not yet reached the pinnacle of his or her career.” The $100,000 prize is the largest in the world for a single volume of poetry.

Professor Smith was honored for her poetry collection Incendiary Art: Poems (Northwestern University Press, 2017), which explores tragedy and grief in black communities across America. It is her eighth published poetry collection.

Professor Smith was a finalist for the Neustadt Prize, a two-time winner of the Pushcart Prize, and a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam, the most successful poet in the competition’s history.

Smith will receive the award April 19 at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. The award is one of the largest annual monetary prizes given to a single book of poetry by a mid-career poet, according the Kingsley Tufts website. The award was established at Claremont in 1993 by Kate Tufts to honor her husband, an executive in Los Angeles-area shipyards who also wrote and published poetry.

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/02/patricia-smith-wins-the-100000-kingsley-tufts-poetry-award/