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.
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.”
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 Turner, there 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.
Tim Seibles, professor of English at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, was named poet laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia by Governor Terry McAuliffe. Professor Seibles teaches in the master of fine arts in creative writing program at Old Dominion.
Professor Seibles joined the faculty at Old Dominion University in 1995. He was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2012 for his collection Fast Animal (Etruscan Press, 2012).
Professor Seibles is a graduate of Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He taught for 10 years in the Dallas public school system before earning a master of fine arts degree in creative writing at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier.
The trailer for “Hidden Figures”, the Fox 2000 drama starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer,Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst and Jim Parsons, directed by Theodore Melfi, with original music from Pharrell Williams, debuted last night on NBC during the women’s gymnastics individual event finals at the Rio Olympics. In case you missed it – watch it here and mark your calendars – the movie will go into wide release on January 13, 2017.
Estella Atekwana, Regents Professor and director of the Boone Pickens School of Geology at Oklahoma State University, received the Outstanding Educator Award from the Society of Exploration Geophysicists. Professor Atekwana joined the faculty at Oklahoma State in 2008.
Dr. Atekwana holds bachelor’s and master’s degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C. She earned a Ph.D. at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Nikki Giovanni, University Distinguished Professor of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, has been selected to receive the 2016 Literary Lifetime Achievement Award from the Library of Virginia.
She is the author of many collections of poetry, children’s books, and works of nonfiction. Professor Giovanni will be honored at ceremonies in Richmond in October. Past winners of this award include Edgar Allan Poe, Tom Wolfe, Booker T. Washington, and John Grisham.
Professor Giovanni has been teaching at Virginia Tech since 1987. She is a graduate of Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee.
ATLANTA — Taraji P. Henson hates math, and Octavia Spencer has a paralyzing fear of calculus, but that didn’t stop either actress from playing two of the most important mathematicians the world hasn’t ever known.
Both women are starring in “Hidden Figures,” a forthcoming film that tells the astonishing true story of female African-American mathematicians who were invaluable to NASA’s space program in the Jim Crow South in the early 1960s.
Ms. Henson plays Katherine Johnson, a math savant who calculated rocket trajectories for, among other spaceflights, the Apollo trips to the moon. Ms. Spencer plays her supervisor, Dorothy Vaughan, and the R&B star Janelle Monáe plays Mary Jackson, a trailblazing engineer who worked at the agency, too.
Slated for wide release in January, the film is based on the book of the same title, to be published this fall, by Margot Lee Shetterly. The author grew up knowing Ms. Johnson in Hampton, Va., but only recently learned about her outsize impact on America’s space race.
Little Anaya Ellick was born without hands and does not use prosthetics.
However, the first-grader at Greenbrier Christian Academy in Chesapeake, Va., still has some of the neatest handwriting in her class and even beat out 300,000 other grade school students to win the Nicholas Maxim Special Award for Excellence in Manuscript Penmanship, WVEC reports.
“It was the first time that I have ever had a student like this, but I was very shocked at everything she can do, from cutting to gluing to writing,” Joan Stalnaker, Anaya’s teacher, told the news station.
Anaya chooses to hold her pencil between her two arms and stands up at her desk to get the right angle to write on her paper. “It may be different, it may be hard, the road may be long, but she will persevere,” Bianca Middleton, Anaya’s mom, said.
“Anaya is a remarkable young lady. She does not let anything get in the way of doing what she has set out to do,” GCA Principal Tracy Cox told the news station. “She is a hard worker and has some of the best handwriting in her class.”
Former Philadelphia 76er Allen Iverson, is a newly announced inductee into the prestigious Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
“I’m just proud of my family and friends and my fans that helped me get to this point,” the Virginia native said during the finalist announcement back in February. The six-foot tall point guard/shooting guard played 14 seasons in the NBA, and was selected as the 1996 Rookie Of The Year with the 76ers. Additionally, “The Answer” is an 11-time NBA All-Star, a two time All-Star MVP (2001 and 2005) and was the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2001.
NBC 10 writes, “Among the Sixers’ all-time leaders, Iverson is tied with Wilt Chamberlain for first in points per game (27.6) and tied with Maurice Cheeks for steals per game (2.3). He is also first in three-point field goals (885). Iverson ranks second in points (19,931), minutes per game (41.4), minutes played (29,879), free throws (5,122) and steals (1,644) and is third in assists (4,385). Iverson ranks fourth in minutes per game (41.4), seventh in points per game (27.7) and is tied for 10th in steals per game (2.17) with John Stockton among all-time NBA players.”
The 2016 class is pretty star-studded. Shaquille O’Neal, Yao Ming, John McLendon (first African-American professional coach) and WNBA player Sheryl Swoopes are among the other Hall of Fame inductees, according to CBS Sports.
The Hall of Fame induction and festivities will take place in Springfield, Mass. from Sept. 8-10.