Isiah Thomas, a former star in the National Basketball Association, is partnering with Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens to encourage athletes, entertainers, and other successful people to support HBCUs. According to a statement released by the university, the new program is “intended to inspire successful athletes, entertainers and other influential partners to re-commit, embrace and support historically Black colleges and universities.”
This program will be called “Lift Ev’ry Voice.” This refers to the song “Life Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” which is commonly referred to as the “Black National Anthem.”James Weldon Johnson wrote the song originally as a poem and had his brother John Rosamond Johnson set it to music. He was a composer and music professor at what was then Florida Baptist Academy. That educational institution is now known as Florida Memorial University.
Thomas played two years of college basketball for Indiana University before entering the NBA draft. He played for 13 years for the Detroit Pistons. Thomas completed his degree from Indiana University during the Pistons’ offseasons and later earned his master’s degree in education from the University of California Berkeley.
The National Academy of Engineering has 83 new members this year. The new members bring the total number of U.S. members to 2,293. The new members will be inducted in a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on September 30.
Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to “engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature” and to “the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/ implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.”
The academy does not disclose the racial makeup of its membership, but past JBHE research has shown that Blacks make up about one percent of the members. According to an analysis of the new membership list by JBHE, it appears that there are three Black engineers among the 83 new members. Two of the three have current academic affiliations.
Lynden A. Archer is the James Friend Family Distinguished Professor of Engineering in the Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He joined the faculty at Cornell in 2000. Professor Archer was recognized by the academy for “advances in nanoparticle-polymer hybrid materials and in electrochemical energy storage technologies.” Dr. Archer is a graduate of the University of Southern California, where he majored in chemical engineering. He holds a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Stanford University.
Gary S. May is the chancellor of the University of California, Davis. He became the seventh chancellor of the university in August 2017. Previously, he was dean of the College of Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. Dr. May was selected to the academy for his “contributions to semiconductor manufacturing research and for innovations in educational programs for underrepresented groups in engineering. A native of St. Louis, Professor May is a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he majored in electrical engineering. He holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Berkeley.
The third African American in this year’s cohort of new members is Gabriel C. Ejebe, the senior project manager for energy trading and markets for Open Access Technology International in Minneapolis.
Over the years, the Black Panther Party has gained a somewhat negative image, with its detractors highlighting its revolutionary nature and some of its more violent aspects. But the University of California Berkeley wants to change all of that, and is making a conscientious effort to honoring the legacy of BPP.
News One reports that the university will be receiving a federal funding grant of $98,000 for the “Black Panther Party Research, Interpretation & Memory Project.” Per the funding announcement, the project will last from August 30, 2017 to September 30, 2019, and will include “a comprehensive collection of local BPP history through acquisition of additional materials from diverse sources including video oral history, photographs, news coverage and other media; disseminating publications that incorporate primary sources from BPP organizational records.”
The project will be led by Dr. Ula Taylor, the chair of the Department of African American Studies at UC Berkeley. Dr. Taylor plans to involve several notable BPP members in the project, such as J. Tarika Lewis. Lewis was the first woman to join the BPP in Oakland.
The project also plans to “compile an annotated bibliography of information (oral histories, literature, art, exhibits or other media/format) as a resource for understanding the complex history of the Black Panther Party” and “will collect additional oral histories, and additionally, interviews will be conducted with people who were not yet born in 1966 but are eager to reflect on how the events affected their lives, their families and their future.”
Overall, the project hopes to “bridge generational, cultural and regional gaps in dialogue on race relations, economic inclusion and opportunity and other critical imperatives that divide diverse populations.”
Recently the Landmarks Committee of the National Park Service unanimously voted to recommend that the home at 906 Carroll Street become a National Historic Landmark. The final decision on the matter rests with the Secretary of the Interior and the decision can be made before the change in presidential administrations. The Pauli Murray Project has fully restored the home and it is expected that it will be made into a museum and social justice center.
A native of Baltimore, Pauli Murray was orphaned at age 13. She went to Durham, North Carolina to live with an aunt. After graduating from high school at the age of 16, she enrolled in Hunter College in New York City. She was forced to drop out of school at the onset of the Great Depression. In 1938, she mounted an unsuccessful legal effort to gain admission to the all-white University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1940, 15 years earlier than Rosa Parks, Murray was arrested for refusing to sit in the back of a bus in Virginia.
Murray enrolled at the Howard University in 1941 and earned her degree in 1944. She later graduated from the Boalt Hall Law School at the University of California at Berkeley. She became a leader of the civil rights movement and was critical of its leadership for not including more women in their ranks. In 1977, Murray, at the age of 66, was ordained a priest of the Episcopal Church. She died in Pittsburgh in 1985 after suffering from cancer.
The University of California, Berkeley has announced that it will build a new African American Center on campus. The center will be named after Fannie Lou Hamer, the Mississippi-born voting and civil rights activist.
The agreement to establish the center comes after a year of talks among the administration, the Black Student Union and other campus African American groups.
The university has allocated more than $80,000 to refurbish the space for the new center in the Hearst Field Annex.
Na’ilah Nasir, vice chancellor for equity and inclusion at the University of California, Berkeley, stated that “it’s a big deal for our students to know that our administration understands their needs and supports them. It’s a financially constrained time, but it’s also a time when the administration is thinking about its priorities and values. I think the students should be encouraged that the center is something the campus will really support.”
Chuck Muncie, a tall, talented NFL running back, died of a heart attack on Monday. He was 60. Muncie played nine years in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers and was a three-time Pro Bowl selection. At 6-3, 227 pounds, he was a versatile back who could chew up yards with his long stride and was an effective receiver out of the backfield.
With his talent, height and trademark glasses—he was one of the first players to use glasses or goggles—Chuck Muncie always stood out on the field.
He went over the 1,000-yard mark twice—with the Saints in 1979 and the Chargers in 1981, as part of the explosive Air Coryell attack. He also led the NFL with 19 rushing touchdowns in ’81 and rushed for 124 yards and a touchdown in the Chargers’ epic 41-38 overtime victory over the Dolphins in the divisional playoffs that season.
The third overall pick in the 1976 draft by the Saints, he rushed for 6,702 yards and 71 touchdowns in 110 career games.
Muncie played in only one game in 1984, when he was suspended after testing positive for cocaine. He later was reinstated and traded to the Vikings in 1985, but he never played in another regular-season game.
Muncie was arrested in 1989 and sentenced to 18 months in prison for selling cocaine. He eventually turned his life around and worked with children and people who battled drug addiction. He also mentored athletes at Cal, his alma mater.
T. Geronimo Johnson, a lecturer in creative writing at the University of California at Berkeley, has been selected as one of five finalists for the prestigious PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction. He also serves as director of the university’s Summer Creative Writing Program.
Johnson is being honored for his debut novel, Hold It, ‘Til It Hurts(Coffee House Press, 2012), a story of two brothers who have returned to the United States after serving in the war in Afghanistan.
Johnson is a native of New Orleans. He holds a master’s degree in language, literacy, and culture from the University of California at Berkeley and a master of fine arts degree from the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa.
The winner will be announced on March 19 and the award will be presented at the 33rd annual PEN/Faulkner Award ceremony at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington on May 4.