Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Racial disparities exist among diabetes patients treated by the same physician

Thomas D. Sequist, MD, MPH

Harvard Medical School. Department of Health Care Policy. 180 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115-5899, E-mail Thomas D. Sequist, MD, MPH. Phone: 1 617-432-3447, Fax: 1 617-432-3696.

Thomas D. Sequist, MD, MPH, is an assistant professor of medicine and of health care policy at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He currently practices general internal medicine at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates. Thomas D. Sequist, MD, MPH
Black patients with diabetes are less likely than white patients to achieve long-term control of their blood glucose, blood cholesterol and blood pressure levels, even when they are treated by the same physician, according to a report in the June 9 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Racial disparities in the quality of diabetes care have been previously documented, according to background information in the article. Black patients with diabetes are less likely to receive recommended components of care, including hemoglobin A1C testing (HbA1C, a measure of blood glucose control over time) and lipid testing, and to achieve treatment goals, such as controlled blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels. In addition, black patients are more likely than white patients to develop diabetes-related eye and kidney disease and to have amputations of their lower extremities. "Identifying the underlying reasons and potential solutions for these differences in quality of care and outcomes is a high priority," the authors write.

Thomas D. Sequist, M.D., M.P.H., of Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, Boston, and colleagues analyzed electronic medical records from 4,556 white patients and 2,258 black patients with diabetes treated by 90 primary care physicians in eastern Massachusetts.
Each physician treated at least five black patients and five white patients; all patients were age 18 or older and had visited the physician within the last two years.

Black patients and white patients received tests of low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol and HbA1C at similar rates. However, white patients were more likely than black patients to reach commonly accepted benchmarks for controlled levels of HbA1C (47 percent vs. 39 percent), LDL cholesterol (57 percent vs. 45 percent) and blood pressure (30 percent vs. 24 percent).

"Patient sociodemographic factors explained 13 percent to 38 percent of the racial differences in these measures, whereas within-physician effects accounted for 66 percent to 75 percent of the differences," the authors write. "Thus, racial differences in outcomes were not related to black patients differentially receiving care from physicians who provide a lower quality of care, but rather that black patients experienced less ideal or even adequate outcomes than white patients within the same physician panel."

The variation in diabetes care was not related to overall performance or the volume of black patients treated by individual physicians, the authors note. "Our data suggest that the problem of racial disparities is not characterized by only a few physicians providing markedly unequal care, but that such differences in care are spread across the entire system, requiring the implementation of system-wide solutions," they write. "Efforts to eliminate these disparities, including race-stratified performance reports and programs to enhance care for minority patients, should be addressed to all physicians."

Editor's Note: This study was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Finding Answers: Disparities Research for Change National Program. Dr. Sequist serves as a consultant on the Aetna External Advisory Committee for Racial and Ethnic Equality. Co-author Dr. Ayanian serves as a consultant to RTI International and DxCG Inc. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

Editorial: Results Offer Opportunity for Physician Leadership

"The findings presented by Sequist et al build nicely on prior work and are important and provocative," writes Carolyn Clancy, M.D., of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, Md., in an accompanying editorial.

"They now have an opportunity to examine physicians' reactions and how care changes when physicians are provided feedback on their performance," Dr. Clancy writes. "Eliminating disparities in health care will require that all patients have access to care, as well as physician leadership to assure that the care provided is evidence-based, patient-centered, effective, consistent and equitable."

(Arch Intern Med. 2008;168[11]:1145-1151. Available pre-embargo to the media at ###

Contact: Leah Gourley 617-695-9555 JAMA and Archives Journals

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist

Smithsonian American Art Museum Presents the First Major Retrospective of African American Modernist Aaron Douglas

“Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist,” on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum May 9 through Aug. 3, presents the first nationally touring retrospective of Aaron Douglas (1899–1979), one of the most influential visual artists of the Harlem Renaissance. Douglas vividly captured the spirit of his time and established a new black aesthetic and vision. Preview Images and Captions (Adobe Acrobat PDF file, 73K)

Douglas’ forceful ideas about social change and distinctive artistic forms produced a powerful visual legacy through paintings, murals and illustrations for books and progressive journals and made a lasting impact on American modernism.

Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist

Aaron Douglas, Aspiration, 1936, Oil on canvas, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum. purchase from the estate of Thurlow E. Tibbs Jr., the Museum Auxiliary, American Art Trust Fund, Unrestricted Art Trust Fund, and private donations from the people of the Bay Area

This exhibition brings together more than 80 rarely seen works by the artist, including paintings, prints, drawings and illustrations. Susan Earle, curator of European and American art at the Spencer Museum of Art, organized the exhibition; Virginia Mecklenburg, senior curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, is the coordinating curator.
Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist

Aaron Douglas, Noah’s Ark, 1935, Oil on Masonite, Fisk University Galleries, Nashville
“Aaron Douglas was an extraordinarily influential figure who was one of the first artists to place African American culture at the center of modern art,” said Elizabeth Broun, The Margaret and Terry Stent Director at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “It is a great privilege to host this important exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, which has one of the largest pioneering collections of African American art in the United States.”

The exhibition is presented in Washington, D.C., under the gracious patronage of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and first lady Michelle Fenty.
“It is fitting that this nationally touring examination of Aaron Douglas’ career and his legacy is on view in Washington, D.C.,” said Fenty, mayor of the District of Columbia. “This city also played an important role in the renaissance of African American culture, with such legendary figures as Duke Ellington calling it home.”
Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist

Aaron Douglas, The Negro Speaks of Rivers (for Langston Hughes), 1941, Pen/ink on paper, Courtesy of the Walter O. Evans Collection/SCAD Museum of Art
Douglas arrived in New York City at a time when avant-garde artists, writers, intellectuals and activists were redefining culture. This New Negro movement, also known as the Harlem Renaissance, energized Douglas,
and he became one of its most influential members. Douglas and his fellow artists were inspired by the progressive professor of philosophy Alain Locke, a leading figure who taught at historic Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Douglas combined angular cubist rhythms and a seductive Art Deco dynamism with traditional African and African American imagery to develop a radically new visual vocabulary. His distinctive style with silhouetted forms and fractured space expressed both the harsh realities of African American life and hope for a better future.

Some of the artist’s most important works were mural commissions. He received his first major commission in 1930 for a series of murals for the new library at Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn. He chose subjects that he hoped would promote black identity and a sense of dignity among the students. In 1934, he was commissioned by the Public Works of Art Project to create a mural at the 135th Street branch of the New York Public Library. The four panels of “Aspects of Negro Life” reveal the bold modernist risks Douglas was willing to take when regionalism was the norm. His unique visual style, which drew from African, cubist and constructivist motifs, presented an allegorical representation of issues central to African American history and contemporary life.

“Aaron Douglas’ legacy is not only the body of work he left for future generations of artists and scholars to study,” said Mecklenburg. “His belief that artistic expression could be a bridge between African American and white culture, his courage to promote social change and his dedication to education truly make him ‘the father of black American art.’”

Born to laborer parents in Topeka, Kan., Douglas (1899–1979) overcame many obstacles to pursue his passion for art and ideas. After earning a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University of Nebraska in 1922, Douglas taught art at Lincoln High School in Kansas City, Mo. In 1925, he decided to move to New York City, inspired in part by an article in the magazine Survey Graphic, titled “Harlem: Mecca of the New Negro,” to join the flourishing cultural scene known as the Harlem Renaissance. During this exciting period, he met Alain Locke, a literary critic and philosopher who is considered the architect of the Harlem Renaissance; writer Zora Neale Hurston; photographer Carl Van Vechten; and prominent intellectual leader and activist W. E. B. Du Bois. He was a frequent contributor in the 1920s to the National Urban League’s journal Opportunity and to the NAACP’s journal the Crisis. Noted writers, such as Countee Cullen and Langston Hughes, collaborated with Douglas. In 1935, Douglas, who was politically active, became the first president of the Harlem Artists Guild. In 1938, he returned to Fisk as an assistant professor and began teaching full time in 1940. He received a master’s degree in art from the Teachers College at Columbia University in 1944. Douglas continued to teach at Fisk until his retirement in 1966. He died in 1979.

