In 1953 the Marshall Scholarship program was established by an act of the British Parliament. Funded by the British government, the program is a national gesture of thanks to the American people for aid received under the Marshall Plan, the U.S.-financed program that led to the reconstruction of Europe after World War II.
The scholarships provide funds for up to three years of study at a British university, travel, living expenses, and a book allowance. Since the inception of the program, more than 1,900 Americans have studied in the United Kingdom as Marshall Scholars.
This year 43 Marshall Scholarships were given out. While the British government does not publicize the race or ethnicity of Marshall Scholars, it appears that there are four African Americans among the 43 Marshall Scholars. The four African American Marshall Scholars are in sharp contrast to the record of 10 African Americans who were among the 32 American students awarded Rhodes Scholarships this year. (See JBHE post.)
Josephine Cook is a senior neuroscience and psychology double-major at Queens College of the City University of New York. She plans to complete a Ph.D. at either Imperial College London or Brunel University, focusing on how dance therapy can be used to rehabilitate neurological disorders. Upon completing the degree and returning to the United States, she hopes to open a clinic dedicated to arts therapy and neurorehabilitation.
Kobi Felton is a senior at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, where he is majoring in chemical engineering and minoring in Spanish. He will pursue a master’s degree in chemical engineering at the University of Cambridge beginning in fall 2018 and then a master’s degree in nanomaterials at Imperial College London in the second year of his Marshall Scholarship.
Aasha Jackson is a 2015 graduate of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. While at Brown, Jackson served as senior editor for the Brown Human Rights Report, a student-run online publication, and co-founded the university’s chapter of She’s the First, a national nonprofit that supports girls who will be the first in their families to graduate from high school. She is now serving as a policy associate in the Office of Population and Reproductive Health at the United States Agency for International Development. Jackson plans to use her Marshall Scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in public policy at the University of Cambridge and a master’s degree in reproductive and sexual health research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Craig Stevens graduated from American University in Washington, D.C., this December with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology. Currently, Stevens is an archaeological technician at AECOM, a civil engineering firm that employs archaeologists to assess construction sites prior to breaking ground. As a Marshall Scholar at University College London, he will study advanced techniques for analyzing ceramics and conducting mixed-methods research relevant to archaeological practice.
Three brothers from Tottenham, North London, are on a mission to raise the self-esteem of African Caribbean children through books.
Sulaiman Lee, Noel Kerr and Leonegus Darealest are the trio behind Black Child Promotions, which aims to give children a positive view of their identity through the works of a range of authors.
The men hope to give young people access to knowledge about prominent black figures such Marcus Garvey and Martin Luther King, Jr., successful black empires and movements, African Caribbean fables and folk stories as well as the writings of influential black political leaders.
One of the trio, Lee, told The Voice: “We have titles from the likes of Maya Angelou to Iyanla Vanzant to Amos N. Wilson and Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannan. We have something for everyone, children’s stories, political books, poetry, autobiographies and more.”
He added: “For us, Black History isn’t just for one month, it’s all year round and that’s exactly what we want to show people. We believe we need to promote black history more, as it isn’t something we see widely in the media or something that our children are learning about at school.”
The trio has recently set up a stall outside Brixton tube station and another one outside Stratford tube station in a bid to reach as many people as they can and engage them about the importance of reading.
However their main location for the last 12 years has been in Seven Sisters, north London.
After 88 years, Idris Elba broke the “Flying Mile” record in the UK, going over 180 mph in a Bentley to beat 1927’s Sir Malcolm Campbell.
“I’m absolutely elated to have broken the ‘Flying Mile’ at Pendine Sands,” Elba said. “It’s an honor to have taken on the challenge, and to successfully follow in the footsteps of the illustrious Sir Malcolm Campbell.”
The “Luther” actor is filming a four-part series for the Discovery Channel called, “Idris Elba: No Limits,” which will air in July.
Ryan Coogler, director and co-writer of “Creed,” has been named as the first Warner Bros. Creative Talent Ambassador in the U.K. The news comes as the studio’s Creative Talent program welcomed participants of its third season.
Coogler was supported early in his career by the Time Warner Foundation in partnership with Sundance Institute, which enabled him to develop his first feature film, “Fruitvale Station.” The film went on to win the Grand Jury Prize and the audience award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
Coogler said: “Having experienced firsthand the support and impact of programs similar to Warner Bros. Creative Talent, it is fantastic to know that passionate young people of all backgrounds are being given the chance to follow their dreams here in the U.K. This can be a tough industry, and so we need to do what we can to bring talented young people into it.”
Josh Berger, president and managing director, Warner Bros. U.K., Ireland and Spain, said: “I am thrilled that Ryan has become an ambassador for Warner Bros. Creative Talent, as he is the perfect example of the effect that a program like this can have on one’s life and career. We’re already seeing our talented young people taking strides into the industry, just a couple of years into the program, and I can’t wait to see what season three will go on to achieve.”
