Tag: Spelman College

R.I.P. Dovey Johnson Roundtree, 104, Army Captain, Minister and Trailblazing Civil Rights Lawyer

Dovey Johnson Roundtree outside the United States District Court in Washington, about 1985. “As a woman, and as a woman of color in an age when black lawyers had to leave the courthouse to use the bathrooms, she dared to practice before the bar of justice and was unflinching,” the co-author of her memoir said. (Credit: via Dovey Johnson Roundtree)

by Margalit Fox via nytimes.com

The jurors were looking at her when they filed into court. That, Dovey Johnson Roundtree knew, could have immense significance for her client, a feebleminded day laborer accused of one of the most sensational murders of the mid-20th century.

Little had augured well for that client, Raymond Crump Jr., during his eight-day trial in United States District Court in Washington: Mr. Crump, who had been found near the crime scene, was black and poor. The victim was white, glamorous and supremely well connected. The country, in the summer of 1965, seethed with racial tension amid the surging civil rights movement.

Federal prosecutors had amassed a welter of circumstantial evidence — including 27 witnesses and more than 50 exhibits — to argue that on Oct. 12, 1964, Mr. Crump had carried out the execution-style shooting of Mary Pinchot Meyer, a Washington socialite said to have been a former lover of President John F. Kennedy.

By contrast, Ms. Roundtree, who died on Monday at 104, had chosen to present just three witnesses and a single exhibit to the jury, which comprised men and women, blacks and whites. Her closing argument was only 20 minutes long.

Now, on July 30, 1965, the jury, having deliberated, was back. The court clerk handed the verdict slip to the judge, Howard F. Corcoran. For most observers, inside the courtroom and out, conviction — and an accompanying death sentence — was a foregone conclusion.

“Members of the jury,” Judge Corcoran said. “We have your verdict, which states that you find the defendant, Ray Crump Jr., not guilty.”

Ms. Roundtree’s defense, which hinged partly on two forensic masterstrokes, made her reputation as a litigator of acuity, concision and steel who could win even the most hopeless trials. And this in a case for which she had received a fee of one dollar.

“As a woman, and as a woman of color in an age when black lawyers had to leave the courthouse to use the bathrooms, she dared to practice before the bar of justice and was unflinching,” Katie McCabe, the co-author of Ms. Roundtree’s memoir, “Justice Older Than the Law,” said in an interview for this obituary in 2016. “She was a one-woman Legal Aid Society before people used that term.”

Officer, Lawyer, Minister

Ms. Roundtree’s victory in the Crump case was not her first noteworthy accomplishment, and it was by no means her last. Born to a family of slender means in the Jim Crow South, Ms. Roundtree — or the Rev. Dovey Johnson Roundtree, as she was long formally known — was instrumental in winning a spate of advances for blacks and women in midcentury America, blazing trails in the military, the legal profession and the ministry.

As an inaugural member of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (later the Women’s Army Corps), she became, in 1942, one of the first women of any race to be commissioned an Army officer. Attaining the rank of captain, she personally recruited scores of African-American women for wartime Army service.

Ms. Roundtree in Washington about 1963, not long before she took on the greatest criminal case of her career, the United States v. Raymond Crump Jr., in which she won acquittal for a black man accused of the murder of a white Washington socialite. (Credit: via Dovey Johnson Roundtree)

As a Washington lawyer, she helped secure a landmark ban on racial segregation in interstate bus travel in a case that originated in 1952 — three years before Rosa Parks refused to yield her seat in Montgomery, Ala.

As a cleric, Ms. Roundtree was one of the first women to be ordained a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

In 2009, in a statement honoring the publication of “Justice Older Than the Law,” the first lady, Michelle Obama, said, “As an Army veteran, lawyer and minister, Ms. Roundtree set a new path for the many women who have followed her and proved once again that the vision and perseverance of a single individual can help to turn the tides of history.”

Yet for all her perseverance, and all her prowess, Ms. Roundtree remained, by temperament, choice and political circumstance, comparatively unknown.

“One has to start with the fact — and I think it’s an acknowledged fact — that the civil rights movement was notoriously sexist,” Ms. McCabe said in 2016. “There were many men who did not appreciate being ground up into hamburger meat by Dovey Roundtree. There are many, many white lawyers — male — in Washington who were humiliated by having been beaten by a black woman. And I think that played out in a number of ways. And one of those ways has been a diminution in the recognition that I think her accomplishments merit.”

