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.

Derek Chauvin’s Trial

Sydney McCall | Staff Writer 

AP/Derek Dovarganes

George Floyd died on May 25, 2020 after being suffocated by a Minnesota police officer. The former officer who pinned him down, Derek Chauvin, is now on trial. 

Eleven months after the death of George Floyd, Derek Chauvin is facing second and third degree murder, and manslaughter charges for Floyd’s death.

During the trial, Chauvin, who is white, was described by his former coworkers as awkward and often having a propensity to overreact. The trial also revealed that Chauvin was previously involved in two other circumstances in which he killed suspects. 

Lt. Richard Zimmerman, an officer in the Minneapolis police department said Chauvin’s actions were a use of deadly force and unnecessary. One paramedic, Derek Smith, testified that there was no pulse when police officers were still on top of Floyd. 

A pulmonologist, Dr. Martin J. Tobin gave a detailed testimony that showed that Floyd died from the pressure of Chauvin’s knee on his neck. 

“A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died”, says Tobin. 

Attorneys of Mr. Chauvin are attempting to use Floyd’s previous drug use as an explanation for his death. However, prosecutors argued that it was unlikely that he died of an overdose as he had built up a high tolerance for drugs.

Additionally, the surgeon for the Louisville Metro Police Department, Dr. Bill Smock, testified that there was no evidence of an overdose. Smock also said that officers should have started with C.P.R. immediately after arriving at the scene. 

“It is so disrespectful to blame his death on drugs when we saw what happened,” said Monae Fletcher, a freshman biology major. “In the trial of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and Michael Brown, they did the same thing and tried to deflect onto their past lives as a reason for their death. There’s no excuse. We saw what happened.” 

Witnesses testified that they are haunted by what they saw the day of Floyd’s death. Floyd’s girlfriend told stories to the jury of their loving relationship and how greatly he played his role as a partner and father. 

After Floyd’s death, millions held protests across the country against police brutality. Whatever the outcome of the trial, a reaction from the masses is expected.

“If Chauvin is not found guilty, there is going to be an even bigger upheaval of riots than before,” says Leah Johnson, a strategic communications major at HU. “We are fed up with the same thing happening and having to hold hope that justice will be served.”

Recent Events Bring Back Old Memories for Hampton Institute Graduates

William Paul Ellis | Staff Writer

AP/Rob Ostermaier

Fifty years ago, students at what was then known as Hampton Institute encountered a situation eerily similar to the scenario faced by current students. It was May 1971, and after months of on-campus student protests, the institute’s president, Dr. Roy Hudson, announced that the campus would be closing for the rest of the school year.  However, this was not the only stipulation mentioned in the letter. The annual commencement that the class of 1971 had eagerly begun preparing to participate in would be cancelled. 

The 150th Hampton University Commencement scheduled for May 9, 2021 would be the “golden anniversary” of the class of 1971, signifying 50 years as Hampton Alumni. However, in an ironic turn of events, the in-person commencement has also been cancelled in favor of a virtual ceremony. 

Today, Zarina Sparling is a retired healthcare insurance executive who lives in Holly Springs, NC. But in 1971, she was one of  approximately 600 seniors who were given the unexpected instructions to immediately leave the waterside campus for the final time as undergraduate students. 

“There was a lot of unrest around the campus and around the city of Hampton, so I think that it kind of got out of hand,” Sparling said. “The administration decided that for the safety of all, they were going to shut down the school, which caught us all by surprise.”

The events of the 1970 – 1971 school year that culminated in the spring semester’s abrupt end have long been a part of Hampton’s lore. Sparling recalls a slew of on-campus protests with the purpose of pressuring administration into making more progressive changes. 

A WAVY 10 news report from 1981 describes the protests as being one of numerous protests taking place on college campuses in response to U.S. involvement in Vietnam and Cambodia. Both recount fires in campus buildings allegedly set by students, and an attempted siege of the administration building. 

Fortunately for the class of 1971, a new administration led by Dr. Harvey would formally invite the class to participate in the 1981 commencement ceremony. The news clip taken from the WAVY 10 archives notes that in a class of approximately 600 graduates, only around 100 returned to walk across the stage a decade later. A member of the 1971 class interviewed at the time also mentions that “two or three” classmates were already deceased. 

Similar concessions for a later in-person ceremony have been offered to the class of 2021. In a March 24 letter from the Committee on Ceremonial Occasions, the university agreed to “explore hosting an opportunity for graduates to return to campus to commemorate graduation and their Hampton experience,”  after the COVID-19 infection rate has reasonably subsided. 

However, senior students have still expressed disappointment in not having a variation of a traditional ceremony. 

