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.

‘Human computers’ in skirts showcased at Hampton History Museum

By Montana S. Crider

On Saturday, Jan. 21, the Hampton History Museum will open the "When the Computer Wore a Skirt: NASA's Human Computers" exhibit to the public. Earlier this month, over 200 people visited the museum for the book signing of Margot Lee Shetterly's "Hidden Figures," which is the inspiration for this exhibit.

The display will give the history and share the story of Dorothy Vaughan, Katherine Johnson and Hampton native Mary Jackson, the "human computers" who helped shape how African-American women are seen in the science field today.

"We do not see a lot of women taking on roles in STEM majors, and I think 'Hidden Figures' will inspire a lot of young girls to follow that path," said Morgan Harris, a Hampton University accounting major from New Haven, Connecticut. "This exhibit is another outlet for sharing the history of African-American women that many of us are not told."

The Hampton History Museum has many exhibits that continue to educate the Hampton area on history that is not taught in schools.

Toni Alford, a Virginia native and resident, commended the Hampton History Museum for having exhibits that teach the unspoken: "I come to the Hampton University Museum and the downtown Hampton museum very often, and every time, I learn something new. Who knows, I may learn something that I did not quite catch in the movie or book."

However, Hampton residents are not the only ones looking forward to witnessing the new exhibit. Some Hampton U. students are planning their visits to the Hampton History Museum now. Many have, and many have not seen the movie or read the book, but are looking forward to broadening their knowledge of the so-called human computers.

"I am seeing 'Hidden Figures' this weekend, but I am going to the exhibit first," said Ashanti Barrett, a MBA student from Brooklyn. "My friends think it will ruin the movie, but it will only make it better for me. It is such an inspiring story that I can not get enough of."

Raven Able of Columbia, South Carolina, another Hampton U. student, said of the movie, "I felt many different emotions when watching "Hidden Figures." It was an emotional experience where I felt both empowered and anxious. There were many scenes where I could not help but wonder what kept them going even through such treatment."

"Hidden Figures" tells the story of three women who have now inspired mass audiences and the Hampton History Museum will keep that story alive with its new exhibit, "When the Computer Wore a Skirt: NASA's Human Computers."

The Hampton History Museum, located at 120 Old Hampton Lane, welcomes the public to view the display, opening Jan. 21. For additional information, contact the museum at 757-727-1610.

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

Black women and space exploration at Hampton museum

By Kenya Waugh

The Hampton History Museum is to honor three of the many women behind NASA's space expeditions in an exhibit called, "When the Computer Wore a Skirt: NASA's Human Computers," opening Saturday. The exhibit will feature articles and pictures which document women's contribution to American history.

Starting in the 1930s, the Langley Research Center hired five women to resolve engineers' formulas calculated in flight and wind tunnel tests. By 1942, these women became vital to the success of NASA through their scientific results. In the following decade, NASA integrated its computing coalition and included African-American women.

"These women were absolutely integral to the process, working as specialized mathematicians on complex orbital mechanics with their brains," said museum curator Allen Hoilman. Hoilman decided to create the exhibit after previously meeting Katherine Johnson, an African-American woman whose calculations helped successfully launch John Glenn into space in 1962. He cited Johnson's math manual development, which today's engineers use.

Hoilman began gathering memorabilia in May for the exhibit, in an effort to capture an ignored yet pertinent part of history. The exhibit has three components: a section about computer systems at NASA during the 1950s, a video biography about Johnson called "Katherine Johnson: The Girl Who Loves to Count," and artifacts such as a mechanic calculating machine. The exhibit also highlights African-American mathematicians Dorothy Vaughn and Hampton native Mary Jackson.

While some Hampton University students saw "Hidden Figures," a film released in December that detailed the stories of these women, others who did not found the museum's new exhibit relevant to their own history as African-American college students.

