Tag: Massachusetts

Black History Month: Then and Now in Education with Charlotte Grimké and John B. King Jr.

Charlotte Forten Grimké (Image: Wikipedia.org)

article by Robin White Goode via blackenterprise.com

For Black History Month, we are honoring pioneers and their heirs apparent.

There are so many black pioneers in the arena of education, but one who stands out is Charlotte Forten Grimké, who was born into an affluent family that had fought for racial equality for generations.

THEN

Charlotte Forten Grimké   (1837-1914)

Charlotte Forten Grimké was the first northern African American schoolteacher to go south to teach former slaves.

Grimké was born in Philadelphia in 1837 into an influential and affluent family. Her grandfather had been an enormously successful businessman and significant voice in the abolitionist movement. The family moved in the same circles as William Lloyd Garrison and John Greenleaf Whittier: intellectual and political activity were part of the air Charlotte Forten Grimké  breathed.

She attended Normal School in Salem, Massachusetts, and began her teaching career in the Salem schools, the first African American ever hired. But she longed to be part of a larger cause, and with the coming of the Civil War Grimké found a way to act on her deepest beliefs. In 1862, she arrived on St. Helena Island, South Carolina, where she worked with Laura Towne.

As she began teaching, she found that many of her pupils spoke only Gullah and were unfamiliar with the routines of school. Though she yearned to feel a bond with the islanders, her temperament, upbringing and education set her apart, and she found she had more in common with the white abolitionists there. Under physical and emotional stress, Grimke, who was always frail, grew ill and left St. Helena after two years.

Today, Grimké is best remembered for her diaries. From 1854-64 and 1885-92, she recorded the life of an intelligent, cultured, romantic woman who read and wrote poetry, attended lectures, worked, and took part in the largest social movement of her time. She was determined to embody the intellectual potential of all black people. She set a course of philosophical exploration, social sophistication, cultural achievement and spiritual improvement. She was, above all, dedicated to social justice.

NOW

John B. King Jr.

John B. King Jr. (Image: Wikipedia.org)

John B. King Jr., (1975–)
John King Jr. is the first person of African American and Hispanic descent to be appointed Acting Secretary of the Department of Education. Previously he was Acting Deputy Secretary, and before that, the first African American and first Puerto Rican to be appointed Commissioner of Education of the State of New York.

Before King assumed these high-profile leadership roles, he was an award-winning teacher, receiving the James Madison Memorial Fellowship for secondary-level teaching of American history, American government, and social studies. He also co-founded a high-performing charter school in Boston, the Roxbury Preparatory Charter School.

King received a B.A. in government from Harvard, a Juris Doctor from Yale, and a Ph.D. in educational administrative practice from Columbia University Teachers College.

Although King was born into a well-educated and accomplished family (his father was the first black principal in Brooklyn, New York; he later became executive deputy superintendent of schools; his grandfather had attended New York University Law School), he experienced devastating loss and instability as a youngster, losing both his parents by the time he was 12. Seeing school and teachers as an anchor, he himself became a teacher and education leader, perhaps living out the potential that Charlotte Forten Grimké foresaw for all people of African descent more than a hundred years earlier.

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

Five African-American Museums to Visit in the U.S.

Black culture is found all across the country. Whether you’re in the rolling fields of the Midwest or the quiet back roads of the South, here are five inexpensive (or free) museums that feature art, music, and culture from the African diaspora.

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California African American Museum (photo via experiencela.com)

WEST 

What: California African American Museum

Where: Los Angeles, CA

How much: Free

This museum is home to some of the most fascinating exhibits of African and African American culture. Check out Toward Freedom: A Photo Exhibition of the Beta Israel Community in Israel and the Ethiopian Community in Los Angeles, photojournalist Irene Fertik’s images of Ethiopian communities establishing themselves in Israel and Los Angeles. Or, view The African American Journey West: Permanent Collection, which features art and artifacts that show the African American journey from the shores of Africa to America’s western frontier. Wherever your interests are, this museum is sure to have something that’ll satisfy your intellectual craving.

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DuSable Museum of African American History (Photo: wttw.com)

MIDWEST

What: DuSable Museum of African American History  

Where: Chicago, IL 

How much: $10 

This museum is a crux in Chicago’s black community. Home to several after-school programs, the museum has a history of engaging with the community on current topics. Current popular exhibits include Freedom, Resistance, and the Journey Towards EqualityRed, White, Blue & Black: A History of Blacks in the Armed Services, and The Freedom Now Mural.

