Tag: Philadelphia

Richard Jenkins, 18, Once Homeless, to Attend Harvard University on a Full Scholarship

Harvard-bound high school senior Richard Jenkins (photo via cnn.com)

by Isabella Gomez and Justin Lear via cnn.com

When he was a kid, Richard Jenkins raised his hand in class so often bullies started calling him “Harvard.”

“It was their way of taunting me, like, ‘Oh, you think you’re so smart,” he said. As it turns out, he was. Now, after overcoming a challenging childhood, the high school senior from Philadelphia is headed to Harvard University on a full scholarship.

Jenkins, 18, faced a multitude of difficulties growing up, including poverty, medical emergencies and harassment from his classmates. But he turned these obstacles into motivation to create a better future for himself and his family. He and his two younger brothers were homeless for two years after their mother lost their home to foreclosure, forcing them to move to Tennessee and then to Florida before heading back to Philadelphia.

He remembers living in a shelter during the sixth grade and realizing academics could become his way out. “That was what triggered me that I needed to chase something,” he told CNN. “No matter what, I can’t allow myself to go through that anymore. I can’t allow my brothers or my mother to go through that when they’re older.”

Upping his game

Although schoolwork had always come naturally to him, Jenkins began studying harder to hone his curiosity and earn good grades. He excelled in his classes and developed a strong interest in technology. Despite suffering from severe migraines, which landed him in the hospital during his freshman year, Jenkins stayed on top of his schoolwork.

When his mother learned there was an opening in the eleventh-grade class at Girard College, a Philadelphia boarding school for gifted students from single-parent households in need, she encouraged him to apply.

Quiana McLaughlin told CNN she liked the extracurricular opportunities the school had to offer and was thrilled when her son was accepted.

There, Jenkins joined the mock trial program, the World Affairs Council and the basketball team. He also started Makers’ Space Club, an area with 3D printers, sewing machines and other DIY equipment students can use to bring their ideas to life. “He is so creative and he loves taking the initiative to do something,” said Hye Kyong Kim, a tech coordinator at the school, who had Jenkins in her class last fall.

As college application season came, Jenkins decided to try Harvard — along with other Ivy League schools — after receiving an email from them.

He was visiting Paris on a school trip in late March when he learned of the schools’ decisions.

Continue reading “Richard Jenkins, 18, Once Homeless, to Attend Harvard University on a Full Scholarship”

In Wake of Wrongful Arrests, Starbucks Announces New Policy: No Purchase Needed to Use Restrooms or Sit in Cafes

(Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to the Chicago Sun TimesStarbucks Coffee announced a new policy yesterday that allows anyone to sit in its cafes or use its restrooms, even without buying anything. The new policy comes five weeks after two black men who hadn’t bought anything were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks. Company executives have said its previous policies were ambiguous, leaving decisions on whether people could sit in its stores or use the restroom up to store managers. Starbucks now says it has instructed workers to consider anyone who enters its stores a customer, “regardless of whether they make a purchase.”

The company said anyone can use its cafes, patios or restrooms, but noted workers should still call the police if someone is a safety threat. “We are committed to creating a culture of warmth and belonging where everyone is welcome,” Starbucks said in a statement.

The two men who were arrested April 12 in Philadelphia were awaiting a third person for a meeting. One of them was denied use of a restroom because he hadn’t bought anything. A worker called police, and the men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, were arrested. They spent hours in jail before they were released. The incident, video of which was posted on social media, was a major embarrassment for the coffee chain.

In response to the arrests, Starbucks plans to close more than 8,000 of its U.S. stores on May 29 for racial-bias training for its employees.The men who were arrested settled with Starbucks earlier this month for an undisclosed sum and an offer of a free college education. They also reached a deal with Philadelphia for a symbolic $1 each and a promise from city officials to set up a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs.

Betsey Stockton and James Collins Johnson, Former Slaves with Ties to Princeton University, Have Campus Locations Named in their Honor

Betsey Stockton (photo via jbhe.com)
James Collins Johnson (photo via paw.princeton.edu)

via jbhe.com

The board of trustees of Princeton University in New Jersey has voted to honor two former slaves who played a role in the university’s early history. A new green roof garden at the Firestone Library will honor Betsey Stockton and an arch in the East Pyne building on campus will honor James Collins Johnson.

