Category: U.S.

Candice Story Lee Named Athletic Director at Vanderbilt University, 1st Black Woman to Lead Power 5 Program

Candice Storey Lee (photo: Twitter)

According to espn.com, Vanderbilt University recently announced that Candice Storey Lee, a former standout student-athlete and three-time Vanderbilt graduate, has been named Vice Chancellor for Athletics and University Affairs and Athletic Director at Vanderbilt after serving in the role on a temporarily since February 2020.

Lee is Vanderbilt’s first female athletic director and the first African American woman to head a Southeastern Conference (SEC) athletics program. The permanent hire places her in the top tier of college athletics as one of only five women currently leading a “Power 5” program.

“Candice is perfectly positioned to lead our athletics program to new heights of success on and off the field of play. She has the drive, creativity and perseverance to help elevate our student-athletes and the entire Vanderbilt Athletics program,” said Incoming Vanderbilt Chancellor Daniel Diermeier.

Lee has served as an integral leader at the university and in Athletics for almost 20 years. Prior to becoming interim athletic director, she served as deputy athletic director, a role she was appointed to in 2016. Lee was also a captain on Vanderbilt’s women’s basketball team, graduating in 2000.

To quote from ESPN:

“It’s really interesting and humbling to hear words like pioneer and trailblazer, and I appreciate that. I know it’s significant, and it just reminds me of the responsibility that lies ahead,” Lee said on Freddie and Fitzsimmons on ESPN Radio on Thursday night. “I want to do a great job for all the people that I’m working with and for, but I also want to make sure that I’m not a deterrent when there are other opportunities presented to other people of color and other women and other people who are deserving of opportunities.

“There are a lot of people out there that just need a chance, and so if part of this can mean that there are more opportunities to come for others? I’m really excited about that.”

Read more: https://www.espn.com/college-sports/story/_/id/29205275/vandy-makes-candice-lee-sec-first-female-black-ad

Tedx Speaker Dena Crowder Offers 3-Minute Guide On Our Mental Health and Well-Being During the Pandemic (WATCH)

May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the U.S., and in the age of the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are finding our mental well-being challenged in unexpected, extraordinary ways.

Black and Brown Americans are hit hard by both – first by disproportionately suffering the physical and financial effects of the COVID-19 crisis, on top of being, according to Medical News Today, more likely to suffer higher rates of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) than White Americans.

According to studies by the American Psychological Association (APA), minorities experience a significant degree of marginalization and discrimination, which can stifle socioeconomic growth as well as access to healthcare, including formal mental health support.

So, in the spirit of aiding those who don’t have the opportunity, access to, or much time for mental healthcare, Tedx speaker, performance coach and GBN’s “This Way Forward” contributor Dena Crowder has put together a three-minute “Power Shot” with some guiding words and a quick breath exercise that can help you re-center in these overwhelming times:

Enjoy… and breathe!

(Dena Crowder: DenaCrowder.com; IG: dena.crowder)

Dena Crowder (photo courtesy Dena Crowder)

Chelsea Phaire, 10, Donates Over 1,500 Art Kits to Kids in Foster Care and Homeless Shelters During COVID-19 Crisis

(Photo via chelseascharity.com)

Chelsea Phaire, a 10-year-old from Danbury, Connecticut, has sent more than 1,500 children in homeless shelters and foster care homes art kits to give them something to play and create with during these extra-stressful times brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

According to CNN.com, the kits — which offer markers, crayons, paper, coloring books, colored pencils, and gel pens — are sent to schools and shelters across the country as part of Chelsea’s Charity, an organization founded by Chelsea and her parents.

To quote the CNN article:

“Since she was seven, she was begging me and her dad to start a charity,” Candace Phaire, Chelsea’s mom, told CNN. “She was so persistent, every couple of months she would ask, ‘Are we starting Chelsea’s Charity yet?’ When she was turning 10, she asked us again, and we decided it was time to go for it.”

After her birthday party, Chelsea used the donations to send out her first 40 art kits to a homeless shelter in New York. The family then set up an Amazon wishlist full of art supplies. Every time they get enough donations, they pack up the kits and deliver them to kids in person.

In just the first five months, Chelsea and her mom sent out nearly 1,000 kits to children in homeless shelters, foster care homes, women’s shelters, and schools impacted by gun violence.

(photo via Instagram)

Before the pandemic, Chelsea was able to travel with her mom across the country to meet the kids in-person, and even teaches them some of her favorite drawing tips.

Now, schools are closed, and social distancing precautions will not allow Chelsea to physically interact with the kids as much. Instead, she and her mom are mailing the kits.

Since March, when schools began to close, the family has sent over 1,500 kits to schools, shelters, and foster homes in 12 states across the US.