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Buffalo Soldiers Museum (Photo: wikipedia.com)

SOUTHWEST

What: Buffalo Soldiers Museum

Where: Houston, TX

How much: $10 

The Buffalo Soldiers Museum has one of the most highly-curated museum collections of black soldier life. Founded in 2000 by a Vietnam veteran and African-American military historian, it’s currently the only museum primarily dedicated to the African-American veteran experience. Check out the memorabilia, fine arts collection and videos here.

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Tubman African-American Museum (Photo: grouptravelleader.com)

SOUTHEAST

What: Tubman African American Museum

Where: Macon, GA

How much: $10  

This museum, which calls itself an “educational adventure through time,” houses one of the most diverse collections of African-American historical artifacts in the country. Currently, visitors can see areas such as Folk Art, the Inventors Gallery, and a special area for Black Artists of Georgia.

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Museum of African American History (Photo: timeinc.net)

NORTHEAST

What: Museum of African American History

Where: Boston, MA

How much: $3

This museum — which is the 1834 African American Meeting House — has both rotating and permanent exhibits on local African-American history. The Black Books exhibit examines the historical and cultural implications of forbidding enslaved Africans to read or write. It also traces the evolution and recovery of their written voices. You can also see the Abiel Smith School, the first public school built to educate black children.

article by Kayla Stewart via blavity.com

Minority Business Development Agency Puts $7.7 Million Toward New Business Centers

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), is the only federal agency dedicated to the growth and global competitiveness of U.S. minority-owned businesses. MBDA recently launched a search for prospective partners to operate their newly improved business center program.

Under the new program, the nationwide business center network is more integrated, places more emphasis on collaboration, and was designed to ensure the quality and consistency of service delivery throughout their nationwide network of business centers.

For-profit entities, non-profit organizations, state and local governments, and educational intuitions are all encouraged to apply. MBDA plans to award five individual cooperative agreements to operate MBDA Business Centers beginning in September 2016. The awards will cover a 5-year period and total $1.5 million annually for each center. The Centers will be located in Baltimore, Maryland, Boston, Massachusetts, Manhattan, New York, Pasadena, California, and St. Louis, Missouri.

“The success of minority-owned businesses is vital to the U.S. economy. These Centers will help our inventors, manufacturers, and entrepreneurs remain on the cutting edge at the speed required in the 21st century,” said MBDA National Director, Alejandra Y. Castillo in a statement.

MBDA is looking for organizations to deliver business consulting services to minority-owned firms, providing them increased access to public and private sector contracting opportunities, financing, and capital investments. Successful applicants will be those that have experience in assisting minority firms with obtaining large scale contracts and financial transactions; accessing corporate supply chains; facilitating joint ventures, teaming arrangements, mergers, and acquisitions; inducting export transactions; and performing minority business advocacy.

article by Carolyn M. Brown via blackenterprise.com

Tracy K. Smith Named Director of Princeton University’s Program in Creative Writing

Tracy K. Smith (photo via arts.princeton.edu)
Tracy K. Smith (photo via arts.princeton.edu)

Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts named Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tracy K. Smith as the new director of the University’s Program in Creative Writing. Smith, a Professor of Creative Writing on the Princeton faculty since 2005, succeeds National Book Award finalist and poet Susan Wheeler, who has led the program since 2011.

“I’m delighted that Tracy has agreed to take on this leadership role in our world-renowned, undergraduate-focused program in creative writing,” notes Michael Cadden, Chair of the Lewis Center. “A brilliant wordsmith in both poetry and prose as well as a life-changing teacher, Tracy embodies everything that is best about the arts at Princeton and is a most worthy successor to our colleague Susan Wheeler. I look forward to working with her on her vision for the future of what is already an extraordinary program.”

Smith is the author of the memoir Ordinary Light (2015) and three poetry collections: Life on Mars (2011), winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize and named as a “Best Book of the Year” by The New YorkerPublishers Weekly, and Library Journal, a “Notable Book of 2011″ by the New York Times, and as an “Editor’s Choice” by the New York Times Book Review; Duende (2007), winner of the James Laughlin Award and the Essence Literary Award; and The Body’s Question (2003), winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Smith is also the recipient of the Academy of American Poets Fellowship, a Rona Jaffe Award, and a Whiting Award. From 2009 to 2011 she was the Literature protégé in the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.

Born in Massachusetts and raised in northern California, Smith earned her A.B. from Harvard University and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Columbia University. From 1997 to 1999 she was a Stegner Fellow in poetry at Stanford University. She taught at Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York, the University of Pittsburgh, and Columbia University before joining the faculty at Princeton.

“I have such deep gratitude and enthusiasm for the community of writers and students here at Princeton,” says Smith. “I’m delighted to step into a position I’ve watched several of my colleagues navigate with such generosity, insight, and grace.”

