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.”
Education Week recently published the Rick Hess Straight Up Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings. The rankings list the 200 university-based education scholars who had the biggest influence on the nation’s education discourse last year. The scholars are ranked in eight categories including Google Scholar ratings, mentions in major newspapers, books published and their rankings on Amazon.com, Twitter scores, and mentions in the Congressional Record. The rankings are calculated by scholars at the American Enterprise Institute.
Three of the top 10 influential educators are African Americans, including the highest ranked education scholar in the nation.
Claude Steele is executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of California at Berkeley. From 2011 to 2014, he was dean of the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University. Professor Steele served for two years as provost at Columbia University in New York City after being a member of the Stanford faculty from 1991 to 2009. Professor Steele is perhaps best know for his work on the underperformance of minority students due to stereotype threat. Professor Steele is the author of Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do (W.W. Norton, 2010). Professor Steele is a graduate of Hiram College in Ohio and earned a Ph.D. at Ohio State University.
The National Trust for Historical Preservation has designated the childhood home of Pauli Murray in Durham, North Carolina, a “National Treasure.”
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.
The Pauli Murray Project at Duke University has been working to restore the home and the federal designation may help secure additional funds for this purpose. The group hopes to make the home into a museum.
In 1977, Murray, at the age of 66, was ordained a priest of the Episcopal Church. She died in Pittsburgh in 1985.
J. California Cooper, an award-winning writer whose black female characters confront a world of indifference and betrayal, but find kinship there in unexpected places, died on September 20th in Seattle. She was 82. A spokesman for Random House, her publisher, confirmed her death. She had had several heart attacks in recent years.
Ms. Cooper won an American Book Award in 1989 for the second of her six story collections, “Homemade Love.” Her short story “Funny Valentines,” about a woman in a troubled marriage who repairs an old rift with a cousin when she moves back home, was turned into a 1999 television movie starring Alfre Woodard and Loretta Devine.
Writing in a vernacular first-person style, Ms. Cooper set her stories in an indeterminate rural past permeated with violence and the ghost of slavery. The African-American women she depicts endure abandonment, betrayal, rape and social invisibility, but they survive.
“Some Soul to Keep” (1987), her third collection, includes over-the-back-fence tales. One story tells of two women who become close friends after one woman’s husband dies and the other’s leaves. They learn that long-lived rumors of their dislike for each other had been fabricated by their husbands. Another story is about a blind girl who is raped by her minister, gives birth to his son and raises him alone because, she explains, he makes her forget she is blind.
Ms. Cooper’s 1991 novel, “Family,” one of five she wrote, is narrated by the ghost of a slave woman who committed suicide before the Civil War and who follows the lives of her descendants as they mingle and procreate in a new interracial world, marveling at how “from one woman all these different colors and nationalities could come into being.”
Ms. Cooper was clear about the religious values that informed her stories. “I’m a Christian,” she told The Washington Post in 2000. “That’s all I am. If it came down to Christianity and writing, I’d let the writing go. God is bigger than a book.”
In an interview on NPR in 2006, she said, “What I’m basically trying to do is help somebody make some right choices.”
John A. Johnson, an assistant professor of planetary astronomy at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, received the Richard P. Feynman Prize for Excellence in Teaching from the university. The prize was established by the university “to honor annually a professor who demonstrates, in the broadest sense, unusual ability, creativity, and innovation in undergraduate and graduate classroom or laboratory teaching.” Dr. Johnson’s research focuses on searching for plants outside our solar system.
Dr. Johnson is a graduate of the Missouri University of Science and Technology. He holds a Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of California at Berkeley.