Tag: Atlanta

Jordan Thomas Wins Harvard Debate Competition as He and 24 Other Students from Atlanta Make History

Atlanta students celebrate win at Harvard Debate Council (photo via huffingtonpost.com)

by Jenna Amatulli via huffingtonpost.com

A group of 25 black students from Atlanta, competing against hundreds of young scholars from around the world, made history over the weekend with winning performances in a Harvard debate tournament.

Jordan Thomas, from Atlanta’s Grady High School, won the competition. He said in a press release that he “was determined to represent my city and my story. I wanted people to see where I came from and how I could keep up with them.”

“Being a young, middle class, black, public school student from the South created a stigma that automatically set me back in comparison to the competition, most of who were international students or from preparatory schools in the Northeast,” said Thomas.

“To bring the championship back to Atlanta was the most satisfying feeling, and to walk onto the campus of one of the most elite universities in the world and meet personal and council goals, brings a unique and new satisfaction that I’ve never experienced.”

The young scholars were the first backed by scholarships through the Atlanta-based Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project to participate in Harvard’s summer debate council residency.

Harvard Debate Council, which runs the annual summer program at the school’s campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, divided nearly 400 participants, including high school students from Asia, Europe and Russia, into 12 teams for debate competitions.

Harvard Debate Council (photo via huffingtonpost.com)

The 25 Atlanta scholars, selected for Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project’s inaugural class from about 150 applicants, began the residency program with a daily, 10-hour academic regimen to learn research, analysis, argumentation and political science. Then, using their new skills, they were split into teams for the competition with other high school students from around the world.

Thomas described the project as “not a competition between each other, rather it is an incubator of intellect and a cultivator of brilliance.”

Notably, most of the Atlanta students were inexperienced debaters. They were from 16 different schools in the region. Brandon Fleming, a Harvard assistant debate coach who founded Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project, said the project aims to be a “pipeline that would recruit, train and send students of color to Harvard on full scholarship.”

VOTE! Lucy McBath, Mother of Slain Teen Jordan Davis, in Runoff for GA Congressional Seat

Congressional candidate in Georgia’s 6th District Lucy McBath (R) speaks onstage during Vanity Fair’s Founders Fair at Spring Studios on April 12, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)

by Jay Scott Smith via thegrio.com

She wants gun control reform for a very personal reason and decided to run for Congress with the hope of changing things herself.

Lucy McBath is set for a runoff election this coming Tuesday against Atlanta tech businessman Kevin Abel for the Democratic nomination in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. McBath is a gun control activist and the mother of 17-year-old Jordan Davis, who was murdered in Jacksonville, Florida in 2012 when he was shot by Michael Dunn, a white man angered that he and his friends would not turn their music down.

Dunn, who attempted to claim the shooting was in self-defense because he felt “threatened” by the boys arguing back at him, was convicted of first-degree murder. “I didn’t understand how there were these kinds of tragedies happening all over the country,” McBath told CNN. “And why aren’t our legislators talking about it?”

Davis said she was inspired to run when she saw Donald Trump speak after February’s high school mass shooting in Parkland, Florida. She says she knew the president was lying when he implied he would challenge the NRA. “It’s just not enough to have the marches and the rallies and the speeches and the remarks, unless we have people who are willing to create the bills to make this a safer nation,” she told CNN.

After her son’s death, she retired from her job as a Delta Airlines flight attendant and became a national spokeswoman for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Everytown for Gun Safety. She has testified before Congress, joined Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail in 2016, and was among the Mothers of the Movement who spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

McBath came in first in the primary race in front of Abel, a South Africa native who she will face in the runoff this Tuesday. McBath won 36 percent of the vote in the May primary, while Abel secured 30.5 percent of the votes cast.  The runoff winner will challenge incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Karen Handel.

Abel claims that despite coming in second in the primary, he is the better candidate simply because he feels McBath “can’t beat Handel” in the bloody-red state of Georgia.

McBath is undeterred and unapologetic about her policy positions. “Yes, we are in a gun state,” says McBath. “And yes, we are in a red state. But I know people are sick and tired of being sick and tired. I know people now want change.”

