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The critical role of education in the history of African Americans, Part l

THE WEEKLY CHALLENGER — In many urban neighborhood public schools, there is a lack of resources, endured overcrowding, a significant racial achievement gap and policies that fail to deliver substantive opportunities. Tragically, many poorly performing schools serve as a “pipeline to prison” for some of today’s youth.

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As a young enslaved boy in Baltimore, Frederick Douglass bartered pieces of bread for lessons in literacy. His teachers were white neighborhood kids, who could read and write but had no food.

By Jennifer Gamble-Theard, M. Ed., ASALH Historian

Dr. Carter G. Woodson once wrote: “If you teach a Negro that he has accomplished as much good as any other race he will aspire to equality and justice without regard to race.”

Having experienced a lack of education while he was a young child, Woodson understood very well the implications that were associated with the denial of access to education. After a keen observation of how slavery and its aftermath affected the multitude of Black people in America, he called attention to the critical situation that had resulted from persistently imposed racial barriers to education.

The “crisis” in Black education first began in the days of slavery when it was against the law for slaves to learn how to read and write. From the 1600s to the late 1800s, educating Black people–both enslaved and free–was often discouraged, and eventually made illegal in many of the southern states.

With the exception of Maryland and Kentucky, all slave states prohibited educating the enslaved. The rationale was that literacy was a threat to the institution of slavery or a threat to jobs in northern states.

In spite of Anti-Literacy Laws that had been established by state governments, there were slaves that learned to read and write. They were passionate about learning as much as they could from those who were willing to teach them, and some were even self-taught with knowledge obtained from reading the Bible.

Slaves had to hide away so as not to get caught learning to read and write, and they had little resources on hand. At times, those who taught the slaves risked their own safety with threats of harsh beatings and imprisonment.

Even in parts of the antebellum north, education was discouraged for Blacks. The schools that were relegated to Black communities in the north were mostly inadequate and lacked many basic resources.

Whether due to laws, politics or practices, racially segregated schools remained the norm in America during the Reconstruction Era (1865-1877) through the 20th century and in many places today.

In the 21st century, critical problems in Black education have grown significantly in urban neighborhood schools. It’s the same old problem that dates back to the “separate but equal” doctrine.

In many urban neighborhood public schools, there is a lack of resources, endured overcrowding, a significant racial achievement gap and policies that fail to deliver substantive opportunities. Tragically, many poorly performing schools serve as a “pipeline to prison” for some of today’s youth.

Even here in St Petersburg, some of our neighborhood schools have been labeled “failure factories.” A lack of money and resources from the Pinellas County School Board over a period of about eight years had a negative effect on students’ academic performance and social behavior.

Yet, African-American history can remind us that we have been resilient to pitfalls that have plagued our pursuit of knowledge. It’s important to know our history so we can become more aware of what we must do to overcome the current barriers of neglect and lack of resources in our schools.

After the Civil War, there was the rise of educational institutions for Black youths.  Black colleges and universities were established throughout the south as well as a few northern and mid-western Border States. It was in those halls of higher learning that educated the architects of freedom movements and cultivated Black leaders in every field.

For more than a century, African Americans sought to ensure access to equal educational opportunity. With knowledge of the judicial system, young, educated Blacks fought unrelenting legal challenges of segregated public schools.

Those school cases gave the impetus that was needed in the ongoing struggle for civil rights, social equality and racial justice in the United States.

There are so many elements that depict a more complete picture of the critical role of education in the history of African Americans. This article will be continued in order to present a detailed development of how far Black education has come, and how much further we must go.

Education is a means to empowerment and therefore addressing the crisis in black education should be considered one of the most important goals in America’s past, present and future.

Jennifer Gamble-Theard, M.Ed. is a retired Pinellas County educator in the study of history and language. She is also the historian for the St. Petersburg Branch of ASALH.

This article was originally published in The Weekly Challenger.

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U.S. House Prepares Historic Session on Reparations Legislation

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The commission’s mission includes identifying the role of federal and state governments in supporting the institution of slavery, forms of discrimination in public and private sectors against freed slaves and their descendants, and lingering adverse effects of slavery on living African Americans and on society.

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“The markup of H.R. 40 by the Judiciary Committee is a major step toward the creation of a long-overdue national commission to study and develop reparation proposals. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)
“The markup of H.R. 40 by the Judiciary Committee is a major step toward the creation of a long-overdue national commission to study and develop reparation proposals. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, April 14, plans to hold the first-ever markup of H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act.

