Tag: Boston

BHM: Meet Mary Eliza Mahoney, 1st Licensed African-American Nurse in U.S.

Mary Eliza Mahoney (photo via essence.com)

If you are a medical professional (particularly a Black medical professional), or just an overall Black history buff, you likely have heard of Mary Eliza Mahoney.

For those who have been denied tales of Mahoney’s excellence, she is heralded as the first African-American licensed nurse.

Mahoney worked in nursing for almost 40 years before retiring, but during her time as a medical professional, as well as long after, she was a champion of women’s rights. A trailblazer, not just as a Black person, but also as a woman.

Mahoney’s story starts in 1845 in Boston, where she was born to freed slaves. Her exact date of birth is unknown, but she is believed to have been born in the spring, the National Women’s History Museum notes.

Even as a teenager, Mahoney knew she wanted to become a nurse, and she began working at the New England Hospital for Women and Children, which, as its name suggests, provided health care exclusively to women and their children. At the time, the hospital was also known for its all-women staff of doctors.

There, Mahoney worked from the ground up over the next 15 years, in jobs such as janitor, cook and washerwoman, while also seizing the opportunity to work as a nurse’s aide.

The hospital operated one of the first nursing schools in the United States, and as you can probably guess, in 1878 a then 33-year-old Mahoney was allowed to enter the hospital’s professional graduate school for nursing. During the intensive 16-month training program, students attended lectures and got hands-on experience in the hospital.

The program was rigorous, and according to the Women’s History Museum, of the 42 students who entered the program, only four, including Mahoney, completed the requirements in 1879. In the same breath, she became the first Black person in the U.S. to earn a professional nursing license.

Mahoney would go on to serve as a private-duty nurse for the remainder of her impeccable career (she decided against public nursing because of the rampant discrimination there) and became known across the East Coast for her “efficiency, patience and caring bedside manner,” according to the Women’s History Museum.

A staunch advocate of those within the profession, Mahoney became a member of the Nurses Associated Alumnae of the United States and Canada (NAAUSC, later known as the American Nurses Association) in 1896. But she faced discrimination at NAAUSC, which had a predominantly white membership, so Mahoney took it upon herself to co-found the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) in 1908.

Keep reading: https://www.essence.com/black-history-month-2019/mary-eliza-mahoney-the-first-black-nurse/

Berklee College Professor Julius P. Williams Becomes 1st African-American President of the Conductors Guild

Julius P. Williams (photo via wikipedia.org)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to jbhe.com, Julius P. Williams has been named President of the Conductors Guild, a global membership organization comprised of conductors of symphony, opera, ballet, choral, band, contemporary, and chamber ensembles. Dr. Williams is the first African American president in Conductors Guild history, and began his two-year term in earlier this month.

Williams is a Professor of Composition at the Berklee College of Music in Boston currently, as well as artistic director and conductor of the Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra. His other positions include music director and conductor of Trilogy: An Opera Company in New Jersey, composer with the Boston Symphony Orchestra‘s “Composer-in-Residence Project.” Williams also works with the Boston Pops Orchestra.

“The appointment of Julius Williams as president of Conductors Guild is both meaningful and newsworthy. Maestro Williams has not only the stellar credentials, but the right vision, breadth and leadership, to set a powerful example for our field,” said Afa S. Dworkin, president and artistic director of The Sphinx Organization. “We applaud the Conductors Guild on this news and look forward to many inspiring programs and ideas that will undoubtedly emerge!”

Throughout his career, Williams has conducted ensembles at Carnegie Hall, and performances with orchestras in Dallas, Savannah, Hartford, Sacramento, Tulsa, and Knoxville, as well as the Harlem Symphony, Armor Artist Chamber Orchestra, Connecticut Opera, and the Kalistos Chamber Orchestra in Boston.

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2019/01/julius-p-williams-becomes-first-african-american-president-of-the-conductors-guild/

Ayanna Pressley Upsets Incumbent in Primary; On Track to Become Massachusetts’ 1st Black Congresswoman

Ayanna Pressley, a Boston City Council member, celebrated her win in the Democratic primary at an election night party in Dorchester, Mass., on Tuesday. (Credit: Sarah Rice for The New York Times)

by Katharine Q. Seelye via nytimes.com

Ayanna Pressley upended the Massachusetts political order on Tuesday, scoring a stunning upset of 10-term Representative Michael Capuano and positioning herself to become the first African-American woman to represent the state in Congress.

Ms. Pressley’s triumph was in sync with a restless political climate that has fueled victories for underdogs, women and minorities elsewhere this election season, and it delivered another stark message to the Democratic establishment that newcomers on the insurgent left were unwilling to wait their turn. Ms. Pressley propelled her candidacy with urgency, arguing that in the age of Trump, “change can’t wait.”

