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Clark Atlanta University cancels student account balances for 2020-2021 school year

Clark Atlanta University announced this week that they will cancel student account balances from the spring 2020 semester through the summer 2021 semester.

University President Dr. George T. French said all student account balances from that time period will be brought to zero. The relief also applies to alumni.

“We understand these past two academic years have been emotionally and financially difficult on students and their families due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That is why we will continue to do all we can to support their efforts to complete their CAU education,” said President French. “We care about students and want to lighten their individual and family’s financial load so they can continue their journey in pursuing and attaining their educational and professional goals.”

French said the university’s ability to provide relief is due to the substantial amount of support it has gotten from the federal government under the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.

With the funds, CAU has been able to provide emergency financial aid dollars, refund some housing and meal charges, discount tuition and fees for the 2020-2021 school year, buy WIFI hot spots for students with no internet at home and buy 4,000 laptops for every financially enrolled student.

This initiative will not impact students’ future financial aid eligibility because it is a one-time outstanding balance cancelation.

Clark Atlanta University isn’t the first HBCU to help students financially because of the pandemic.
In May, Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio, announced it will cancel student debt for 2020 and 2021 graduates. The president of the university said at the time that the total amount of cleared debt would be more than $375,000.

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Curtis Lawrence III Graduated High School Early, Was Accepted to 14 Colleges and Chose an HBCU

In 2014, Curtis Lawrence III began taking dual enrollment courses at School Without Walls High School and George Washington University.

This spring, he will earn his Associates Degree and head to FAMU where he will pursue a double major in computer science and biology as well as a minor in Mandarin.

Curtis Lawrence III

Lawrence has also been awarded over $1.65 Million in Merit Scholarships. He was also accepted to Howard University, North Carolina A&T University, Morehouse College, Hampton University, Morgan State University, Claflin University, Hutson-Tillotson University, George Washington University, West Virginia Wesleyan, UC Berkeley, the University of Chicago, Yale and Harvard.

Lawrence’s love for education started at a young age. His parents, both educators, instilled the importance of school into he and his younger brother Corey early on, constantly taking them on trips to different museums, colleges, states and countries to expose them to what the world has to offer.

The competition is stiff among universities to recruit top young scholars. Dedra O’Neal, director of the FAMU Scholarship Program, has conducted Zoom calls with alumni scholars and prospective students since last fall.

The recruitment effort deploys alumni based in places such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Zambia, the Caribbean, France, and across the U.S. to discuss the FAMU scholar experience with top prospective students.

FAMU President Dr. Larry Robinson lauded Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. William E. Hudson Jr. for his role in successfully recruiting Lawrence. Hudson visited Lawrence’s Washington, D.C., high school, School Without Walls at George Washington University, last fall.

Lawrence said FAMU felt like home and explained one of the reasons he wants to be a Rattler: “Especially as a young student having been able to meet other students who also started college early at FAMU, and so I was able to really know that FAMU will provide me with that academic and professional support on top of schooling.”

Curtis Lawrence III
Curtis and his family | Credit: TN Democrat

Florida A&M University is competing with the best schools in the country to get top of the line students, including sixteen year old Curtis Lawrence III.

The young scholar now with his sights set on his undergraduate degree in which he doesn’t have to pay a dime.

Lawrence III could’ve continued his education at almost any university in the country but for his undergrad degree, his parents pushed an HBCU.

“We felt that at their start, right, at those fundamental times when you figure it out yourself. Who am I? What am I going to do in life?,” explained Curtis’ father Curtis Lawrence Jr. “To be in an environment that we felt would be nurturing I’m very supportive of their development. So that was very very important for us to create that level of foundation.”

 

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Black Veteran & HBCU Grad Creates A Seven-Figure Clothing Brand

HGC Apparel is a Black veteran owned clothing brand founded by Marcia Smith,  a 90’s kid who’s passionate about the uplifting and expansion of the Black community.

black veteran
HGC Apparel founder, Marcia Smith

In this interview, we discuss how this mother and Howard University grad’s time in the military influenced her entrepreneurial journey. We also discuss what she has done to find success online and how she protects her intellectual property.

Don’t forget to LIKE the video and SUBSCRIBE to the channel!

Tony O. Lawson


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Master P Now Focused On Owning An HBCU Instead of an NBA Team

A few days ago, Master P (born Percy Miller) took to his Instagram account to announce his desire to own an HBCU.

