Category: U.S.

Three African American Students, Lia Petrose, Anea B. Moore and Austin T. Hughes, Named 2019 Rhodes Scholars

2019 Rhodes Scholarship Recipients (l-r) Austin T. Hughes, Anea B. Moore and Lia Petrose (photos via jbhe.com)

via jbhe.com

Recently, the Rhodes Trust announced the 32 American winners of Rhodes Scholarships for graduate study at Oxford University in England. Being named a Rhodes Scholar is considered among the highest honors that can be won by a U.S. college student.

The scholarships were created in 1902 by the will of Cecil Rhodes, an industrialist who made a vast fortune in colonial Africa. According to the will of Rhodes, applicants must have “high academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership, and physical vigor.”

This year, more than 2,500 students applied to be Rhodes Scholars. A total of 880 college students were endorsed by 281 colleges or universities for consideration for a Rhodes Scholarship. Some 221 applicants from 82 colleges and universities were named finalists. Then, two Rhodes Scholars were selected from each of 16 districts across the United States. Students may apply from either the district where they reside or the district where they attend college. The 32 American Rhodes Scholars will join students from 23 other jurisdictions around the world as Rhodes Scholars. The Rhodes Trust pays all tuition and fees for scholarship winners to study at Oxford. A stipend for living and travel expenses is also provided.

In 1907 Alain LeRoy Locke, later a major philosopher and literary figure of the Harlem Renaissance, was selected as a Rhodes Scholar to study at Oxford University. It is generally believed that at the time of the award the Rhodes committee did not know that Locke was Black until after he had been chosen. It would be more than 50 years later, in 1962, until another African American would be named a Rhodes Scholar.

Other African Americans who have won Rhodes Scholarships include Randall Kennedy of Harvard Law School, Kurt Schmoke, former mayor of Baltimore, and Franklin D. Raines, former director of the Office of Management and Budget and former CEO of Fannie Mae. In 1978 Karen Stevenson of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was the first African-American woman selected as a Rhodes Scholar.

A year ago, 10 African-Americans were among the 32 winners of Rhodes Scholarships for Americans. This was the most ever elected in a single U.S. Rhodes class. This year, there are three African Americans among the 32 Rhodes Scholars. This is a sharp reduction from a year ago. Yet, Blacks still make up 9.3 percent of all Rhodes Scholars selected this year in the United States.

Here are brief biographies of the three new African American Rhodes Scholars:

Austin T. Hughes from San Antonio, Texas, is a senior at the University of Iowa. He is triple majoring in creative writing, theatre arts, and Japanese language and literature. He is a cellist and a cross-country runner at the university. Hughes served as co-president of The English Society at the University of Iowa. In that role, he showcased student literature to the campus community and beyond. He has won numerous awards for his poetry and creative writing. At Oxford, Hughes will pursue a master’s degree in Japanese studies. Continue reading “Three African American Students, Lia Petrose, Anea B. Moore and Austin T. Hughes, Named 2019 Rhodes Scholars”

Common’s Freedom Road Productions and Lionsgate to Bring Zora Neale Hurston’s ‘Barracoon’ to TV

Zora Neale Hurston (l), Cudjo Lewis (r) [photo via blackyouthproject.com]
by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to Deadline.com, hip hop artist and Academy-Award winner Common‘s Freedom Road Productions in conjunction with Lionsgate Entertainment, has optioned the rights to Barracoon: The Story of the Last ‘Black Cargo’, the recently discovered book by Zora Neale Hurston, to develop as a limited television event series.

Barracoon centers on 86-year-old Cudjo Lewis, who Hurston identified as the last known formerly enslaved person to survive the Middle Passage.

Hurston’s book chronicles Cudjo’s time of slavery and the profound complexities of reconstruction and freedom after the Atlantic slave trade was abolished.

This is the second project to emerge from Lionsgate and Freedom Road’s TV deal. They are already developing the Saturday Night Knife and Gun Club TV adaptation starring and produced by Common.

Washington and Lee University Replaces Slaveholder’s Name On Building With John Chavis’, the 1st Black U.S. College Graduate

Bust of John Chavis at Washington & Lee University (photo via columns.wlu.edu)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, the Board of Trustees at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA, will make changes to two of its buildings, Robinson Hall and Lee Chapel, after a student and faculty committee issued a report on how the university’s history is represented on campus. The committee was created after White supremacists rallied at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville last year.

Robinson Hall was originally named for John Robinson, a founder of the university. When Robinson died he left his estate, farm, and 73 slaves to the college. In 1836, the college sold the slaves and used the money to build Robinson Hall.

The board decided to rename the building Chavis Hall, in honor of John Chavis, the first African-American to receive a college education in the United States. He graduated from the university’s predecessor – first Liberty Hall Academy, then Washington Academy – in 1799.

