An elementary school in Utah has traded one Jackson for another in a change that many say was a long time coming.
Jackson Elementary School in Salt Lake City will no longer be named for Andrew Jackson, the seventh U.S. president, whose slave ownership and treatment of Native Americans are often cited in the debate over memorializing historical figures associated with racism.
Instead, the school will honor Mary Jackson, the first black female engineer at nasa whose story, and the stories of others like her at the space agency, was chronicled in Hidden Figures, a 2016 film based on a book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly.
A unanimous vote by the the Salt Lake City school board this week was met with a standing ovation from the crowd in the room, reportsThe Salt Lake Tribune’s Erin Alberty. School employees and parents have discussed changing the elementary’s school name “for years,” Alberty reported, and last year started polling and meeting with parents, alumni, and others. More than 70 percent supported the change. Of the school’s 440 students, 85 percent are students of color, according to the Salt Lake City School District.
Mary Jackson, a native of Hampton, Virginia, worked as a math teacher, a receptionist, and an Army secretary before she arrived at NASA’s Langley Research Center in 1951 as a member of the West Area Computing unit, a segregated division where African American women spent hours doing calculations with pencil and paper, including for the trajectories of the country’s earliest space missions.
Two years in, a NASA engineer picked Jackson to help him work on a wind tunnel that tested flight hardware by blasting it with winds nearly twice the speed of sound. The engineer suggested Jackson train to become an engineer. To do that, Jackson had to take night courses in math and physics from the University of Virginia, which were held at the segregated Hampton High School. Jackson successfully petitioned the city to let her take the classes. She got her promotion to engineer in 1958. After 34 years at the space agency, Jackson retired in 1985. She died in 2005, at the age of 83.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -As part of University of Virginia’s efforts to reconcile its controversial past, Wednesday, it formally dedicated Pinn Hall in honor of Dr. Vivian Pinn. Pinn is one of the earliest African-American women to graduate from the UVA School of Medicine. She went on to found the Office of Research on Women’s Health at the National Institutes of Health.
The school celebrated her life and legacy during the “Medical Center Hour” held Wednesday. “I don’t see this as an honor for me but really as a symbol for women, people of color, and others who struggled to see this name just as a symbol for them, for the pioneers who proceeded me and hopefully the many who will come behind me,” Pinn said.
Pinn College, one of the medical school’s four colleges, is also named after Pinn.
Andrew W. Kahrl, an associate professor of history at the University of Virginia, who is affiliated with the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies at the university, is using local tax records to document the history of racial discrimination and residential segregation in the state. Dr. Kahrl is conducting research on how tax liens and tax sales became a tool used by predatory land speculators to acquire Black-owned land.
“Many of these places were legally stolen from Black people by private investors working in concert with local officials,” Dr. Kahrl found.Dr. Kahrl discovered that local officials assessed Black property owners at highly inflated rates in an effort to tax them off the land. “This practice was pervasive,” Dr. Kahrl said. “It was something that was taking place throughout the South and it is clear that it is discriminatory in nature. African-Americans were consistently taxed higher on their property than White homeowners and landowners in the same neighborhood.”
In some states, if the Black landowners missed a tax payment, a lien would be put on the property – and the lien or the property would eventually be sold at a tax sale, where speculators could purchase the debt, add legal fees to it and eventually seize the property for much less than it was worth. Dr. Kahrl is the author of The Land Was Ours: How Black Beaches Became White Wealth in the Coastal South (University of North Carolina Press, 2016).
article via jbhe.com (additional reporting by Peggy Terry)
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, about 2,500 students applied to be Rhodes Scholars. More than 880 students were endorsed by 311 college or university for consideration for a Rhodes Scholarship. Some 230 applicants were named finalists. Then, two Rhodes Scholars were selected from each of 16 districts across the United States. 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 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.
The Rhodes Trust does not publicize the race or ethnicity of scholarship winners. But it appears that this year seven of the 32 Rhodes winners are African Americans. This is the most African American Rhodes Scholars in history.
Following are brief biographies of the African American winners:
Cameron D. Clarke is a senior at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He is the fourth Howard student to win a Rhodes Scholarship. Clarke is majoring in community health education and biology. He is the news editor of the student newspaper at Howard and serves as an intern for the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology at the U.S. House of Representatives. Clarke plans to study for a master’s degree in primary health care at Oxford.