Continue reading “R.I.P. Dovey Johnson Roundtree, 104, Army Captain, Minister and Trailblazing Civil Rights Lawyer”

Spelman College Student Deanna Hayden Works to Raise Literacy Rates with “House of Knowledge” Project

by Robin White Goode via blackenterprise.com

It’s National Library Week, and at Spelman College a student is changing lives by improving a community’s literacy. Deanna Hayden, a junior Comparative Women’s Studies major, volunteers in an impoverished neighborhood in Atlanta, the West End community.

“I grew up in rural Mississippi,” Hayden said, “where there was an overwhelming lack of educational resources. When I started volunteering at Paul Laurence Dunbar Elementary School in the West End, I noticed parallels between the education system here and in Mississippi.”

BOOKS TRUMP POVERTY

Hayden relayed there are students with low reading scores, ironically in a school named after a literary giant. “I sat in on third-grade classes and could see that there is a need to improve their literacy,” she says.

Hayden had noticed that in wealthy communities there are what she calls “free libraries”—not library buildings from which books can be borrowed, but small, house-shaped structures full of books that can be taken for keeps, or added to. (Hayden was most likely referring to the Little Free Library book exchange.)

Regular reading is critical to raising literacy and reading levels, but book ownership also makes a huge difference. According to a 2014 study cited in a New York Times article, the number of books in a home is “the most important predictor of reading performance” after gross national product. “The greatest effect was seen in libraries of about 100 books, which resulted in approximately 1.5 extra years of grade-level reading performance.”

Astonishingly, a home library appears to matter more than the family budget. The Times article goes on: “… in the United States, with the size of libraries being equal, students coming from the top 10% of wealthiest families performed at just one extra grade level over students from the poorest 10%.”

THE HOUSE OF KNOWLEDGE

Spelman
(Courtesy of Spelman College)

Similar to both the Little Free Library and Barbershop Shops, which sets up books targeting black boys from age 4 to 8 in barbershops, the House of Knowledge is a literacy initiative that Hayden developed in response to the struggling readers she encountered.

There are now seven Houses of Knowledge throughout the West End community “in places frequented by children, such as churches, recreation centers, and doctor’s offices,” Hayden told me. Each holds 25 books targeting readers in kindergarten to eighth grade.

“Each House of Knowledge has its own theme,” Hayden says. “Some offer books on science and technology—others are all about black women.” Each box has a sponsor which is responsible for monitoring the box to make sure there is always a selection of books inside. The sponsor—organizations like the NAACP, the National Council of Negro Women, and others on the Spelman campus—determines what books will be offered.

Hayden, who graduates next year and plans to study public health and educational policy in graduate school, still has plans for the House of Knowledge project. “I’d like the kids to do surveys and quizzes on the books,” she says. “Eventually I’d like to develop an after school component as well.”

In the meantime, she’s also hoping for a grant that will make the program more sustainable.

To learn more, visit the House of Knowledge website.

Source: http://www.blackenterprise.com/spelman-student-raising-literacy-skills/

Spelman College Awards Scholarships for LGBTQ Advocates via Levi Watkins Jr. Scholars Program

by Paul Meara via bet.com

Spelman College, an all girls HBCU, announced this week a new scholarship program for students of the school who advocate for LGBTQ issues. The Levi Watkins Jr. Scholars Program “will call attention to the importance of making visible the courageous and significant work of LGBTQ scholar activists within and beyond the academy, especially at HBCUs,” Spelman professor and alumna Beverly Guy-Sheftall said.

Guy-Sheftall is also the founder of the Spelman Women’s Research and Resource Center. The scholarship is named after Dr. Lee Watkins, who is Sheftall’s cousin and a founding member of the Women’s Research and Resource Center’s National Advisory Board. Guy-Sheftall pledged $100,000 in May and launched the scholars program and lecture series to explore contemporary issues of race, gender and sexuality.

According to The Root, two Spelman sophomores who self-identify as LGBTQ advocates will be awarded renewable $25,000 scholarships this fall. “As an institution that upholds a supportive student experience, this gift will present new opportunities for critical conversation on race and sexuality with distinguished scholars and thought leaders, and provide a platform to recognize campus LGBTQ advocates and their scholarly achievements,” Spelman President Mary Schmidt Campbell said after the scholarship program was announced.

