Meet Me In The Lobby: Activists Remember Michael Brown, Fraternity’s First Gathering & Academy Promotes Technology and Social Justice

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ACTIVISTS REMEMBER MICHAEL BROWN

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In downtown Montgomery, Alabama, members of the Birthplace for Justice gathered recently to mark the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death. Brown, an African American teenager, was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri last August.  According to Adrienne van der Valk, an event organizer, Brown’s death marked the beginning of a learning process for the nation.

Group members gathered around Montgomery’s Civil Rights Memorial infinite pool with bowed heads and closed eyes during this national observance.  Meanwhile, the death of Michael Brown, 18, has sparked national debates and conversations to expose and address racism and police brutality, including #BlackLivesMatter.

For more events, follow Birthplace for Justice on Facebook.

FRATERNITY’S FIRST GATHERING IN CHARLOTTE

For the first time ever, the brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha held a convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.  The group’s recent activities ranged from blood drives to voter registration drives.  The fraternity also collected school supplies to help 1,000 Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools at-risk students head back to school with the things they need.

The 93rd annual”Alpha Men” gathering attracted approximately 3,000 members and was expected to boost the local economy by $5 million during the five-day convention.  Not too shabby “Alpha Men”.

Founded in 1906 at Cornell University in New York, Alpha Phi Alpha is the oldest Greek-letter fraternity established for African Americans.

ACADEMY PROMOTES TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

Students from the 2015 Enza Academy smile for the camera.

Students from the 2015 Enza Academy smile for the camera.

If the name Enza Academy doesn’t ring a bell, it’s because this free empowerment program for high school students of color is new.  Where did it get its name?  Its name is derived from the Zulu verb enza meaning “to do, to perform, to generate.”  Founded by a group of college students from around the United States, Enza Academy exposes youth “to technology, business innovation, as well as culture, history, and civic engagement.”

“There are so many structural inequalities that are blocking their ability to cultivate and advance their creative genius,” stated Enza co-founder Brandon Hill.   Hill, an African American student at Stanford University, noted how the Academy hopes to impact the “lack of diversity among races and genders in Silicon Valley.

While Enza Academy began in 2014 as a three-day pilot program at Columbia University Teachers College in New York, this summer’s program was an extended five-day residential camp held on the Stanford campus.  Students attended coding classes, toured Google’s campus, and even designed apps as part of a seed money competition.

For more information about Enza Academy, click on the link to visit their website.

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PROMOTIONS AND AWARDS:

LaVelle E. Neal III, one of only three African American baseball writers in the United States, received the Sam Lacy Pioneer Award for Journalist of the Year during this year’s National Association of Black Journalists convention.  Neal covered the Twins since 1998 and before that he covered the Kansas City Royals.  He is currently a writer for the Star Tribune. Meanwhile, the award is named after Sam Lacy, a baseball writer and advocate for the racial integration of sports.

images-1The Interstate 40 overpass at Cherry Street in Knoxville, Tennessee is now called the Avon W. Rollins Sr. Overpass in recognition of Avon Rollins’ 55 years of work in the civil rights movement.  His journey began as a high school student and a charter member of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).  “I tried to make America a better place to live,” said Rollins.  To read more about Rollins and the dedication, click here.

Carlos Clanton

Carlos Clanton

Carlos Clanton of Hampton Roads was named executive board president for the National Urban League Young Professionals.  Clanton, the former policies and procedures chair for the national organization, was also named one of the region’s Top 20 under 30 African American Leaders by African American Today Magazine.

PASSINGS:

Lansing community leader Rudolph “Rudy” Valentino Wilson died at the age of 90.  In 1955, he was the first African American salaried employee hired by Oldsmobile, he was the first African American member of the Ingham Intermediate School District board, and his list of firsts and community activities is infinite.  Unknown-1Wilson, a native of Tampa Bay, Florida, met his wife Dorothy Roberts at West Virginia State University.  The couple married and relocated to Lansing, Michigan where the local NAACP leader and Omega Psi Phi brother solidified his legacy as a role model for equality and justice.

The brothers of Omega Psi Phi also mourn the recent passing of James T. Williams.  The 66 year-old was a retired Chattanooga police officer.  Williams graduated from Riverside High School in 1967.  “Baby Tom” as he was called was also a member of Tennessee State University’s Class of 1972.

James T. Williams

James T. Williams

Global Social Media News Service (GSMNews), is a Washington, DC-based company that provides “real time” social media news coverage of specific activities, conferences and news events, as well as curate, ongoing news and information on a variety of topics, from healthcare and sports to African American and Latino events.

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