Betsey Stockton was born into slavery in Princeton at the end of the eighteenth century. She worked in the home of Ashbel Green president of Princeton University. After gaining her freedom, she established a missionary school for native Hawaiian children. She later started a school for Black children in Philadelphia and taught for 30 years in the only public school in Princeton for African American children. Stockton died in 1865.

Jimmy Johnson was a fugitive slave who arrived in Princeton in 1839. He worked as a janitor until 1843. That year, a student recognized him and had him apprehended as a runaway slave. Local residents raised money to buy Johnson’s freedom and he started a small business selling snacks to Princeton students. Johnson died in 1902. (To learn more of Johnson’s story, click here.)

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/05/princeton-to-name-two-campus-locations-after-former-slaves/

Wrongfully Arrested Starbucks Patrons Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson Settle with Philadelphia for $2 in Exchange for $200,000 Fund for Young Entrepreneurs

Image: Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson
Rashon Nelson, left, and Donte Robinson, right, sit on their attorney’s sofa as they pose for a portrait following an interview on April 18, 2018. (Jacqueline Larma / AP file) 

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to nbcnews.com, Rashon Nelson, 23, and Donte Robinson, 23, the two men whose arrest at a Starbucks last month set off a wave of protests against the coffee corporation for discrimination have reached a settlement with the city of Philadelphia, the Mayor’s Office stated today.They will each be paid a symbolic $1 and release the city and employees of all claims in exchange for the creation of a $200,000 fund that, through the help of a nonprofit organization, will assist young entrepreneurs in Philadelphia. Robinson and Nelson are to serve on the committee that will establish and award the grant, which will focus on starting a pilot curriculum for public high school students to attain the skills to become business owners.

The mayor’s office stated that Nelson, Robinson and their attorneys will not receive any payment from the grant funds. The money will come from the budget of the city’s Finance Department.

“I am pleased to have resolved the potential claims against the City in this productive manner,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement. “This was an incident that evoked a lot of pain in our City, pain that would’ve resurfaced over and over again in protracted litigation, which presents significant legal risks and high financial and emotional costs for everyone involved.” He added that Robinson and Nelson themselves approached the city with the grant fund idea “in an attempt to make something positive come of this.”

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson in a statement Thursday said a confidential financial settlement between Nelson, Robinson and Starbucks has been reached and thanked the men for their “willingness to reconcile.”

“I welcome the opportunity to begin a relationship with them to share learnings and experiences,” he said.

The coffee chain on May 29 plans to close more than 8,000 U.S. stores for an afternoon to train nearly 175,000 workers in “racial-bias education.”

Robinson, who said he’s been a Starbucks customer since he was 15, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the agreement with the city of Philadelphia was the right decision. “We thought long and hard about it and we feel like this is the best way to see that change that we want to see,” he said. “It’s not a right-now thing that’s good for right now, but I feel like we will see the true change over time.”

Black Lives Matter Activist Hawk Newsome Calls Out ‘White Privilege’ of Post-Super Bowl Property Damage

White men and women in green and and black and white and grey clothing stand over grey and yellow traffic pole on grey sidewalk in front of grey buildings and black night sky
People break a traffic light while celebrating the Philadelphia Eagles’ victory in Super Bowl LII game against the New England Patriots on February 4, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)

by Sameer Rao via colorlines.com

Tens of thousands of Philadelphia sports fans flooded the city’s streets on February 4 to celebrate the hometown Eagles’ 41-33 win over the returning champion New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII. According to U.S. News and World Report, many fans’ belligerence led to various instances of property damage, including a collapsed Ritz-Carlton Hotel awning, an overturned car, destroyed traffic poles and two reportedly stolen police horses.