Source: https://thegrio.com/2018/07/22/lucy-mcbath-jordan-davis-mother-runoff-for-ga-congressional-seat/

The A.M.E. Church and 19 Black-Owned Banks Team Up to Launch New Partnership for Longterm Black Wealth

Leaders of the AME Church announced the partnership late last month. (Photo by Klarque Garrison/Trice Edney News Wire)

The African Methodist Episcopal Church, the first independent Black denomination in the U.S., has teamed up with 19 Black-owned banks across the nation to form a partnership aimed at bettering financial vitality among Black Americans.

Bishop Reginald T. Jackson announced the new partnership at the 2018 Council of Bishops and General Board Meeting in Atlanta on June 26, pegging the initiative as an opportunity to “increase Black wealth,” business development and homeownership.

“This initiative will strengthen Black banks across the U.S. and increase their capacity to lend to small businesses, to secure mortgages, to provide personal lines of credit, and to offer other forms of credit to AME churches and our members,” said Jackson, president of the Council of AME Bishops. “This, of course, includes enabling members and their families to become homeowners.”

Jackson explained the partnership was inspired by an initiative formed in Washington, D.C. in 2015, called Black Wealth 2020, which he said “… is providing an economic blueprint for Black America.”

Through the initiative, faith leaders and bank presidents hope to increase deposits and loans with Black-owned banks; up the number of Black businesses from 2.6 million to 4 million; and grow Black homeownership to more than 50 percent nationwide, according to a press release.

Speaking to The Atlanta Voice, General Board Chair Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie said she believes the church-bank collaboration is especially important for African-American youth.

“We want to be able to teach fiscal responsibility before [students] get to high school,” she said. “[It’s important] to learn the value of saving, the value of investing.”

Michael Banks, former head of the National Bankers’ Association, said he sees the partnership as imperative in regards to growing Black homeownership.

“We are educating ourselves and not only teaching our people how to get a home but also how to stay there,” Banks told the newspaper. “We worry about gentrification, but we have more power than we realize. (It’s important) to (buy) a home, and hold on to a home, and then encourage all young people to do the same.”

With over 6,000 AME churches across the U.S., faith leaders say the partnership is a real opportunity to boost wealth among Black Americans if everyone takes part.

Read more: http://atlantablackstar.com/2018/07/08/ame-churches-black-owned-banks-team-up-to-launch-new-partnership-for-longterm-black-wealth/

T.I. is Buying Back Center Hill in Atlanta to Beautify and Improve His Old Neighborhood While Keeping it Affordable

T.I. (photo via vibe.com)

by Daryl Nelson via atlantablackstar.com

T.I. is on a mission, and it has to do with rebuilding his old neighborhood in the Center Hill section of Atlanta. In 2017 he started a real estate company called Buy Back the Block, and considering what he’s accomplished already the name couldn’t be any more fitting.

In a recent interview, Tip said that he’s partnered with fellow Atlanta rapper Killer Mike and bought the Bankhead Seafood building, a beloved eatery that closed earlier this year after five decades of being in business.

On top of that, he purchased a number of lots in his old neighborhood and bought six buildings as well. So far Tip has spent over $2 million out of his own pocket, without any outside assistance and it seems he’s just now getting started.

“I grew up in the 1980s and ’90s in the Center Hill section of Atlanta, just off Bankhead Highway,” he told Inc. “Back then that part of town was considered the lower end of the middle class. After the crack era the community stalled, and from 1994 to 2012 it became an extremely desolate area for business. There’s no major grocery store chain, there’s no fresh produce, there’s no CVS, there are liquor stores.”

But the rapper said he doesn’t want to improve the area then make it so expensive that people can’t afford it. He wants to do the opposite, so those who’ve always been there don’t have to move.

“Now, with the BeltLine and Mercedes-Benz Stadium a stone’s throw away, there’s an incentive to redevelop,” T.I. explained. “But I didn’t want it to be one of those situations where luxury condos go up, and people who are native are pushed out to the fringes because they can’t afford to live there. I wanted to provide development that would allow people from the area who love the community to be able to afford to stay.”

