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2020 Howard University Graduate Earns Ph.D. at Age 73

On April 26, 2020, Florence Didigu, 73, defended her dissertation to earn her Ph.D. in Communication, Culture and Media Studies. Her dissertation and future book titled, “Igbo Collective Memory of the Nigeria – Biafra War (1967-1970): Reclaiming Forgotten Women’s Voices and Building Peace through a Gendered Lens,” is a reflection of the Igbo women who, like herself, survived the war.

Howard Grad
Florence Didigu

Didigu, who is the oldest of five sisters, is graduating from Howard University with her fourth degree as a prestigious Sasakawa and Annenberg Fellow. She is thankful to have made it across many hurdles.

“In my second year at Howard, and very close to my screening test, I lost my mother and my father within months,” said Didigu. “I had to return to Nigeria each time to perform the demanding burial ceremonies for each. I was completely deflated, both physically and emotionally, but I persevered because my father always wanted me to be a ‘Doctor.’”

Didigu also battled shingles, which paralyzed the right side of her face and she lost her voice. It was symbolic because it’s her life’s work is to elevate more Igbo women’s voices too. “I was unable to speak clearly; this was the greatest tragedy of all since I was teaching a sophomore research course! The day I started speaking again and was discharged from the hospital was a special life moment.”

Yet, what she overcame 50 years ago, the Nigerian-Biafra War, a civil war between the Igbo people and the Nigerian government, is one challenge she will never forget.

“The day the Nigeria-Biafra War ended, I, like everyone was wallowing in anxiety and fear about what would happen to us as the vanquished. A very optimistic gentleman came over to me and asked: ‘Why are you so sad; can’t you see you have survived this terrible war?’ I stood up, even though the Nigerian Airforce was on its last bombing raid, and leaped up in the air in mad glee, repeating to myself and others: ‘Yes, I have survived, I am a survivor!’ This powerful survival instinct in me, which I call daring, and God’s help, are what made me overcome all personal challenges during my doctoral program and get to where I am today!”

She was once a producer and writer at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), and a broadcast regulator at the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) in Nigeria prior to 2000. Upon graduation, Didigu plans to enter the professoriate and become a book author. She recently took courses at Howard in the Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) program. She plans to continue research and scholarly writings, as well as mentoring students to inspire and educate “the future generation that will move this discipline forward and tackle the communications-oriented challenges of the future.”

Carolyn Byerly, Ph.D.,  Didigu’s advisor and chair of the Communication, Culture and Media Studies doctoral program, noticed the excellence within her, noting that “she embodies endurance and intellectual determination.”

“I admire the way she delved inside the most painful period of her life to find the focus of her research on women, war and peace.  While a personally-driven project, she maintained the highest level of integrity and never made the research outcome about herself.  Florence received the Sasakawa Peace Foundation Fellowship in her last year to conduct interviews with 10 female survivors of that war, and she used feminist standpoint theory to interpret their stories.  It is a beautifully researched, theorized and written dissertation that demonstrates exceptional Howard scholarship.”




Relief Funds May Soon be Used To Provide Grants To Homeschoolers

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos plans to use $180 million in federal coronavirus relief earmarked for the hardest-hit states to create voucher-like grants for parents and to expand virtual education.

The education department will allow states to apply for a share of that money.

For DeVos, those priorities include directing more public education dollars to families, rather than school districts, and creating alternatives to traditional schools and instruction.

“The current disruption to the normal model is reaffirming something I have said for years: we must rethink education to better match the realities of the 21st century,” DeVos said in a statement Monday. “This is the time for local education leaders to unleash their creativity and ingenuity.”

In awarding these grants, the department says it will consider the coronavirus’ impact on a state — the stated purpose of the money, as allocated by Congress. But its criteria go far beyond that, raising the possibility that grants will end up in states that have not been hit hardest by the virus. Forty of the 100 points of the scoring rubric relate to a state’s coronavirus cases and ability to transition to remote instruction.

State education agencies can apply for federal money by proposing one of three things.

The first is “microgrants” — what some would call “vouchers” — meant to give families more options for remote learning. Those grants could be used to pay for tutoring, summer programs, tuition to a private or public school online program, counseling, test prep, or textbooks, among other things. The state must allow private organizations to provide those services.

The second option is for states to create a statewide virtual school or another program allowing students to access classes that their regular school doesn’t offer. States can either expand an existing program or create one from scratch.

