A Presidential Transition Like None Other

Sydney McCall|Staff Writer 

After an unprecedented four years, the Trump era came to an end on January 20, following the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. However, the transition to the next presidency was not without controversy.

Following the victory of Biden in November, former President Donald Trump, convinced his supporters that the election was stolen and claimed the election was rigged. He and his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, spent months after the election filing lawsuits in battleground states that helped Biden win the election.  

On January 6, Trump gave a passionate speech during a rally near the White House where he argued that the election was “stolen from you, from me, and from the country.” He urged his supporters to walk down to the Capitol in an attempt to “stop the steal” of the election.

Hours following his speech thousands of his supporters violently stormed the U.S. Capitol, one of the most important democratic institutions in America. Inside were rioters with baseball bats, bear spray and explosives.

Wearing Trump paraphernalia, they took over the Capitol halls, sending officials into hiding. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer died as a result of the attack. 

Later that night, despite the violence, Congress confirmed Joe Biden’s win. Many of Trump’s longtime Republican supporters including Chris Christie, Mitch McConnell and Kelly Loeffler spoke out and condemned the violence as well as the role Donald Trump played in inciting the attacks.  

On January 13, Donald Trump was impeached for “incitement of insurrection,” just one week before his term expired. In the same week, the former president was also banned indefinitely from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and several other social media sites.

In fear of more riots and attacks D.C. became a fortified city and Muriel Bowser, the city’s mayor, enacted a curfew. Almost every road in downtown D.C. was closed, and major metro stations were closed for days.

Thousands of National Guard troops from D.C., Maryland and Virginia guarded federal buildings and some even slept in the U.S. Capitol to ensure overnight protection.  

“I came to DC to see a friend, and I have never seen the city that dead and scary,” said Xavier Wilson, a first-year strategic communications major at HU. “It was sad, seeing that all this security was to protect us from mainly domestic terrorism.” 

Despite the chaos, Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris were still inaugurated and for the first time in 150 years, the outgoing president was not in attendance.  

Even though Trump was not present, he said it was “a great honor” to serve as president.

Kamala Harris Makes History as America’s First Black, First South Asian and First Female Vice President

Sydney McCall | Staff Writer  

For the first time in American history, on November 7, a woman was elected to the nation’s second highest office.  

Kamala Harris, the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, will be sworn in as the highest ranking woman in the country on January 20, 2021. Her victory makes her America’s first Black, first South Asian, and first female vice president-elect. Harris’ win comes at the end of the Trump era, largely affiliated with a rise in white supremacy, xenophobia, and misogyny.  

This is not the first time the California Senator, has broken barriers. In 2016, she became the second African American woman and the first South Asian American to ever serve in the United States Senate. Her position as the future vice president comes as a triumph to many that were devastated in 2016, when Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump, after being the first woman to ever win the presidential nomination of a major party.

Kamala Harris’ win symbolizes a beacon of hope for women, people of color, and HBCU students around the nation. Harris is a 1986 graduate of Howard University and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the oldest Black sorority in the country. Her victory gave her sorors and students at historically black colleges a moment to shine while also seeing a representation of themselves in a powerful place.  

“I feel very empowered to know that a woman of color is going to be making some of the big decisions in this country,” said Janiya Pearson, freshman class president at Hampton. “Kamala has truly made history in this nation and seeing her lets me know that I can one day do the same.” 

In her first speech as vice president-elect, Harris wore all white, mirroring the uniform of the suffragettes who 100 years ago, advocated for women’s right to vote in this country. She also recognized how historic the moment was and what it meant for women.  

“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” she said. “Every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities. And to the children of our country, regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message: dream with ambition, lead with conviction and see yourselves in a way that others may not, simply because they’ve never seen it before. But know that we will applaud you every step of the way.” 

  The Vice President-elect also used her victory speech to recognize the importance of black women in this election, honoring them as the “backbone of our democracy.”   Harris and President-Elect Biden have stressed the importance of compassion and unity in our country and plan to use their time in office to do so.

Mississippi Votes “Yes” to Adopt New State Flag

William Paul Ellis | Staff Writer

Photographer: Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

In addition to voting for the next President of the United States, and for the legalization of medical marijuana, Mississippi Voters were tasked with a referendum that would address the state’s legacy and national perception. 

Ballot measure 3, which asked voters if  the state legislature should vote to adopt a new flag, passed with 71.4 percent of voters choosing yes.

