Hampton U. film fest focuses on African-American identity

By Destin McMurray

On Thursday, Hampton University will hold its first annual Film Festival from April 6-7. The School of Liberal Arts is the host.

The inaugural festival was launched last year. During this week's festival there will be film screenings and panel discussions that focus on the complexities of African-American identity.

Two well-known Hampton University alumni from within the film industry are to be reunited during this festival. Robi Reed, an Emmy award-winning casting director/producer/vice president, president of talent and casting and original programming at BET, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in speech communication and theater. Ruth Carter is an Emmy-award winning and two-time Academy Award-nominated costume designer who also graduated from Hampton. Her most recent work will debut in Marvel studio's "Black Panther" movie.

"I'm both excited and inspired by this year's film festival," said Trayonna Hendricks, a senior journalism major from Chesapeake, Virginia. "With our theme being 'From Hampton to Hollywood' I can't help but see myself in the guests and panelists."

At 10 a.m. the film festival opened with a screening of "Tanna."

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

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.

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.

Hampton U. forum on “Birth of a Nation” movie

By Roger Wynn

A panel discussion on the 2016 film "The Birth of a Nation" is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at the William R. and Norma B. Harvey Library of Hampton University. The panelists will discuss if the film successfully portrayed the insurrection of Nat Turner.

Last October, the movie "The Birth of a Nation," co-written, co-produced and directed by Nate Parker, was a period drama film based on the insurrection of Nat Turner that took place in Southampton County, Virginia. The movie attracted a massive amount of attention due to not only accolades at the Sundance Film Festival and NAACP Image Awards, but because of accusations of rape that were made against Parker and co-writer Jean McGianni Celestin.

In 1999, Parker, who was a wrestler and student at Penn State University, and Celestin, who was Parker's roommate at the time, were charged with raping an 18-year-old female in their apartment after a night of drinking. Parker was found not guilty because he and the victim had consensual sex prior to the incident. However, Celestin was convicted and sentenced to six months in prison.

The incident brought a negative outlook on both Parker and the film.

In 2012, the woman who accused Parker and Celestin of sexual-assault committed suicide. The victim's death certificate noted that she had suffered from major depressive disorder with psychotic features, including PTSD, due to physical and sexual abuse and poly-substance abuse. These incidents relating to Parker complicated the marketing plan for the film.

"A movie that was supposed to be about our history gets shot down because of the scandal of the director/actor," said Simone Williams, 20, a strategic communications major from North Carolina. Simone believed without the rape controversy, the movie could have been successful at properly illustrating that 19th-century event.

Some people believe that Parker's film was purely overshadowed by his past allegations and took away from its significance. "I think people wanted a reason to not take it seriously and bringing up that guy's old rape charges kind of took away from the real message of the movie," said Kennerly Benraty, 21, a pre-law major from Portsmouth, Virginia. Kennerly believes "The Birth of a Nation" could have had an impact on culture in general considering the historical significance the film brought the world: "I think it made a lot of people go back and watch the original 'Birth of a Nation,' which turned a lot of heads."

Some people who watched the Nat Turner biopic may not even be aware of who Nate Parker was or his past conflicts, but do feel as if the movie could have done a better job at portraying this specific time in history.

"I feel like '12 Years of Slave' did a better job at reflecting slavery in a vivid way," said Alexis Clark, 22, a senior kinesiology major from Portsmouth, Virginia.

Clark also said that the insurrection of Nat Turner was such an important period in time for African-American culture because it was the start of a new beginning. However, she also believes that people were not fond of the movie because it was based on history: "America lives in fantasy. History is fact-based. If the core of that movie was about a slave revolt started by a mutant or vampire, it would have made 10 times the money and attention."

More questions and discussions about the success of the film will be open to the Hampton University campus at 6 p.m. Thursday during the panel "Black History in the Commonwealth: The History of Nat Turner, Did Hollywood Get It Right?" The panelists will include Bruce Turner, Bill Bryant, Booker T. Mattison and Robert Watson.

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

Ballers: Howard vs. Hampton equals extra effort

Story by Nia Little

"Who is the real HU," you might ask? Well, the Hampton University women's and men's basketball teams take on Howard University Saturday at 4 and 6 p.m. at Hampton University's Convocation Center. Students and alumni from Howard, Hampton and nearby universities attend each year.

Cheerleading teams and dance teams prepare to entertain the crowd. Like other collegiate sports, cheerleaders practice throughout the week to prepare for upcoming games.

Diamond Broughton, a sophomore strategic communications major and member of the Blue Thunder cheerleading, squad says "Practice is more fun because we get to come up with new material to show off."

In the past, cheerleading teams would prepare new material for the larger crowd and possible cheer battles. A Hampton vs. Howard cheer battle video went viral during football season last fall.

Rivalry games like the visiting Bison vs. the Pirates are far more intense compared to other games during the season.

Said Broughton, "We put a little extra 'umph' into our appearance and performance."

Rival games are more than a battle between basketball teams, they give cheerleaders a chance to battle other squads and score points of their own.

"Other games, we usually don't have anyone to cheer against," said Broughton. "Most people don't realize cheerleaders have their own secret game going on, on the sideline."

What's a basketball game without a crowd? Students who do not regularly attend Hampton home basketball games plan to attend this one. "At games like this, the band plays new music, the cheerleaders are intense, and the crowd is more involved" said sophomore pharmacy major Tyra Smith.

Tristin Davis, a biology major from Memphis, Tennessee, plans to put on his best weekend outfit – a nice pair of jeans and a T-shirt and Nike Jordans – and hang out with friends in preparation for game time.

It is safe to say that the cheerleading team's hard work doesn't go unnoticed. There should be more attendees, dressed to impress at this week's game.