"I think this story is extremely important because black women aren't taught that we are future scientists, or at least I wasn't in high school," said Alexis Weston (pictured right), a sophomore English major from Temecula, California. Weston also said that as a Hampton student, she feels directly related to history thanks to Jackson's work. Other female students interviewed resonated with the stories of Jackson, Johnson and Vaughn on a deeper level, as many felt that the female engineers empowered black women to achieve their goals.

Njeri Fullwood, a sophomore psychology major from Largo, Maryland, said that she wanted to especially see the film and learn about their story with her younger sister: "My mom took both of us and we all cried. These women were going through so much while still doing what they loved. My sister really wants to be a nurse later in life, and I want her to understand that the possibilities are endless for black women."

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

MLK Day of honor and celebration, say Hampton U. students

By Carlton Griffin

The celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a celebration of black excellence at its finest, and as a result most HBCUs [historically black colleges and universities] have some sort of program honoring his life and legacy. Hampton University will commence its annual MLK Day March on Monday, Jan. 16, at 10:30 a.m. Students are encouraged to attend as it not mandatory.

Jaelin McGull, a senior marketing major from St. Louis, plans to attend. He believes that King was an influential figure in his life and had a huge part in placing us in the state that black America is in now. "Obviously, we still have a lot to do, but progress is one step at a time," he said.

As for a handful of other students interviewed, some said yes, they will attend, some said no, some were still undecided.

Britney Bailey, a senior strategic communication major from McDonough, Georgia, said she will not be attending because she has been there before and the event gets repetitive. She believes there is more that could be done to make the event more enjoyable. "His life and legacy could be celebrated differently than marching from Point A to Point B," she said.

Allie-Ryan Butler, an assistant dean in the Scripps Howard School, said that event could use something different to attract more students, but encourages students to still attend the event as it is important to remember King during this peaceful transition of power as the first black president leaves office. "It is imperative that students attend this event, considering the state of Black America," said. Butler, adding he would like to see a panel discussion led by the new generation of activists on the current state of Black America as he thinks this would be a nice addition to the march.

* * *

Several students interviewed have much anticipation for the annual MLK Day march and program on Monday. The march will start at the Emancipation Oak national landmark, where the slaves were read the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. The program will be held in Ogden Hall, where Michael Anthony Battle, the former U.S. Ambassador to the African Union, will speak.

Battle once served as the dean of the University Chapel at Hampton University and pastor of the University's Memorial Church.

"I'm sure former Ambassador Battle will deliver a stellar speech while commemorating Dr. King's legacy," said Jolie Jemmott, a sophomore student leader and nursing major from Philadelphia. "It's great to know that he was once a part of Hampton's staff and I'm glad he is returning to deliver this speech,"

Others students believe MLK Day is a day to honor and serve Dr. King's legacy. Dr. King's frequently appeared in the media for speaking out against racial injustices and leading peaceful protests.

"Dr. King was a great community leader and made it OK to speak for what he believed in," said Brittany Bailey, a senior strategic communications major from McDonough, Georgia. "We can relive his work and honor him by doing community service."

Photo and additional reporting by Leondra Head. Both students are in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Hampton U. students reflect on MLK’s impact before annual celebration

By Carly Moon

Hampton University is preparing for its annual Martin Luther King Jr. holiday celebration on Monday, Jan. 16.

Students and faculty plan to participate in a campus-wide march beginning at 10 a.m. at the Emancipation Oak and end it at Ogden Hall. Following the march, there will be a program to honor King's legacy at 11 a.m.

The student attendance rate is predicted to reach a high this year due to the largest freshman class -- 1,400 students -- in Hampton's history, as well as participation by the many organizations on campus.

"I expect a good turnout from the student body. I hope they receive knowledge about what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. truly stood for," said Anzell Harrell, director of Student Activities.

Instead of resting, some students said the will use the holiday to commemorate King by continuing his legacy of justice, service, and unity.

"MLK Day allows us to give back to the community and honor a man who paved the way for myself and future generations" said Joshua Thompson, a sophomore political science major from Salisbury, Maryland, pictured above right.

