Hip-hop superstar Jay-Z and his wife, Beyoncé, have announced a new scholarship program that will award 10 scholarships worth $100,000 each to “exceptional” high school seniors who demonstrate financial needs.
“This back to school season, students in the On The Run II Tour markets, who are preparing for college, will be chosen by Boys and Girls Club of America,” according to a joint press release from Beyoncé’s “BeyGOOD Initiative” and Jay Z’s “The Shawn Carter Foundation.”
“Qualified students must demonstrate academic excellence and show financial needs that would make it hard for them to enter college or university for the academic year 2018-2019,” the release noted.
The markets will include Atlanta, Orlando, Miami, Arlington, Texas; New Orleans, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Clara, and Seattle.
The power couple has had a long history of helping students with The Shawn Carter Foundation spearheading college tours to historically Black colleges and universities and providing scholarships to college bound students throughout the country.
Through her BeyGOOD initiative, Beyoncé created the Formation Scholars Award, a merit program to help female students start or further their college education, and this year they announced the Homecoming Scholars Award, a second merit program, opened to qualified students, regardless of gender, to enter or continue their studies at one of eight HBCUs.
Thirty Hampton City Schools educators spent mornings July 23-26 learning the details regarding the first African Arrival in English North America from subject matter experts. Thirty Hampton City Schools educators spent mornings July 23-26 learning the details regarding the first African Arrival in English North America from subject matter experts. The initiative is part of an effort to clarify the details of the 1619 arrival so that youth of Hampton, Virginia, and the nation learn the facts of this pivotal occurrence in American history.
As witnessed and recorded by John Rolfe, the first tobacco planter in the Virginia colony, on August 20, 1619, the White Lion entered the Chesapeake Bay, docked at Point Comfort (present day Hampton) with Africans from the country Angola, of the Bantu culture. They spoke the languages of the Kimbundu and Kikongo. Many were literate and hailed from highly organized societies.
Two of those Africans, named Antoney and Isabell, became servants of Captain William Tucker, Commander of the fort at Point Comfort. Around 1623 or 1624, the union of Isabell and Antoney birthed the first African child in English North America, named William Tucker. The other arriving Africans were interspersed within the Virginia colony, from Elizabeth City County to Jamestown.
Hampton 2019 Commemorative Commission Co-Chairs Dr. Colita Fairfax and Lt. Col. (Ret.) Claude Vann, were among the discussion leaders.
Hip-hop pioneer MC Lyte is the national spokesperson for the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s (NNPA) Discover The Unexpected (DTU) Journalism Fellowship program.
Her passion about education and her desire to create opportunities for HBCU students are two of the many reasons she partnered with the NNPA and Chevrolet, the program’s sponsor.
As she continues her great acts of philanthropy, MC Lyte said that music and journalism are much alike, as they are both used to tell stories.
MC Lyte became great friends with Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., the president and CEO of the NNPA, through his work in hip-hop and civil rights.
When she got the call about the NNPA’s DTU program, she said that she was happy to help out; she said that representing the DTU program is a great fit.
When it comes to her philanthropic work that grew out of her music career, MC Lyte said that she always wanted to give back. That sense of altruism manifested early on in her music career with her hit single “I Cram to Understand U,” which included a strong anti-drug message, geared towards the Black community.
MC Lyte made it her responsibility to advocate for young people and to shed light on the deluge of heroin and crack cocaine that flooded her Brooklyn neighborhood in the 70’s and 80’s.
“I don’t think that I really do anything for me, per se,” MC Lyte said. “It’s about getting out there, [using] the MC Lyte name, to form partnerships with bigger entities and to gain access to resources and sharing those resources with the people who need them the most.”
Hip-hop pioneers like Salt-N-Pepa and Rakim inspired MC Lyte to partake in the music industry at such an early age. MC Lyte also vividly remembered how the Bronx-born, hip-hop group Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five helped to shape her storytelling rap style.
MC Lyte said that “The Message,” the Furious Five classic featuring Melly Mel, painted a picture of life in the Bronx that was very different from her life in Brooklyn, where she was born and raised. “The Message” influenced MC Lyte to gravitate towards the storytelling aspect of hip-hop. MC Lyte described “Lyte as a Rock,” her first album, as “a book of poems and short stories.”
“It was easy to get into a [creative] space and just write,” MC Lyte said. “My mother made me write an essay for whatever I wanted to do.”
MC Lyte said that young artists, who are pursuing careers in the entertainment business, should educate themselves about royalties, build a trustworthy team and seek legal advice when necessary.
“Never sign anything without counsel and always sign your own checks,” MC Lyte advised.
Reminiscing about her career in the music industry, if given the opportunity to change or do anything different, MC Lyte said that she would have said “yes” more often and been more open to trying new music genres and collaborating with unexpected artists.”
Although, MC Lyte is often credited as a pioneer in hip-hop culture, her passion to ignite change on a greater scale was alive from the very beginning. She was one of the first female rappers to speak out against sexism and misogyny in the industry. Her voice shook up the male-dominated hip-hop scene and helped pave the way for female MC’s that followed in her footsteps, like Queen Latifah and Missy Elliott.
