Hampton U. in [The White] House at College Reporter Day

By Phillip Jackson

WASHINGTON – On Thursday, April 28, The White House held its Inaugural College Reporter Day, gathering 50 students from across the country. Student reporters were able to interview staff members and correspondents of The White House during press briefings held throughout the day.

There were at least six Historically Black College students in attendance. Hampton University was represented by yours truly. Students arrived at 8 a.m., with their first event being led by White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. After his introduction, the floor was opened for questions from the selected college reporters.

The next discussion at 10 a.m. was with White House correspondents Scott Horsley, Toluse Olurnnipa, Christi Parsons, Carolyn Kaster, Jon Karl, and Jen Bendery. Many student questions focused on what it is like to cover the White House on a daily basis, and the access to information that reporters can receive throughout the tenure of their reporting.

Most reporters receive more information based on their reputation. Initially, said the correspondents, it can be tough for young reporters. As writers of color, there are not many black reporters that have the job of covering what goes on in the White House.

Many events covered range from new bills the president proposes, where he plans to travel, and who visits the home.

After the discussion with White House correspondents the next press briefing centered on the "It's on Us" campaign against college crime and sexual assault. Questions were answered by White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett and Kyle Lierman.

"If you as students know that there is a pattern or practice that you deem to be inappropriate practice, you should take that up with the Department of Education," said Jarrett.

The next session focused on national issues. After the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, there has been a lot of conversation on whether President Barack Obama should be able to select the next member of the Supreme Court. Although Obama recommended Judge Merrick Garland, many members of Congress have not met with the judge or intend to vote on the recommendation.

White House Senior Adviser Brian Desse and White House Counsel Neil Eggleston spoke on the Supreme Court nomination. "So when Neil got that call, then the president found out about Justice Scalia's passing, from that moment, he's had a pretty clear vision about how he wanted to approach this," said Desse. "As of today, Judge Garland was up on the hill. He has two meetings with senators today. This is the end of the April work period."

That led to the final press briefing with Press Secretary Josh Earnest, and, a surprise visit from President Barack Obama.

"Was Josh thorough in his briefing?" the president asked. "Well, I heard you guys were around today, so I wanted to stop by and say hello. I also have a bit of breaking news for you, and then I might take some questions."

Obama prepares this week to travel to Flint, Michigan.

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

How 1980s Houston bred a nightlife superstar

By Kristyn Beecher

The air was thick with Jheri Curl activator fumes and Jovan Musk cologne. Kool and the Gang were singing about a "Celebration" and U.S. President Ronald Reagan had just taken office. For a young Jamaican immigrant, 1981 was the beginning of the American dream and a continuation of a love affair with music.

This season, CNN's "The Eighties" series directed by Tom Hanks, has resonated with many so-called Generation X and Baby Boomer-age citizens. The decade was a period of tumultuous change in music, mass media and global politics.

For Paul Beecher, 1980s America was a wish come true. "We would sit on the porch and watch American television, dreaming about America," he said. "We had it nice, my father was the superintendent of prisons and my mother was a preacher, but everything in America was way bigger than we could imagine."

Shows that aired during his childhood like "Leave it to Beaver" and "Mr. Ed" showed American people living the life that most Jamaican families prayed for. Paul Beecher – father of this writer – and his five siblings lived well above the average family in Jamaica, but they dreamed of something even larger; they dreamed of America.

In the states, Paul was in heaven. He loved the women, the Afros, and the opportunity. After immigrating to America in the late '70s, Paul settled in Georgia. Over the years most of his family would eventually leave their Caribbean island and settle here as well.

There was so much in America for him to experience and none of it was what he came to this country for. "I came to America to study medicine, then I changed my major to computers," said Paul. He never finished either course of study, because Paul dropped out of college in the spring semester of his senior year. Paul couldn't afford it anymore and something else was calling his name. Music.

Paul had a long history of forgoing his responsibilities for his love of music. In his home country of Jamaica, he would steal the family car and sneak out at night to DJ parties in the local cities and get his siblings in trouble as they tried to cover for him. Now, in a new country, he had absolute freedom to pursue his passion.

"Rap started in Jamaica in the '60s and '70s," he said. "That little story about how it all began in New York isn't all the way true. If it was, I wouldn't be here right now."

Paul was referring to the Jamaican tradition of toasting, where club DJs would recite rhymes and chants over breaks in reggae records. This party style originated in the 1960s Jamaica and most of hip hop's most influential pioneers were Jamaican immigrants who added some American style to the Jamaican party trend.

