Will Ferguson be a moment or a movement?


A woman at vigil in Washington’s Meridian Hill Park this month held a sign listing the names of some of those killed by police officers across the country in recent years. The gathering was prompted by the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

Fredrick Harris is a professor of political science and the director of the Center on African American Politics and Society at Columbia University. He is the author of “The Price of the Ticket: Barack Obama and the Rise and Decline of Black Politics.”

When does a moment become a movement?

Events such as the killing of unarmed, 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., can provide the moral shock that political movements need to build their ranks and bring attention to a community’s afflictions. They can be like the murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in 1955 or the beating death of Matthew Shepard in 1998 — transformative episodes that remake perceptions and force a society to abandon abhorrent practices.

Or they can be like the 1991 beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers: a horrific moment that failed to create a sustained push for broader, nationwide reforms of policing practices.

For black Americans, the outrage against the police that we’re seeing in Ferguson has appeared in roughly 10-year intervals — from the 1979 beating death of Arthur McDuffie by police, which sparked protest and violence in Miami; to the attack on King, which led to more than 50 deaths and several days of unrest in Los Angeles; to the 2001 shooting death of 19-year-old Timothy Thomas in Cincinnati, which also erupted in protest and rioting and produced a costly economic boycott against the city.

So perhaps America was due for another bout of unrest. But will Ferguson recede in the coming days and weeks, becoming the scene of just another tragic slaying that didn’t lead to meaningful change in police conduct toward black or brown communities? Will history remember Michael Brown less like Emmett Till and more like Rodney King?

I’m optimistic that Ferguson can lead to real change. The church rallies, street demonstrations, marches, looting and targeted violence against police are familiar responses. But there are four key differences in what is unfolding in Ferguson: first, the cumulative effect of recent cases of police misconduct against black people across the nation; second, a backlash against rhetoric that blames poor black youth for the way they are treated by police; third, the use of innovative protest tactics; and finally, the support of allies beyond the black communities that are demanding justice for Brown and reforms in policing…

(Read the entire article at The Washington Post)

Army Reserve Captain Surprises Daughter at Her Columbia Engineering School Graduation


From Columbia News:

Columbia Engineering School graduating senior Ruby Robinson had an unexpected surprise at the school’s Class Day graduation ceremony during Commencement week. The computer science major assumed that her father, U.S. Army Reserve Captain Keith Robinson, who has been deployed for the past six months in northern Afghanistan, would not be able to attend her graduation while on active duty. As it turned out, Capt. Robinson was able to receive a leave from his unit and fly to New York, arriving shortly before the ceremony. As Ruby walked across the stage to shake hands with Dean Mary Boyce and President Lee C. Bollinger while receiving her degree, her father was waiting just off stage to congratulate her.

The more than 14,000 of Columbia’s undergraduate, graduate and professional students in the Class of 2014 will gather on Wednesday for the University-wide Commencement, when both of Robinson’s parents will be present.

Sponsor A Gift For A Graduating Black Columbian

Alexandria and George Van Amson BlackGraduation 5-19-2013

We are thankful for the support we garner each year from alumni who make the Black Graduation ceremony a successful and special event. Last year we were able to raise enough money to purchase custom graduation stoles for all of nearly 120 students who walked down the graduation aisle.

This year, even more graduating seniors have already signed up to participate in the ceremony and the BAC has committed to help them raise the funds needed once again.

We kindly ask that you consider purchasing one or more stoles using the link below. The stoles serve as a proud symbol of distinction for  students and endure as cherished keepsake for each recipient.

Thank you for your participation.

The BAC Executive Board


$25/ 1 Stole


$100/5 Stoles


View More photos from the 2013 Black Graduation ceremony


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David Johns CC ’04 TC ’06 Plans White House Summits Focusing on Black Male Issues


David Johns is one of the leading advocates for the Obama administration on improving educational opportunities and achievements for Black youth.

By Jonathan P. Hicks


For David J. Johns, one of his most important missions is simply to let people know that the Obama administration has an initiative aimed at improving learning and development for African-American youth.

Johns is the executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans. And that office is sponsoring a series of summits throughout the country where leaders in business and education, as well as young people and experts in other fields, will convene to discuss ideas and solutions to longstanding challenges regarding youth development in the Black community.

“I feel our first job is to raise awareness that this initiative exists,” Johns said, in an interview with BET.com. “There are people who don’t know that the president used his executive order to establish this initiative. And there are people who need to know that.”

“Second, our goal is to engage in meaningful conversations that communities can have on concepts for educational support for African-Americans,” Johns said. “Many people know about the problems. But very few people are focused on solutions and promising practices. We plan to spend time lifting up practices that can accelerate achievement.”

The first series of summits will focus specifically on issues related to young African-American men. These discussions will not just touch on concepts for enhancing classroom achievement, but on methods to enable young men to develop awareness of issues in their communities.

