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BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2014

Black History Month speaker empowers students with five lessons

 

Mar. 3, 2014 — Michael D. Tubbs is a community activist, a first-generation college graduate and executive director of the Phoenix Project, where he leads Stanford University undergraduates in mentoring minority youth throughout California. He started his powerful speech with a verse from Langston Hughes' poem "Let America Be America Again":


"Let America be America again.

Let it be the dream it used to be.

Let it be the pioneer on the plain

Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)"

Tubbs' appearance was sponsored by the Office for Intercultural Learning as part of a series of Black History Month events. Born to a teen mother and incarcerated father, Tubbs climbed out of poverty to become a community leader and was recently elected to his region's City Council.

Speaking, he noted, on the second anniversary of Trayvon Martin's death, Tubbs encouraged students to get involved. "The problems we face - poverty, mass incarceration, homicide rates, drop-out rates - aren't anything new," he said. "If history teaches us anything, it's that ordinary people can be giant slayers."

From there, Tubbs started a modern-day retelling of David and Goliath highlighting five lessons for young, African-American students looking to advance the fight for civil rights.

Michael D. Tubbs

1.

Your limits are the ones you put on yourself.

"The most potent weapon in the hand of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed," said Tubbs, who encouraged students to believe in their own limitless potential.

2.

Oftentimes young people lead the charge for real change.

"Youth gives us a sense of urgency," said Tubbs, who started his political campaign before he even graduated from college. "You don't have to live with the last generation's problems. Assume responsibility for issues in your community - and take them on."

3.

You're prepared for this.

Young people make the mistake of thinking they need experience to tackle social issues. Tubbs assured, "Your personal struggles make you ready."

4.

Expert opinion ain't aways so expert.

"The odds may be against you, but that doesn't mean the odds are right. You're here aren't you? Many of you are in school despite children, work schedules, unsupportive parents - you're still here. Don't listen to the experts."

5.

You have to use what you have.

Too often, Tubbs warned, young people get caught up in the past instead of focusing on the future: "New giants mean new tactics."

 

Michael D. Tubbs

Perhaps the most powerful message from Tubbs was his insistence that new generations step out of the shadow of the past and forge their own path in the civil rights movement. Social issues such as childhood obesity, access to education and teenage pregnancy are examples of new barriers to overcome. "We keep looking back at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream," Tubbs said. "But things have changed. Wake up! Let's dream new dreams."

He ended his address with a reference to rapper Tupac Shakur's poem "The Rose that Grew from Concrete." "Too many people focus on the rose," he warned, "and not the concrete. Why does this rose have to grow in the concrete? You have to address the barriers because there are a whole bunch of rose seeds buried in the dirt not growing."

 


 

Abe Lincoln shares recollections of his childhood and his presidency
at the Virginia Beach Student Center

 

Feb. 27, 2014 — President Abraham Lincoln stopped at TCC’s Virginia Beach Student Center, sharing stories that took him “from the outhouse to the White House.”

The one-man Lincoln play, presented by the Center for Creative Development in celebration of Black History Month, starred Roy Thomas Scott as Lincoln.


Actor Roy Thomas Scott as President Abraham Lincoln
Actor Roy Thomas Scott as President Abraham Lincoln.

Oval-faced Scott, who bears a striking resemblance to the16th president of the United States, started with memories of his childhood, noting the faith his mother instilled in him at a young age. Lincoln’s mother died when he was 9, and his father, a far harsher parent, put an ax in his hand “from the time I was 7 until I was 21.”

But one value he and his father shared was a hatred of slavery. During a trip to New Orleans, Lincoln confronted slavery up close, watching as young African Americans sold for $5. “I was a fatalist and believed we were put on this earth to do certain things,” he said. “I knew some way, somehow, I had to do something about slavery.”


Elected the first Republican president in 1860, Lincoln good-naturedly told the Beach students, “You folks in Virginia left my name off the ballot. I’m sure it was an oversight.”

President Lincoln hands student Shannon Phillips the Emancipation Proclamation.
President Lincoln hands student Shannon Phillips the Emancipation Proclamation.
The Emancipation Proclamation
The Emancipation Proclamation

Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 – a document that signified the Civil War was fought on behalf of slavery. He paid homage to another freedom fighter, Frederick Douglass, a man who “made me realize African-American people were very intelligent.” While the two men differed in their approaches, Douglass ultimately respected Lincoln’s efforts toward the abolition of slavery. Lincoln asked Douglass his thoughts after the second inauguration, and Douglass’ replied, “Mr. President, it was a sacred effort.”

Lincoln was assassinated at Washington, D.C.’s Ford’s Theater in April 1865.



