President Obama’s Powerful Howard Univ. Commencement Speech


U.S. Dept. of Education: $5.7M Towards the Formerly Incarcerated

There are new tools available to help students and their families move forward after incarceration.

The U.S. Department of Education announced $5.7 million in new grants on Monday to improve outcomes for those returning from prison, as part of a wider program led by the U.S. Department of Justice. The toolkit provides guidance to educators and those involved in successful reentry programs.

A statement from the Department said the funding will support the establishment and operation of projects that build on existing efforts to help youths who were in the justice system. The statement announced four grantees: Portland (Oregon) Community College, Saint Paul (Minnesota) Public Schools, Shelby County (Tennessee) Board of Education, and the School District of Philadelphia.

The announcement also highlighted the need to support students who have an incarcerated parent. There are more than 5 million of them, concentrated mostly in low-income communities of color. These students are at risk of failing in school and face more hardships than their peers.

In making the announcement, Education Secretary John King had roundtable conversations with some of those students:

The Department pointed to a 2013 federal study that said 94 percent of those returning from prison identified education and obtaining new skills as essential. Officials say it’s an effective way to prevent recidivism.

Secretary King released this statement:

“Reentry is a critical moment that requires planning, support and preparation. We need to help ensure formerly incarcerated young people and adults can return to their communities successfully. We need a community working together to provide job training, social and emotional support and a concerted effort to ensure success. Not only is this the right thing to do for families and for children, it also makes smart economic sense for our country.”

The announcement is part of the Obama Administration’s National Reentry Week, which began on April 25. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castrotraveled to Philadelphia to hold events that included public housing advocates, legal services providers, and community leaders.

SOURCE: Dept. of Education | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, Twitter


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Helping Black Boys Navigate The Challenges Ahead | News One

This shift in emphasis comes a decade after Harper published his bestseller, Letters to a Young Brother. In recognition of this milestone anniversary, his organization is turning its attention squarely on this troubled demographic.

MYD board member Romell Cummings told NewsOne that this emphasis is about more than Harper’s groundbreaking book: “Lots of people see the urgent need to save Black boys—from the White House to grassroots organizations. I’m glad to see that we’re making this shift.”

The Summer Empowerment Academy is MYD’s flagship program. The intensive week-long course includes workshops and hands-on training, ranging from academic strategies to entrepreneurship. Those lessons are reinforced in Saturday sessions throughout the participants’ freshman high school year. These modules offer meaningful opportunities for one-on-one interactions between mentors and mentees. The program began in Los Angeles and expanded last year to Washington, D.C.

Executive Director Erika R. McCall said the program came into existence to address the high dropout rate among Black students in low-income communities. MYD focuses on freshman because failing courses in the first year of high school diminishes the chances of graduating.

The program depends on a core of young professionals to mentor up to 30 students during the summer academy and the ongoing sessions.

Reaching the students is often a challenge, said McCall, who worked previously with Chicago youth and is the author of Go For Yours, which shares inspirational stories about young African-Americans who achieved their goals.

Many of the students have erected a mental block that we have to help them get over,” she said. “Some of them say things like, ‘I don’t know why we’re talking about college. I don’t have any chance of going to college.’”

Cummings, who works at the U.S. Department of Justice, is also a mentor. He encounters the same attitude McCall described among the students in D.C.

“It’s a form of mental imprisonment,” he explained. “But I understand where they’re coming from. They’re thinking: ‘how can I talk about college when graduating high school seems distant?’”

One student, he recalled, stunned the team of mentors last summer with this question: ‘What are we doing this for if we’re going to die anyway?’

Cummings said that speaks to their environment. Many of the students go through life worrying about whether they or someone they love will make it home each day. Part of the solution, he said, is exposure to successful role models who overcame similar obstacles that they face.

The organization will hold its annual gala at the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C. It’s a spin on the popular TV program, Dancing with the Stars. The contestants include Towanda Braxton, Traci Braxton, and former football player Donte Stallworth.

