Eugene Bullard, who became known as the Black Swallow of Death, was the first African-American pilot to fly in combat. Bullard now has a statue in his honor, unveiled last week in Warner Robins, Georgia, at the Museum of Aviation next to Robins Air Force Base, and about 100 miles south of Atlanta.
To quote from CNN:
His distant cousin, Harriett Bullard White, told CNN she wept with joy as she placed a wreath at the statue during a ceremony, attended by Air Force officers, nearly two dozen family members and several surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen.
“All my life I’d known how great he was. Of course, no one else knew who he is,” White said. “He’s an American hero and someone all Americans should know about.”
Born in Columbus, Georgia, in 1895, Bullard ran away from home as an 11-year-old, wandering the South for years before stowing away on a freight ship destined for Scotland.
The next year, 1913, he settled in France. When World War I broke out, Bullard enlisted in the French Foreign Legion, serving first in the infantry.
But after being wounded in battle, Bullard made a $2,000 bet with a friend that he could become a military aviator despite his skin color, according to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. He won the bet, receiving his wings as a member of the Aéronautique Militaire in May 1917. That November, he claimed he shot down two German fighters, though accounts vary as to whether those aerial victories could be confirmed.
Black military pilots wouldn’t become common in America until the famed Tuskegee Airmen began training to fly in 1941. President Harry Truman formally desegregated the U.S. armed forces with an executive order in 1948.
According to cnn.com, Oprah Winfrey now has the largest endowment ever at all-male HBCU Morehouse College in Atlanta after donating $13 million.
Winfrey visited Morehouse on Monday for the 30th anniversary of the Oprah Winfrey Scholars Program, the release said. The program started in 1989 and the fund stands at $12 million. Monday’s donation of $13 million pushed her total investment to $25 million.
“Seeing you young Oprah Winfrey scholars here today has moved me deeply,” Winfrey said Monday before announcing her donation. “I am so proud of you, I’m proud of everybody in attendance at this school who is seeking to know more clearly who you are, the value you hold and how you will share that value with the rest of the world.”
Oprah Winfrey returned to Morehouse College to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Oprah Winfrey Scholars Program. Her $12 million donation to the scholarship program over the years has paid for the education of nearly 600 scholars. A portrait was unveiled in her honor today. pic.twitter.com/AE3Qell0Mk
Winfrey’s donation comes after billionaire Robert Smith promised to pay off the student loan debt of the 2019 Morehouse graduates in May. Smith donated $34 million to the school last month, making good on his promise.
“I’m grateful to Oprah Winfrey for her generosity,” said Morehouse President David A. Thomas. “I am also feeling hopeful for Morehouse and what it has garnered in terms of philanthropic support with gifts like Oprah’s and Robert Smith’s. I am hopeful that this will also get others to step up with their support of Morehouse, but even more broadly, historically black colleges and universities.”
Good Black News just learned from Hip Hop Wired that rapper Future is working to support students trying to advance their education with college scholarships via his FreeWishes Foundation.
Last week the Atlanta hip hop artist visited his alma mater, Columbia High School, in Atlanta, GA. He and his artist Guap Tarantino surprised undergraduates with an unscheduled performance, specially designed merchandise and a check for $10,000 in the school’s name. Future will continue to pay it forward with a new initiative coinciding with his new “Legendary Nights” tour.
“Prospective students around the country can now enter to win a college scholarship in the amount of $2,000.00 via his FreeWishes College Scholarship. 17 scholarships will be awarded in total and gifted at each tour stop. Along with the scholarship, lucky recipients will also receive 2 tickets to the Legendary Nights Tour and an exclusive “I Am A Dreamer” sweatshirt.
Students interested in applying for the grant must follow FreeWishes’ social media feed (@freewishesfoundation) and submit a 500- word essay detailing “How Receiving This Scholarship Would Be A Dream Come True” to firstname.lastname@example.org by noon of each tour date.”
Grammy Award-winning hip hop artist, actor and Atlanta native T.I. was honored at the Georgia State Capitol last Friday.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Democratic State Senator Donzella James sponsored a resolution applauding T.I. (née Clifford Joseph Harris, Jr.), for spearheading several non-profit organizations, including Harris Community Works, which works with the disadvantaged, and For The Love of Our Fathers, which aids people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
T.I. is also credited for mentoring youth at local area schools in his hometown, hosting Thanksgiving turkey drives and delivering Christmas presents to families in need throughout Atlanta. He also started a real estate company called Buy Back The Block to help rebuild his old neighborhood in the Center Hill section of Atlanta.
Buamah’s mother Danielle, says the book sparked from an idea she had to help her son fortify his own vocabulary. “I developed the character of Kayla when Nicholas was younger to help teach him expanded vocabulary,” she said in a statement. “After being praised by his first-grade teacher for using the word ‘collaborate’ during his first week of school, I asked Nicholas what he thought about writing a book to help his friends expand their vocabularies. He thought it was a great idea, as long as one of the main characters could be a male figure, and that’s when he created Kyle.”