A major symposium was scheduled for Friday, May 9, from 1 to 5 p.m. Participating scholars were Richard Powell, professor of art and art history at Duke University; Amy Kirschke, associate professor of art history at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington; Renée Ater, assistant professor at the University of Maryland; and Earle. Kinshasha Holman Conwill, deputy director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, will moderate, and University of Maryland Professor Emeritus David Driskell will deliver the keynote address.

A wide array of free public programs is being offered at the museum in conjunction with the exhibition, including gallery talks, films, performances, family programs and lectures. Details and complete program descriptions are available online at and in a separate press release.

A major monograph on Douglas accompanies the exhibition with an introduction by Conwill; essays by a number of prominent scholars, including Ater, Driskell, Earle, Kirscheke and Powell; and a chronology of Douglas’ life. It is available for $45 (softcover) in the museum store.

The final venue for the national tour is the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City (Aug. 30 – Nov. 30).

“Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist” was organized by the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. The exhibition and accompanying catalog are made possible, in part, with support from the Henry Luce Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. The Diane and Norman Bernstein Foundation Inc. and PEPCO are proud to partner with the Smithsonian American Art Museum on the exhibition in Washington, D.C.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum celebrates the vision and creativity of Americans with approximately 41,000 artworks in all media spanning more than three centuries. Its National Historic Landmark building, a dazzling showcase for American art and portraiture, is located at Eighth and F streets N.W. in the heart of a revitalized downtown arts district. Museum hours are 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, except Dec. 25. Admission is free. Metrorail station: Gallery Place/Chinatown (Red, Yellow and Green lines). Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000; (202) 633-5285 (TTY). Museum information (recorded): (202) 633-7970. Web site: # # #

Note to editors: Selected high-resolution images for publicity only may be downloaded from Call (202) 633-8530 for the password. Additional information about the exhibition is available from the museum’s online press room at

Media only: Laura Baptiste (202) 633-8494, Amy Hutchins (202) 633-8497 Media Web site:

Monday, June 9, 2008

Decline in U.S. Manufacturing Hurts African Americans Disproportionately

John Schmitt

John Schmitt is a senior economist with the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC. He has written extensively on economic inequality, unemployment, the new economy, the welfare state, and other topics for both academic and popular audiences. He has also worked as a consultant for national and international organizations including the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, the Global Policy Network, the International Labor Organization, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America, and others.

Schmitt's research has focused primarily on inequality in the US labor market and the role of labor-market institutions in explaining international differences in economic performance, particularly between the United States and Europe. Schmitt has co-authored (with Lawrence Mishel and Jared Bernstein) three editions of The State of Working America (Cornell University Press). He has also contributed to The American Prospect, The Boston Review, Challenge, The Guardian, The International Herald Tribune, The Washington Post, and other newspapers and magazines.
Washington DC -- African-American workers have been particularly hard hit by the decline in U.S. manufacturing, according to a study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). In 1979, almost one-in-four black workers in the United States had a manufacturing job. Today, fewer than one-in-ten black workers are in manufacturing.

The report, in PDF format "The Decline in African-American Representation in Unions and Manufacturing, 1979-2007," by senior economist John Schmitt and senior research associate Ben Zipperer, details the simultaneous sharp decline in both black employment in manufacturing and the unionization rates of black workers.

"Manufacturing jobs, particularly unionized jobs in the auto industry, were an important part of what built the black middle class after World War II," said John Schmitt, a co-author of the report.

Today, only 15.7 percent of all black workers are union members or covered by a union contract at their workplace. Twenty-five years ago, that share was 31.7 percent. Part of the reason for the decline in unionization among African Americans is the decline in U.S. manufacturing. But even within manufacturing, unionization rates have been falling. On average, manufacturing workers are now no more likely to be in a union than workers in the rest of the economy.

The study, which analyzed data from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey, found that the share of African Americans in manufacturing jobs fell from 23.9 percent in 1979 to 9.8 percent last year. From 1983 to 2007, unionization rates among African Americans dropped from 31.7 to 15.7 percent. Unionization rates also dropped among whites (from 22.2 to 13.5 percent) and Hispanics (24.2 to 10.8 percent) during the same period, but the declines were not as steep as those for African Americans. ###

The Center for Economic and Policy Research is an independent, nonpartisan think tank that was established to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people's lives. CEPR's Advisory Board of Economists includes Nobel Laureate economists Robert Solow and Joseph Stiglitz; Richard Freeman, Professor of Economics at Harvard University; and Eileen Appelbaum, Professor and Director of the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University.

Contact: Alan Barber, 202-293-5380 x115 WEB: Center for Economic and Policy Research 1611 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20009 | 202-293-5380

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Contributions of Self-taught African American Artists to American Culture

Ancestry and Innovation: African American ArtContributions of Self-taught African American Artists to American Culture, Celebrated in New Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition.
The range of artistic expressions by self-taught African American artists from the rural South and the urban North is explored in a new traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. Culled from the American Folk Art Museum’s rich holdings, Ancestry and Innovation: African American Art from the American Folk Art Museum highlights complex and vibrant quilts, paintings, works on paper and sculpture by contemporary African American artists.

The exhibition, which originally debuted at the American Folk Art Museum in 2005, opens at Reynolda House Museum of Art in Winston-Salem, N.C., Feb. 2, 2008, where it will remain on view through April 13 before continuing on a five-city national tour through 2009.

Comprising nine quilts and nearly 30 works of art in various media, Ancestry and Innovation includes paintings by an elder generation of creators, such as David Butler, Sam Doyle, Bessie Harvey and Clementine Hunter; works by contemporary masters, such as Thornton Dial Sr.; and provocative pieces by emerging artists, such as Kevin Sampson and Willie LeRoy Elliot. Juxtaposed with richly patterned and graphically exciting quilts, the exhibition celebrates the ongoing contribution of black artists to the kaleidoscope of American cultural and visual experience.

“The unique presentation of vibrant quilts in conjunction with sculpture and painting enriches the viewer’s appreciation for the complexity and vitality of African American expression,” said Stacy C. Hollander, senior curator at the American Folk Art Museum. “This exhibition is an opportunity to showcase the range and depth of African American artworks in the museum’s collection,” noted Brooke Davis Anderson, director and curator of The Contemporary Center at the American Folk Art Museum.

Ancestry and Innovation was organized by the American Folk Art Museum in New York, and circulated by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. The exhibition was made possible by the generous support of MetLife Foundation.

The National Endowment for the Arts provided generous support to the American Folk Art Museum through its American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius initiative.

Since its inception, the American Folk Art Museum has explored the creativity of African Americans through its exhibitions, collections and publications. Drawings, sculptures, paintings and quilts by black artists have become a vital part of the museum’s holdings, and 20th-century artists are represented through significant numbers of works.

Stacy C. Hollander, senior curator and director of exhibitions at the American Folk Art Museum, and Brooke Davis Anderson, director and curator of The Contemporary Center at the museum, are the curators of the exhibition.
Since its founding in 1961, the American Folk Art Museum has been one of the nation’s foremost resources for the study, collection, preservation and enjoyment of folk art. The museum is home to one of the world’s pre-eminent collections of folk art dating from the 17th century to the present, including paintings, sculpture, photography, textiles, ceramics and other decorative arts, as well as the work of contemporary self-taught artists from this country and abroad.

Ancestry and Innovation: African American Art from the American Folk Art Museum, classroom poster.

Activities for elementary-school students in social studies and the visual arts. Try making a qulit or using found objects to create works of art.

FREE. Download now in PDF format.

Ancestry and Innovation: African American Art from the American Folk Art Museum, exhibition brochure.

