Tag: Tennessee

Vanderbilt University Honors Trailblazing Student-Athlete Perry Wallace by Renaming a Street in His Honor

Perry Wallace (photo via vanderbilt.edu)

According to jbhe.comVanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee announced that part of 25th Avenue South in front of its Memorial Gymnasium will be ceremonially renamed “Perry Wallace Way” in memory of the trailblazing Vanderbilt student-athlete who integrated Southeastern Conference varsity basketball in 1967.

On December 2, 1967, Wallace made history when he played for Vanderbilt University in a game with Southern Methodist University. Two days later, he played in a game against Southeastern Conference rival, Auburn University. Wallace endured verbal abuse from fans and had objects thrown at him from the stands.

His story is told in Andrew Maraniss’ best-selling book Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South (Vanderbilt University Press, 2014).

After graduating from Vanderbilt University and Columbia Law School, Wallace served as a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice.

Later, Wallace entered the academic world and served on the faculty of the law schools at Howard University, the University of Baltimore, and American University.

Born On This Day in 1940: Civil Rights Activist, SNCC Leader, and Former NAACP Chairman Julian Bond

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

As time passes, it becomes easier and easier to venerate only those we habitually do and forget about those who fought the same fight but perhaps didn’t have as prominent a position in the battle.

So today, a week before we will all – rightfully – celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his significant contributions to the betterment of this nation, I want to focus on one of his brothers-in-arms, the charismatic lecturer, activist, freedom fighter and leader in his own right, Julian Bond.

Horace Julian Bond was born Jan. 14, 1940, in Nashville, Tennessee and passed in 2015 in Fort Walton Beach, Florida at the age of 75. His father, Horace Mann Bond, rose to become the first African-American president of his alma mater, Lincoln University. Though his father expected Julian to follow in his footsteps as an educator (which he eventually did), as a young man, Bond instead was attracted to political activism.

While a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Bond became one of original leaders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).  In 1960, after word spread of student sit-ins at lunch counters in Greensboro, N.C., Bond and others at Morehouse organized protests against segregated public facilities in Atlanta. Bond dropped out of Morehouse in 1961 to devote himself to the protest movement, but returned in the 1970s to complete his English degree.

Among the sit-ins and protests, Bond worked to register voters and in 1965 was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives. White members of the House refused to let him take his seat, accusing him of disloyalty, as Bond and SNCC were known for their stand against United States involvement in the Vietnam War.

His case against the House of Representatives went to all the way to the Supreme Court. In a unanimous decision in 1966, the Court ordered the Georgia state legislature to seat Bond on the grounds that it was denying Bond freedom of speech.

Bond served 20 years in the two houses of the legislature and while a lawmaker, he sponsored bills to establish and fund a sickle cell anemia testing program and to provide low-interest home loans to low-income Georgians. He also helped create a majority-black congressional district in Atlanta.

Bond also became a co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a legal advocacy organization based in Montgomery, Alabama, and served as its president from 1971 to 1979. He remained on its board for the rest of his life.

Bond published a book of essays titled “A Time to Speak, A Time to Act” about politics and the movement, and in 1998, Bond became chairman of the NAACP, serving in that position until 2010. Through the years, Bond also taught at Harvard, Williams, Drexel and the University of Pennsylvania.

While at Harvard, I had the personal honor and pleasure not only from taking a class from Bond, but also in taking him up on his offer to call him for dinner so he could spend time with and speak directly to his students. He didn’t give his office number – I didn’t speak to an assistant – I spoke to his wife, and then him.

Bond came to my dorm and had dinner with me and half a dozen other undergrads. He was kind, patient, thoughtful and wry – he answered all types of questions about MLK, SNCC and anything else we asked. What struck me the most when I wasn’t in complete awe, was how real and unassuming he was. No bluster, no overinflated sense of importance – just a man about the work he had done and was still doing until the day he died.

Julian Bond, thank you for your example, your service and for taking the time to make this then awkward undergraduate feel a little less awkward and that much more empowered. You are not and never will be forgotten.

Civil Rights Activist Rev. James Lawson Honored with New Scholarship at Vanderbilt University

Rev. James Lawson (l) and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (photo via ocregister.com)

via jbhe.com

A new scholarship fund has been established at Vanderbilt University to honor James M. Lawson Jr., a leading figure in the civil rights movement and an associate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The new scholarship was made possible by a gift from Doug Parker, an alumnus of the Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt, the CEO of American Airlines, and a new trustee of the university, and his wife Gwen.

The new scholarships will be given to students from underrepresented groups who have shown a commitment to civil rights and social justice.

Lawson, enrolled at the Vanderbilt Divinity School in 1958. While a student he helped organize sit-ins at lunch counters in downtown Nashville. In 1960, he was expelled from the university for his participation in civil rights protests.

