According to Variety.com, Sony Music Entertainment announced today the promotion of Sylvia Rhone to Chairman and CEO of Epic Records. In this role, Rhone will lead the overall creative direction and management of Epic Records, overseeing Epic’s roster of hit-making artists such as Travis Scott, Future, Camila Cabello, 21 Savage, Meghan Trainor, DJ Khaled, and French Montana.
Rhone has been President of Epic Records since 2014, and since then has overseen projects including Scott’s 2018 best-selling album “Astroworld”; Camila Cabello’s debut album “Camila” and the smash single “Havana,” as well as music from Future, 21 Savage and others.
“I am excited to continue my amazing journey at Epic Records supported by Rob Stringer’s vision and leadership,” stated Rhone. “Everything we do is a testament to our incredible artists who set the bar of the entire Epic culture, inspiring our dedicated executive team every day and enriching the legacy of this great label.”
Before joining Sony Music, Rhone was President of Universal Motown Records and Executive Vice President at Universal Records from 2004. From 1994-2004, Rhone was Chairman and CEO of Warner Music Group’s Elektra Entertainment Group, the first African American woman to be named Chairman of a major record company, where she oversaw releases from artists such as Missy Elliott, Busta Rhymes, Metallica, Staind, Third Eye Blind, Tracy Chapman, and Natalie Merchant. Rhone began her career at Buddah Records in 1974, a label best-known for its Gladys Knight and the Pips albums.
Rhone is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania‘s well-regarded Wharton Business School. She received an honorary doctorate from the Berklee College of Music on April 5, 2019, in recognition of her achievements as a leading female music executive who has headed labels multiple times during her career.
Recently, the Rhodes Trust announced the 32 American winners of Rhodes Scholarships for graduate study at Oxford University in England. Being named a Rhodes Scholar is considered among the highest honors that can be won by a U.S. college student.
The scholarships were created in 1902 by the will of Cecil Rhodes, an industrialist who made a vast fortune in colonial Africa. According to the will of Rhodes, applicants must have “high academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership, and physical vigor.”
This year, more than 2,500 students applied to be Rhodes Scholars. A total of 880 college students were endorsed by 281 colleges or universities for consideration for a Rhodes Scholarship. Some 221 applicants from 82 colleges and universities were named finalists. Then, two Rhodes Scholars were selected from each of 16 districts across the United States. Students may apply from either the district where they reside or the district where they attend college. The 32 American Rhodes Scholars will join students from 23 other jurisdictions around the world as Rhodes Scholars. The Rhodes Trust pays all tuition and fees for scholarship winners to study at Oxford. A stipend for living and travel expenses is also provided.
In 1907 Alain LeRoy Locke, later a major philosopher and literary figure of the Harlem Renaissance, was selected as a Rhodes Scholar to study at Oxford University. It is generally believed that at the time of the award the Rhodes committee did not know that Locke was Black until after he had been chosen. It would be more than 50 years later, in 1962, until another African American would be named a Rhodes Scholar.
Other African Americans who have won Rhodes Scholarships include Randall Kennedy of Harvard Law School, Kurt Schmoke, former mayor of Baltimore, and Franklin D. Raines, former director of the Office of Management and Budget and former CEO of Fannie Mae. In 1978 Karen Stevenson of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was the first African-American woman selected as a Rhodes Scholar.
Here are brief biographies of the three new African American Rhodes Scholars:
Austin T. Hughes from San Antonio, Texas, is a senior at the University of Iowa. He is triple majoring in creative writing, theatre arts, and Japanese language and literature. He is a cellist and a cross-country runner at the university. Hughes served as co-president of The English Society at the University of Iowa. In that role, he showcased student literature to the campus community and beyond. He has won numerous awards for his poetry and creative writing. At Oxford, Hughes will pursue a master’s degree in Japanese studies. Continue reading “Three African American Students, Lia Petrose, Anea B. Moore and Austin T. Hughes, Named 2019 Rhodes Scholars”→
Children in the U.S. are often introduced to America’s troubled and cruel history through movies, television programs, and children’s books. Historical fiction is frequently the means by which children learn about atrocities such as the enslavement of African Americans, racial segregation, Japanese-American internment, and the genocide of Native Americans.
Discourse about these topics in children’s literature can be difficult in light of the books’ overall function to inspire, transmit values, and spark young minds. But an omission or inaccurate portrayal of the crimes and suffering can do lasting societal damage to readers and how they see the world.
Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, an associate professor in the Graduate School of Education, has for the past decade been exploring representations of slavery in children’s literature. Over the last six years, she and her research team have compiled a database of 160 children’s books covering slavery that were published between 1970 and 2015—almost half of all the children’s books on slavery published in the 35-year period, many of which are no longer in print.
An expert on children’s literature and the teaching of African-American literature, history, and culture in K-12 classrooms, Thomas says parents, teachers, and educators must consider questions of readership, ethnicity, class, gender, story, background, intended audience, and difficulty when selecting books for their students.