Her victory carried echoes of the surprise win in June by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who trounced a longtime House incumbent, Joseph Crowley, in New York. Ms. Pressley is also among several African-American progressives who beat expectations, and in some cases performed far better than polling projections; they include Stacey Abrams of Georgia, Andrew Gillum of Florida and Ben Jealous of Maryland, who each won the Democratic Party’s nominations for governor.

There is no Republican on the November ballot in this storied Boston-based district, which was once represented by John F. Kennedy and is one of the most left leaning in the country. Addressing jubilant supporters at a union hall in Dorchester Tuesday night, Ms. Pressley said: “It seems like change is on the way.”

Speaking in abnormally hushed tones, in contrast to her fiery and impassioned style on the campaign trail, she told supporters “we have together ushered in something incredible.”

“People who feel seen and heard for the first time in their lives, a stakehold in democracy and a promise for our future,” she said. “That is the real victory, that is bigger than any electoral victory. And I want to thank you all for being foot soldiers in this movement and for ushering in this change.”

Mr. Capuano conceded with barely 13 percent of the votes counted, saying: “I’m sorry it didn’t work out, but this is life, and this is O.K. America’s going to be O.K. Ayanna Pressley is going to be a good congresswoman, and I will tell you that Massachusetts will be well served.” Soon afterward, The Associated Press pronounced Ms. Pressley the winner.

Ms. Pressley, who in 2009 became the first black woman elected to the Boston City Council, overcame a powerful lineup of the Massachusetts political establishment. Mr. Capuano, 66, who has held the seat for 20 years, was endorsed by almost every major political figure, including Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston, who deployed his extensive political machine on Tuesday on Mr. Capuano’s behalf.

“This is a big wake-up call to any incumbent on the ballot in November,” said Mary Anne Marsh, a Boston-based Democratic strategist. “We’ve been in a change election cycle for years. But Trump may have opened the door for all these young candidates, women, people of color, because voters want the antithesis of him.”

Ms. Pressley’s win, the margin of victory, and the historic nature of her candidacy are sure to reverberate throughout Boston, a city whose fraught racial history is baked into its national reputation. Ms. Pressley said Democrats throughout the state discouraged her from running against Mr. Capuano, and John Lewis, the civil rights legend and longtime Georgia congressman, held a campaign event for him in May. Yet Ms. Pressley rode a strong turnout among Boston’s minority communities toward history.

Her slogan, “change can’t wait,” was a nod to those who said her candidacy was disrupting the traditional order of Boston politics, she said. It was also a rallying cry for the state’s only minority-majority district — to have a representative who mirrors the community’s diversity.

Political observers said the win was the biggest sign yet that a “new Boston” was emerging in the shadow of the city’s historically white, union-driven political establishment. This new electorate is powered by minorities, immigrants and young college students who have flocked to the city’s start-upsstartups and tech-friendly industries.

Only two of the state’s nine House members are women, and one is retiring. It was not until 2012 that Massachusetts elected its first woman — Elizabeth Warren — to the Senate. It has never elected a female governor.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/04/us/politics/ayanna-pressley-massachusetts.html

Astead Herndon contributed reporting

Simmons College Renames College of Media, Arts and Humanities in Memory of Journalist and Alumna Gwen Ifill

Gwen Ifill (photo via Getty Images)

via jbhe.com

Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts, announced that it will rename its College of Media, Arts and Humanities after Gwen Ifill, the noted journalist and Simmons College alumna who died in 2016.

Ifill was born in Jamaica, New York, the daughter of immigrants from the Caribbean. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communications at Simmons College and worked as a reporter for the Boston Herald-American, the Baltimore Evening Sun, the Washington Post and the New York Times.

Her first job in television was for NBC News. She then joined the Public Broadcasting System in 1999 and served as co-anchor of NewsHour and moderator of Washington Week. Ifill moderated two vice presidential debates and a primary contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Ifill was the author of The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama (Doubleday, 2009).

In announcing the honor, Simmons College President Helen Drinan stated, “For over 100 years, our mission at Simmons has been to prepare our students to lead meaningful lives and build successful careers. Gwen’s example stands tall in that mission. The kind of unimpeded curiosity Gwen brought to her work, coupled with her warmth, integrity and commitment to truth-telling, is something all of our students aspire to – no matter what field of study they pursue. We are extraordinarily proud of her and so pleased to formalize her legacy at Simmons this way.”

