Michael Eric Dyson Returns to Hampton U. for Obama book read-in

By Kiana-Alexis Salley

The Hampton University School of Liberal Arts and Education invited Michael Eric Dyson, Ph.D., to present his book "The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America" as the selection for the 2017 university read-in. The event is Wednesday, March 22 in Ogden Hall.

The opening 6 p.m. session will be a discussion with Dyson and a Q&A opportunity about the reading. This event is free and open for the public.

The book touches upon how former president-elect Barack Obama's biracial ethnicity affected not only his presidency and the nation's identity, but his accomplishments and successes through his two terms. As Dyson sheds light on the black power structure and racial division, the book emphasizes the "damning indictment of our quest for real democracy and true justice."

As some anticipate their first read-in of the semester, others are familiar with Hampton U. tradition. Shonda Buchanan, assistant professor and former chairman of the Department of English and Modern Foreign Languages, has attended all read-ins since 2004 and finds that this event "creates an important discourse that needs to be had for this campus' population as it illuminates issues of cultures and politics." She awaits what she calls the "informative, dynamic, and fun" experience.

Differing from previous HU read-ins, it is a surprise that a non-fiction book was offered this season. Other read-ins have featured fictional works from other authors.

There is to be a re-order of more copies of "The Black Presidency" to the William R. Harvey Library on campus during the week of the event for students, faculty, and staff members.

Dyson is a Detroit native, but is no stranger to Hampton's campus. Last May, Dyson was the commencement speaker. Dyson earned his BA at Carson-Newman College, and his MA and Ph.D. in religious studies at Princeton University.

As a two-time award winner for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in non-fiction in 2004 and 2006, his foundation of analyzing the socio-economic status of the African-American community and their roles within the government has educated people across the globe.

For more information regarding the Read-in and discussion, call 757-727-5421.

Lady Pirates vs. Duke, Round III

By Taylor Lee and Carly Moon

So we meet again.

In the first round of the NCAA women's basketball tournament, the 15th seeded Hampton University Lady Pirates (20-12) will play the second-seeded, nationally ranked Duke Lady Blue Devils 9 p.m. Saturday March 18.

This is not the first time that Hampton and Duke have seen each other. It is the third encounter out of the six times that the Hampton women have been in the NCAA tourney in the past eight seasons.

Duke won the last meeting on March 24, 2013 by a 67-51 count. In 2010, Hampton lost 72-37.

A 15th seed beating a 2nd seed team has been done before by three Historically Black Colleges and Universities, all men's teams from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC): Hampton University, Norfolk State, and Coppin State University.

The Lady Pirates defeated Bethune Cookman University 52-49 and earned the 2017 MEAC tournament championship on March 11.

All-time scorer Malia Tate-DeFreitas, plus Ashley Bates and Chanel Green were three Hampton University regular-season starters that were sidelined because of injuries. Low post player Kaylah Lupoe was injured during the MEAC championship game. Together, the four student-athletes accounted for 57.5 percent of the team scoring.

"It was unlikely and improbable. We've got three starters sitting on the sideline, and then Lupoe gets hurt," said coach David Six (photo right). "And we still find a way."

"I am just so thankful to be a part of this team. When everyone thought we were going to lose or give up, we actually won," said Monnazjea Finney-Smith (photo right), member of the MEAC all-tournament team. "To be able to play against a great team [Duke] with such a great history is just exciting.

"I trust my coach will prepare us and have a great game plan, and I am definitely excited to be here."

To catch the game, tune into ESPN3 at 9 p.m. on Saturday.

If you want to support the Lady Pirates at the game in Durham, North Carolina, the Office of Student Activities is taking a bus to to cheer the girls on. The first 200 people to sign up can go for free. A mass email was sent notifying students to "Get on the Bus." In addition to a free ride and ticket to the game the passengers also get free T-shirts and lunch boxes.

"I want to make sure that the team has full support from their peers," said Anzell Harrell, director of student activities, "because I have watched them work so hard to get to this point."

Some Hampton students speculated on whether the women's basketball team could make it past Saturday. "I get scared when I hear big-school names like Duke compared to Hampton. They probably think it's going to be an easy win," said Isaiah Spencer, a sophomore journalism major from Montclair, New Jersey. "I know we're going to prove them wrong."

The writers are students in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Blacks in STEM: ‘Why can’t we just be diamonds?’