In 2001, Mississippi voters voted overwhelmingly to keep the state flag; and in 2015, state legislators unsuccessfully proposed a bill that would take state funding away from schools that refused to fly the state flag with the confederate emblem. 

The current state flag was adopted in 1894, and as of 2020, is the only state flag that still had the confederate emblem.

While many felt that the flag continued to highlight the state’s role in the country’s history of  slavery and segregation, others argued that it prevented the state from growing relationships with outside economic influences. For example, in June, the NCAA announced that no championship game would be played in Mississippi until the state flag was changed. 

The Mississippi legislature took the first steps in replacing the flag by passing House Bill 1796, which called for artists to submit proposals for a new flag and the retirement of the current flag. 

A task force established by the bill would sort through more than 3,000 flag submissions, before eventually settling on the new “In God We Trust” magnolia flag. 

The flag features a large magnolia, the state flower, in the center of a deep blue background. The magnolia is surrounded by 20 white flowers, which represents Mississippi being the 20th state. A single gold star symbolizes the tribes of indigidous people native to Mississippi. 

State representative Jeramey Anderson praised the bipartisan effort by his fellow legislators in a statement to CNN. 

“This was a bold, bipartisan step that shows the world Mississippi is finally ready to step out from under the cloud of slavery and Jim Crow. But it isn’t the final step,”Anderson said. “Mississippi and the United States remain plagued by systemic racism that keeps people of color from being truly free and equal.”

This measure of progress is an example of the changing culture of the south, as changes are being made that were unthinkable less than two decades ago. 

Joe Biden elected as 46th President of the United States

Sydney McCall | Staff Writer

Biden and Harris at their COVID-19 Briefing: AP/Carolyn Kaster

After a four-day election process, Joseph R. Biden Jr. defeated President Trump to become the 46th President of the United States. Biden’s campaign was run as a “battle for the soul of the nation.”

Biden won with 290 electoral college votes, surpassing the 270 needed to win the presidency. His victory was announced after winning Pennsylvania. The president-elect received a total of 75,678,364 votes, the most votes for any presidential candidate in history, according to the Associated Press. 

Biden’s triumph comes after one of the most tumultuous presidential elections in history. The president-elect routinely criticized the current administration’s handling of the COVID-19 and other key issues.

Black voters in urban cities helped deliver the election for Biden as about 87% of Black voters voted for the former vice president according to preliminary exit polling. 

Black voters in urban cities like Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Detroit helped swing their respective states blue. These cities are around 39% black, according to NBC news. 

In his victory speech, Biden acknowledged the importance that Black Americans had in his win. 

“When this campaign was at its lowest, the African American community stood up again for me,” Biden said. “They always have my back, and I’ll have yours.” 

With the election of Biden comes the new Vice President-elect, Kamala Harris. Harris is the first female, first black, and first South Asian Vice President.

“We did it, we did it Joe. You’re going to be the next President of the United States,” Harris said on a phone call with Biden that she shared on Instagram.

Biden-Harris supporters gathered after the news of his win. Thousands of supporters spilled into the streets of Washington D.C. and other major U.S. cities singing and cheering. The Star Spangled Banner played through Capitol Hill as thousands screamed “It’s over.” 

While Biden and Harris will not be officially sworn in until January 20, 2021, the pair have already shared their plans for their transition into the White House. On Nov. 9, Biden named a COVID-19 transition advisory board made up of distinguished public health experts. The president-elect also held a COVID-19 briefing, laying out his plans for the country as we move forward in the pandemic.

President Donald Trump has shown no intentions to concede. He claims that there was widespread voter fraud that cost him the election and his legal team has filed multiple lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia, battleground states that he narrowly lost. There is currently no proof of any widespread voter fraud, according to the Associated Press. Trump is the first sitting president to not be re-elected since 1992.

Young political advocates: How young people are using the Internet to speak up

Sydney McCall | Staff Writer

A new generation of young people are not afraid to speak up about their beliefs, and they’re using social media to do so. 

Claudia Conway, 16, and daughter of presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway, uses TikTok and Twitter to voice her opinion about President Donald Trump and other members of the White House administration.

“You’re a [expletive] idiot,” Conway tweeted about Trump to her 589,000 Twitter followers.

She regularly uses her platform to voice her support for qualified immunity, defunding the police and Black Lives Matter, ideas that the current administration has openly opposed. As a result, Conway has consistently found herself trending.

