Vice President Kamala Harris Gives a Message To HBCU Students: “We Are Requiring You To Lead”

By Morgan Norris

Washington, D.C. – As a select group of HBCU student journalists sat in the White House briefing room on Feb. 23 not knowing what to expect, the Vice President of the United States and Senior Advisor for Public Engagement gave them one mission: lead. 

Keisha Lance Bottoms (left) and Vice President Kamala Harris (right) speak with over 40 HBCU students from around the country. Photo courtesy of Erica Lowe / White House Director of African American Media

The press briefing covered student-led topics such as underfunding, racial inequality, climate change, mental health, and the appreciation of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). However, the dominant theme throughout was leadership.

“We are requiring you to lead,” said Vice President Kamala Harris, a prominent Howard University alumna. “We are counting on you to help us educate our world about who we are as Americans.”

Before Vice president Harris’ appearance, Keisha Lance Bottoms directed a riveting conversation guided by student questions. A true leader in the White House, Bottoms was the first mayor in Atlanta to serve in all branches of the city’s local government: city council member, county judge, and mayor. Addressing the controversy over Florida’s African American studies, Bottoms credited Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) for her leadership skills when she was a student journalism major. 

“I had a professor, Emma Dawson, who exposed me to Zora Neale Hurston, and she taught a seminar on Toni Morrison,” Bottoms said. “All of these things had just enriched me. When I see what’s happening in Florida, it’s frightening. It’s disheartening. It makes me angry.”

The former mayor of Atlanta explained that the Biden-Harris administration’s historic $6 billion investment can only do so much without interfering with the state level. Student journalists were encouraged to be a leader in monitoring local politics. 

“So just a reminder of why elections matter, not just when it’s time to go and vote for the president but when it’s time to vote for your elected officials,” said Bottoms. “All the funding in the world, quite frankly, cannot stop what the governor is doing, and what he is doing is disgraceful.”

Despite the constant fight to protect HBCUs, the FAMU alum highlighted the collaborative work being done to combat historic underfunding.

Vice President Kamala Harris and Keisha Lance Bottoms (center) are photographed with HBCU students following the press briefing. Morgan Norris (left) is pictured in the front row. Photo courtesy of Erica Lowe / White House Director of African American Media

“There’s a great committee led by Tony Allen, President of Delaware State,” said Bottoms cheerfully. “They are getting exposure to where the resources are and how funding can be accessed.”

Hampton University’s Scripps Howard School of Journalism & Communications was represented by myself, a second-year journalism major, accompanied by Dean Julia A. Wilson. Hampton’s visit to the White House confirmed Wilson’s confidence and faith in the leadership of her student journalists. 

“Seeing little things Morgan did like making sure she’s sitting in the front row with our Vice President talking directly to her and being the first to stand on the White House podium for photos spoke volumes,” said Wilson. “Our students are ready to participate. Ready to lead.”

Vice President Harris mentioned that the Divine Nine was foreign to the White House even though both Harris and Bottoms are active and vocal members. The Divine Nine, also referred to as The National Pan-Hellenic Council, houses nine Black Greek-letter organizations.

“When I first took the stage as a nominee to be Vice President, I talked about my family,” said Harris. Within her list of families, she mentioned her Divine Nine family. “There were people looking at each other, ‘What’s Divine Nine?’ and I thought to myself, ‘You’re about to find out.’” 

A FAMU student from the same former chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated as Keisha Lance Bottoms appreciated the two political leaders being vocal about the organizations’ leadership. 

“I know what it feels like to have our Divine Nine culture not be understood,” said junior journalist Kyla Hubbard. “It felt extremely good to be seen and heard as a member of Delta Sigma Theta by some of the top leaders in the world that share the same experiences as me.”

The vice president not only emphasized leadership but advised the HBCU student journalists to tell stories that maintain humanity in a world that often forgets to do so. 

“I would encourage you as journalists to remind all of us to see people in their true selves,” said Harris, a California native. “We should always require our leaders, in particular, to see people in the full relief of who they are.”

HBCU students listen to Vice President Kamala Harris speak during the press briefing. Photo courtesy of Erica Lowe / White House Director of African American Media

Although the Biden administration is credited with making progress with Black universities, the two prominent HBCU alumni stressed the need for leadership from budding journalists in working toward a better future. 