“So, y’all know I always wanted to own an NBA team, but now I want to own an HBCU. It’s so important that we educate the culture. This message is all about educating our people,” he said during the video clip.

“I was shocked when I Googled who owned and founded HBCUs,” Miller said. “We can’t change the past but we can change the future by investing in the next generation. They going to have to sell some of these schools to us, or fund it the same way other major universities are funded.”

During the video, Miller expressed that he once had a desire to attend Southern University, an HBCU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He encouraged others to join the movement to ensure that the nation’s historically Black colleges are able to offer proper education to our children.

Tony O. Lawson

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Morris Brown College Partners With Hilton And Black Owned Real Estate Investment Firm To Build $30 Million Hotel On Campus

Morris Brown College will partner with Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. and Miami-based CGI Merchant Group to develop a $30 million hotel on the campus of the historically Black college.

On Thursday, the Morris Brown board of trustees approved the deal that will involve a long-term land lease on the school’s quadrangle and an overhaul of Griffin Hightower Hall, a low-rise building next to the historic Fountain Hall.

morris brown college
The Historic Fountain Hall

The project comes as Morris Brown tries to rebound from accreditation issues and as U.S. companies and philanthropic groups inject more money into schools within the Atlanta University Center to increase racial equity.

Crews will build a 150-room hotel under the Tapestry Collection by Hilton. The project, which is funded through CGI’s recently launched $650 million Hospitality Opportunity Fund, will also include three restaurants and space to train students.

The “H-Fund”  focuses on acquiring and developing hotel properties throughout North American and Caribbean markets and target more than 20 hotels over the next three years. Partners in the fund include three-time Major League Baseball MVP and serial investor, Alex Rodriguez, and capital markets veteran and founder of Maverick CP, Adi Chugh.

“This is not just a commercial investment,” Raoul Thomas, founder, and CEO of CGI Merchant Group told Atlanta Business Chronicle. “We will be working with Hilton to support curriculum development and to provide guest lecturers.”

morris brown college
Raoul Thomas, CEO of CGI Merchant Group

The project will span 125,000 square feet near Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in southwest Atlanta. A hotel will make up the largest portion of the project, 91,000 square feet.

It would provide needed hospitality space just walking distance from campus. The nearest hotel is about a half mile from Morris Brown College. The 195-room Reverb by Hard Rock opened late last year next to Mercedes Benz Stadium in the Castleberry Hill neighborhood.

Several universities in Atlanta, including Georgia Tech and Emory University have large on-campus hotels which host guests and conferences.

In addition to the hotel, plans also include 34,000 square feet of classrooms and an auditorium.

“My goal is to become one of the top institutions in the country for Black and Brown people to learn how to own, operate, and manage hotels,” said Kevin James who became president of Morris Brown in 2019.

morris brown college
Dr. Kevin E. James, 19th President, Morris Brown College

Founded in 1881, Morris Brown College is a private, liberal arts historically Black institution. It is considered the first college in Georgia to be operated by and for African-Americans.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, the school had a notable hospitality management program.

Nearly 20 years ago, Morris Brown lost its accreditation after its former president and a financial aid director were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of fraud. While enrollment declined to fewer than 100 students, Morris Brown remained open.

In recent months the school has been making its way back.

Last month, members of the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, an accrediting agency, toured the campus.

In April, the group is set to vote on whether to make Morris Brown a candidate for accreditation. That would clear the way for the school to receive full accreditation within five years.

It will take money to get Morris Brown College back on its feet—to accommodate students, renovate its facilities and hire faculty and staff. But amid calls for racial justice and greater equity, corporate purses are wide open, as indicated by recent donations to other colleges in the Atlanta University Center complex.

“This is not a one and done contribution,” Thomas said. “The school will share directly in the [hotel’s] profits,” he said declining to give further details.

In addition to the profit-sharing agreement, CGI Merchant Group will establish a six-figure endowment for student financial aid.

The hotel is currently in the design phase. CGI Merchant Group tapped Atlanta-based C.D. Moody Construction and Chasm Architecture for the project.

The hotel at Morris Brown is expected to open in the summer of 2023.

Investors are optimistic that the completion date will give the hospitality industry time to rebound from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and also provide ample time for Morris Brown to bounce back.