Tyvan Burns (Norfolk State University), Diamond Durant (Morgan State University) and Denver Lark (North Carolina A&T University) are 2018 Discover The Unexpected Journalism Fellows representing #TeamOptimistic. Check out more stories by #TeamOptimistic at nnpa.org/dtu.
In February 1959, Patricia Turner and her brother James Turner, Jr., walked through the front door of the Norview Middle School and into the history books.
They were two of the Norfolk 17, the first Black students to desegregate six Norfolk public schools.
The Turners and the other 15 students made history after months of resistance by the city of Norfolk and the state of Virginia, each refusing to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision five years earlier that segregated public schools were illegal.
During her time at Norview Middle and then Norview High School, Turner, like the 16 other Black students, endured isolation, verbal abuse and taunts inflicted by White students who were venting hatred and anger inspired by a resentful dominant culture resistant to their history-making experience.
In 1963, despite these challenges, Pat Turner would graduate from Norview High School and set herself emotionally to never look back.
She attended business college, became an accountant, married briefly and worked for Norfolk Public Schools for two decades.
Due to an Honorary Doctorate degree awarded by Old Dominion University, “Dr. Turner” is now seeking to secure an “earned” ODU doctorate.
Over the past five years, although she may have succeeded in “erasing” most of the bad memories of long ago, she has managed to secure some emotional and moral closure in a way she could have little predicted.
Today, she regularly joins a group of her White former classmates for lunch at Bubba’s Seafood Restaurant on Shore Drive In Virginia Beach.
As she did when she was in school with them, Turner is the lone Black sitting amidst the remaining White female members of the Norview Senior Class of 1963.
“I sit and I am mostly quiet,” said Turner, who admits she is introverted. “During the lunches, we do not talk about the past all the time. But it has come up.
“I have been able to educate them from the perspective of a member of the Norfolk 17, as they have educated me about what was going on with them back then.”
Turner and the other 16 Black children desegregated those all-White schools during the fall of 1958 by federal law. But rather than admit them, the city closed all of the White schools which were targeted to be desegregated. It was the state law.
While the schools were closed, many of the White high school seniors went to work or the military. The traditional senior year transition to adulthood and college was erased.
Since no White students applied to attend any of the all-Black schools, they remained opened.
“They (the White students at Norview) were told by their parents that we (the Norfolk 17) were trying to take their schools and deny them an education,” Turner said. “So they were punishing us. It was not our fault. Nor was it their fault, it was the city … the politicians which closed the schools.
“I explained to them that we were just 17 little Black kids, trying to get an education” Turner said. “Segregation was illegal. But they did not understand that. Their parents did not explain to them, why and what we were doing, until I explained it all. I also told them about me as a person. Now they know.”
Turner said her interaction with her White classmates started five years ago when plans for the class of 1963’s 50th reunion were being devised. She was approached to join them during the planning session in Nags Head.
“I was so surprised,” Turner recently told the Guide. “Initially I was very leery … afraid. I had never had any contact with them since leaving high school. This is why I had one of my friends accompany me to that first meeting. Then I attended by myself.”
Turner said after 50 years, her classmates had aged, as she did. She had no idea of how they looked back in the day; she never had the chance.
But they knew she was the “Black Girl” who was walking through a sea of White hatred and anger.
“So if they were any of the ones who said or did nasty things to me back then, I could not identify them,” Turner said. “None of them have admitted they did.”
“But there was one. A woman who died recently,” Turner said, “and she would come up…hug me… start crying so hard…she would wet up my clothes. I do not know what was on her heart…to make her feel so bad. But I had to tell some of the other classmates, to tell her that all of the crying and hugging was not necessary. She did stop.”
Turner said because she sought to educate her White classmates and explain to them, her role as a member of the Norfolk, 17, her classmates have made attempts to redeem themselves with small gestures.
Turner explained she was an “outsider” as a Black child attending Norview Middle and High schools. She had no social life.
She also did not interact with the Black students at Ruffner Middle or Booker T. Washington High schools.
So she was a “outsider,” too, from the Black community, as well.
At one of the Norview class reunions, she was made the honorary Homecoming Queen.
Also, at one of the luncheons, her classmates organized a birthday party for her.
“I did not have a normal childhood after I entered Norview Middle School,” Turner said. “I could not join a club, be a cheerleader, have a boyfriend or enjoy lunch time talking to friends. My childhood was stolen. I have reclaimed something from even people who thought I was trying to take something from them. But like them, all I wanted was a good education and to enjoy life.”
Today, only 11 of the Norfolk 17 are still alive. Like the others, Turner despite her efforts to “move on” from her experiences at
Norview Middle and High schools, she is reminded of those experiences.
Over the years she has been reminded often of the chapter she wrote in Norfolk’s and the nation’s history.
Although she believed it, the idea of Pat Turner being an “outsider” in the view of the Black and most of the White community of Norfolk, has been erased long ago, as she is frequently reminded, in word, deed and image.
