Tag: Cambridge

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.”

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

How the Dark Room Collective in Boston Sparked “Total Life” in Literature | Harvard Magazine

Members of the Dark Room Collective, photographed by Elsa Dorfman in 2013; from left to right: Sharan Strange, Janice Lowe, Danielle Legros Georges, John Keene, Tisa Bryant, Major Jackson, Artress Bethany White, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Patrick Sylvain, and Tracy K. Smith (Photograph © 2016 Elsa Dorfman)

article by Sophia Nguyen via harvardmagazine.com

NO OUTWARD SIGN sets the pale yellow house at 31 Inman Street apart from its neighbors. Someone going on a literary pilgrimage in Cambridge might start a mile away, at 104 Irving Street, where e.e. cummings ’15 grew up; then head west, to 16 Ash Street, where T.S. Eliot ’10, A.M. ’11, Litt.D. ’47, studied Sanskrit in the attic; then westward still, to the final residence of Robert Frost ’01, Litt.D. ’37, at 35 Brewster Street—guided the whole way by blue historical markers, never thinking to glance in the opposite direction.

But back in Central Square, that anonymous Victorian was the cradle of the Dark Room Collective. There, in the late 1980s, a trio of young African-American writers—Sharan Strange ’81, Thomas Sayers Ellis, and Janice Lowe—formed their own literary center of gravity. During its decade of existence, their reading series and writers’ group gathered a nebula of creative energy, a starry critical mass whose impact on American letters continues to expand.

The Dark Room Collective (DRC) was a haven for early members like writer and translator John Keene ’87, experimental prose writer Tisa Bryant, and poet Patrick Sylvain, Ed.M. ’98—a place to get together and get serious about their craft. It was “a whole ‘nother kind of education,” says Keene. “It was an immersion in a world that I only kind of glimpsed when I was in college.” By e-mail, co-founder Sharan Strange comments, “I often say that working within the DRC and curating the reading series was in many ways my true M.F.A. experience.”

The reading series was also an early performance venue for then-emerging talent—from current Boston poet laureate Danielle Legros Georges to Natasha Trethewey, RI ’01, U.S. poet laureate from 2012 to 2014. Many others passed through over the years, including Aya de Leon ’08, now director of Poetry for the People at the University of California, Berkeley; poet and critic Carl Phillips ’81; visual artist Ellen Gallagher; sound artist Tracie Morris; and actress Nehassaiu deGannes. In all, the participants’ published books number in the dozens, and they have earned fellowships and nominations and wins for honors like the National Book Awards, Whiting Awards, and Pulitzer Prizes.

“Once you’re in, you’re in forever,” declares poet Kevin Young ’92 in his nonfiction inquiry The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness. Young joined while still an undergraduate, as did Tracy K. Smith ’94, who remembers thinking, “Oh, wow—these young people want to be writers, and I want to be a writer, but they’re actually doing it.”

She began to help with lighting at events, just to “be in that space and see what the model for this life that I wanted looked like. For me,” Smith adds, “the Dark Room was really about saying, ‘If you want to do this, this is how you do it. And don’t wait. Do it now.’”“For me, the Dark Room was really about saying, ‘If you want to do this, this is how you do it. And don’t wait. Do it now.’”The audience for literary writing is small, and slimmer still for poetry; by that measure, it’s unsurprising that the Dark Room remains obscure. But even dedicated readers of contemporary verse might know the Collective only as a common footnote to its alumni’s impressive biographies.

Over coffee at Lamont Library, Harvard Review poetry editor Major Jackson, RI ’07, muses, “I almost tweeted this, but am glad that I didn’t—,” then just barely hesitates before continuing, “And maybe this is no better—but I think if there were a group of poets who were white and male, or white and male and female, or white and female, there would have been a documentary made about them by now. There would be a movie about them.” Individual members have been celebrated, and the Dark Room has been loosely associated with those summed accomplishments. But, he says, the Collective has not been recognized as a whole: “Maybe we need to all grow gray hairs before that happens and America catches up.”

To read full article: How the Dark Room Collective sparked “total life” in literature | Harvard Magazine

Actress Rashida Jones Named 2016 Harvard College Class Day Speaker

Rashida Jones (Photograph courtesy of Rashida Jones) 

article by Laura Levis via harvardmagazine.com

Actress and Harvard alumna Rashida Jones will be the principal guest speaker for Harvard College seniors celebrating their Class Day in Cambridge, Massachusetts on May 25.  She was chosen and invited to speak by a subcommittee of eight class marshals, who considered speakers suggested by classmates as part of a senior-class survey.