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2017/11/simmons-college-in-boston-names-a-college-in-honor-of-journalist-and-alumna-gwen-ifill/

Frederick Clay, Wrongfully Convicted of Murder, Wins Freedom Back after Nearly Four Decades in Prison

Frederick Clay, center, who was wrongfully convicted of a 1979 murder, leaves Suffolk Superior Court with attorneys Jeff Harris, left, and Lisa Kavanaugh yesterday. (photo credit: Angela Rowlings)

by Chris Villani via bostonherald.com

A Boston man who has maintained his innocence through nearly four decades behind bars was granted his freedom after Suffolk, MA prosecutors admitted his 1981 murder conviction was tainted by discredited witness identification and police tactics. “To quote Sam Cooke, ‘it’s been a long time coming,’ ” Frederick Clay said after walking out of the Suffolk Superior courtroom yesterday. “It’s been 38 years for something I didn’t do. I’m overwhelmed and sort of nervous.”

Clay, 53, emerged from the Boston courthouse with his arms raised and a wide smile on this face, having last experienced freedom when Jimmy Carter was in the White House and “Bad Girls” by Donna Summer was at the top of the charts. He was convicted of the 1979 execution-style murder of 28-year-old cab driver Jeffrey Boyajian, who was shot five times in the head at a Roslindale housing project.

“From day one, they told me I was facing natural life in prison,” Clay told reporters, “and that scared me. But I was not going to voluntarily put myself in prison for something I didn’t do.” Professing his innocence cost Clay at his first parole hearing in 2015, when the three board members who denied his release wrote that he had “yet to accept responsibility for his actions.”

One of the witnesses to the crime said he was sure about Clay’s guilt after being hypnotized by police, then a widely-accepted practice thought to enhance recollection. A second witness ID’d Clay after being promised he and his family could be relocated from their housing project if he helped investigators. Another man convicted in the slaying, James Watson, is still behind bars and prosecutors remain confident of his involvement.

Boyajian’s brother Jerry spoke in support of releasing Clay.“All my family has ever wanted was justice for my brother,” Boyajian said, recalling his older brother as a “jock” with a great sense of humor. “I really feel that justice failed Mr. Clay and, in that respect, it also failed my brother.”

To read full article, go to: Frederick Clay wins freedom, innocence back after nearly four decades in prison | Boston Herald

Grammy Award Winner Esperanza Spalding Joins Harvard’s Department of Music as a Professor

Esperanza Spalding (Photo: Sandrine Lee)

via blavity.com

Esperanza Spalding is at the top of her field. She’s won just about every award a musician can win: four Grammys, a Smithsonian award, an NAACP Image Award, a Frida Kahlo award, a Boston Music Award — we could go on for ten minutes. And now, according to a press release from Harvard University, Spalding is going to teach others how she did it.

The bassist and singer has been appointed the a professor of the practice in the university’s Department of Music. The university’s professors of the practice are individuals “who have a national or international reputation as leaders” and who are “the best in the field.” That certainly sounds like Spalding. The press release refers to the artist as “a national treasure with global resonance” who “stands apart for the intelligence and deep sense of humanity” found in her work.

This won’t be Spalding’s first time in front of students, either. She taught at Boston’s Berklee College of Music from 2005 to 2008, and has instructed many pupils as an artist in residence in the years since. At Harvard, Spalding will lead courses in songwriting, improvisation and performance. The school also promises that Spalding will bring her “commitment to music as a voice for social justice” to the classroom with her.

To read full article, go to: Esperanza Spalding Is Now A Harvard Professor | BLAVITY

Barack Obama Named Recipient of 2017 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award

Barack Obama (photo via nbcnews.com)

article by Associated Press via nbcnews.com

Former President Barack Obama was named the 2017 winner of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award on Thursday for carrying on his fellow Democrat’s legacy.

“President Kennedy called on a new generation of Americans to give their talents to the service of the country,” Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline Kennedy, said in a statement. “With exceptional dignity and courage, President Obama has carried that torch into our own time, providing young people of all backgrounds with an example they can emulate in their own lives.”

Caroline Kennedy and her son, Jack Schlossberg, will present Obama with the award May 7 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. Obama tweeted he is “humbled” by the recognition.

The award is presented annually by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation to public servants who have made courageous decisions of conscience without regard for the personal or professional consequences. It is named for Kennedy’s 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “Profiles in Courage.” The book tells the stories of eight U.S. senators who risked their careers by taking principled stands for unpopular positions.