The 10 a.m. session on Capitol Hill will help advance legislation first introduced about three decades ago that establishes a commission to examine slavery and discrimination in the United States from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies.

“Why is this significant now to have a markup in this historic moment in our history? The bill was introduced a year after the Civil Liberties Act that provided reparations for our Japanese-Americans, and we as African Americans supported it,” Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) said during a news conference with African American media members.

“The bill would allow the country to finally confront the stark social disparities occurring in the African American community today and provide solutions,” Jackson-Lee, the bill’s lead sponsor, stated.

The historic markup of H.R. 40 is intended to continue a national conversation about how to confront the brutal mistreatment of African Americans during chattel slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and the enduring structural racism that remains endemic to American society today added House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).

“Long after slavery was abolished, segregation and subjugation of African Americans was a defining part of this nation’s policies that shaped its values and its institutions,” Nadler remarked.

“Today, we still live with racial disparities in access to education, health care, housing, insurance, employment, and other social goods that are directly attributable to the damaging legacy of slavery and government-sponsored racial discrimination,” Nadler remarked.

“The creation of a commission under H.R. 40 to study these issues is not intended to divide, but to continue the efforts commenced by states, localities and private institutions to reckon with our past and bring us closer to racial understanding and advancement.”

While a specific monetary value on reparations isn’t outlined in the bill, it does focus on investigating and presenting the facts and truth about the unprecedented centuries of brutal enslavement of African people, racial healing, and transformation.

The bill would fund a commission to study and develop proposals for providing reparations to African Americans.

The commission’s mission includes identifying the role of federal and state governments in supporting the institution of slavery, forms of discrimination in public and private sectors against freed slaves and their descendants, and lingering adverse effects of slavery on living African Americans and on society.

“Since its introduction in 1989 by the late Chairman John Conyers, and now through its continued introduction, H.R. 40 has galvanized governmental acknowledgment of the crime of slavery and its continuing societal impact,” Jackson Lee maintained.

“The markup of H.R. 40 by the Judiciary Committee is a major step toward the creation of a long-overdue national commission to study and develop reparation proposals.

“Through this legislation, we will finally be able to confront the stark societal disparities occurring in the African American community today and provide solutions.

“By passing H.R. 40, Congress can also start a movement toward the national reckoning we need to bridge racial divides. Reparations are ultimately about respect and reconciliation — and the hope that one day, all Americans can walk together toward a more just future.”

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Historians Celebrate the Black Press ahead of NNPA Annual Convention

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “The Black Press has been able to survive – and thrive – at least since 1827 because of its remarkable ability to speak to the immediate needs and interests of the constituency that it represents: African Americans,” stated Gerald Horne, an American historian who currently holds the John J. and Rebecca Moores Chair of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston, and who authored the book, “The Rise and Fall of the Associated Negro Press: Claude Barnett’s Pan-African News and the Jim Crow Paradox.”

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Registration for the 2021 convention is free, and those interested can sign up at www.virtualnnpa2021.com.
Registration for the 2021 convention is free, and those interested can sign up at www.virtualnnpa2021.com.

This is the first in a series about the Black Press of America.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Dr. D’Weston Haywood did not hesitate when asked about the value of today’s Black Press of America.

The historian of 20th century American history with research and teaching interests in Black protest and protest thought, Black masculinity, Black power, and intersections of Black culture, Black politics, and Black public spheres, Dr. Haywood is himself a trusted voice.

He said the 194th anniversary of the Black Press of America and this year’s National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) summer convention theme – Black Press Matters: Trusted Voice, Resilient Vitality, and Transformative Vision – is fitting.

“The Black Press has remained a resilient, trusted voice, heralding a transformative vision for nearly two centuries precisely because, since its inception, it has remained invested in truth-telling, expanding democracy, and exposing and critiquing the limits of both unapologetically,” remarked Dr. Haywood, who authored the 2018 book, “Let Us Make Men: The Twentieth-Century Black Press and a Manly Vision for Racial Advancement.”

The NNPA, the 81-year-old trade association representing the 230 African American-owned newspapers and media companies that comprise the Black Press of America, will host its annual convention from June 23 to June 26.