Buamah had his first-ever book signing in December at Barnes & Noble in Atlanta suburb Snellville. “He sold out in one hour and people kept coming in the store afterward, requesting a copy so much that Barnes & Nobles invited him back,” his mother told Black Enterprise.
Volume 2 of The Walking Dictionaries is scheduled to be released this summer. Buamah wants his book to be available in every elementary school library in the country. He also one day aspires to attend MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and study to become a mechanical engineer.
Spelman College, the historically Black educational institution for women in Atlanta, has received a $30 million donation from trustee Ronda Stryker and her husband William Johnston, The gift is the largest from a living donor in the 137-year history of the college.
The gift will be used to help fund the construction of the Center for Innovation and the Arts on the Spelman campus. When completed the building will house all of the college’s arts programs – art, art history, curatorial studies, dance, digital media, documentary filmmaking, photography, music and theater – in a single building.
Stryker has been a member of the college’s board of trustees for more than 20 years. She currently serves as vice chair.
In making the donation, Stryker stated: “As former educators who believe strongly in social justice, Bill and I have great appreciation for how Spelman provides a superior education for students that encourages them to be global change agents. Spelman alumnae are leaders across every field imaginable, breaking new ground, while tackling some of the world’s most challenging issues from health disparities to the digital divide. We are thrilled to support a building that will encourage students to master technology, innovation and the arts.”
Stryker is a board member at Stryker Corporation, a medical equipment company and vice chair of Greenleaf Trust, an investment banking firm.
Shaquille O’Neal’s one big ole’ holly, jolly good guy who spent the day doing good and giving out backpacks to kids at Eagle’s Landing Middle School in Henry County Georgia last week, WSBTVreports.
Shaq-A-Claus shared the love and surprised the school with an unplanned visit. He greeted kids in the National Junior Beta Club and congratulated them on a job well done, said school district spokesman JD Hardin.
Then he attended a pep rally and spoke to students about making good life choices, before handing out some backpacks, Hardin said.
Shaq took to Twitter to thank his partners for teaming up with him.
Again.. I would like to Thank all my partners for their support with Shaq A Claus 2018 This will be an awesome event for the kids Merry Christmas pic.twitter.com/VwNANrHeQJ
Lucy McBath, the gun control and racial justice activist whose son was killed in a 2012 shooting, is now headed to Congress, after winning a razor-thin election decided Thursday morning.
Ms. McBath defeated the Republican incumbent Karen Handel, who only last year won a closely watched special election in the same Georgia district. Though Ms. Handel did not concede the race until Thursday morning, Ms. McBath, who is also a former Delta flight attendant, claimed victory in a statement released Wednesday. The Associated Press officially called the race for Ms. McBath on Thursday morning, with her lead at just under 3,000 votes.
“Six years ago I went from a Marietta mom to a mother on a mission,” she said, referencing her teenage son’s death. Jordan Davis, Ms. McBath’s son, was 17 when he was shot and killed by a white man at a gas station after refusing to turn down the volume of the rap music playing in his car. The man was later convicted of first-degree murder.
The win furthers the advantage in the House for Democrats, who could see more gains in several still-too-close-to-call races across the country. The district, once held by Newt Gingrich, was initially thought to have been out of reach for Democrats, but tightening polls in the campaign’s final weeks pushed the National Republican Campaign Committee, the House political arm, to run several new advertisements in the district in support of Ms. Handel.
“It is clear I came up a bit short Tuesday,” Ms. Handel said on Thursday morning. “Congratulations to Representative-Elect Lucy McBath and send her only good thoughts and much prayer for the journey that lies ahead for her.”
Ms. McBath was once thought to be a long-shot candidate even among members of her own party, and had even first planned to run for state or local office. Now, she will be the first nonwhite person to represent Georgia’s Sixth District, a section of the state overwhelmingly filled with white and affluent voters.
“At the end of the day, whatever you think about me; whatever happens or whatever I become in the future, I’ll still always be Jordan’s mom,” Ms. McBath said during a campaign event last month.
Her win defies conventional wisdom of how minority candidates must campaign in order to gain traction in districts predominately composed of white voters. While some had advised Ms. McBath to dilute the most explicit parts of her son’s murder, she believed it was integral to telling an authentic story about her life and experiences, she said.
During stump speeches on the trail, Ms. McBath would invoke the name of Trayvon Martin, the teenager killed in Florida whose death spurned legions of black activism. She also said, “I’m risking my son’s legacy for the people of this district.”
“What I’m doing today is still mothering his legacy,” Ms. McBath said last month. “I’m extending what I would do for my son to my community.”
According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Services, African-Americans are 20% more likely to experience psychological distress such as depression, suicide, PTSD and anxiety than their non-Hispanic white counterparts.
Meet Dr. Joy Bradford, a licensed psychologist based in Atlanta, Georgia and founder of Therapy for Black Girls. Passionate about changing the stigma surrounding mental health issues and therapy which often prevents black women from taking the step of seeing a therapist, Bradford aims to alleviate the process of seeking relief for mental health-related issues within the black community, by fostering a safe space to present mental health topics to black millennial women in a digestible way.