The final option is nebulously defined: For a state to create “models for providing remote education not yet imagined, to ensure that every child is learning and preparing for successful careers and lives.”

The department says it expects to award grants of $5 million to $20 million for winning states — a tiny fraction of state education budgets and of the main pot of coronavirus response relief money headed to states. 

But during an economic downturn, states will likely be eager to get any extra money they can, and some of the ideas, like the creation of a statewide virtual school, could have a lasting impact.

The department’s regulations emphasize that students who attend private schools must be eligible to participate.


Source: Chalkbeat


The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre will soon be a part of the curriculum for Oklahoma schools

Oklahoma leaders announced Wednesday the state will be moving forward with embedding the story of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre into the curriculum of all Oklahoma schools.

On the last day of May in 1921, a white mob estimated at 10,000 people descended on the Greenwood District — then an affluent black neighborhood in Tulsa known as Black Wall Street — and burned it to the ground. Hundreds of African-Americans were killed.
Tulsa Race

Hundreds more were unaccounted for. But that part of history went unmentioned for decades in classrooms across the state.

The killings remained “Tulsa’s dirty secret,” state Sen. Kevin Matthews said at a news conference Wednesday.

And while school districts have begun teaching about the massacre, State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said in the news conference, the state’s education department will be releasing a curriculum framework this April to bolster those efforts throughout the state.

The framework, Hofmeister said, will give teachers “extra support and resources” when teaching about the massacre. “What we want to ensure is that … we are teaching in a grade-appropriate level those facts that have not been taught in a way they should have been taught in Oklahoma,” she said.

“This is … our history and we should know it.”

Tulsa Race

Starting this fall, students from elementary through high school will learn about the event, officials said.

Deborah A. Gist, the superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools — which ran a pilot program teaching the material that’s about to go statewide — said it wasn’t until after she got into teaching that she learned about the massacre, despite being a student of the school system she now oversees.

“What I’m deeply committed to in Tulsa Public Schools is making sure that never happens again,” she said.

With the century mark of the harrowing event approaching, Sen. James Lankford said at the news conference that the whole country will soon “pause … and will look at Tulsa and will ask the question ‘what has changed in race relations in Tulsa in 100 years.'”

“It’s a reasonable question,” he said. Teaching about what happened is a step toward progress, officials say.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said that going forward, the question is “how we can use this horrible tragedy to instruct and inform and make sure that nothing like this ever happens again.”

“This isn’t something that you just read about in history books and think that’s something that happened 100 years ago, it can never happen again,” he said at the news conference. “That’s exactly what people in 1921 in Tulsa probably thought too.”

He said he hopes to see more “black ownership of business in Greenwood and in Tulsa” in the future.

“This is an incredibly important thing for us to have moving forward in our city.”


Source: CNN

USC Offering Free Tuition to Families Making Under $80,000

The University of Southern California announced Thursday that it will eliminate tuition for students whose families have an annual income of $80,000 or less and will no longer be considering home ownership when calculating students’ financial aid.

The changes will begin with first-year students entering USC in the fall of 2020 and the spring of 2021, and will be “phased in with each new entering class,” according to a news release from the university.

“We’re opening the door wider to make a USC education possible for talented students from all walks of life,” USC’s president Carol Folt said in a written statement.

Each eligible undergraduate student will get up to $45,000 more in financial aid, according to the university’s website.

Undergraduate tuition at USC is estimated at $57,256 and it can cost up to $77,459 to attend when factoring in the cost of fees, books, supplies, transportation and housing.

USC will be increasing its undergraduate aid by more than $30 million annually to help over 4,000 students once the policies are fully implemented, and officials expect that one-third of students in the fall 2020 and spring 2021 classes would benefit, according to the release.

The private university already gives out about $640 million in financial aid to undergraduate students every year and estimates that two out of three students receive some form of assistance.

No longer considering home equity as a factor will mean students would qualify for more financial aid.

When calculating aid, many of the country’s prestigious schools ask applicants about when their homes were purchased and for how much. This means that if the university calculates that the home is high in value compared to annual income, they award the student less in financial aid.

Stanford University has also removed home equity from financial aid calculations.

The Los Angeles Times compared USC’s new policies to those of the University of California, which is known for its generous financial aid and high numbers of low-income students.

Transfer students at USC will not be eligible for the new policies, but they can still receive financial aid under previous policies, the Times reported.

