R.I.P. Dr. S. Allen Counter, 63, Noted Neurophysiologist, Ethnographer and Founding Director of Harvard Foundation of Intercultural and Race Relations 

S. Allen Counter (photo via news.harvard.edu)

by Rachael Dane via news.harvard.edu

S. Allen Counter, the founding director of the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations and a noted neurophysiologist, educator, and ethnographer, died on July 12.  According to wikipedia.com, Counter was also known for his achievements as an explorer. In 1971, he located a group of people living in the rain forest in northern Brazil, Surinam and French Guiana; the group was descended from African slaves who had escaped from slave ships. In 1986, Counter located descendants of earlier U.S. explorers of the arctic, Matthew A. Henson and Robert E. Peary. Counter was elected to The Explorers Club in 1989. Counter also designed Arthur Ashe‘s memorial at Woodland Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, dedicated on what would have been Ashe’s 50th birthday on July 10, 1993.

“Harvard has lost a great champion of inclusion and belonging in Dr. Allen Counter,” said President Drew Faust. “Through his leadership of the Harvard Foundation, he advanced understanding among members of our community and challenged all of us to imagine and strive for a more welcoming University and a more peaceful world. We remember today a campus citizen whose deep love of Harvard, and especially our undergraduates, leaves a lasting legacy.”

“During my years as president of Harvard, no one did more than Allen to make minority students feel welcome and at home at Harvard, to promote fruitful interaction among all races, and to serve as understanding adults to whom many undergraduates could turn in order to register their concerns, answer their questions, and have their legitimate problems communicated to the Harvard administration so that they could be understood and acted upon in appropriate ways,” recalled Derek Bok, who led the University from 1971–91 and from 2006–07. “Much of what he accomplished was unrecognized, but his contributions were invaluable, and I will always feel a great debt of gratitude for his service to the University.”

Counter did his undergraduate work in biology and sensory physiology at Tennessee State University and his graduate studies in electrophysiology at Case Western Reserve University, where he earned his Ph.D. He earned his M.D. at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. He came to Harvard in 1970 as a postdoctoral fellow and assistant neurophysiologist at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. Early in his University career, Counter lived in a student residence hall as dormitory director, resident tutor, and biological sciences tutor.

In the early 1970s, the U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (now the Department of Health and Human Services) named him to the National Advisory Mental Health Council of the National Institute of Mental Health. In 1975, several proposals came before the council requesting funding for projects involving psychosurgery and electrode implants in human brains. At that time, the government’s rules protecting human subjects were still evolving, and Counter believed the projects were inherently racist. He insisted the council not approve them, and they were not acted upon.

In the same decade, Counter taught inmates at MCI Concord with the Massachusetts Correctional Concord Achievement Rehabilitation Volunteer Experience, where he said he gave inmates the same advice his grandmother had given him: “Read a book. Develop your mind.” A later study showed that participants in the program had a lower recidivism rate than prisoners who did not take part. After a sabbatical fellowship at UCLA with neuroscientist Alan D. Grinnell in the late 1970s, Counter returned to Cambridge, where his research at Harvard Medical School focused on clinical and basic studies on nerve and muscle physiology, auditory physiology, and neurophysiological diagnosis of brain-injured children and adults. Continue reading

Civil Rights Icon Fannie Lou Hamer Biopic to be Scripted by “Remember The Titans” Writer Gregory Allen Howard

Fannie Lou Hamer (photo via powerpacplus.org)

by Mike Fleming Jr. via deadline.com

Remember the Titans scribe Gregory Allen Howard has teamed with Chris Columbus1492 production company to tell the story of Fannie Lou Hamer, a sharecropper with a sixth-grade education who became an important voting-rights advocate and founded the first integrated political party in the South in mid-’60s Mississippi.

Hamer grew up in a family of 20 kids and picked cotton for most of her life. After going to a doctor to have a tumor removed, she discovered she was given a hysterectomy at age 47 by a white doctor, without her consent, because of a movement by the state to sterilize women to reduce the number of poor blacks in Mississippi.

Hamer became a Civil Rights activist, surviving assassination attempts

Gregory Allen Howard (photo via deadline.com)

and a near-fatal beating to get her moment at the Democratic National Convention, where she challenged President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968 with her legendary, “Is This America?” speech.

While LBJ hastily called a ruse press conference in the hope of diverting attention away from her speech, Hamer’s powerful words were widely broadcast and reverberated around the world. Howard, who studied Hamer’s accomplishments as a college student, has long been obsessed with bringing her story to the screen. Hamer died in 1977.

