Category Archives: Education

First Cohort of Wash U Prison Program Graduates

By Free Radical

Endocrinologist and Howard professor Stanley Andrisse was selected as the guest speaker at the Prison Education Project graduation.

Endocrinologist and Howard professor Stanley Andrisse was selected as the guest speaker at the Prison Education Project graduation. The native of Florrisant also spent time in prison before earning his Ph.D.

On Wednesday, the first ten members of Washington University’s Prison Education Project program graduated with associates degrees. The ceremony, held at the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center in the town of Pacific, was attended by friends, family, prison staff, and university representatives.

The Prison Education Program began in 2014 and offers for credit college courses to inmates and prison staff. This feature is done to foster mutual understanding from both groups’ participation in an academic community.

Each semester students take two to four classes in areas such as ethnography, calculus, and religion.

“It awakened something in me that needed to be awakened,” graduate Kareem Martin said.

The program is one of nearly 200 in the country that attempt to reduce recidivism by making incarceration a truly rehabilative experience. This is done in spite of consistent threats to prison funding by state legislatures.  Wash. U’s program is funded by the university.

St. Louis University has a similar program in Bonne Terre and since its inception in 2008, none of its graduates returned to prison.

This year’s speaker was the endocrinologist and Howard University Assistant Professor Stanley Andrisse. Andrisse was relatable as he is from Ferguson, Missouri, has three felony convictions, and spent ten years in prison.

“You have a piece of paper that will open doors that you never imagined would be opened,” Andrisse told the graduates. “Education is transformative. Use it to rewrite your story.”

Kamala Harris Unveils Education Policy

Kamala Harris has centered teacher compensation as crucial in her education policy.

Senator Kamala Harris has centered teacher pay as crucial in her education policy.

By Free Radical

Gearing for the height of the election season, Senator Kamala Harris released her education policy last week. The ambitious plan promises to raise teacher annual salaries on average by $13,500.

The proposal would create incentives for local school districts to receive federal funding. It would be paid for by strengthening the estate tax which was was lowered by the Trump administration. If elected, Harris would reverse the change and then close additional loopholes.

“You can judge a society by the way it treats its children,” Harris said at a campaign rally in Houston. “And one of the greatest expressions of love that a society can give its children is educating those children with the resources they need.”

Harris’s plan promises to specifically target communities of color by providing additional targeted investments to raise the salaries of teachers who work at schools that have large populations of students and faculties of color.

The proposal will also make specific allocations to HBCUs which are recommended to receive half the money earmarked for collegiate education programs that include teacher and administrator residencies, mentoring partnerships, and career ladder models.

Harris, an alum of Howard University in Washington D.C., recently cosponsored a bipartisan bill that would allocate money to HBCUs to preserve historic buildings on their campuses.

She has also championed raising the federal Pell Grant and enhancing the research capacity at HBCUs in such emerging fields as artificial intelligence.

Harvard Sued Over Photo of Enslaved African

By Free Radical

Tamara Lanier shown with an image of Renty who she claims is a direct ancestor.

Tamara Lanier here shown with an image of the man  Renty who she claims is a direct ancestor.

Tamara Lanier, a Black retired probation officer has made preparations to sue Harvard University for using the likeness of enslaved Africans she claims are her direct ancestors.

The pictures at the center of the dispute were taken in South Carolina and show a Congolese man by the name of Renty and his daughter Delia. Both are nearly naked. The images were used commissioned by former Harvard biologist  Louis Agassiz who purchased the pictures from a South Carolina plantation owner. The photos were used in Aggassiz’s studies which attempted to justify slavery and show that people of African descent were racially inferior.

The images are quite popular and one just has to casually skim a  number of history textbooks to see Renty and Delia. It is customary that the owner of an image collect fees from publishers that use it in books and other documents.

Lanier, who is represented by famous Black attorney Benjamin Crump, has a lawsuit that asks Harvard to return the images to her family, pay damages, and acknowledge its complicity in “perpetuating and justifying the institution of slavery.”

According to records, Lanier’s legal team also argues that, “By denying Ms Lanier’s superior claim to the daguerreotypes, Harvard is perpetuating the systematic subversion of black property rights that began during slavery and continued for a century thereafter.”

Attorney Crump echoes these sentiments. “These photographs make it clear that Harvard benefited from slavery then and continues to benefit now. By my calculation, Renty is 169 years a slave. When will Harvard finally set him free?”

As of press, Harvard has yet to respond.

Jay-Z’s Team ROC Helps Student Arrested for Anthem Protest

Jay-Z has leveraged his success in music to social justice such as his aid to a Florida student who was arrested for not pledging allegiance to the flag.

Jay-Z has leveraged his success in music to social justice such as his aid to a Florida student who was arrested for not pledging allegiance to the flag.

By Free Radical

Charges have been dismissed in the case of Jabari Talbot who was arrested in Lakeland, Florida last month for refusing to stand for the pledge of allegiance. Jabari’s judicial victory is due in part to the work of Team ROC, the division of rapper mogul Jay-Z’s Roc Nation empire that assists victims of racial  injustice.

Following the 11 year old’s arrest at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy, Team ROC secured the services of heralded attorney Alex Spiro to take on Jabari’s case free of charge.

“Jabari is a courageous and intelligent young man who deserves all the credit for standing up for his beliefs,” Spiro said in a statement. “He should’ve never been arrested or entangled in this situation—his freedom of speech rights were clearly protected under the 1st Amendment.”

The incident occurred on February 4 when Jabari got into a heated debate with substitute teacher, Ana Alvarez, when he refused to stand for the pledge of allegiance ritual. According to local sources, Jabari cited his reason as “the flag was racist and the national anthem was offensive to black people.”

Alvarez subsequently asked why Jabari didn’t leave the country if he did not like America. The preteen responded, “They brought me here.”

Alvarez then contacted the main office about Jabari’s stance. Shortly after the police were called based on claims of Jabari’s disruption and that he allegedly threatened Alvarez with violence.

On March 1, Team ROC announced that the charges against Jabari had been dropped.

After the case was dismissed, Jabari’s mother expressed her gratitude, yet signaled the ordeal was far from over. “My son and I are grateful for all the athletes, entertainers, Roc Nation and community of supporters that have raised awareness about this injustice and showed their support—both publicly and privately […]” she said. “Although Jabari’s case has been dismissed, I do want people to know this isn’t just about my son—this prejudice happens to African-American kids all across the country. The fight isn’t over, which is why I have a civil rights complaint pending with the U.S. Department of Education. At the end of the day, I want to ensure that no child ever has to experience this injustice again and we will appreciate everyone’s continued support.”

Several Florida based athletes who are signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports imprint also lent their support to Jabari during the crisis. Justice Winslow of the Miami Heat described the controversy as an “injustice.” Leonard Fournette of the Jacksonville Jaguars stated, “When I heard about Jabari’s arrest, I immediately had my team reach out so I could offer my support for this unjust moment.” He continued, “Jabari is a bright young student and I applaud him for the strength he has shown during this difficult situation. I know he’s a huge football fan and I’m looking forward to having him come to a Jaguars game this season.”

Team ROC has also helped with other high profile cases of racial injustice such as two Black men who were arrested for wearing hoodies in a Memphis, Tennessee mall and rapper 21 Savage’s legal battle against Immigration and Customs Enforcement.