USC draws tens of thousands of applicants each year. In 2018, a record 64,000 people applied and only about 8,200 got in— an 11% acceptance rate.

“This significant step we are taking today is by no means the end of our affordability journey,” Folt’s statement read. “We are committed to increasing USC’s population of innovators, leaders and creators regardless of their financial circumstances. Investing in the talent and diversity of our student body is essential to our educational mission.”

Folt was named the university’s president last year as USC dealt with the fallback from the college admissions bribery scandal, which involved charges against wealthy parents who prosecutors say paid large sums so their children would get a spot at the university.


Source: KTLA


This Black Owned Educational Game Celebrates African History and Culture

As a parent it can be quite challenging to find items such as books and toys that are representative of your child’s heritage. If you are looking for a Black owned educational game, your choices are even more limited.

That’s why we’re pleased to introduce Very Puzzled, a 100 piece  jigsaw puzzle that includes a wide variety of African landmarks, monuments and attractions.

We spoke with Patrick Adom, the founder of Very Puzzled to find out more about him and his company.

Patrick Adom

What inspired you to start Very Puzzled?

My main inspiration has been my daughter who is now 7 years old.  I have always tried to provide her with toys, books, clothing, music and films etc that are representative of her culture.
I named her after a John Coltrane song, I want her to appreciate the richness of Ghanaian, African and African Caribbean and African American culture and all African cultures through out the diaspora.

What has been the most challenging and the most rewarding thing about owning your own business? 

So far I haven’t had any major challenges. Having an actual physical product available in shops based on an idea that I had is really rewarding.
The biggest reward is having the sense that I am doing something that can be life changing for myself and my family and that there is the potential to build something significant and leave a legacy for them.
It is also rewarding to know that I’m giving my daughter the confidence and proof that she can also take her own ideas and achieve the things that she wants to.

What event occurred or action taken has had the biggest impact on your business? 

Making the commitment to start and sticking to it. The moment that I decided that I can do this and that I am actually going to do this that was really important.

How did you fund the business to get started?

I boot strapped the business with my own money. Start-up costs were quite minimal to start and I had some savings.  I have loans and credit cards that I could have used but I didn’t want to get into too much debt.
The idea was to start small test my idea and see if there was a market for what I had and then to continue to grow and develop additional products.
I have looked at business incubators and accelerators and things like crowd funding and kick-starter etc, however, where I am at the moment these initiatives take a lot of time and effort which I feel distracts me from focusing on other core business tasks that I need to do such as producing new products and getting stocked in more shops especially the big multi chain retailers in Africa.

What business skill are you good at and which would you like to develop more?

I don’t believe that what I am doing requires any specific business skills, I think common sense and a belief in yourself and the ability to keep going even when things are tough are some of the most import skills to have.

Having said that, I think that the ability to negotiate is very useful being always prepared to ask for discounts to try and get the best deal. I like to haggle and bargain with suppliers. I think am quite good at this.

What am not so good at is keeping receipts and filing records.  I also need to continue to push myself and make more of an effort to go out of my comfort zone and actually attend more events to speak to people. 

Where do you see the business in 5 years? 

The idea is to have a factory in Ghana that will produce the puzzles and provide employment.  The aim is to have a wide selection of complimentary products and a brand that people really like.
I would also like to get more involved from a manufacturing side and even start to make items for other businesses.
I would also like to support other start-up businesses and help reduce some of the barriers to start-up and help to develop the market in Africa by making things more affordable and easier to access.
-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson (IG @thebusyafrican)

Foot Locker Invests $2 Million in Black Owned Footwear Design Academy

Foot Locker Inc. has made a $2 million investment in Pensole Inc., which operates the Pensole Footwear Design Academy, founded by former Jordan design director D’Wayne Edwards. In short time, Pensole has become a signifiant part of the sportswear industry’s talent pipeline.

Pensole features the most sought after faculty in footwear, comprised of both young professional designers and established footwear design leaders from the top footwear brands, with more than 150 years combined experience.

Pensole founder, D’Wayne Edwards

The investment deepens Foot Locker’s long-standing partnership with Pensole and extends the companies’ relationship across all aspects of the design process. It will also give Foot Locker and its vendor partners new access to collaborative design and manufacturing talent.

Edwards will remain the majority owner of Pensole. In a recent interview, he said Pensole will stay on the same trajectory and the money will help “create a better academy.” He expects to use the money to expand class offerings, hire more staff and design exclusive products for Foot Locker.

