Lasting Campaign for Black Male Achievement; I Never Had A TeacherThat Looked Like Me; Freedoms Eve; Condolences to New York, Florida andPakistan while Prayers for Northern Nigeria (#Bring Back Our Girls)
Campaign for Black Male Achievement Leaders -
Shawn Dove (right) and Rashid Shabazz (left)
By Kenneth H.
December 17, 2014
For a society to be truly open,
it must ensure that all of its members have full and equal access to economic,
social, and political opportunities. A core element of our work at the Open
Society Foundations is to challenge and confront those barriers that undermine
such opportunities-particularly for communities that are historically
marginalized and vulnerable.
Over six years ago, the Open
Society Foundations expanded its historic support for racial justice in the
United States by initiating an effort specifically targeted at the challenges
confronting black men and boys: the Campaign for Black Male Achievement
(CBMA). The reason was simple: the United States cannot realize its aspirations
as a society without tackling head-on its legacy that limits the potential of
African American males.
Over the intervening years, CBMA
has led us forward, and we are excited to announce that the campaign will now
spin off to continue its work as an independent organization in a new and
When CBMA first launched, there
was precious little philanthropy dedicated specifically to addressing the
special racial and gender barriers preventing boys and men of color from
achieving their economic, political, educational, and social potential. In
recent years, a number of foundations have become joint leaders through efforts,
such as the California Endowment's Sons and Brothers campaign, the Robert Wood
Johnson Foundation's Forward Promise initiative, and the John S. and James L.
Knight Foundation's Black Male Engagement work, among others.
Today, in part due to CBMA's
efforts, there is an unprecedented number of organizations dedicated to carrying
this banner-including the recently formed Executives' Alliance to Expand
Opportunities for Boys and Men of Color, a coalition of more than 40 foundations
(including the Open Society Foundations, which continues to play a leadership
role on the steering committee). And earlier this year, President Obama
announced the My Brother's Keeper initiative, putting black male achievement on
an even more prominent platform for the remainder of this administration and
The work done by CBMA's leaders,
Shawn Dove and Rashid Shabazz, has helped start to change the narrative-and
create a black male achievement movement in this country. This has involved
identifying and lifting up innovators and building and expanding a network of
leaders and organizations dedicated to this cause. By spinning off as a
standalone organization this January-a step first suggested by Shawn several
years ago-CBMA is poised to move to the next level.
The new entity will keep the same
name, and the same focus: to help foster the growth, sustainability, and impact
of organizations working to improve the lives of black boys and men. And it will
incorporate the work of the Institute for Black Male Achievement, which was
created in late 2012 with a grant of $4 million from Open Society and eight
Tonya Allen, CEO of the Skillman
Foundation, will serve as CBMA's founding board chair, and will be joined on the
board by Geoffrey Canada, founder of the Harlem Children's Zone and board member
of Open Society's U.S. Programs; William C. Bell, CEO of the Casey Family
Programs; and Wendell Pritchett, interim dean of the University of Pennsylvania
Law School. The Silicon Valley Community Foundation will serve as CBMA's fiscal
'I never had a teacher that looked like me': Challenges
exist in hiring a diverse staff
Photo provided by The Black Star
December 14, 2014
Bri Blue illustrates why it's
such a challenge for school districts like Madison's to hire a racially diverse
She was one of just four black
students in the elementary education program in the UW-Madison School of
Education, the most prestigious education program in the state, in the 2013-14
And when she graduates in 2016,
the Milwaukee native plans to look for a job where she believes there's a
greater emphasis on educating black students using a curriculum that
incorporates a student's background and culture.
"I never had a teacher that
looked like me," Blue said. "I wanted to become a teacher because I wanted to
influence future generations, and have kids see that I'm here, so you can be
here, too. You can do this, too."
Fewer than 5 percent of
Wisconsin's teachers and other staff are not white, according to 2014 state
data. In Dane County, a handful of school districts don't have any staff who
aren't white. About 88 percent of the staff and teachers in the Madison School
District are white, but 56 percent of their students aren't, leaving what has
been dubbed nationally as a "diversity gap" that district officials want to
"(White teachers often) don't
know the struggles (of black children); they don't know what those children have
been through ... it's not their reality," Blue said.
At UW-Madison, 10 percent of the
students studying to be teachers are minorities compared to about 14 percent of
the total student body. During the 2013-14 school year, just 16 of 131 students
who received a degree in elementary education were minorities - the highest
number in at least 30 years, according to UW-Madison registrar data. Of those,
just three were black graduates. The year before, just one black student
received an elementary education degree. Only data on the elementary education
program was readily available.
Across the country, the story is
similar. Four of every five students who graduated with a teaching degree in
2009-10, the latest year for which data was available, was white, according to
the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.
While there is little data to
prove having diverse teaching ranks will have a positive, direct impact on
academic achievement, the social and emotional effects on academic motivation
and engagement can help, said Dorinda Carter Andrews, professor at Michigan
State University's Department of Teacher Education.
White students need to see positive adults of other
races in positions of authority in order to participate in a "global society,"
Blue wanted to become a teacher
because her mother was one. She said she saw her mother as a role model.
By contrast, she said none of the
teachers she had in the Milwaukee Public Schools was black. She said she would
like to stay in Wisconsin to teach, but doesn't feel the education system is
equipped to adequately educate black students.
Marlisha Wilbourn, a senior at La Follette High School
who is black, suspects one reason few black students pursue teaching careers:
"We don't have anyone to look up to."
Whether It Is "Watch Night" or "Freedom's Eve", the Black Community
in America Celebrated
Freedom from Slavery as of
11:59 pm, December 31, 1862
"On that night, Blacks
came together in churches and private homes all across the nation,
anxiously awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation had actually become
Slaves wait for 12:00 am, January 1,
1863, the first day of freedom for many Black
slaves in America.
Written by Charyn D. Sutton
If you live or grew up in a Black community in the United States, you have
probably heard of "Watch Night Services," the gathering of the faithful in
church on New Year's Eve. The service usually begins anywhere from 7 p.m. to 10
p.m. and ends at midnight with the entrance of the New Year.
There are two essential reasons for the
importance of New Year's Eve services in African American congregations. Many
of the Watch Night Services in Black communities that we celebrate today can be
traced back to gatherings on December 31, 1862, also known as "Freedom's
On that night, Americans of African descent
came together in churches, gathering places and private homes throughout the
nation, anxiously awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation had become
law. Then, at the stroke of midnight, it was January 1, 1863, and according to
Lincoln's promise, all slaves in the Confederate States were legally
People remained in churches and other
gathering places, eagerly awaiting word that Emancipation had been declared.
When the actual news of freedom was received later that day, there were prayers,
shouts and songs of joy as people fell to their knees and thanked God.
A gunman has
shot dead two police officers sitting inside a patrol car in New York before
head of the New York police said the men had been "targeted for their uniform".
The gunman then ran into a subway station where he shot himself.
he had shot and injured his ex-girlfriend and had posted anti-police messages on
Barack Obama - who is on holiday in Hawaii - said he condemned the killings
who serve and protect our communities risk their own safety for ours every
single day and they deserve our respect and gratitude every single day," he said
in a statement.
The killings come amid widespread dissatisfaction in
relations between police and African Americans.
gunman was a black man - named as Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28 - while the two police
officers, Liu Wenjin and Raphael Ramos, were Asian and Hispanic
this month, a grand jury decided not to indict a New York officer for the
chokehold death of Eric Garner, a black man who died when white police officers
tried to arrest him for selling cigarettes.
month, another grand jury also cleared a white officer in the fatal shooting of
Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, in Ferguson, Missouri.