“This announcement should definitely open the eyes of those who want to work in hospitality,” said James who anticipates prospective students will be excited to “be a part of the resurrection class [at Morris Brown], and attend a school that has its own hotel in one of the top cities for hospitality in the country,” he said.

Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle


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Charles White Painting Missing For Decades From Howard University Turns Up At Sotheby’s

A painting by a noted artist Charles White vanished from Howard University in the 1970s and hadn’t been seen publicly until it turned up at Sotheby’s Auction House last month — and now the school is suing to get back the piece that they believe was stolen from them decades ago.

Howard University, acquired the artwork, “Centralia Madonna,” in the 1940s after its creator, Charles White, completed an artist-in-residency at the school, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in Manhattan federal court.

The ink drawing depicts an African American Madonna figure and had been in the university’s possession until at least 1974, when a graduate student viewed the work in the school’s collection and made a record of the piece, according to the suit.

charles white
Centralia Madonna

At some point soon after, the artwork was stolen from the school’s collection and marked as “missing” by a university curator in 1976, according to the lawsuit.

Staff at the university hadn’t been able to locate it in the decades since — until Sotheby’s Auction House in Manhattan contacted them in May to let them know it had been consigned and was scheduled to be put up for auction.

Charles White in his Los Angeles studio, 1970 photo: Robert A. Nakamura

Staff at the auction house told administrators at Howard that two people from South Carolina, Larry and Virginia Borders, had consigned the painting but provided no paperwork showing how it ended up in their personal collection, according to the suit.

The Borders gave shifting stories about how they acquired the work, first saying they received it as a wedding gift from someone named J.D. Kibler in 1972, according to the suit.

charles white
Charles White, 1943, Photograph by Gordon Parks at age 25

They allegedly changed their story, claiming Kibler gave it to them as a gift for no particular reason — but couldn’t expand on their relationship with him, or even provide his first name.

“They claimed J.D. Kibler to be a close friend, they stated that they did not know what the ‘J.D.’ stood for,” the suit states.

In several phone calls and emails this week, the university demanded the Borders return the painting to the school, which the pair refused to do, according to the lawsuit.

The university filed the suit Friday, seeking the artwork’s return and attorney fees related to the legal action. The case is Howard University v Borders, 20-cv-4716, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

(L-R) Howard University President Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederickand Gwendolyn H. Everett, Ph.D., director of the Howard University Gallery of Art and associate dean for the Division of Fine Arts beside Five Great American Negroes, at the Howard University Law Library

The couple’s “claims are all the more implausible given that Howard University has never sold or de-accessioned any work from its collection, and would certainly not sell or de-accession a work by Charles White, a hugely significant Black artist with strong ties to the university,” Howard said in its lawsuit.

In addition to purchasing several of his works, Howard appointed White to a three-year professorship shortly before his death.

In a statement, Sotheby’s said they are a third-party and the ownership dispute involves the Borders and Howard.

“This is an ownership dispute between the University and the consignors, which follows Sotheby’s due diligence in researching the work’s provenance,” the auction house said.

“Sotheby’s is merely a third-party stakeholder and will comply with any decision of the court,” it added.

 

Sources: New York Post and Bloomberg


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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.”

 

Source: Howard.edu

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FAMU Secures $750,000 in Federal Scholarship Funds to Attract Students To Study Agriculture and Food Sciences

Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) College of Agriculture and Food Sciences (CAFS) received $752,632 in federal funds for scholarships to attract high achieving students.

Funding from this 1890 Scholarship Program will provide 49 new scholarships for entering freshmen to pursue and obtain their baccalaureate degrees in food and agricultural sciences from FAMU in four years, and for qualified, transfer students in two years.

“The timing of this scholarship funding could not be more opportune,” said FAMU President Larry Robinson, Ph.D. “The present circumstances reinforce the need for us to train more scholars who can make advances in issues such as food security and create other opportunities in agriculture. These funds will allow FAMU to bring much needed and diverse talent to this area of critical need for our nation.”

The funding is one of 19 awards totaling $14 million to 1890 land grant colleges, which are historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU), from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

The funding is made possible through NIFA’s 1890 Scholarships Program, authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill. FAMU alumnus U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., is credited with the scholarship appropriation’s inclusion in the legislation.