“We’re going to need you to help us articulate why we need to put resources into the things we just discussed,” said Vice President Harris, who has created legislation to preserve HBCUs. “We need you to lead and help us see what’s coming.”

Students felt empowered seeing their nation’s vice president and senior advisor for public engagement, both ardent HBCU allies, show interest in and excitement for their futures. They received assurance that their voices matter.

“When Keisha Lance Bottoms said that this is the coolest thing she’s done since being in the White House, I knew we were finally getting the representation we needed,” said Marcus Speakman, a junior representing Miles College. “They’re counting on us to lead.”


The Knight’s in Shining Blue and White

HU Basketball Players Read and Talk to the Little Knights of Barron Elementary School

By O’Shay Jelks | Staff Writer

Hampton basketball player Marquis Godwin reads to a class of children at Barron Elementary School. Photo approved by Hampton City Schools. By O’Shay Jelks

The old proverb “it takes a village to raise a child” was demonstrated vividly at Barron Elementary School when Hampton University’s basketball team entered the classrooms to read and inspire the youth, just before Halloween.

Five of the team’s players participated in the event along with two coaches: Marquis Godwin, Russell Dean, Daniel Banister, Kyrese Mullen, Coach Hamilton and Coach Saunders.

The principal of the school, Karen Johnson, said the overall goal was to show the students what happens when you put in hard work.

“I heard the HU basketball team continuously say to put hard work in, to stay focused and to work together over and over again with the kids,” said Johnson. “That really was the goal. I wanted them to see what they could be.”

Among the basketball players was a former student of Barron Elementary, Marquis Godwin, who caught the little Knight’s attention with his own piece of armor.

Walking down the halls as Black Panther, Godwin showed that this village created a family.

“Putting on the Black Panther costume represented togetherness, family and perseverance,” said Godwin. “I am a hometown kid of the Hampton community and having the privilege of playing collegiate basketball at Hampton University is a major blessing. This is the first of many community involvements that I will be doing, and I can’t wait to bring joy and happiness to my city.”

Along with Godwin, the other players had the little Knights actively engaged while they read and shared wise words. One class, in particular, was immersed in the conversations.

Walking into Ms. Spinelle’s first grade class, Daniel Banister, was greeted with open arms. 

“I’m a big fan of you and Lebron  James,” said Syenn, a first grade student.

After reading James’ book on how to play basketball, Banister proposed a question.

“Do you guys know what collaboration means,” asked Banister.

“I know, I know,” the first graders exclaimed as they raised their hands.

“Collaboration means working together,” one of the first graders said.

Heart-warmed by the response, Banister smiled and continued to tell the students the importance of collaborating with one’s team.

“Collaboration is going to bring everything I just told you guys together, and that’s what’s going to help you succeed,” said Banister. “When you bring perseverance, teamwork and working with others together, it will help you be successful in all areas of your life.”

Moving from room to room, the players ended the day with a good old-fashioned basketball game with the little Knights and left the school knowing they made their mark. Principal Johnson said the event was phenomenal and that the players were wonderful with the kids. 

“They were able to communicate to them the important things: teamwork, hard work, perseverance, tolerance, and they also read stories and who doesn’t love that,” saidJohnson.

After the inspirational event, Johnson left her little Knights a piece of her own advice.

“Go out and be the amazing people we already know you are.”

Daylight Savings Bill

Amarah Ennis | Staff Writer

Students across campus—and the country—woke up on March 13 to find that they had lost an hour of precious sleep. The thief in question? Daylight Savings Time.

It’s a popularly disliked ritual: only 25% of people want to keep switching clocks biannually, according to a 2021 survey by the Associated Press. But Americans pushed their clocks forward into Daylight Savings Time (DST) that Sunday or, if they were awake at 2 a.m, watched as their phones and laptops automatically did so.

The switch seems purposeless now, but the reason daylight saving time was introduced and made law in 1918 was to help people make better use of their sunlight hours and decrease energy consumption, according to National Geographic. Moving the clock forward an hour ensures that people can be up and out of the house for longer after classes or work shifts.