Edwards, who has worked in the athletic industry for three decades, created a pipeline of new designers through the academy that offers free tuition and a learn-by-doing curriculum that teaches students the entire footwear and apparel process, from product inspiration and concept development to manufacturing and branding.

“My relationship with Foot Locker goes back over 30 years, from consumer to designer to educator and now partner,” said Edwards. “I am excited to deepen our relationship with Foot Locker so we can empower consumers to create their future through innovative educational programs.

Suzette Henry, the founder, and director of the MLab at Pensole

It has always been our joint mission to foster the next generation of emerging footwear and apparel design talent, and I am confident that our collaboration will contribute to the continued growth of the academy, success of our students and accelerated innovation in the footwear industry.”

Together, Foot Locker, its vendor partners and Pensole will collaborate on new educational programs and the design and manufacturing of exclusive products for the Foot Locker family of brands.

Angela Medlin, Founder and Director of the The Functional Apparel and Accessories Studio (FAAS) at Pensole

Foot Locker first supported Edwards and his vision for Pensole in 2015 through an annual master class design competition, “Fueling the Future of Footwear.” Thirty students who have gone through the Foot Locker and Pensole Master classes are working in the industry. Foot Locker has also sold three styles created from the class globally.

“Through this investment, we are excited to extend our partnership with Pensole, an organization that shares our deep commitment to fostering education and driving design innovation and excellence in the industry,” said Richard Johnson, chairman and CEO of Foot Locker.

“Pensole’s position as a leading footwear design academy will enable Foot Locker to deepen our relationships with our vendor partners and leverage the next generation of talent across our brand partners for exclusive consumer-facing concepts. We look forward to working closely with D’Wayne and Pensole’s talented students and world-class faculty as together we design and produce the footwear of tomorrow.”

Spring 2018 Student Exhibition (Pensole)

Partnership with New Balance

Pensole has now partnered with NewBalance for the 3rd annual 3-Week Design and Marketing “Co-Op.” This course features on the job training in Footwear Design, Color + Material Design, Functional Apparel Design, and Marketing.

Students will be selected by category of submission for a hands-on learning experience at the New Balance HQ and a chance to earn a 1-Year Paid Apprenticeship. For details and submission requirements, visit


Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson (IG @thebusyafrican)


Black Boys Don’t Need More Discipline, They Need Mentors

When I first met Chris, he was quiet—I could tell he was trying to figure out who I was, and who I could be in his life. The stories I heard about Chris did not align with the boy in front of me. I was told he was constantly removed from class and referred to the office. In fact, he had 60 such referrals in the first semester of school.

Chris wasn’t receiving the education required for his success, so my job as his mentor was to serve as a liaison and provide behavioral support to intervene. Chris is not an anomaly—in San Francisco, where he lives, the Black student achievement gap is so bad that the local NAACP called it a state of emergency.

When I started working with Chris, it was clear that he verbalized only a fraction of his thoughts. One day, during a break from class, he quietly mentioned that he wouldn’t be at school later in the week because of a funeral—his older brother had been murdered, and Chris was the last person to see him alive.

Chris’ school administrators were completely oblivious to his situation, most likely because he didn’t trust them with the burden he was carrying. At his school, behavioral problems are addressed with office referrals, without the intent to address the heart of the matter. However, I do not place full blame on the faculty—there are 300 kids in need of equal support and the faculty’s limited resources can only provide a fraction of what students need.


My purpose as a mentor is to focus not just on academics, but also on emotional support. I have a deep respect for the youth I mentor, and in return, they respect me. For most of the youth I work with, I am the only man they trust to open up to about their emotions, and it makes a difference.

A toxic brand of masculinity that says boys and men are not supposed to exhibit emotion or feel pain has taken hold in our society—it has a debilitating and often violent effect. I have seen firsthand how a healthy masculine figure can counteract that narrative, and if we replicate that model, we might begin to heal people beyond just one neighborhood.

For boys in our program, behavior, attendance and grades all improve with the addition of a mentor who is focused as much on their mental and emotional well-being as on their academics. In the short few months I’ve worked with Chris, his referrals dropped to 17 for the entire spring semester. Another boy in our mentorship program went from 103 referrals in the fall to 11 referrals in the spring.

Part of what makes the relationship with my mentees possible is their first impression of me.

