Brigadier General Donna Martin Becomes 1st Black Female Commandant of U.S. Army Military Police School

Brigadier General Donna Martin (photo via KSPR News)

by Lexi Spivak via kspr.com

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (KSPR) – Brigadier General Donna Martin recently became the first African American female ever to serve as commandant of the U.S. Army Military Police School. In a ceremony on Friday, July 14, Martin’s title was made official as Brigadier General Kevin Vereen relinquished commandancy.

Brig. Gen. Martin described herself as a quiet, small town girl from Virginia. She stayed in Virginia to attend college at Old Dominion University until she was sent on her first assignment with the U.S. Army in Germany. She said she didn’t know if she was going to take the military route at the start of college, but a group of ROTC members made her feel at home. “They were really a group of kids who were just like me,” said Brig. Gen. Martin. “We all had common goals, we all had this feeling to serve and be apart of something that was bigger than ourselves.”

Martin said that’s where her love for the Army started nearly 30 years ago. “It never gets old… Every single assignment, every single move is a new adventure and I’m having a blast.” She called her new role one of the most important roles she has ever taken. She remembered the first time meeting her commandant at Fort McClellan in Alabama, where the U.S. Army Military Police School was before moving to Fort Leonard Wood. “I don’t know that I ever aspired to be the commandant, but I always looked up to this position,” she said. She described how the commandant would share his thoughts about the future and said ” we all bought it.” She said they all thought those conversations were amazing. “For me, 25 or 26 years later now to be assuming that role, it’s still kind of surreal.”

As for taking on this new role, she said she is excited to be apart of the team in Fort Leonard Wood. KSPR News asked what advice she had for anyone who finds her inspiring or looks to her for strength. She said it pretty simply, “You have to be determined, set a goal, and just work hard.”

To read and see more, go to: Historic Day at Fort Leonard Wood

Capitol Police Heroes Crystal Griner and David Bailey Saved the Day, Preventing Congressional Massacre

Officers David Bailey and Crystal Griner (photos via facebook.com)

via thegrio.com

Capitol Police officers Crystal Griner and David Bailey are the heroes who kept the shooting on Wednesday from being the “massacre” Congress members say it could have been. Both of the officers are on Rep. Steve Scalise’s security detail and put their lives on the line to respond when shots rang out at a congressional baseball practice.

Scalise was standing near second base and was shot by James Hodgkinson before both Griner and Bailey rushed into action, taking down the shooter despite both being injured. Both have since been taken to the hospital and are recovering from their injuries.

“Had they not been there, it would have been a massacre,” Senator Rand Paul said to MSNBC. Majority Leader Eric Cantor praised both agents, who had served on his protection detail before. “[Griner’s] an incredibly able and professional individual who always takes her job and responsibility seriously,” Cantor told The Daily Beast. “It is not surprising to hear of her heroism and bravery during this horrible attack.”

“The bravery David showed reflects the kind of commitment he, Crystal, and the team demonstrated each and every day,” Cantor continued. “Incidents like the attack today are never something many of us even imagine happening. David is a trained professional who was and remains ready to act whatever the threat. Wishing him a full recovery.”

After being shot, Griner and her wife, Tiffany, were given a bouquet of white flowers by President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, as she recovered in the hospital. Both agents’ injuries have been described as non-life-threatening.

To read more, go to: Capitol police heroes saved the day, preventing congressional massacre | theGrio

R.I.P. William T. Coleman Jr., 96, Who Broke Racial Barriers in Supreme Court and White House Cabinet

William T. Coleman Jr., then the secretary of transportation, testified in 1976 before a Senate subcommittee. (Credit: Harvey Georges/Associated Press)

article by  via nytimes.com

William T. Coleman Jr., who championed the cause of civil rights in milestone cases before the Supreme Court and who rose above racial barriers himself as an influential lawyer and as a cabinet secretary, died Friday at his home in Alexandria, Va. He was 96.

His death was confirmed by a spokeswoman for the international law firm O’Melveny & Myers, where Mr. Coleman was a senior partner in its Washington office. He lived at a care facility with his wife of more than 70 years, Lovida Coleman. A lifelong Republican, Mr. Coleman was as comfortable in the boardrooms of powerful corporations — PepsiCo, IBM, Chase Manhattan Bank — as he was in the halls of government.

He was the second African-American to serve in a White House cabinet, heading the Department of Transportation. Mr. Coleman found success on the heels of a brilliant academic career, but he did so in the face of bigotry — what he called “the more subtle brand of Yankee racism” — from which his middle-class upbringing in Philadelphia did not shield him. In one episode, his high school disbanded its all-white swimming team rather than let him join it.

Those experiences would inform his efforts in three major civil rights cases before the United States Supreme Court. In one, Mr. Coleman, recruited by Thurgood Marshall, was an author of the legal briefs that successfully pressed the court to outlaw segregation in public schools in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. Ten years later, he argued a case that led to a Supreme Court decision establishing the constitutionality of racially mixed sexual relations and cohabitation. (McLaughlin v. Florida, in which the Supreme Court overturned a Florida law that prohibited an interracial couple from living together under the state’s anti-miscegenation statutes.) And in 1982, he argued that segregated private schools should be barred from receiving federal tax exemptions. The court agreed.