Additionally, the university will make changes to Lee Chapel. The university will replace the portraits of Robert E. Lee and George Washington in military uniforms with new portraits of the two men in civilian clothing.

Also, the doors to the statue chamber in Lee Chapel will be closed during university events. However, Lee Chapel will keep its name. Robert E. Lee is buried below the chapel.

St. Cloud State University in MN Honors its 1st Black Graduate by Renaming Building Ruby Cora Webster Hall

Ruby Cora Webster, St. Cloud State University’s first black graduate (photo via St. Cloud State Archives)

via jbhe.com

St. Cloud State University in Minnesota recently dedicated one of the institution’s original academic buildings after the school’s first African American graduate, Ruby Cora Webster.

Webster graduated from the university in 1909 with a degree in elementary education. The daughter of former slaves, she was born in Ohio and moved with her family to St. Cloud, where she attended high school. After college, she became a teacher, married twice, and relocated to Missouri and later to Canada. Webster died in 1974.

The former Business Building, now known as Ruby Cora Webster Hall, houses the department of English, the Writing Center, the Intensive English Center, the department of political science, and the department of ethnic, gender, and women’s studies.

Last year, after the university implemented a non-donor related naming policy, Dr. Christopher Lehman, chair of the department of ethnic, gender, and women’s studies, spearheaded the proposal to rename the academic building after Webster. It received extremely positive feedback from the community, with 2,200 signatures collected to support the proposal.

“I commend and applaud Dr. Christopher Lehman for his initiative in researching and bringing to light the significance of Ruby Cora Webster to our school’s history and the importance of naming this building after her,” St. Cloud President Robbyn Wacker said. “Ruby is someone from our university’s early history that exemplified hope, courage and resilience and who believed in something greater than herself.”

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/11/st-cloud-state-university-names-academic-building-after-its-first-black-graduate/?fbclid=IwAR37A-eVvZzIJjVhUqRpYbuAuAXJQ6CHvwCcOS08FDQeaXzztPf-d–KQ48

Good Black News Wishes You and Your Loved Ones a Happy Thanksgiving

Today, when family and friends traditionally come together for a special meal to offer gratitude for blessings, each other, and the ability to survive life’s most humbling challenges, GBN wants to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

We’d also like to express our gratitude to you, our followers, and offer thanks for your continued presence, positivity and support. Love and community are more important than ever – enjoy!

Keke Palmer, Questlove, Ciara and Others Encourage Students to Apply to College Via Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative’s “Laundry” Campaign

Keke Palmer, Nick Cannon, Questlove and Kelly Rowland urge students to pledge to apply to college via Reach Higher’s “Laundry” campaign (screenshot via youtube)

It’s November! And that means it’s National College Application Month. Celebrate by joining former first lady Michelle Obama alongside Keke Palmer, Ciara, Bailee Madison, Karlie Kloss, Nick Cannon, Questlove, Kelly Rowland and many more for the launch of Reach Higher’s all-new “Laundry” campaign!

In the hands of college admissions offices across the nation are applications for entrance into college. Why not be one of them? Students across the country are encouraged to pledge to apply. After all, Knowledge is Power and Reach Higher has rolled out a fun, encouraging campaign to get students to apply.

The celebration began Thursday, November 8th, as celebrities and other notable figures shared social media posts encouraging students across the country to pledge to apply to college. In exchange for making this commitment, celebrities are pledging to do students’ laundry for an entire semester. (In reality, the celebrities will not be able to do anyone’s laundry, but they do care a lot about students’ education.) Here’s what they have to say:

Reach Higher is an initiative started by former First Lady Michelle Obama during her time in the White House, dedicated to inspiring every student in the U.S. to complete their education past high school by attending a professional training program, a community college or a traditional university.

This video is brought to you by Reach Higher’s student-facing campaign, Better Make Room, in partnership with Fullscreen, a global leader in social-first entertainment experiences and services for the world’s top talent, digital influencers, brands and avid fans.

You can take the pledge here: https://www.bettermakeroom.org/laundry/

For more info about Better Make Room : https://www.bettermakeroom.org

Be sure to follow Reach Higher’s Laundry campaign on social media:

@BetterMakeRoom: https://twitter.com/BetterMakeRoom/status/1060547502271676417

@BetterMakeRoom: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bp7GFTunInI/

Marvin Gaye and Gregory Hines to be Honored with U.S. Postal Stamps in 2019

Gregory Hines and Marvin Gaye 2019 Commemorative Stamps (images via usps.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

The United States Postal Service announced yesterday commemorative stamps honoring singing and dancing legends Marvin Gaye and Gregory Hines will be issued in 2019.

Though the specific release dates have yet to be revealed, Gaye’s stamp will be part of the Postal Service’s Music Icons series, which in the past has featured Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix and Sarah Vaughan, and many other superlative talents.