Focuses on the exhibition itself and traces the history of the American Folk Art Museum's interest in African American folk art, including drawings, paintings, sculpture, and quilts.

FREE. Download now in PDF format.

Tour itinerary

Dates Host Institution Status
2/2/2008 4/13/2008 Reynolda House Museum of Art, Winston-Salem, NC, Booked
8/2/2008 10/12/2008 The Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis, TN, Booked
11/1/2008 1/11/2009 Call for Availability
1/31/2009 4/12/2009 Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, AL, Booked
5/2/2009 7/12/2009 Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE, Booked
8/1/2009 10/11/2009 Call for Availability

Media only: Miriam Keegan 202.633.3123, Public only: 202.633.1000 or TTY 202.633.5285. SITES Contacts: Michelle Torres-Carmona, 202.633.3143 (Scheduling) Parker Hayes, 202.633.3113 (Content/design)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Religion, Intact Families, and the Achievement Gap

Dr. William Jeynes

William H Jeynes Professor - Department of Teacher Education Office: ED2 - 267 Phone: 562-985-5619 Email:
William H. Jeynes Department of Education California State University at Long Beach. Non-Resident Research Fellow Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion.

New Baylor ISR Study Analyzes Minority Education Achievement Gap. Findings Reveal Similarities in Families Where Gap Is Eliminated.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The achievement gap between white students and their African American and Latino counterparts is not as immovable as many educators and social scientists believe, according to results from a new Baylor University Institute for Studies of Religion analysis of the National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS).
“The findings show that when highly religious African American and Latino students from intact families are compared with white students, the achievement gap disappears,” said Dr. William Jeynes, a non-resident scholar with the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion (ISR) and professor of education at California State University in Long Beach.

Jeynes’ report was published in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion and released to the media April 3 in a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

WEB: Institute for Studies of Religion | News To download a complete study go to the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion

Friday, June 6, 2008

White Children More Positive Toward Blacks After Learning About Racism, Study Shows

Rebecca S. Bigler, Ph.D. Professor

Rebecca S. Bigler, Ph.D. Professor. Email: Phone: 471-9917 Lab: 471-6261 Office: SEA 5.210, Lab: SEA 1.218 (A-E). Gender and Racial Attitudes Lab.

Rebecca S. Bigler received her Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests are social cognition in children, gender role development, racial stereotyping. CURRICULUM VITAE in PDF format
AUSTIN, Texas — Challenging the idea that racism education could be harmful to students, a new study from The University of Texas at Austin found the results of learning about historical racism are primarily positive. The study appears in the November/December issue of the journal Child Development.

Psychologists Rebecca Bigler and Julie Milligan Hughes found white children who received history lessons about discrimination against famous African Americans had significantly more positive attitudes toward African Americans than those who received lessons with no mention of racism. African-American children who learned about racism did not differ in their racial attitudes from those who heard lessons that omitted the racism information, the study showed.

"There is considerable debate about when and how children should be taught about racism," says Bigler, director of the university's Gender and Racial Attitudes Lab. "But little research has examined elementary-school-aged children's cognitive and emotional reactions to such lessons."
To examine the consequences for white and African-American children of learning about historical racism, the researchers presented biographical lessons about 12 historical figures (six African Americans and six European Americans) to two groups of children ages 6-11.
Julie Milligan Hughes

Julie Milligan Hughes. Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin. 1 University Station A8000. Austin, TX . 78712-0187 (512) 771-7916. CURRICULUM VITAE in DOC format
For each group, some lessons provided information about racism, such as racially biased hiring practices and segregation, while others omitted this information. After the lessons, the children were interviewed about their racial attitudes and reactions, including guilt, defensiveness and anger.

Both white and black children who learned about racism were more likely to value racial fairness and to express greater satisfaction with the lesson. White children whose lessons included information on discrimination showed more defensiveness, had more racial guilt (if they were older than 7) and were less likely to accept stereotypical views about African Americans.
While the study shows learning about racism is beneficial to both black and white children, Bigler notes the lessons did not present information about the most violent forms of racial prejudice (for example, lynching).

"Additional work on the topic is needed so that we know how to best present to children some of the more abhorrent truths from U.S. history," Bigler says.

The National Science Foundation funded the research.

For more information, contact: Rebecca Bigler, professor, Department of Psychology, 512-471-9917; Tracy Mueller, public affairs specialist, College of Liberal Arts, 512-471-2404.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Anti-Discrimination PSAs Featuring Jazz Great Wynton Marsalis VIDEO

EEOC Launches Anti-Discrimination PSAs Featuring Jazz Great Wynton Marsalis

WASHINGTON - Jazz great Wynton Marsalis laments that some employers "play a cacophonous tune called discrimination" in one of two video public service announcements that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) unveiled today.
Both 30-second PSAs feature Marsalis and focus on the value of diversity in the workplace and the dangers of discrimination. The PSAs were produced in cooperation with Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC) and shot at JALC's New York facility in October. The EEOC plans an aggressive push to air the PSAs on television and cable stations, on web sites and on radio. The spots are close-captioned for the hearing-impaired.

The announcements should help heighten awareness of race and color discrimination as the EEOC advances its national initiative to bring a fresh, 21st century approach to combating racism, which remains the most frequent claim filed with the agency. E-RACE (Eradicating Racism And Colorism from Employment) is an outreach, education, and enforcement campaign to advance the statutory right to a workplace free of race and color discrimination.

"The EEOC is proud to partner with Wynton Marsalis to convey this information," EEOC Chair Naomi C. Earp said. "His participation enhances our message and ensures that a broad audience will be apprised of the importance of equal employment opportunity."

In the spots, Marsalis speaks the following lines:





Marsalis, artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, has won nine Grammy Awards, and is the only artist ever to win Grammy Awards for both jazz and classical records -- an accomplishment he repeated in consecutive years. His radio and television series were awarded the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award. In 1996, Time magazine celebrated Marsalis as one of America's 25 Most Influential People. In 1997, Marsalis became the first jazz musician ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his epic oratorio Blood on the Fields.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at

CONTACT: Justine Lisser, Charles Robbins (202) 663-4191 TTY: (202) 663-4494

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The race for the next U.S. presidency, The role of African American churches

Derrick Hudson, assistant professor of African and African American Studies at Metropolitan State College of Denver

A former program director for a Denver non-profit organization working to define leadership for Denver's black and Latino neighborhoods, Dr. Hudson is also former program director of the Young Americans Center for Financial Education, a nationally acclaimed program that heightens awareness of global economics, cultural consciousness and worldwide trade for Denver middle school students.

Currently an assistant professor in the Department of African and African American Studies, Dr. Hudson definitely has a lot to bring to the table. He has a PhD in International Relations from the University of Denver; as well as having a Master's in International Relations (University of Central Oklahoma); and a BS in Humanities from the United States Air Force Academy.

Having studied abroad at the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Rome and doing his dissertation fieldwork in South Africa, Dr. Hudson can provide an international expertise and perspective which will be extremely helpful to the AAS department as the department begins to make African Studies a more centralized spectrum of their curriculum.

Dr. Hudson is sharing his experiences, both international and educational with his students. He is a welcome addition to the department, and his contributions are highly anticipated.
Denver – One of the most recent issues presented to the public in the run for the next U.S. presidency has been the role of the African American church in America.

Derrick Hudson, assistant professor of African and African American Studies at Metropolitan State College of Denver, is available to provide perspective on why the words of the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., pastor of Sen. Barack Obama’s church, were controversial to some, but not to others. Specifically, he can address the history of “black social gospel.”

According to Hudson, the role of the African American church today stems from its role during slavery in the U.S.

“The pulpit was one of the only spaces and places for African Americans to gather,” says Hudson, who currently teaches Survey of African History and African Politics and Government. “As Toni Morrison reminds us in Beloved, Sunday morning was the only place where African Americans could be beautiful. That legacy helps to explain the ’crowns’ that many of our elder African American women wear on Sundays and the more formal nature of dress of black churches. In an existence of ’dumb anguish’ and sharecropping this was often the only time to be beautiful.”