To read more visit BET.com

Give This Holiday Season to the Black Alumni Scholarship Fund

Victor Campbell 2_Fotor

“I chose to attend Columbia because I loved the campus, the people, and the opportunity to live in New York City. Receiving the Black Alumni Council Scholarship helped financially and makes me proud to know that black alumni are so involved in the lives of current students.”

Black Alumni Council Scholarship Fund Recipient, Victor Frederick Campbell II, Class of 2015 SEAS

To learn more about supporting the Black Alumni Council Scholarship Fund visit our Scholarship page.

SEAS ’10 Grad is Engineering Entreprenurship

Khalid Davd SEAS Crown 20131115(Khalid David with SEAS Crown/ Photography by Michael Rain)

Khalid David, ‘10SEAS, is not feeling the pressure. He has a few weeks left to achieve the ambitious feat of raising $10,000 for Bunkers Hill Construction, the company he started three years ago in his basement. He kicked off a crowd funding campaign on SmallKnot with the goal of raising funds to develop a “toolbox” so the company can continue working on projects in various communities including Harlem. He is also seeking to secure space in Harlem Garage.

Launching a crowdsourcing campaign to support a young business this size may seem to be a reach, but finding unlikely success has been a theme in his life.

“I’ve always been on the winning side of risk,” he says confidently. Khalid is the first-generation son of working class parents. He earned two bachelor’s degrees in five years as part of the Columbia Combined Program. He holds a B.S. in Applied Physics from Morehouse College and a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Columbia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS).

While many young engineers were looking to forge a pre-MBA career path, Khalid stuck with his passion. “I didn’t want to work on Wall Street like some people,” he says. “Good money, good career, but not for me.

The Bunkers Hill campaign video:

“When you’re young gifted and black you got to be willing to understand that however it happens for you it’s going to be unorthodox. You are never going to fit into the traditional success model.”

However, three years ago, Khalid graduated into the Great Recession—an economy that was rough on even the brightest most credentialed college graduate.  He was searching for a project engineer opportunity in construction but found difficulty despite his experience working for the biggest names in the industry including Turner Construction and Kellogg, Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton.

“That process was demoralizing,” he said of applying for jobs. “I got tired of feeling like somebody else had control over my value and worth. I got tired of that and felt like I can control my value and my worth.”

After several months of enduring rejection he decided to try to create his own opportunity. He reconnected with the root of his passion and his faith.

“Construction is something that I love. It is something that I am. It is something I feel like I’ve been groomed to be the absolute best at.”

As prayer would have it, Khalid’s uncle, an experienced carpenter, was looking to bid on a project for a church to convert a residential building into office units that met the demands of a modern commercial space.  Khalid developed a detailed estimate and quality breakdown that was chosen and soon he found the encouragement he needed.

“To see $30,000 pass through my business account in the first month made me think, that if I could master this skillset, I could be in business for myself.” He then founded Bunkers Hill Construction and has since secured a number of projects providing interior renovations for commercial and residential spaces, mainly in his home of Mount Vernon and in the Harlem community.

KhalidDavid SEAS Miner 20131115(Khalid David with SEAS Miner at Mudd/ Photography by Michael Rain)


Reaching out to his networks and his communities is Khalid’s plan for how he will pull off a successful crowdsourcing campaign. He is an active alumnus in the Columbia entrepreneurial community and the larger HBCU network.

He notes and reveres the guidance of his mentors, Bruce Lincoln, former entrepreneur-in-residence at SEAS and current senior fellow at Columbia Institute for Tele-Information as well as Chris McGarry the director for entrepreneurship for Columbia Entrepreneurship.

Khalid is hoping the places where he cultivated his managerial skills will embrace and support him with his initiative. Khalid served in leadership positions for National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) chapters at Morehouse and Columbia and was elected vice president of Black Student Organization (BSO).

More generally, Khalid thinks crowdsourcing is an ideal method for black entrepreneurs who do not have access to deep pockets or a pipeline to VC’s. He believes the platform will provide a simple method for entrepreneurs to collect a wide base of support from groups of people who can give in small amounts.

Instead of copying the well-noted models of startup ventures, Khalid seeks to tweak and experiment with a variety of approaches. He acknowledges that the road to progress is going to be a different path for a person of color.

He advises, “When you’re young gifted and black you got to be willing to understand that however it happens for you it’s going to be unorthodox. You are never going to fit into the traditional success model.”


Michael Rain is the communication chair for the BAC. He can be reached at mr2593@caa.columbia.edu.

