Tag: Ford Foundation

Professor and Poet Elizabeth Alexander Named President of Mellon Foundation

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Elizabeth Alexander (photo via elizabethalexander.net)

by Robin Pogebrin via nytimes.com

Elizabeth Alexander, whose memoir was a finalist in 2016 for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award and who wrote and recited an original poem at Barack Obama’s 2009 inaugural, will be the next president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the country’s largest humanities philanthropy.

“All of the things that I’ve cared about my whole life and worked toward my whole life Mellon does,” said Ms. Alexander in a telephone interview, citing areas like higher education and scholarship, arts and cultural heritage, and diversity.

She added that “arts and humanities are not the most protected entities right now.”

Ms. Alexander succeeds Earl Lewis, who has served since 2013. She will start in March, becoming the foundation’s first female president.

“She has deep experience in cultivating partnerships that extend and amplify creative vision,” Danielle Allen, the foundation’s chairwoman, said in a statement, adding that Ms. Alexander “brings an artist’s forward-looking energy to institutional purpose.”

Ms. Alexander, who has written six books of poetry and two essay collections, was most recently a humanities professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Before that, she served as the director of creativity and free expression at the Ford Foundation, where she helped design Agnes Gund’s $100 million Art for Justice Fund.

“This appointment is a milestone in the history of American philanthropy,” said Darren Walker, the president of the Ford Foundation. “It’s the combination of being both rooted in the arts and grounded in the humanities and understanding philanthropy that is going to make her a success.”

Ms. Alexander has also worked closely with the Poetry Center at Smith College; the nonprofit Cave Canem, which trains aspiring poets; and Yale University, where she spent 15 years on the faculty and helped rebuild the African-American Studies department.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/07/arts/design/mellon-foundation-president-elizabeth-alexander.html

African-American Cultural Heritage Action Fund Launched to Increase Diversity in Historic Preservation

Madam C.J. Walker’s “Villa Lewaro,” the home of the country’s first female African-American millionaire. (Courtesy National Trust for Historic Preservation/Madam Walker Family Archive)

by via curbed.com

A new multi-year initiative to help preserve more African-American historical sites, and address funding gaps in the preservation of current sites, was announced today.

The African-American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, a partnership between the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Ford Foundation, The JPB Foundation, and the Open Society Foundations, will establish a grant fund for protection and restoration. Actress and activist Phylicia Rashad, who previously campaigned to protect the Brainerd Institute in South Carolina, a school established in 1866 for freed slaves, will serve as an advisor and ambassador.

“There is an opportunity and an obligation for us to step forward boldly and ensure the preservation of places which tell the often-overlooked stories of African-Americans and their many contributions to our nation,” said Stephanie Meeks, President and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in a statement. “We believe that this fund will be transformative for our country, and we are committed to crafting a narrative that expands our view of history and, ultimately, begins to reconstruct our national identity, while inspiring a new generation of activists to advocate for our diverse historic places.”

The nascent initiative will seek $25 million in initial funding, and focus on historical sites and buildings that help tell often-overlooked aspects of the country’s history, as well as stories of overcoming intolerance, injustice, and inequality.

“As the scholar Carl Becker once wrote, history is what the present chooses to remember about the past,” said Patrick Gaspard, vice president of the Open Society Foundations. “The events in Charlottesville this past summer are a stark reminder of how one segment of American society chooses to celebrate a brutal past. We have an opportunity, through this tremendous project, to preserve, protect and cherish another history too often neglected—the vital story of African-Americans and their enormous contributions to the idea of America.”

Source: https://www.curbed.com/2017/11/15/16656528/historic-preservation-african-american-cultural-heritage-fund

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.

RespectAbility Creates Harriet Tubman Fellowships with Ford Foundation Grant to Train Future Disability Advocates

Printarticle by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Washington, D.C. – RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities, recently announced that the Ford Foundation awarded the charity a grant, which has enabled RespectAbility to create and offer Harriett Tubman Fellowships to select participants in the National Leadership Program.