Hudson, who holds a Ph.D. in international relations, can provide a global view of “black social gospel” and politics, as he has studied in Italy, Africa and the U.S.

He conducted his dissertation fieldwork in South Africa, focusing on transitional justice issues, such as the role of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. Prior to his academic career, Hudson served as a captain in the United States Air Force, with tours in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the former West Germany and Great Britain.

Hudson’s expertise includes: race relations, African Americans and U.S. politics, religious “literacy,” theological issues, urban studies and poverty, and globalization.

Contact Angelia McGowan at 303-556-5133 or to coordinate an interview with Dr. Hudson. -30- WEB: Metropolitan State College of Denver

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Makanda Ken McIntyre

Makanda, whose given name was "Kenneth Arthur McIntyre," was born on September 7, 1931 in Boston, Massachusetts. His parents, who were from Jamaica, raised him in the South End, a largely West Indian area. He picked up his first saxophone at the late age of 19 after being inspired by Charlie Parker. He made up for lost time through tireless practice and discipline.
After serving two years in the Army, Makanda earned his bachelors in Music Composition from the Boston Conservatory of Music in 1958, with a certificate in flute performance; a Masters in Music Composition from the Boston Conservatory in 1959. He took an Ed.D. in Curriculum Design from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1975.

Makanda was known primarily for leading his own ensembles -- performing on alto saxophone, flute, bass clarinet, oboe and bassoon -- and being proficient on more than 16 instruments, including bass, drums and piano. His playing on all these instruments projected a highly energetic, celebratory life force.

His tremendous work ethic was evident throughout his life and his teachings. He committed himself to inspiring all people about music and believed in the unlimited potential of every student. Makanda taught extensively in the New York City schools and also served on the faculties of Central State University, Wesleyan University, Fordham University, Smith College, and the New School University Jazz and Contemporary Music Department. In 1971, he began a 24-year tenure at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury. At Old Westbury, he founded and chaired the American Music, Dance and Theatre Program, which was one of the country's first departments dedicated to the arts in the African American tradition. Makanda designed and taught more than 10 courses in instrumental music, arranging, history, theory and composition. He retired as a professor emeritus from Old Westbury in 1995.

In 1983, Makanda founded The Contemporary African American Music Organization (CAAMO) to promote free expression and continuing education in music and the performing arts with African American origins. CAAMO held more than 250 performances and educational workshops throughout the New York area. The CAAMO orchestra performed in many venues, including Carnegie Recital Hall, throughout the 80's.

Makanda performed to great acclaim worldwide. He toured with the Beaver Harris and the 360-degree Experience, with Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra, and appeared on Cecil Taylor's groundbreaking album, Unit Structures. In the early 90's he was artist-in-residence Bolivia. In 1998, he served as a Jazz Ambassador to the Middle East under the auspices of the Kennedy Center and the United States Information Agency.

In addition to teaching and performing, Makanda composed and arranged songs and scores for film and TV specials. He served on The New York State Council for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, and was an active member of International Association of Jazz Educators, National Black Music Caucus and Local 802 Musicians Union. He also published numerous articles and music guidebooks and lectured internationally.

He had the privilege to perform and record with such artists as Nat Adderley, Walter Bishop, Jr., Joanne Brackeen, Jaki Byard, Ron Carter, Richard Davis, Eric Dolphy, Charlie Haden, Craig Harris, Sam Jones, David Murray, Charli Persip, Ben Riley, Warren Smith, Andrei Strobert, Arthur Taylor, and Reggie Workman.

It was in the early 90's that he changed his name to Makanda Ken McIntyre. While performing in Zimbabwe, a stranger handed him a piece of paper on which was written, "Makanda," which means "many skins" in the Ndebele language and "many heads" in Shona.

Makanda was devoted to his family, and named many tunes after them, including his mother, Blanche, his father, Arthur Augustus, his sister, Eileen Mercedes ("Puunti"), his first wife, Charlotte ("Charshee"), his sons Kaijee and Kheil, and his second wife, Joy. His song titles reflect a deep pride in his Jamaican heritage, his commitment to African American struggles, his spiritual nature, and his love of good food!

Makanda passed away at the age of 69 as a result of a heart attack on June 13, 2001, at his home in New York City.

PRESS RELEASE CONTACT: TERRY JENOURE, DIRECTOR Augusta Savage Gallery, Fine Arts Center WEB NEWS: University of Massachusetts Amherst 413-545-5177

Monday, June 2, 2008

Black pirates played important role in 17th, 18th century

History of Black Pirates, Piracy has enjoyed a long, illustrious history. Despite the current efforts from law enforcement agents, pirates continue to flaunt violence and fear on the oceans and seas of the world, capturing cargo and ransoming those captured.

The earliest records of piracy date back to the writings of Greek historian Polybius around 140 BCE, who coined the term pirate (peirato).

Known as the People of the Seas, early pirates (whose origins have only been hypothesized, never confirmed) terrorized cities along the Aegean Sea and Egypt's coast. Early civilizations of the Tyrrhenians, Thracians and Illyrians also have been associated with piracy. These seafaring societies wreaked havoc on the trade routes of the Roman Empire, from its infancy through its Golden Age and decline.

Historians have attributed a contributing role in the eventual fall of the Roman Empire to the land-based pirates, the Vandals.

Pirate ships usually carried far more crew and weapons than ordinary ships of a similar size, easily outnumbering their victims.

History of Black PiratesThe most famous pirates had a terrifying reputation. They flaunted this by flying gruesome flags including the “Jolly Roger” with its images of skull and crossbones that often led victims to surrender quickly, not fight at all.
As the European powers increased exploration, the expansion of sea trade routes and colonization, piracy in the Caribbean came to be known as the Golden Age of Piracy.

Half the pirates had ties to the British Isles, while a quarter came from colonies in the West Indies and North America. Another group of men also entered into this number, but they tended to receive only cursory mention in history books. These were the Black Pirates.

Pirates, as many people know, sailed under a black flag. What the general public doesn't know, however, is that many pirates were as Black as the flags they flew.
The Golden Age of piracy was also the heyday of the Atlantic slave trade. The relationship between piracy and the slave trade is complex and ambiguous. Some pirates participated in the slave trade and shared their contemporaries' attitude to Africans as commodities for exchange.The Golden Age of piracy
However, many judged the Africans more on the basis of their language and sailing skills – their level of cultural attainment – rather than their race.

Piracy represented a way out, and a way to challenge the very system that made slavery possible. Most of these black pirates would have been runaway slaves, either joining with the pirates on the course of the voyage from Africa, deserting from the plantation, or sent as slaves to work on board ship.

Seafaring in general offered more autonomy to blacks than life on the plantation, but piracy in particular, could. Although it was risky, it offered one of the few chances at freedom for an African in the 18th century.

Black pirates would often lead the boarding party to capture a prize. The Morning Star had "a Negro Cook doubly armed" in the boarding party, and more than half of Edward Condent's boarding party on the Dragon were black. Some black pirates even became quartermasters or captains.

In the 17th century, blacks found on pirate ships were not tried in the courts with the other pirates because it was assumed they were slaves, but by the 18th century they were being executed alongside their white 'brethren'. Still the most likely fate for a black pirate, if he was captured, was to be sold into slavery.

Despite the actual waves of violence and destruction following in a pirate's wake, pirates have been admired by fiction lovers regardless of medium, throughout time.

Books like James Fenimore Cooper's "The Water Witch" and Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island" or film classics like "Adventures of Captain Fabian" and "Blackbeard the Pirate" are inspired, albeit romantically, by actual pirate excursions.

Books such as Treasure Island and movies like Pirates of the Caribbean, portray white pirates not as hateful criminals, but as lovable rogues, capable of cruelty, but also somehow admirable, even lovable.