Whether you’re a DST lover or hater, listen up: thanks to a bill unanimously passed in the Senate, Americans may never move their clocks back again. However, a sunshine-filled year may not be the future we want to live in.

The bill is called the Sunshine Protection Act and was introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and co-sponsored by Democrats and Republicans.

According to an official press release from Rubio’s staff, the bill “reflects the Florida legislature’s 2018 enactment of year-round DST” and the similar legislation of 15 other states (not including Virginia). These states can’t adhere to year-round DST without the federal government’s approval, so the Sunshine Protection Act has to be passed for those state laws to take effect. If the bill does pass, though, it won’t just be those states; everyone will set their clocks forward and never go back.

Rubio has been promoting the bill on Twitter with the hashtag #LocktheClock, hoping to prevent springing forward or falling back and expand the eight-month DST period to the entire year.

“We don’t have to keep doing this stupidity anymore. Why we would enshrine this in our laws and keep it for so long is beyond me,” he said on March 15 on the Senate floor.

In theory, students should be celebrating this bill. Even during the cold fall and winter months, they’ll still have plenty of daylight for hanging out with friends or walking across the pedestrian bridge behind campus to eat at a local restaurant.

Some bill supporters have even touted the health benefits of staying in DST.

“When we do this jumping back and forth, heart attacks go up. Strokes go up. Traffic accidents go up. Even seasonal depression goes up,” said Sen. Cory Booker, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, on his Tik Tok account. “This is about our well-being.”

It’s true that the switching of the clocks back and forth has been studied and generally agreed upon to cause problems with cardiovascular health and even increase the risk of cancer. However, as a sleep expert told the Boston Globe, DST is not the time zone to which we should commit.

“In their zeal to prevent the annual switch, the Senate has unfortunately chosen the wrong time to stabilize onto,” said Dr. Charles Czeisler, chief of the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “What the Senate passed yesterday would require all Americans to start their work and school an hour earlier than they usually do, and that’s particularly difficult to do in the winter, when the sun is rising later.”

A 2018 study from scientists in the European Union, published in the Springer Internal and Emergency Medicine journal, found that this problem with getting up while it’s dark has more to do with the human body than with laziness. 

The body runs on a circadian rhythm—defined by the National Institute of Health as an internal 24-hour clock that affects digestive, hormonal, and sleep systems. This rhythm is mainly controlled by light and resets with sunrise light. If students wake up and are meant to be out of bed, learning and working while the sun is still below the horizon for another hour or more, it could have severe consequences for their academic performance and mental health.

Peggy Peebles, the coordinator of clinical experiences for Hampton’s Education Department, said that the bill most negatively affects elementary school students, who need the hours of daylight the most.

“The research shows that [elementary school] kids learn better in the morning, and function better in the morning. Middle and high school kids work better in the mid-morning, like around 10 or 11 [a.m.],” she said. “I think that we need to focus more on the elementary kids … if you establish a strong foundation, whatever happens in middle and high school academically will be okay.”

That’s elementary school, but would it be better for college students to have more sunlight in the mornings or the evenings? Peebles said it didn’t make a difference for Hampton’s students’ class attendance.

“Doesn’t matter whether it’s morning or afternoon,” she said, “they still don’t do it!”

It’s important to note that America has already tried yearlong DST. The government attempted twice to adhere to permanent daylight saving: once before WWII and in the 1970s, as the solution to an ongoing energy crisis. In the experiment under Nixon, the federal government planned to make daylight saving time permanent for two years.

As the New York Times reported in 1974, the approval rating for this law was nearly 80% when it was introduced and passed. However, that percentage dropped to almost 40% only three months later. People hated permanent daylight saving time. 

The public perceived an increase in traffic accidents due to the morning darkness, and parents didn’t like sending their children out when the sun hadn’t risen yet. Some schools even delayed start times until the sun had come up, eliminating the supposed after-school benefits of permanent DST while maintaining all sleep-related issues. Not even a year passed before standard time was reinstated, and Americans were back to switching their clocks forwards and backward twice a year.

The Sunshine Protection Bill is currently stalling in the house. According to The Hill, many House representatives want to table this issue to work on the war in Ukraine. Others are hearing the complaints from their voters and beginning to doubt the benefits touted by the bill’s Senate support.