Aryn A. Frazier is a senior at the University of Virginia, where she is double majoring in politics and African American and African studies. Frazier is president of the Black Student Alliance at the university. Frazier, a resident of Laurel, Maryland, plans to study for a master’s degree in comparative politics at Oxford.
Christian E. Nattiel from Madeira Beach, Florida, is a senior at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. At West Point, Nattiel is double-majoring in mathematical sciences and philosophy and is a member of the academy’s handball team. At Oxford, Nattiel will study for master’s degrees in comparative social policy and public policy.
Olivia A. Klevorn is a senior at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. A native of Chicago, Klevorn is majoring in anthropology. At Yale, Klevorn is the director of the Heritage Theatre Ensemble and president of a student-run poetry association. She will study for a Ph.D. in socio-legal studies at Oxford.
Aaron C. Robertson of Redford, Michigan, is a senior at Princeton University in New Jersey. He is majoring in Italian and focuses his research on Afro-Italian literature. At Princeton, he is the co-editor-in-chief of the Nassau Literary Review. Robertson plans to pursue a master’s degree in modern languages at Oxford.
Ahmed M. Ahmed is a biology major at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He is a resident of Rochester, Minnesota. His research is focused on the development of new synthetic strategies for producing polymers. He is the son of immigrants from Somalia. Ahmed will study for a master’s degree in organic and medical chemistry at Oxford.
Caylin L. Moore is a member of the football team at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. A resident of Carson, California, Moore is majoring in economics at TCU. He was raised in poverty and was homeless. His father was convicted to a life sentence for murder. Moore is the founder of an organization of student athletes who encourage children from disadvantaged groups to attend college. He will study public policy as a Rhodes Scholar.
The University of Virginia has announced that it is creating an endowed professorship to honor the late Julian Bond. Professor Bond, who was a civil rights pioneer and led the NAACP for 12 years, taught at the University of Virginia for 20 years. As a student at Morehouse College, Bond was a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He later served as the first president of the Southern Poverty Law Center and was a member of the Georgia State legislature for 20 years.
The Julian Bond Professorship of Civil Rights and Social Justice has been endowed with more than $3 million by 350 alumni and supporters. Ian B. Baucom, the Dean of Arts & Sciences at the University of Virginia notes that ““Julian Bond worked tirelessly to ensure civil rights were extended to all Americans. The Bond Professorship will help us attract the faculty talent we need to continue the civil rights education work that Julian Bond championed throughout his life.”
Teresa A. Sullivan, president of the University of Virginia, added that “Julian Bond made significant contributions to the University of Virginia, teaching thousands of our students while serving as a mentor and role model for all of us. As a driving force for social change for more than a half-century, he had an extraordinary impact on our University, our community and our nation.”
The University of Virginia is conducting an oral history project that is documenting the stories of teachers during the civil rights movement. The project is called Teachers in the Movement and it is led by Derrick P. Alridge, a professor in the Curry School of Education at the university.
The project focuses on oral history interviews with elementary, secondary, and university teachers and educators of all races in several states about their participation in and efforts during the Civil Rights Movement. By the end of 2016, the researchers hope to have recorded 200 interviews.
“Teachers played very important roles in the movement,” said Professor Alridge. “What drives our research team is our desire to bring their stories to light. We intend to put the project on par someday with other major oral history projects that cover the Civil Rights Movement, such as The Behind the Veil Project at Duke University and the Southern Oral History Project at the University of North Carolina.”
Professor Alridge holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina. He earned a Ph.D. at Pennsylvania State University.
Sjohnna McCray, an adjunct instructor in the department of English at Savannah State University in Georgia, has been selected to receive the 2015 Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets. The award, established in 1975, honors a poet of “exceptional promise” who has not yet published a book of poetry.
As the winner of the Walt Whitman Award, McCray will have his collection of poems entitled Rapture published by Graywolf Press in 2016. He will also receive an all-expenses-paid six-week residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Umbria, Italy.
McCray is a native of Cincinnati and is a graduate of Ohio University. He earned a master’s degree at Teachers College of Columbia University and a master of fine arts degree from the University of Virginia.