Tubman acquired traumatic brain injury when a slave owner hit her with a heavy metal weight leading to epileptic seizures and hypersomnia. Her work, while living as an individual with a disability, to free enslaved people and then for women’s suffrage is one of the great stories of how people with disabilities can help make a nation stronger and better.

Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, published a groundbreaking op-ed in The New York Times called “Internships are Not a Privilege,” which discussed how the practice of requiring people to do unpaid internships before they get good policy jobs harms diversity efforts and discriminates against people who cannot afford to do them.

“We are thrilled to have this new transformative support,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of RespectAbility. “Thanks to the Ford Foundation, we will be able to strengthen and diversify our National Leadership Program for young leaders with and without disabilities who are going into public policy, advocacy, journalism, public relations and other leadership roles. Previously, many people who wanted to participate in the program could not do so because while it offered free lunch and a transportation stipend, it was an unpaid program. Now we will be able to pay $15 an hour to many of the fellows who otherwise could not afford to do such a leadership program.”

RespectAbility’s first Harriet Tubman Fellows are:

headshot of Eddie Ellis, an African American manEddie B. Ellis Jr.
 is a reentry advocate/consultant, trainer, mentor and motivational speaker. As a returning citizen with multiple disabilities and a person of color, Ellis’ experience provides invaluable insight and depth into his work that allows him to connect with and engage the community in which he serves. He recently  published in The Washington Post: “I am one of the success stories from D.C.’s second-chance law for young offenders.”

Ellis is the founder and CEO of OneBy1, an organization that works with communities and partners to provide youth development workshops and mentoring services to keep youth out of the corrections system and help those exiting the system stay out. Ellis also has written and published several resource guides offering service referrals, practical tips and inspiration to former offenders and parolees returning to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. He works hard to ensure that individuals reentering society are well informed and sufficiently equipped to make better choices for themselves and that they are truly given a second chance.

headshot of Ming Canaday, a Chinese womanMing Canaday recently completed coursework for a master’s degree in the History of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. This week she published a first-person piece in Foreign Policy: “I Was Rescued from a Chinese Orphanage. My Friend Wasn’t.” During her time in Europe, Canaday traveled extensively on the continent and to the University of Cape Town in South Africa to complete her dissertation research on contemporary attitudes towards rising Chinese migration to that region.

From 2009 to 2013, she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon, where she triple-majored in International Studies, Chinese, and Asian Studies. During her undergraduate career, Canaday spent time in China interning at Justice for All, a disability advocacy organization that serves individuals with disabilities as well as individuals with HIV/AIDs and Hepatitis B. After graduation, Canaday, who is a wheelchair user, pursued a certificate at the City University of New York in Disability Studies to better advocate for individuals with disabilities. She also completed a summer internship at Human Rights Watch, assisting with research on issues related to China’s policies toward people with physical or mental impairments. Continue reading “RespectAbility Creates Harriet Tubman Fellowships with Ford Foundation Grant to Train Future Disability Advocates”

Legal Scholar and “The New Jim Crow” Author Michelle Alexander to Receive $250,000 Heinz Award

article via jbhe.com

Michelle Alexander (photo via newjimcrow.com)
Michelle Alexander (photo via newjimcrow.com)

Michelle Alexander, a visiting professor at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City and a senior fellow at the Ford Foundation, has been chosen to receive the Heinz Award in the public policy category. The awards were established by Teresa Heinz in 1993 to honor the memory of her late husband, U.S. Senator John Heinz from Pennsylvania, an heir to the Heinz Ketchup fortune. The Heinz Award comes with a $250,000 prize.

According to the award committee, Professor Alexander is being honored “for her work in drawing national attention to the issues of mass incarceration of African American youth and men in the United States, and for igniting a movement that is inspiring organizations and individuals to take constructive action on criminal justice reform.” She is the author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New Press, 2010).