Gaye, best known for early Motown hits with Tami Terrell such as “How Sweet It Is” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” as well has his groundbreaking What’s Going On album has a stamp design features a portrait inspired by historic photographs. The stamp pane is designed to resemble a vintage 45 rpm record sleeve. (A pane is the unit into which a full press sheet is divided before sale at post offices.) One side of the pane includes the stamps, brief text about Gaye’s legacy, and the image of a sliver of a record seeming to peek out the top of the sleeve.

Another portrait of Gaye, also inspired by historic photographs, appears on the reverse along with the Music Icons series logo. Art director Derry Noyes designed the stamp pane with original art by Kadir Nelson.

Hines’ stamp will be the 42nd stamp in the Black Heritage series, which in the past has honored historian Carter G. Woodson, civil rights activist Dorothy Height, and tennis champion Althea Gibson, among others. Noyes designed this stamp as well, which features a 1988 photograph of Hines by Jack Mitchell.

Hines is best known for his unique style of tap dancing injected new artistry and excitement into tap dancing with his unique style. A versatile performer who danced, acted and sang on Broadway, on television and in movies such as “Tap,” “White Knights,” and “Waiting To Exhale,” Hines developed the entertainment traditions of tap into an art form for a younger generation and is credited with renewing interest in tap during the 1990s.

In related postal news, a bill naming the post office at 3585 S. Vermont Ave. in South Los Angeles, CA the Marvin Gaye Post Office was signed into law this July.

Byron Allen Wins Preliminary U.S. Court Victories Against Comcast and Charter Communications Over Racial Discrimination

Entertainment Studios CEO Byron Allen (photo via thewrap.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to PRNewswire, Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios (ES) and the National Association of African-American Owned Media (NAAAOM) – plaintiffs in federal lawsuits filed against Comcast and Charter Communications – have announced two decisions issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that will allow them to go to trial against two of the largest cable television carriers in the country.

In the $20 billion lawsuit against Comcast and the $10 billion suit against Charter, the carriers are accused of violating the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which prohibits racial discrimination in contracting. For years, Entertainment Studios has been requesting that Comcast and Charter carry its networks, which are distributed by Comcast and Charter’s competitors, including Verizon, DirecTV, AT&T, DISH, and many other carriers, to millions of people around the country.

Both Comcast and Charter, however, refused all of Allen’s requests for network carriage. Subsequently, Allen filed lawsuits in federal district court in Los Angeles.

In two historically significant decisions, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected Comcast and Charter’s attempts to dismiss the cases before trial. The Court upheld Entertainment Studios’ Section 1981 claims against both Comcast and Charter; and instead ruled that both cases could proceed in the trial courts to discovery and trial.

“These two decisions against Comcast and Charter are very significant, unprecedented, and historic,” said Byron Allen, Founder/Chairman/CEO of Entertainment Studios. “The lack of true economic inclusion for African Americans will end with me, and these rulings show that I am unwavering in my commitment to achieving this long overdue goal.”

“The Court’s rulings overwhelmingly reflect the Ninth Circuit’s rejection of the Defendants’ positions and arguments,” said Mark DeVitre, President of plaintiff, NAAAOM. “I look forward to quickly moving into discovery where we expect much more evidence to surface.”

“These decisions are hugely important in terms of opening the courts to African American-owned media. The Court paved the way to our eventual success at trial by ensuring that the proper ‘mixed motive’ standard for our claims – a lower standard of proof than the ‘but for’ standard argued by Comcast and Charter – applies,” said Entertainment Studios’ attorney, Skip Miller, partner in Miller Barondess. “Additionally, the Court dismissed Charter’s and Comcast’s attempts to use the First Amendment as a shield for their alleged discrimination. I very much look forward to trying these cases. And I give Mr. Allen tremendous credit for having the will and the constitution to invest the capital and resources to pursue them relentlessly.”

According to Deadline.com, Charter and Comcast issued separate statements, expressing disappointment with the ruling. “We respectfully disagree with the Court’s decision, and are reviewing the decision and considering our options,” Comcast said in a statement.

Charter was more pointed in its response. “This lawsuit is a desperate tactic that this programmer has used before with other distributors,” Charter said in a statement to Deadline. “We are disappointed with today’s decision and will vigorously defend ourselves against these claims.”

The Los Angeles-based Entertainment Studios alleged Charter’s former senior vice president of programming, Allan Singer, refused to meet with its representatives. Singer rescheduled and postponed meetings and offered “disingenuous” explanations for refusing to carry it programming, according to court documents.

Singer said bandwidth limitations and operational demands precluded carriage of ENT’s cable networks, while reaching carriage agreements with “lesser-known, white-owned channels” such as the rural focused RFD-TV and the horror channel Chiller.