Photos detailing this destruction on Getty Images and Twitter largely show white male perpetrators. The Philadelphia Police Department has not yet released a final arrest tally for the vandalism, but Ajennah Amir, a spokesperson for the the mayor’s office, told CNN of just three arrests. Black Lives Matter of Greater New York president Hawk Newsome called out the department’s treatment of these people—as compared to the aggressive policing of Black protesters at actions against police violence—in an interview with Newsweek.

“Somehow, it seems there’s a line drawn in the sand where destruction of property because of a sports victory is okay and acceptable in America,” Newsome explained. “However, if you have people who are fighting for their most basic human right, the right to live, they will be condemned.”

Newsome pointed out city officials’ seeming reluctance to condemn the property damage, including police sergeant Brian Geer’s tweet telling people to simply “go home”:

Newsome told Newsweek that this response was “a glaring example of White privilege.”

“You can riot if you’re White and your team wins, but if you’re Black and being killed, you can’t speak out,” he added.

Newesome also contrasted the situation in Philadelphia with the Baltimore Uprising, when Black city residents demonstrated following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. Newsweek says those actions led to 34 arrests. “I can’t condemn them and neither can anyone else, especially not the media, especially not politicians when they condone people who are just drunk and destroying property because their team won,” Newsome said.

Source: https://www.colorlines.com/articles/black-lives-matter-activist-calls-out-white-privilege-post-super-bowl-property-damage

Last of Philadelphia’s Black-Owned Bookstores Work to Make a Comeback

BOOKS19-K
Yvonne Blake took over Hakim’s Bookstore from her father Dawud Hakim after he passed away. It is thought to be the oldest surviving black-owned bookstore in the country. (Photo credit: GENEVA HEFFERNAN via philly.com)

by Valerie Russ @ValerieRussDN via philly.com

At Hakim’s Bookstore in West Philadelphia, there are signs of life for what is believed to be the oldest black-owned bookstore in the country. Only a couple of years ago, the store was near death’s door. There is fresh, yellow paint on the walls, brand-new bookshelves, and a newly renovated office space at the back of the store. “I finally got a website about three months ago,” said Yvonne Blake, daughter of Dawud Hakim, who founded the store in 1959.

Two years ago, the landmark at 210 S. 52nd St. was in danger of closing: Competition from internet booksellers and its limited hours — a family member was ill — led many people to falsely believe that Hakim’s was no longer in business, Blake, 66, said. But after attention from a column by Inquirer and Daily News writer Helen Ubiñas, Blake said, “I had a lot of people offer to help.”

She had already launched a GoFundMe campaign (more than $1,140 has been raised), but hearing from people all over the country gave her even more hope — and help. Joel Wilson, the owner of a computer-consulting firm who went to elementary school with her daughter, created the new website and offered a reorganization plan. And Ron Green, founder of a clothing company featuring T-shirts and other apparel aimed at young black activists, paid her a visit.

“I had never heard of Hakim’s,” said Green, CEO of What’s Up African? “I told her, you don’t have social media. You’re not online. You have to go to festivals and events. You have to be visible.” And he advised her: “How can we expect the next generation of readers and leaders to access this store if they don’t know you exist?’

Now, some of Green’s T-shirts, items that appeal to a younger generation, are available at the bookstore.

Yvonne Blake holds a photo of her father, Dawud Hakim, in front of the store in the 1970s. (Photo credit:  GENEVA HEFFERNAN via philly.com)

Troy D. Johnson, president and founder of African American Literature Book Club, said only Marcus Books in Oakland, Calif., founded in 1960, has been around as long as Hakim’s.

Johnson also said he was pleased to learn that Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill just opened Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books at 5445 Germantown Ave in Philadelphia.

Hill’s store, “along with the opening of at least seven new black-owned independents this year, is a very positive sign,” Johnson wrote in an email. This is the first year his website added more bookstores than it flagged as having closed. “As Amazon becomes a near-monopoly for online book sales and eBooks, they are certainly having an adverse impact on not just black independents, but all booksellers online and brick-and-mortar,” Johnson wrote.

Joshua Clark Davis, a professor of history at the University of Baltimore who has studied black-owned bookstores in the country, said that the “rise and fall of black radical politics has always had an impact on the popularity of black bookstores.”