 

Cartwright inspires students during Black History Month talk

 

Feb. 19, 2014 — TCC’s Black History Month celebration included inspiring words from guest speaker Rashad D.L. Cartwright, an innovative speaker who is reaching a generation with power, love and pure word.

Cartwright challenged students by asking, “What will people think of you when your name is mentioned?” And he encouraged them adding, “Being in your comfort zone will hinder you from getting to your place of purpose and destiny in life.”


Rashad Cartwright inspires students during his talk on Feb. 13.
Cartwright encouraged students to follow their dreams.

Educated in the Newport News public school system, Cartwight earned his bachelor’s in English from Hampton University and is currently enrolled at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University. He will receive his master’s of divinity in May 2014.

The event included a discussion on the origin of Black History Month, presented by Duntavis Beard with TCC’s Student African American Brotherhood organization.



 

Young, Gifted, and Black

 

Feb. 19, 2014 — At the second annual “Young, Gifted, and Black,” students on the Portsmouth Campus enjoyed music and poetry in celebration of Black History Month.  Each performance addressed the theme Civil Rights in America.


Amirah Smith reads poetry to the music of Absolute Fire.
Amirah Smith reads poetry to the music of Absolute Fire.
Poet Walter Pierce.
Poet Walter Pierce

Poet Tabitha Robinson.
Poet Tabitha Robinson
Williamsburg-founded band Absolute Fire performs positive music for all ages. The name was give as “absolute” means pure and free from restraint. The “fire” comes from the passion to perform.
Williamsburg-founded band Absolute Fire performs positive music for all ages. The name was give as “absolute” means pure and free from restraint. The “fire” comes from the passion to perform.


 

Headed by Woodhouse, African-American women
share career experiences

 

Feb. 11, 2014 — In the background were inspiring images: Bessie Coleman, the first female African-American pilot; Althea Gibson, the first African-American woman to win Wimbledon; and Madam C.J. Walker, the first African-American female millionaire.

At the forefront were inspiring women: Michelle Woodhouse, provost of the Norfolk and Portsmouth campuses; Cynthia Payton Morrison, Circuit Court clerk in Portsmouth; Ashley Smith, former Miss United States and current WVEC reporter; and Janet Sellars, EEOC director at NASA – panelists for a discussion on black women in the workplace at the Portsmouth Student Center in celebration of Black History Month.

Woodhouse recalled her start as a high school marketing teacher unable to break into the administrative ranks in the Chesapeake Public Schools. That led her to take an assistant principal position in Gloucester, and a year later, she got a call from the Chesapeake Schools asking her to come back.


Detours can be a good thing, she stressed.

“My going to Gloucester was one of the best things I did in my entire career,” Woodhouse said. “I don’t think you can just stay in one spot. Honestly, my career has had more stumbles than successes.”

Morrison agreed, sharing her story of growing up in Waverly during the Civil Rights movement. “I always had a dream to go to college,” she said. “But I never thought about college costs until I hit my junior year of high school.”

A bag full of scholarship offers paved her way, and sight unseen, Morrison, arrived at Hollins College in Roanoke – culture shock for a kid who hadn’t been that far from home.

Janet Sellars grew up during the Civil Rights movement.

Janet Sellars grew up during the Civil Rights movement.


“I wanted that education more than anything else,” she said. “When you make up your mind you have a goal you want to obtain, stay focused. Don’t let other people define for you how and what you are.”

Smith, formerly Miss United States 2011, connected with the students, reminding them, “I was sitting where you are just last year. To be on this side of the table is very humbling.”

She assured them that she, too, struggled in classes and felt uncertainty about her future. She built relationships that led to professional connections and finally landed her current position at WVEC – which forces her to set a 2 a.m. alarm. “Because of the homework I did, I have a career today,” she said. “When you’re doing a job you enjoy doing, it’s not that bad.”


Rosa Wells-Garris, dean of the First College Program, and Cynthia Payton Morrison, Circuit Court clerk in Portsmouth.

Rosa Wells-Garris, dean of the First College Program, and Cynthia Payton Morrison, Circuit Court clerk in Portsmouth.

Morrison, Ashley Smith, Michelle Woodhouse and Sellars.

Morrison, Ashley Smith, Michelle Woodhouse and Sellars.


Sellars credited her mother for exposing her to a wealth of cultural activities in her home, Washington, D.C., despite the family living on a shoestring budget. She suggested the students learn to prioritize and give back. “That’s a must,” she said. “Subtract some things out of your life to add to your life.”

“You’re going to have obstacles,” Woodhouse said. “Know what you want and you’ll get there. Life is not a perfectly straight line. It’s dotted along the way.”