Court documents cite evidence of racial bias, including one instance in which Singer allegedly approached an African-American protest group outside Charter’s headquarters and told them “to get off welfare.” Additionally, in court documents Charter CEO Tom Rutledge is alleged to have referred to Allen as “Boy” at an industry event.

“Plaintiffs suggest that these incidents are illustrative of Charter’s institutional racism,” the Appeals Court writes, in summarizing the case’s history. “Noting also that the cable operator had historically refused to carry African American-owned channels and, prior to its merger with Time Warner Cable, had a board of directors composed only of white men.”

Entertainment Studios ascribed similar discriminatory motives on the part of Comcast, which offered carriage deals to such networks as Inspirational Network, Fit TV, Outdoor Channel and Baby First Americas while telling Allen it had no bandwidth or storage capacity for his networks.

Allen founded Entertainment Studios in 1993 and owns eight 24-hour HD television networks serving nearly 160 million subscribers: THE WEATHER CHANNEL, PETS.TV, COMEDY.TV, RECIPE.TV, CARS.TV, ES.TV, MYDESTINATION.TV, and JUSTICE CENTRAL.TV. The company also produces, distributes, and sells advertising for 41 television programs, making it one of the largest independent producers/distributors of first-run syndicated television programming for broadcast television stations.

Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures is a full-service, theatrical motion picture distribution company specializing in wide release commercial content. ESMP released 2017’s highest-grossing independent movie, the shark thriller 47 METERS DOWN, which grossed over $44.3 million. In 2018, ESMP also released the critically-acclaimed and commercially successful Western HOSTILES and the historic mystery-thriller CHAPPAQUIDDICK.

Upcoming releases include the Keanu Reeves sci-fi thriller REPLICAS, the John Krasinski/Emily Blunt-starring animated feature ANIMAL CRACKERS, and Joe Carnahan’s Mel Gibson/Naomi Watts starring action-thriller BOSS LEVEL.

Princeton University Professor Tera Hunter Wins Two Book Awards From the American Historical Association

Princeton University’s Tera W. Hunter, Ph.D. (photo via princeton.edu)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to jbhe.com, Dr. Tera W. Hunter, the Edwards Professor of History and professor of African American studies at Princeton University, has earned the Joan Kelly Memorial Prize in women’s history and/or feminist theory as well as the Littleton-Griswold Prize in U.S. law and society from the American Historical Association. She will receive her honors at the association’s annual meeting in Chicago this coming January.

Professor Hunter’s book Bound in Wedlock: Slave and Free Black Marriage in the Nineteenth Century (Harvard University Press, 2017) is what garnered her the above awards. Hunter’s great-great grandparents were enslaved, freed, and married during the Reconstruction era in the U.S. In the book,Hunter used her research of court records, legal documents, and personal diaries to examine the constraints the system of slavery placed on intimate relationships.

Earlier in 2018, Hunter also garnered the Mary Nickliss Prize in U.S. Women’s and/or Gender History from the Organization of American Historians for Bound in Wedlock.

Professor Hunter joined the faculty at Princeton in 2007 after teaching previously at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Dr. Hunter is a graduate of Duke University, where she majored in history, and holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in history from Yale University.

“Hope”: Chance The Rapper to Develop and Produce Movie Musical Set in Chicago for MGM

Chance the Rapper at Obama Summit, Chicago 2017
Chance The Rapper performs during a 2017 community concert at the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago (AP/Shutterstock)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to rollingstone.com and deadline.com, Chance the Rapper is augmenting his long list of side projects by partnering with Haight Films and Tradecraft to produce a new movie musical called Hope for MGM. Hope follows a group of teenagers who turn “art into [community] action.”

Since Chance’s rise to national prominence with his music, he’s also expanded into politics, activism and philanthropy, including improving mental health services in Chicago, launching #SaveChicago with his father to combat gun violence, and funding programs for Chicago’s public schools.

Chance’s longtime musical collaborator Nico Segal — formerly known as Donnie Trumpet — is in charge of the music for the film. Segal has worked with Chance for his entire career, and helmed Surf, The Social Experiment’s 2015 album. Carlito Rodriguez, a writer for Empire and The Leftovers, will write the script.

Chance the Rapper became the first streaming-only artist to win a Grammy Award for his album Coloring Bookwhich became the first to chart on the Billboard 200 based solely on streaming, rising to Number 8. On the social activism front, Chance has long given back to the Chicago community he grew up in and that includes; donating $1 million to local schools; and creating Social Works, an organization aimed at empowering youth through arts, education and civic engagement within the city. The movie furthers that message of empowerment.

Chance’s longtime manager Pat Corcoran, said: “From day one, our mission at Haight Films has been to apply Haight Brand’s artist-first and Chicago-proud ideology to the film space. We are incredibly excited to be working alongside Chance, MGM and Scott Bernstein [of Tradecraft] to bring this vision to life.”