2017 Elections Round Up: Major Victories in State, Local Elections for African Americans

VA Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax (l); Minneapolis City Councilmember Andrea Jenkins (r)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

If last night’s elections are any indicator of what is possible in the 2018 mid-terms, there will be even more to celebrate in a year’s time. Not only did the states of New Jersey and Virginia vote in the Democratic candidates for governor (Philip Murphy and Ralph Northam, respectively), each state also elected their first and second African-American lieutenant governors, Sheila Oliver and Justin Fairfax.  Fairfax is the first African American elected to statewide office in Virginia in 25 years. Read more about the victories and histories of both by clicking their names above.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles (l) and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter (r)

Two major U.S. cities also voted in mayors of color yesterday: Melvin Carter became the first black mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota, and Vi Lyles was elected Charlotte, NC’s first African-American female mayor.

Additionally, Andrea Jenkins, who became the first openly trans woman of color elected to the city council of a major U.S. city, will represent Ward 8 of Minneapolis. To read the Washington Post feature on her, click here.

Another big city council seat win came from Mazahir Salih, the first immigrant to do so in Iowa City. Salih moved to the US from Sudan in 1997 and you can read more about her win here.

To continue to support these candidates, you can follow each on Twitter:

@SheilaOliverNJ, @FairfaxJustin@PhilMurphyNJ, @RalphNortham, @melvincarter3, @ViLyles, 

@andreaforward8, and @MazahirIowaCity.

Voting matters. High turnouts are meaningful. Congratulations to the winners, much gratitude to the grass roots organizers, canvassers and volunteers, and power to the people – always!

Sheila Oliver Voted New Jersey’s 1st Black Lieutenant Governor

New Jersey Lieutenant Governor-elect Sheila Oliver (photo via amsterdamnews.com)

via amsterdamnews.com

Reports indicate that Democrat Phil Murphy is projected to win the New Jersey governor’s race making his running mate, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, the state’s first Black lieutenant governor. She is now the second highest-ranking official in the State of New Jersey.

She was elected to her new title after the election of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy takes a sweeping victory from the Republican candidate, lieutenant governor Kim Guadagno.

“I certainly know how the legislature works,” Oliver said during her campaign. “I certainly have relationships with 119 members of the state Legislature. And to run an effective government and to get things done, you need to cooperation in the state Senate, the general assembly and the executive branch.”

Oliver, 65, is a native of Newark and is the first African-American woman Assembly Speaker in New Jersey. She has more than a dozen years of legislative experience, serving in the lower house of the New Jersey Legislature since 2004. She also served on the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders from 1996 to 1999.

Source: http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2017/nov/07/sheila-oliver-becomes-first-black-lieutenant-gover/

Viola Davis Helps Fight Childhood Hunger as Ambassador for Hunger Is Campaign

Viola Davis (photo via txconferenceforwomen.org)

Julie Zeilinger via mtv.com

Viola Davis has never been afraid to speak out for what’s right — from issues like sexual assault to the lack of diversity in the entertainment industry, and beyond. Now Davis is using her star power to focus on another worthy cause: childhood hunger.

As the Ambassador for the Hunger Is campaign, “The How to Get Away With Murder” star has spearheaded a campaign that has raised more than $20 million since 2014 to help provide meals to children all over the country who normally do not have enough to eat.

“The continued success of this program is not only exciting but it’s a sign of the strength our communities possess to bring about positive change,” Davis said in a press release. “Too many children go without breakfast in this country, and it’s all of our duty to work toward fixing that problem.”

A huge number of American children struggle with hunger every day. In fact, 1 out of every 6 children in America live in a household without consistent access to adequate food and 3 out of 4 K-8 teachers say they regularly see students come to school hungry, according to the Hunger Is campaign.

1 OUT OF EVERY 6 CHILDREN IN AMERICA LIVE IN A HOUSEHOLD WITHOUT CONSISTENT ACCESS TO ADEQUATE FOOD

Providing these hungry kids with even just a daily breakfast can make a huge difference. For example, students who regularly start the day with a healthy breakfast have an average 17.5% increase in standardized math scores, according to Hunger Is.

Everyone can play a part in helping this worthy cause. You can get involved by finding volunteer opportunities in your community.

“I’m honored to lend my voice to this important conversation,” Davis said. “My gratitude goes out to everyone who continues to donate and help spread awareness of childhood hunger in America.”

Source: http://www.mtv.com/news/3046008/viola-davis-childhood-hunger/

Civil Rights Icon Roger Wilkins Honored with Building at George Mason University

Roger Wilkins (photo via thenation.com)

via jbhe.com

George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, recently named its North Plaza in honor of Roger Wilkins, a former long-time faculty member who died this past March. Angel Cabrera, president of George Mason University, said at the dedication ceremony, “when Roger came to George Mason, few knew much about this fledgling university in the suburbs of Washington D.C. Roger was one of those intellectual pioneers who helped put this university on the map.”

A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Wilkins moved to Harlem at the age of 9 and later settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He earned a bachelor’s degree and a law degree at the University of Michigan.

Wilkins joined the Kennedy administration in 1962 as a special assistant to the director of the Agency for International Development. In 1965, he was appointed an assistant attorney general by President Johnson.

When the Democrats lost power after the 1968 election, Wilkins left government to work for the Ford Foundation. Beginning in 1972, Wilkins began a new career as a journalist, first for the Washington Post and then The New York Times. He was the author of Jefferson’s Pillow: The Founding Fathers and the Dilemma of Black Patriotism (Beacon Press, 2001).

