Darryl A. Williams is the 60th superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. He is the first African American to serve in this role in the 216-year history of the academy.
A native of Alexandria, Virginia, and a veteran of the first Gulf War, Lieutenant General Williams most recently served as the Commander of Allied Land Command for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Turkey. Previously he held command posts with the Second Infantry Division in South Korea and was deputy chief of staff for the U.S. Army in Europe. In 2014, President Obama appointed General Williams to lead U.S Army Africa, where he led the Defense Department’s program to combat the ebola virus.
General Williams is a 1983 graduate of West Point. He holds master’s degrees in leadership development, military art and science, and national security and strategic studies.
Now all Mr. Bunch and a team of colleagues had to do was find an unprecedented number of private donors willing to finance a public museum. They had to secure hundreds of millions of additional dollars from a Congress, Republican controlled, that had long fought the project.
And they had to counter efforts to locate the museum not at the center of Washington’s cultural landscape on the National Mall, but several blocks offstage. “I knew it was going to be hard, but not how hard it was going to be,” Mr. Bunch, 63, said in an interview last month.
In less than three weeks, though, with President Obama presiding, the new museum, a project that once thirsted for money, land and political support, is scheduled to open on the Mall.
Visitors to the $540 million building, designed to resemble a three-tiered crown, will encounter the sweeping history of black America from the Middle Passage of slavery to the achievements and complexities of modern black life.
But also compelling is the story of how the museum itself came to be through a combination of negotiation, diplomacy, persistence and cunning political instincts. The strategy included an approach that framed the museum as an institution for all Americans, one that depicted the black experience, as Mr. Bunch often puts it, as “the quintessential American story” of measured progress and remarkable achievement after an ugly period of painful oppression.
The tactics included the appointment of Republicans like Laura Bush and Colin L. Powell to the museum’s board to broaden bipartisan support beyond Democratic constituencies, and there were critical efforts to shape the thinking of essential political leaders.
Long before its building was complete, for example, the museum staged exhibitions off-site, some on the fraught topics it would confront, such as Thomas Jefferson’s deep involvement with slavery. A Virginia delegation of congressional members was brought through for an early tour of the Jefferson exhibition, which featured a statue of him in front of a semicircular wall marked with 612 names of people he had owned. “I remember being very impacted,” said Eric Cantor, then the House Republican leader, who was part of the delegation.
Mr. Bunch said that he hoped the Jefferson exhibition pre-empted criticism by establishing the museum’s bold but balanced approach to difficult material. “Some people were like, ‘How dare you equate Jefferson with slavery,’” he recalled. “But it means that people are going to say, ‘Of course, that is what they have to do.’”
According to reports, Jordan has donated $5 million to the National Museum of African American History and Culture Museum. Officials revealed that the gift is the largest from a sports figure to the 19th Smithsonian museum and pushes private donations to $278 million. Including federal aid, the museum, which President Obama will open in September, has raised more than $548 million.
The NBA legend said in a statement, “I am grateful for the opportunity to support this museum. I also am indebted to the historic contributions of community leaders and athletes such as Jesse Owens, whose talent, commitment and perseverance broke racial barriers and laid the groundwork for the successful careers of so many African Americans in athletics and beyond.”
New York has become the first state to enact a program touted by President Obama to help at-risk black and Hispanic boys and young men, state officials said.
Known as “My Brother’s Keeper,” the program is designed to keep young males of color out of prison by focusing on family and community engagement, professional development and new school practices aimed at improving outcomes.
Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature included $20 million in the state budget enacted last week to create a state version of the program. “I was born and raised in the Bronx and I have seen firsthand the challenges that so many boys and young men of color face every day,” Carl Heastie, New York’s first black Assembly speaker, told the Daily News.
Heastie said studies show that black and Hispanic males are more likely to drop out of high school and “become trapped in the revolving door of the criminal justice system.”
“We need to change the conversation around the achievement rates of African-American and Latino men so that successful futures become the rule and not the exception,” he said. “With this funding we are taking some meaningful steps toward a more holistic and comprehensive approach to improving the prospects of all our children, especially those who need our support the most.”
Obama, who has talked about his first job scooping ice cream, created a My Brother’s Keeper task force in 2014, with the idea of targeting minority boys so they can read at grade level by third grade, complete college education or training, and enter the workforce more prepared. It also seeks to reduce violence.