By Atira Kennedy

In a society that debates the value of HBCU's -- Historically Black Colleges and Universities -- these institutions generate the most STEM graduates, Claudia Rankins of the National Science Foundation said Thursday March 16 at Hampton University's Black Family Conference.

Rankins, Ph.D. and former Hampton U. School of Science dean, said HBCUs produced twice as many Science, Technology, Engineering and Math bachelor degrees per 1,000 students than so-called predominantly white institutions [PWIs] in 2014.

"HBCUs were and always are at the forefront of social justice," she said. "HBCUs overproduce in engineering degrees."

With only 15 accredited engineering departments at HBCUs, Rankins said here focus has been geared toward the success and development of the programs. To assist, the NSF began a "GEAR UP Program" that is very popular at Howard University. The students accepted into the program spend 10 weeks abroad learning different aspects of science and engineering.

Other programs include the "Hampton Nano Club" and the "REU Program" (Research Experience for Undergrads). Each program provides the eligible students with money towards their schooling such as $34,000 stipends, and $5,000 for summer training work. An additional $12,000 allowance goes towards the student's school. This 10-week paid internship program is offered to majors in the STEM fields and the social sciences.

Back in the late 1800s said Rankins, HBCUs opened its doors to anyone, including women and Native Americans. HBCU's were and still are at the forefront of social justice and change, said the speaker. HBCUs – 107 institutions – compromise about 3 percent of the nation's higher learning and in 2014, said Rankins, they enrolled about 9 percent of all African-American undergraduate students.

Many non-HBCUs collect funding from the government and additional help from other sources, so Rankins turned the attention to the schools in need. "Diversity helps the community," said Rankins. She believes that every student that attends an HBCU should be provided with the same opportunities and resources as other colleges and universities, especially because of their value and quality. She is willing to put forth the additional effort to make new opportunities available for students who have open minds to accept them.

"Why do we have to be diamonds in the rough," said Rankins, "why can't we just be diamonds?"

Kelsey Crimiel and Kaelyn Lowe contributed to this report. The writers are students in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

STEM mentor Isaiah Warner of LSU to close Black Family Conference

By Timia Whitsey

Hampton University's 39th annual Black Family Conference is set to end on Friday, March 17, but not without a bang. The conference aims to celebrate the many achievements of black families and explore the developments that have propelled the families' progression in society.

At 9 a.m., the final day of activities will consist of a student research symposium poster session led by the School of Engineering and Technology, a talent show and a luncheon featuring closing keynote speaker, Isaiah Warner, Ph.D.

Warner is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute professor dedicated to engaging undergraduate students in science. He currently serves as a professor at Louisiana State University and was recently named the 2016 Southeastern Conference Professor of the Year. Warner's determination to help students reach their full potential just as others did for him during his childhood drove him to not only teach, but also pioneer a mentoring program for first-year science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) students.

"At points in my life when I've been in a quandary, there have been people showing me the way, and without them I wouldn't be where I am today," said Warner.

To continue the legacy of mentorship that essentially birthed Isaiah Warner's career and love for science, he designed his program to ensure that it comes full circle. After STEM students receive assistance in their studies, they are expected to guide other students in need.

Warner's impact reaches more than just his own students. His devotion to the youth makes him fit to share his teachings with aspiring scientists across the country.

In fact, some of Hampton U.'s own STEM majors anticipate Warner's appearance at Friday's luncheon and appreciate the time that he set aside to impose his wisdom on students.

"It's great that Isaiah Warner is coming to speak at the Black Family Conference," said Brian Hicks of New Orleans, who is in 5th year of the 6-year pharmacy program. "It means a lot to me that he cares enough about our future enough to come talk to us."

Through workshops, dialogue and entertainment, the Black Family Conference intends to help individuals gain life-changing knowledge that will improve the community.

Friday's series of events and closing speaker serve as the cherry on top of an inspiring and informative 3-day event.

The student is a writer in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Limb regeneration doctor inspires students at Hampton U. confab

By Montana S. Crider

Hampton University is hosting its 39th annual Conference on the Black Family from Wednesday, March 15 to Friday, March 17. This year's conference seeks to explore the developments of technology and increase public recognition of how technology affects us all and the generations to come. The theme, "Design 101: Black Families Rising Up!" will acknowledge attributes, the work and research done by African-Americans in the STEM fields -- science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- along with Hampton students.