While the conventions regularly occur in cities throughout the country, the pandemic has forced the NNPA to hold the event virtually for the second consecutive year.

This year’s theme highlights how significant the Black Press remains, its vitality in the many communities it serves, and the transformative vision that has helped keep the millions of subscribers informed.

“The Black Press has been able to survive – and thrive – at least since 1827 because of its remarkable ability to speak to the immediate needs and interests of the constituency that it represents: African Americans,” stated Gerald Horne, an American historian who currently holds the John J. and Rebecca Moores Chair of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston, and who authored the book, “The Rise and Fall of the Associated Negro Press: Claude Barnett’s Pan-African News and the Jim Crow Paradox.”

From Samuel E. Cornish and John B. Russwurm’s Freedom’s Journal to Frederick Douglass’ North Star to John Abbott’s Chicago Defender, African American-owned newspapers have sparked fires for truth and equality that have burned with the passion of fighting for freedom throughout history.

March 16, 2021, marked the 194th anniversary of the Black Press of America, whose global impact remains undeniable.

It all began with Freedom’s Journal, the first African American newspaper which in 1827, announced its presence with a front page that contained these words:

“We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us.”

The 4-page edition included stories about the struggle to end the horrors of slavery, lynching, and social injustice.

It also informed the African American community of international news of particular interest like Haiti and Sierra Leone events.

The newspaper featured biographies of African American men and women, schools, jobs, and housing opportunities.

Those who have made contributions to the Black Press include Douglass, WEB DuBois, Ida B. Wells, Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah, and former NNPA Chairman Dr. Carlton Goodlett.

“Over the course of its storied history, The Black Press of America has stared down government suppression, defied mob violence, and resisted many a Post-Truth era before it ever had a name, all to report, cover, and construct stories that might move the public, institutions, and historical zeitgeist to forge America into what it should be,” Dr. Haywood concluded.

Registration for the 2021 convention is free, and those interested can sign up at www.virtualnnpa2021.com.

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Five Years After His Death, New Music Arrives from Prince

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Welcome 2 America is a document of Prince’s concerns, hopes, and visions for a shifting society, presciently foreshadowing an era of political division, disinformation, and a renewed fight for racial justice,” Prince’s estate noted in a statement.

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On the title track, Prince sings: “Welcome 2 America, the land of the free – home of the slave.” Prince fans know that track is reminiscent of his 1985 song, “America,” from his “Around the World in a Day” album. (Photo: Prince playing at Cochella, 2008. / Wikimedia Commons)
On the title track, Prince sings: “Welcome 2 America, the land of the free – home of the slave.” Prince fans know that track is reminiscent of his 1985 song, “America,” from his “Around the World in a Day” album. (Photo: Prince playing at Cochella, 2008. / Wikimedia Commons)

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Five years after his sudden death, the icon Prince’s estate is releasing brand new music that is sure to excite his still loyal fanbase.

The new “Welcome 2 America” CD marks the first time Prince’s estate is releasing never-before-heard music from the megastar’s famous Paisley Park vault.

Fans got a preview on CBS’s Minutes, and Prince’s longtime guitarist, Brown Mark, sat for a special interview with the Black Press at 7:30 a.m. EST on Thursday, April 15.

The 12-track disc was recorded in 2010 to accompany a tour of the same name but never released.

The estate plans to debut the new music on July 30.

“Welcome 2 America is a document of Prince’s concerns, hopes, and visions for a shifting society, presciently foreshadowing an era of political division, disinformation, and a renewed fight for racial justice,” Prince’s estate noted in a statement.

Never a big fan of social media, Prince sings about how superficial social media could be, corporate monopolies in music and reality television.

On the title track, Prince sings: “Welcome 2 America, the land of the free – home of the slave.”

Prince fans know that track is reminiscent of his 1985 song, “America,” from his “Around the World in a Day” album.

In that song, the Purple One sings: “Aristocrats on a mountain climb, making money, losing time/Communism is just a word, but if the government turn over, it’ll be the only word that’s heard/America, America/God shed his grace on thee/America, America Keep the children free.”

Songs from the new CD include “Running Game (Son of a Slave Master),” “Born 2 Die” and “One Day We Will All B Free.”

Prince also sings about “Distracted by the features of the iPhone/Got an application, 2 fix Ur situation.”