Previously a college counselor, Bradford leveraged her people person and problem solver skills to create the Therapy for Black Girls platform in 2014. The Therapy for Black Girls platform now reaches over 32,000 members with its blog, podcast, social media communities, and very own national therapist directory, that lists black women mental health providers nationally.
I spoke with Bradford about what inspired her to create Therapy for Black Girls, why there’s a stigma surrounding mental health in the black community and the challenges that isolate black women millennials from seeking mental health care.
Dominique Fluker: As a licensed psychologist, speaker and host of the popular mental health podcast, Therapy for Black Girls, share why you decided to create the online space dedicated to encouraging the mental wellness of black women and girls?
Dr. Joy Bradford: I created the space because I really wanted Black women to have a place to go to get information about mental health that felt relevant and accessible to them. I wanted to be able to share information about recognizing signs and symptoms of mental illness but also to have conversations about the kinds of things we can do to encourage mental wellness.
Fluker: How is the Therapy for Black Girls platform combating the stigma surrounding mental health issues and therapy for African-American women?
Bradford: I think it’s combating stigma because it is making topics that were once taboo, okay to be publicly discussed. I think that topics covered on the podcast have given people language for some of the things they may have been struggling with, and I think the directory has allowed scores of women to connect with mental health professionals across the country who are excited about providing high-quality care to them.
Fluker: What are the challenges that black women millennial face daily that might make them feel isolated from mental health care?
Bradford: I think that sometimes black millennial women worry that their issues are not “big” enough to go to therapy and so they don’t utilize the service. I also think that sadly a lot of black millennial women also don’t feel like providers will really get them and it feels really hard to go into space where you’re supposed to be very transparent but not able to be comfortable. Additionally, I think that the cost may be prohibitive for some people who may want to go to therapy. Even with insurance, it may be difficult to afford therapy, but without it, there can be a lot of hoops to jump through to find lower cost therapy that is a good fit.
Voting rights activists in Georgia say they will launch a petition drive in an effort to collect enough signatures of registered voters to block a proposal to close more than two-thirds of polling precincts in a predominantly black county ahead of this fall’s general election.
The plan to shutter the voting sites in Randolph County, a rural community about 2½ hours south of Atlanta, has been drawn dozens of local residents and progressive groups to two public hearings in recent days. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a formal protest with the county’s board of elections.
Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state, which oversees elections operations throughout the state, has issued a statement urging Randolph County officials to “abandon this effort.” Kemp also is the Republican nominee in one of the country’s most-watched gubernatorial contests. The Democratic nominee, Stacey Abrams, a former state legislator, is seeking to become the nation’s first black female governor.
The two-member county election board – a third member stepped down recently – has scheduled a vote for Friday on the proposal to shutter seven of the county’s nine polling places, citing problems including facilities in disrepair or inaccessible to persons with disabilities. But some activists are suspicious of the board’s motives, noting that Randolph County is 60 percent black and many residents have low incomes. The county, which covers 431 square miles, has no public transportation system.
All nine of the polling places were used for the May primaries and less than a month ago for statewide run-offs, in which Kemp, helped by an endorsement from President Donald Trump, beat Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle for the GOP nomination.
Local news outlets reported heated discussions at meetings on Thursday and Friday, with residents and activists alleging the move was aimed at suppressing turnout in the county, in which more than 55 percent of the voters are black and have backed Democratic candidates in statewide elections.
County officials and a consultant hired by local officials said the closures were necessary because the sites were not compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act and there was not time to fix them before the Nov. 6 general election. They also suggested that affected residents could vote by absentee ballot.
“You don’t solve problems of accessibility for people with disabilities by reducing access for people without disabilities,” said Andrea Young, executive director of the Georgia ACLU, which wrote a letter to the board stating that the closures would be a violation of the Voting Rights Act because it would have a negative effect on African-American voters. The group noted that African-Americans make up more than 96 percent of the voters at one of the polling places slated for closure.
Unsure if the board will be persuaded by the arguments for keeping the polling places open, some activists will try to stop the plan by using a state law that forbids the closure of voting sites if 20 percent of the registered voters in the affected precinct object to the change. The county currently has just over 4,000 registered voters.
Nse Ufot, executive director of the New Georgia Project, a voter registration and education group, said activists will begin collecting signatures Sunday, spreading the word at morning church services.
“We want to see to it that the hundreds of students we registered at Andrew College and the people we’ve registered in Randolph are able to exercise their sacred, fundamental right to vote,” Ufot said. The goal is to submit the petition before the board’s scheduled Friday vote.
A similar petition drive overturned a decision two years ago by elections officials in Macon-Bibb County to relocate a polling place from a school to the sheriff’s office.
“These polling place closures are part of a stark pattern that we are seeing across Georgia whereby officials are working to make it harder for African Americans and other minorities to vote,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The more communities mobilize to turn out the vote, the harsher the voter suppression efforts undertaken by officials. We are prepared to use every tool in our arsenal to ensure that African American voters are able to have meaningful access to the polls this election cycle.”