The spotlight will be even brighter early next year, when Norfolk will observe the 60th anniversary of the Norfolk 17 who etched their legacy in the city’s, Virginia’s and the nation’s history books.
The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) recently hosted its second National Black Parents’ Town Hall Meeting on Educational Excellence at the Gethsemane Community Fellowship Church in Norfolk, Va.
The event, which was livestreamed on Facebook and jointly hosted across the country in Los Angeles, kicked off the NNPA’s annual convention.
Panelists for the event, where questions and comments were discussed regarding the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), were Linda Langley Davis, the director of educational services for Hampton Roads, Inc.; Fred Smoot, a former Washington Redskins cornerback and motivational speaker; Rev. Dr. Kirk T. Houston, the founder and pastor of Gethsemane Community Fellowship Church; and Deidre Love, the executive director of the nonprofit Teens with a Purpose.
Dr. Elizabeth Primas, the program manager for the NNPA ESSA Public Awareness Campaign, moderated the panel.
“I’m a product of the Norfolk public schools and I’m also the mother of a child educated in the public school system and, as someone who’s taught for 33 years, I know the struggles teachers endure and it’s an uphill battle,” Davis said.
Each of the panelists acknowledged that teachers wear many hats, should be paid more, and all need the support of parents.
Smoot, who’s now a motivational speaker, said its important that educators realize that each student is different.
“Every child succeeds when they are taught in a different way. We have to stop the exit test and find out in the beginning what they need,” he said.
Houston, who once served on the local school board, said everyone, including parents, need to be educated about ESSA.
“One thing I learned on the school board was how little I know about education policies,” he said. “We need parental enlightenment and stakeholder participation,” Houston said.
Love, whose students gave an inspiring spoken-word performance before the town hall, said that the voice of the youth must be heard.
“Our mission is to create that platform to encourage young people to use their voice,” Love said.
The panelists and moderator all noted the sobering statistics facing African American youth, including that 45 percent of Black students attend high-poverty schools compared with just 8 percent of Whites.
The high school graduation rate of Black students is 76 percent, the second lowest among all ethnic groups, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
“In 40 percent of U.S. schools, there are no teachers of color on staff,” according to a report by the Center for American Progress. “As a result, White students—and teachers—in these schools may miss opportunities to question assumptions about race, class, and privilege that they might encounter in their communities…”
As one parent at the meeting noted, school segregation today is worse than it was during the Civil Rights Movement.
One young person in attendance said that sobering fact has made life difficult for him.
“In some schools, I feel very uncomfortable, because I’m like the only Black person in the school while other schools I feel comfortable where teachers are African American, and they can relate to me,” said 11-year-old Doran Glass. “At school, I feel like I’m being looked at as a criminal.”
Glass’ sobering dialogue shifted the discussion of the meeting.
“That was a brave thing for this young man to stand up and be heard,” said NNPA President Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.
Another young person asked what could be done to encourage more students to participate in discussions about education.
“The question came up about how to get young people more involved in events like this and the right answer is to ask that young person who asked that question is: what is it that he thinks should be done,” said Gregory Huskisson, the vice president of content and audience for the Wave newspaper in Los Angeles. “We need to do a better job of getting young people involved. The second thing is what kind of structural thing can you build into the program that would be more enticing for young people.”
Huskisson said it was a privilege to take part in the town hall from Los Angeles.
“The issue is critical to organizations like the Wave and the NNPA and we need to be focused on getting together and collaborating on getting solutions, because we are solutions-based organizations and we’re involved in a lot of community-based programs and projects,” Huskisson said. “Anytime the NNPA creates programming that’s focused on solutions in our community, especially ESSA, we are all about it and I applaud Dr. Chavis and the NNPA. I look forward to the next ESSA town hall.”
Stacy Brown is an NNPA Newswire Contributor and co-author of “Michael Jackson: The Man Behind the Mask: An Insider’s Story of the King of Pop.” Follow Stacy on Twitter @stacybrownmedia.
On February 11, 2018, the members of the Hampton Roads community gathered in Suffolk to celebrate Nansemond-Suffolk Branch’s Freedom Fund Banquet. This year’s theme was: Maximizing the Moment, Laying Hold of the Future: Honoring Our Exceptional Youth.
Before a standing room only crowd, the keynote speaker was the impressive young leader, Ms. Gerica Goodman, policy director with Virginia21. She reminded the guests and audience how important it is to be engaged, to get involved in your community, and let your voices be heard.
The Suffolk NAACP hosted 20 well-deserving youth, their parents, family, and the community at-large. Each youth honoree received a medallion of excellence, a certificate of accomplishment and a stipend. Several members of the Hampton Roads legislative delegation were in attendance, including the Honorable Congressmen Donald McEachin and Bobby Scott. Many city officials attended as well.
Two of Hampton Roads’ outstanding business people. Rillco, Inc., and TimeAway, Inc. received he President’s Award for Small Minority-Owned Business Excellence.
NAACP President Seneca Bock said, “As we endeavor to increase economic and social justice, we always encourage small minority-owned business development, entrepreneurship and innovation. These two companies continue to lead the way for many to come behind them.”