Conway also broke the news that her mother tested positive for COVID-19 after attending the nomination of Amy Coney-Barrett at the White House. 

After President Trump revealed his diagnosis, Conway posted a TikTok captioned “my mom coughing all around the house after Trump tested positive for COVID,” with an attached audio saying “That’s suspicious.” Hours later, she posted that her mom had tested positive. 

Kellyanne Conway was forced to announce her positive test after speculation began due to her daughter’s post. Two days later, Claudia Conway announced that she had also tested positive for the virus. She used her social media networks to urge Americans to take the virus seriously by wearing masks and social distancing. 

After the President was released from his three-day stay at Walter Reed Medical Center for COVID-19, many speculated as to how he recovered so quickly. His verbiage suggested that he was healed and that the virus should be taken lightly. 

“He literally is not OK,” Conway said, referring to the President on her TikTok. She was named a “reporter” and “whistleblower” by many in the media. 

“Claudia Conway is the only source I trust on Trump’s condition” said Lorie Liebig, a publicist for Lucky Bird Media. 

Conway is just one of many outspoken members of Generation Z, those born between 1997 and 2012, and who use social media to discuss politics. 

“I really think my generation isn’t afraid of saying how we feel,” said Xavier Wilson, a first year strategic communications major at HU. “If we disagree with something we are going to speak up, especially since we have social media.”

Conway is not the only child of a politician who is voicing their dissenting opinion. Caroline Giuliani, the daughter of Rudy Giuliani, former New York mayor and affiliate of Donald Trump, endorsed Joe Biden. She said that while coming out against her father’s beliefs is hard, no one can afford to be silent right now. 

“If being the daughter of a polarizing mayor who became the president’s personal bulldog has taught me anything, it is that corruption starts with yes-men and women,” Carolina said in a Vanity Fair Op-Ed.

Slaying of teacher sparks protests across France

William Paul Ellis | Staff Writer

The murder of a teacher from France has become a source of outrage throughout the country, inspiring teachers and activists to engage in protests for freedom of expression and the protection of educators. 

Samuel Paty, 47, was found decapitated in a Parisian suburb on Oct. 16. Later that day, before being gunned down by French police, Abdoullakh Abouyezidovitch, 18, took credit for the killing on Twitter.

Eleven other people, including two school children, have been taken into custody in connection to the crime, according to the BBC News.

The murder was allegedly committed out of anger over a lesson Paty recently taught in a freedom of expression class at the Collège du Bois d’Aulne. During the lesson, Paty showed a caricature of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad from Charlie Hebdo magazine. 

French President Emmanuel Macron charterized the incident as an “Islamist terroist attack.” French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer also spoke out in support of the rights and safety of French teachers, adding that the nation would work to defeat the opposition against democracy. 

“What has happened is beyond words,” Blanquer said. “There are no words for it, and we must fight against it.”

Teachers and accompanying  protestors held demonstrations throughout France in the wake of Paty’s murder, carrying posters with the words “I am a teacher” and  “I am Samuel.”

A local French teacher told Le Monde newspaper that she came to the protests after she “realized you could die teaching.”

Many fear that Paty’s death will further create a divide over secularism within France, a value that the country and its citizens have long celebrated.

Secularism, the idea that religious institutions should be separate from the state, is partially responsible for freedom of expression in France, another noted cultural value. 

However, after a murder so heavily influenced by religous belief, discussions surrounding the role of religion and religous extremisim in France are inevitable. 

Tierra Mack, a senior at Hampton University believes that while freedom of expression is important, so is religious tolerance. 

“Violence at any level should never be tolerated, but it’s also important to understand what can be offensive to other people and their religious beliefs,” Mack said. 

On October 21, Paty was posthumously awarded the Légion d’honneur, the highest honor given in France.

Harris and Pence face off in only vice presidential debate of election season

WILLIAM PAUL ELLIS – STAFF WRITER

Morry Gash | Associated Press

Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris, the Democratic candidate for vice president, met in Salt Lake City, Utah Oct. 7 to debate topics ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic to racial injustice.

The 90-minute debate was mod- erated by USA Today journalist Susan Page and was the second of three debates scheduled before the Nov. 3 election.

The debate was notably less com- bative than the previous debate with President Donald Trump and Former Vice President and the Democratic candidate for president Joe Biden, but the debate still featured moments of contention between Harris and Pence.