To read more, go to: Spelman College Is Awarding Hefty Scholarships For LGBTQ Advocates | National | BET

Spelman College Receives $1 Million from Barnes & Noble Founder Leonard Reggio For Arts and Innovation Center

(Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)
(Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)

article via thegrio.com

Leonard Riggio, the founder and chairman of Barnes & Noble and his wife, Louise, are donating $1 million to Spelman College. The donation was made to establish the Riggio Scholars Program and to support Spelman’s arts and innovation center.

Half of the donation will go towards underwriting six Spelman students who have gone above and beyond to demonstrate outstanding academic achievement and who engage in community service.

The other half will help design and build an arts and innovation center. This center will house both the school’s arts programs as well as fund their Innovation Lab.

“From the moment I was surrounded by its warm embrace, I was head over heels in love with Spelman College, and especially with the beautiful people who study and teach there,” Leonard Riggio stated.

To read full article, go to: http://thegrio.com/2016/12/23/barnes-noble-founder-gifts-spelman-college-1-million/

HBCUs Morehouse, Spelman and Clark Atlanta Receive Millions in Grants from Lilly Endowment

HBCU graduates (photo via thegrio.com)

article via thegrio.com

Spelman College, Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University are among the colleges and universities receiving grants as part of the Lilly Endowment.

Spelman will receive $1.2 million, Morehouse will receive $1.2 million, and CAU will receive $1.5 million, according to the United Negro College Fund.

To read more, go to: Morehouse, Spelman and Clark Atlanta receive millions in grants | theGrio

Political Strategist Donna Brazile to Deliver Spelman College Commencement Address on May 17

Political activist Donna Brazile  (Photo: LOUIE FAVORITE)
Political activist Donna Brazile (Photo: LOUIE FAVORITE/ajc.com)

Donna Brazile, an academic, author, syndicated columnist, television political commentator, and political strategist, has been named Commencement speaker for the Spelman College Class of 2015. Brazile, who will receive an honorary degree, will address more than 475 graduates on Sunday, May 17, 2015, at 3 p.m. at the Georgia International Convention Center.

“Donna Brazile has been a trailblazer in the political arena and a staunch advocate for human and civil rights,” said President Beverly Daniel Tatum. “We are pleased she will have an opportunity to impart words of wisdom to Spelman graduates as they begin the next phase of life’s journey, and join the ranks of Spelman alumnae who have made a choice to change the world.”

With a lifelong passion for political progress, Brazile had worked with a candidate every presidential campaign from 1976 through 2000, when she became the first African American to manage a presidential campaign. Today, Brazile is founder and managing director of Brazile & Associates LLC, a general consulting, grassroots advocacy, and training firm based in Washington, D.C. She is also the vice chair of voter registration and participation at the Democratic National Committee and former interim national chair of the political organization.

Author of the best-selling memoir “Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics,” Brazile is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, a syndicated newspaper columnist for Universal Uclick, a columnist for Ms. Magazine, and O, The Oprah Magazine, and an on-air contributor to CNN and ABC, where she regularly appears on “This Week.” Continue reading “Political Strategist Donna Brazile to Deliver Spelman College Commencement Address on May 17”

HBCU Hackathons Expand Black Business Opportunities

hbcu hackathons

Last year may have been the year of the historically black hack-a-thon. Several of the nations’ most prominent black colleges welcomed students of varying majors and interests to a whirlwind experience of innovation, entrepreneurial spirit and networking.  Almost makes you wish there was an app for that, but that’s HBCU Hack-a-thons are all about; taking individuals with little-to-no tech or coding experience and pairing their creativity with tech savvy developers and marketers to make a new generation of black entrepreneurs in emerging tech markets.

Morehouse, Spelman, Clark Atlanta, Howard and Morgan State participated in the 2013 HBCU Hack-a-thon experience. Students compete for prizes, exposure, and for some, their first visions of owning their own company in a field in which they never imagined working.

“It sparks students from across all kinds of disciplines to come together to develop an idea that can be brought to the marketplace,” says Omar Muhammad, Director of the Entrepreneurial Development and Assistance Center of the Earl G. Graves School of Business and Management at Morgan State University. “They get hands on experience with working groups, and understanding what it means to start a business. The individuals who come in as entrepreneurs really help the students to learn how to move their businesses forward.”