Houston, Texas in the 1980s was the perfect place for Paul to explore this budding world combining American hip hop and reggae music. After leaving school, and making sure that his older sisters were settled in Georgia, Paul moved to Texas to continue following his dreams of music.

"It was easy back then," he said, "to pick up your life and start over. There was just so much opportunity and everyone was so willing to help out a brother or a sister."

Paul got a job at a local listener-funded radio station and it was in 1984 that DJ Paul Mellotone was born. DJ Mellotone hit the airwaves on station 90.1 KPFT in the Houston metropolitan area. The late-night reggae show was one of the first in the city and the usually mainstream airwaves now had a Caribbean flavor.

"In the '80s reggae was the thing," said Shirley Brooks, a Houston native who recalls listening to Paul's nightly radio show. "Everybody, white, black, Asian, Hispanic; it didn't matter, was jamming to reggae music. It brought people together."

Tropical fever had hit Houston, hard. What's now the fourth most-populous U.S. city known for country music, rodeos, and oil wells had been taken over by an island wave. Reggae artists from across the world were coming to Houston performing to packed crowds in sold-out venues that American artists couldn't dream of performing in.

"There was place called Caribana in Rice Village that would be full of people every night," said Nina Giles, a former Houston resident. "The drinks were cheap and the music was good, so I went basically every time those doors opened. It was just something about the '80s we had real fun, you know."

Paul was ready to monetize this fun. He was noticing how powerful music was in the '80s and he was ready to capitalize. Nightclubs were booming, but a key slice of Houston's demographic was without a place to party. "There was no place for blacks to go, most people had these little hole in the walls that couldn't fit more than 20 people and they were cramming eighty sweaty bodies in there," Paul said. Blacks just weren't owning the nightlife like the other races.

There were huge night clubs in Houston. They all had a specific niche market and most of them were striving to be like the mega clubs in New York. Numbers, Riches, and the Paragon were some of the most historic '80s spots in Houston. But racism and classism kept some people locked out of the fun.

Paul joined Jamaica Jamaica as co-owner in 1987. Patrick Gillies another Jamaican immigrant, had started the club a few years earlier as a place for reggae music to cater to a black audience. "We wanted people to jam, be here and not worry about a thing, and we were ready to bring the real island flavor to the city," said Paul.

The nightclub was packed every night and reggae's biggest names graced the stage: Jimmy Cliff, Gregory Isaacs, and Third World all performed in the nightclub tucked away in the middle of a strip shopping center in Houston's Kirby District of Houston.

"The line for Jamaica Jamaica would be around the block," said Shirley Brooks "Everybody wanted to be there. Celebrities would be passing through Houston and had to stop at the club."

As the 1980s closed out and made way for the new generation of club kids in the '90s, Paul Beecher's legacy was able to live on. The former medical student who dropped out of college just shy of graduation was able to ride the island wave to success in Houston. The '80's was a perfect storm of good music, good fun, and good vibes.

Paul Beecher found a way to use all of those make a name for himself in a foreign country and cement his history in 1980s Houston.

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

What are chances of U.S. electing its 1st woman president?

By Finé Thompson

With the emergence of female head-of-state leadership around the world, a question arises: Why hasn't the United States elected a woman president? As a progressive world power, the United States has lagged behind other countries in its inclusion of women in positions of power.

This shortcoming was evident last winter.

On Jan. 16, Taiwan made history by electing its first woman president, Tsai Ing-Wen, a moderate representative of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). She won about 56 percent of the votes, effectively ending the eight-year rule of Taiwan's pro-China Nationalist Party.

Tsai accomplished this feat by vowing to invigorate Taiwan's sluggish economy by diversifying trade with other Asian countries and distinguishing Taiwan's identity from China. Tsai believes that although Taiwan's relationship with mainland China is strained, China must respect Taiwan's democracy and maintain the status quo.

Tsai has been described as a self-made woman, likened to prime ministers Margaret Thatcher of England and Angela Merkel of Germany.

Tsai has not only made history as Taiwan's first woman president, but she is also the first candidate to win the election without a political legacy. The Cornell University graduate joined the DPP in 2004, becoming the party's chairwoman by 2008. She ran for president in 2012 only to lose and resign as the DPP's chairwoman until 2014. After reclaiming her position, Tsai made a second, ultimately successful, bid for the presidency.

Taiwan, for the most part, has welcomed Tsai's election with open arms. Her moderate but firm political standing shows that she is a competent negotiator. Many Taiwanese citizens are also eager to see progress for the country's LGBT rights. Overall, the island's younger generation of voters are excited at the prospect of having a woman leader.