It became imperative, then, for the established powers of the European world to conceal the fact that many pirates were in fact people of color. It would have caused havoc if slaves knew that freedom was just offshore, riding the waves, flying a
black flag.

Pirates were "marginal men" driven by desperation and rage to vengeful acts of theft, terrorism and violence against an oppressive society.

Early 18th-century Europe was in the throes of severe economic, social, political and
religious changes that did not benefit all sectors of society equally. If it can be said that many lives were thus "sacrificed on the altar of progress," then pirates belong in the ranks of those men and women who refused to die quietly.
lacks were an important part of most pirate crewsBlacks were an important part of most pirate crews, and statistical evidence suggests that 25 to 30 percent of an estimated 5,000-plus pirate’s active during the years 1716 to 1726 were of African descent.
Tough enough and smart enough to escape bondage, a runaway slave could be counted on to fight to keep his freedom. Indeed, at least two crews were entirely black, with the exception of a single white man apiece.

Piratical racial tolerance did not proceed from a vision of the fundamental brotherhood of man but rather from a spirit of revolt against political, economic and social oppression.

Mutual feelings of marginality meant that the primary allegiance of pirates was given to their brethren. It is hardly surprising that so many blacks--confronted with far worse prospects by existing within the European or American social order--chose

Black Caesar: The black pirate most often written about is Black Caesar. Legend identifies him as a tall African chief with great strength and keen intelligence. A conniving captain lured him and his warriors aboard a slaver with a gold watch that fascinated Caesar. Once on board, the captain and his men plied the Africans with food while enticing them with musical instruments, jewels, silk scarves, and furs. With his focus on these unusual treasures, Caesar failed to notice that the slaver put to sea. Upon learning the truth, he and his men fought the ship’s crew, but the slavers eventually subdued the Africans. During his confinement, Caesar refused to eat or drink.

One sailor showed Caesar kindness, and the two eventually became friends. When the slaver wrecked on the reefs off Florida, the sailor freed Caesar, and the two escaped in a long boat loaded with supplies and ammunition.

Caesar and his friend decided to attack passing ships. Whenever one was spotted, they rowed the long boat near the vessel and pretended to be shipwrecked sailors. Once aboard their victim, they seized control and took their treasure ashore.

Caesar slew his friend in a fight over a beautiful woman and took the woman for himself.
Alone, he continued his piratical raids until he acquired a number of ships and men, attacking passing ships, then escaping into the coves and inlets where their prey could not pursue them.Caesar slew his friend in a fight over a beautiful woman
In 1718, when the Royal Navy attacked the legendary pirate Blackbeard, and his crew, near Ocracoke Island, under his captain’s orders, Caesar stood in the powder room with a lit match with which to blow up the ship, if the navy succeeded in subduing the pirates. He was about to do just that when two prisoners, whom Blackbeard had stowed below during the fight, stopped Caesar.

He was taken to Virginia and danced the hempen jig in Williamsburg. Caesar was the only one of the five black pirates – James Black, Thomas Gates, Richard Stiles, and James White being the others – arrested who refused to give evidence against his comrades.

Laurens de Graff, a Dutch pirate was described as tall, blonde, mustached and handsome. Born Laurens Baldran, he was later to be known by the name of Laurens de Griffe or Laurens de Graff.

He was one of the foremost of the buccaneers in the late 17th century and was heralded as possibly the greatest buccaneer by his peers including Sir Henry Morgan.

Historians of the day never commented that he was black simply because of what might happen should the slave population of the Caribbean find out about his success.

Laurens de Graff was the material of legends. A successful, well-cultured pirate, he is said to have been genteel and refined and kept musicians aboard ship to entertain himself and crew.

Over his 30-year career, de Graff was one of a handful to defeat a British Naval vessel in combat, and attack and capture nearly every town on the Spanish Main, notably Vera Cruz, Campeche and Puerto Bello among others. He was awarded The Order of St Louis by the French.

In 1682, de Graff had become so successful that, in an ironic turn, Henry Morgan, in his official capacity as Governor of Jamaica, sent the frigate under command of Peter Haywood, pirate hunting with de Graff as his primary quarry. Laurens de Graff accepted a commission in the French navy by Governor Pierre-Paul Tarin de Cussy in 1687. He also engaged in a ship battle off southern Cuba with a Biscayan frigate and the Cuban guarda del costa, sinking several piraguas and taking a small ship as prize.

In January 1691 he attacked near Santo Domingo and was soundly defeated by a Spanish force three times the size of his French force, narrowly escaping with his life.

The English responded in May 1695 by attacking Port-de-Paix, sacking the town and capturing de Graff's wife and two daughters.

The last known whereabouts of Laurens de Graff was in the area of Louisiana where he went to help set up a French colony near Biloxi, Mississippi. Some sources claim he died there, others claim locations in Alabama.

John Julian: During the 17th and 18th centuries as many as 30 percent of sailors were African-American. At sea, African Americans worked as cooks, musicians, skilled sailors, and unskilled workers.

African Americans also worked on pirate ships. John Julian piloted the pirate ship Whydah (WID-uh).

Pirates threw the law of the land overboard. That was good news for John Julian, a half-blood Mosquito Indian who joined Samuel Bellamy early in his brief, brilliant career. On land, Julian's skin made him nobody. On water, his skill made him somebody. He eventually piloted the Whydah, which was the leading ship of Bellamy’s fleet. Julian was one of 30 to 50 people of African descent in the pirate crew - all treated as equals.

Julian's life took a nosedive after he survived the Whydah wreck in 1717. He was bought by John Quincy—whose grandson, President John Quincy Adams, became a staunch abolitionist.

A purported "unruly slave," Julian the Indian was sold to another owner and tried often to escape. During one attempt he killed a bounty hunter who was trying to catch him. He was executed in 1733.

As the Golden Age of Piracy came to an end, the act of piracy was considered a capital offense. Once regional heroes, pirates became despised criminal offenders, receiving harsh punishment for their crimes.

Blacks became pirates for the same reasons as other men did, but they also sought the freedom often denied them elsewhere.

It isn’t known how many of the estimated 400 pirates hanged for their crimes between 1716 and 1726 were black, for the historical record fails to show this.

Recognition of the black man's role in the maritime world of pirates has been slow to enter America's perception of its past. Like their brethren who weren’t given the chance to stand trial, but were sold into slavery, these pirates remain lost to history.

Texas Southern University, 3100 Cleburne Street, Houston, TX 77004 Phone: 713-313-7011

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Blacks not receiving chemotherapy for rectal cancer, despite seeing cancer specialists, U-M study finds

Arden M. Morris, M.D., M.P.H.<br />Assistant Professor of Surgery

Arden M. Morris, M.D., M.P.H. Assistant Professor of Surgery University of Michigan Health System 2920G Taubman Health Center 1500 East Medical Center Drive Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5331 e-mail:

Arden Morris, MD is an Assistant Professor of Surgery in the Division of Colorectal Surgery. Dr. Morris graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in mathematics. She received her M.D. degree from Rush Medical College in Chicago in 1993 and went on to complete her General Surgery residency at the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland Oregon.

From 2000 to 2002, Dr. Morris was a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar and earned a Masters of Public Health degree at the University of Washington in Seattle. She completed a fellowship in Colon and Rectal Surgery at the University of Minnesota in June of 2003. Dr. Morris joined the faculty at the University of Michigan in July 2004.

Dr. Morris has won numerous awards for presentations at scientific meetings. Her primary research interests have focused on racial disparities in surgical outcomes and on the quality of surgical care.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Black patients and white patients are seeing rectal cancer specialists at similar rates, but blacks are still less likely to receive chemotherapy or radiation therapy, according to a new study from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The study found blacks were 23 percent less likely to receive chemotherapy for rectal cancer and 12 percent less likely to receive radiation therapy than whites.

