Guest: Critical apartheid coverage stunned S. Africa regime in ‘80s

By Wayne Dawkins

HAMPTON, Va. – Kenneth Walker, formerly of ABC News, recalled his breakthrough South Africa reporting Wednesday at the Caldwell Café here.

In the 1980s, South Africa was governed by apartheid, rule by a white minority that repressed the 80-percent black majority. Walker told host Earl Caldwell that because of a "soft" CBS "60 Minutes" report that was sympathetic toward the regime, the normally guarded leaders accepted ABC "Nightline's" request to report from South Africa. The apartheid leaders expected more complimentary coverage but were stung, said Walker, by ABC News' tough reports. Walker in 1969 went from high school in the nation's capital to a reporting job at the Washington Star newspaper, where he also received a scholarship to Catholic University. After a dozen years at the newspaper, which closed in 1981, Walker landed at ABC News.

Walker, who has lived in South Africa for the past decade with 30,000 other expatriate Americans, urged the 40 students and faculty in the studio to "travel the world. In many places people run to, not away from blacks. They admire our music, sports and human rights legacy."

Also, "What's wrong with news media?" asked Walker rhetorically. Answer: Unlike the blue-collar days of the craft in the 1960s and 1970s, many of today's professional and graduate-school educated journalists are like the elite government, corporate and entertainment sources they cover.

The Caldwell Café, hosted by Earl Caldwell, attracts iconic media figures and newsmakers for a videotaping and conversation with the Hampton University community. Wayne Dawkins is an associate professor at the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Backstage shuffle before Hampton U. homecoming concert

By Jennifer Hunt and Evan Winston

Hampton University's homecoming celebration hit a speed bump after the headliner for Thursday's homecoming concert, "The Royal Show Out," canceled at the last minute, according to school officials.

This year, students voted for Memphis-based rapper Yo Gotti to entertain at homecoming festivities. However, he backed out.

"That was on his end, and it had nothing to do with the university," said Anzell Harrell, assistant director of student activities. "The common courtesy would have been to drop out long before the week of our homecoming concert. We had to pick up, move on, and try to rectify the situation. I think we have some artists that the students will like."

In Yo Gotti's place, Atlanta hip-hop artists Rich Homie Quan and Migos were slated to perform.

Rich Homie Quan and Migos are known for their summer hits, "Some Type of Way," and "Versace."

"We're just looking forward to a great rest of the week," said Harrell. "I'd like to see a good student turnout and have them enjoy the concert."

Some students who were interviewed preferred the new lineup over Yo Gotti. Other students alleged that Hampton University does not invite well-known artists for homecoming.

"I don't care about our lineup; I wish we had put our money into one good artist rather than two no names," said Darius Johnson, a senior biology major from Atlanta.

"I feel like I'm going to a concert that I can listen to on my iPod," said senior Jarrod Neal, a biology major from Newport News, Va.

Brandon Theo Dorsey, a junior broadcast journalism major from Houston, said he looked forward to at least one of the acts: "I'm not too high on Rich Homie Quan, but Migos is one of the hypest artists out there. He has the best bangers, and is the epitome of turning up, which is what homecoming is all about."

While the concert turnout is expected to rise, the hype and interest remains at a low with some of the student body, especially Onyx 9 member who have seen the lineup go from artists such as Rick Ross and Wale in 2010, and Kendrick Lamar, Meek Mill and Miguel in 2011, to artists who some students label as one-hit wonders.

The concert venue is the Hampton University Convocation Center. The performance begins at 7 p.m. and tickets are $12 for students and $22 for the general public.

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

Former Va. Supreme Court justice lauds proactive campus

By Prof. Wayne Dawkins

John Charles Thomas, a retired state Supreme Court justice, spoke urgently Sunday, Sept. 29. In 14 electrifying minutes, this child of the Norfolk projects reminded hundreds of seniors clad in caps and gowns that Hampton University "is not a sit-down, be-quiet place. Hampton is proactive."

When President Ronald Reagan fired striking air traffic controllers in 1981, Thomas said university President William R. Harvey created a department to train aspiring traffic controllers. And despite no medical school, Harvey opened the world's largest proton therapy cancer treatment center off campus.

Leaders of competing schools must have said, "Why didn't we think of this?" said Thomas.

The 1972 graduate of University of Virginia and '75 graduate of U. Va. law school explained why he is deeply rooted to Hampton. Three dozen members of the Thomas-Sears-Walden families attended the school.

"I've been singing the alma mater since age 4," said the senior citizen.

Thomas praised the high level of scholarship on campus. He has taught at the campuses of great universities in Ireland and the Czech Republic, and at home spent time at U. Va., William and Mary, and Harvard, "but, I've seen no better place than Hampton."

Thomas spoke at the 71st convocation of the 146-year-old institution, the official opening of the academic year, and, dress rehearsal for seniors' May 2014 commencement.

Thomas spoke with the cadence and fire of a great preacher, plus the wordsmith economy of a poet, which happens to be his other talent. When he finished, Thomas received two standing ovations and was called back to recite another poem. The end of convocation felt like the close of a hit Broadway play.

Wayne Dawkins is an Associate Professor at the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.