Proceeds will go a long way toward the goal of expanding the program into other states. Next up are MYD programs in Baltimore and Chicago.



Oakland Schools Teach Manhood Courses To Black Boys

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via Helping Black Boys Navigate The Challenges Ahead | News One

Our Prince is Gone

2015 American Music Awards - Show

Prince is reportedly dead at 57 years old.

According to TMZ, the legendary singer’s body was found at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota early Thursday morning.

He was previously reported to have been battling the flu.

TMZ writes:

Authorities responded to a medical emergency at his Paisley Park studio on Thursday morning. The Carver County Sheriff’s department in Chanhassen, Minnesota tells TMZ there has been a fatality, and they’re notifying next of kin.

According to the Sheriff’s dept … deputies responded to Paisley Park at 9:43 AM.

Prince Rogers Nelson — had a medical emergency on April 15th that forced his private jet to make an emergency landing in Illinois. But he appeared at a concert the next day to assure his fans he was okay.

His publicist confirmed the news, according to BuzzFeed News and the Associated Press.

Six days before his death, the iconic singer tweeted the following, a true testament to his otherworldly persona.
May he rest in peace.


Harriet Tubman Is Coming to the $20 Bill.


Harriet Tubman, an abolitionist who helped rescue slaves, in the late 1800s. CreditH. B. Lindsley/Library of Congress

WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department will announce on Wednesday afternoon that Harriet Tubman, an African-American who ferried hundreds of slaves to freedom, will replace the slaveholding Andrew Jackson on the center of a new $20 note, according to a Treasury official, while newly popular Alexander Hamilton will remain on the face of the $10 bill.

Other depictions of women and civil rights leaders will also be part of new currency designs.

The new designs, from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, would be made public in 2020 in time for the centennial of woman’s suffrage and the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. None of the bills, including a new $5 note, would reach circulation until the next decade.

It was unclear whether details of the unexpectedly sweeping changes would win over some women’s groups, who had sharply criticized Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew for reneging on his 10-month-old commitment to put a woman on the face of the $10 bill, which is the one currently in line for an anti-counterfeiting makeover.

But in the months of taking public comments on what woman he should pick, Mr. Lew evidently bowed to the Broadway-stoked popularity of the $10 bill’s current star, Alexander Hamilton.

Instead, images of women are expected to grace the back of the new bill, with Ms. Tubman taking the top spot on a redesigned $20 further into the future.

When Mr. Lew announced in June that a woman was likely to front the $10, he thought it would be a feel-good moment for the Obama administration. That was before the rap musical “Hamilton” created legions of fans for the founder who was already on the bill, not only among well-to-do patrons shelling out big bucks for tickets on Broadway but also among tens of thousands of teenagers memorizing the lyrics and obsessing over details of Hamilton’s life story.

It complicated matters for Mr. Lew when “Hamilton” and its creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, won the Pulitzer Prize for drama this week. Mr. Miranda personally pressed Mr. Lew to keep Hamilton front and center, rallying Hamiltonians around the country.

But in advance of the announcement, a number of women took to media to say a win for the hottest founding father would be a loss for many women who pressed for someone of their sex on the bill.

Correction: April 20, 2016
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article misstated the number of slaves escorted to freedom by Harriet Tubman. It was hundreds, not thousands.

Still Searching for Him! The Anonymous Montgomery Hero – WE NEED YOU!


As I was working on something in my home near S. Court Street in Montgomery, AL,  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. A bull horn projected a powerful young man’s voice.

My jaw dropped as I heard the most ground shaking message my ears have been privy to south of Fairview Ave., at least since I’ve been here.

“Put the guns down and fight like a man! … BE A REAL MAN AND PUT THE GUNS DOWN!”

I rushed from window to window to see where and WHO this lyrical Westside superhero was.

His voice was street-hard, but one could easily tell that this was no wannabe baller.  This man right here was what you call a real gangster.  One who is bold enough to defy the system and speak truth to power.

What system?

The American system of institutional racism. The same system which was created in the…

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