Mr. Coleman was appointed transportation secretary by President Gerald R. Ford in March 1975, a little more than six months after Ford, who had been vice president, succeeded President Richard M. Nixon after Nixon’s resignation in the Watergate affair. Mr. Coleman, a corporate lawyer with expertise in transportation issues, was on the Pan Am board of directors at the time.

To read full article, go to: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/31/us/politics/william-coleman-jr-dies.html?_r=0

Taraji P. Henson and Pharrell Williams Offer Multiple Free Screenings Of ‘Hidden Figures’

Taraji P. Henson and Pharrell Williams (photo via essence.com)

article by Paula Rogo via essence.com

Taking a cue from Octavia Spencer, both Taraji P. Henson and Pharrell Williams have bought out screenings of Hidden Figures at movie theaters in Virginia, Georgia, Illinois, Texas and Washington D.C. on Sunday.  Spencer paid for a free screening of the critically-acclaimed film earlier this month, saying that her own mother would not have been able to afford to take her and her siblings.

Henson, who plays the lead role as NASA physicist and mathematician Katherine Johnson, was inspired to do the same in Houston, Chicago, Atlanta, and of course, her hometown of Washington D.C. On Instagram, she said she was moved by Spencer and “similar actions taken by so many of YOU across the country.” Anonymous donors have been buying out whole screenings.

To see full article, go to: Taraji and Pharrell Offer Multiple Free Screenings Of ‘Hidden Figures’ | Essence.com

Darlene Pitts, 57-Year-Old Grandmother of 12, Earns Bachelor’s Degree From HBCU Norfolk State University

Grandmother graduate Darlene Pitts (photo via hbcubuzz.com)

article by Tommy G. Meade Jr. via hbcubuzz.com

A 57-year-old grandmother of 12 who admitted that college “was a rough four years” graduated from  Norfolk State University, a historically black college or university, alongside hundreds of students this past Saturday.

Darlene Pitts is a hardworking woman in pursuit of higher education living in Norfolk, Virginia. During her time at college, she was working two jobs. But she had to “Quit her job at a Kroger grocery store and focused on her schoolwork and her job as a special education teaching assistant at a local high school,” after she discovered that she was placed on academic probation.

Pitts told The Virginia-Pilot that “I came to work in tears because I got a letter saying I was on academic probation.” “Some of the classes, they were really rough,” Pitts added. “I was ready to throw in the towel. I just wanted to call it quits, but I just hung in there.”

Pitts will graduate from NSU with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and hopes to become a full-time special education teacher as well as probably continue her career as a student.

To read full article, go to: 57-Year-Old Grandmother Earns Bachelor’s Degree From An HBCU | HBCU Buzz

Civil Rights Pioneer and Activist Julian Bond Honored by University of Virginia With an Endowed Chair

US President Barack Obama shakes hands with former NAACP chairman Julian Bond (L) during the NAACP 100th Anniversary convention in New York, July 16, 2009. (Photo credit SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Barack Obama shakes hands with former NAACP chairman Julian Bond (L) during the NAACP 100th Anniversary convention in New York, July 16, 2009. (Photo credit SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

article via jbhe.com

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.”

Nat Turner’s Alleged Skull Returned to Great-Great-Great-Great Granddaughters After 185 Years

Shanna Batton Aguirre, a fourth generation descendant of Nat Turner, holds a box containing what some believe is Turner’s skull. (PHOTOGRAPH BY JED WINER, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC)

article by Justin Fornal via news.nationalgeographic.com

PUBLISHED OCTOBER 7, 2016: A small group gathered today in a hotel suite on the outskirts of Gary, Indiana. The nine formally-dressed guests joined hands while standing around a table containing only a white box. Reverend John Jackson of Trinity United Church of Christ started the prayer.  “Eternal God, we are gathered here today to honor you, and to honor the legendary liberator, emancipator of the enslaved, and revolutionary of righteous, the Reverend Nathaniel Turner.”

The gathering’s 83-year-old host, Richard Gordon Hatcher, who served as Gary’s mayor from 1968 to 1987, planned the event at which a skull alleged to be Turner’s was turned over to his descendants.   The guests of honor, Shannon Batton Aguirre and Shelly Lucas Wood, both great-great-great-great granddaughters of Turner, flew in from Washington D.C. to accept the remains.

In 1831, after receiving what he believed to be prophecies from God, Nat Turner led the bloodiest slave revolt in American history. Accompanied by a small army of his brethren, the group fought their way through the countryside of Southampton County, Virginia, with hopes of ending the scourge of slavery. When the bloodletting ended, more than 55 whites lay dead.

The local militia quelled the uprising within 48 hours, but Turner managed to elude his pursuers. After two months he was captured, tried, and on November 11th, he was hanged from a tree in the town of Jerusalem, now Courtland, Virginia. It is here that the facts surrounding Turner end and speculation and lore begin. (Read about Turner’s complex legacy.)

Many stories have circulated about the fate of Turner’s remains after his hanging. Several versions claim that he was flayed, quartered, and decapitated before his torso was finally buried in the local pauper’s cemetery. His skull and brain were then sent away for study.

During the recent filming of the National Geographic Studios documentary Rise Up: The Legacy of Nat Turnerthere were frequent discussions with descendants and historians about the fate of Turner’s remains. Several had heard reports or read newspaper articles stating that the skull had been donated to former mayor Hatcher at a 2002 charity gala for the Civil Rights Hall of Fame, a museum project Hatcher has long championed.

To read full article, go to: After 185 Years, Nat Turner’s Alleged Skull Returned to Family