Thomas supports the criteria put forth by scholar Rudine Sims Bishop that children’s literature about slavery should, in part, celebrate the strengths of the black family as a cultural institution and vehicle for survival, and bear witness to African Americans’ determined struggle for freedom, equality, and dignity.
“I recommend this book. What you’re getting here is 11 slaves’ lives and dreams that are being brought to life by this author,” she says. “[Bryan] is representing their complexity in the illustrations, his writing of the poetry. I highly recommend this because it balances humanizing enslaved African Americans, but he’s also showing the complexity of their lives.”
Additionally, she is working on a book about slavery in children’s literature tentatively titled “Reading Racial History,” and she serves on the advisory board of Teaching Tolerance’s Teaching Hard History project.
Thomas says children’s literature is a prime site for social reproduction, and an unexamined site of social progress, regress, and/or transformation.
“If you have children’s media that’s regressive, and the children of today are going to be the adults of the mid-to-late 21st century, if we don’t change the children’s media that they’re being fed by, just like we still remember and talk about ‘Peter Pan,’ ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ and other fictions of the long-ago Victorian and Edwardian eras, they’re going to still be influenced by these current writings—from ‘Harry Potter’ to problematic books about slavery—deep into the 22nd century.”
The board of trustees of Whittier College in California, has chosen Linda Oubré as the educational institution’s fifteenth president. When she takes office on July 1, Dr. Oubré will be the first African American and the first person of color to serve as president of Whittier College.
Whittier College, located east of Los Angeles, enrolls about 1,600 undergraduate students and approximately 450 graduate students, according to the latest statistics supplied to the U.S. Department of Education. African Americans make up 4 percent of the undergraduate student body. The college’s most famous graduate is Richard M. Nixon.
For the past six years, Dr. Oubré has served as dean of the College of Business at San Francisco State University. Earlier, Dr. Oubré was executive director of corporate relations and business development, and chief diversity officer for the Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Davis.
Dr. Oubré holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles, an MBA from Harvard Business School, and a doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania.
Many college-bound high school seniors will have difficult decisions to make as summer approaches, but few can compare to the choice facing New Jersey teen Ifeoma White-Thorpe – she was accepted to all eight Ivy League colleges. White-Thorpe, 17, from Morris Hills High School in Rockaway, New Jersey, was accepted into Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Princeton, Brown, Dartmouth, and the University of Pennsylvania. And that’s not all. White-Thorpe was accepted into Stanford University, too.
At first, she was solely focused on Harvard — the first school to officially give her the green light. But acceptance letters from other prestigious schools across the country soon flooded her mailbox, and now she’s back to square one. “I got into Harvard Early Action, so I was like I’ll just go there. And then I got into all the others and now I don’t know where I want to go,” White-Thorpe told CBS Philly on Tuesday.
The teenager already has quite an impressive list of accomplishments. She’s student government president, ranks high in her advanced placement courses and is a talented poet and writer. She recently won first place in the National Liberty Museum’s Selma Speech & Essay Contest.“Education is essential for change, and I aspire to be that change,” White-Thorpe said after winning a $5,000 prize in the national essay contest.
White-Thorpe says she wants to major in global healthy policy, and plans to look into what programs each school offers in her field. But that’s not the only factor that will help make her decision. It will likely come down to whichever university provides the best financial aid package, she said.
After the votes were tallied on Friday night, small town Floridian and College sophomore Makayla Reynolds was elected as the first black female class president in Penn’s history.
“I tried to sell myself as the outsider,” Reynolds said. “My background and where I come from and what I stand for is very underrepresented at Penn.”
Reynolds will be replacing the previous class president College sophomore Vadim Ordovsky-Tanaevsky. After having the experience of being a class president in high school, Reynolds decided to pursue the same position in college. “I don’t think that Vadim has done bad at all,” Reynolds said. “I think he’s done great. People just wanted a change.”
Many students have expressed concern that the class board has little impact on student lives. Reynolds speaks to this concern. “If you aren’t involved, it’s hard to see what the class board is doing,” she said. She hopes that she will be able to make a tangible difference.
Reynolds said that “the hardest part is getting people to be interested in voting.” Only about 800 of the over 2400 students in the sophomore class voted in the election.
Over the past weeks, Reynolds worked tirelessly to get her name out to other sophomores. She wanted to make an impression online as well as face-to-face with voters. Her Facebook and website served as a platform to inform the Class of 2018 about why she was a good candidate.
Reynolds said that a lot of her campaigning was talking one-on-one with friends and acquaintances she knows from activities she’s involved with on campus.
Outside of class board, Reynolds is part of MedLife Penn, a group that promotes health equity both locally and globally, and a public speaking advisor for communication within the curriculum.
Reynold’s favorite extracurricular is being a Big Sister for Big Brothers Big Sisters. This gives her a chance to make a difference in the community.
In her time as president, she hopes to inspire other students and have an impact. Reynolds wants to maintain Penn traditions, but also start new programs and initiatives within the student body.