The opening ceremony took place at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Ogden Hall, with Cato Laurencin as the keynote speaker. Laurencin is an expert in limb regeneration research, and serves as a professor at the University of Connecticut.

Once serving as dean of U. Conn's School of Medicine and the vice president for Health Affairs at the university from 2008 to 2011, he has currently taken on more roles as the chief executive officer of the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science, the director of the Institute for Regenerative Engineering, and the director of the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Biomedical, Biological, Physical, and Engineering Sciences at the University of Connecticut.

Laurencin is one of only three practicing orthopedic surgeons in the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, and was the first Orthopedic Surgeon to achieve University Professor level rank in the country, according to his biography on the U. Conn website.

"Science, engineering, and technology are fields where most African-Americans feel they do not belong or will not strive well, so to see a black man who has held his head high through times where he may have been shot down is inspiring," said Gibril Ghee, a sophomore kinesiology major from Atlanta.

"I am a biology major, hoping to go into dental, but it is harder to stay afloat when there are not many people on your side once you get into the real world," said Lauren Brown, a sophomore biology major from Burlington, North Carolina.

Laurencin, and many people like him, are changing and opening a path for students of color. His achievements give students of color hope, and encourages them to set forth on a path that many do not think is for them.

Hampton University's Conference on the Black Family shed lights on families and individuals who make a change and inspire those who wish to follow their path. "I hope to meet more and more people like Laurencin because they are such an inspiration, even for me, an accounting major," said Morgan Harris, a junior from Hartford, Connecticut.

The student is a writer in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Hidden Figures’ author to visit Hampton Roads Convention Center

By Roger Wynn

On Tuesday, March 7 at 7:30 p.m., writer, researcher and author Margot Lee Shetterly will hold a book signing for her No. 1 selling book "Hidden Figures" in Hampton, Virginia. Shetterly, 48, will speak at the Hampton Roads Convention Center, which is open to the public. Initially, the event was to be held at the Virginia Air and Space Center, but it was moved to a larger venue due to the expected 1,000 people to attend, according to a NASA Langley Research Center announcement.

Shetterly will also hold a book signing for pre-purchased copies of her book immediately after her talk. Since September, the Hampton History Museum has sold more than 500 copies of the "Hidden Figures," according to the museum staff.

Shetterly's talk in Hampton is the most recent stop she has done since her national tour started in early September. The film based on her book was nominated for three Academy Awards. The "Hidden Figures" author was in attendance at the Academy Awards last Sunday, while the cast members, Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae, presented the award for best documentary.

The "Hidden Figures" story takes readers through a historical period about the untold story of the African-American women who helped win the space race. The book is a USA Today best seller, a top book for both Time and Publisher's Weekly, and a No. 1 New York Times best seller.

The book that was released in September gained a boost in sales due to the release of the movie on Jan. 13.

In early January, Shetterly was at the Hampton History Museum for a previous "Hidden Figures" book signing where over 200 people were in attendance. A couple of weeks after Shetterly was present for that event, the museum opened an exhibit inspired by Shetterly's book and called it "When the Computer Wore a Skirt: NASA's Human Computers," which was open to the public. The exhibit shines light on the stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Katherine Johnson and Mary Jackson, the women who contributed to NASA's success in the space race during the period in time of Jim Crow segregation in Virginia. These women were mathematicians whose calculations helped American make some of its biggest achievements in space.

After Shetterly's national tour ends, she said she will continue writing her next book. The 7:30 p.m. event is at 1610 Coliseum Dr.

The student is a writer in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Hampton U. prepares for NSU Battle of the Bay rematch

By Carly Moon

Hampton University prepares to host the second round of The Battle of the Bay rivalry game against Norfolk State University on Monday, Feb. 27.

The Pirates fell to the Spartans at the first round of the Battle of the Bay, losing 62-79 on Jan. 21.

The Lady Pirates won 58-57 that night.

"We didn't bring enough energy and toughness that a rivalry game requires," said Trevond Barnes (photo right), a sophomore forward for the Hampton men's basketball team.

Students from both schools promise to bring their A-games, including their best cheerleaders, the most lit band and lively crowds.

