U.S. Navy Finally Joins Army, Air Force and Marines in Lifting Ban on Dreadlocks for Women

Petty Officer 1st Class Jacqualynn Leak hid her locs under a wig for years before fighting to lift the Navy’s dreadlocks ban. (PHOTO COURTESY OF JACQUALYNN LEAK)

by Kenya Downs via huffingtonpost.com

The United States Navy is joining the Marines, Army and Air Force in ending its ban on dreadlocks for female sailors. The naval branch announced the reversal Tuesday in a live broadcast on its Facebook page.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson says the change won’t just make the Navy more formidable, but also more inclusive.

The Navy enlisted a six-person working group to recommend changes to grooming standards, based on feedback from their peers. As part of the decision, ponytails, buns and other styles will also be permissible for women in uniform so long as they don’t interfere with a sailor’s operational or safety needs. Male sailors are still required to keep their hair short.

Petty Officer 1st Class Jacqualynn Leak, a member of the working group, has worn dreadlocks since 2014. She led efforts to reverse the ban and says her fight involved years of research on the cultural and health aspects of wearing locs. She also surveyed dozens of female sailors affected by the ban.

“I wanted to make an argument so compelling that every reason my chain of command could give me for why dreadlocks were banned could easily be rebutted with facts,” she said.

Before, Leak opted to cover her shoulder-length dreadlocks by wearing a wig, which she says became more difficult as her hair grew. Options were even more limited for other female sailors. Some were forced to choose between cutting off their dreadlocks in favor of chemically straightened hair, or facing harsh punishment.

In 2014, Petty Officer 2nd Class Jessica Sims, a hospital corpsman, was honorably discharged for refusing to cut off locs she’d worn in a tight-knit bun for over a decade.

While challenges to military rules on hairstyles aren’t new, controversy surrounding black hair reached a peak around the time of Sims’ discharge. As word spread, revisions to Army grooming regulations were leaked, revealing proposed changes to ban hairstyles common among women of color. The proposed policy, called AR 670-1, would have banned all natural hairstyles, including twists, braids, cornrows and Afros.

Many criticized the regulations as specifically targeting black women. Once it had been made public, the policy faced immediate backlash, culminating in an open letter from the Congressional Black Caucus and an official review ordered by the Pentagon. The decision was ultimately reversed.

But that reversal didn’t include dreadlocks. First Lt. Whennah Andrews of the U.S. Army National Guard has been fighting for servicewomen’s right to wear them ever since. Together with fellow soldiers, Andrews began a campaign to challenge misconceptions many within the military have about dreadlocks’ cleanliness, cultural relevance and ease of use.

Leak enlisted Andrews for guidance when deciding to take on the Navy. Andrews says the Navy’s announcement is the final triumph signaling a victory for military diversity.

“When news broke that the Army lifted the ban on locs, I thought to myself, ‘It’s not a complete win until all of the branches authorize them,’” she said. “The unique challenges African-American servicewomen faced with trying to adhere to grooming policies were universal across the Department of Defense.”

This week’s decision makes the Navy the last branch of the military to drop grooming regulations that prohibit dreadlocks. The Marines first approved locs for women in 2015, and the Air Force announced late last year that dreadlocks would become an approved hairstyle after a review by its uniform board. The Army authorized dreadlocks for women earlier this year after having previously banned them since 2005.

Ernest J. Grant Becomes 1st Male President of the American Nurses Association

American Nurses Association President Ernest J. Grant (photo via uncg.edu)

via jbhe.com

Ernest J. Grant has been elected president of American Nurses Association. When he takes office on January 1, he will be the first man to serve as president of the organization that represents nearly 4 million registered nurses in the United States, about 90 percent of whom are women.

Dr. Grant is an internationally recognized burn care and fire safety expert and oversees the nationally acclaimed North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at the University of North Carolina Hospitals in Chapel Hill. He also serves as an adjunct faculty member at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Nursing, where he works with undergraduate and graduate nursing students in the classroom and clinical settings.