“Although there wasn’t a discrepancy between African Americans and whites in the rates of consultation with an oncologist, we found a large discrepancy in the receipt of chemotherapy. This is very important. We knew that African Americans were not receiving chemotherapy for rectal cancer at the same rates as white Americans and it was contributing to their increased mortality. Now we have a better idea of where the problem lies: somewhere between the visit with the oncologist and the actual initiation of chemotherapy,” says study author Arden Morris, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of surgery at the U-M Medical School and chief of general surgery at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

The study appeared online May 13 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute

The researchers found that 73 percent of blacks and 75 percent of whites saw a medical oncologist after being diagnosed with rectal cancer. But only 54 percent of blacks went on to receive chemotherapy, while 70 percent of whites did. Similarly, rates of referral to a radiation oncologist did not differ significantly, but only 74 percent of blacks, compared to 83 percent of whites, received radiation.

The data came from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Registry’s Medicare-linked database. SEER is maintained by the National Cancer Institute and collects information about cancer incidence, treatment and mortality. The study looked at 2,582 whites and 134 blacks aged 66 and older who had been diagnosed with rectal cancer.
Long-term survival after rectal cancer surgery is up to 20 percent worse for blacks than for whites. At the same time, the addition of chemotherapy and radiation is known to improve survival in all rectal cancer patients by as much as 20 percent. Researcher suspect the lack of treatment in blacks is largely driving the decreased survival.

“We now know that the initial visit with an oncologist is not the barrier to treatment. Our next step is to better understand what are the human factors that contribute to this discrepancy. We’re interested in hearing what individual people have to say,” Morris says.

Her next study will include focus groups of people who have been treated for colorectal cancer to understand how they reached the decision to have chemotherapy or whether they feel they made a decision at all. The researchers suspect treatment discrepancies may be due in part to social differences and priorities among populations, such as patient preferences or access to resources including transportation or family care.

“Choice is important. If there’s a choice, this maybe isn’t a disparity but a preference. But if it’s not a choice, then we need to understand the barriers and find solutions,” Morris says.

In addition to Morris, study authors were Awori J. Hayanga and John D. Birkmeyer, both from the Department of Surgery at the U-M Medical School; Kevin G. Billingsley from Oregon Health and Science University; and Barbara Matthews and Laura-Mae Baldwin, both from the University of Washington.

Funding for the study was from the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute.

Reference: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 4, Issue 11, June 4, 2007; published online May 13, 2008, DOI: 10.1093/jnci/djn145

Written by: Nicole Fawcett Media contact: Nicole Fawcett E-mail: Phone: 734-764-2220

Saturday, May 31, 2008

“Separate and Unequaled: Black Baseball in the District of Columbia”

JOHN W. ‘BUD’ FOWLER Photo Credit: National Baseball Library

Keokuk, Iowa, baseball club featuring JOHN W. ‘BUD’ FOWLER, Date: 1885 Photo Credit: National Baseball Library Photographer: Unknown

Bud Fowler (March 16, 1858 - February 26, 1913), born John W. Jackson, was a baseball player and baseball club organizer, the first known Black professional player. He played more seasons and more games in Organized Baseball than any black man until Jackie Robinson in 1946.
Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum Opens “Separate and Unequaled: Black Baseball in the District of Columbia”

From the mid-19th century, baseball was played on sandlots, public parks and white-owned ball fields across the District of Columbia. But the most popular teams, accomplished players and thrilling games, whether professional or amateur, neighborhood or citywide, came out of the black community. Long before Jackie Robinson integrated the Brooklyn Dodgers, exceptional players like Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard and James “Cool Papa” Bell were setting records and drawing capacity crowds as players for the Homestead Grays, one of the Negro Leagues’ top teams.
Ballplayers such as Satchel Paige and Roy Campanella, who were eventually recruited by major league baseball, played in D.C. honing their skills in the Negro League games.

The Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum exhibition “Separate and Unequaled: Black Baseball in the District of Columbia” chronicles and celebrates the history of African Americans in baseball in the nation’s capital despite segregation. “Separate and Unequaled” is accompanied by a traveling exhibit “Discover Greatness: An Illustrated History of Negro League Baseball,” both on view from May 18 through Oct. 5 at the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., located at 801 K Street N.W. The society is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Baseball Negro Leagues, Morris Brown College. Credit Line: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, LC-USZ62-114266]

African American baseball players from Morris Brown College, with boy and another man, standing at door, Atlanta, Georgia
The story of black baseball in Washington begins as early as the mid-1800s when the game was “a perfect mania” in the city, according to a Sept. 11, 1866, Daily National Intelligencerarticle. Baseball clubs formed throughout the city as citizens young and old eagerly participated in the sport. But neighborhood and organized African American teams, unable to own ballparks, played wherever they could and often requested the use of white-owned fields,
such as the White Lot located on the grounds of what would become the Ellipse. Teams such as the Washington Mutuals and the Washington Alerts held games there until the use of the park by blacks was abruptly ended in 1874. Charles Remond Douglass (son of Frederick Douglass) played on both those teams. Griffith Stadium, the home of the major league Washington Senators, and located in the one of the District’s major African American neighborhoods, became the city’s primary venue for black and white games—with segregated seating when white clubs played. Black semi-pro clubs, such as the Washington Potomacs, frequently rented the stadium and their games drew larger crowds from the general citizenry than those of the hometown team. But black baseball really took off when the Homestead Grays from Pittsburgh became known as Washington’s hometown Negro National League team playing at Griffith’s stadium beginning formally in 1940.

“Separate and Unequaled” features more than 55 photographs, paintings, documents and artifacts illustrating the proud history of black baseball in the area. The show notes the various amateur, collegiate (Howard University) and semi-pro black baseball teams and leagues, as well as the community teams that gave rise to them. Highlights include large, original paintings of Grays ball players by artist and author Kadir Nelson’s that are replicated in his book, “We are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball.” Uniforms, signed balls and bats, gloves, news clippings, correspondence and other memorabilia document the record-setting accomplishments achieved and tribulations endured by these early players—many of whom never got to play in the majors. Recognition is given to the club owners who successfully organized their teams into million dollar enterprises through the onset of baseball’s integration, which ultimately signaled the Negro Leagues’ demise.

The exhibition also highlights the critical role played by sportswriters, such as Sam Lacy, of the Washington Tribune and the Baltimore and Washington Afro-American, and Art Carter, sports editor of the Washington Afro-American and Gray’s publicist in promoting the team and Negro League games. The Negro League participation by woman owner Effa Manley, who in retirement fought for Baseball Hall of Fame recognition for Negro Leagues players, is discussed in the exhibition. Providing an interactive experience, the exhibition offers visitors authentic historic stadium sounds, audio and film interviews with legendary players, and the opportunity to take a photo with a life-size Grays player cutout.

Anthony A. Gualtieri, museum specialist in history, is exhibition curator; Gail S. Lowe, senior historian, is co-curator; and Ryan A. Swanson, doctoral candidate at Georgetown University, provided additional research and writing for “Separate and Unequaled,” which was developed by the museum and presented in collaboration with the Historical Society of Washington, D.C.

“Discover Greatness,” a traveling exhibition from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo., provides a broad national overview of the Negro Leagues. A timeline accompanied by images and artifacts offers a contextual perspective on this historic sports movement. “Discover Greatness” is presented by the museum in collaboration with the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., and is sponsored by Bank of America.

The Anacostia Community Museum opened in southeast Washington in 1967 as the nation’s first federally funded neighborhood museum. The museum has expanded its focus from an African American emphasis to documenting, interpreting and collecting about the impact of historical and contemporary social issues on communities.

For more information about the museum, the public may call (202) 633-1000 or (202) 633-5285 (TTY); for tours, call (202) 633-4870. Web site:

Contacts Media only: Marcia Baird Burris (202) 633-4876 Public: (202) 633-1000

Friday, May 30, 2008

Unexpected duality in attitudes of black youth in America

Cathy Cohen

Cathy Cohen David and Mary Winton Green Professor in Political Science and the College; Deputy Provost for Graduate Education

Cathy Cohen's general field of specialization is American politics, although her research interests include African-American politics, women and politics, lesbian and gay politics, and social movements.

