Tag: Massachusetts

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

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.”

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

Dr. Robert E. Johnson Becomes University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth’s 1st African-American Chancellor

Dr. Robert E. Johnson (photo via jbhe.com)

article via jbhe.com

The board of trustees of the University of Massachusetts has named Robert E. Johnson as chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. The campus enrolls about 7,300 undergraduate students and 1,600 graduate students. African Americans make up 14 percent of the undergraduate student body.

When Dr. Johnson takes office, he will become the first African American to lead the UMass Dartmouth campus. Since 2010, he has been president of Becker College in Worcester, Massachusetts. Earlier in his career, Dr. Johnson has served in administrative roles at Sinclair Community College, the University of Dayton, Oakland University, and Central State University.

A native of Detroit, Dr. Johnson is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he majored in economics. He holds a master’s degree in education administration from the University of Cincinnati and a doctorate in higher education administration from Touro University International.

Source: The University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth Names Its Next Chancellor : The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education

Professor Anita Hill to be Honored With University of California $10,000 Spendlove Prize in Social Justice

Professor Anita Hill (photo via hammer.ucla.edu)
Professor Anita Hill (photo via hammer.ucla.edu)

article via jbhe.com

Anita Hill, the University Professor of Law in the Heller Graduate School of Policy and Management at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, has been selected as the 10th recipient of the Alice and Clifford Spendlove Prize in Social Justice, Diplomacy, and Tolerance. The honor, awarded by the University of California, Merced, comes with a $10,000 prize.

Professor Hill will be honored on October 24 in Merced, 25 years after she testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, alleging sexual harassment by Clarence Thomas who was a nominee for the Supreme Court. Hill worked for Thomas at the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Sherrie Spendlove, who established the award in honor of her parents, stated that Anita Hill is a powerful role model for having the courage and the integrity to step up and speak the truth, for her calm dignity in holding to her truth in the face of vicious attacks and for her steadfastness in dedicating her life to teaching, mentoring, educating and enlightening young people in the tenets of social justice.”

Professor Hill is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and Yale Law School. Her latest book is Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race, and Finding a Home (Beacon Press, 2011).

Former NBA All-Star, MVP and Rookie of the Year Allen Iverson to be Inducted Into Basketball Hall Of Fame

New Hall of Famer Allen Iverson (photo: Getty Images)
New Hall of Famer Allen Iverson (photo: Getty Images)

Former Philadelphia 76er Allen Iverson, is a newly announced inductee into the prestigious Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

“I’m just proud of my family and friends and my fans that helped me get to this point,” the Virginia native said during the finalist announcement back in February. The six-foot tall point guard/shooting guard played 14 seasons in the NBA, and was selected as the 1996 Rookie Of The Year with the 76ers. Additionally, “The Answer” is an 11-time NBA All-Star, a two time All-Star MVP (2001 and 2005) and was the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2001.

NBC 10 writes, “Among the Sixers’ all-time leaders, Iverson is tied with Wilt Chamberlain for first in points per game (27.6) and tied with Maurice Cheeks for steals per game (2.3). He is also first in three-point field goals (885). Iverson ranks second in points (19,931), minutes per game (41.4), minutes played (29,879), free throws (5,122) and steals (1,644) and is third in assists (4,385). Iverson ranks fourth in minutes per game (41.4), seventh in points per game (27.7) and is tied for 10th in steals per game (2.17) with John Stockton among all-time NBA players.”

The 2016 class is pretty star-studded. Shaquille O’Neal, Yao MingJohn McLendon (first African-American professional coach) and WNBA player Sheryl Swoopes are among the other Hall of Fame inductees, according to CBS Sports.

The Hall of Fame induction and festivities will take place in Springfield, Mass. from Sept. 8-10.

To read more, go to: http://www.vibe.com/2016/04/allen-iverson-nba-hall-of-fame-inductee/

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

Brandeis University to Offer New Diversity Scholarships and Stipends to Graduate Students

(photo via www.brandeis.edu)
(photo via www.brandeis.edu)

article via jbhe.com

Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, has announced the establishment of the Diversity, Excellence, and Inclusion Scholarships. The program will provide full-tuition scholarships for five students in master’s degree programs in the humanities, social sciences, and the arts. Recipients of the scholarships will also receive a $10,000 stipend.

Laurie Nichols, Director of Admissions, stated that “we are looking for any students who may be traditionally overlooked by graduate admissions processes.”

Eric Chasalow, Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, added that “a commitment to diversity is one of Brandeis’ core values, and some that we take very seriously. We have seen similar program provide benefits to our undergraduate students, so it made absolute sense to bring those benefits to the graduate student population.”