Warner Bros. Creative Talent participants will receive funding and training opportunities as part of a multilayered program that includes scholarships at some of the country’s top higher-education institutions. These include three Prince William scholars in film, television and games in partnership with BAFTA; apprenticeships at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden and Warner Bros. Television Production U.K.; trainee positions on every Warner Bros. film production in the U.K.; training-course places for young people at inclusive theater company Chickenshed; work-experience places for students at a school local to Warner Bros.’ London HQ; and work placements on the London West End musical “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
Baroness Valerie Amos has been named director of SOAS at the University of London. SOAS was founded in 1916 as the School of Oriental Studies and has since expanded its mission to also focus on Africa and the Middle East.
When she takes office in September, Baroness Amos will be the first Black woman to ever lead a university in the United Kingdom. Since 2010, Amos has served as undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator at the United Nations. Earlier in her career, Baroness Amos was the first black woman to sit in the British cabinet as Secretary of State for International Development. She became Leader of the House of Lords and served as the United Kingdom’s High Commissioner to Australia.
Born in Guyana, Amos earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Warwick and a master’s degree in cultural studies from the University of Birmingham. She was given the title of Baroness Amos of Brondesbury in 1997.
In accepting the post, Baroness Amos said: “With its vast repository of knowledge and expertise on its specialist regions, SOAS is uniquely placed to inform and shape current thinking about the religious, political, cultural, security and economic challenges of our world. There is an interrelated set of issues which need to be addressed to manage growing complexity and the contradictions of greater global connectivity and greater fragmentation. SOAS is a place where I can continue to grow and learn and use the skills, knowledge and experience I have gained over the years.”
Kunbi Tinuoye, former broadcast journalist and correspondent for the BBC, MSNBC and TheGrio.com, and current on-air contributor to Arise News’ business show Xchange, has recently launched UrbanGeekz.com, a groundbreaking digital news platform dedicated to African-Americans and other underrepresented minorities in technology, science and business. The site offers reviews, interviews, commentary, and original video on startups, geek gadgets, social media, scientific advancements, entrepreneurship and insight into Silicon Valley and the global technology industry. The cutting-edge online publication also provides authoritative lifestyle and entertainment content.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, UrbanGeekz.com, live only since February 9th of this year, has already partnered with telecom giant AT&T and Black Enterprise Magazine to provide content to and about the underserved communities in the tech space. The website also has created a much-needed outlet for dialogue on the most pressing and relevant issues in STEM-related fields: conversations surrounding the preparedness of students to pursue STEM careers, the lack of diversity in the STEM workforce and challenges facing minorities in the tech start-up scene.
Tinuoye, whose parents immigrated to the United Kingdom from Nigeria, was born, raised and educated in London. She graduated from Cambridge University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Social and Political Sciences and later received a post-graduate diploma in print journalism. She is also an NCTJ qualified UK professional journalist.
Tinuoye began her career writing for the prestigious London newspaper, the Evening Standard. After stints there and with the BBC, she immigrated to the United States, settling in Atlanta and working for TheGrio.com and MSNBC as a journalist and on-air contributor.
Good Black News recently caught up with Tinuoye and got a chance to talk to this ambitious and intelligent entrepreneur about her journey, why she started UrbanGeekz, and her visions for African-Americans in tech in the near future:
Good Black News: What initially attracted you to journalism?
Kunbi Tinuoye: I’m a communicator – that’s just the core of my personality – I’m a people person. I’ve worked across most platforms, from television to print journalism. I enjoy every aspect of the media industry.
Which aspect of journalism do you like the most?
I started as a writer. Knowing how to write and tell a story is really the core. I say to aspiring journalists, “Make sure you learn how to write,” because once you can put together a well-crafted sentence and get to the crux of a story, then you’ve the ability to be a good journalist.
What made you decide to leave the United Kingdom for the United States?
Me and my husband came on holiday to Atlanta about seven years ago and we basically fell in love with the States. One of my husband’s friends relocated here and was living a comfortable life. Seeing how black professionals live in America, particularly in Atlanta, where you have the ability to work your way up the corporate ladder… I think it was that, the lifestyle and I thought there would be more opportunities for me here.
Do you prefer it here in America?
I absolutely love Atlanta. I feel like I found home. It feels like where I’m meant to be.
Do you have a different perspective on black issues in America being from a different country?
I probably do have a different perspective. For me, coming as an immigrant I feel that, and maybe specifically to Atlanta, which I think is a great place for black professionals, for me there seems to be a phenomenal amount of opportunity, but that’s from my perspective. I know race is a huge issue in America, I’m very aware of that – in London there’s racism as well – maybe at a slightly different level, but of course I’m aware of injustice and all of the issues going on, but at the same time I see America as the land of opportunity – that’s my perspective.
Your experience has spanned three countries – Nigeria through your parents, England and the United States. How do you identify?
K: What can I say… being Nigerian is very important to me, so I would identify as a British Nigerian. I’ve been in the States four years, and now it’s like home.
Why did you start UrbanGeekz?