She is the author of the book The Boundaries of Blackness: AIDS and the Breakdown of Black Politics (University Of Chicago Press, 1999), and the co-editor with Kathleen Jones and Joan Tronto of Women Transforming Politics: An Alternative Reader (New York University Press, 1997). Her work has been published in numerous journals and edited volumes, including the American Political Science Review, GLQ, NOMOS and Social Text.

Cohen also is editor with Frederick Harris of a new book series from Oxford Press entitled Transgressing Boundaries: Studies in Black Politics and Black Communities.

In Prof. Cohen's new role as Deputy Provost for Graduate Education, she leads a critical assessment of the graduate experience across the University, considering new programs and paradigms necessary to define graduate education for the future.
Black youth want to be politically active but believe government ignores them; they back sex education in schools and practice safe sex; they’re top consumers of rap music but disapprove of its violence and portrayal of women.

Although African-American youth are just as politically motivated as Hispanic and white youth, believing that they have the skills to participate and can make a difference, they are skeptical of the political process, asserting that, “leaders in government care little about people like me.” This conclusion is the result of a new comprehensive national study of youth opinions, which also shows that black youth are more likely than Hispanics and whites to use protection during sex, are critical consumers of rap music and videos, and are more conservative in their social attitudes than other youth.

The study, titled the Black Youth Project, was launched to provide a more comprehensive and complex perspective of African-American youth, said Cathy Cohen, leader of the project and Professor in Political Science at the University of Chicago. “There has been a lot of talk about African-American youth from people like Bill Cosby. Unfortunately, most of these comments are not grounded in any type of empirical reality. Similarly, there have been a number of other studies of African-American young people, largely focused on the outcomes of their behaviors that do not include the voices and views of young black people.

“The Black Youth Project is committed to making the ideas and attitudes of young people our central focus. By asking young people themselves about important issues like sex education, police discrimination, abortion or same-sex marriage, the Black Youth Project is able to provide data that will help build effective policies that can significantly improve the lives and prospects of young black people. This study is about research, not ranting,” said Cohen.

The team surveyed 1,590 black, white and Hispanic youth nationwide between the ages of 15 and 25 to ask them about their sexual behaviors and attitudes, about their views on social and cultural issues, and their opinions on government and politics, as well as other topics. The researchers also conducted in-depth interviews with about 40 young black people who completed the survey.

On political issues, the team found both hopeful and discouraging signs of political engagement among black youth.
For example, the study found that 79 percent of young blacks feel that participating in politics can make a difference, a figure similar to that of Hispanics and whites. At the same time, a majority of young blacks and Hispanics agreed that leaders in government care very little about people like them. Similarly, nearly half (48 percent) of black young adults and adolescents agreed with the following statement: “The government treats most immigrants better than it treats most black people in this country;” while only 29 percent of white youth and 18 percent of Hispanic youth agreed. “Black young people are trying to reconcile two conflicting perspectives. One perspective is based in the rhetoric of the government and other institutions, which suggests that we now exist in a color-blind society where everyone is judged merely on merit. The other perspective is rooted in the reality of discrimination that confronts far too many young black people. Given their reality, it is not surprising that a majority of black respondents also said that it is hard for young black people to get ahead because they face so much discrimination,” said Cohen.

The study also found young people embracing newer forms of political involvement. A quarter of black youth, nearly the same amount as those in the other groups, reported “buycotting” during the last 12-months (buying a product because of the company’s social or political values). Smaller but significant percentages of all young people reported signing either paper or e-mail petitions, and sending an e-mail or posting on a political blog.
When asked about their sexual attitudes and behaviors, the team found that most young people have positive attitudes toward sex and feel relatively in control of their sexual activities. Consistent with previous studies, the overwhelming majority of young people ages 18 to 25 in each racial/ethnic group reported having had sexual intercourse.
About one third of the young people ages 15 to 17 reported having sex. Among all black youth, 77 percent reported using protection every time or almost every time they had intercourse, compared with 64 percent for Hispanics and 66 percent for whites.

A majority of young people, mostly young African Americans (76 percent), reported feeling very sure they could tell their partners what they felt comfortable doing sexually. Nearly 90 percent of young people in each ethnic and racial group felt they could convince their partners to use protection before having sex, the survey showed. More than 90 percent of all young people surveyed agreed that sex education should be mandatory in high schools.

Young people also reported confidence in their ability to pick up on negative messages in rap music, which is listened to daily by 58 percent of black youth, compared with 45 percent of Hispanic youth and 23 percent of white youth.

“The overwhelming majority of young people agree with the statement: ‘Rap music videos contain too many references to sex,’” Cohen said. The study found that 72 percent of black and Hispanic youth agreed with the statement, which was supported by 68 percent of white youth. Similarly, the majority of all youth agree that, “rap music videos portray black women in negative and offensive ways,” with black women and girls more likely to strongly agree with this statement. The study showed that 62 percent of black youth, 54 percent of Hispanic youth and 62 percent of white youth think rap music videos are degrading to black women.

On social issues, the surveys found that African-American young people are more likely to agree that homosexuality is always wrong (55 percent for blacks, 36 percent for Hispanics and 35 percent for whites). A majority of African-American youth also opposed legalizing same-sex marriages, (58 percent for blacks, 36 percent for Hispanics and 35 percent for whites).

More information about the survey is available at The Ford Foundation financed the Black Youth Project. The data was gathered by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.

Press Contact: William Harms (773) 702-8356 WEB: University of Chicago News Office 5801 South Ellis Avenue - Room 200 Chicago, Illinois 60637-1473

Thursday, May 29, 2008

E-Activism: Analysis of Black Bloggers in the Blogosphere

Dr Antoinette Pole

Antoinette Pole is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, CT. From 2005-2007she was Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Taubman Center for Public Policy at Brown University, and she received her Ph.D. in Political Science from CUNY Graduate School and University Center. She has expertise in information technology and government and state politics.

She is currently writing a book on political blogs titled, Blogging the Political: Politics and Participation in a Networked Society (Routledge, forthcoming), as well as co-authored book about New York state politics titled, New York Politics: A Tale of Two States, Second Edition (ME Sharpe, forthcoming). Professor Pole has published in several journals including Public Choice, International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, State and Local Government Review, and Spectrum the Journal of State Government. Additionally, Professor Pole serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Information Technology & Politics, and sits on the Executive Committee of the American Political Science Association’s Technology and Politics Section.She has been interviewed by the Boston Globe, Rhode Island Monthly Magazine, and WBRU (radio), Silvio Canto Talk (web-based radio), for her work on blogs.

Professor Pole resides in New York City, and her interests include travel, music, fiction, yoga, NY Times Crosswords, Scrabble, photography, red wine, fashion, film and food. For additional information access Professor Pole's Curriculum Vitae 2008.doc or contact her at
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — In the first scholarly research examining the role of black bloggers in the blogosphere, Brown University researcher Antoinette Pole assessed how bloggers of color use their medium for purposes related to politics. She found that black bloggers are, in fact, mobilizing readers to engage in political participation. Additionally, Pole found that black bloggers do not feel discriminated against or excluded by other bloggers. These findings appear in the International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society.

Among the top political blogs, Pole says blogging has primarily been undertaken by white men, coined by Chris Nolan as the “Big Boys Club.” She says blacks comprise approximately less than 1 percent of political bloggers.

“Though they are less numerous, examining the role of minorities in the blogosphere is important if blogs are being used to engage in political discourse and discussion, and more importantly, political action that has real-world implications,” Pole said. “Who has influence in the blogosphere and how bloggers are using this new medium to undertake political action merits study.”