“I’ve been hearing a lot about this from my constituents recently, because we’re in Seattle and it is so dark,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, “and so if we make daylight saving permanent, it’s gonna be dark until nine o’clock in the morning.”

Another House representative, John Yarmuth of Kentucky, said that the longer the bill idles in the house, the less likely it is to be passed—not that that’s a bad thing.

“Now what will happen is you’ll get all of this outpouring of studies and people say, ‘Yeah, we agree you shouldn’t change twice a year, but what is it, standard time or daylight time?’ And then you get the farm bureaus and the parents associations,” he said. “It’ll get more controversial the longer it goes.”

Peggy Peebles agreed with much of the public opinion on Twitter that it will be difficult to definitively choose a one-time zone.

“It’s like you’ve got to give up something one way or the other,” she said. “It’s a catch-22.”

Until Congress can come to a consensus, either way, we’ll have to keep making the switch—so enjoy your extra daylight hour now, and look forward to getting your extra hour of rest back on November 4.

2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the historic U.S. v. Caldwell Supreme Court case

Solyana Bekele | Staff Writer

In the echoey room of the Scripps Howard auditorium, Earl Caldwell, a journalism professor at Hampton University and defendant for the historic Supreme Court case U.S. v. Caldwell, recalled the tumultuous time spent reporting on the Black Panther Party (BPP) for The New York Times. 

This case held that journalists don’t have any special protection not afforded to non-journalists under the free press clause of the First Amendment. This decision later inspired some states to adopt shield laws that protect journalists and their sources’ confidentiality. 

Caldwell’s reporting, however, landed him in court, dealing with the constitutional blow that the Supreme Court Justices of 1972 dealt journalists the nation over. 

“I would never go back to the Black Panther office again,” said Caldwell when the FBI first approached him to become an informant. “They would always call the office,” remembered Caldwell. 

Caldwell was “gathering information for the newspaper to disseminate to the public,” and whatever non-confidential information the FBI wanted was already published.

On January 30, 1970, the FBI issued Caldwell his first subpoena–an order to appear in front of a Grand Jury–and reveal any information he received about the BPP in confidence or not. Though two more subpoenas were issued, Caldwell never showed nor testified, believing this to be an encroachment on his First Amendment protection guaranteed him as a journalist.

Caldwell appealed the subpoenas, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in his favor stating that “Mr. Caldwell shall not be required to answer questions, concerning statements made to him, or information given to him by members of the Black Panther Party,” unless specifically given to him for publication. 

“We won this case in California,” recalled Caldwell.

When this case reached the Supreme Court, Caldwell remembered his lawyer, Anthony Amsterdam, confidently saying, “this is one of the easiest cases [I’ve] ever had to argue to the Supreme Court.”

In his oral argument, Amsterdam stated that not only testifying but appearing in front of a Grand Jury alone would disrupt the “free flow of information.” This “free flow” is also protected by the First Amendment, argued Amsterdam. 

Despite Amsterdam’s conviction, the Supreme Court ruled against the defendants, reasoning that the First Amendment does not grant journalists special privilege to refuse to show up and testify when so ordered. 

Though Caldwell’s time with the Panthers was interrupted, his articles remain. According to a search on ProQuest Historical Newspapers, in 1970 alone, the Times published 1,217 articles containing the words “Black Panther(s).” 

Though he didn’t write all of the Times articles on the Panthers, Caldwell’s stories were a significant part of the Panthers’ public image. “I wrote a lot of stories about the Black Panthers,” said Caldwell.

Pondering the late nights spent with the Panthers, Caldwell says, “There was a lot of brilliance. For guys that were so young, there was a lot of strength.” Caldwell mentioned the Panthers’ different programs they had for recording police activity and their community service programs.

“They would feed the kids as much as [they] wanted to eat,” laughingly recalled Caldwell in reference to the Panthers’ famous Free Breakfast Program. In his June 15, 1969, Times article, Bobby Seale, co-founder of the BPP, tells Caldwell, “we are feeding over 1,000 kids every day right here in the bay area.”

Caldwell also grew friendly with David Hilliard, Chief of Staff for the BPP, who Caldwell describes as the “day-to-day guy” because the BPP’s founders, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, were in jail for separate charges. 