Lawson completed his divinity studies at Boston University and then served as director of nonviolent education for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. From 1974 to 1999, Rev. Lawson was the pastor of the Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles.

Lawson returned to Vanderbilt as a distinguished visiting professor form 2006 to 2009. An endowed chair at the Divinity School was named in his honor in 2007.

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/07/new-scholarship-at-vanderbilt-university-honors-rev-james-lawson/

Grandmother Theresa Styles, 68, and Granddaughter Zuri Styles, 22, Graduate Tennessee State University Together

Theresa Lyles, left, and Zuri Lyles, right. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to Tennessee State University News Service, TSU senior Zuri Styles, 22, and her grandmother, senior (and senior citizen) Theresa Styles, 68, were both part of the same graduating class last Saturday.

Both Styles women walked across the stage to accept their degrees when TSU held its spring undergraduate commencement in the Howard C. Gentry Complex on May 5. Theresa’s degree is in sociology, while Zuri received a bachelor’s degree in health information management and a minor in business.

“I never contemplated this,” Theresa said when asked about she and her granddaughter graduating at the same time. “Who new that when I started back then that I would be graduating at the same time as she did. Nobody but God.”

Theresa, a grandmother of 15, started at TSU in 1967, but dropped out in 1970 to raise her family. A little over a year ago, she came back to school without knowing she earned enough credits back then to put her close to graduating, until her academic advisers told her. But a few months into her schooling, alongside Zuri, tragedy hit the family. Theresa lost her middle daughter, Zuri’s mother, on January 6.

“That hit us so hard that I almost dropped out because I was struggling and my grandmother went through a depression,” said Zuri. “But we kept encouraging each other. Through it all, we started working harder and did everything we needed to get the job done.”

Zuri, who has a job offer with St. Thomas General as an information systems analyst, said she plans to attend graduate school and get a degree in physical therapy. For now, Theresa will continue to help with raising her grandchildren, but she is glad to finally get her degree. “I always wanted to come back, but just never had the chance to do it,” she said. “I am glad I did, and it’s even better that I am doing it with my granddaughter. We encouraged each other. It was tough, but we had to tunnel through.”

 

March in Memphis to Honor Martin Luther King Jr. on 50th Anniversary of his Death

People hold signs resembling the signs carried by striking sanitation workers in 1968 as they join in events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (photo via eurweb.com)

by Errin Haines Whack, Adrian Sainz & Kate Brumback, Associated Press via blackamericaweb.com

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. remembered him as “the apostle of nonviolence” as admirers marked the 50th anniversary of his assassination Wednesday with marches, speeches and quiet reflection.

The Rev. Bernice A. King recalled her father as a civil rights leader and great orator whose message of peaceful protest was still vital decades later. “We decided to start this day remembering the apostle of nonviolence,” she said during a ceremony to award the Martin Luther King Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize held at the King Center in Atlanta.

In Memphis, where King died, hundreds of people bundled in hats and coats gathered early in for a march led by the same sanitation workers union whose low pay King had come to protest when he was shot.

Dixie Spencer, president of the Bolivar Hardeman County, Tennessee, branch of the NAACP, said remembrances of King’s death should be a call to action. “We know what he worked hard for, we know what he died for, so we just want to keep the dream going,” Spencer said. “We just want to make sure that we don’t lose the gains that we have made.”

The Memphis events were scheduled to feature King’s contemporaries, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, along with celebrities such as the rapper Common. In the evening, the Atlanta events culminate with a bell-ringing and wreath-laying at his crypt to mark the moment when he was gunned down on the balcony of the old Lorraine Motel on April 4, 1968. He was 39.

Wednesday’s events followed a rousing celebration the night before of King’s “I’ve Been To the Mountaintop” speech at Memphis’ Mason Temple Church of God in Christ. He delivered this speech the night before he was assassinated.

Inside the church, Bernice King called her older brother, Martin Luther King III, to join her in the pulpit, and she discussed the difficulty of publicly mourning their father — a man hated during his lifetime, now beloved around the world.

“It’s important to see two of the children who lost their daddy 50 years ago to an assassin’s bullet,” said Bernice King, now 55. “But we kept going. Keep all of us in prayer as we continue the grieving process for a parent that we’ve had yet to bury.”

A gospel singer led a rousing rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and the gathering took on the air of a mass meeting.

Lee Saunders, a national labor leader, recounted how on that night in 1968, King made an unplanned appearance to deliver the famous speech without notes after his aides saw how passionate the crowd was: “There was one man they wanted to hear from.”

But Saunders stressed that the purpose of the week’s commemorations was not just to look to the past.