Dr. Grant, who has been affiliated with the University of North Carolina Hospitals for 36 years, will step down from his posts at the University of North Carolina in order to devote his attention to his duties as president of the American Nurses Association.

A native of Swannanoa, North Carolina, Dr. Grant completed the licensed practical nurse program at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. He went on to earn  bachelor’s degree in nursing at North Carolina Central University in Durham. Dr. Grant earned a master’s degree in nursing education and a Ph.D. in nursing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/07/ernest-j-gaines-will-be-the-first-man-to-lead-the-american-nurses-association/

Lt. General Darryl A. Williams Becomes 1st African American Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy

Lt. General Darryl A. Williams (photo via armytimes.com)

via jbhe.com

Darryl A. Williams is the 60th superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. He is the first African American to serve in this role in the 216-year history of the academy.

A native of Alexandria, Virginia, and a veteran of the first Gulf War, Lieutenant General Williams most recently served as the Commander of Allied Land Command for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Turkey. Previously he held command posts with the Second Infantry Division in South Korea and was deputy chief of staff for the U.S. Army in Europe. In 2014, President Obama appointed General Williams to lead U.S Army Africa, where he led the Defense Department’s program to combat the ebola virus.

General Williams is a 1983 graduate of West Point. He holds master’s degrees in leadership development, military art and science, and national security and strategic studies.

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/07/the-first-african-american-superintendent-of-the-u-s-military-academy/

Natural Hair Care Maven and Curls CEO Mahisha Dellinger to Guide Female Entrepreneurs on Summer Series “Mind Your Business With Mahisha” on OWN

Mahisha Dellinger(image courtesy OWN)

by  via deadline.com

The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) has greenlighted new unscripted series Mind Your Business with Mahisha, featuring Curls CEO and creator Mahisha Dellinger, for premiere Saturday, August 11 at 10 PM.

In the hour-long series, Dellinger focuses on helping female entrepreneurs take their business to the next level. In each standalone episode, Dellinger meets with entrepreneurs and guides them with inspiration and a little bit of tough love. She tests their passion and determination while demanding that they give it their all – just like she did – in order to reach their goals.

This series will feature successful businesswomen including: Gloria Williams, Founder and CEO of Footnanny pedicure products and known as Oprah’s personal pedicurist; Bad Girls Club star Mehgan James, owner of 800 West clothing line; Lia Diaz, owner of The Girl Cave, a three-store chain of beauty bars and beauty supplies in Southern California; and Chef Shalamar Lane, owner of My Father’s BBQ, a family run BBQ restaurant in Carson, California.

Dellinger of South Sacramento, California, turned a creative idea into the multi-million-dollar hair company, Curls, a family of organic hair care products targeted for women embracing their natural textures.

Mind Your Business with Mahisha will follow Iyanla: Fix My Life, (9 p.m. ET/PT) for an all-female led
Saturday night lineup on OWN, the No. 1 network on Saturday nights for African American women.

Read more: https://deadline.com/2018/07/curls-ceo-mahisha-dellinger-summer-series-own-mind-your-business-with-mahisha-1202423965/

Beyoncé Collaborates With Olivier Rousteing to Create Balmain x Beyoncé Collection to Benefit United Negro College Fund

Beyoncé Knowles.(Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

via vogue.com

Just before Coachella was rechristened Beychella, Beyoncé Knowles and Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing had an idea. It happened in a rehearsal, while Beyoncé and her dancers were practicing in their Balmain-made looks inspired by the marching band uniforms of America’s historically black colleges and universities. “When she saw all the dancers loving the outfit—and she was loving her own outfit—she realized that what we were creating on stage for her, for all the dancers, was something really impactful,” says Rousteing. It clicked: Why not make a Beyoncé x Balmain collaboration that could make those poignant graphics available to all of Bey’s fans clamoring for a piece of history?

On Friday, July 13, Balmain will launch a three-piece Balmain x Beyoncé collection in its Paris flagship, with the items going on sale on balmain.com and beyonce.com the following day. Comprised of the yellow and pink sweatshirts Beyoncé wore on stage at Coachella, the collection also includes a black tee with the same sorority-inspired graphic.

