Tag: Arthur Ashe

R.I.P. Dr. S. Allen Counter, 63, Noted Neurophysiologist, Ethnographer and Founding Director of Harvard Foundation of Intercultural and Race Relations 

S. Allen Counter (photo via news.harvard.edu)

by Rachael Dane via news.harvard.edu

S. Allen Counter, the founding director of the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations and a noted neurophysiologist, educator, and ethnographer, died on July 12.  According to wikipedia.com, Counter was also known for his achievements as an explorer. In 1971, he located a group of people living in the rain forest in northern Brazil, Surinam and French Guiana; the group was descended from African slaves who had escaped from slave ships. In 1986, Counter located descendants of earlier U.S. explorers of the arctic, Matthew A. Henson and Robert E. Peary. Counter was elected to The Explorers Club in 1989. Counter also designed Arthur Ashe‘s memorial at Woodland Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, dedicated on what would have been Ashe’s 50th birthday on July 10, 1993.

“Harvard has lost a great champion of inclusion and belonging in Dr. Allen Counter,” said President Drew Faust. “Through his leadership of the Harvard Foundation, he advanced understanding among members of our community and challenged all of us to imagine and strive for a more welcoming University and a more peaceful world. We remember today a campus citizen whose deep love of Harvard, and especially our undergraduates, leaves a lasting legacy.”

“During my years as president of Harvard, no one did more than Allen to make minority students feel welcome and at home at Harvard, to promote fruitful interaction among all races, and to serve as understanding adults to whom many undergraduates could turn in order to register their concerns, answer their questions, and have their legitimate problems communicated to the Harvard administration so that they could be understood and acted upon in appropriate ways,” recalled Derek Bok, who led the University from 1971–91 and from 2006–07. “Much of what he accomplished was unrecognized, but his contributions were invaluable, and I will always feel a great debt of gratitude for his service to the University.”

Counter did his undergraduate work in biology and sensory physiology at Tennessee State University and his graduate studies in electrophysiology at Case Western Reserve University, where he earned his Ph.D. He earned his M.D. at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. He came to Harvard in 1970 as a postdoctoral fellow and assistant neurophysiologist at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. Early in his University career, Counter lived in a student residence hall as dormitory director, resident tutor, and biological sciences tutor.

In the early 1970s, the U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (now the Department of Health and Human Services) named him to the National Advisory Mental Health Council of the National Institute of Mental Health. In 1975, several proposals came before the council requesting funding for projects involving psychosurgery and electrode implants in human brains. At that time, the government’s rules protecting human subjects were still evolving, and Counter believed the projects were inherently racist. He insisted the council not approve them, and they were not acted upon.

In the same decade, Counter taught inmates at MCI Concord with the Massachusetts Correctional Concord Achievement Rehabilitation Volunteer Experience, where he said he gave inmates the same advice his grandmother had given him: “Read a book. Develop your mind.” A later study showed that participants in the program had a lower recidivism rate than prisoners who did not take part. After a sabbatical fellowship at UCLA with neuroscientist Alan D. Grinnell in the late 1970s, Counter returned to Cambridge, where his research at Harvard Medical School focused on clinical and basic studies on nerve and muscle physiology, auditory physiology, and neurophysiological diagnosis of brain-injured children and adults. Continue reading “R.I.P. Dr. S. Allen Counter, 63, Noted Neurophysiologist, Ethnographer and Founding Director of Harvard Foundation of Intercultural and Race Relations “

Actor Jay Ellis and Artist Shantell Martin Team with AmfAR to Raise Awareness For “Countdown to a Cure for AIDS”

Jay Ellis and Visual Artist Shanell Martin with AmfAR Towel
Jay Ellis and Visual Artist Shanell Martin with “Be Epic, Cure AIDS,” Limited Edition AmfAR towel

My first memory of being directly affected by the death of someone who lost their life to AIDS was when tennis legend Arthur Ashe died. My father broke the news to me. It was one of those unshakeable things — nearly impossible to process and even harder to understand. In a lot of ways it hit my Dad pretty hard.  My parents had gone to college at UCLA with Arthur and growing up in our household, they made sure we knew he was way more than an incredible tennis player… he was an activist that paved the way for so many.  He was “a great kind guy,” their classmate and hero.