“Dr. King’s work — our work — isn’t done. We must still struggle; we must still sacrifice. We must still educate and organize and mobilize. That’s why we’re here in Memphis. Not just to honor our history, but to seize our future,” he said.

Some of the sanitation workers who participated with King in a 1968 strike sat in the front row and were treated like celebrities, with audience members stopping to take photos with them before the event started.

To read more: https://blackamericaweb.com/2018/04/04/many-march-in-honor-of-martin-luther-king-jr-s-death/

Memphis High School’s Graduating Class Earns $80 Million in College Scholarships

(L to R) Dillard University’s associate admissions director Christopher Stewart and Zariah Nolan, Whitehaven High School senior and future Dillard University Student, taken from Nolan’s Twitter on April 24, 2017. (photo via colorlines.com)

article by Sameer Rao via colorlines.com

Seniors at an almost-exclusively Black high school in Memphis, Tennessee, earned more than $80 million in university scholarship offers.

ABC News reported Friday (April 21) that more than 40 Whitehaven High School students contributed to this number with at least $1 million in offers each. A call to determine the total number of students who earned scholarships was not immediately returned. Per the Tennessee Department of Education’s website, Whitehaven’s student body is more than 99 percent Black.

One student, 18-year-old Zariah Nolan, earned nearly $9.6 million in scholarships, including 17 full-ride packages. Nolan told ABC News that she applied to nearly 100 colleges across the country using application packages like the Common Black College Application, which allows prospective students to submit to 51 historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) with one set of materials.

She will attend one of those HBCUs, Dillard University in New Orleans, this fall. “My principal always told us you never know where life can take you so apply anywhere just to see,” Nolan said. Her principal, Vincent J. Hunter, added that the 1,765 student-strong high school stands out thanks to its all-alumni staff. “It’s important for us to be our brother’s keeper and we work hard to make sure our kids are prepared for life after graduation,” says Hunter, who also attended Whitehaven.

Source: Memphis High School’s Graduating Class Earns $80 Million in Scholarships | Colorlines

Tennessee Corrections Center Official Resigns After His Racist FB Posts Come to Light

David Barber, deputy director of the Shelby County Corrections Center in Tennessee, resigned after derogatory posts from his Facebook account came to light. (Courtesy of Shelby County)

article by Cleve R. Wootson Jr. via washingtonpost.com

David Barber kept his Facebook profile set to private, but anyone who was friends with him could see the very public nature of his job — right next to the racist posts that made him lose it. Barber, Deputy Director of the Shelby County Corrections Center in Memphis for the past 17 years, resigned amid a growing controversy over the posts.

One featured a picture of President Obama next to a man in a Ku Klux Klan mask and said “The KKK is more American than the illegal president.” Another post, according to the Memphis Flyer, is about the Obama family claiming they had been discriminated against because they’re black.

According to the newspaper, Barber commented, “Arrest convict hang and confiscate all assets.” The posts were shared from the page of a group called “the Free Patriot,” which posts conservative-tinged news stories.

To read more, go to: A Tenn. jail official called the KKK ‘more American’ than Obama. Now he’s out of a job. – The Washington Post

Memphis Teen Kevuntez King Sold Newspapers for 5 Years so His Single Mom Wouldn’t Have to Pay His College Tuition

Kevuntez King
Kevuntez King (FOX 13 SCREENSHOT)

article by Stephen A. Crockett Jr. via theroot.com

When 17-year-old Kevuntez King was just a preteen, he decided that not only was he going to college, but his mother, a single parent, wasn’t going to pay for it.  “She just taught me how to be independent like she had it, [and] she just wanted me to go get it myself,” Kevuntez told Fox 13.

So, at the age of 12, Kevuntez got a job selling papers at a downtown Memphis, Tennessee intersection, and for five years he worked that job, saving the money he made.  “When it came down to school, my mom didn’t have to come out of pocket to do anything or I didn’t have to take out any loans to go to school,” Kevuntez told Fox 13.

Making around $200 a week, Kevuntez reached his goal, earning enough money to pay all of his tuition at Tennessee State University, where he will study physical therapy.

Kevuntez says he knows that what he’s accomplished is just the tip of the iceberg, and he has advice for anyone who feels that life can be challenging: “Make sure you surround yourself with people that’s trying to go up in life and not trying to bring you down. Just stay positive and always believe in yourself and push for it.”

Read more at Fox 13.

15-Year-Old Memphis Student Dwight More Earns Perfect ACT Score

dwightmoore
Dwight Moore, Jr. (CHRISTIAN BROTHERS HIGH SCHOOL)

article by Angela Bronner Helm via theroot.com

A 15-year-old high school sophomore got a perfect score on the ACT (American College Testing) exam, reports Blavity.com.