  “We all worked so hard to get to this moment, and it hurts that we can’t celebrate it the way we intended,” said Selena Roberts, a senior strategic communications major. “Senior year is full of many milestones that the class of 2021 did not have the chance to enjoy, and now graduation is added to that list.”

 Sparling is quick to express that while not having a commencement was unfortunate, it was not detrimental to her overall Hampton experience. Still, many of her memories echo sentiments expressed by this year’s graduates. 

“You never got to say goodbye to anybody, you didn’t have that farewell kind of stuff that usually takes place during graduation week.”

Much has happened in the half-century since the class of 1971’s final year came to a sudden end. Class sizes have significantly grown, new buildings have been erected, and the famed Hampton Institute is now the nationally-renowned Hampton University. Recent events have revealed a unique bond shared between Hamptonians of the past and present, and brought with it a familiar lesson that time often runs out more quickly than anticipated.

Virginia Becomes the 4th State to Ban Animal-Tested Cosmetics

Jourdyn Grandison | Staff Writer

An increasing number of states in the country are prohibiting animal-tested cosmetics. Virginia is the latest to join the list that already includes California, Nevada, and Illinois. 

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed the Humane Cosmetics Act into law on March 16, formally prohibiting cosmetics manufacturers from “conducting or contracting for cosmetic animal testing [within the state]” and selling animal-tested products. The law will go in effect in January of 2022. 

This isn’t the first time the Virginia legislature has taken steps to ban animal research in favor of humane alternatives. In 2018, Virginia State Senator Jennifer Boysko’s bill was signed into law, prohibiting state research facilities from using animals to test cosmetics and household goods when a valid alternative test method is available.

Several other states, including New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island, Hawaii, and New York, may also pass similar laws in the future, according to ABC News. The rise in state-specific anti-animal testing legislation is expected to be part of a more significant state-by-state effort.

“This is a great move for Virginia because this can spark a national change in the cosmetics industry,” said Sierra Williams, a senior economics major. “Brands have already begun shifting to being cruelty-free, so maybe Virginia’s ban may be what pushes for a more environmentally conscious society.” 

The Humane Cosmetics Act’s passing is the second time in recent years that Virginia legislators have been at the forefront of national legislation for animal testing. Virginia Congressman, Jim Moran, sponsored the first federal Humane Cosmetics Act in 2013. Moran’s successor, Congressman Don Beyer, has championed the law with bipartisan support.

Monica Engebretson, Head of Public Affairs of the North American division of Cruelty-Free International believes that Virginia’s law will help pass the law at a federal level.

“We are delighted that Virginia has continued to be a national leader in ending animal testing for cosmetics,” said Engebretson. “This is a significant step not just for Virginia but for the entire US, as history has shown that state activity leads to changes at the federal level.”

Vaccine Rollout Continues for Americans, but Questions Still Linger

William Paul Ellis | Staff Writer

Damien Dovargnes/AP

While one’s younger years are not usually a time full of stress, the current health crisis has changed that, and teenagers and young adults around the world are struggling. The pandemic has raised stress factors such as uncertainty about the future, financial hardships, and safety concerns.

 Sixty-three percent of 18-to-24-year old’s have reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, 25 percent of those admit to increased substance use, and 25 percent reported that they have seriously considered suicide, according to the CDC. 

Hampton’s campus has been closed to students since March 2020. Many students complain that they are struggling with online learning and an altered college experience.

Freshman Hampton students who have never lived on campus feel as if they have not had a real college experience. 

“The pandemic has had a huge effect on the class of 2024’s social life. We lack a class bond as most of us have never met in person,” said Oluade Swan, a freshman strategic communications major. “It feels as if stepping on campus has become a far-fetched dream.” 

Senior Hampton students are struggling in accepting the fact that their time in college will not end traditionally. 100 days, a Hampton tradition, and a graduation ceremony are just some of the thing’s seniors are not experiencing as usual. 

“I’ve been waiting for the moment I would become a senior in college,” says Reana Garcia, a senior biology major. “I am sad not only because the end is near but because of all the different events that would take place. I’ve been robbed of that experience and can never get it back.”

College students of color have been more vulnerable to the negative effects of the pandemic as college attendance among Black students dropped 8 percent during the summer of 2020, compared to 2019, according to the first “Stay Informed” report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. 

Additionally, 80 percent of college students reported that COVID-19 had negatively affected their mental health. 

While it is a stressful and anxious time, many students are choosing to be positive and make the best of their current situation. Students look forward to being able to step back on Hampton’s campus in the fall and feel some type of normalcy. 

“This pandemic has made me realize that I should never take life for granted. My college experience has been delayed but it’s taught me that good things may take time. I cannot wait to meet my classmates in the fall,” says Janiya Pearson, freshman class President.