To read more, go to: https://www.jbhe.com/2016/09/legal-scholar-michelle-alexander-selected-to-receive-a-250000-heinz-award/

Poet, Author and Professor Elizabeth Alexander Named to Pulitzer Prize Board

American poet Elizabeth Alexander speaks during an event in the State Dining Room at the White House on April 17, 2015, in Washington, D.C. First lady Michelle Obama hosted the event in celebration of National Poetry Month.
American poet Elizabeth Alexander (photo via Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

article by Stephen A. Crockett Jr. via theroot.com

Acclaimed poet, author and professor Elizabeth Alexander has been elected to the Pulitzer Prize board.

Alexander wrote and delivered her poem “Praise Song for the Day” for President Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009 and was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for her book of poetry American Sublime and a 2016 Pulitzer finalist for her memoir, The Light of the World, according to the announcement on the Pulitzer website.

Alexander has taught at several schools, including the University of Chicago, New York University and Smith College, and was part of the faculty at Yale University for 15 years; she also served as chair of Yale’s department of African-American studies. Alexander was recently named the Wun Tsun Tam Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University and is the director of creativity and free expression at the Ford Foundation.

As a member of the 19-person board, Alexander will help decide the winners of the Pulitzer Prizes in in journalism, books, drama and music each April. She will serve a three-year term on the Pulitzer Prize board, on which members serve a maximum of nine years.

Learn more about Alexander here.

Landmark Civil Rights Documentary “Eyes on the Prize, Parts I and II” Starts Re-airing Tonight at 9pmEST on WORLD Channel

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Public television’s WORLD Channel will present the complete Emmy-Award winning Eyes on the Prize I and II starting tonight, January 17, 2016. A 30-minute special feature, Eyes on the Prize: Then and Now, will launch the encore presentation of this historic two-part series and explore its impressive relevance today.

Eyes on the Prize, created by Executive Producer Henry Hampton, is a critically-acclaimed and in-depth documentary series on civil rights in America.  With the current national spotlight on issues of race and inequality—as well as the marking of the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, and the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott—the time is right for this series about the nation’s civil rights history to be front and center as part of an essential dialogue.

America continues to struggle with the recurring crisis of race-related violence; Eyes on the Prize and II can provide perspective for a new generation and be a touchstone for citizens who lived through the decades that the films depict. Journalist and writer Al Letson hosts new introductions to each episode.

“We are elated that this landmark series will once again be broadcast across the country, reaching millions of viewers—many of whom may never have seen the original airing. The series focuses on solutions to the conflicts that we face today.  Eyes on the Prize shows leadership, grass roots organization and personal sacrifice as the recipe that can create lasting change.  It is our hope the television programs together with our comprehensive outreach campaign will spark a national dialogue about this critical topic,” says Judi Hampton, president of Blackside, and sister of the late Henry Hampton (1940-1998).

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The WORLD Channel presentation, made possible with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Ford Foundation, includes Eyes on the Prize: Then and Now, a new, original 30-minute special, which will lead into the premiere January 17 of Eyes on the Prize, setting the groundbreaking documentary series in the context of today.  Narrated by music artist Aloe BlaccEyes on the Prize: Then and Now features Eyes on the Prize filmmakers, present-day activists, human rights leaders, and scholars. The special revisits key historical moments and explores commonalities with current national events.

“The WORLD Channel is honored to be presenting this signature series,” says Chris Hastings, Executive Producer of the WORLD Channel. “It’s a history that must be understood.  With Eyes on the Prize: Then and Now, we ask questions and draw comparisons about the struggle to achieve equality today. As conflicts and challenges continue, Eyes on the Prize remains essential viewing for all Americans.”

As part of the initiative, WGBH Education is developing a digital resource collection supporting Eyes on the Prize and civil rights themes in history and social studies curricula, to help the civil rights movement come alive for students today. This collection will be available on PBS LearningMedia in January.

Based at WGBH Boston, the national public media producer, WORLD Channel delivers the best of public television’s original documentary films and news to US audiences through local public television stations, including America ReFramed, AfroPopPOV and Local, USA.  The special Eyes on the Prize presentation also will be made available to all public television stations for local broadcasts (check listings) after the WORLD premiere.

