In a rousing address, political commentator Donna Brazile told Medgar Evers College grads to shape history invoking the college’s namesake. “Our work is not done,” Brazile said, “we’ve seen so much progress, but we’re not there yet.”
Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of the slain civil rights leader, told graduates of Medgar Evers College to “go out…and make it a better and stronger America.” In her stirring speech at Barclays Center, Evers-Williams said: “Show the way to those who are lost in the prejudice and racism that still exist in this country and…get your education.” Evers-Williams accepted a posthumous Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters on behalf of her late husband.
The new legislative lines for Senate and Assembly voting districts will disenfranchise African Americans and other minority communities, according to civil rights attorney Esmeralda Simmons. “Communities of color, particularly blacks and Latinos, have been cracked and split up to disempower them as voters,” says Simmons, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College. “Because of this [action], many people have challenged the new Senate district maps in court as being unconstitutional and in violation of the Voting Rights Act.” Simmons discussed her role at the Center, which she founded in 1985 as a community-based, racial justice organization, in a lawsuit over the legislative lines.
“Every time we talk about black males, we talk about how they’re not doing well in school, or not achieving,” says Fred Bonner, associate professor of higher education administration at Texas A&M University, unfairly creating a stigma for all. Speaking at an event during Black History Month at Medgar Evers College, Bonner addressed the need to highlight the high-achieving minorities in academia, and the factors that have led to their successes. Bonner, author of the book, “Academically Gifted African-American Male College Students,” says the unfair negative perceptions that society has attached to black males, have often kept them from getting into the gifted and talented programs that lead to retention in higher education.
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As any single parent will attest, raising a child while juggling a career and/or school can be a challenge. It’s one that Jerib Carson, who graduated from Medgar Evers College with honors in June, knows firsthand. “It’s hard to split your time between raising a child and also putting the amount of time in school that’s necessary to stay competitive,” said Carson, who spent 15 years in computer networking before the after-effects of 9/11, and its toll on his client base, made him change direction. Shortly after the birth of his daughter, Sarah, Carson decided to go back to college to pursue a dual B.A. in special education and general childhood education. This fall he’ll be studying for a master’s in education, on full scholarship, at Tufts University.
Vowing to expand an executive order to ensure more minority and women-owned businesses get a seat at the table, New York Gov. David Paterson told the 2008 graduating class of Medgar Evers College that he would work to see that these businesses are fairly and accurately considered for state contracts. “It is the responsibility of our government that you have equal opportunity,” said Paterson, referring to a report in Black Enterprise magazine that rated Huntsville, Ala., higher than New York in the number of minority-owned businesses. “But here’s the good news: There’s a new sheriff in town,” he added to thunderous applause.
The life of Frantz Fanon, the black French psychiatrist turned philosopher, whose writings formed the intellectual ammunition for Algeria’s war of independence from France, is re-examined in John Edgar Wideman’s new novel, “Fanon.â€ In this, his first novel in a decade, the author weaves a pastiche of politics, history and biography to tell the story of the revolutionary thinker. One of the most prominent African American writers today, Mr. Wideman is the first author to have been awarded the International PEN/Faulkner Award twice. The reading, co-sponsored by Medgar Evers College and The Brooklyn Public Library, was the overture to the college’s nationally acclaimed Black Writers’ Conference, now in its ninth year.