"We have been working vigorously for the last couple of weeks, to show that we are the best cheerleaders between the two schools." said Ronyae Northam, a sophomore elementary education major and Hampton U Hoo'rah cheerleader.

Hampton University leadership sent out mass emails about the match-up to students, faculty and staff during the days leading up until the games.

"They're always blowing up my phone with alerts." said Kenya Waugh, a sophomore strategic communications major, English minor from Washington, D.C. "But it helps me stay aware of the games and activities going on."

The game theme is "True blue with a dab of pink" to bring awareness and honor to breast cancer survivors. Hampton U. is also recognizing student-athletes who are on the Dean's List with a 3.0 GPA or higher.

"I'm excited to be honored at the game because, us student-athletes work so hard on and off the field, and still manage to get our work done," said Courtney James (photo right), a sophomore criminal justice major from Suffolk, Virginia.

Students from both schools are looking forward to game day -- an opportunity for students to represent with school spirit.

"I love it! It always brings a lot of good competition between the two schools," said Kayla Culbreath, a Norfolk State University sophomore biology pre-professional major from Atlanta. "Even though, it is a competitive game, the music, good crowd and dances bring us all together to represent one HBCU community."

Hampton students said they are determined to exhibit intangible feelings of school pride and to show out in the stands. The Greer Dawson Wilson Student Leadership Training program has been the face of the crowd at basketball games, and for rivalry games nothing less is expected.

"I can't wait to sit with my SLP family and trash talk the other team," said Daliyah Ross, a sophomore business management major from Southern California.

The rivalry between both MEAC conference teams dates back to 1963. Both schools are geographically separated by the Hampton Roads harbor.

Hampton men, whose record is, 12-15, will face 15-14 Norfolk State at Hampton University's last home game on Monday at 9 p.m. The Lady Pirates play NSU at 6 p.m.

The men's game will be televised on ESPNU or you can listen on WHOV-FM 88.1.

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Clash of titans, journalism vs. strategic communications

By Victoria Blow

On Feb. 24, Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications hosted a discussion by Simone Weichselbaum and Bill Keller, the staff writer and editor in chief of the Marshall Project, a non-profit news outlet that focuses on criminal justice.

It touches on topics ranging from Investigative reporting on the criminal justice system, short pieces with context analyzing the news. The Marshall Project avoids doing what everyone else is doing, said the speakers. They published a daily newsletter and partner with larger news organizations such as NPR.

The idea is to get the most eyes on their stories, said Weichselbaum and Bill Keller.

Keller told a story about Neil Barsky, who was inspired create this project because of his parents courageous acts during the civil rights movement to facilitate open housing.

Keller also said Barsky was inspired by "Devil in the Grove," a Pulitzer Prize-winning book about a rape case in the 1940s that highlighted the civil rights work of Thurgood Marshall. Barsky was so struck by this book that he began to dig deep and research this event. He came to the realization that people needed a voice for these stories and created the Marshall Project.

The speakers talked about the ethical dilemmas that journalists face in publishing stories and the need for people of color in newsrooms to shed light on stories that get thrown under the rug.

Weichselbaum was able to offer the journalism students tips and strategies on how to cultivate sources and who to seek relationships with if you're a journalist in a new city.

"You talk to three different people and they'll each have a different version of the truth," she said.

Not only did she have truth for journalism students, but also for the Strategic Communications students as well, whether they liked the delivery or not.

Assistant Professor Drew Berry asked the 50-student audience if strategic communications students are of service to reporters for information? Many students said "no" due to their connection and ties to the brand or company they serve.

Weichselbaum in turn ruffled some student's feathers. "What do they teach you in flack school?" she asked.

Rashad Williams, a senior strategic communications major, answered, "Aside from what we're taught, service was brought into question and I think that PR students and PR work is more of servitude depending on what field that you're in. The same PR position you would hold for a corporation can be for black businesses. The core competencies that we learn are similar to journalism and can be applied in a different way."

Scripps Howard School students were surprised to learn that outside of these walls the world of journalism and public affairs is actually divided among the truth seekers versus the brand preservers.

"This is the first time I've heard of a bad relationship between public relations professionals and journalists," Jennifer Lowe, a strategic communications major from California.

Assistant Professor Lynn Waltz said, "I hope that students recognize that there's a lot of really important work to be done. Too many students think they want to be in the limelight. Sometimes you can do far more in the role of a journalist telling the truth for your country."