When asked if she would take a COVID-19 vaccine, Harris took the opportunity to highlight the division in public opinion between National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Dis- eases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci and President Trump.

“If Dr. Fauci, if the doctors tell us that we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it. Absolutely,” Harris said. “But if Donald Trump tells us to take it, I’m not taking it.”

Pence responded by reassuring the audience that the Trump administration was effectively handling the response to the pandemic, and then he scolded Harris for her statement.

“The fact that you continue to un- dermine public confidence in a vaccine, if a vaccine emerges during the Trump administration, I think is unconsciona- ble,” Pence said. “Senator, I just ask you, stop playing politics with people’s lives.”

The debate also discussed the current nomination of Judge Amy Coney-Barrett to the Supreme Court. Controversy has arisen from Trump’s nomination of Coney-Barrett due to the proximity of the election.

When asked by Pence if Biden would pack the court if nominated, Harris responded by reiterating that the nomination should be left to the President-Elect during an election year, drawing on precedent that dates back to the Lincoln presidency.

“Joe and I are very clear: The American people are voting right now. And it should be their decision about who will serve on [the court],” she said.

Harris went on to criticize Trump for the lack of racial diversity among his nominations for federal judges. More than 85% of federal judges nom- inated during the Trump presidency are white, according to the Pew Research Center.

As the election nears, many voters are closely watching the series of de- bates in support of their chosen candi- date, or to make an informed decision.

Trevor Hutson, a senior at Hampton University, believes that the Vice Presidential debate provided essential information for prospective voters.

“The Vice President is a very important position,” Hutson said. “So, I think understanding their positions on policies and other plans is crucial for voters.”

The second presidential debate was scheduled for Oct. 15, but on Oct. 8, President Trump refused to participate in the debate that would be held virtually after Trump’s diagnosis with COVID-19.

The final presidential debate is scheduled for Oct. 22 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Coronavirus impacts NFL games

JESSICA COLEMAN- STAFF WRITER

The National Football League is dealing with the repercussions of its inability to implement an effective plan to combat the spread of the coronavirus among players and staff throughout the league.

Some spectators, players and staff earlier this year thought the NFL would construct a bubble-like environment, similar to the one brilliantly cultivated by the National Basketball Association. The success of the NBA bubble was astonishing. Following the arrival of 22 teams to Orlando, Florida, only two players tested positive for COVID-19. The NBA implemented a 100-page safety plan to ensure the health and wellbeing of players and staff throughout their stay at the bubble. Unfortunately, the NFL is not experiencing the same success.

The NFL administers COVID-19 tests to players and other essential employees daily except on game day. Since players do not receive tests on game day, they are not permitted access to team facilities on the day after the game. The only two exceptions include the need for medical attention or if the team is operating on a short week.

With daily testing and strict guidelines, many were optimistic that the 2020 NFL season would go uninterrupted. However, the fact is, daily testing does not prevent the spread of the virus before detection. No players tested positive for the coronavirus within the first two weeks of play. However, in Week 4 things took a turn for the worse, beginning with the Tennessee Titans.

A total of 23 players and staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 since September 24. The Titans and Steelers game that was scheduled for October 4 was postponed until October 24. Also, the Titans’ game scheduled for October against the Buffa- lo Bills was moved to October 13.

Several players and staff members across the league are frustrated with the Titans’ decision to not follow protocols. Ultimately, the postponement of games is not just affecting the Titans but their opponents as well.

“Of course, we got the short end of the stick,” Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said in a news conference.

The positive COVID-19 tests are causing shifts throughout the league. The New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs matchup was postponed from Sunday to Monday in Week 4 as a result of positive COVID-19 tests from both teams. The rescheduling created a rarity of two matchups for “Monday Night Football.”

In efforts to control and deescalate the current predicament the league faces, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to all 32 clubs last Monday regarding COVID-19 protocol compliance. The memo introduced new measures for increased safety and repercussions if they are not followed.

“Protocol violations that result in the virus spread requiring adjustments to the schedule or otherwise impacting other teams will result in additional financial and competitive discipline, including the adjustment or loss of draft choices or even the forfeit of a game,” Goodell said in the memo, obtained by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

In the environment in which the NFL is operating, it is unrealistic to expect the league to eliminate positive tests. Yet if teams do not follow protocols and guidelines, the number of positive tests could increase, and more teams could have their seasons affected.