Comcast and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced a joint effort to deliver Internet access to public housing in Florida’s Miami-Dade County and the cities of Nashville, Philadelphia, and Seattle.
The program is called Internet Essentials. It includes high-speed Internet service with download speeds up to 10 Mbps, a free Wi-Fi router, access to free digital literacy training, and the option to purchase a computer for less than $150.
The initiative is part of the President Obama and HUD ConnectHome program to extend affordable broadband access to families living in HUD-assisted housing.Today’s announcement marks the eighth time in five years Comcast has expanded eligibility for the program in the company’s efforts to aid in closing the digital divide.
Initially, Internet Essentials was offered to families with children in the National School Lunch Program. It was then expanded to those with children in the reduced price school lunch program. Since, Comcast has expanded the program to include families with children in parochial, private, charter, and cyber schools, as well as students who are home-schooled.
Last year, Comcast created a pilot program to offers the service to low-income seniors and low-income community college students.
The President and The First Lady will host a Black History Month reception with two generations of activists as leaders from the Civil Rights Movement will also be present.
In this space, there will be an open dialogue, “…to discuss a range of issues including the Administration’s efforts on criminal justice reform, building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve and the president’s priorities during his final year in office” according to an email from a senior administration official obtained by Buzzfeed.
Here is a list of the attendees, per the White House:
• Aislinn Pulley, Co-Founder and Lead Organizer with Black Lives Matter Chicago
• Al Sharpton, Founder and President of the National Action Network
• Ben Crump, President of the National Bar Association
• Brittany Packnett, Member of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, Co-Founder of We The Protestors and Campaign Zero
• C.T. Vivian, Civil Rights Leader and Author
• Carlos Clanton, President of the National Urban League Young Professionals
• Cornell Brooks, President of the NAACP
• Deray Mckesson, Co-Founder of We the Protestors and Campaign Zero
• Deshaunya Ware, Student Leader of Concerned Student 1950 at University of Missouri
• John Lewis, United States Representative (D-GA)
• Marc Morial, President of the National Urban League
• Mary Patricia Hector, National Youth Director of the National Action Network
• Melanie Campbell, President of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation
• Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of Color of Change
• Sherrilyn Ifill, President of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund
• Stephen Green, National Director of the NAACP Youth and College Division
• Wade Henderson, President of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
The White House isn’t just relying on legislation to make computer science education a priority in the US. President Obama has launched a Computer Science for All initiative that gives states $4 billion in funding to expand computer science in K-12 schools through a mix of better course materials, partnerships and teacher training. The move also sends another $100 million directly to school districts, unlocks $135 million in funding from government organizations and gets further cooperation from both local governments as well as tech leaders.
Some of those leaders include companies that have already promised support for the President’s educational initiatives. Apple, Cartoon Network, Code.org, Facebook, Microsoft, Salesforce and Qualcomm are all widening their education efforts, investing in programs or both to help improve computer science in the country.
Throwing cash at a problem won’t make it go away, of course, and there aren’t any guarantees that the money will make a difference. However, the effort at least tackles one of the core issues head-on: getting computer science into schools in the first place. Roughly three quarters of schools go without any CS programs, and 22 states don’t accept these classes as credit toward a high school diploma. If the extra funding works as planned, it’ll get CS courses into more schools and help create a generation of kids that know how to code before they reach college.
The National Basketball Association, alarmed by the death toll from shootings across the country, is stepping into the polarizing debate over guns, regulation and the Second Amendment with an advertising campaign in partnership with one of the nation’s most aggressive advocates of stricter limits on firearm sales.
The first ads, timed to reach millions of basketball fans during a series of marquee games on Christmas Day, focus on shooting victims and contain no policy recommendations. The words “gun control” are never mentioned.
The N.B.A.’s involvement suggests that a bloody year of gun deaths — in highly publicized mass shootings and countless smaller-scale incidents — may be spurring even some generally risk-averse, mainstream institutions to action.
Players who appear in the first 30-second ad, which will run five times on Friday, speak in personal terms about the effects of gun violence on their lives. Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors describes hearing of a 3-year-old’s shooting: “My daughter Riley’s that age,” he says. Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers recalls the advice he heeded as a child: “My parents used to say, ‘A bullet doesn’t have a name on it.’”