My personal experience as a Black man gives me the tools to see beyond their behavior—it is easier for them to identify with me because they see themselves in me. Although they may have a different set of circumstances, the overall experience for Black boys in public schools is similar across the country, so it’s not just the color of my skin that allows me to relate, it’s also a shared perspective and a mutual respect.

It is important for mentors and others looking to implement solutions for Black students to come from within our own communities. Studies have shown that students do better in class and have less disruptive behavior when educators look like them, and mentorship is no exception.


In order for adults to be mentors and healers for youth, they must believe in healing and caring for themselves. I can do the work I do because I make self-care a priority. It took me burning out to realize that I had to help myself first in order to help others.

Trauma doesn’t stop manifesting once people hit adulthood. It is crucial for adults to explore their own trauma so that when they interact with students, they can focus on the child’s pain rather than projecting their own. Ideally, teachers and faculty could receive therapeutic support as part of their job.

There are no quick fixes for the Black student achievement gap in San Francisco or elsewhere, but there are interventions that have relatively quick, lasting effects. Investing in mentors who are interested in caring for children as a whole—focusing on their psychological and emotional well-being as well as their academic achievement—is a key that can unlock the door to a brighter future for many of our youth.

Marc Anthony for Education Post


Home Schooling is a Growing Trend Among Black Families

“In-thoo-see-as-thic?” Karleese said as he hurdled each syllable of the word on his computer screen.

His mother Kaulia Powell, 37, coached from the end cushion of the couch where Karleese’s Wednesday English lesson was being held.

Home Schooling
Kaulia Powell with her two sons and students, Karleese and Kahleeil. Photo by Kynala Phillips (Credit: Kynala Phillips. / Madison365)

“Enthusiastic…you got it!” said Powell patiently. Karleese calmly repeated the word as best he could. Then, after reviewing the definition and studying his mother’s pronunciation he exclaimed “Enthusiastic!”

While Karlese studied words like “zealous” and “convenient,” his older brother Kaheeil, 11, took a quiz on Roman numerals in the kitchen.

Kahleeil, now in the sixth grade, sat quietly in the kitchen matching numbers with their Roman counterparts.

Kahleeil and Karleese are two of an estimated 202,000 Black students receiving a home-based, parent-led education in the United States, according to the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI).

The two brothers have not attended a traditional school since they were in kindergarten and second grade.

After receiving calls from John Muir Elementary school about her sons’ behavior, Powell, a Madison native living on the Near West Side, decided to become more present in her sons’ education by visiting and volunteering at the school.

“You could tell they were being treated a little different,” she said. “I would be home and I would get phone calls all day.”

Powell remembers receiving calls from teachers about her sons being distracting and temperamental.

“So I got enough calls and I said ‘Hey, I need to see what’s going on,’” she said. “I would drop them off, walk them both to their lockers and speak with their teachers. I did this every single day.”

When Powell began volunteering, she said she noticed her sons being treated differently from their classmates.

“Like when the music teacher told Kahleeil he was a bad child–that was one example,” she said. “You’re conditioning his mind to think he is a bad child.”

Shortly after Kahleeil told his parents about his experience with his music teacher, Powell and her fiancé Charlie Logan made the choice to educate their boys from home.

“I did not want my children to be programmed to feel like they are going to be incarcerated,” she said.

The Powell children are part of a growing trend of Black families opting to educate their children at home.

Home-based education–or homeschooling–is not a new phenomenon. In 2016, the NHERI estimated there are 2.3 million students receiving home-based education in the United States. The transition to home-based education has been on an upward trend among many people of color around the country, especially Black families.

Between 1999 and 2010 the percentage of Black students receiving a home based education nearly doubled, according to NHERI. Today, African American K-12 students are the fastest growing segment, reaching over eight percent of the homeschooling population, according to NHERI. In 2015, a study conducted by NHERI President Brian Ray explored the motives of Black families who homeschool their students.

Providing religious or moral instruction; influencing the child’s values and worldview; and developing stronger relationships between children and parents were all top reasons listed among Black parents surveyed.

Some parents also included student safety, avoiding racism in the schools and providing more cultural curriculum as reasons to homeschool their children.

“Institutionalized schooling–as we know it–was not the norm until the 1900’s and it was less than five months per year,” said NHERI President Ray. “A lot of Americans think that institutionalized public schools drive societies forward and forward, but there’s no empirical evidence of that.”

