Two Ramsay High School students winners in C-SPAN documentary competition

Two Ramsay High School students winners in C-SPAN documentary competition

Times staff report

C-SPAN announced Wednesday that Ashleigh Richardson and Ta’Kaiya Cooper, students at Ramsay High School in Birmingham are second-prize winners in C-SPAN’s national 2018 StudentCam competition. They will receive $1,500 for their documentary, “You Matter,” about the 15th Amendment. Their video will air on C-SPAN at 5:50 a.m. CST and throughout the day on April 11.

“Congratulations to Ashleigh and Ta’Kaiya as second-prize winners in C-SPAN’s national StudentCam documentary competition – it’s a terrific recognition,” said Adam Falk, Senior Vice President, State Government Affairs, Charter Communications. “This year, C-SPAN’s StudentCam contest gave students the opportunity to learn more about and deeply appreciate the U.S. Constitution and its impact on our local community. We are proud to partner with them on this important initiative.”

Each year since 2006, C-SPAN partners with its local cable television providers in communities nationwide to invite middle school students (grades 6-8) and high school students (grades 9-12) to produce short documentaries about a subject of national importance. This year students addressed the theme, “The Constitution & You: Choose a provision of the U.S. Constitution and create a video illustrating why it’s important to you.”

In response, C-SPAN received a record 2,985 video submissions from over 5,700 students in 46 states and Washington, D.C. Students worked in teams or as individuals to address a wide range of public policy issues, from the freedoms of the First Amendment and the right to bear arms, to equality and the powers of Congress.

“With so much national debate about government power and personal freedoms, we were eager to hear students’ perspectives on what the Constitution means to them,” said C-SPAN’s Manager of Education Relations Craig McAndrew. “Students across the country engaged in conversation on the local level with elected officials, experts, community leaders and educators to explore how national issues impact their daily lives.”

The most popular provisions of the Constitution explored by students were the First Amendment (26 percent), followed by the Second Amendment (16 percent) and the 14th Amendment (11 percent).

C-SPAN is funded by America’s cable television companies, which support StudentCam. In Birmingham, C-SPAN is available locally through Spectrum.

Ashleigh and Ta’Kaiya are among more than 300 students across the country winning a total of $100,000, including one grand-prize winner, four first-prize winners, 16 second-prize winners, 32 third-prize winners and 97 honorable mentions.

The 150 winning videos may be viewed at may be used in a broadcast with attribution to C-SPAN. To schedule an interview with one or more of the winning students, please contact Pam McGorry at

The annual competition is sponsored by the C-SPAN Education Foundation. Videos were evaluated by a panel of educators and C-SPAN representatives based on the thoughtful examination of the competition’s theme, quality of expression, inclusion of varying sides of the documentary’s topic, and effective incorporation of C-SPAN programming.

Fairfield Elementary School Students Excel in Nursing Program

Fairfield Elementary School Students Excel in Nursing Program

By Ariel Worthy

Ten students sat with white lab coats, stethoscopes around their necks, waiting to receive pins and certifications for their work in nursing academy.

These weren’t college students, though. They were students from Robinson Elementary School in Fairfield in grades third through sixth. This is the first year the school started its Exploratory Nursing Program, and on Tuesday, students received recognition for their work.

Nursing programs students with BBNA members (in red) and teachers pose with their certificates

Jennifer Coleman, a professor at Samford University School of Nursing and member of the Birmingham Black Nurses Association (BBNA), said she was impressed with the students’ level of knowledge of healthcare.

“These children were giving out information that we give our college students . . . the future of healthcare is in good hands; I see some healthcare leaders, some CEOs of healthcare organizations.”

Coleman, who was joined by Deborah Zimmerman and Martha Dawson – also members of the BBNA – visited the school when the program began in December, and said students were very hands-on.

“We talked about nursing, healthcare, the importance of activity, exercise, nutrition, we taught them CPR [cardiopulmonary resuscitation],” Coleman said. “One of our nurses let them all stick her finger to check her blood glucose. They asked questions, and we realized how amazing they were. They were asking such high-level questions . . . they surpassed our expectations. They’re so smart, inquisitive.”

Students were also taught how to take blood pressure, listen to heart rates, and check blood sugar levels for diabetes. They presented information about hypertension, health and wellness, how to test for the flu, how to properly wash hands and how to perform CPR on adults and infants.