Their close relationship, though professional, greatly dismayed the FBI. This worsened after Caldwell’s article on December 14, 1969. Times quoted Hilliard advocating for the “direct overthrow of the Government by way of force…because we [the BPP] recognize it as being oppressive.” 

Though Caldwell never returned to the Panthers’ offices after the FBI approached him, the first-hand reporting he did made him a celebrity and a curiosity of sorts. How did the Panthers, an organization that was simultaneously loved and feared by the Black community, trust an outsider to allow him in close quarters and report on their activities? 

It wasn’t that the Panthers necessarily loved him, but that “everybody wanted to use the newspaperman,” mused Caldwell. Caldwell emphasized that the Times was an international paper, and the Panthers were well aware. They used the massive coverage they gained, though not always positive, as a means to globalize their politics and worldview. 

“The big thing is, and I think this may be their legacy, they really emphasized and brought the gun into the center,” Caldwell said.

Though their politics and tactics remain intensely debated, Caldwell’s reporting remains a historical artifact quenching the thirst of those who aspire to truly understand the revolutionary organization that was the Black Panther Party. 

The Hampton Vaccine Unit administered COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots to the Newport News community 

 Jontaya Moore | Staff Writer

Photo via Jontaya Moore – Friendship Baptist Church

The Hampton Health Mobile hosted another vaccine drive at Friendship Baptist Church from 2 to 9 p.m. for the Hampton Roads community on Nov. 3. 

The vaccine clinic administered Pfizer vaccines and Moderna boosters, according to Dr. Aviance Lewis, the community engagement coordinator.

Vaccines reduce or eliminate numerous infectious diseases that previously killed or harmed populations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, if left unvaccinated, a person can still contract the disease.

The Health Mobile Testing and Vaccination Unit serves as the first mobile clinic under an HBCU, according to ABC News. They will continue to make those in underprivileged, low-income and rural communities a priority when it comes to COVID-19 testing, according to HU News. 

The Hampton Roads community is 49.3 percent Black, according to ABC News. Despite the three different COVID-19 vaccinations, minorities are still less likely to receive the vaccine at the same rate than that of their white peers, ABC reported.

“It’s a lot of anxiety regarding the virus and the vaccine…when you can have people in a place that they’re familiar with that helps negate some of that,” Lewis said.

For some, according to Lewis, being able to re-establish bonds and ease these fears surrounding the virus and vaccine have been made possible through churches and community centers. Representation within minority populations also has helped in getting more people in more communities vaccinated.

More than half of the Friendship Baptist Church congregation was vaccinated since the vaccines became available to their community in June, according to Catina Rollins, the church pastor’s assistant.

“The only population that we’re looking to get vaccinated are the ones that are [ages] 5 to 11 now,” Rollins said. 

Children in that age range are now able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 with the Pfizer vaccine as of Nov. 2, according to the CDC. Officials have found the treatment for children to be 91 percent effective, with the most common side effect being a sore arm. The doses administered to the children between these ages will be a third of the amount given to teens and adults, the CDC posted on its website.  

Pfizer and Moderna are currently testing shots for babies and preschool range students, and Pfizer intends to have answers by the end of the year, according to WAVY. Those age 12 and older will be the next target audience of the Mobile Vaccine Clinic.

Hampton University medical students also have been able to actively work with medical professionals in helping vaccinate these communities, according to HU News. 

“Vaccinations are a big part of what you do as a pharmacist,” said Jariatu Koroma, a Hampton University pharmacy student. “I’ve gotten a lot of hands-on experience with being able to administer vaccines to people.”

Koroma plans on using the vaccine clinic’s experience in her career following her graduation. 

Lewis said the Hampton Vaccine Mobile will continue to conduct vaccination clinics throughout Hampton Roads. 

COVID-19 Creates Academic Struggle for Younger Children 

Kaiya Otey | Staff Writer

Public schools across the nation opened their doors to students in September for the first time since the start of the pandemic. As numerous schools adjust to in-person education after more than a year of teaching virtually, Virginia Beach Public Schools says that many children suffered academically during that virtual year. 