To read more, go to: Barack Obama Named Recipient of JFK Profile in Courage Award – NBC News

PBS NewsHour and Washington Press Club Foundation Create Journalism Fellowship in Memory of Gwen Ifill

Gwen Ifill (photo via ebony.com)

article via ebony.com

The PBS NewsHour and Washington Press Club Foundation  announced yesterday the creation of The Gwen Ifill/PBS NewsHour Journalism Fellowship.T he 10-week PBS NewsHour summer fellowship was created in honor of award-winning anchor, reporter and author Gwen Ifill.

The former PBS NewsHour co-anchor and managing editor and Washington Week moderator died in Nov. 2016 following complications from endometrial cancer. “Gwen Ifill was the best of the best, a remarkable journalist with boundless curiosity, who insisted on the highest standards for herself and her colleagues,” Sara Just, PBS NewsHour executive producer said. “We are grateful for the generosity of the Washington Press Club Foundation for the opportunity to honor Gwen’s legacy in this way and guiding young people into practicing journalism with her high standards.”

Ifill had a decades long career in news and was the best-selling author of The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. She covered eight Presidential campaigns and moderated the Vice Presidential debates during the Presidential elections in 2004 and 2008.

Before joining PBS in 1999, Ifill was chief congressional and political correspondent for NBC News. The New York City native graduated from Simmons College in Boston and received more than 25 honorary doctorates. In 2015, she was awarded the National Press Club’s highest honor, the Fourth Estate Award.

To read more, go to: Journalism Fellowship Created in Honor of Gwen Ifill – EBONY

PBS to Air Documentary on William Monroe Trotter, a Black Newspaper Editor Who Fought Against Original “The Birth of a Nation”

William Monroe Trotter (photo via colorlines.com)

article by Sameer Rao via colorlines.com

As D.W. Griffith’s “The Birth of a Nation” contributed to the Ku Klux Klan’s resurgence nearly 100 years ago, pioneering Black newspaper editor and activist William Monroe Trotter fought to ban the film in his native Boston. An upcoming PBS doc will explore his battle against the infamous 1915 film.

Birth of a Movement focuses on Trotter’s mobilization of community protests, which included an attempt to see the movie with supporters that ended in a scuffle and his arrest. These protests were part of a career spent critiquing segregationist policy that included founding and editing The Boston Guardian, criticizing Booker T. Washington, helping to create the NAACP and leading the National Equal Rights League. Trotter’s activism grew into a broader movement to combat the film’s violent aftermath.

The documentary premieres February 6 at 10 p.m. as part of PBS’ “Independent Lens” series.

To read more, go to: PBS to Air Doc on Black Editor Who Fought Original ‘The Birth of a Nation’ | Colorlines

Harlem Lacrosse Helps Pre-Teen Girls and Boys Stay Focused and Graduate Middle School

Ps 149 Truth Tigers Lacrosse team travels to Randall's Island for a game after school on May 26, 2016 in the Harlem Borough of New York City, New York. (Photo by Taylor Baucom/The Players' Tribune)
Ps 149 Truth Tigers Lacrosse team travels to Randall’s Island for a game after school on May 26, 2016 in the Harlem Borough of New York City, New York. (Photo by Taylor Baucom/The Players’ Tribune)

article by Angela Bronner Helm via blackamericaweb.com

Founded in 2008 at Harlem’s Frederick Douglass Academy, Harlem Lacrosse was the brainchild of a special education math teacher, Simon Cataldo, who struggled as an educator in his first year. Desperate to connect, Cataldo introduced the historically White and elite sport of lacrosse to “engage his most academically and behaviorally challenged students.”

And it worked. Now in its eighth year, Harlem Lacrosse operates 11 programs in New York, Baltimore and Boston, serving over 450 boys and girls—nearly one-third of whom are in Special Education.

The program says it actively recruits special education students and students identified by school administrators as most vulnerable to academic decline and school dropout. More than 90 percent identify as Black, Hispanic or multi-racial; 45 percent speak a language other than English at home and 96 percent qualify for free or reduced lunch.

Since 2011, Harlem Lacrosse students have maintained a 100 percent on-time middle school graduation rate, and have earned over $15 million scholarship offers to private schools and colleges. But most uniquely, the program is split about 50/50 between boys and girls.

Recently, The Players Tribune followed the all-girls team from P.S. 149, the Sojourner Truth Tigers, for the entire 2015-2016 season. We hear from the pre-teens on why lacrosse is important to them:

“When I first saw lacrosse, I thought it was only for boys, but it looked pretty cool.” — Karmen, 12

“Lacrosse helped me gain confidence. I go places I’ve never been before. I seen the White house, I didn’t see Obama, though. That’d be a dream come true.” — Kiera, 12

See the Sojourner Truth Tigers over the last year and read their words here.