“If your family member is not responding to you and on the floor, you have to know how to do CPR,” said Ophelia Acquah, a teacher at Robinson Elementary School, who developed the program. “There might not always be another adult around.”

Parents were also impressed with the results. Lakecia Coleman (no relation to the professor) said her 11-year-old daughter Ja’Nia, who received her pin on Tuesday, has always talked about being a doctor or nurse.

The program helped her daughter become passionate about pursuing the healthcare field, Lakecia said.

“She’s been questioning all the family on their health,” Lakecia said. “She’s been looking into it more now. One of her uncles is a diabetic, and she’s been asking a lot of questions since she got started in the program. My husband recently had surgery so she’s been on all of us about our health.”

Healthcare is a good field of work, but it’s more than a career, she said.

“[Ja’Nia] wants to be healthy and she wants our family to be healthy,” Lakecia said. “So, she’s going to be on our backs about it until we get it together. We’re going to be in good hands with these young people leading the way.”

Ophelia Acquah, a teacher at Robinson Elementary School, developed the program to introduce students to a diverse field, she said.

“Most of the career academies are in the high schools, but the pace the world is going, the kids need to be exposed at an early age – the earlier the better,” said Acquah, who has no background in healthcare but a passion for finding solutions to needs. “A lot of times students in low-income areas are forgotten, but it’s my responsibility as an educator to find a need and fix it.”

The program went beyond health and included math, Acquah said.

“[Students] had to apply what they learned from the professionals to what they learned in the lab and decide what is the problem affecting the students. They came up with weight,” she said. “They learned math calculations and how to find averages and how to find research. They worked together. They worked as a team to put the slides together.”

Students read articles, researched, and checked for accuracy with their sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. They also had labs for four weeks and “worked with their classmates as if they were nurses,” Acquah said. “One of the kids said ‘my patient’ so they had patients that came into the lab and had their weight and blood pressure checked.”

Students were asked take notes on findings, she said.

“They noticed that their peers weight fluctuated, not because they gained weight, but because they had heavier clothes on,” Acquah said. “So, these were things they considered and looked at in their research.”

Professionals also spoke to the students. “They had a dental hygienist come to class,” Acquah said. “We had a doctor of psychology from Lawson State Community College teach how to conduct their research. That’s how they designed their surveys.”

The program has been a success.

“I had some students that came to me saying ‘next year I don’t want to be a patient, I want to be a nurse,’ Acquah said. “And I hope that we do have more who are passionate about this next year.”

Meet the 8-year-old Birmingham Student with small role in ‘Black Panther’ film

Meet the 8-year-old Birmingham Student with small role in ‘Black Panther’ film

By Je’Don Holloway Talley

Sybella Inman, 8, who is on the honor roll at Birmingham’s EPIC Elementary, appears about 30 minutes into the film in a scene where T’Challa, the main character, is lying in the dirt. Sybella known as Bella, said she was excited about securing the role of an orphan in the movie.

“I think acting is fun and cool and awesome,” Sybella told ABC 33/40 TV.

“She thought it was pretty cool to talk to (main character) Chadwick Boseman and work with Forest Whitaker,” said K’la, Inman’s mother.

When Sybella was six, her mom had professional headshots taken. “We’ve done some workshops that she’s done really, really well in,” K’la said. “She did a workshop with Alpha Tyler, one of Tyler Perry’s casting agents.”

K’la, who has done some acting, almost missed an opportunity to cast her daughter for the film. Kl’a has casting calls come to her phone and when she saw one for “Black Panther” she almost discarded it until saw the movie was casting for Bella’s age range.

As the family arrived at church that particular day for Sunday morning service “my husband, Kalep, asked what I was doing because I had my head in my phone, and I told him ‘I was trying to apply for casting for some movie named Black Panther’ and he says, ‘Oh, that’s a black superhero, a Marvel character, you should finish that.’

Two weeks later K’la received an email while renting a car. “[I] was talking to the clerk, and looked down at the email and started screaming . . . I dropped my phone.”

Last March, Sybella and mom set out for Pinewood Studios, in Atlanta, GA to film her scenes.

Sybella’s painted face is the only orphan to be shown close up in the scene. “She actually got to film with Chadwick Boseman [Black Panther] and Forest Whitaker [Zuri] in the scene where they were doing the burial rite,” her mom said.