Although Brown v. Education (1954) is held up as the landmark case that ended legal segregation in schools, many question how the integration of schools has impacted the success of Black students.

“For a long time Black families have been told that public schooling is (their) golden ticket and is going to save (them).” said Ray. “Sixty years later and basically nothing has changed.”

Johnny Justice, 36, and Marie Justice, 31, began homeschooling their four children after making the decision to embark on their entrepreneurial journey as filmmakers. The couple relocated to Madison in 2004 from Joliet, Illinois.

Their reasons for homeschooling were simple: they wanted to spend more time with their children and wanted their education to be personalized to each child.

Their children, Mariah, Mariella, Hallie and Bobby, all require different learning styles.The family’s decision to homeschool has allowed each child to learn in ways best for them while exploring their own passions.

“School is a one size fits all. If you don’t fit into that category, that shape that they want you to be in, then a lot of people struggle,” said Marie Justice. “We wanted them to be able to learn at their own rate and comfortably.”

In Dane County there are nearly 1,000 students who are receiving a home-based education.

There are many concerns surrounding homeschooled students’ socialization and their parents ability teach each subject.

According to NHERI homeschooled students score above average on standardized tests regardless of the parents’ level of education.

“Everything you need to know is technically in a book at the end of the day,” Johnny Justice said.

“I can see that this opportunity to be homeschooled really allowed them to understand themselves and understand the world around them,” said Marie Justice, whose four children are enrolled in an array of activities ranging from baseball to violin.

For Kaheeil and Karleese, who recently began playing football for the Southside Raiders, homeschooling has been enjoyable because they said their mom listens to them more than their past teachers.

“Do your homework on parent-led, home-based education,” Ray said. “Thirty-five years of research and 1000 years of history have found positive effects of a home-based education.”

Education continues to be a hot topic as Wisconsin’s gubernatorial election approaches.

For these families, home-based education has served as a way to give their children the education they’d like them to have.

“We really enjoy our kids. That’s like 9 hours of the day that you’re not seeing your kid,” said Marie Justice.

“And for those nine hours who’s the influence on your kids? Is it you? Or is it somebody else?” said Johnny Justice.


Source: Madison 365


British Rapper Stormzy to fund Cambridge Scholarships for Black Students

British rapper Stormzy has announced that he is funding two scholarships for Black British students to go to Cambridge University.

The grime artist will pay the students’ tuition fees as well as a maintenance grant for up to four years of an undergraduate course.

Speaking on Thursday at his former school, the Harris City Academy in Croydon, south London, where A-level students were opening their results, Stormzy told BBC Breakfast: “If you’re academically brilliant don’t think because you come from a certain community that studying at one of the highest education institutions in the world isn’t possible.”

The 25-year-old, who won best album at this year’s Ivor Novello awards, has previously been praised for tackling social injustice, including advocating on behalf of victims of the Grenfell Tower fire. He is funding two places this year and two next year.

The move comes amid concerns about lack of diversity at the Oxbridge universities. Figures published in June showed some Cambridge colleges admitted no black students or accepted as few as one a year between 2012 and 2016.


Stormzy said that when he was at school he had ambitions to study at Oxbridge but some people did not realise the option was open to them.

“I was always reminded by my teachers that I was destined, if I wanted, to go down that road and study at one of the top universities,” he said. “I diverted and ended up doing music so it didn’t happen for me. I thought I was quite a rare case in that I knew that was possible.

“That’s not always the case. When students are young, academically brilliant and getting great grades, they should know that’s an option.”

Last year he donated £9,000 to a crowdfunding initiative set up by a student from south-west London to enable her to study at Harvard.

He said he coasted through GCSEs – he got six A*s, three As and three Bs according to the BBC – but “didn’t do too great at A-levels”.

In 2016, when he was a guest speaker at the Oxford University Guild, Stormzy told students: “It was my dream to come to Oxford and study political science. I always thought Oxford is better [than Cambridge] anyway, it’s got a ring to it.”

By offering the scholarships, he is following a number of rappers, including Jay-Z and Nicky Minaj in the US, where the practice is popular. While the students will have to fund and organise their own College and University Cleaning during their time at Cambridge, the gesture from the grime artist will not go unnoticed.

The application deadline is 30 August for this year and is open to any black student with an offer to study at Cambridge, according to the BBC.

The students will be selected by a panel of university staff.