“I worked really long with her on the Beychella moments, and the fact that we can release this collaboration that is based on our creativity, Beyoncé and I, is really a big, big step for fashion and music together,” continues the designer. “Beyoncé, she’s such a perfectionist; she’s someone that is so strong and has such a great point of view. She’s about feminism, empowering women, and the idea of bringing that collaboration where we can share the same ideas, the same vision of music, the same vision of fashion, the same vision of what is going on in the world, it’s more than just clothes. It’s a strong message, and I’m really proud to be a part of that.”

He continues: “Sometimes, you create a moment, and it’s just one moment. With the clothes that we are creating now, it’s going to be a moment that keeps going and going and going. This is something really important. Everybody is always telling me about millennials or about the future—this is the future. This is making sure that these iconic moments talk to the young people. This is something important and this collaboration is talking to the new generation and saying you can get that piece, you can be a part of the history.”

The message, as Rousteing tells it, is to never stop dreaming. He relates Beyoncé’s global success, her message of standing against racism and standing for women, as something he wishes he had growing up in France. “This to me feels really emotional because, as you know, I’m of mixed race. I’m black and my parents are white. I grew up in France without having a real identification of being black and being an adult. I couldn’t see myself in the future, in a way, because there were not so many people in the ’80s or early ’90s that could show me a direction,” he says. “For me, working with Beyoncé, it’s more than only music. It’s about history, working with a woman that’s going to be part of the history and has made her own revolution, not only in music, not only in fashion. She is an icon to an entire generation and so many more generations can follow the steps of Beyoncé and say, ‘You give us hope, you make us dream.’ ”

Proceeds from the collaboration will benefit the United Negro College Fund, following Beyoncé’s $100,000 donation to four historically black colleges after her Coachella set. “The donation was the main goal of this collaboration,” says Rousteing. “We don’t forget where we come from. This is really, really important—I come from an orphanage, you know. I think there is something really emotional about our collaboration.”

Balmain x Beyoncé will be available on July 13 at Balmain’s Paris flagship and from July 14 online and at select retailers; tee, $290; sweatshirts, $550–$1,790

Read more: https://www.vogue.com/article/beyonce-x-balmain-coachella-collaboration

Stephanie G. Adams Earns American Society for Engineering Education’s Harriet Tubman Award for 2018

Stephanie Adams (photo via blackengineer.com)

by Lango Deen via blackengineer.com

Stephanie G. Adams, Dean of the Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology at Old Dominion University, was honored with the Harriet Tubman Award at the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) conference in June. The Tubman Award is given annually to someone who has fought to increase gender and racial diversity within the 350 accredited engineering schools that operate in the United States.

To date, African American women account for just 0.54 percent of the nation’s roughly 28,000 engineering faculty members and fewer than 1 percent of U.S. engineering students.

Jeffrey Harris, founder and managing partner of a consultancy that specializes in the recruitment and advancement of traditionally underrepresented groups in engineering, technology and medicine, presented the award in Salt Lake City. “Harriet Tubman admonished us never to stop — to keep going,” Harris said. “Dean Adams’ career is a model for Ms. Tubman’s words,”  he said.

Harris told Adams that he couldn’t imagine anyone more deserving of this year’s award — or more representative of its namesake, the 19th century abolitionist who led hundreds of enslaved people to freedom via the Underground Railroad, an elaborate network of safe houses.

An honor graduate of North Carolina A&T State University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, Adams, 52, was selected as president-elect of the 12,000-member ASEE this March. She is committed to advancing women in academic engineering during her term in 2018-19.

“If we want to see a shift among women in engineering, we need to acknowledge that, just like in Hollywood, we must start doing some things differently,” Adams said. “Change is needed at every level.”

American Society for Engineering Education indicates that there are 368 engineering colleges in the United States. According to the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), there were 63 female engineering deans or directors across the country in January 2018, representing approximately 17% of the total leaders of engineering colleges in the U.S.