Sybella learned about hard work early. “They shot both her scenes the same day. Including hair and makeup, she had an 11-hour day,” K’la said.

K’la had her brush with A-list actor Forest Whitaker, as well. “I was actually sitting right next to him for a while before noticing I was barely two feet away from him,” K’la said. “That was pretty cool.”

Asked what Sybella was most excited about on set, her mom said, “food.”

“She was … hungry” K’la laughed. “On movie sets they always have what they call a ‘crafting table’, and their spread was pretty impressive. They actually gave us lobster … which is unheard of. But, I guess with a budget that big ($200 million). She was running over there for cakes and cookies, juices, and whatnot every chance she could.”

While Bella doesn’t talk in the movie, she loves the Hollywood glitz and glam.

“It got to be different and I like makeup being on my face,” Bella said. “It makes your face all shiny and glittery.”

Bella has been acting since the age of 6, but this is her first film role. Bella’s mom submitted her daughter for the role after learning about the opportunity in a casting email. “She really can act,” her mother said. “She can cry on demand.”

Along with working with other new actors, she also met the lead actor, Chadwick Boseman. He plays the comic book character her mother knew little about.

The Inman family is proud to have their daughter appear with a cast that looks like her. “I think it’s important,” K’la said. “Typically that doesn’t happen. I mean you look at Disney princesses, Barbie dolls, it’s not always representing everyone across the board.”

The film has a black director and an all-black cast and is set in Africa.

Word spread quickly in school that Bella was in the movie. “It was crazy at school – I had to do this,” that’s when she puts her fingers in her ears and laughs. “At P.E., I had to run away.”

Besides acting Bella likes to do everything – play soccer, model and being creative,” said her mother. “She likes to make her own makeup. She paints. She dances. And she likes to make slime.”

Like everyone else, the Inman family was blown away by the film’s debut. “She was pretty impressed by how it all came together,” Kl’a said of her daughter. She knew she was . . . inside a studio with a ton of graphs and stuff all over the floor, and the way the graphics brought it all together was amazing to her.”

During the Birmingham City Council meeting on Tuesday Mayor Randall L. Woodfin congratulated Bella for her role.

“The City of Birmingham family is very proud of your accomplishments, and we celebrate your success,” Woodfin said. “Continue to pursue your dreams and strive for ambitious goals.”

ABC 33/40 contributed to this report

GEORGIA — Amid National Turmoil, Teen Summit Unites Area Students

GEORGIA — Amid National Turmoil, Teen Summit Unites Area Students

By Erica Wright

Gabrielle Johnson, a junior at Briarwood Christian School, served as tour guide for Wednesday’s teen summit at the Birmingham Civil Rights Intitute. (Erica Wright, The Birmingham Times)

Gabrielle Johnson, a junior at Briarwood Christian School, is part of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s Youth Leadership program.

On Wednesday, she was at the Institute for another occasion: tour guide for a teen summit sponsored by The Birmingham Pledge Foundation in partnership with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the Davis Matthews Center for Civic Life.

“I decided to attend the summit because I realized there is such a need for these racial dialogues to go on, especially with the state that our country is in right now,” said Johnson.

Some area teens got a chance during a summit at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute to gain perspective of what others who are different from them go through. (Erica Wright, The Birmingham Times)

After Johnson led Birmingham-area high school students on the tour the teens heard from the Reverend Gwendolyn Webb, who marched as a child in the Civil Rights Movement. Webb recalled meeting with Rev. James Bevel, one of the march organizers.

“I was the head of my cheerleading squad in high school and so Dr. Bevel went to every school and he set up boundaries . . . if you were head of the student government, he needed you; if you were head of the booster club, he needed you; if you were head of the football team or track, he needed you. Whatever you were a leader in, he needed you,” she said.

The philosophy, Webb said, was that “leaders beget followers, followers beget other followers and that’s how the children’s movement was formed.”

After Webb’s speech, students participated in forums and workshops on issues such as diversity, how to find common ground and ways to maintain a balanced perspective in conversations about public issues.

The Birmingham Pledge was written 20 years ago and the foundation has worked to eliminate prejudice and racism throughout the world through their pledge drives and other programs.

Misty Tipler, Birmingham Pledge Foundation executive director, said she was pleased to see the diverse group of students engaging in dialogue.