Princeton’s Program in Creative Writing traces its origins to 1939, when Dean Christian Gauss approached the Carnegie Foundation to help the University focus on the cultivation of writers and other artists. He appointed poet and critic Allen Tate as the first Resident Fellow in Creative Writing.  Since then world-renowned writers have served as faculty and visiting guest writers including John Berryman, Elizabeth Bowen, Robert Fitzgerald, Thomas Gunn, Edmund Keeley, David E. Kelley, Lorrie Moore, Philip Roth, Delmore Schwartz, Kevin Young, and Nobel laureates Toni Morrison and Mario Vargas Llosa, as well as Joyce Carol Oates, who recently retired after 37 years on the faculty. Oates will continue to teach one class each year as a Professor Emerita.

Currently the faculty includes award-winning writers Jeffrey Eugenides, Chang-rae Lee, Paul Muldoon, James Richardson, Susan Wheeler, and Edmund White, along with Smith and Jhumpa Lahiri, who joins the faculty in September. Other writers teaching this fall include Michael Dickman, A.M. Homes, Christina Lazaridi, Patrick McGrath, Fiona Maazel, Idra Novey, Hanna Pylväinen, and Monica Youn.

It is with these internationally known writers that over 300 Princeton undergraduates take courses in poetry, fiction, screenwriting, and literary translation each semester, a number that continues to grow.

“For those students serious about becoming writers, the one-on-one mentoring and intimate workshops we offer are on par with the attention and rigor characterizing the best M.F.A. programs,” notes Smith. “Regardless what our students decide to do after graduation, the experience of working alongside such illustrious writers changes their view of language and literature immeasurably.” Students who seek a certificate in creative writing (similar to a minor) in addition to their major area of study, work one-on-one with a member of the faculty on a novel, collection of poems, short stories or translations, or a screenplay.

Some of these senior thesis projects become the first published work by graduates of the program, as was the case for writers Jonathan Ames ’87 and Jonathan Safran Foer ’99. Other graduates from the program include Catherine Barnett ’82, Boris Fishman ’01, Jane Hirshfield ’73,  Kristiana Kahakauwila ’03, Galway Kinnell ’48, Walter Kirn ’83, William Meredith ’40, W. S. Merwin ’48, Emily Moore ’99, Jodi Picoult ’87, Julie Sarkissian ’05, Akhil Sharma ’92, Whitney Terrell ’91, and Monica Youn ’93.

In addition to this course of study, the program invites writers of national and international distinction to give a reading and discuss their work.  The Althea Ward Clark W’21 Reading Seriesfeatures acclaimed poets and fiction writers, which this year will include Edwidge Danticat, Natalie Diaz, Robert Hass, and Claudia Rankine, among others.  The Emerging Writers Reading Series presented in partnership with Labyrinth Books in Princeton showcases new work by seniors in the program along with established writers as special guests, who this year will include Alexander Chee, Eduardo Corral, Ocean Vuong, and Tiphanie Yanique. Occurring monthly from September through May, readings in both series are free and open to the public.

The Program in Creative Writing also hosts an international high school poetry contest and awards the Theodore H. Holmes ’51 and Bernice Holmes National Poetry Prize with recipients such as Mark Doty, Matt Rasmussen, and Evie Shockley. The biennial Princeton Poetry Festival, curated by faculty member Paul Muldoon, features poets from around the world, in recent years presenting readings by Bei Dao, Kwame Dawes, Jorie Graham, Major Jackson, Ellen Bryan Voight, and Ray Young Bear, among others.

article via arts.princeton.edu

Harvard University Acquires Copy of Unfinished Play “The Welcome Table” by James Baldwin

The Houghton Library at Harvard University has acquired a typed script of an unfinished James Baldwin play “The Welcome Table.” The manuscript is the 3,000 item acquired by the library archives since 1874.

James Baldwin
James Baldwin

One of the main characters in the Baldwin play, Peter Davis, is based on Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard. Another character is based on Josephine Baker. In 1973, Professor Gates, who was working as a London-based journalist at the time, drove Josephine Baker to Baldwin’s villa in France, where the three dined together.

Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Henry Louis Gates Jr.

There are four known versions of the script that were written over the years. In one version, Professor Gates is a young man but in a later version he is a middle-aged man. Gates owns one of the other copies of the unfinished play. Another is held at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of the New York Public Library. The fourth is owned by a private collector.

article via jbhe.com

Former Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick Named 2015 Harvard Commencement Speaker

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Former Massachusetts Governor and Harvard Alumnus Deval L. Patrick (Photo: Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer)

Deval L. Patrick, who recently concluded two terms as the 71st governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, will be the principal speaker at the Afternoon Exercises of Harvard’s 364th Commencement on May 28.