Read More: http://www.blackengineer.com/news/stephanie-g-adams-earns-2018-harriet-tubman-award/

HISTORY: Movement to Honor Anti-Lynching Crusader and Journalist Ida B. Wells in Chicago is Gaining Momentum, and is ‘Long Overdue’

Michelle Duster, great-granddaughter of Ida B. Wells. (Taylor Glascock for The Washington Post)

Adapted from a story by The Washington Post’s Peter Slevin. via thelily.com

Ida B. Wells, a crusading African American journalist who exposed the crime and shame of lynching and fought for women’s suffrage, spent half her life in Chicago. She died in 1931 after dedicating her life to the battle against racial injustice. Yet her pioneering work is all but unrecognized in Chicago, which has no shortage of statues and monuments to leading white men.

There is the grave marker at Oak Woods Cemetery. It reads BARNETT. Along the bottom, “Crusaders for Justice.” On the left, there is her name: Ida B. Wells, beside her husband’s.

Ida B. Wells's gravesite in Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago. (Taylor Glascock for The Washington Post)
Ida B. Wells’s gravesite in Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago. (Taylor Glascock for The Washington Post)

Then, there was a housing project, erected in 1941 and called Ida B. Wells Homes. It grew to 1,662 units, but it did not end well. The project succumbed to neglect and dysfunction before the last building was torn down in 2011, doing no honor to her name.

That’s it.

Michelle Duster, her great-granddaughter, aims to change that. For the past decade, Duster and a few friends have labored, dollar by dollar, to raise $300,000 to build a monument to Wells in Chicago. They’re still barely halfway there, but the word is getting out.

“You can’t just gloss over this history,” said Duster, a writer and lecturer who sees a need for Wells’s example these days. “She not only believed in certain principles and values but she sacrificed herself over and over and over again. She was called fearless. I don’t believe that she had no fear. I believe she had fear and she decided to keep going forward.”

A monument will honor the legendary activist, as well as introduce her to people who aren’t familiar with her place in American history.

People who may know nothing about Ida B. Wells will find things about this extraordinary woman they didn’t know anything about,” said Kirk Savage, an art historian at the University of Pittsburgh who studies public memorials.

In 1862, Wells was born in Holly Springs, Miss., a few months before the Emancipation Proclamation. She passed a teacher’s exam at age 16 and taught school. In 1884, after she moved to Memphis, three railroad workers forcibly removed her from a train for refusing to leave a car reserved for white women, even though she had purchased a ticket. She sued and won, only to see the verdict overturned by the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Wells began writing newspaper columns and purchased a share of the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight. When three of her black friends were lynched after opening a grocery store in competition with a white-owned business, she started investigating and challenged the assertion that large numbers of black men were raping white women.

The city of Memphis, she wrote, does not protect an African American “who dares to protect himself against the white man or become his rival.” After a mob destroyed the printing presses, she moved for good to Chicago in the early 1890s. There, she married lawyer Ferdinand Barnett, had four children, worked as a probation officer and supported migrants from the South, all the while traveling widely to oppose racial terror.

Wells “challenged every type of convention,” including sexism in the civil rights community and racism in the women’s suffrage movement, New York Times writer Nikole Hannah-Jones said. “She refused to stay in her place at a time when doing something could be debilitating, could be dangerous.”

Hannah-Jones, whose 75,000 Twitter followers see her handle as Ida Bae Wells, also worked to create the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Journalism, designed to increase and elevate investigative work by people of color.

Last month, Hannah-Jones flew to Chicago to help raise money for the Wells monument, which has been a slow-moving project.

Continue reading “HISTORY: Movement to Honor Anti-Lynching Crusader and Journalist Ida B. Wells in Chicago is Gaining Momentum, and is ‘Long Overdue’”

Jacksonville Jaguar Marcell Dareus Donates $125,000 to Help Build Classrooms in Haiti

Marcell Dareus (Photo by Josh Hedges/Getty Images)

by John Reid via jacksonville.com

On his humanitarian trip to Haiti last month, Jaguars defensive tackle Marcell Dareus attended the groundbreaking ceremony on a three-classroom building that will be named after him.