For some, this day symbolizes the similarities between the current and previous generations' social struggles. It reminds the youth that they have the ability to, therefore they must positively impact society just as King and other civil rights figures accomplished.

"MLK Day is emotional for me because I always think of how my grandparents were treated for the color of their skin rather than the great people they are" said Chardae Reeves, a sophomore psychology major from Columbus, Ohio. "Unfortunately, we still deal with that hatred today, so we have to pick up where Dr. King left off and continue demanding the equality we deserve."

Hampton is a diverse HBCU with many black students who come from cultures and communities that do not celebrate MLK Day as prominently as the university.

"At my predominantly white school, MLK Day wasn't a big deal," said Raquel Lewis, a second- year, five-year MBA major from Scotch Plains, New Jersey. "Coming to Hampton and seeing African-Americans unite for such a special day is a breathtaking experience"

With the help of former Hampton University Assistant Pastor Rev. Dr. Jerome A. Barber from Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Temple, the campus Office of Student Activities was able to secure a speaker for the program: Ambassador to the African Union, Michael Anthony Battle Sr., who served as Hampton University chaplain from 1976 to 1996.

Hampton University welcomes the public to attend Monday's event. For additional details, contact the Office of Student Activities at 757-727-5691.

Photo and additional reporting by Timia Whitsey. Both students are in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

‘Hidden Figures’ author sells out museum book signing

By Trayonna Hendricks

HAMPTON, Virginia -- On Jan. 6, over 200 people wrapped around the Hampton History Museum for author Margot Lee Shetterly's "Hidden Figures" book signing. There were so many supporters in attendance, young and old, all inspired and or curious about the untold story of three black women making a huge contribution to American history right here in Virginia.

Chere Flowers, a Hampton native, said, "This story is enlightening for black women like me who don't know these things about our history. I had to come, especially with the event being here in Hampton at the History Museum, it made it even more appealing."

Alan Marshall, another Virginia native, found it shocking that this story even existed: "I've been here for about 30 years. I've never learned anything like this when I was in school, and I don't think my daughter learned anything like this when she was in high school."

Marshall came to the book signing in hopes of getting an autograph for his daughter, who graduated from Deep Creek High School in Chesapeake and interned at NASA. "Neither of us were familiar with this story until the film came out [but] I know it's a lot of history here in Virginia," said Marshall.

One person who did know about the so-called "human computers" prior to the releasing of this story was NASA Engineering and Safety Center Manager, Jill Prince. She said "There are pictures of them at NASA. I learned about them through word of mouth and found out more through research of my own." While standing in the autograph line with her daughter, Prince said, "I think it's fascinating, encouraging, and inspiring for young girls. I often share the story with students during outreach."

She was not the only one there who wanted to share this story; many people were purchasing and walking around with more than three books each. Fifty minutes into the two-hour event the museum sold out of Shetterly's books -- 200 copies according to the cashier -- and staff redirected buyers to Barnes & Noble, four miles away in the Peninsula Town Center.

Hampton History Museum Curator Allen Holmin said, "We usually only receive about 80 people for a book signing. Margot Lee Shetterly was an exception."

Shetterly's mother, Margaret Lee, was amazed by all of the support her daughter's book received. With tears in her eyes she said, "It's overwhelming, the whole idea. All she wanted was to tell these women story, and it has just blossomed into so much more." Filled with gratitude, Lee, a retired Hampton University English professor, reflected on the story herself and said, "It's a bit of history that up to this point hadn't been told."

According to Lee, seeing the film will teach audiences many lessons about following their dreams and standing up for what they believe is right. "Another lesson in this movie," she said is, "You should never give up on your dreams. You have to have enough courage to follow your dreams in spite of what's going on around you."

Lee hopes the story her daughter has shared inspires others to look into their history. "Ask your elders questions and write down or record what they say," she said. "You never know what stories they have to tell."

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