EYES ON THE PRIZE I and II

Almost three decades since its premiere, the groundbreaking series Eyes on the Prize I and II will return to PBS this January.  Eyes on the Prize I will premiere on The WORLD Channel six consecutive Sundays – January 17, 24, 31 and February 7, 14, 21 at 9:00 p.m. (EST). Eyes on the Prize II will air eight consecutive Sundays—February 28, March 6, 13, 20, 27, and April 3, 10, 17 at 9:00 p.m. (EST).

Produced by Blackside, Eyes on the Prize tells the definitive story of the Civil Rights era from the point of view of the ordinary men and women whose extraordinary actions launched a movement that changed the fabric of American life and embodied a struggle whose reverberations continue to be felt today.  This multi-part Academy Award nominated documentary is the winner of numerous Emmy Awards, a George Foster Peabody Award, an International Documentary Association Award, and a Television Critics Association Award.

Through contemporary interviews and historical footage, Eyes on the Prize I and II, traces the civil rights movement from the Montgomery bus boycott to the Voting Rights Act; from early acts of individual courage through the flowering of a mass movement and its eventual split into factions.  The late Julian Bond, political leader and civil rights activist, narrates.  Descriptions of each episode follow below:

Continue reading “Landmark Civil Rights Documentary “Eyes on the Prize, Parts I and II” Starts Re-airing Tonight at 9pmEST on WORLD Channel”

New Pitzer College President Melvin L. Oliver is 1st African American to Lead a Claremont Undergrad Campus

Melvin L. Oliver was named president of Pitzer College. He will take office July 1. (photo via pitzer.edu)
Melvin L. Oliver was named president of Pitzer College. (photo via pitweb.pitzer.edu)

But Melvin L. Oliver rose to become an award-winning University of California professor, researcher, author and administrator noted for championing campus racial diversity. Now he will become the sixth president of Pitzer College — and the first African American to lead one of the five undergraduate Claremont Colleges, officials announced Wednesday.

Oliver, 65, will assume office July 1 at a time of national campus unrest over racial, ethnic and gender equity, including protests that forced out the dean of students at nearby Claremont McKenna College last year. Pitzer student activists have also asked for steps to increase campus diversity.

Oliver, who has tackled racial and economic inequality with both research and practical initiatives during three decades at UCLA and UC Santa Barbara, along with a stint at the Ford Foundation, said he would seek to address those concerns as one of his top priorities.

“I want to deepen the commitment of Pitzer to recruiting, supporting and graduating those students [of color] because I think it’s an exceptional education and I want it to be available to as many of them as possible,” he said in an interview.

Continue reading “New Pitzer College President Melvin L. Oliver is 1st African American to Lead a Claremont Undergrad Campus”

Darren Walker to be Named President of the Ford Foundation

Darren Walker (pictured above)  was born in a charity hospital in Lafayette, La., and grew up in the 1960s in a single-parent household in rural Texas, where his mother worked as a nurse’s aide and he was enrolled in one of the first Head Start programs. He went on to the University of Texas at Austin with help from a Pell grant scholarship, awarded to low-income students based on financial need. He put in a few years at a prestigious Manhattan law firm and a Wall Street investment bank. Then he moved into the nonprofit world, first in Harlem, where, among other things, he worked on the project to build the first full-service supermarket there in a generation.

On Thursday, Mr. Walker, 53, will take the next step in a career that has taken him from Harlem to world-famous foundations five and a half miles away in Midtown Manhattan. He is to be named president of the Ford Foundation, the nation’s second-largest philanthropic organization. He will succeed Luis Ubiñas, who announced in March that he would step down. For Mr. Walker, the new job is a promotion. He has been a vice president at Ford since 2010, when Mr. Ubiñas hired him away from the Rockefeller Foundation, where Mr. Walker had worked for several years, also as a vice president.

Continue reading “Darren Walker to be Named President of the Ford Foundation”