He was greeted by government dignitaries and school officials and toured monuments and museums. And like last year’s trip when he met more than 800 children, Dareus was struck again by the emotions he saw.

“It is one thing to give money to something and hope for the best; it is quite something else to witness your efforts and see the gratitude and thankfulness of not just the children, but the whole community, for doing what you’re doing,” Dareus said.

″To receive their blessings and hear their words of appreciation directly was something I could have never imagined several years ago. Their gratitude and happiness was overwhelming and showed me that what I am doing is going to have a tremendous impact on their lives.″

It is the second consecutive offseason Dareus has visited Haiti to reconnect with his late father’s homeland and give back through the U.S.-based charity, Hope for Haiti, that serves as an implementing partner for school construction, teacher training, teacher salary subsidies, mobile clinics and back-to-school support for students.

Haiti is still struggling to recover from a devastating earthquake in 2010 and damages caused by the 145 mph winds from Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Through the Dareus Foundation, he donated $125,000 to fund the three-classroom building at the Christ-Roi Primary School of Cammy.

In addition to giving the kids a new school, his monetary efforts will go to funding teachers’ salaries, school supplies and some of the necessary infrastructure to sustain education. Dareus donated $25,000 to Hope for Haiti during last year’s visit.

Dareus was 6 years old when his Haitian-born father, Jules Dareus, died from prostate cancer. His mother, Michelle Luckey, died in 2010 from heart failure shortly after Dareus won a national championship with the Alabama. Jules Dareus lived in Haiti until early adulthood before coming to the United States.

“I promised my mom that I would support Haiti in any way I could and now I am using my platform to keep my promise,″ Dareus said. ″It’s a beautiful country with incredible people and children who need help. I want to make sure I do everything I can to lift them up. This is just the beginning of what we’re looking to accomplish here. I plan to come back after next season to see the new school and decide what else I can do to continue to build a legacy of hope for Haiti.”

Source: http://www.jacksonville.com/sports/20180627/marcell-dareus-donates-125000-to-help-build-classrooms-in-haiti

Queen Latifah Partners with Procter & Gamble to Launch the Queen Collective – a Program for Women Filmmakers

Queen Latifah (PHOTO: PAUL ARCHULETA/FILMMAGIC)

by Suzy Byrne via huffingtonpost.com

Award-winning actress and singer Queen Latifah recently announced the Queen Collective to help women make films — or, as she tells Yahoo Entertainment, to ensure “that the queens have an opportunity.” In a partnership with Procter & Gamble, the initiative will find two unknown and diverse female directors, give them all the resources they need to tell their stories “from A to Z,” and then distribute the films.

“There are just not enough female directors,” the star of films from Girls Trip” to “Chicago” says of her push to bolster gender equality in the film business. “This is a small part of what we’d like to do to help change the disparity that we see out there in terms of all the dollars that are given to male directors, all the support that’s given to male directors, and everything we see, yet we’re at least half of who’s watching these movies and buying these products. So we want to make sure women have an opportunity… that the queens have an opportunity. The Queen Collective will make sure that happens.”

Being a voice for women isn’t new for Queen Latifah, who was among the founders of We Do It Together, the celebrity-backed, female-centric, non-profit production company focusing on female empowerment in films, TV, and other media. Her commitment can actually be traced back to her teen years as a young rapper.

“I try to support anything I can in terms of making sure women have an opportunity,” she says. “That’s just who I am. Before I really knew what a feminist was, I was already helping to promote the feminist cause. I was just a 15-year-old rapper. I had no idea that the fact that I wanted to be looked at with respect and treated as such — and that I wrote about that in my rhymes and made records about it that people heard — was really pushing that forward, affecting other young girls and women who felt the same way, and giving other women a voice who felt that they were a little voiceless in hip-hop at that time. Finally, there was someone that was speaking their language.”