“I feel good inside knowing how happy they are when they get their art kits,” Chelsea told CNN. “I have definitely grown as a person because of this. Now my dream is to meet every kid in the entire world and give them art. Who knows, maybe if we do that and then our kids do that, we’ll have world peace!”

Read more: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/05/20/us/10-year-old-girl-art-kits-foster-care-homeless-shelter-trnd/index.html

MUSIC MONDAY: That’s What Friends Are For: Stevie Wonder Duets (LISTEN)

As Good Black News continues its month-long tribute to Stevie Wonder in his 70th year on planet Earth, Marlon West has compiled a new Spotify playlist celebrating the times Wonder has graciously and successfully shared the spotlight with other artists.

Although Wonder’s collaborative skills are most famously remembered from the 1986 Grammy-winning chart topper “That’s What Friends Are For” with Dionne Warwick, Elton John and Gladys Knight that raised over $3 million dollars for AIDS research and prevention, he’s been at it for decades with a wide variety of artists and in the name of so many worthy causes and ideas.

Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney (photo via libraryofcongress.gov)

This playlist ranges from Stevie’s work with the Queen of the Beyhive (Beyoncé) on a heartfelt Luther Vandross tribute, to his duet with a former Beatle (Paul McCartney) to confront racism, a reworking one of his best-loved love songs with a Canadian diva (Celine Dion), to a loving back-and-forth with his first-born daughter (Aisha Morris, who famously made her debut on 1976’s “Isn’t She Lovely” when still a baby).

In Marlon’s words:

Hello and Happy Monday, you all! Stevie Wonder is one if the most distinctive and prolific voices in popular music. He is a singer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist.

The brotha is one of greatest solo artists and bandleaders of our times. That said, Stevie Wonder has made many collaborations with other artists. He’s done duets, been a guest artist, and even a session musician one dozens of records. This playlist is devoted to Stevie Wonder’s duets. Do enjoy!

And as always, stay safe, sane, and kind!

Open in Spotify

(FB: marlon.west1 Twitter: @marlonw IG: stlmarlonwest Spotify: marlonwest)

Marlon West (photo courtesy Marlon West)

GirlTrek Brings #DaughtersOf Coretta Scott King and Betty Shabazz Together for 1st-Ever Public Conversation this Friday

On Friday, May 15th, GirlTrek’s #DaughtersOf LIVE discussions continue with Dr. Bernice A. King and Ilyasah Shabazz uniting for a first-ever public conversation on their families’ legacies, debunking the myths that have followed them and sharing the lessons they learned from their legendary mothers Coretta Scott King and Betty Shabazz.

The conversation, starting at 7 p.m. EST via FB LIVE, will be centered around the radical lessons King and Shabazz’s mothers passed down and the generational healing they each experienced that molded them into the fearless women they’ve become.

#DaughtersOf is a multifaceted-initiative to examine the immediate and critical importance of self-care and healing for Black women through the lens of their matrilineal traditions. ​

It is a call for a mass rejuvenation through the sharing of our stories on hope, healing and happiness. Daughters Of will include a gorgeous feature film and videos where Black women call their mothers’ names and share everything from self-care secrets to recipes and stories of healing and thriving. View the trailer below:

“Among the definitions that GirlTrek shares for its name and work is ‘To heal our bodies, inspire our daughters, and reclaim the streets of our neighborhoods.’ I believe that the three-fold purpose within this definition is critical to our holistic health, from our consciences to our communities,” said Dr. Bernice A. King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King.

“I join with GirlTrek in fulfilling this purpose by engaging in a #DaughtersOf conversation with my sister-friend, Ilyasah Shabazz. It is my hope that the conversation honors our foremothers, inspires our daughters and encourages those who experience the moment to commit to building the Beloved Community.”

“Black women have turned pain into purpose for generations in this country, and now more than ever we need to look to the past for the lessons that can be applied right now to help us navigate trying times,” said GirlTrek cofounder Vanessa Garrison.

“Our goal with these #DaughtersOf livestreams is to pass on the knowledge and wisdom of the women who came before us and to teach us all how to persevere through trying times, because it is what Black women have always done.”

With more than 650,000 active members and counting, GirlTrek as profiled on CNN, is the largest health movement and nonprofit for Black women and girls in the country.

GirlTrek encourages Black women to use radical self-care and walking as the first practical step to leading healthier, more fulfilled lives. GirlTrek is on a mission to inspire one million Black women to walk in the direction of their healthiest, most fulfilled lives by the end of 2020 and it all starts with taking the pledge at GirlTrek.org.

Happy 70th Birthday To Ya, Stevie Wonder! (LISTEN)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

It’s no secret how much the Good Black News team loves and reveres Stevie Wonder, as we have been celebrating him throughout May with various tributes, posts and playlists  on the main page and across our social media.

(In case you missed Jeff Meier‘s The Wonders of Stevie’s Harmonica or Marlon West‘s Stevie Soundtrack Songs and Stevie Cover Songs posts and playlists, treat yourself and click through!)