The grant program seeks to address a critical question facing the food and agricultural sciences industry, how does it attract more talented young, diverse persons into agricultural jobs, said CAFS Dean Robert Taylor.

“Indeed, this continues to be the major question that is being asked by faculty and administrators in the College of Agriculture and Food Sciences at FAMU, as it tries to respond to the low, and in some cases, declining enrollment in some of its critical academic programs,” Taylor said.

With state and federal funding for education on the decline, the student debt burden continues to be high. The overall goal of this 1890 Scholarships Program is to address that issue by providing scholarships to support the recruiting, engaging, retaining, mentoring, and training of outstanding students as they pursue baccalaureate degrees in the food and agricultural sciences in CAFS at FAMU.

Scholars will be recruited from across Florida and from neighboring states, such as Georgia and Alabama. High achieving students will be invited to apply to the FAMU 1890 Scholarship Program. In order to be selected, students must meet or exceed the stated criteria for the various scholarships advertised.

“This funding will help CAFS cultivate and graduate more diverse leaders, who will be well equipped to address and solve future emerging challenges in food and agricultural sciences,” Taylor said.

 

Source: FAMU News


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Howard University to receive $13 Million as part of Coronavirus Stimulus Package

The Senate unanimously passed an approximately $2.2 trillion stimulus package late Wednesday night in an effort to jump-start an economy severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

This coronavirus response package makes millions of dollars in funding available for Howard University through September 2021.

howard university
Washington DC, Howard University campus sign. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images)

The draft legislation calls for $13 million “to remain available through September 30, 2021, to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally, including to help defray the expenses directly caused by coronavirus and to enable grants to students for expenses directly related to coronavirus and the disruption of university operations.”

As you can imagine, not everyone is happy about this news. Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz took to Twitter, saying , “$13,000,000 in taxpayer funds could be going to families across the nation struggling to put food on the table in the midst of COVID-19. Instead, it’s going to Howard University. Education is important- but a $13 million check to Howard does not belong in COVID-19 relief.”

What Gaetz failed to realize is that Howard is a federally chartered university that is rightfully owed emergency funding because Congressional appropriations fund the school, which also runs Howard University Hospital, a medical facility that has been designated one of DC’s COVID-19 treatment facilities.

 

-Tony O. Lawson

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Howard University Teams With Amazon Studios To Launch Howard Entertainment

Howard University and Amazon Studios have teamed to launch Howard Entertainment, a program designed to diversify the entertainment industry by creating a pipeline for African-American students and other marginalized populations to train and study alongside entertainment executives.

Howard Entertainment

The immersive program, which kicks off January 2020, will be two semesters and take place in Los Angeles. It will include a unique interdisciplinary curriculum and will also include hands-on work as well as an opportunity to network with Amazon’s industry partners.

It will offer Howard University students the opportunity to take academic courses during the spring semester and participate in a fellowship embedded in the entertainment industry during the summer semester. The coursework will be applied to the student’s graduation requirements.

“The vision of Howard Entertainment is to offer a one-of-a-kind experience for students interested in all aspects of entertainment, from project greenlighting, to PR and marketing, to entertainment law and finance,” said President Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA. “This relationship aligns with Howard’s strategic goals of enhancing academic excellence and inspiring new knowledge.

Collaborating with Amazon Studios will enable us to marry academia and industry efforts to build a robust workforce of diverse entertainment industry leaders. With Howard’s proven track record of developing some of Hollywood’s most notable actors, comedians and musicians, this next level collaboration will enable us to have even greater impact.”

Howard Entertainment

“Amazon Studios has been working to create new pathways into the industry for talented students of all backgrounds and we are proud to team with Howard on this new program supporting aspiring entertainment leaders” adds Jennifer Salke, Head of Amazon Studios.

“As we strive to delight our Prime Video customers, we’re ensuring there are diverse perspectives and experiences around the table to help us make the best decisions in all aspects of the business.”

Howard Entertainment

To qualify, students must be enrolled as a Howard University student, must be an upperclassman or graduate student and will have to complete an application and interview to be considered for the program.

Students will be taught by Howard faculty who will be supported by Amazon Studios employees and other industry professionals invited by Amazon. This will give students to work in projects that offer “real world” application and will help students develop “work ready” skills prior to graduating.

Source: Deadline