Tip also said he’ll turn a lot of the buildings that he purchased into “mixed-use” housing, and it’s possible that two of the properties will be ready by the close of 2019. One building will have over 100 units and the other will have less.

In addition, the Grand Hustle founder is working with veteran real estate agent Krystal Peterson so that housing costs are kept affordable, and he’s doing other things like beautifying the neighborhood.

“Green spaces and gardens are incredibly important,” said T.I. “We want a movie theater, bowling, laser tag, stuff I didn’t have. I’m trying to build a community where the people within it can be proud. If they’re proud they’ll have more of a sense of wanting to maintain it.”

“I’d love to see children walk and play and live in green spaces,” he added. “I want to see senior citizens excited about the next generation. The only way to do that is to invest. Why wait for someone else to come into a community where I went to elementary school, where I rode my bike and played?”

It seems a number of rappers share T.I.’s theory since others are investing in their neighborhoods too. Dr. Dre, for example, gave $10 million to build a performance arts center in his hometown of Compton, Calif.

And Los Angeles rapper Nipsey Hussle invested heavily in his Crenshaw neighborhood and opened Vector 90, a co-working space for young people, entrepreneurs and creatives of all types. The rapper Slim Thug has given back to his Houston community as well by launching Boss Life Construction, a company that builds quality, affordable homes in low-income neighborhoods.

According to T.I, he doesn’t want people in the Black community to equate success with escaping local problems, and he’ll try to be an example.  “So many times our answer to fixing things is ‘I’m gonna make some money and leave all these people behind,’” he stated. “There’s rarely an intent to get rich and make where you came from better for generations to come. It’s extremely ambitious, but I’ve worked myself to a place where I should be the one leading the charge. In my mind, that’s what it means to be king.”

Source: http://atlantablackstar.com/2018/07/03/t-i-explains-why-hes-buying-back-his-old-neighborhood-no-fresh-produce-liquor-stores/

Congressman John Lewis Inspires #FamiliesBelongTogether Crowd: ‘It’s Time for Some of Us to Get in Good Trouble’

Congressman John Lewis at Families Belong Together rally (photo via nbcnews.com)

by Kia Morgan-Smith via thegrio.com

You can always count on Civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis to be fired up and ready to fight the good fight and he’s stepping up to the frontlines of the immigration debate.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered nationwide over the weekend to  share their determination to fight the Trump administrations heartless decision to separate families seeking asylum.

They demanded the government quickly reunite families, their calls repeated from Washington to Los Angeles, to Chicago, Atlanta, Milwaukee, San Francisco and beyond.
According to CNN, protesters also marched by the White House in Washington and the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue. They reportedly yelled, “shame, shame, shame” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald trump has got to go.”
And in Atlanta, John Lewis was ready to inspire protestors with a message honed over the years he marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and others.

“Look, you know, I’ve been talking for some time and getting in trouble. It’s time for some of us to get in good trouble, necessary trouble,” the venerable Democrat told the crowd at the Families Belong Together rally in Atlanta.

“In the final analysis, we may have to turn America upside down to set it right side up, but whatever we do, do it in an orderly, peaceful and nonviolent fashion,” he said.

Lewis shared the sentiments of Rep. Maxine Waters who has energized her base with fiery speeches calling for disgruntled Americans to confront Trump administration officials after migrant children were snatched and separated from their mothers because of Trump’s harsh immigration policies.

Lewis also wrote a letter in June criticizing Trump’s immigration policy and calling it a “shame, a disgrace and an outrage.”

John Lewis urged the crowd to stay passionate, but peaceful. “Never, ever, ever hate.”

Source: https://thegrio.com/2018/07/02/congressman-john-lewis-inspires-immigration-crowd-its-time-for-some-of-us-to-get-in-good-trouble/

‘Black-ish’ Creator Donates $1 Million to Clark Atlanta University for Kenya and Rainbow Barris Annual Scholarship Fund

Kenya Barris and Dr. Rainbow Barris (photo via @tharealrainbow Instagram)

via blackamericaweb.com

It is always nice to see celebrities reach back once they have “made it”.

This time around it is super producer and writer, Black-ish creator Kenya Barris, and his wife Dr. Rainbow Barris, who have awarded Clark Atlanta University (CAU) $1 million dollars.