During the “Welcome 2 America” tour, which lasted for three years beginning in 2010, Prince performed over 80 shows. The estate doesn’t explain why he never released the accompanying CD.

Prince died on April 21, 2016, at the age of 57.

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COVID-19 Pandemic Leads to Drop of Maternal Health Care in Africa, Raising Fears of Increased Mortality

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Globally, and in many African countries, women have borne the brunt of the harmful effects of the pandemic. They have had limited to no access to essential maternal and child health services for a significant time period as a result of COVID-19 restrictions and scarce resources in already overstretched hospitals and health centers,” Eden Ahmed Mdluli, Senior Technical Officer for Maternal, Neonatal, and Child Health at Project HOPE, wrote in the release.

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Project HOPE calls on countries to strengthen qualitative data collection to identify the exact cause(s) of death during pregnancy and childbirth recorded during the pandemic. (iStockphoto / NNPA)
Project HOPE calls on countries to strengthen qualitative data collection to identify the exact cause(s) of death during pregnancy and childbirth recorded during the pandemic. (iStockphoto / NNPA)

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

While almost every country has experienced disruption to its health services since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, several countries in Africa have been severely impacted, leading to the suspension of maternal, neonatal, and child health care.

Project HOPE, the nonprofit that has worked to save women and babies’ lives worldwide since 1985, issued a news release warning that decades of progress made to prevent maternal complications and deaths across the continent could be reversed.

The organization calls on countries to develop public health responses that ensure women’s health services during times of emergency.

“Globally, and in many African countries, women have borne the brunt of the harmful effects of the pandemic. They have had limited to no access to essential maternal and child health services for a significant time period as a result of COVID-19 restrictions and scarce resources in already overstretched hospitals and health centers,” Eden Ahmed Mdluli, Senior Technical Officer for Maternal, Neonatal, and Child Health at Project HOPE, wrote in the release.

In 2020, the United Nations announced that about 10,000 health workers would receive training to support mothers and newborns in Africa.

The training would occur through a partnership between the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, and Laerdal Global Health, the nonprofit arm of a Norwegian company that provides innovative training, educational and therapy solutions for emergency medical care and patient safety.

The five-year program aims to improve maternal and newborn health in some communities with the highest mortality rates in Eastern and Southern Africa.

UN officials said it would start the program in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Kenya and later expand to other countries in the region.

According to UNICEF, despite recent and promising progress in maternal and neonatal health over the past decades, maternal and newborn mortality rates in the Eastern and Southern Africa region remain alarming.

In 2017, roughly 70,000 women in those regions died due to complications during pregnancy and birth, while in 2019, more than 440,000 newborns died in the first 28 days after delivery, UNICEF officials noted.

Project HOPE officials noted that while more data is needed to fully document the extent of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on women and children across Africa, some preliminary numbers have shown a drop in utilization of essential reproductive, maternal, and neonatal health services.

According to findings by the Global Financing Facility, the number of women who attended the recommended medical visits during pregnancy dropped by 18 percent in Liberia, and the initiation of women seeking medical care during pregnancy fell by 16 percent in Nigeria.

Additionally, a recent modeling study across 118 of the world’s countries estimated that between 8.3 percent and 38.6 percent more pregnant women could die each month.

In countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria, this would add 1,280 and 6,700 maternal deaths to the already staggering 16,000 and 67,000 respective maternal deaths each year, Project HOPE officials noted.

“These numbers echo a recent warning from the World Health Organization in Africa, which reported a rise in maternal deaths in 10 countries with the highest increases recorded in Comoros, Mali, Senegal, and South Africa,” the officials wrote in the release.

They reported that in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, curfews imposed in certain African countries made it difficult for pregnant women to reach clinics and/or hospitals after curfew time.

Many health centers, which offer free or low-cost services, also closed during the pandemic, especially if the virus had infected one staff or more.

Many hospitals also had to rearrange their units to accommodate COVID-19 patients. In many cases, it meant diverting resources for existing medical needs to COVID-19 needs, leaving pregnant women and new mothers without access to adequate care.

“People are extremely vulnerable during a pandemic. That’s why it is even more critical to ensure the continuation of quality and safe women’s health services during times of emergency. Countries must develop a public health response that ensures maternal and child health services in such critical times. Pandemics should not present either-or propositions,” Ahmed Mdluli stated.