“I am truly honored to come back to campus and speak at Class Day 2016. Harvard was such a transformative place for me in so many ways,” Jones said in a statement. “It’s where I first had the idea for Facebook, which went on to make me billions of dollars and change the world. Oh wait, that wasn’t me…”

Jones, an accomplished screenwriter, philanthropist, and comic-book author, is best known for her roles in more than 20 films, television shows such as The Office and Parks and Recreation, and, most recently, as the title character in the TBS comedy Angie Tribeca. The daughter of musician Quincy Jones and model turned The Mod Squad star Peggy Lipton, Jones said of her parents in a recent Vanity Fair profile that she is “the genetic expression of all their secret academic dreams.”

According to Harvard officials, nine alumni have been selected to deliver the Class Day address since 1968, with Jones not only the fourth consecutive alumna to give the address but also the first relative of a former Class Day speaker (her father, in 1997) to receive the honor.

“As a Harvard College alumna, Rashida Jones knows what it is like to balance commitments—whether it was her involvement with the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club, the Signet Society, or the Black Students Association—with academics and the many other facets of college life,” class marshal Gabriela Ruiz-Colon ’16, co-chair of the speaker-selection committee, said in a press release. “She has taken this experience and shown an extraordinary ability to use her celebrity platform to make the world a better place.”

To read more, go to: http://harvardmagazine.com/2016/04/rashida-jones-97-named-harvard-class-day-speaker-2016

Kerry Washington Named Harvard University’s Hasty Pudding Woman Of The Year

Kerry Washington (photo via atlantablackstar.com)
Kerry Washington (photo via atlantablackstar.com)

Actress Kerry Washington has been named Woman of the Year by Harvard University’s Hasty Pudding Theatricals, the nation’s oldest collegiate theatrical organization.

The Scandal star was chosen because she is a “talented and socially engaged film, TV and stage actress who keeps breaking barriers in Hollywood.”

Washington, the first black woman to headline a network TV drama since 1974, has earned Golden Globe, Emmy and SAG Best Actress nominations as well as an NAACP Image Award for Best Actress.

She will be given her pudding pot following a parade through Harvard Square and roast scheduled for Jan. 28.

Previous winners include Sarah Jessica Parker, Meryl Streep, Katharine Hepburn, and Elizabeth Taylor. Comedian Amy Poehler won last year.

article via blackamericaweb.com

Justus Uwayesu, Who Lived in a Rwandan Dump after Being Orphaned by Genocide, Earns Full Scholarship at Harvard

Justus Uwayesu, rescued at 9 from the streets of Rwanda, is enrolled as a freshman at Harvard. (IAN THOMAS JANSEN-LONNQUIST FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES)

BOSTON — Nine years old and orphaned by ethnic genocide, he was living in a burned-out car in a Rwandan garbage dump where he scavenged for food and clothes. Daytimes, he was a street beggar. He had not bathed in more than a year.When an American charity worker, Clare Effiong, visited the dump one Sunday, other children scattered. Filthy and hungry, Justus Uwayesu stayed put, and she asked him why.

“I want to go to school,” he replied.

Well, he got his wish.

This autumn, Mr. Uwayesu enrolled as a freshman at Harvard University on a full-scholarship, studying math, economics and human rights, and aiming for an advanced science degree. Now about 22 — his birthday is unknown — he could be, in jeans, a sweater and sneakers, just another of the 1,667 first-year students here.
Continue reading “Justus Uwayesu, Who Lived in a Rwandan Dump after Being Orphaned by Genocide, Earns Full Scholarship at Harvard”

Diploma of First African-American Harvard Graduate Richard T. Greener up for Auction this Week

Image courtesy of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers

This week, a Bachelor of Arts diploma that belonged to Richard T. Greener, the first African-American to graduate from Harvard, will hit the auction block in Chicago, when it’s sold by Leslie Hindman Auctioneers to the tune of $15,000.

Richard T. Greener
First African-American Harvard Graduate Richard T. Greener

“Greener was a pioneer of social and racial equality in the racially divided South. His Harvard diploma, a document of incalculable historical significance, has never before been offered at public auction,” according to representatives from Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, who will put the diploma out to bid on Wednesday.

The document, dated July 1870, along with piles of other personal papers and artwork that belonged to Greener, were previously thought to have been lost during a San Francisco earthquake in 1906. In 2009, however, Rufus McDonald, a 52-year-old contractor, stumbled upon a treasure trove of Greener’s belongings while cleaning out an old house in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood.

After he found what Harvard University officials have called priceless artifacts, McDonald started selling his discovery to those who he thought could benefit from having them as part of their own collections.

McDonald sold some of the documents for around $52,000 to the University of South Carolina, where Greener taught. “It was like the Holy Grail. It’s such an important symbol of that time period,” Elizabeth West, university archivist at USC, told Boston last year.