The gift, which has been named the Kenya and Rainbow Barris Annual Scholarship Award, will go towards supporting students with a biology major and $500k dedicated to supporting mass media arts majors.

In addition to awarding this amazing gift, Barris received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters during CAU’s Commencement on May 21, 2018.

March in Memphis to Honor Martin Luther King Jr. on 50th Anniversary of his Death

People hold signs resembling the signs carried by striking sanitation workers in 1968 as they join in events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (photo via eurweb.com)

by Errin Haines Whack, Adrian Sainz & Kate Brumback, Associated Press via blackamericaweb.com

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. remembered him as “the apostle of nonviolence” as admirers marked the 50th anniversary of his assassination Wednesday with marches, speeches and quiet reflection.

The Rev. Bernice A. King recalled her father as a civil rights leader and great orator whose message of peaceful protest was still vital decades later. “We decided to start this day remembering the apostle of nonviolence,” she said during a ceremony to award the Martin Luther King Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize held at the King Center in Atlanta.

In Memphis, where King died, hundreds of people bundled in hats and coats gathered early in for a march led by the same sanitation workers union whose low pay King had come to protest when he was shot.

Dixie Spencer, president of the Bolivar Hardeman County, Tennessee, branch of the NAACP, said remembrances of King’s death should be a call to action. “We know what he worked hard for, we know what he died for, so we just want to keep the dream going,” Spencer said. “We just want to make sure that we don’t lose the gains that we have made.”

The Memphis events were scheduled to feature King’s contemporaries, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, along with celebrities such as the rapper Common. In the evening, the Atlanta events culminate with a bell-ringing and wreath-laying at his crypt to mark the moment when he was gunned down on the balcony of the old Lorraine Motel on April 4, 1968. He was 39.

Wednesday’s events followed a rousing celebration the night before of King’s “I’ve Been To the Mountaintop” speech at Memphis’ Mason Temple Church of God in Christ. He delivered this speech the night before he was assassinated.

Inside the church, Bernice King called her older brother, Martin Luther King III, to join her in the pulpit, and she discussed the difficulty of publicly mourning their father — a man hated during his lifetime, now beloved around the world.

“It’s important to see two of the children who lost their daddy 50 years ago to an assassin’s bullet,” said Bernice King, now 55. “But we kept going. Keep all of us in prayer as we continue the grieving process for a parent that we’ve had yet to bury.”

A gospel singer led a rousing rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and the gathering took on the air of a mass meeting.

Lee Saunders, a national labor leader, recounted how on that night in 1968, King made an unplanned appearance to deliver the famous speech without notes after his aides saw how passionate the crowd was: “There was one man they wanted to hear from.”

But Saunders stressed that the purpose of the week’s commemorations was not just to look to the past.

“Dr. King’s work — our work — isn’t done. We must still struggle; we must still sacrifice. We must still educate and organize and mobilize. That’s why we’re here in Memphis. Not just to honor our history, but to seize our future,” he said.

Some of the sanitation workers who participated with King in a 1968 strike sat in the front row and were treated like celebrities, with audience members stopping to take photos with them before the event started.

To read more: https://blackamericaweb.com/2018/04/04/many-march-in-honor-of-martin-luther-king-jr-s-death/

Jada Pinkett Smith to Receive Icon Award at 2017 HBCU Power Awards

Jada Pinkett Smith (photo via blackamericaweb.com)

via blackamericaweb.com

The HBCU Power Awards has announced that actress, singer-songwriter, director, and philanthropist Jada Pinkett Smith will receive the “Icon Award” on the evening of excellence on Friday, October 20, 7PM at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

Smith began her acting career as the feisty “Lena” from the 80s sitcom “A Different World,” a show that brought HBCU life to tv screens across the country 30 years ago. Since then, Smith has curated a successful career in film and music while giving back to the community through the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation.