Arthur had certainly had his health challenges… but athletic superheroes weren’t supposed to succumb to an incurable disease at 49.  It was unfathomable.  The news of his death hit over twenty-two years ago… and sadly we still do not have a cure for a disease that affects the black community (Africans & African- Americans) the most.  Statistically, we make up more than forty percent of all new cases… and Jay Ellis (“The Game”) and famed British visual artist, Shantell Martin, know its time to do something about that. Their collaboration with amfAR (the Foundation for AIDS Research) and its “Countdown to A Cure for AIDS” initiative is something I can really get behind.

Out of this amfAR collaboration comes a limited edition beach towel. Designed exclusively for amfAR to help raise awareness and find a cure for HIV/AIDS, the towel’s design features Martin’s black & white illustrations and the inscription, “Be Epic, Cure AIDS,” a nod to amfAR’s “Countdown to a Cure for AIDS” initiative, aimed at developing the scientific basis of a cure by 2020.

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This summer, I can’t think of a better accessory. This towel is exclusively sold at Scoop NYC locations and on amfAR’s website: http://shop.amfar.org/shantell-martin-amfar-towel.html for $40 with 100% of the proceeds supporting research to find a cure for HIV/AIDS. Let’s all do what we can.

Did you know:

  • Nearly 37 million people are now living with HIV. 2.6 million are under the age of 15.
  • In 2014, an estimated 2 million people were newly infected with HIV.
  • 220,000 were under the age of 15.
  • Every day about 5,600 people contract HIV—more than 230 every hour.
  • In 2014, 1.2 million people died from AIDS.
  • Since the beginning of the pandemic, nearly 78 million people have contracted HIV and close to 39 million have died of AIDS- related causes.
  • As of March 2015, around 15 million people living with HIV (41% of the total) had access to antiretroviral therapy.

Learn more about amfAR here: http://www.amfar.org/about.html.  If you don’t know her work already, find out more about Shantell Martin and her amazing art: http://www.shantellmartin.com/about/.

And Jay Ellis and his fascinating transition into the acting world: http://www.jay-ellis.com

Lesa Lakin GBN Lifestyle Editor
article by Lesa Lakin
GBN Lifestyle Editor

National Museum of African American History to Display Photos of the Gullah People

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Miss Bertha, 1977 (JEANNE MOUTOUSSAMY-ASHE/NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE)

The collection is haunting: black-and-white stills of another place from another time, a documentation of the Gullah, or Geechee, people—a population of African descendants living on the Sea Islands off the Eastern coastline.  The images of a place and a people that time forgot were captured by celebrated photographer Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe—the wife of renowned tennis player Arthur Ashe—between 1977 and 1981.

Bank of America donated the collection of more than 60 photos to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. The photographs center on the people and life of Daufuskie Island, a cultural and national treasure tucked away off the coast of South Carolina.

A “time capsule” is how the island was aptly described by Lonnie Bunch, the museum’s founding director, who is thrilled at the addition to the yet-to-be-finished museum.  In addition to the stunning collection, which Bank of America originally obtained through its acquisition of Merrill Lynch in 2007, the financial institution also donated $1 million toward the building of the museum, a $500 million project.

“We’ve had a great history with the [museum]. We were one of the first donors [and have a] long-standing partnership,” Bank of America spokeswoman Diane Wagner told The Root. “[The collection] seemed like a very natural fit to be donated to the museum as one of their key exhibitions once they open in 2015.

“We feel that the arts have the power to connect people and … can connect people across cultures, across geography and socioeconomic status … People can take a look at art and understand a different culture, or they can understand their heritage, where they come from and how they’ve been established,” she added. Continue reading “National Museum of African American History to Display Photos of the Gullah People”