One of the challenges of being president is the expectation to bring together a group of students with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Reynolds hopes to work with some of the many cultural groups at Penn to create events that appeal to students who identify with different cultural backgrounds.
Another goal is to bring greater awareness to mental health. Reynolds is passionate about making an impact. She hopes to make Penn a less stressful environment, but realizes that most mental health problems are deeper than that.
All eight Ivy League schools — Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Princeton, Cornell, Dartmouth, Brown, University of Pennsylvania — have offered Long Island, New York high school senior Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna places in their freshman class.
In addition to the Ivies, she was accepted by Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
“I am elated, but most importantly, I am thankful,” Augusta, 17, told school officials at Sewanhaka Central High School District.
Augusta’s older brother Johnson told NBC News that Augusta’s “initiative and perseverance,” as well as the family’s emphasis on learning, were responsible for his sister’s success. And the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as both their Nigerian-born parents are college-educated, and her father has a master’s and doctorate from the University of Indianapolis.
“Education is very paramount in our family,” said her brother, who also made his way to the Ivies. He is a freshman at Cornell University, studying biological engineering.
Tobias and Basillia Nna immigrated to the United States in 1994 and settled first in Indiana then New York City. They moved to Elmont in 2000. Their father has worked for various companies as a physical therapist. All four of their children were born in this country. “Augusta’s school days start from 7 in the morning until around 8 at night,” said Uwamanzu-Nna. “Not to mention all of the homework assignments, scholarship and other miscellaneous things she gets done.”
He said that while his sister was co-founder of her own tutoring service, she also works at another tutoring center on Saturdays.
“I am humbled by all of the college acceptance letters that I recently received,” Augusta says on her high school website. “I am reminded that I have a responsibility to be a role model for others and use my experiences to encourage and inspire others, especially young women.”
The American Academy of Arts and Letters was founded in 1904 as a highly selective group of 50 members within a larger organization called the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Over the years the two groups functioned separately with different memberships, budgets, and boards of directors. In 1993 the two groups finally agreed to form a single group of 250 members under the name of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Members are chosen from the fields of literature, music, and the fine arts. Members must be native or naturalized citizens of the United States. They are elected for life and pay no dues. New members are elected only upon the death of other members.
This year 12 new members were elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. One of the 12 new members is John Edgar Wideman.
Wideman is the Asa Messer Professor and professor of Africana studies and literary arts at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Before joining the faculty at Brown, Professor Wideman was a Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Professor Wideman grew up in Pittsburgh and then enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania where he was an all-Ivy League basketball player. His senior year at Penn, Wideman was named a Rhodes Scholar, the first African American to win the honor in over a half century.
CHICAGO — Kenwood Academy‘s valedictorian, Arianna Alexander, wants to go to college to learn about business. As it turns out, she has a number of options.
“It was a lot to take in. I received emails, letters. It was just like, ‘Come here, come here!’ They were bombarding me with all this information,” Arianna said.
Arianna hails from Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. She graduated with a 5.1 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.
She was accepted to 26 universities, including six Ivy League schools. Her scholarship offers total more than $3 million. “I feel like it means I can afford college and I don’t have to worry about it. I feel like that’s an issue for a lot of people my age,” Arianna said.
Her father encouraged her, after another Kenwood student was offered more than $1 million in scholarships a few years ago. “I planted the seed in Arianna’s mind that you can do the same thing. So when the process got started and a million was achieved, let’s go for two. I said let’s go for three and she did it,” said Pierre Alexander, Arianna’s father.
Arianna is the baby of the family. She has three older siblings. “It was a big blessing, because I’ve already put three through college. Now I don’t have to worry too much about her,” Pierre said.
Arianna has also picked a school, thanks to Paul Brush, one of her teachers. She plans to attend University of Pennsylvania. “He said, ‘Do you know about the Wharton School of Business?’ I said, ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about,'” Arianna said.
“As teachers, we have a big moment to play with the lives that we have in our classrooms,” Brush said.
Her family has also influenced her. Arianna recounted her dad’s words: “Work hard, pray on it, and don’t give up. No matter what happens, you did your best.”
“My wife and I have always stressed to her, if you do your best, you will be the best. So we try to make sure she upholds to that,” Pierre said.
“So as long as you work hard, I feel like there is always a way for you,” Arianna said.
After all, there is still more to achieve besides high school. “When she graduates from Penn, that will be a second goal. We expect bigger and better things for her,” he said.
Arianna said she wants to be an entrepreneur and plans to own four restaurants. She’s already working on the menus.
The African American and Diaspora Studies Program at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, recently renamed its research arm the Callie House Research Center for the Study of Black Cultures and Politics. The center was founded in 2012 and sponsors lectures, conferences, working groups, professional development and academic seminars.
Callie House was born a slave in Rutherford County, Tennessee, in 1861. After she was freed, she worked as a seamstress and washerwoman in Nashville. She became interested in social justice and politics and led the first mass slave reparations movement in the United States. In 1898, she helped found the National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief, Bounty and Pension Association.