But today, on May 13, Stevie Wonder’s actual birthday, we want to offer you links to all things Stevie, like his official website, Instagram (which is playing Stevie music live all day!) and Twitter, the biography written about him, as well as the Wikipedia and Biography entries that encapsulate the his life and career in words and video.

But really, to know Stevie all you have to do is listen to his music, especially the songs that comprise the majority of his offerings to this world – album tracks never released as singles – aka Stevie Wonder’s Deep Cuts.

Our newest playlist is comprised solely of these songs, and arguably they are as moving and meaningful as his tunes that topped the charts.

In fact, many of these songs (“You and I,” “Too High,” “Bird of Beauty,” “Love’s In Need of Love Today,” “Rocket Love”) are more popular with Stevie stans than many of his global hits.

They are sequenced in chronological order (like our companion playlist of chart releases and hits “The Age of Wonder”) so the listener can hear the evolution of Stevie Wonder’s writing, production and sound. Enjoy – and Happy Birthday, Stevie! We love you!

Open in Spotify

 

Nicholas Johnson Earns Top Academic Spot as Valedictorian of Princeton’s Class of 2020

Princeton Class of 2020 Valedictorian Nicholas Johnson (Photo by Lisa Festa, Princeton Center for Career Development)

Nicholas Johnson from Montreal, Canada, has been named valedictorian of Princeton’s Class of 2020, according to princeton.edu. becoming the first black person to earn that academic honor since Princeton was founded in 1746.

Princeton will hold a virtual commencement for the Class of 2020 on Sunday, May 31, 2020, in which Johnson will participate. An in-person ceremony will be held in May 2021.

To quote from princeton.edu:

Johnson said he appreciates the encouragement he has received at Princeton in developing his academic interests. The University’s support through opportunities including international internships and cultural immersion trips to Peru, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom were especially significant, Johnson said. But most of all, he treasures his relationships with his classmates.

“My favorite memories of my time at Princeton are memories of time spent with close friends and classmates engaging in stimulating discussions — often late at night — about our beliefs, the cultures and environments in which we were raised, the state of the world, and how we plan on contributing positively to it in our own unique way,” Johnson said.

Johnson plans to spend this summer interning as a hybrid quantitative researcher and software developer at the D. E. Shaw Group before beginning Ph.D. studies in operations research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in fall 2020.

Along with his concentration in operations research and financial engineering, he is pursuing certificates in statistics and machine learning, applied and computational mathematics, and applications of computing.

His research has focused primarily on sequential decision-making under uncertainty, optimization, and the ethical considerations that must be made given the increasing role of algorithmic decision-making systems.

His senior thesis, “Sequential Stochastic Network Structure Optimization with Applications to Addressing Canada’s Obesity Epidemic,” focuses on developing high-performance, efficient algorithms to solve a network-based optimization problem that models a community-based preventative health intervention designed to curb the prevalence of obesity in Canada.

In addition to serving as a writing fellow at Princeton’s Writing Center, Johnson is editor of Tortoise: A Journal of Writing Pedagogy. He is also a member of the Princeton chapter of Engineers Without Borders and served as its co-president in 2018.

As a rising senior, Johnson worked as a software engineer in machine learning at Google’s California headquarters.

He previously interned at Oxford University’s Integrative Computational Biology and Machine Learning Group, developing and implementing a novel optimization technique. He presented the project at Princeton’s inaugural Day of Optimization in October 2018 and at the 25th Conference of African American Researchers in the Mathematical Sciences in June 2019, where his project was recognized with the Angela E. Grant Poster Award for Best Modeling.

More: https://www.princeton.edu/news/2020/04/27/nicholas-johnson-named-valedictorian-grace-sommers-selected-salutatorian

Good Black News Wishes You and Yours a Happy Mother’s Day in 2020

Good Black News joins in the honoring and remembrance of the women who gave us life, nurtured and raised us, and also offered us solace, counsel and wisdom.

Many of us can’t be with the mothers or mother figures in our lives today in person due to the global COVID-19 crisis, but we are with you in voice, online and always – in spirit!

To all the mothers out there – be they Aunties, Grandmothers, Cousins or Friends – thank you for all you do!

Happy Mother’s Day!

R.I.P. Rock and R&B Music Legend Little Richard, 87

Little Richard (photo via commons.wikipedia.org)

Known by many as “The Architect of Rock and Roll,” Richard Wayne Penniman aka Little Richard, was a pioneer of the popular music that came to dominate in the 1950s and beyond.

With a fusion of blues, boogie woogie and gospel stylings, Little Richard helped create the sound that swept the United States and ultimately the world.