To read more, go to: Civil Rights Icon Fannie Lou Hamer Movie; Gregory Allen Howard script | Deadline

History of Early HBCU Southland College Preserved in New Digital Archive at University of Arkansas

Two Boys Walking from Pumphrey Hall, Lives Transformed: the People of Southland College (Special Collections, University of Arkansas Libraries)

via jbhe.com

The University of Arkansas has debuted a new online archive of materials relating to Southland College in Phillips County, Arkansas. The school, established in 1864, was the first institution of higher learning for African Americans in the United States founded west of the Mississippi River.

Students Willie Bell Hendon and Catherine Penney (Special Collections, University of Arkansas Libraries)

Original funding for the school was provided by Quakers from Indiana. Funding and labor for the first buildings of the college were provided by veterans of the 56th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment.

After a decade, the school’s enrollment reached 200. Southland College closed in 1925 due to financial difficulties. Hundreds of alumni graduated with teaching degrees from the college.

The new online exhibit includes photographs and scanned images of letters, forms, newspaper articles, course catalogs, a commencement program and a diploma. The online archive entitled, “Lives Transformed: the People of Southland College,” may be accessed here.

Source: University of Arkansas’ New Historical Digital Archive Tells the Story of an Early HBCU : The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education

Donald Glover, “Atlanta,” “Blackish” Garner Multiple Nominations for 2017 Primetime Emmys

2017 Emmy nominees Viola Davis, Donald Glover, Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

The nominees for the 2017 Primetime Emmys were announced this morning, and among them are nods in the Best Comedy Series category for writer/creator/star Donald Glover‘s freshman FX half-hour “Atlanta” as well as writer/creator Kenya Barris‘ veteran ABC show “Black-ish,” which also garnered nods in the Lead Comedy Actor and Actress categories for its stars Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross. Glover also picked up a nod for Lead Actor in a Comedy Series.

Emmy winner Viola Davis was recognized again for her role as Annalise Keating in ABC’s  “How to Get Away With Murder,” and Sterling K. Brown came through in the Lead Actor in a Drama Series category for his work on the popular NBC hit “This is Us.” Jeffrey Wright and Thandie Newton were acknowledged for their Supporting Roles in “Westworld,” as was Samira Wiley for her work in the original Hulu series “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Up against Wiley in the same category is her former “Orange Is the New Black” castmate Uzo Aduba.

Additionally, Leslie Jones grabbed a nomination in the Supporting Role in Comedy category for her work on “Saturday Night Live,” and RuPaul Charles got some love in the Host for a Reality/Reality-Competition Program category for his work on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

Behind the scenes, Donald Glover earned his third Emmy nomination for “Atlanta” in the directing category, and his fourth, along with his brother Stephen Glover, for Writing for a Comedy Series. Ava DuVernay & Spencer Averick were nominated in the Writing for a Nonfiction Program category for their outstanding work on the Netflix documentary “13th.” The full list of nominees follows below:

Drama Series
“Better Call Saul” (AMC)
“The Crown” (Netflix)
“The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
“House of Cards” (Netflix)
“Stranger Things” (Netflix)
“This Is Us” (NBC)
“Westworld” (HBO)

Comedy Series
“Atlanta” (FX)
“Black-ish” (ABC)
“Master of None” (Netflix)
“Modern Family” (ABC)
“Silicon Valley” (HBO)
“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix)
“Veep” (HBO)

Drama Actress
Viola Davis (“How to Get Away with Murder”)
Claire Foy (“The Crown”)
Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Keri Russell (“The Americans”)
Evan Rachel Wood (“Westworld”)
Robin Wright (“House of Cards”)

Drama Actor
Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”)
Anthony Hopkins (“Westworld”)
Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”)
Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”)
Liev Schreiber (“Ray Donovan”)
Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”)
Milo Ventimiglia (“This Is Us”)

Comedy Actor
Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”)
Aziz Ansari (“Master of None”)
Zach Galifianakis (“Baskets”)
Donald Glover (“Atlanta”)
William H. Macy (“Shameless”)
Jeffrey Tambor (“Transparent”)

Comedy Actress
Pamela Adlon (“Better Things”)
Tracee Ellis-Ross (“black-ish”)
Jane Fonda (“Grace and Frankie”)
Lily Tomlin (“Grace and Frankie”)
Allison Janney (“Mom”)
Ellie Kemper (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”) Continue reading

Tamron Hall to Develop Daytime Talk Show With Weinstein Television

Tamron Hall (photo via twitter.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to Variety.com, former Today show co-anchor Tamron Hall is returning to return to daily television after leaving NBC News in February in the wake of the Peacock’s hiring of Megyn Kelly.