Virginia Beach City Public Schools released data that about 1,914 students were held back after the 2020-21 school year. That’s 1.75 times as many as the average of the three prior school years, which is usually around only 1,100 students. 

“It concerns me any time students aren’t achieving at the level which we would anticipate,” Dr. Kipp Rogers, Chief Academic Officer of Virginia Beach City Public Schools, said in an interview with WAVY. “The pandemic year, last year, was extremely challenging for all parties involved.”

Virginia Beach City Public Schools have teacher vacancies at every grade level right now, according to WAVY. VBCPS Chief of Staff Dr. Don Robertson said at this time last year they had only 20 vacancies. Robertson says the shortage of teachers has led to larger class sizes. 

“We’re fluctuating right around 100. We’re hiring and then we might lose somebody. We’ve been right about a 100 for the last six weeks,” Robertson said to 13News.

He also said that there’s a shortage of substitutes in Virginia Beach. He says the COVID-19 pandemic safety measures, like wearing a face mask, are also impacting that.

“For those who are not used to doing it, many of them have decided I’m not going to come back and substitute until that’s been lifted,” Robertson said.

According to 13 News, Norfolk Public Schools has the highest teacher vacancies and more than 100 teacher vacancies. Portsmouth Public Schools representatives said, according to their human resources department, they have 46 teacher vacancies. Chesapeake Public Schools need 40 teachers. Hampton City Schools says they are short 23 teachers and are 98.5 percent staffed.

Peggy Peebles, Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Clinical Experiences and Pre-K through 12 Outreach at Hampton University, shed some light on her experience with student adjustment to virtual learning. 

“I observed that student teachers enjoyed the virtual experience because it created a better understanding of students’ personalities,” Peebles said. “They noticed the students seemed more comfortable online rather than in person … I was surprised. At the same time, there are a lot of cons due to the pandemic, such as approvals for visitation [and] differing opinions on the vaccine causing rifts between people.” 

Earlier this September, Virginia Beach families demanded to change the Virginia Beach City Public Schools school board. Petitions rose to recall six of the 11 school board members, according to WTKR. 

A study conducted by NBC, found several reasons may contribute to quarantine-related falling academic performance.

Schools are struggling to teach students remotely or in classrooms in which children wear masks or are made to sit behind plastic shields, separating them from their instructor and other classmates are some of these reasons. 

In addition, with quarantine protocols, more children have been missing school for extended periods due to sickness, and technology-related issues led to attendance and participation issues as far as virtual instruction went. Some districts report that the number of students who’ve missed at least 10 percent of classes, which studies show could lead to devastating lifelong consequences, has more than doubled.

The Inspirational Legacy of Colin Powell

Jontaya Moore | Staff Writer

Colin Powell, U.S. military leader and the first Black Secretary of State, died Oct. 18 at age 84 due to complications from COVID, CNN reports.

According to CNN, Powell was fully vaccinated but suffered from other underlying conditions, including multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that can lead to a compromised immune system, according to CNN. He had also received his second booster shot but became increasingly ill before the scheduled vaccine. 

Powell was born on April 5, 1937, in Harlem, N.Y. His parents were Jamaican immigrants. When he was still young, he and his family moved to the South Bronx, according to NPR.

“Mine is the story of a black kid of no early promise from an immigrant family of limited means who was raised in the South Bronx,” Powell wrote in his 1995 autobiography My American Journey.

 According to CNN, after graduating high school, he attended the City College of New York. It was while in college that he joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). While serving in ROTC, he led the precision drill team and attained the rank of Cadet Colonel, the highest rank offered by the Corps.

According to BBC, following his college education, Powell entered the U.S. Army in 1958. While serving in two Vietnam tours, he was injured several times. Despite these injuries, he was able to rescue three soldiers following a plane crash, BBC asserts.

According to CNN, Powell’s career progressed, and he rose through the ranks becoming the first Black National Security Advisor under President Ronald Reagan and was later promoted to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military point in the Department of Defense under President George H.W. Bush. This made Powell the youngest and first Black chairman in U.S. history, CNN reports.

“I can look at him and say that if all odds are against him and he was able to continue, I know that I can, too,” said Tatum Morris, Hampton University’s Miss Political Science.