“Deval Patrick is an extraordinarily distinguished alumnus, a deeply dedicated public servant, and an inspiring embodiment of the American dream,” said Harvard University President Drew Faust. “We greatly look forward to welcoming him home to Harvard on Commencement Day.”

Raised on Chicago’s South Side, Patrick came to Massachusetts at age 14, having won a scholarship to Milton Academy through the Boston-based organization A Better Chance. He earned admission to Harvard College, as the first in his family to attend college, and spent a year in Africa after graduation on a Rockefeller Fellowship before studying for his law degree at Harvard Law School, where he was president of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau.

Early in his career, he served as a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Los Angeles, as a staff attorney at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund working on voting rights and death-penalty cases, and then as a partner at the Boston law firm Hill & Barlow.

In 1994, President Bill Clinton named him assistant attorney general for civil rights, the nation’s top civil rights post. In that role, he led the Justice Department’s efforts in such areas as prosecuting hate crimes and enforcing laws on employment discrimination, fair lending, and rights for the disabled.

Continue reading “Former Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick Named 2015 Harvard Commencement Speaker”

R.I.P. Edward Brooke, 1st Black Senator Elected by Popular Vote

Edward William Brooke III, the first African American elected to the U.S. Senate by popular vote and the first Republican senator to call for the resignation of President Nixon over the Watergate scandal, died Saturday at his home in Coral Gables, Fla. He was 95.

He died from natural causes, said his former legislative aid, Ralph Neas.

In 1966, Brooke ran for the Senate from Massachusetts and became the first black elected to serve in the upper chamber by popular vote, and the first to be sworn in as a senator since Hiram Revels and Blanche Kelso Bruce were sent to Washington during the post Civil War Reconstruction-era by a “carpetbag” Mississippi Legislature.

Upon his arrival in Washington, Brooke automatically achieved a number of social firsts, according to his memoirs, integrating both the Senate swimming pool and the Senate barber shop.

In winning election, Brooke joined a small band of liberal Republicans in the Senate during an era of moderation, when centrist voices like Jacob Javits of New York, Charles Percy of Illinois and Mark Hatfield of Oregon influenced political debate. Brooke supported housing and other anti-poverty programs, advocated for a stronger Social Security system and for an increased minimum wage, and promoted commuter rail and mass transit systems.

He also bedeviled the Nixon White House – criticizing the administration for adopting a cynical “Southern strategy” of wooing Southern whites by not enforcing civil rights laws, sponsoring a resolution calling for an end to U.S. involvement in Vietnam and opposing three of the president’s conservative nominees to the Supreme Court.

article by Johanna Neuman via latimes.com

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

Meb Keflezighi 1st American to Win Boston Marathon Since 1983; Women’s Winner Rita Jeptoo Sets Course Record

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 5.08.27 PM History was made at the Boston Marathon yesterday when Meb Keflezighi became the first American man to win the race since 1983, a women’s course record was set by Kenyan Rita Jeptoo, and more than 32,000 runners returned to an event marred by terrorism a year ago.

Thousands more lined the course of the 118th Boston Marathon in a show of Boston’s strength as it continued its recovery from the twin bombings that claimed three lives and injured more than 260 at the 2013 event. Keflezighi became the first American man to win the event since Greg Meyer in 1983, finishing in a time of 2:08:37, his personal best for a marathon. He said the crowd, and last year’s tragedy, motivated him.

“The crowd was phenomenal. I used them and they used me. The energy was just phenomenal,” he said. “Toward the end I was remembering the victims who passed away. I said ‘I’m going to use the energy to win, just like the Red Sox did.’” A three-time Olympian, Keflezighi won the 2009 New York City Marathon and finished third in Boston in 2006. He also won the silver medal in the marathon at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

“I would say my career was 99 percent fulfilled (before the race),” Keflezighi said. “Now it’s 105 percent fulfilled.”  “It was not about me,” added Keflezighi. “It was about Boston Strong.” Rita Jeptoo

Separating herself from the lead pack with a long and punishing stride, Rita Jeptoo of Kenya became a three-time winner of the Boston Marathon, flying to the finish in a course-record time of 2:18:57.  Her time was 1 minute 46 seconds faster than the previous course record of 2:20:43 set in 2002 by Margaret Okayo of Kenya. Continue reading “Meb Keflezighi 1st American to Win Boston Marathon Since 1983; Women’s Winner Rita Jeptoo Sets Course Record”