Taiwan is not the only country to welcome women leaders. An increasing number of countries around the world are electing women as leaders. In fact, 35 countries have had women presidents while 42 countries have had women prime ministers.

Hampton University senior Arielle Lewis, a criminal justice major from Philadelphia, believes that the United States' hesitation to elect a woman president stems from deep-rooted sexism and patriarchy. "We would like to think that women can do everything that men can do, but we live in a culture where that doesn't seem like a possibility," she said. "In our culture women are given the secondary role while in other countries and cultures women are given primary roles."

Women have been running for U.S. president since 1872, however none of their campaigns were substantial enough to result in an election. Also, many of the women who have run for president in the United States have run as third-party candidates, including notables Victoria Woodhull, and Jill Stein.

Woodhull of New York is documented as the first woman to run for president, running 50 years before the 19th Amendment allowed women to vote. Her historic campaign took place during the 1872 election where she campaigned for women's suffrage, political reform, civil rights and social welfare. Woodhull even nominated Frederick Douglass as her running mate, making him the first African-American ever nominated for vice president. Although her campaign was not successful, Woodhull was a catalyst that inspired more women to seek positions of power in the American government.

"I didn't even know that the first woman to run for president ran in the 1800s," said Dominique Parrish, a junior, fine arts major from Christopher Newport University. "That isn't something that they taught us in school."

Stein's 2012 presidential campaign was largely overlooked. However, ultimately her candidacy was the most successful campaign ever conducted by a woman. Stein ran in the 2012 election as a representative for the Green Party. The environmental health physician's campaign emphasized green jobs and environmental protections. Jill Stein only managed to receive .36 of 1 percent of the popular vote, yet her campaign is considered a milestone.

While female candidates have run as third party candidates, a handful sought nominations for major political parties. Shirley Chisholm, who ran for the Democratic nomination in 1972, was the most viable woman candidate for the Democratic nomination until Hillary Clinton. Chisholm made history as being the first woman to have her name placed in the nomination for president at the Democratic National Convention and being the first African American to be on the ballot as a candidate for president. She focused on equal rights and economic justice although her campaign struggled due to being disorganized and underfunded.

While Chisholm ultimately did not receive the Democratic Party nomination, she was able to win 152 delegates at the 1972 Democratic National Convention.

Clinton, by far, has had the most substantial female campaign for presidency in American history. She has a substantial political background which includes a law degree from Yale University, serving as first lady from 1993 to 2001, serving as a U.S. senator from New York from 2001 to 2009, and serving as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.

Clinton first announced her plans to run for presidency in 2007 and was a frontrunner to win the 2008 Democratic nomination until her campaign was blindsided by U.S. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. After much speculation, Clinton announced that she would again be running for the Democratic presidential nomination in the 2016 elections. The former secretary of state is considered the front runner against U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

As of April 28, Clinton had 1,662 of 2,383 delegates needed for the Democratic nomination according to projects.fivethirtyeight.com. If she can maintain her lead, Clinton will be one step closer to possibly being the first woman president of the United States.

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

Hampton U.’s virtuoso violinist, Promise [really]

By Ashante Travis

After gaining some recent exposure, a promising instrumentalist and student from Hampton Roads is determined -- and ready -- to show the world what music is all about.

Promise Paulden, a junior music performance major at Hampton University, has been playing the violin since she was 3 years old. Her parents decided to invest in her musical abilities after seeing their baby girl use a pencil to strum a comb. Young Promise was given a violin instructor and was taught through the Suzuki program for 12 years thereafter.

The Suzuki Association of America is a coalition of teachers, parents, educators and friends who are interested in making music education available to all children. The organization has a distinct teaching approach that places emphasis on parent involvement, love, encouragement, and constant repetition. Through this method, students are trained to master techniques by listening to music and imitating what they hear and then later learning to read music.

The Suzuki program is particularly known for producing very diligent and highly developed students, like 19-year-old Paulden, who transferred from Virginia Wesleyan College to Hampton University last year.

Paulden is a violinist in the Hampton University Orchestra and meets with her instructor, Assistant Professor Jerry A. Bracey, once a week for an hour. Bracey is the director of both the Chamber Orchestra and the Jazz Ensemble says.

The university's music department prides itself on offering its music majors unique experiences where they can grow as artists, learners, and professionals. Paulden appreciates all that the campus offers and says her professors have been extremely encouraging.

"Professor Bracey has been super helpful to me," she says. "If I ever have problem, he is always there. He pushes me to the things I want to do. Dr. [Shelia J.] Maye has also been supportive. She made a way for me to play at two events on campus this year."