During his 35-year military career, he received various awards, including the bronze star and two purple hearts, CNN reported. He continued to serve in the U.S. military until 1993, spending four years as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under the Bush administration, according to BBC. 

He rose to great popularity following the Gulf War, helping him shape late 20th century and early 21st century foreign policy, according to CNN. Becoming the first Black Secretary of State under President George W. Bush in 2001, Powell faced encouragement to mount an eventual presidential bid, according to CNN. 

However, he said no to running for office, citing that he “lacked a passion for electoral politics”, CNN reports. 

In 2008, he was able to use his political assets to endorse the Obama presidential campaign, according to NPR. NPR also reports that he endorsed Obama for a second term in 2012 against GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. 

Although he endorsed Obama, Powell remained a part of the Republican Party but stated that the party had “moved to the right more than he would like to see it” in his 2008 endorsement of Barack Obama, according to NBC. He later decided to break from the GOP after the Jan. 6 attack on the United States Capitol, CNN reported.

President Joe Biden described Powell as having “unmatched honor and dignity,” according to The Hill.

“Colin Powell was a good man. He will be remembered as one of the greatest Americans,” Biden said in a White House briefing.

For future Black politicians and leaders, especially, he will undoubtedly be remembered as an inspiration.

Powell is survived by his wife, Alma, and their three children, NBC reports.

New Legislation Returns California Beach to Black Descendants

 Kaiya Otey | Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Unsplash user Kirk Wester

California Gov. Gavin Newsom authorized the return of Bruce’s Beach to descendants of the Black family unlawfully evicted from Manhattan Beach almost a century ago. Senate Bill 796, which authorized the return of property back to its rightful owners, was signed into law before a public audience Sept. 30, according to the Los Angeles Times

“As governor of California, let me do what apparently Manhattan Beach is unwilling to do, and I want to apologize to the Bruce family for the injustice that was done to them a century ago,” Newsom said.

The state legislature unanimously passed the bill that has an urgency clause that allows Los Angeles County to begin transferring the land, according to the Times. Additionally, the state of California is officially acknowledging that the city’s taking of the shorefront land, where the Bruce Family ran a popular beach resort for African Americans, was racially motivated and done under false and unlawful pretenses.

Approximately six descendants of the Bruce family and local activists were in attendance when Newsom signed the bill.

“There are other families waiting for this very day, to have their land returned to them,” Patricia Bruce, a cousin of Willa and Charles Bruce, told the Times

Willa and Charles Bruce purchased the property in the Los Angeles suburb Manhattan Beach in 1912 for $1,225, the Times reported. The beach soon became known as “Bruce’s Beach” and was used primarily as a beach resort for Black families, for other local beaches turned them away based on their race. 

Complete with a bathhouse, dance hall and cafe, the resort attracted other Black families who purchased land and created what they hoped would be a prosperous beachfront resort strip, according to City News Service. 

However, the resort quickly became a victim of the area’s white population, according to Inside Edition. Subjected to attacks from the Ku Klux Klan, the obstacles faced by the Bruce Family were many.

The Bruces were undeterred and continued expanding their resort. Still, under increasing pressure, the city moved to condemn their property and other surrounding parcels in 1924, seizing it through eminent domain under the pretense of planning to build a city park. 

The lodge’s owners received $14,500 in subsequent attempts to sue for racial discrimination, but they did not receive the land back, according to NPR. The city barred the Bruce family from purchasing any new ground in the area after they took their land.

“The law was used to steal this property 100 years ago, and the law today will give it back,” County Supervisor Janice Hahn told the Times

The land is now valued at around $75 million, according to Inside Edition. 

HU student: When she attended Heritage High, people would bring in weapons “all the time”

Tahera Hamidi | Staff Writer

Script Photojournalist Angela Session

A 15-year-old male was charged with a Sept. 20 double shooting at Heritage High School in Newport News, and in response, a Hampton University student told The Script that when she attended Heritage, “people were sneaking in and bringing in weapons all the time.”

“I was actually in class [at HU] when my friend who works at the Sheriff’s office texted me and told me to check on my sister, but she was not able to tell me why,” said the HU student who graduated from Heritage High, has a younger sibling at the school and asked to remain anonymous.