Songs like “Rip It Up,” “Long Tall Sally,” “Good Golly Miss Molly,” ‘Ready Teddy,” “Tutti Frutti” combined with his energetic, rousing performances helped Little Richard set the stage and the bar for any and all rock and R&B superstars that came after him. To quote a recent New York Times article, Little Richard offered “An Ecstasy You Couldn’t Refuse.”

In honor of his life’s work GBN Contributor Marlon West put together a Spotify playlist celebrating Little Richard.

In Marlon’s words:

Vernon Reid Twittered this tribute to the late great, Little Richard:

“No Jimi, No Beatles No Bowie, No Bolan. NO GLAM, No Freddie, No Prince, No Elton, No Preston No Sly, No Stevie, WITHOUT Little Richard! They DON’T HAPPEN Without HIM BLAZING A TRAIL IN THE DARK.”

Little Richard’s talent and audaciousness was the springboard to so many. Here’s a collection of his music, and of a wide range of artists who he influenced greatly.

Little Richard was a standard-bearer for being whoever the eff you want.”

Enjoy!

Open in Spotify

 

GBN’s Merry Month of Stevie: Celebrating the Wonders of Stevie’s Harmonica (LISTEN)

by Jeff Meier (FB: Jeff.Meier.90)

Stevie Wonder told us with his very first hit, ‘Fingertips,’ recorded when he was 12, that he was a harmonica master. Somehow, through all the genius songwriting, singing, production and keyboard innovation, we tend to forget about those harmonica skills.

But Stevie hasn’t.

His unmistakable harmonica blowing is right there, easy to find in such Stevie favorites throughout his career including ‘I Was Made to Love Her,’ ‘Isn’t She Lovely,’ ‘For Once In My Life,’ ‘That Girl,’ ‘We Can Work It Out,’ ‘Boogie On Reggae Woman,’ and even 1990s gems like ‘Treat Myself.’

Although he does play that Hohner Chromonica often on his own records, Wonder actually seems to utilize his harmonica skills most frequently as a means to collaborate with other artists.

From the 1960s to today, he’s played harmonica as a guest session man on over 150 songs from other artists. That’s more than 10 whole albums worth of additional Stevie-infused material!

To celebrate that part of Stevie’s career, today’s GBN Month of Stevie playlist is entitled “The Wonders of Stevie’s Harmonica, where we’ve amassed every Stevie Wonder harmonica guest appearance that we could find on Spotify into one huge list.

You’ll find a few famous hits – Chaka Khan’s ‘I Feel For You,’ Elton John’s ‘I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues,’  Sting’s ‘Brand New Day,’ R&B classics from DeBarge’s ‘Love Me In A Special Way’ to Jermaine Jackson’s smash ‘Let’s Get Serious’ (which Stevie also wrote and produced). And one of my personal favorites, the Eurythmics #1 UK hit ‘There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart).’

And though he hasn’t released a full album of new work since 2005, Stevie Wonder has stayed relevant to the charts through these harmonica-based collabos. That’s Stevie’s harmonica on Drake’s ‘Take Care’ album – the #1 album of 2012.

He appears twice on the Mark Ronson 2015 album that contained the #1 song of that year, “Uptown Funk.” And just last year, that was Stevie’s harmonica again on rapper Travis Scott’s chart-topping album “AstroWorld.”

But going on Stevie Wonder’s harmonica journey through music takes you to more than just the top of the charts. One of the special things about being Stevie – a sonic force for nearly 60 years – is his wide-ranging love of music across all genres and generations, and his ability to play with all those people.

(photo via youtube.com)

While many associate the harmonica mostly with blues and folk sounds, Stevie takes the instrument to new places. To be expected, his harmonica is present in the work of his Motown compatriots from the Supremes to the Temptations to Smokey Robinson.

But he’s also played with the finest in rock music (Paul McCartney, James Taylor), popular standards (Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett), world music (Sergio Mendes, Djavan), jazz (Robert Glasper, Herbie Hancock, Dizzy Gillespie), pop (NSync, 98 Degrees, Mariah Carey), hip hop (Drake, Snoop Dogg) and gospel (BeBe Winans, Andrae Crouch). (Stevie, of course, has also ventured into Broadway, but the version of Rent’s ‘Seasons of Love’ with his contributions isn’t available on Spotify. But you can hear it here.)

The list closes with another personal favorite, this one from Stevie’s own catalog – his harmonica infused take on the classical holiday piece ‘Ave Maria’ – written in 1825 and sung primarily by opera singers through the centuries.

The 45-second harmonica solo here is simple and majestic, and completely at home within a classical music space, something I think only Stevie Wonder could achieve with this instrument.

Come take a ride on Stevie’s harmonica highway – and listen out for that unmistakable sound.  As with most musical adventures, we hope you will find something unexpectedly nice along with way.

Special thank you – assembling this playlist wouldn’t have been easily possible without the massive amounts of information on the fan website www.steviewonder.org.uk .