The first big boom was during the height of the Black Power movement, from the late 1960s until the mid-’70s.  “Then came a big decline, but another upswing in black bookstores was when Afrocentrism and Malcolm X and black nationalism boom again in the late 1980s and early ’90s,” Davis wrote in an email.
Continue reading “Last of Philadelphia’s Black-Owned Bookstores Work to Make a Comeback”

Civil Rights and War Hero Octavius Catto to Become Philadelphia’s 1st African American Honored With a Public Statue

This model of the Octavius V. Catto Memorial shows the statue, pillars and ballot box elements that will make up the $1.75 million project. (photo via phillyvoice.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to blavity.comOctavius Valentine Catto will be honored with a statue outside of Philadelphia’s city hall this September. Catto’s statue will be the first monument built to honor an African American erected on public land in the City of Brotherly Love. Although Catto’s memorial has been in the works for years, in the wake of the push to take so many Confederate statues down across the nation, the timing for this statue’s unveiling could not be better.

In Charleston, South Carolina on February 22, 1839, Catto was born a free black man. Catto excelled at his studies, attending a school for black children in Philadelphia, the Institute for Colored Youth, an institution he later led.

According to phillyvoice.com, in his early 20s, Catto was already an active leader in the African American community. He was a member of the 4th Ward Black Political Club, the Union League Association, the Library Company and the Franklin Institute. He demanded that African Americans fight in the Civil War and helped get their regiments inducted into the war. In 1863, at the height of the Civil War, he joined the army and enlisted as a volunteer in defense of the state of Pennsylvania.

Octavius Catto (photo via phillyvoice.com)

Catto was also a major in the Pennsylvania National Guard and played baseball as captain and second baseman for the Pythians, an African American baseball team. He was inducted into the Negro League Baseball Museum’s Hall of Fame.

Beyond being an educator, ball player and a war hero, Philadelphia is celebrating Catto for his local civil rights activism, which went into full gear after he was kicked off of a segregated horse-drawn trolley. He staged a sit-in on the streetcars, refusing to move off of the car. The driver drove the car off of its track and unhitched its horses, unsure how else to get rid of Catto. Catto remained aboard; the other passengers and the driver left him there. Catto also defended several black women who were forcibly ejected from the city’s streetcars, and used a fine levied against his fiancée to drum up publicity for his cause. Finally, in 1867, due in large part to Catto’s pressure, the city desegregated its streetcars.

“In Philadelphia, at that time, you could be wearing a Civil War uniform and not have been able to get on that trolley car,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, who has been hoping to bring a statue of Catto to the city since at least 2003, after he learned the story of Catto’s life. “[Knowing this] you realize, this struggle isn’t just a 1960s struggle. It’s a struggle from the beginning of the country.” Continue reading “Civil Rights and War Hero Octavius Catto to Become Philadelphia’s 1st African American Honored With a Public Statue”

Philadelphia Resident Vashti Dubois Turns Home into Museum Dedicated to Black Women

Museum founder and proprietor Vashti Dubois (photo via metro.co.uk)

by Adam Smith via metro.co.uk

There is a museum like no other in Philadelphia. You would not have heard it, it is not listed anywhere and there are no signs from the motorway. Only the hand carved wooden sign in the garden hinted that the Victorian house was not like any other home in the world – and the woman who opened the door had the smile of someone who knew she was about to amaze you.

For years Vashti Dubois was sick of not seeing any images of black girls or women in museums and art galleries, so three years ago she decided to do something about it. The 56-year-old turned her house into The Colored Girls Museum, celebrating everything about black women and their place in the universe. Standing in the hallway, which screams with colour due to every inch being painted, she said: ‘If things ain’t right you got to make them right, and if you can change things, you gotta change them.’

After opening one room to the public, she decided to turn her bedroom, the bathroom, the kitchen and her son’s bedroom into art galleries. Dubois said: ‘There are a lot of museums about a lot of different things, so we thought there should be one about the colored girl because there are no places that look at their experiences. We want to show who she is in her day-to-day life as a sister, a lover, a friend, an artist, a victim. We want to show that if there were no coloured girls, the system would collapse.’