Actor/choreographer Derek “Fonzworth Bentley” Watkins (Morehouse c/o ’96) supermodel Jessica White and actor/comedian Deon Cole will co-host the show. Co-founded by Watkins along with event producer Jash’d Kambui Belcher (Morehouse c/o ’99) and Wall Street executive Roderick Hardamon (Morehouse c/o ’98), the HBCU Power Awards honors the achievements and accomplishments of HBCU alumni and supporters who are making innovative and leading-­edge achievements in business, sports, philanthropy, media, music, technology, TV, film, politics, civil service and fashion.

“We created the HBCU Power Awards to serve as a platform to celebrate black excellence and to highlight the importance of HBCUs in our communities,” says Belcher. “Our honorees embody the spirit of success and commitment to community that HBCUs have instilled in students for decades.”Adds Watkins: “In a time when the existence of our HBCUs is being threatened, the Power Awards is a shining reminder of the genius and innovation that black colleges generate every year.”

Sponsors of the 2017 HBCU Power Awards include Morehouse College, the Atlanta Hawks, Radio One, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Experience Grands Rapids and the Lowman Group/ dba the Athletes Foot.

Ticket prices start at $20 and are available at HBCUPowerAwards.com.

To read more, go to: Jada Pinkett Smith To Be Honored At HBCU Power Awards | Black America Web

Spelman College Awards Scholarships for LGBTQ Advocates via Levi Watkins Jr. Scholars Program

by Paul Meara via bet.com

Spelman College, an all girls HBCU, announced this week a new scholarship program for students of the school who advocate for LGBTQ issues. The Levi Watkins Jr. Scholars Program “will call attention to the importance of making visible the courageous and significant work of LGBTQ scholar activists within and beyond the academy, especially at HBCUs,” Spelman professor and alumna Beverly Guy-Sheftall said.

Guy-Sheftall is also the founder of the Spelman Women’s Research and Resource Center. The scholarship is named after Dr. Lee Watkins, who is Sheftall’s cousin and a founding member of the Women’s Research and Resource Center’s National Advisory Board. Guy-Sheftall pledged $100,000 in May and launched the scholars program and lecture series to explore contemporary issues of race, gender and sexuality.

According to The Root, two Spelman sophomores who self-identify as LGBTQ advocates will be awarded renewable $25,000 scholarships this fall. “As an institution that upholds a supportive student experience, this gift will present new opportunities for critical conversation on race and sexuality with distinguished scholars and thought leaders, and provide a platform to recognize campus LGBTQ advocates and their scholarly achievements,” Spelman President Mary Schmidt Campbell said after the scholarship program was announced.

To read more, go to: Spelman College Is Awarding Hefty Scholarships For LGBTQ Advocates | National | BET

USC Professor Raphael Bostic Named 1st African American President of a Federal Reserve Regional Bank

Raphael Bostic (photo via latimes.com)

article by Jim Puzzanghera via latimes.com

USC professor Raphael Bostic made history on Monday when he was named president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, becoming the first African American to lead one of the Fed’s 12 regional banks. The choice of Bostic, 50, director of the Bedrosian Center on Governance at USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy, comes after members of Congress and advocacy groups have sharply criticized the central bank for a lack of diversity.

They had pushed for a diverse choice to head the Atlanta region, in part because it has a large African American population. Bostic acknowledged the significance of his appointment, which he said “is a very big deal” that made him the answer to a “Jeopardy” question.

“It’s not lost on me that I …am the first African American to lead a Federal Reserve institution,” he said in a short video released by the Atlanta Fed. “It’s kind of daunting. It’s an overwhelming thought. It’s a tremendous privilege.” “I look forward to this being a stepping stone for many others to have this opportunity as well,” Bostic said.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), who was among four prominent African American House members who urged a diverse choice for the Atlanta position, hailed Bostic as an “outstanding choice” and called his selection a “long-awaited first step towards building diversity among the Federal Reserve’s senior leadership.”

Bostic’s appointment was approved by the Atlanta Fed’s board of directors and the Board of Governors in Washington. He will take over on June 5, succeeding Dennis Lockhart, who announced his resignation in September and stepped down on Feb. 28.

The job involves overseeing about 1,700 employees in the Atlanta region — Alabama, Florida, Georgia and parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee — and participating in monetary policy deliberations in Washington.

To read full article, go to: USC professor named first African American president of a Fed regional bank – LA Times