Category: U.S.

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

Arlan Hamilton (photo via backstagecapital.com)

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

To quote the article:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HISTORY: Meet Robert Smalls, Boat Captain for Union Navy who Escaped Slavery and Became 1st African-American Elected to U.S. Congress

U.S. Naval Captain and U.S. Congress Member Robert Smalls (photo via Library of Congress)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

On this Veteran’s Day, Good Black News is choosing to honor former Union Navy boat captain and oft-hidden historical figure Robert Smalls of South Carolina.

Robert Smalls was the first black man elected to U.S. Congress during Reconstruction. He was born into slavery in 1839 in Beaufort, S.C., and started his remarkable, implausible journey to national prominence by daring to escape slavery during the Civil War with his family. 

Smalls, like many other enslaved peoples, was made to work for the Confederate forces during the Civil War. Menial labor such as grave digging, cooking, digging trenches, etc. were the most common jobs, but some enslaved peoples were used in skilled labor positions, such as Smalls, who could navigate the waters in and around Charleston, so was used to guide transport ships for the Confederate Navy.

On May 13, 1862, Smalls convinced several other enslaved people to help him commandeer a Confederate transport ship, the CSS Planter, in Charleston harbor. Smalls sailed from Confederate-controlled waters to the U.S. blockade.

By doing so, not only did he gain freedom for himself, several enslaved peoples and members of his family, his example of cunning and bravery helped convince President Abraham Lincoln to accept black soldiers into the U.S. Army and Navy. Check out PBS video about this event below:

Smalls became Captain of the same boat for the Union Navy and helped free enslaved peoples as he fought and outwitted the Confederate Navy several more times during the duration of the War. After the South surrendered, Smalls returned to Beaufort, S.C. and purchased his master’s house, which was seized by the Union in 1863. His master sued to get it back, but lost in court to Smalls. Continue reading “HISTORY: Meet Robert Smalls, Boat Captain for Union Navy who Escaped Slavery and Became 1st African-American Elected to U.S. Congress”

Howard University Partners With Amazon Studios to Promote Diversity in Entertainment Industry

According to jbhe.com and deadline.com, Howard University and Amazon Studios have announced the launch of Howard Entertainment, a program designed to diversify the entertainment industry by creating a pipeline for African-American students and other under-represented populations to train and study with entertainment executives.

The Howard Entertainment program will be an immersive two-semester experience located in Los Angeles, California, that offers Howard students the opportunity to take academic courses during the spring semester and participate in a fellowship in the entertainment industry during the summer semester.

The coursework will be applied toward the student’s graduation requirements and the fellowship provides much needed hands-on experience and an opportunity to make invaluable networking connections.

“The vision of Howard Entertainment is to offer a one-of-a-kind experience for students interested in all aspects of entertainment, from project greenlighting, to PR and marketing, to entertainment law and finance,” said Wayne A. I. Frederick, president of Howard University. “This relationship aligns with Howard’s strategic goals of enhancing academic excellence and inspiring new knowledge.

Collaborating with Amazon Studios will enable us to marry academia and industry efforts to build a robust workforce of diverse entertainment industry leaders. With Howard’s proven track record of developing some of Hollywood’s most notable actors, comedians and musicians, this next-level collaboration will enable us to have even greater impact.”

To qualify, students must be enrolled as a Howard University student, must be an upperclassman or graduate student and will have to complete an application and interview to be considered for the program.

Students will be taught by Howard faculty who will be supported by Amazon Studios employees and other industry professionals invited by Amazon. This will give students to work in projects that offer “real world” application and will help students develop “work ready” skills prior to graduating.

The new program is scheduled to begin with the Spring 2020 semester.

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

(photo via hrc.org)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

via jbhe.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(image via rutgers.edu)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hip Hop Icon Queen Latifah, Artist Kerry James Marshall and C.E.O. Robert Smith Among Harvard’s W.E.B. DuBois Medal Honorees for 2020

Queen Latifah; Robert Smith (photos via flickr.com)

Musical artist and Academy Award nominee Queen Latifah, acclaimed artist Kerry James Marshall and Robert Smith, founder, chairman and chief executive of Vista Equity Partners are among the honorees being recognized by Harvard University this year with the W.E.B. DuBois Medal for their contributions to black history and culture.

Harvard is set to honor Latifah, Marshall, Smith, poet and educator Elizabeth Alexander, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution Lonnie Bunch III, poet Rita Dove, and Sheila Johnson, co-founder of Black Entertainment Television on Oct. 22, according to Harvard’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Research.

Past recipients of the DuBois Medal include Dave Chappelle, Colin Kaepernick, Bryan Stevenson, Kehinde Wiley, Quincy Jones, Donna Brazile and LLCoolJ.