A look into the shooting of Breonna Taylor and the aftermath

SYDNEY MCCALL- STAFF WRITER

Maria Oswolt | Associated Press

Louisville Metro Police Department released the 4,470 page investigation file on the shooting of Breonna Taylor Oct. 7. Additionally, Daniel Cameron, Kentucky’s Attorney General, released 15 hours of recordings of the case that explain what led to the controversial verdict.

In the officers’ body camera footage from the night of Taylor’s death, you can hear Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, distressingly talking to a dispatcher after Taylor was shot.

Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was shot and killed in her apartment on March 13, 2020. Police officers Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankinson and Myles Cosgrove were serving a no- knock warrant when they forced entry into her home.

Believing the officers were intruders, Walker fired a warning shot which struck Officer Mattingly, resulting in the officers firing 32 shots in return. Taylor was hit by six of those bullets and passed away.

Taylor received no medical attention until 20 minutes after she was shot, The Courier Journal reported.

Affectionately called “Breewayy” by her loved ones, Taylor worked as a full time emergency room technician for the University of Louisville Hospital and was working as an essential worker throughout the pandemic.

“She was a better version of me. Full of life. Easy to love,” said Tamika Palmer, Taylor’s mom, to the New York Times.

Taylor’s shooting quickly fueled outrage in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, and eventually gained attention worldwide. The news of her death broke around the same time as the unfortunate death of George Floyd, a Black man who died after Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck for nine minutes. Chauvin was fired the day after Floyd’s death.

Protestors gathered in masses around the world, chanting phrases such as “Say her name,” “Justice for Breonna” and “Black Lives Matter.”

Many Black women saw themselves in her and felt it their duty to fight for the officers who shot her to be arrested and charged.

“I look at Breonna Taylor and see me,’’ said Jade Ford, a first year kinesiology major at HU. It scares me to live in a place where I am not seen as human or equal. Her death was a huge disappointment for black women.”

Taylor’s family received a settlement of $12 million in a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Louisville Sept. 15. The settlement is the largest in history for the death of a Black woman by cops, according to lawyer Ben Crump. In addition to the payment, the settlement included changes in policy with respect to police conduct in Louisville.

Despite the settlement, none of the police officers involved were charged until Sept. 23, when a grand jury indicted Officer Brent Hankinson with three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree for endangering Taylor’s neighbors the night she was shot.

Mattingly and Cosgrove, the other two officers involved, faced no charges, but all three officers involved in the shooting have all been terminated, according to the Louisville police.

Cameron has received backlash for the way he handled the case. In a press conference, Cameron stated that John Mattingly and Miles Cosgrove were justified in returning shots to Taylor’s boyfriend. Because of this, he decided not to recommend homicide charges against any of the officers involved.

Activists demand more serious counts of charges for the officers as demonstrators have come together in Louisville to protest.

“We’re going to keep marching, keep stepping, but we’re going to do it together as one,” said Chris Wells, a local activist in Louisville.

The Death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg: What it Means for the Nation

Sydney McCall- Staff Writer

Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away from complications due to pancreatic cancer on September 18, at the age of 87.

Ginsburg was appointed in 1983 by President Bill Clinton and was the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court. RBG, as she was affectionately called by her supporters, routinely made progressive votes on topics such as same-sex marriage, abortion rights, voting rights, and affirmative action.

Her death leaves a vacant seat in the court only two months before the presidential election. A majority of republican senators have already said they want to fill the vacancy while Trump is still in office. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed moments after the death of Ginsburg that “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the Senate.”

However, Ginsburg made her desire clear.

“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” she said to her granddaughter, according to NPR.

It is indeterminate whether or not her wish will be granted. Trump is set to nominate a new seat in the incoming week, and he has enough republican senate votes to confirm his
decision.

Trump announced that his nominee will be a woman and has mentioned Amy Coney Barrett of the United States Court​ of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago and Barbara Lagoa of the Florida Supreme Court, according to the New York Times. Both are conservative right-wing women.

With Ginsburg’s death comes speculation about the possible overturning of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that guarantees a woman’s right to an abortion. This is terrifying to many women, especially younger women across the country.

“RBG’s death is a tragedy because she symbolized so much for women. I am sad how I cannot mourn her without being terrified for my future,” said Kennedy Sanders, a freshman business administration major at HU.

Regardless of one’s political beliefs, her life and work have been honored in the past week.