Source: The Guardian


6 Black Issues That Public Policy Must Address Immediately

Despite the importance of economic empowerment, I would argue that political power plays a bigger role in wealth creation.

Political power influences public policy and legislature that address many socioeconomic issues that affect our ability to even start building a strong economic base.

Here are a few issues affecting the Black community that public policy must address right now.

1)Prison Industrial Complex

The prison industrial complex can be described as the overlapping interests of government and industry that use policing, and imprisonment as solutions to economic, social, and political problems. To fuel the growing demand for profitable prison labor, Black people, in particular, are disproportionately incarcerated and given longer sentences than any other race.


This is not new news though. Neither is the fact that there are several corporations that benefit from the mass incarceration of Black people. In many cases several of these corporations have become part of our daily lives. However, its time to cut the cord and divert our money into alternative options, preferably Black owned.


In his book,  Mis-Education of the Negro, Dr. Carter G. Woodson wrote, “Blacks are the only group of people who take their most precious possessions, their children, and ask their oppressors to educate them and mold and shape their minds.”


Currently, the education system waters down our history and completely ignores many of our accomplishments. Black students all over the country also face verbal and physical abuse not only from students, but from those hired to educate and protect them.


In addition to this, many Black students are increasingly becoming victims of theschool to prison pipeline” that pushes them out of classrooms and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.


Educating Black children should involve more than teaching them math and reading skills. They must also be taught how to produce goods and services and not just be consumers.  They must also be taught the skills needed to become business owners and job producers not just job seekers.

3)Lack of Affordable Housing

By affordable housing I don’t just mean Section 8 or low income housing. I literally mean housing that is affordable. Being able to afford your home or apartment is vital to the Black community’s economic strength. It provides the foundation for families and individuals to succeed in their careers or at school, as well as to thrive in retirement.


There is a epidemic of gentrification that is occurring in Black neighborhoods all over the world, causing sharp increases in rents and home values and resulting in actual or imminent displacement of residents.


There are several ways to combat gentrification using policies but in this instance I’ll suggest how to utilize economics to do so. Invest in Real Estate Investment Trusts(REIT’s). REIT’s are corporations that own and manage a collection of real estate properties and mortgages. Individually or as investment groups, we can invest or even form REIT’s that acquire and own residential homes and apartment buildings in Black neighborhoods across the country.

4)Food Deserts

In many Black communities, access to grocery stores, supermarkets and other food retailers that offer affordable and nutritious food is limited. These food deserts force members of the community to be more reliant on convenience stores, fast food or similar retailers.


After almost 20 years of unsuccessful attempts to attract a corporate grocery chain to their community, The Renaissance Community Co-op of  Greensboro, NC raised over $2.4 million and was able to build a grocery store that served the community and provided jobs.

We need more examples like this in other areas that are deprived of healthy food options. One could purchase a van, buy produce from Black farmers and make scheduled stops in these areas to sell healthy produce. The American Community Garden Association (ACGA) provides resources for over 18,000 community gardens in the U.S. and Canada.


5) Supporting Black Farmers

Black farmers have been facing discrimination from the USDA for decades. The National Black Farmers Association offers resources and programs that teach “the basic, sustainable practices of building and maintaining a garden.”


They offer workshops on seed and variety selection, planting practices as well as how to plan and manage your crops throughout the seasons. We listed some Black owned farms in a previous post about health and wellness.


6)The Growing Wealth Gap


“To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships.” W.E.B. Dubois – Souls of Black Folks

Pew Research Center data from 2014 states that that the wealth of white households had reached 13 times the median wealth of black households, compared with eight times the wealth in 2010.


Let’s not be fooled by reports that Black income has risen. Income does not equal wealth. According to a recent working paper, high-earning married black households have, on average, less wealth than low-earning married white households.


The ever widening wealth gap exists for several reasons including racial discrimination,  tax policies that favor the (disproportionately white) rich and lack of sound financial education and practices. The wealthy get wealthier through tax cuts on investment income and inheritances, retirement accounts, home mortgages and college savings.


The Role of Elected Officials

Who creates and has the power to influence policies and legislature that affect us positively or negatively? Your elected officials do. They were elected to serve us. Therefore, we need to make sure they are doing so and not taking our votes for granted.


Ask them, “What have you done for me lately?” Hold them accountable and make sure they address the issues that are important to you.


Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson (IG: @thebusyafrican)