I was at the Grio for close to four years and it was a phenomenal job. But I felt there was a gap in the market. There wasn’t a minority-led news platform tackling issues related to STEM and the technology industry, which as you know is an important space that’s going to become even more significant in the coming years. The other reason that sparked me to launch UrbanGeekz was when the big tech companies, such as Facebook and Google, released their diversity stats and showed dismal numbers of African-Americans and women. I think that and the combination of just thinking we’re not covering these stories was the impetus.
Who do you consider your competition in the digital tech space?
I’ve got a huge vision for UrbanGeekz. I want the platform to compete with the big players like TechCrunch and the African-American and even the Latino digital news outlets as well. They aren’t my competition now because we’ve just started, but I hope to be at the same level further down the line.
What do you see as the near future for blacks and people of color in tech and science?
There’s been so much conversation about this right now. It’s a hot topic. Some of the big firms, including Intel and Apple,have made major announcements within the last year, [earmarking] money for underserved minorities and women. So I feel and I hope that people of color – and I say “people of color” because UrbanGeekz is a multi-cultural website – African-Americans of course, but I do want to include Latino market at some point and even Africans and Afro-Latinos as well – my hope is that particularly with the current discussion, people of color will become more and more involved in STEM and the tech space. Technology is important and when you look at the high-demand jobs of the future, many require STEM or tech skills. Underserved minorities and women need to have this skill set to level the playing field.
Are East Indians and Asians thought of as “people of color” in tech?
They are doing much better in tech. UrbanGeekz is for underrepresented communities in the technology industry.
Do you think there is enough awareness around disparity in the tech industry?
Before those diversity statistics were publicly released there wasn’t too much focus on the giant tech companies. But people like Reverend Jesse Jackson have been vocal and continued to put the spotlight on the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley. Now the issue is a hot topic. It’s also about what kind of skills and jobs that will be in demand in the future. STEM skills are vital for career progression and the continued growth of the U.S. economy. These companies are the new Fortune 500 companies, the new GM [General Motors] or U.S. Steel.
Further down the line, Tinuoye and UrbanGeekz will be launching the UrbanGeekz 100, an annual list of underrepresented minorities making strides in science and technology. The handpicked list will culminate with an on-site exclusive awards gala honoring these dynamic leaders and influencers of color who have achieved success in their prospective industries.
An 11-year-old in the U.K. found out he’s a genius after taking an IQ test. His 162 score makes him smarter than Bill Gates – and Albert Einstein – according to the Romford Recorder.
Ramarni Wilford was invited to take the IQ test after writing an essay an essay snagged him an invitation to a graduation ceremony at Oxford University. Although he was very surprised and happy by the results – he’s in the top one percent in the U.K. – he remains modest.
“I can’t begin to compare myself to these great men whose hard work clearly proves that they are true geniuses,” Wilford says.
A member of a gifted and talented program as well as the Brilliant Club, he can now add a membership to Mensa to his future college applications. Mensa, the world’s oldest IQ society, has invited Wilford to join so he can attend exclusive events and mingle with like-minded kids.
“I don’t really see having a high IQ as a big deal, but I do feel very privileged to be invited to join Mensa and can’t wait to attend some of the events,” he says.
Prada, a label known for rarely casting models of color, has selected a black model for a new print campaign. For first time in 19 years, a woman of African decent will be a major face of the luxury fashion brand in a Fall/Winter 2013 advertisement.
Malaika Firth, a bi-racial black woman who is half Kenyan and British, was born in the Kenyan city of Mombasa and raised in the United Kingdom. The 19-year-old, who also boasts Ugandan, Swiss, and Seychellois ancestry, appears in the latest Prada seasonal ad series with 44-year-old supermodel Christy Turlington among other faces.
Fellow supermodel Naomi Campbell was the last black woman to be featured in a Prada ad campaign in 1994.
Firth told The Telegraph that she is“extremely proud and happy” to be following in the footsteps of the pioneering black supermodel. Naomi Campbell was one of the first black models to receive international recognition.
Ghana’s Grace Amey-Obeng, one of West Africa’s most successful businesswomen, made her fortune promoting products which emphasised the beauty of the black skin, at a time when many of her competitors were selling dangerous skin-bleaching formulas.
The business empire she started a quarter of a century ago with around $100 (£63) now has an annual turnover of between $8m and $10m. Her FC Group of Companies – which includes a beauty clinic, a firm that supplies salon equipment and cosmetics, and a college – has eight branches in Ghana and exports to Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Togo, Ivory Coast, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Mrs Amey-Obeng has won dozens of accolades and industry awards for her skincare beauty products and marketing. But one of the things that make her especially proud is her FC Beauty College which, since its opening in 1999, has trained more than 5,000 young people, mostly women.
In the sixth edition of the annual PowerList, the top 100 people regarded as role models in their fields, the Tanzanian-born founder of Adjaye Associates is hailed as an inspirational figure who saw off financial crisis during the recession to become one of the country’s most high-profile architects.