Muhammad says the nature of hack-a-thons inspires collaboration, and melds ideas from different backgrounds, industries and social constructs to bring out the essence of innovation. The movement was started by the Black Founders, a group of working black tech professionals who wanted to spur more African-American ownership in tech industries.  One of the Founders and University of Maryland Eastern Shore alumna, Hadiyah Mujhid, told Black Enterprise Magazine in 2013 about the importance of the hack-a-thon effort on HBCU campuses.

Continue reading “HBCU Hackathons Expand Black Business Opportunities”

Spelman’s Dr. Beverly Tatum Becomes 1st HBCU President to Receive $500,000 Carnegie Grant

Beverly Tatum spelman

Spelman President Beverly Daniel Tatum was announced Monday as one of four recipients of the 2013 Academic Leadership Award, from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The honor makes Tatum the first ever HBCU president and first president in the state of Georgia to earn the prize.  Carnegie said each winner is an exceptional president of a U.S. college or university, and that the award is in the form of a $500,000 grant to be used in support of each honoree’s academic initiatives.

The other 2013 honorees are Richard H. Brodhead, President, Duke University; Michael M. Crow, President, Arizona State University; and John L. Hennessy, President, Stanford University.

The award honors university presidents who are not only resourceful administrators and managers, but also have a keen interest in the liberal arts and a commitment to excellence and access, curricular innovation, reform of K-12 education, international engagement, and the promotion of strong links between their institutions and their local communities, Carnegie said.

Continue reading “Spelman’s Dr. Beverly Tatum Becomes 1st HBCU President to Receive $500,000 Carnegie Grant”

Homeless High School Teen Chelesa Fearce Graduates As Valedictorian & Will Enter Spelman As Junior

chelesa fearce

Chelesa Fearce is a shining example of a student that didn’t let obstacles get in her way when it came to her education. You see, during most of Chelesa’s high school career she was homeless and living in her mother’s car.  Chelesa, a senior at Charles Drew High School in Clayton County, Georgia, knew that her hard work would pay off, despite the obstacles presented to her.

“I just told myself to keep working, because the future will not be like this anymore,” Fearce said. “You’re worried about your home life and then worried at school. Worry about being a little hungry sometimes, go hungry sometimes. You just have to deal with is. You eat what you can, when you can.”

Although her family occasionally lived in an apartment, because of her mother’s lay-offs, they took refuge in shelters.  “Ended up back in another shelter because I got laid off from my job maybe about four or five times,” Fearce’s mother, Reenita Shephard said.  “I just did what I had to do,” Fearce said.

None of that stopped Chelesa from achieving a 4.466 GPA and a 1900 SAT score. On top of her regular high school course load, Chelesa was able to enroll in college courses during her last two years of high school. When she enters Spelman in the fall, she will do so as a college junior.  Brains apparently run in the family. Chelesa’s sister is graduating from George Washington Carver High School as a salutatorian.

“I read to them a lot. Everything was a learning experience,” Shephard said.  “Don’t give up. Do what you have to do right now so that you can have the future that you want,” Chelesa said.

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article by Yesha Callahan via clutchmagonline.com

Spelman Twins Kristie and Kirstie Bronner Make History As School’s First Co-Valedictorians

Twins
Kristie (pictured left) and Kirstie Bronner (pictured) are identical twins with identical grade point averages, so why shouldn’t they share the honor of being Spelman College‘s first-ever sister co-valedictorians, reports WSB-TV.

The road to one of this country’s leading historically Black colleges was not a walk in the park for the girls; they worked hard to maintain their high grade point averages in high school.  According to Kirstie Bonner, who spoke with WSB-TV, “Before we came to college, we prayed that we would keep 4.0′s all the way through, but I don’t think we ever really expected it.”

But apparently there is strength in numbers, and as sisters who have traveled along the same path, sharing the same educational goals for success, the young women seemed to fuel each other, as evidenced by their noteworthy standing at Spelman, “You can have strength together,” Kristie points out.

When the young women arrived at the Atlanta college, they said they really pushed themselves to the limit to maintain excellent grades, even making themselves physically ill.  Eventually, both Kirstie and Kristie learned from their mistakes, self-corrected, and managed their college workload in a way that would not negatively affect their health.

Continue reading “Spelman Twins Kristie and Kirstie Bronner Make History As School’s First Co-Valedictorians”