The Blue Thunder cheerleading team members said they are ready for this week's rivalry. Watch the cheerleaders live in action Saturday. Tickets can be purchased at ticketmaster.com.

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

Founders Day speaker found her calling at Hampton U.

By India Anderson

Hampton University and Mass Media Arts alumna Allison Seymour will be a guest speaker at Sunday's Founder's Day.

The accomplished Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications Hall of Famer said she was overwhelmed with excitement to come back and share her words of wisdom with Hampton University students. Seymour said she intends to encourage and remind students to let their lives do the singing like the words of the alma mater.

Now working with Fox 5 News, Washington, and with 28 years of television experience under your belt, Seymour understands that success takes patience.

After four great years of enjoying the waterfront, joining the Gamma Iota Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, and feeding her passion for television in the former mass media arts program inside Armstrong Hall, Seymour graduated from Hampton in 1988.

Seymour started her television career at ABC News Washington Bureau and worked behind the scenes as a production assistant and desk assistant. She then decided to continue her educational journey at the University of South Carolina at Columbia. After receiving her Master's of Mass Communication, Seymour worked as a production assistant and a writer for a local news station.

After her first on-air job at WUTR-TV in Utica, New York. Seymour moved to WBNG-TV in Binghamton, New York and became the main anchor at the station. In Hamptonian style she made history and became the first women to be the main anchor at the station.

"My four years has lasted me 28 years," said Seymour when asked how Hampton University has had an impact on her career.

In 1999, she joined WTTG-TV [Fox 5] and never looked back. Hired as a general assignment reporter and midday anchor, she kept pushing her way up the Fox News ladder.

In 2007, the D.C. metro area native became main anchor at Channel 5 on "Fox 5 News Morning and" and "Good Day D.C."

Reflecting her accomplishments and where she is today, Seymour said, "The confidence I gained at Hampton helps me everyday."

Due to to her hard work and dedication to television, she was inducted in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism Hall of Fame in 2012.

"One of my proudest moments thus far," said Seymour.

Over time, her show expanded from a three-and-a half hour show to six hours and 35 minutes show. Seymour said she is proud of everything the show has become.

Now, the married mother of the three has built a supporting viewer base at WTTG-TV. She is honored to be in the anchor chair reporting on events that shape the lives of people in the D.C. community.

As her journey in television continues, Seymour still acknowledges Hampton University as the place where she found herself. "Because of Hampton, I have a better sense of who I am, where I belong, and my overall worth." she said.

On Sunday she intends to speak to the driven students of Hampton, pushing them towards their goals and dreams and reminding, as she reminds herself, to let their lives do the singing.

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

Hampton U. Celebrates World AIDS Day

By Stephanie Smith

In 1988, the global health event World AIDS Day was established. In honor of this day, Hampton University's Health Center will be offering free HIV testing and free flu shots Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Student Center Ballroom.

Free HIV testing requires student ID. With just a prick of a finger, you can be sure of your status. Be among the first 50 patients and you will receive a free doughnut from Glazed Doughnuts in exchange.

Flu shots will be offered in the ballroom as well. These vaccines will be offered to students, faculty and staff. The only requirement that differs from the HIV testing requirements is that you must be 18 years or older.

Two HIV informational speakers will also be present in the ballroom. A HU Health Center spokeswoman said that there will be an Eastern Virginia Medical School representative who will share their personal encounter with HIV. The Delta Sigma Theta organization collaborated with HU's Health Center to recruit another speaker. After the guest speakers, live entertainment will then take place in the Student Center Atrium.

Since the virus was identified, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS. With AIDS being one of the most destructive pandemics in history, World AIDS Day is a nationwide opportunity for people to come together and fight against HIV. It's also an opportunity to commemorate those who have died and to show support for those living with HIV.

On World AIDS Day, money is raised, prejudice is fought, and awareness increases while education is improved. Anyone can support and spread awareness by wearing the symbolic red ribbon. Red ribbons can be purchased and donations are accepted on worldaidsday.org. Donations are then given to the National AIDS Trust organization.

World AIDS Day's purpose is to remind the public and government that HIV has not disappeared. Stop by the Student Center Ballroom Thursday and celebrate. Help spread the word to help educate others about HIV. Get tested for free and know your status.

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

Many fashion statements at Hampton U. Gala of Hope

By Mallory Beard

HAMPTON, Virginia – Hair appointments, arrangements for Gala of Hope, a fundraiser for the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute.

Khadijah Jones, make-up consultant at Sephora cosmetics of Hampton's Peninsula Town Center, perused her list of appointments for this weekend, and "expected more to come," she said, as the event neared.

This time last year, the former Macy's department store of Peninsula Town Center garnered so many customers, it was booked weeks in advance for both make-up and fitting sessions, according to former manager John Reynolds.

The nail salons in the city of Hampton had their piece of the pie as well. "A lot of ladies will be coming in Friday evening and early Saturday because of the event," said Victoria Donald, nail technician, of Nail Studio on Big Bethel Road. From French tip to bright red acrylics, ladies chose the best patterns to complement their evening gowns.

"I was going for something slightly bolder, something that would pop," said Pamela Richardson, HU director of athletic marketing.

Fashion statements were made at last year's Gala of Hope, and this year's attendees don't plan to miss a beat. With suits and gowns galore lined up at department stores and the local cleaners, the ladies and gentleman of the night will be supporting HUPTI in style.

The event took place Saturday evening at the Hampton Roads Convention Center on Coliseum Drive.

The Student leaders in the photo top right are:
Shatoni Foster
Davon Moore
Drea Lane
Diamond Robinson
Kristian Spraggins
Sianni Cabello

[BACK ROW]
Hanna Amanuel
Geryn Harris
Cameron Abney
Serena Rudisel
Taylor Turner
Delaria Ridley
Peter Savage

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

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