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Monthly Archives: December 2013

An Unorthodox Writing Gift For Detroit

Two years ago, writers Toby Barlow and Sarah Cox got together to discuss Detroit.  Negative headlines pounded the city's reputation, but the duo knew there was more to Detroit than foreclosures and shuttered factories. Barlow proposed creating a writer's residency within the city, but Detroit didn't need temporary residents—it needed permanent ones. A September estimate put the number of vacant homes at 78,000, or one-fifth of the housing stock.  "We wanted more intelligent, interesting writing about Detroit," Cox said. "So we looked at how we could make that happen."   A group of Detroit writers and activists formed the organization Write A House. The mission was to rehab some of the city's vacant homes and give them away, for free, to writers. The board members pooled their... Read More →

Congressman John Lewis Urges Cleveland State Graduates To “Be Good Citizens Of The World”

William Rieter | Cleveland State University On the day Nelson Mandela’s body was lowered into the ground, Congressman John Lewis raised his voice half a world away to exhort the December graduates of Cleveland State University to begin lives of activism and “to get into good trouble.” Lewis, 73, told the almost 1,000 graduates that he had been “very moved” in Johannesburg, South Africa, as part of the U.S. delegation to the Mandela memorial service. “Don’t give up; don’t give in; go forth and be good citizens, not just of America, but citizens of the world,” Lewis said, connecting his listeners to Mandela’s legacy and the American Civil Rights movement. “This is your day, not mine,” he said, with more than the snowy date on the calendar in mind. A man of... Read More →

Is Alumni Giving The Cure-All For What’s Ailing HBCUs?

When the Grambling State University football team refused to play this October, the eyes of collegiate sports turned to Louisiana and focused on a long-simmering problem at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs): underfunding. Marybeth Gasman, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Minority-Serving Institutions, said in a recent op-ed that solving HBCU's budgetary woes starts at the top. "Alumni need to be taught how to give and how to be philanthropic," she wrote. "And this lesson must begin when alumni are students, during the first week of classes, and it needs to come directly from the president." One individual who has gotten the memo is Bennett College President Dr. Rosalind Fuse-Hall, who took the helm of her small liberal arts college in Greensboro... Read More →

Meet John Anisfield, The Cleveland Philanthropist You Probably Haven’t Heard Of

Photo credit: Cindy Bruml Sharp-eyed Clevelanders can still spot John Anisfield’s name on the side of his old garment factory, which employed more than 700 workers a century ago. The clothing manufacturer at E. 22nd and Superior Avenue has been shuttered long decades, but the imprint of Anisfield, his fortune, and his progressive notions carry briskly into the 21st century. John Anisfield was 16 and nearly penniless when he arrived in Cleveland in 1876, but he had an uncle, Dr. James Horowitz, who was able to place his Viennese nephew into the employ of the D. Black Cloak Company. Young John proved a quick study, rose to become a manager, quit and struck out into garment making on his own, just six years after he set foot in Cleveland. The Civil War had remade the way Americans... Read More →

Harlem Organization Lobbies For Street Named In Honor Of James Baldwin

The 2010 Census figures tallied Harlem's black population at its lowest since the 1920s. Such broad demographic changes have left some New Yorkers, like Jacob Morris of the Harlem Historical Society, concerned about the neighborhood's future.   "Harlem was the capital of black America," Morris said. "But as demographics change, a city loses awareness of its history. I wanted to do something about it, before the composition of the community changed so much that they didn't care anymore." Naming streets after prominent African-Americans connected to Harlem became a galvanizing idea. Morris pursued the first street co-naming in 2005; two years later, he succeeded. Frederick Douglass Landing was christened on Chambers Street in Manhattan, which commemorated the place Douglass landed in... Read More →

#NPRBlacksInTech Series Explores Racial Divide In Tech Industry

African-American tech insiders will talk about their work stories in a new series on National Public Radio’s Tell Me More. From Dec. 2 until Dec. 20, Twitter users can follow the #NPRBlacksInTech hashtag to follow a day-in-the-life of these "tech thinkers." Michel Martin, host of Tell Me More, expects this feature will broaden the conversation about who staffs the tech revolution. "'A Day in the Life' allows us to experience in real time the imprint that African-Americans are making on our country's STEM engine," Martin said. "The series throws open the door to the worlds of these highly important, but largely invisible, individuals."  Anjuan Simmons, who this year published the book “Minority Tech,” said he jumped at the chance to give others a glimpse of his work as a... Read More →
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