Project HOPE also calls on countries to strengthen qualitative data collection to identify the exact cause(s) of death during pregnancy and childbirth recorded during the pandemic.

The organization noted that such action would help ensure the proper steps are taken to prevent similar deaths in the future.

“Before the pandemic, significant strides were made in ensuring healthy lives and reducing some of the common killers associated with maternal and child mortality,” Ahmed Mdluli continued.

“Today, the world’s ability to meet the important Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 requires taking stock of the challenges faced during the pandemic and ensuring equitable health care access for the most vulnerable populations.”

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Family, friends and sorors help Joeretha Hayes celebrate her 85th birthday

DAYTONA TIMES – Joeretha Hayes, a retired Volusia County educator, turned 85 on March 29 and the special day brought her many surprises right outside of her front door. A drive-by birthday party, organized by her daughter, LaVeta Hayes-Logan, was attended by family, friends and her sorors of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

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Joeretha Hayes (seated in the center) is shown on March 29 with her sorors of the Daytona Beach Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (Photo: DUANE C. FERNANDEZ SR./HARDNOTTSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM)
Joeretha Hayes (seated in the center) is shown on March 29 with her sorors of the Daytona Beach Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (Photo: DUANE C. FERNANDEZ SR./HARDNOTTSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM)

BY DAYTONA TIMES STAFF

Joeretha Hayes, a retired Volusia County educator, turned 85 on March 29 and the special day brought her many surprises right outside of her front door. A drive-by birthday party, organized by her daughter, LaVeta Hayes-Logan, was attended by family, friends and her sorors of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

“I had a wonderful time and was delighted by all of the gifts, warm wishes and surprise by my daughter LaVeta. I couldn’t believe she pulled this off at my house,’’ Mrs. Hayes said.

Her daughter told the Daytona Times, “It was such an honor for me to see her tears of joy, which made it all worth it.’’

Born in Jacksonville, Mrs. Hayes is the daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Raiford Stringfield of Jacksonville. She has one sister, Joyce Walker.

She came to Daytona Beach to attend then Bethune-Cookman College and graduated in 1959.

EDUCATOR FOR 36 YEARS

She married her college sweetheart, Edward “Creamy” Hayes, Jr. They were married for 63 years until his passing. The union brought them two children – Edward Hayes III (deceased) and LaVeta Hayes, also graduates of Bethune-Cookman University.

Bethune-Cookman honored them with the Total Family Medallion for all family members graduating from the university.

Mrs. Hayes also has two grandchildren and three great grands.

An educator for 36 years in Volusia County schools, her first teaching job was at Campbell Street Elementary under the late John Dickerson. She taught fourth grade for five years.

She later transferred to teaching physical education and for a while taught part time at Campbell and part time at Rigby Elementary. Later, the schools integrated. Mrs. Hayes transferred to Highlands Elementary. She retired from Palm Terrace Elementary.

Along with her membership in the Daytona Beach Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, she is a member of various teacher and educator associations. She’s also a member of Bethune-Cookman University’s Volusia County Alumni Chapter, the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Silhouettes as well as the Daytona Beach/Volusia County NAACP.

This article originally appeared in the Daytona Times.

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LIVESTREAM REPLAY: Who is Q Parker?

Q Parker’s career includes (1) Grammy, (2) Multi-Platinum Albums, a (1) Platinum, and two (2) Gold albums, (6) ASCAP Awards and the MTV Music Award. Growing up Q’s inspirations were all Gospel artists. His mom introduced him to the group Commissioned and John P. Kee , who became the aspiration for molding his musicianship.

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He’s a husband, Father, Singer and Actor. The Grammy Award-Winning Singer/Songwriter from Atlanta, GA , whose career started in 1992, at the age of 18, when he joined the group Forté while in high school.

Forté was discovered by music mogul Sean “Puffy/P-Diddy” Combs 1994 and they signed a deal with Combs’ Bad Boy Records that year. Eventually, the group was renamed 112, who toured with the likes of mega-stars Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Sean Combs.

Q Parker’s career includes (1) Grammy, (2) Multi-Platinum Albums, a (1) Platinum, and two (2) Gold albums, (6) ASCAP Awards and the MTV Music Award. Growing up Q’s inspirations were all Gospel artists. His mom introduced him to the group Commissioned and John P. Kee , who became the aspiration for molding his musicianship.

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