A 17-year-old boy was shot multiple times at the high school, and a 17-year-old girl was shot once, according to The Daily Press. The suspect has been charged with two counts of aggravated malicious wounding — each punishable by 20 years to life — and nine gun counts, The Daily Press reported.

“When I called my sister, my heart sank when I heard what was going on,” the HU student said. “She did not sound panicked or anything, so I was doing OK until I learned the severity of the situation. I was honestly so scared I could not function properly.”

WVEC-TV ABC 13 reported Sept. 24 that an anonymous law enforcement official confirmed that the suspect was wearing a tracking bracelet after being charged with shooting another teen last year, when he was 14.

During the Sept. 20 shooting at Heritage, the boy was struck by bullets behind his ear, in his leg and on his finger, while the girl was shot in her shin, The Daily Press reported.

“It was only a matter of time before this happened because even when I went to Heritage, people were sneaking in and bringing in weapons all the time,” the HU student said. “If physical safety is going to be an issue, then the option of in-person school should not be on the table at all.”

Heritage High School responded by temporarily closing the school to students and staff members, as well as switching to a virtual school for the foreseeable future. 

A new Afghanistan: The fight for LGBTQ+ and women’s rights amongst Taliban regime

Jontaya Moore | Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Unsplash user Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona 

As the new Taliban-controlled government consolidates its hold over Afghanistan, many wonder what the future will bring. The Taliban captured the Afghanistan capital of Kabul August 15, marking the end of the near 20-year Afghanistan War and eliminating the Republic government in place.

In the initial stages of the Afghan government transition, a Taliban spokesman vowed to uphold the rights of women and the LGBTQ+ community.

However, since the removal of United States troops, Taliban leaders have failed to uphold their word, and persecution has begun. The Taliban’s government control has left women and the LGBTQ+ community in a state of fear and helplessness, according to reports from CNN.

Hundreds of women, who work amongst the Afghan judicial system, have received orders to no longer return to their jobs. Others have been replaced entirely by Taliban appointees. Inmates that were previously sentenced by women judges are being set free, leaving the judges susceptible to other threats as well, according to Qatar media sites.

The Taliban government has also reimplemented segregation laws between males and females on several public levels, including education, according to USA Today. They have also rejected anyone who identifies as LGBTQ+ and has established an all-male governmental cabinet. 

Before the Taliban takeover, the former government had laws that put the LGBTQ+ community at risk of jail time, according to CNN. The Taliban has reinforced the previous government’s position on these matters, including beatings and active persecution. Many fear that the Taliban will soon officially make being LGBTQ+ punishable by death. 

Advocates, like Danielle Stewart, a 23-year army veteran and member of the LGBTQ+ community, believe that women and the LGBTQ+ community need support as they encounter death threats and arrests following the new Afghan government’s strict law enforcement. 

“It’s detrimental to the Taliban government that they uphold their word,” Stewart said. “They won’t get government funding from the rest of the world if they continue to discriminate against women and these LGBTQ+ communities.” 

While stationed in Afghanistan, Stewart spent her time training Afghan military and police forces. This experience gave her knowledge of Afghan culture, governmental processing, and insight into the day-to-day life of the nation’s natives.

Stewart said that many Afghan citizens and military personnel aided America. In return, she believes the United States should consider doing the same for them.

Some organizations, such as the Refugee International Organization, have attempted to ensure the safety of Afghan citizens who are at risk. In a letter to President Biden, the Refugee International Organization urged the Biden Administration to make accommodations for an estimated 200,000 Afghan refugees. 

In the twenty years since the Taliban last controlled Afghanistan, women and the LGBTQ+ community have fought for their rights in historically unprecedented ways. They often would be followed with war, such as the March 2006 Bloody Resurgence, which followed one of the most democratic election years Afghanistan had ever cast. 

Social media has proven to give those being discriminated against a way to speak against injustice with lessened fear of physical retaliation, according to NDTV. Although many have been forced to live in seclusion, some women and LGBTQ+ members find ways to protest.  

Women have created the hashtag “#DoNotTouchMyClothes” in rebuttal to the Taliban’s university uniform mandate that defies traditional Afghan attire. This has connected women, men, and people of all nationalities to stand in unity.