Weinstein Television is working to develop a daytime talk show featuring Hall, who will co-create the program with Weinstein and serve as host and executive producer of the series. Weinstein and Hall will also collaborate to develop other non-scripted programming under the terms of their deal.

The talk show is currently untitled, and is expected to focus on current events, human-interest stories and interviews with celebrities and newsmakers. The daily series is slated to be shot in front of a live studio audience.

“I’ve been working towards developing a talk show for a long time, but needed to make sure I did it the right way and with the right person to take the lead,” said Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Company, in a prepared statement. “Tamron is far and away that person. She’s an exceptionally talented journalist whose interviews masterfully walk the line between entertainment and hard hitting. We couldn’t be more thrilled to begin this new venture with her.”

Oscar Winner Barry Jenkins to Direct Adaptation of James Baldwin’s “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Barry Jenkins (photo via variety.com)

by Justin Kroll via variety.com

Barry Jenkins is set to direct an adaptation of “If Beale Street Could Talk” for Annapurna Pictures, marking his first feature film since his hit “Moonlight” won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Original Screenplay.

Based on the novel by James Baldwin, “If Beale Street Could Talk,” the story follows Tish, a newly engaged Harlem woman who races against the clock to prove her lover’s innocence while carrying their child. It is a celebration of love told through the story of a young couple, their families and their lives, trying to bring about justice through love, for love and the promise of the American dream.

Production on the film is expected to start in October. Jenkins, who has wanted to make the film for many years, wrote the screenplay during the same summer sojourn in 2013 when he penned “Moonlight.” Since then, Jenkins has been working with the Baldwin Estate. Baldwin’s sister, Gloria Karefa-Smart, says, “We are delighted to entrust Barry Jenkins with this adaptation. Barry is a sublimely conscious and gifted filmmaker, whose medicine for melancholy impressed us so greatly that we had to work with him.”

“James Baldwin is a man of and ahead of his time; his interrogations of the American consciousness have remained relevant to this day,” Jenkins said. “To translate the power of Tish and Fonny’s love to the screen in Baldwin’s image is a dream I’ve long held dear. Working alongside the Baldwin Estate, I’m excited to finally make that dream come true.”

To read full article, go to: Moonlight Director Barry Jenkins New Movie: If Beale Street Could Talk | Variety

NPR’s Social Justice Summer Reading List for Kids

(image by Elizabeth Grabber via npr.org)

by Kayla Lattimore via npr.org

Social activist Innosanto Nagara wanted to find a fun book to read to his 2-year-old son that also talked about the importance of social justice. He wasn’t looking for the typical fiction written for children, instead, he was looking for unique narratives — by writers of color and/or authors who can speak about social issues through their own experiences. Nagara couldn’t find any. So he wrote one.

“Parents and teachers are realizing that what students read and learn affects how they see the world.” said Deborah Menkart, Executive Director for Teaching for Change, an organization that puts together social justice reading lists to inspire children throughout the summer. “Give kids credit,” says Stan Yogi, one of the authors on our list. “They have an innate sense of what’s right and what’s wrong. Being able to draw on that innate sense of justice through relatable stories is so important.”

Not all parents have the time to do what Innosanto Nagara did. For those who can’t, we’ve compiled a list — with help from Teaching for Change — of books that frame big issues through a lens children can understand.

A Is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara

Every letter is the definition of a different social movement. For F — kids learn about Feminism, when we get to G – kids learn about the meaning of grassroots organizing and why its important. This beautifully illustrated ABC book uses rhyming and alliteration to get your little reader excited about social change. If your child loves this work they may enjoy the author’s new work My Night at the Planetarium, which illustrates the important role the arts play in resistance.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Starr Carter is a 16-year-old girl who’s navigating the two worlds of her upper-class prep school and the reality of her poverty stricken neighborhood. After she witnesses her friend getting shot and killed in a confrontation with the police, she must deal with the consequences of talking about what she saw. The author unpacks the complexity and weight of standing up for what you believe in at a young age.

One of a Kind, Like Me / Único Como Yo by Laurin Mayeno, Robert Liu-Trujillo and Teresa Mlawer

A heartwarming story of a young boy, Danny, who fights gender stereotypes by dressing up as a princess for the school parade. The author, Laurin Mayeno, was inspired to write this from her own experience with her son Danny. “Sometimes as parents we must unlearn things we learned growing up,” says Mayeno. The book is bilingual, in English and Spanish, and discusses gender expression from a child’s point of view.

To see full list, go to: Summer Reading For Your Woke Kid : NPR Ed : NPR