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Students, panelist clash over ‘Birth of a Nation’ film

By Kenya Waugh

Hampton University students clashed with a Williamsburg writer Thursday during a panel discussion about the 2016 film remake "The Birth of a Nation." The film followed the psychological and emotional development of enslaved Christian preacher Nat Turner prior to the insurrection he led in 1831.

However, as students gathered to listen to three panelists' critiques about the film's accuracy, one speaker's opinion ignited a flaming verbal joust.

"I disagree with the portrayal of white slave masters in the film. There was too much demonization," said Bill Bryant, speaking to his general view on the film's many historical errors. Bryant's family is based in Southampton County, which sparked his fascination with the Nat Turner rebellion over 50 years ago.

Bryant said the movie was "solidly constructed," but the picture was far from Nat Turner's true story within the context of American history.

Bryant also cited the presence of good plantation owners in the 19th century and how the movie's lack of representation added to its inability to be historically correct.

Scoffs and whispers erupted from the audience of mostly African-American students during his analysis, with some questioning to their peers why Bryant still had the microphone.

Deanna Lucas was among the first to openly disagree.

"I was offended by that comment, because the truth is, slavery was horrible period," said the sophomore journalism major from Philadelphia. "No 'howevers' or 'buts.'"

Lucas also said that no spectrum existed in classifying slave masters and that anyone owning another human being was malevolent by default.

Bruce Turner, Nat Turner's descendant, oral historian and panelist, agreed with Lucas.

Alexandra Ethridge, a freshman psychology major, disapproved of Bryant's comment and asked him to explain his definition of demonization. He criticized other parts of the film for its inauthenticity.

Booker Mattison, an associate professor of English and a filmmaker, chimed in to guide the discussion back on track. He said that Bryant's attention-grabbing comment and the movie's historical depictions are subjective.

"You have to think about who's doing the storytelling in this particular case," said Mattison. "The film's director chose to portray the characters the way he did because that is how he understood them to be.

"One man's rebel is another man's freedom fighter. It's all a matter of perspective."

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Hampton U. students await Sunday Oscars selections

By Norey P. Smith

The Academy Awards Board of Governors have come under fire regarding inconsistent votes affecting black actors and films in the recent years. This uproar has kept up an ongoing conversation among black moviegoers nationwide.

At Hampton University, a number of students eagerly await the Oscars this Sunday – televised from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood -- to witness the lineup of black-themed films expecting to be named as Best Picture, director, or actors in leading and supporting roles.

"The films that usually target a specific audience, the ones that we know should win like "Fences" might be upset. An example of this would be the year "Slumdog Millionaire" won for Best Picture." said Dr. Collin Richardson, assistant professor and pianist with the School of Liberal Arts.

The Board of Governors have a big role in deciding which nominees will win. Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy, had some comments on the scrutiny of the board in an interview with Marc Hogan from Pitchfork.com saying, "I don't think there's a race problem. Remember this is a peer-voted award, not a corporate entity. It's the 14,000 members of the Academy that makes it hard to be objective out of something that's inherently subjective."

Some students proposed the need for a more diverse Board of Governors after the past disappointments, such as 2015 nominee Michael B. Jordan falling short of a best actor nomination in a leading role in "Creed," yet Sylvester Stallone was nominated for best actor in a supporting role in the same movie.

In the past, Denzel Washington was awarded best actor as an antagonist in "Training Day" where he was fitting a stereotype but not in movies such as "Malcolm X" or "The Hurricane."

In 2002, Halle Berry was the first African-American woman to win Best Actress for her role in "Monster's Ball" after showing some skin, according to Richardson.

"This is why this year's Oscars are so important because we have so many movies lined up in each category," said Kourtney Hayslett, a senior computer information major from Marlborough, Maryland.

"'Moonlight' should be awarded because it speaks toward the deeper taboo the audience loves. It touches the LGBTQ community and substance abuse. 'Fences' is a well written playwright starring Denzel and Viola Davis, 'Hidden Figures'. has the women's vote, and the only other movies in the running are 'La La Land,' 'Hacksaw Ridge' with Andrew Garfield, 'Lion,' and 'Hell or High Water.'

"If we don't get awarded this year then it's just plain discrimination."

The Oscars, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, airs on ABC this Sunday at 8:30 p.m. EST.

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

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