“I think that any time students get together and hear opinions that are similar to theirs or even different to theirs, they gain perspective on what other people are going through, what people feel about certain subjects and how they’re affected,” said Tipler. “I believe today’s group of kids do represent different areas and different socioeconomic backgrounds so I think they will be able to kind of gain some insight from each other.”

Wednesday’s summit was the first after a three-year hiatus. It was originally a yearly event.

“What we want to do is consolidate everything into a short period of time so it’s an easy commitment for students to make,” Tipler said. “We want them to be able to come here and spend some time and feel like they’ve gained some skills and learned a little bit and that they walk away knowing a little bit more than they did before.”

Black History Month at the Birmingham Public Library

Black History Month at the Birmingham Public Library

Times Staff Report

THE BIRMINGHAM TIMES — The Birmingham Public Library is hosting over 80 programs celebrating Black History Month in February, including musicals, soul food cooking demos, African-American dance, genealogy and movies.

On Feb. 24, Pratt City Branch Library’s Crown & Tea program is combining the cherished African-American custom of wearing church hats with a formal tea. Learn the art of African dance from BPL’s Candice Hardy at Five Points West and Pratt City libraries.

At Wylam, Pratt City and Titusville libraries, come learn how to make tasty healthy soul dishes more nutritious. Celebrate African-American music at Central, Powderly, West End and East Lake libraries. You can view the full list of Black History Month and other programs and services at BPL’s 19 libraries by clicking on the calendar at

Here is a sample of select 2018 Black History Month programs being held in February:

Church hats and tea program

  • Crown & Tea, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2-3:30 p.m., Pratt City Branch Library-During and after slavery, black women took off their maid and servant outfits and wore decorated hats to church. Join this cherished African-American custom. Adorn your favorite church hat and join us for tea as we see who has the best “hattitude.”
  • A Taste of Black History with Chef E, Saturday, Feb. 24, 11 a.m. at Titusville Branch Library – Join Chef E for a healthy cooking demonstration. This program is free and limited to 25 adults. Call 205-322-1140 to register.

 African Dance

  • Heritage Corner with Ms. Candice, Saturday, Feb. 24, 3-5 p.m. at Five Points West Regional Library – Join us for an afternoon of cultural enrichment as 2e explore the art and history of African dance and the history of “stepping.”
  • Heritage Corner with Ms. Candice, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 11 a.m. at Pratt City Branch Library – Candice Hardy will present an African dance performance.


  • Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA) Music Department Salutes African American History Month, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 4-5 p.m. in Linn-Henley Research Building Arrington Auditorium – Concert by the Music Department of ASFA, under the leadership of Kim Strickland, Department Chair. Featuring
  • Our Musical Journey Through Faith, Thursday, Feb. 22, 3:30 p.m. at West End Branch Library – Broadway singer extraordinaire Royce Brown presents a medley of historical African-American songs of faith and the struggles of the civil rights movement.
  • East Ensley Presents Katrina Pigler, Thursday, Feb. 22, 5-6 p.m. at East Ensley Branch Library – Join us for an inspirational concert featuring Katrina Pigler singing a variety of jazz and gospel songs.
  • Powderly Annual Black History Musical and Program, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 5:30 p.m. at Powderly Branch Library-Call 205-925-6178 for more information.

Writing And Spoken Word

  • Share Your Dream, through February 28 at East Lake Branch Library – Children and adults are invited to share their dream in writing at East Lake Library. Entries will be added to the library’s Martin Luther King display.
  • “African Americans in Times of War Spoken War,” Friday Feb. 23, 3:30 p.m. at Inglenook Branch Library – Recite a poem acknowledging the National Black History Month Theme “African Americans in Times of War Spoken War” or recite a poem on African American heroes and events. Register in advance at 205-849-8739.
  • The Race Card (all ages), through February 28, Pratt City Branch Library – Discussions about race can often be difficult and enlightening. Express your thoughts on race into one sentence using only six words. Your six-word sentence will be on display on the Race Card Wall.
  • Finding Your Roots, Monday-Wednesday, Feb. 12-14, 4 p.m. at Five Points West Regional Library – Educator
  • Black History Month Research-Using BPL Databases to Connect to Our Past, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2:15-3:15 p.m., Regional Library Computer Center in Linn-Henley Research Building – Attendees will learn how to combine historical and genealogical research using BPL’s databases, African American History Online and Ancestry Library Edition.
  • The Beyond Kin Project: Making the Slave Connection, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2:30 p.m., Linn-Henley Research Building – Project co-founders Donna Cox Baker and Frazine K. Taylor will teach a software method and research techniques for handling the unique complexities of helping African-Americans research their slave connections using common genealogy tools.
  • Finding Your Roots, Monday-Wednesday, Feb. 12-14, 4 p.m. at Five Points West Regional Library – Educator Henry Louis Gates Jr. has hosted several PBS series that examine U.S. history. In “Finding Your Roots,” the Harvard professor continues his quest to get into the DNA of American culture.