Since Queen Latifah, 48, started rapping about female issues in the ’80s — “All Hail the Queen” came out in 1989, when she was 19 — isn’t she frustrated that she still has to fight so hard just so women’s voices can be heard?

“I would say it’s frustrating — it can be to a point — but we are talking about thousands of years of male patriarchy,” she says. “So I can’t be mad because I started rapping about it in the late ’80s and early ’90s that everything hasn’t changed in a few decades. We have a lot of ideas to bring down the walls of, if you will. I think actually we’ve made a lot of progress in a short amount of time. But the more we bring it to the attention of the public, the more people fight behind the scenes and make sure this is seen in front of the scenes, then we will affect every element of how people see the world.”

She wants to see the world represented equally — and realistically.

“We are fighting to make sure everyone is represented in an equal way — and for who they truly are, not some stereotype of who you are. This is something I had to fight against as a rapper: Every rapper is from the ghetto and went through hell and got shot sometimes. No, we didn’t. I went to Catholic school from third to ninth grade,” the East Orange, N.J., native laughs.

“I didn’t have a lot of money, but this was my experience, and I know many people who lived like that. I listened to rock-and-roll growing up — and so did a lot of my homeboys. Why? ‘Cause we’re from New Jersey, and we love Bon Jovi and Springsteen. We like hip-hop too. But if you let the media tell you, its ‘black people don’t listen to rock-and-roll; they just like R&B and rap.’” She predicts that “millennials will have a big part of changing all these ideas that have been pumped down our throats in our day.”

Queen Latifah says the encouragement she has received through the years by female fans has encouraged her in turn to continue to try to be a trailblazer for women.

“I would run into them along the way, and they had no idea the encouragement they gave me to continue to speak in that way, to feel confident about moving in that way, and moving my career in that way,” says Latifah, who made the jump to TV in the early ’90s, followed later by the jump to film. “All throughout the years I’ve been encouraged by young girls… And not just girls, but girls with different bodies. Just becoming a CoverGirl made them feel different about what they can accomplish. Or being someone who is bigger than a size 10 thinks, ‘Oh, I can be a successful singer because Queen Latifah did it.’ I had no idea I could influence other people.”

She continues: “So this Queen Collective is really important because there’s something special about seeing a woman who comes up with her own idea, who is able to take that idea, hire her own crew, make sure that idea is shot and done and edited and comes to the public eye, and they have a chance to see her vision. She will inspire so many other people by making that happen… This is what you need to be able to show in order to inspire other people, particularly the young girls and men, and let them know this is a normal thing and this is OK. This should not be an anomaly. This should be the norm.”

Read more: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/queen-latifah-helping-women-make-movies_us_5b438393e4b048036ea0ffad?a8j%3Futm_hp_ref=black-voices&ir=Black%2BVoices

“Sorry To Bother You” Co-Star Jermaine Fowler Sells Comedy Pitch “The Come Up” to New Line Cinema

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to Variety.com, New Line Cinema has purchased “The Come Up,” an original comedy screenplay pitch from “Sorry to Bother You” co-star Jermaine Fowler. Fowler, who also starred in the CBS series “Superior Donuts,” will star and also serve as executive producer.

The project will also feature Lil Rel Howery (“Get Out,” “Uncle Drew” and the upcoming Fox series “Rel”) and brothers Keith Lucas and Kenneth Lucas as co-stars. The screenplay will be written by Michael Starrbury (“The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete” and “Central Park Five”).

“I am excited to be collaborating with New Line Cinema, Wrigley Pictures and our screenwriter Michael Starburry on ‘The Come Up’ – a project I have been passionate about for years now,” Fowler said in a statement. “Since bringing the concept to them it’s been nothing but synergy and raw excitement. As an actor, it is a dream come true to be working opposite my comedy brothers, Lil Rel Howery and The Lucas Brothers. I am grateful they’ve come on board to tell this hilarious and inspiring story with me.”