$1.5 million grant gifted to Michigan State University by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will go towards the cultivation of a database that harbors information about former slaves, MSU Today reported.
The database, which is part of the institution’sEnslaved: The People of the Historic Slave Trade initiative, will encompass data surrounding those who came to America during the Atlantic slave trade; giving individuals the opportunity to explore their ancestry, the news outlet writes. Individuals who utilize the database will also be able to view maps, charts, and graphics about enslaved populations.
The project is being spearheaded by Dean Rehberger, director of Matrix: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences at MSU, Walter Hawthorne, professor and chair of MSU’s Department of History and Ethan Watrall, who serves as an assistant professor of anthropology at the university.
MSU Today reports that the project will go through several phases and take nearly a year and a half to be completed.
Hawthorne believes that the database will allow scholars to delve deeper into the dark history of slavery. “By linking data compiled by some of the world’s foremost historians, it will allow scholars and the public to learn about individuals’ lives and to draw new, broad conclusions about processes that had an indelible impact on the world,” he said in a statement, according to the source.
Michigan State University has one of the top African history graduate programs in the country and leaders at the institution believe that this new project will further its impact in this space. Institutions who have partnered with MSU for the project include Emory University, Vanderbilt University, Harvard University, the University of Maryland and others.
Slavery has been a common topic at colleges and universities across the country with many institutions coming forward to acknowledge and come to terms with their ties to slavery. Rutgers University recently paid tribute to former slaves by renaming parts of its campus after individuals who built the university from the ground up.
According to jbhe.com, a study led by Sheretta Butler-Barnes, an assistant professor of social work at Washington University in St. Louis, finds that young African American women with strong racial identity are more likely to be academically curious and persistent in school.
Researchers surveyed 733 adolescent Black girls from middle and high schools across three socio-economically diverse school districts in the Midwest. The study found that positive perceptions of school climate and racial identity were associated with greater academic motivation. The researchers also learned that racial identity acted as a protective factor in hostile or negative school climates.
“Persons of color who have unhealthy racial identity beliefs tend to perform lower in school and have more symptoms of depression,” Dr. Butler-Barnes said. “In our study, we found that feeling positive about being Black, and feeling support and belonging at school may be especially important for African-American girls’ classroom engagement and curiosity. Feeling connected to the school may also work together with racial identity attitudes to improve academic outcomes.”
Dr. Butler-Barnes joined the Brown School in July 2012 as an assistant professor. Previously, Butler-Barnes was a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Michigan’s School of Education affiliated with the Center for the Study of Black Youth in Context.
The study, “Promoting Resilience Among African American Girls: Racial Identity as a Protective Factor.” was published on the website of the journal Child Development. It may be accessed here.
To see Butler-Barnes speak about Equity in Education, click below:
Natalie Graham, assistant professor of African American studies at California State University, Fullerton, has been selected as the winner of the 2016 Cave Canem Poetry Prize from the Brooklyn, New York-based Cave Canem Foundation. The nonprofit organization was founded by Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady in 1996 to remedy the underrepresentation and isolation of African American poets in the literary landscape.
Dr. Graham will receive a cash prize and have her manuscript – Begin With a Failed Body – published by the University of Georgia Press in the fall of 2017. She joined the faculty at California State University, Fullerton in 2013.
In describing her award-winning poetry collection, Dr. Graham said “the collection contains poems that are often dark — reimagining iconic religious, literary, and historical figures. They imagine a haunted Southern landscape where history is inescapable. When they speak of nation, religion or family, they often ruminate on the individual body’s frailty in the face of these larger, sturdier structures.”
Dr. Graham holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from the University of Florida and a Ph.D. in American studies from Michigan State University.
Gerardine Mukeshimana, a doctoral student in plant breeding, genetics, and biotechnology at Michigan State University, received the 2012 Award for Scientific Excellence from the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development. Mukeshimana is being honored for her work in the breeding of the Phaseolus vulgaris L. bean in her home country of Rwanda. Her work has made the bean more resistant to disease and better able to withstand drought.
Mukeshimana’s research is supported by the Dry Grain Pulses Collaborative Research Support Program. This project, managed at Michigan State, is a partnership between U.S. universities, developing country institutions and the U.S. Agency for International Development. The research program addresses issues of hunger and poverty through science and technology.