  • “Stroke Mythbusters” Facts and Myths about Strokes, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 10:30 a.m. – Learn the truth about stroke, presented by UAB Comprehensive Neuroscience Center and Dr. Michael J. Lyerly, director of the UAB Vascular Neurology Fellowship Program and director of the Stroke Center at Veterans Affairs.


The Birmingham Times logo

By Ariel Worthy

THE BIRMINGHAM TIMES — During his 20-minute speech Jones spoke about the importance of justice and equality for all and why the American Dream and Dr. King’s Dream should be a shared vision.

“Together we have a responsibility to continue fighting for the American dream, Dr. King’s dream,” Jones said. “…to ensure that Alabama and our nation live up to the ideas of equality and justice.

“That doesn’t just mean justice in a courtroom,” he said. “…it means that children growing up in every community should have the same opportunities to succeed.”

The senator spoke in a packed Birmingham Jefferson Convention Center (BJCC) North Exhibition Hall filled with city leaders, organizers, activists, and citizens celebrate King Jr. Day.

Congresswoman Terri Sewell, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, Birmingham City Council President Valerie Abbott, Jefferson County Commission President Pro-Tem Sandra Little Brown and Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox were among the officials on the dais.

But it was Jones who commanded the attention of the audience, many of whom helped get him elected to the Senate.

“I’m here today [as Senator] and it’s because you believed in me,” he said. “You believed in Alabama, you believed in this country, and you believed enough to devote your time and energy and enthusiasm to make my election possible.”

Jones said the breakfast is a chance to remember the sacrifices of not only King, but other foot soldiers who fought for justice. “People like Rev. (Joseph) Lowery, Jimmie Lee Jackson, the great Fred Shuttlesworth, Ralph Abernathy and my dear friend and colleague, John Lewis,” he said.

He also honored women who fought for freedom and justice.

“(These men) stood shoulder to shoulder with courageous women like Coretta Scott King, Recey Taylor, Rosa Parks, Virginia Foster Durr, Amelia Boynton (Robinson) and Annie Lee Cooper,” he said. “And in today’s climate we need to make sure that we recognize the courageous women of the Civil Rights Movement.”

Jones pointed out the critical need of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which he supports and the first bill he sponsored was to make sure funding remains in place for the program.

“Taking care of our children is not just an investment for their future, it is an investment in all of our futures.”

He talked about how “those who speak the loudest and gain strength through fear rather than consensus and compromise” let CHIP expire putting 150,000 Alabama children at risk.

“They refuse expand Medicaid, threatening the health of 1,000,000 Alabamians and the security of our rural hospitals,” he said. “They watched as children from certain zip codes got access to better education, and they did it generation after generation.”

He also pointed out that a lot of the rhetoric causing division is coming from the White House especially “when the President of the United States uses language that is not only beneath his office, but the antithesis of the values that we hold as Americans,” Jones said. “Every time we are faced with what seems like insurmountable difficulties we have risen to the occasion to confront it head on, and make no mistake, we will do it again.”

The senator pointed to the gains made by foot soldiers and King when faced with obstacles.

“Reject hatred, violence and fury,” he said. “We need to listen and learn from one another. We need to seek common ground even when it seems impossible.”

Jones concluded his speech by saying change in America will require “foot soldiers of today to make change.”

“It’s up to us, it’s our challenge,” he said. “After standing on that stage on Dec. 12 [election night] I know you know what to do.”

Jones said he didn’t have all the answers, “but I know that it will take more than gathering for breakfast once a year.”

The breakfast also included a unity candle lighting, a dance tribute from dancer Deitra Streeter to the song Rise Up by Andra Day, and 9-year-old Sergeant Jones who eloquently quoted King’s “I Have A Dream” speech from memory and with the crowd joining hands and singing “We Shall Overcome.”