Dwight Moore, a student at Christian Brothers High School in Memphis scored a 36 out of 36 on the college entrance exam putting him in rare company—less than one percent of the 1.9 million test takers received a perfect score in 2015.

His school put out a statement this week congratulating him, reading in part:

The ACT consists of tests in English, mathematics, reading and science. Each test is scored on a scale of 1–36, and a student’s composite score is the average of the four test scores. Some students also take the optional ACT writing test, but the score for that test is reported separately and is not included within the ACT Composite score.

“Please join me in congratulating sophomore Dwight Moore for his perfect composite score of 36 on the ACT,” said CBHS principal Chris Fay. “Dwight is an incredibly polite and humble young man, who is respected by both his peers and teachers. He is a model student at CBHS.” 

Moore reportedly said that he thought the score was a mistake when he first saw it.

“I sat there in shock for a second. There is no way this is right,” he said. “It didn’t have the writing score so I thought this was just a placeholder for later so I am not getting my hopes up; when the writing score came out too, I actually got a 36.”

And he’s only in his second year! Bravo, young man, bravo!

Read more at Blavity.com.

R.I.P. Musical Legend and Earth, Wind & Fire Founder Maurice White

Maurice White
Maurice White, center, leads Earth Wind & Fire at the Forum in Inglewood, CA on Dec. 12, 1981. (Tony Barnard / Los Angeles Times)

article by Chris Barton via latimes.com

Maurice White, co-founder and leader of the groundbreaking ensemble Earth, Wind & Fire, died Thursday at his Los Angeles home. He was 74. His brother and bandmate, Verdine White, confirmed the news with the Associated Press.

The source for a wealth of euphoric hits in the 1970s and early ’80s, including “Shining Star,” “September” “Reasons” and “Boogie Wonderland,” Earth, Wind & Fire borrowed elements from funk, soul, gospel and pop for a distinctive sound that yielded six double-platinum albums and six Grammy Awards.

The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, and although White had ceased touring with the group since a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease in the ’90s, he remained behind the scenes as the act continued to tour, including a run of sold-out shows at the Hollywood Bowl in 2013.

“[Maurice White’s] unerring instincts as a musician and showman helped propel the band to international stardom, influencing countless fellow musicians in the process,” Recording Academy President Neil Portnow wrote in a statement. Earth, Wind & Fire are slated to receive lifetime achievement honors from the Grammys this year.

Born in Memphis, Tenn. on Dec. 19, 1941, Maurice White sang in his church’s gospel choir at an early age, but his interest quickly gravitated to the drums. He earned his first gig backing Booker T. Jones before the organist founded the MGs. He moved to Chicago in the early ’60s and studied composition at the Chicago Conservatory of Music and eventually found work as a session drummer for the Chess and OKeh labels, where he played behind Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker.

“That’s where I learned about the roots of music,” White told the Chicago Tribune in 1990. “I learned about playing with feeling.”

After also backing jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis in the ’60s, White moved to Los Angeles in 1969 with a band called the Salty Peppers. The group failed to gain much traction, and White changed the group’s name in 1971 to Earth, Wind and Fire, a name rooted in astrology that reflected White’s spiritual approach to music.

“In the beginning,” White told the Tribune in 1988, “My message was basically trying to relate to the community. From that it grew into more of a universal consciousness; the idea was to give the people something that was useful.”

The group’s lineup evolved through the ’70s and eventually included vocalist Phillip Bailey and White’s brother Verdine, both of whom toured with the band into this decade. The band’s reach extended into movies as well in recording the soundtrack album for Melvin Van Peebles’ landmark 1971 film “Sweet Sweetback’s Badasss Song” and appearing in the 1978 film “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” which yielded the band’s hit cover of the Beatles’ “Got to Get You Into My Life.”

White’s hits with Earth, Wind & Fire spanned a particularly influential space between R&B, rock and disco that remains current. His music with Earth, Wind & Fire was prominently sampled by scores of hip-hop and pop acts in recent years, including Jay-Z and 2Pac. His mix of incandescent soulfulness and suave, funky arrangements informed recent bestselling albums by Daft Punk and Kendrick Lamar.

Remembrances of White came from all corners of the music world. On Twitter, Nile Rodgers, the Chic founder and record producer who was White’s peer in the ‘70s disco scene, wrote “RIP my soulful brother — You’re one of the most amazing innovators of all time.” Bootsy Collins, bassist of the funk mainstays Parliament-Funkadelic, wrote that White was a “legend, pioneer life long friend.”

To read more, go to: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/posts/la-et-ms-maurice-white-earth-wind-fire-dies-20160204-story.html

Times staff writer August Brown contributed to this report.