As well as the museum’s collection of artefacts, paintings, dolls, textiles and sculptures, artists take over rooms and spaces for art installations. At first Dubois sought the help of artists she knew personally – but word soon spread, and soon she was being contacted by some of the world’s best upcoming artists.

To see related video, click herehttp://metro.co.uk/video/lack-female-images-exhibited-led-woman-create-gallery-1502225/?ito=vjs-link

And unlike most museums, this is personal. There are no walking tours headsets, no bored-looking security guards, and not a gift shop in sight.

So to enjoy culture for culture’s sake in Vashti’s home felt like an honor.

The Colored Girls Museum is a memoir museum, which honours the stories, experiences, and history of black girls. And it is Vashti’s story too.

She said: ‘Colored girls are an important part of the universe. You see us walking down the street. Everyday colored girls. You walk past us, but here we are in all of our extraordinary splendor doing the things that we do to make this world a great place to live.

‘We aren’t all Michelles (Obama) and Beyoncés. But look at how we are holding everything together for families across the world.’

The Birmingham Girls at The Colored Girls Museum. (Picture: TCGM)

When visitors arrive, Vashti explains to them that she started collecting paintings and sculptures three years ago after a personal tragedy. Then she takes them a tour of the house.

‘She distinguishes herself by exclusively collecting, preserving, honoring, and decoding artifacts pertaining to the experience and “her story” of colored girls,’ Vashti said.

Continue reading “Philadelphia Resident Vashti Dubois Turns Home into Museum Dedicated to Black Women”

iBuyBlack Card Launched in Philadelphia to Offer Discounts to Supporters of Black-Owned Businesses 

(photo via twitter.com)

by Nigel Roberts via newsone.com

African-American business owners in Philadelphia gathered last week to launch a discount card to encourage the community to spend their money at local Black-owned businesses, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.With an iBuyBlack card, which costs $10, shoppers receive discounts up to 15 percent at participating Black-owned businesses. About 80 companies currently participate in the program, which has the support of a wide coalition that includes local elected officials.

Earl Harvey, sales director of iBuyBlack.org, said the organization’s goal is to recruit 500 businesses and 10,000 cardholders by the end of this year. About 1,500 people have already signed up for the card, The Inquirer reported.

A primary goal of the effort is to build wealth in the community, former president and CEO of AmeriHealth Caritas Michael Rashid told the audience on Tuesday.

“Economists say the average dollar earned by Blacks stays in our community for just six hours. Compare that to the White community, in which dollars circulate for 17 days. That’s wealth-building,” he said, according to The Inquirer.

To read full article, go to: Philadelphia Black-Owned Businesses Launch iBuyBlack Card | News One

R.I.P. Grammy Award Winning Soul Artist Billy Paul

Billy Paul At BAM R&B Festival
Billy Paul (Source: Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images / Getty)

article by Kellee Terrell via hellobeautiful.com

On Sunday morning, Philadelphia-born soul singer Billy Paul passed away in New Jersey home after battling cancer, his manager Beverly Gay confirmed to NBC 10 Philadelphia. Paul was 81.

On the “Me and Mrs. Jones” singer’s website, the following message was posted:

We regret to announce with a heavy heart that Billy has passed away today at home after a serious medical condition.  We would like to extend our most sincere condolences to his wife Blanche and family for their loss, as they and the world grieves the loss of another musical icon that helped pioneered today’s R&B music. Billy will be truly missed.

Born in 1934, Paul started singing at 11 years-old and early on his career, he performed at several clubs and college campuses with several music legends, including Charlie “Bird” Parker, Nina Simone, Miles Davis and Roberta Flack, NBC 10 wrote. Serving in the army with Elvis Presley, in 1968 Paul released his debut album “Feelin’ Good at the Cadillac Club.”

One of his most popular songs, “Me and Mrs. Jones” debuted in 1972 helping him become a household name and a constant on record players across the country. That song reached number one of the Billboard charts and earned him a Grammy award. Overall, during his amazing career, Paul released a total of 15 albums.

The Good Things Black People Do, Give and Receive All Over The World
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