Maye, chairperson of the music department, afforded Paulden the opportunity to play the student's composition, "Hallelujah Medley," at the Winter Faculty Institute and then a rendition of the gospel song "Total Praise" at the annual Black Family Conference.

Paulden is evaluated weekly and therefore dedicates each day to perfecting her craft. In fact, she aims to practice at least five hours daily, in addition to maintaining her academic work and social life. In her free time, she is a gospel violinist -- which she loves -- and sometimes plays at other events for extra money. The self-assured player has additionally received much recognition on YouTube, where there are also videos of various performances.

Needless to say, juggling both music and school while simultaneously trying to enjoy life can be a challenge. Paulden says, "Normally I don't get to go to parties. I have to take time for my social life and my everyday life and dating. I'm used to being music-minded because it's always integrated into my personal life, and that's been a challenge for me.

"It's hard to turn the musician off."

But it seems as though Paulden's life is better with the music on.

She says plans to attend graduate school and recognizing that music is extremely interactive with our brains, says that her dream is to become a music therapist. Her goal in this profession would be to replace medicine with music and to help release people from mental problems and emotional stress. Last summer she actually helped a child with ADHD learn the violin.

Despite the challenges that accompany her craft, Paulden is focused on doing what she loves.

"I'm progressing as a musician, and I just like to play. It's great when someone tells me that they could feel what I just played or that the music spoke to them."

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

1980s: A transformative decade of change, says CNN

By Kenneth Wells

As CNN airs the television special, "The Eighties," on Thursdays, Director Tom Hanks resurrectsnostalgia of '80s babies all around the world.

During the early portions of "The Eighties," cable television appeared in millions of homes across the nation. Under the guidance of billionaire Ted Turner, Turner Network was established creating numerous networks such as CNN, TNT, and TBS.

Van Dora Williams, a Hampton University associate professor, believes CNN was a true groundbreaker in the cable industry: "With the introduction of CNN came the introduction of 24-hour news," she said. "CNN showed different coverage in comparison of the three main networks."

Within the first few years, CNN made groundbreaking achievements before establishment networks ABC, CBS, and NBC. On March 30, 1981, then-President Ronald Reagan was shot outside of the Washington Hilton Hotel. Press Secretary James Brady was critically wounded in the shooting and taken to a nearby hospital. Some news networks were quick to declare Brady dead, but not the upstart cable network. CNN anchorman Bernard Shaw said that the sources that gave the other news were "the same as ours."

Like CNN, other news organizations have made an impact in the news world. The creation of USA Today made nationwide news as Gannett and founder Al Neuharth launched the newspaper on Sept. 15, 1982. By 1984, daily editions of USA Today were the second-leading newspaper behind the New York Times, circulating 1.4 million issues daily.

USA Today's breakout issue was in 1988 advertising Super Bowl XXII. The issue covered over 44 pages and sold over 2.4 million issues nationwide. Currently, USA Today is stationed in Tysons Corner, Virginia along with its parent company Gannett.

Just as news dominated cable television, so have television programs. Among the big three networks, NBC made some of the largest splashes on television as David Letterman made his debut in 1982 hosting "Late Night" that followed Johnny Carson's the "Tonight Show."

Another show that took America by storm was "The Cosby Show." The sitcom, which was directed by Bill Cosby, ran for eight seasons running for an average of 25 episodes each year. In the next several years, other shows such as "The Golden Girls," "Cheers" and other sitcoms rose to primetime prominence.

The rise of movies was also a notable feat during 1980s as several titles such as "E.T.: The Extraterrestrial" won four Oscars and a Golden Globe in different categories. "The '80s was known as the Sci-Fi age to many people," said Kenneth Wells of Northern Virginia, the father of this writer. "The Terminator," featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger, was a high-grossing movie that gained $34 million from box-office sales.

One of the most famous directors of '80s that made early success in his movies was Spike Lee. In 1983, Lee produced his first movie "Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads" as his senior thesis in college. Lee would produce different works such as "School Daze" (1988) and "Do the Right Thing (1989). "Lee was only getting started," said Wells. "Looking at his early movies showed that he bound for great things."

Music was on a rise in the '80s as the introduction of MTV was exposed to cable television. On Aug. 1, 1981, Music Television or MTV launched on cable and became one of the first 24-hour music stations. Montess Wells, schoolteacher and mother of the writer, remembers MTV as "great exposure" for young artists, she said. Some musicians and groups Montess remembers are Michael Jackson, Public Enemy, and Afrika Bambaataa as early favorites of MTV.

The 1980s was known as an expansion for cable television across the United States. From the creation of CNN to the revival of primetime sitcoms, the 1980s will be forever remembered as a decade of change.

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