In 1988, Wilkins joined the faculty at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, as the Clarence J. Robinson Professor in History and American Culture. He remained on the faculty for nearly 20 years until his retirement in 2007.

New York University Study Shows Diversity in Schools Has Positive Impact on Student Achievement

(image via steinhardt.nyu.edu)

via jbhe.com

A new report by the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools at New York University finds that there is an academic advantage for students who go to diverse schools. Researchers compared demographic information on the student bodies at New York City public schools with results on achievement tests and graduation rates.

The researchers found that there was a modest benefit for students attending the most diverse schools – those that were between 50 and 75 percent Black and Hispanic. (Least diverse schools were those that were more than 75 percent Black or Hispanic or those that were more than 50 percent White). Third and eighth grade students at the most diverse schools outperformed students attending the city’s least diverse schools on standardized tests in mathematics and English. Students at the most diverse high schools had slightly higher graduation rates than students at the least diverse high schools.

The results also showed that the benefits of diversity are smaller for younger children than is the case for older students. This, the authors conclude, provides evidence of the long-term benefits of greater school diversity.

David E. Kirkland, the lead author of the report, said that “the academic achievement and high school graduation evidence that we analyzed suggests that increasing diversity can increase equity in New York City schools and significantly decrease gaps in some student outcomes such as high school graduation. Thus, plans to stimulate diversity in New York City schools can pay off for the City’s most vulnerable students.”

The full report, Separate But Unequal: A Comparison of Unequal Outcomes in New York City’s Most and Least Diverse Schools, may be downloaded by clicking here.

Morehouse Student Julien Turner Goes Viral With “XY Cell Life,” Extra Credit Rap Video for Biology Class (VIDEO)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

(image via YouTube screenshot)

Enterprising Morehouse College student and filmmaker Julien Turner went viral this week when he posted his extra credit assignment for biology class on Twitter and YouTube. “XY Cell Life” is a rap video explaining the different phases cells go through, what they are comprised up and how they operate. For those (like me) who grew up on Schoolhouse Rock or for those who love hip hop – or both – watch the above because you most definitely will enjoy.

On YouTube, Julien credits Dreadhead Films, LLC, a film production company he co-owns with 15-yr. old teenage brother Justen Turner, and their mission is to “entertain, inspire, and uplift” with their original content. You can check out other projects of the Turner Brothers at www.dreadheadfilms.com, or Vimeo at Dreadhead Films. Twitter: JuicyJu11 Instagram: K1ngJu

Not sure what his professor gave him, but on the internet? A+! Go Julien!

 

Tonya Boyd to Become FDNY’s 1st Black Female Deputy Chief

by Ginger Adams Otis via nydailynews.com

An EMS captain with 21 years on the job will become the first African-American woman in the Fire Department of New York to achieve the rank of deputy chief on Thursday.

Capt. Tonya Boyd, who joined the FDNY’s Emergency Medical Services while in college as a way to make money, said she never dreamed her career would reach such heights. “I’m so excited and I am so blessed,” the EMS officer told the Daily News. “After hearing about the promotion, I couldn’t believe it. I feel like I’ve knocked down a door and opened it for a lot of EMTs just starting on this job,” said Boyd. “African-American women will see someone who looks like them as a deputy chief and they will know more is possible — their careers won’t top out at paramedic or even lieutenant,” said the captain of Station 39 in Brooklyn.

Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said Boyd’s success was due to her efforts. “Tonya is not only helping to raise the bar for our ability to provide pre-hospital care, she’s also demonstrating to young women of all backgrounds the incredible rewarding career they can achieve in the FDNY,” Nigro said.

As a young woman growing up in Brooklyn, Boyd, who described herself as “fortysomething,” planned to follow her grandmother into nursing. But a need for cash while in nursing school sent her looking for work — and a cousin suggested she get an EMT license. Thanks to classes offered at Brooklyn College, Boyd passed the state exam. On Jan. 27, 1997, she became an official employee of the FDNY.

It was just after then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani merged the city’s cash-strapped 911 EMS system with the Fire Department — a joining that not everyone in the FDNY embraced.“We were very merger-oriented,” Boyd recalled. “We got through it.” She quickly set her sights on the next challenge — becoming a paramedic. “The FDNY offered a wonderful program that let us go to school from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” Boyd said. “I became a paramedic after about seven years.”

Boyd didn’t stop there, moving on to lieutenant and then captain.But the path from rank-and-file to officer isn’t as clear-cut in EMS as it is on the FDNY’s firefighting side. Firefighters take civil service promotional exams for officer ranks and move up in rank according to a scored hiring list. Only the very top brass are appointed at the discretion of FDNY leadership. In EMS, a civil service promotion exam is only given for lieutenant. Promotions above that rank are awarded by discretionary appointment. With roughly 4,000 employees, EMS is far more diverse in gender and race than the city’s firefighting ranks. Women EMTs and paramedics comprise roughly 35% of the non-officer workforce. Above the rank of lieutenant, there are “only a handful of women who make it to captain, and even fewer to deputy chief,” said lawyer Yetta Kurland.

Boyd’s promotion — the first time in more than 150 years the FDNY will have an African-American woman as a deputy chief — is eagerly anticipated by other women in the agency. She will be the highest-ranking black woman in the entire department, said Regina Wilson, an FDNY firefighter and head of the Vulcan Society, a fraternal organization of African-American fire department employees. “It’s a proud moment for the department to have a woman of color reach such a rank and we hope there will be many more to follow,” the Brooklyn firefighter said.

To read full article, go to: FDNY veteran Tonya Boyd to become first black female deputy chief – NY Daily News