When he approached Harvard with a collection that included the diploma, McDonald said he was offered a lowball amount based on appraisals he had done, and instead threatened to torch the document if the school didn’t meet his demands.

“I’ll roast and burn them,” he said in October of last year, when trying to negotiate with the Cambridge university. “It might sound crazy, but people who know me know I’d really do it—I’m sick and tired of Harvard’s BS.”

While the actual amount that Harvard offered McDonald was never revealed, Henry Gates, Jr., who leads Harvard’s W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African-American Research, told Boston that he wanted the documents to end up back at the school.

“I very much hope that Harvard acquires these documents at a fairly appraised value. Mr. McDonald’s discovery was extraordinary,” he said at the time McDonald threatened to burn them.

The price tag set on the diploma alone—valued between $10,000 and $15,000— is lower than McDonald’s original demands from the school for a pile of items owned by Greener. In October of 2013, McDonald was calling on the school to fork over around $65,000 for the Harvard degree and several other documents, after he had them appraised.

Because it’s being sold through an auction house, McDonald doesn’t stand to pocket the full amount of the sale, either. According to a spokesperson from Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, the company will take a cut of the profit once the sale is complete. “If it sells, [Mr. McDonald] gets a portion of that sale. If it doesn’t sell, he can take the document back with him,” the spokesperson said over the phone on Tuesday.

article by Steve Annear via bostonmagazine.com

Nas Gives a Benediction for Harvard’s Nasir Jones Hip-Hop Fellowship

Nas performing in New York in June.
Nas performing in New York in June (Karsten Moran/The New York Times)

The rapper Nas made his first appearance at Harvard University on Thursday, not to perform but to give his blessing to a new fellowship in his name – formally, the Nasir Jones Hip-Hop Fellowship.  The fellowship will be awarded to two scholars or artists annually, chosen by a Harvard faculty committee. It is primarily a research fellowship, although Marcyliena Morgan, a professor of African and African American Studies and the founder and director of the Hip-Hop Archive and Research Institute, which will administer the fellowship, said on Friday that fellows could teach courses as well. The application process, she said, has just started.

“The main purpose of the fellowship,” Ms. Morgan said, “is to support people doing work that has to do with the ways hip-hop itself reaches out to youth through the world, and particularly how it brings together issues of social justice, art and politics. That relationship – and how difficult it can be – is an important aspect of what we’re looking at. Hip-hop has been a way of getting the word out in very difficult situations.”

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Inspired by Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., Investor Makes Huge Gift for Black Studies

Henry Louis Gates Jr. of Harvard, left, and Glenn Hutchins of Silver Lake. The two became friends after meeting 10 years ago.
Henry Louis Gates Jr. of Harvard, left, and Glenn Hutchins of Silver Lake. The two became friends after meeting 10 years ago. (Robert Caplin/New York Times)

Just over 10 years ago, the private equity mogul Glenn Hutchins was on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard. With his 25th Harvard College reunion near, he was thinking about how to put some of his wealth to good use.  One afternoon, clad in a T-shirt and board shorts, he stopped at an old whaling chapel, where Henry Louis Gates Jr., the prominent professor of African and African-American studies at Harvard, was leading a symposium.  That encounter gave Mr. Hutchins his cause.

Since then, Mr. Hutchins has strengthened his connection to Mr. Gates and the Harvard program. Their bond will become stronger on Wednesday, when Mr. Hutchins is expected to announce a gift of more than $15 million to create the Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research, solidifying Harvard’s program as one of the top in its field.  “It creates an infrastructure for the department and a solid foundation on which they can thrive,” Mr. Hutchins said in an interview this month.

The gift — part of a previously announced $30 million donation to the university whose uses had not all been specified — also bespeaks a friendship between two men unlike each other in many respects. One is a wealthy white financier whose firm, Silver Lake, is on the verge of taking over the computer maker Dell with its founder, Michael S. Dell; the other is a celebrated black professor who helped popularize African-American studies as an academic field and social phenomenon.

Continue reading “Inspired by Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., Investor Makes Huge Gift for Black Studies”

Bridget Terry Long Named Academic Dean at the Harvard Graduate School of Education

Bridget Terry LongBridget Terry Long, the Xander Professor of Education and Economics at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, has been appointed academic dean of the school. Dr. Long joined the faculty at the school in 2000 as an assistant professor and was promoted to full professor in 2009. Her research deals with the transition from high school to college focusing on college access, financial aid, and academic preparation.

Professor Long is a faculty research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research and was appointed by President Obama to serve on the National Board of Education Sciences.

Dr. Long is a graduate of Princeton University and holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.

article via jbhe.com