The N.B.A. said it held little internal debate about working with Mr. Bloomberg’s group. “We know far too many people who have been caught up in gun violence in this country,” said Kathleen Behrens, the league’s president of social responsibility and player programs. “And we can do something about it.”
But the decision may prove tricky for the league: While many of its teams are based in cities dominated by Democrats, a number of other teams — and millions of N.B.A. fans — hail from places where Mr. Bloomberg and his approach to guns are viewed with deep suspicion. Ms. Behrens said the league had not shown the ads to team owners, but added, “We’re not worried about any political implications.”
The Bloomberg-N.B.A. partnership was brokered by an unlikely figure: Spike Lee, a member of Everytown’s creative council, whose latest film, “Chi-Raq,” set on Chicago’s South Side, confronts gun violence with an unflinching eye.
Over breakfast at the Loews Regency Hotel in Manhattan in November, not long before the movie was released earlier this month, Mr. Lee proposed the idea for the ads to John Skipper, the president of ESPN, who then took it to Adam Silver, the N.B.A.’s commissioner. Mr. Lee insisted on the participation of Everytown, with which he collaborated on a protest march down Broadway after the film’s New York premiere.
In an interview, he sounded many of the themes that Mr. Bloomberg himself has emphasized in the past, saying it was time for “common sense anti-gun laws.”
“But because of the N.R.A., politicians and the gun manufacturers, we’re dying under that tyranny,” Mr. Lee said.
Mr. Bloomberg’s interventionist policies as mayor and his left-leaning tactics on guns have earned the vitriol of gun-rights advocates, who have mocked him with TV ads as an out-of-touch elitist.
A 13-year old YouTuber who went viral due to his conservative videos criticizing President Obama is now admitting that his conscience is making him leave the Republican party.
When the president invited Ahmed Mohamed to visit the White House after he was detained for bringing a homemade clock to school, CJ Pearsonposted a video asking, “When cops are gunned down, you don’t invite them to the White House. You never did. But when a Muslim kid builds a clock, come on by. What is this world you’re living in?”
However, now the former chairman of the Teens for Ted Cruz youth group is having a serious change of heart about his political allegiances. Friday, Pearson told CNN that he could no longer be a “champion of a party that turned a blind eye to racial discrimination.”
“I don’t want to be the conservative wonder kid that people follow because I make them feel good,” he explained. “I want to be followed because I’m the voice of a generation that doesn’t have a voice at the table.”
The turning point came for him came after video was released of Laquan McDonald being shot to death by police. “My views on the issues aren’t going to be dictated by one political platform or another,” Pearson clarifies. “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America. There is the United States of America.”
Pearson’s YouTube channel is viewed by more than 5 million and he has more than 100,000 Facebook followers.
“The birthday is just another day,” Agnes Fenton whispered, pooh-poohing the milestone she reaches Saturday. Fenton, who has a lovely face, celebrated No. 110.
And just like that, the beloved Englewood resident — who has extolled the wonders of Miller High Life and Johnnie Walker — punched her ticket into the ultra-exclusive “supercentenarian” club.
Of the 7 billion people on the planet, a microscopic number are 110 or older. Robert Young, director of the Gerontology Research Group, which keeps track of supercentenarians, estimates 600. Dr. Thomas Perls, founding director of the New England Centenarian Study at Boston University School of Medicine, of which Fenton is a participant, puts the number at 360.
That means roughly 1 in every 10 million people in the world is a supercentenarian. Which makes Agnes Fenton special. Just don’t tell her that.
When a reporter visited her in the run-up to the big birthday, Fenton answered “lousy” when asked how she felt. But she warmed to the conversation and emphasized that God is the reason she’s lived this long.
“When I was 100 years old, I went to the mirror to thank God that I was still here. And I thank him every morning,” she said in a voice one must strain to hear. She sat in a wheelchair at the kitchen table in her green-shingled, Cape Cod-style home near Route 4.
“He gave me a long life and a good life, and I have nothing to complain about. … You’ve got to have God in your life. Without God, you’ve got nothing.”
Agnes Fenton was born Agnes Jones on Aug. 1, 1905, in Holly Springs, Miss. She spent her early years in Memphis and ran a restaurant there called Pal’s Duck Inn. Fenton, who has no children, came north to Englewood in the 1950s with her second husband, Vincent Fenton. She worked as a cafeteria manager for a magazine publisher, then as a nanny. Her husband, whom she called “Fenton,” died in 1970.