Based on in-depth interviews with 20 black bloggers, Pole’s study found that 85 percent of respondents use their blogs to engage in political advocacy and to raise money for charitable causes. A majority of the bloggers said they encouraged their readers to vote or to register to vote; 40 percent of the bloggers asked their readers to contact elected officials; 35 percent suggested that their readers sign a petition or attend a rally, protest, or march. Several of the bloggers mentioned using their blogs to endorse candidates for office. Compared to other research examining blogging and political participation, black bloggers appear to be engaged in these online advocacy efforts and philanthropic endeavors to a greater degree than their white counterparts, according to the paper.

“I assumed these bloggers were writing about politics and policy issues, but I didn’t realize the extent to which the authors mobilize their readers and use blogs as a conduit for political participation,” said Pole.

When black bloggers were asked whether they felt discriminated against or left out by other bloggers, a majority of respondents said they do not. “While black bloggers face challenges such as not being linked by more popular bloggers or not receiving as much traffic as other bloggers, they perceive the blogosphere as inclusive.”

Pole also found that black political bloggers do not necessarily blog about issues that are unique to minorities, though at times, they emphasize how issues affect blacks in particular. Respondents commonly reported writing about a variety of topics including race and ethnicity, party politics, and campaigns and elections.

“Findings from this research suggest the blogosphere can be an avenue for greater political participation on the part of blacks and other minorities, given the relatively low threshold to entry and what appear to be low levels of discrimination,” Pole concludes.
This paper is part of Pole’s forthcoming book titled Blogging the Political: Politics and Participation in a Networked Society, which examines the impact of political blogging on politics and participation.

Editors: Brown University has a fiber link television studio available for domestic and international live and taped interviews, and maintains an ISDN line for radio interviews. For more information, call (401) 863-2476. ######

Contact: Deborah Baum (401) 863-2476 WEB HOME: Brown University Home. NEWS HOME: Media Relations Home

Biography and Image Credit: Antoinette Pole, Ph.D. FrontPage

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Untold stories of African-Americans in World War II

Joel William Beeson is an assistant professor at the WVU P.I. Reed School of Journalism.

Joel William Beeson Assistant Professor 304-293-3505 ext. 5422

Joel William Beeson is an assistant professor at the WVU P.I. Reed School of Journalism. Beeson's specialty areas are visual journalism, multimedia and documentary fieldwork. He brings nearly 15 years of professional experience as a photojournalist, photo editor and designer to the classroom.

His photography has appeared in USA Today, Southern Living magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, San Francisco Chronicle, Phoenix Gazette, The Times of London and the Dallas Morning News, to name a few.

Beeson has M.A. and B.A. degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and pursued doctoral studies at the University of California, San Diego in communications. He is presently a doctoral candidate in Ethnic and Media Studies at the Union Institute and University researching how digital technologies can be used by communities to document, preserve and promote their local cultural resources.

Beeson has also served as a photography instructor to homeless children in the after-school program San Francisco Boys and Girls Clubs Cultural Arts Program. Beeson strives to equip students with critical thinking and real-world skills they need to practice visual communication in today's new media environment.
WVU SOJ veterans project reveals untold stories of African-Americans in World War II

Black soldiers not only risked their lives battling German and Japanese forces during World War II but, in many cases, had to fight a more insidious enemy – racism.

New revelations about the dual battles they fought in the war and other untold stories are featured in the documentary, “Fighting on Two Fronts: Untold Stories of African American Vets from WWII,” by Joel Beeson, an assistant professor in the West Virginia University Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism. The documentary aired on West Virginia Public Television.

“There are some really fascinating stories that have come out of this,” Beeson said. “Many of these veterans told me this was the first time they had talked about some of these things. A lot of this information has never been put out there anywhere.”

One such story is told by Marcus Cranford of Charles Town. During the monthlong Battle of Iwo Jima, Cranford’s Navy Seabee battalion of black soldiers was deployed to the island, unarmed, to unload supplies on the beach for U.S. forces while some of the deadliest fighting of the war was going on around them.

“This all started in boot camp in Virginia. He was in a segregated unit with white officers,” Beeson explained. “There was an armed standoff over segregation in the mess hall, and afterward, their officers refused to issue the black troops ammunition even when they were sent onto the beaches of Iwo Jima.”

There are no existing records of the boot camp incident in the Navy’s National Seabee Archive and Museum at Port Hueneme, Calif. The Seabee Archive is the main repository of the unit’s history, and all records of the camp during that period are missing.

Beeson heard similar stories from other blacks who were denied ammunition or weapons at other points during the war.

“I’ve interviewed other African-Americans who told me the same thing,” he said. “Some of these vets believed the white officers were afraid to give them small arms for protection for fear of retaliation or rebellion.”
Most black troops served in service or labor units but, like the Seabees or truck drivers supplying front-line troops, were often in harm’s way.

The role minority groups played in World War II also came to light following criticisms of Ken Burns’ epic documentary series “The War” for its lack of minority representation. Prior to its release, criticism from minorities surfaced, and Burns added content in response to those concerns.

Beeson said he was working on his documentary long before the criticism surfaced on Burns’ film.

“This documentary isn’t in response to that,” he said, “but if it serves to add something to the understanding of the World War II experience of all citizens, then I think I’ve done my job. I feel good about that. Whether it had a bearing on PBS’ decision to air the work, I don’t know. I do know that they’re very interested in having an inclusive American history presented on World War II.”

Another filmmaker, Spike Lee, is also exploring blacks’ roles in the war. He is currently shooting a film based on James McBride’s novel, “Miracle at St. Anna.” It is the story of the all-black 92nd Buffalo Division that fought against Nazi occupation in Italy.

Beeson’s documentary will add to the historical record of minority contributions but in a different style of storytelling than Burns’ piece and a different genre than Lee’s film.

“I let them tell their own stories,” Beeson said. “There is no narrator saying African-Americans did this or Americans did that. I just wanted to let them tell their own stories without somebody interpreting it for them. These are men and women who have kept this information – a lot of times – to themselves for 65 years. Many of them are haunted and have had nightmares about this stuff. I thought it was only right and fair to let them tell their stories.”

In addition to Cranford, three other veterans are featured in the documentary: Madelean McIver of Charles Town, one of only 3,000 blacks in the Women’s Army Corps during the war; John Watson of Beckley, a crew chief with the Tuskegee Airmen; and Hughie Mills of Las Vegas, who volunteered for the 761st Tank Battalion after the Battle of the Bulge.

The documentary grew out of Beeson’s work as director of West Virginia’s Veterans History Project, a collaboration among the P.I. Reed School of Journalism, the American FolkLife Center and the Library of Congress to collect the oral histories of West Virginia’s more than 202,000 veterans. The effort is especially significant in West Virginia as the state has the highest number of veterans per capita in the nation.

Beeson was awarded a media grant from the West Virginia Humanities Council to produce a documentary about West Virginia black veterans.

More than 40 veterans were interviewed over six years for the project. Choosing the final veterans to be featured in the 56-minute documentary, which was whittled down from 30-40 hours of interviews, was a difficult task.

“It’s been a challenge,” Beeson said. “We chose the ones to be featured based on their experiences, and they had to be good storytellers. We looked for patterns and things in common with other African-American soldiers’ experiences. All of them were born in West Virginia, but this isn’t a story exclusive to West Virginia. The scope of it is not about a region. It’s about a range of personal experiences that represent common themes and stories. I think we’ve captured that.”

Many of the veterans Beeson interviewed told him that once they returned home, the discrimination continued.

“When they returned from the war, they still had to deal with racism and segregation in a pre-civil rights era,” he said. “For a lot of these men and women, there wasn’t any closure. There was a lot of unfinished business, and I hope this documentary helps to close that or at least start to heal their wounds.”

Beeson was honored by the Congressional Black Caucus Veterans’ Braintrust in September for his work on the film. The Veterans’ Braintrust is one of the most powerful political and educational groups advocating on behalf of blacks serving in the armed services and veterans.

Contacts: Kimberly Brown Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism Office: (304) 293-3505, ext. 5403