Dr. Craig Steven Wilder explores a hidden history of America’s most prestigious institutions


MORNINGSIDE—On a warm Sunday afternoon at Riverside Church, a congregation of interested minds joined a panel of scholars for a discussion of Dr. Craig Steven Wilder’s (’89, ’93, ‘94 GSAS) new book Ebony & Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities. The text explores the historical relationship between American institutions of higher learning and the expropriation of Native Americas and the slave economy.

Dr. Wilder, Professor of History and Head of History Faculty at Massachusetts Institute of Technology was accompanied by an impressive group of distinguished academics moderated by journalist and New York Times editorial board member Brent Staples. The group included, Dr. Farah Jasmine Griffin, Professor, English, Comparative Literature, & African American Studies, Columbia University, Dr. Elvin Montgomery (‘79TC), Professor, Researcher/Appraiser African American Material Culture; Dr. Emily Anderson, Professor and Chairperson, Dept. of Social Sciences & Human Sciences, BMCC and Dr. Frederick Newsome, MD, Physician, Harlem Hospital and African/African American History Researcher/Author.

The conversation on Dr. Wilder’s research covered a wide range of topics including how slavery impacted academic research and donation appeals. Universities developed “race science,” and led fundraising efforts built on “civilizing heathen” Native Americans.

When asked by Mr. Staples whether he feared his research would negatively impact his position as an academic, Dr. Wilder shared some wise words from his mother, “If you are not at risk of getting fired, you are not doing your job.”

Dr. Wilder was awarded the University Medal of Excellence during Columbia’s 250th Anniversary Commencement in 2004. He is also prominently featured in “The Central Park Five,” the Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon documentary.


1377974_10151936161586133_1765678206_n Moderator Brent Staples with Dr. Wilder


547513_10151936164171133_1217197480_nFrom left to right: Dr. Farah Jasmine Griffin, Dr. Frederick Newsome, Dr. Craig Steve Wilder, Dr. Emily Anderson and Dr. Elvin Montgomery


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L to R -- Dr Celia Taylor, Dr Judith Byfield, Dr. Wilder, Luvon Roberson -- The Riverside Church on 09.29.2013From left to right: Dr. Celia Naylor, Associate Professor of History, Barnard College; Dr. Judith A. Byfield, ’93 GSAS Associate Professor of History, Cornell University, Dr. Craig Steven Wilder and Luvon Roberson, ’85 GSAS


YGESXW40oF19PqogYFaeJ1yhT0NbZGuKLu0Rgfm3tQM,dT9CFmMB7YycFwC9cO74j3C5cgNVrUdmS9M0cKol0rg,Txru3e5XeKbg7t5--4nJwLKNyKx859zTZE85uOXUa_k,MJoxNFXyBrporGEJr_bY9xw8XvXWO_-U9qDeAUSUPNkA group of Dr. Wilder’s former students, who traveled to New York for the event


0rw52qt3AITiHxBXptEKxEcam2Us194eyPKJOMMItqs,SCv3TlwhujlP8GjLNoZJ3ziv3rYFU5jbg3Shb7WrjSU,0DiWVb1LGvMQ5mkb0Rfl6-ziZ-ExRuw-vbNwinHToVYYusef Salaam, of The Central Park Five


1376570_10151936163536133_801221866_nCaptive audience members


To view more photos, please visit the Riverside Church Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151936150121133.1073741826.322708406132&type=3

White House chief of black education is “passionate” about his work


David Johns l, is President Barack Obama’s choice as the first executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. By Renee Schoof | McClatchy Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON All through his years of schooling, David Johns was one of the few African-Americans in his classroom, from the high school in Los Angeles that was nearly an hourlong bus ride away but that his mother insisted he attend to Columbia University in New York.

Even when he taught elementary school in Manhattan, not a single black student sat behind one of the desks before him.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/08/14/199382/white-house-chief-of-black-education.html#storylink=cpy


Judge rules stop and frisk violated rights, CC grad to monitor NYPD



OVERSIGHT | The New York Police Department’s 26th Precinct in Manhattanville. Local politicians applauded a decision by a federal judge that appointed a monitor of the department. BY CASEY TOLAN, AVANTIKA KUMAR,?Spectator Senior Staff Writers,?August 12, 4:14pm

A federal judge ruled on Monday that the New York Police Department’s stop and frisk policy violated the constitutional rights of minorities, a major victory for Upper Manhattan politicians, who have unanimously opposed the controversial tactic.

While Judge Shira Scheindlin did not order the end of the controversial practice, in which police officers stop people they suspect may commit a crime and frisk them for illegal weapons or drugs, she appointed lawyer?Peter Zimroth, CC ’63, as a federal monitor for the NYPD, and called for several other checks on the department.


Mentoring Opportunity with Re:LIFE Inc & Carver Bank


Re:LIFE Inc. is a Harlem-based non-profit that works to help the youths and young adults of New York City realize their full potential by empowering them through education and entrepreneurship. Re:LIFE was established in April of 2010 to address the educational and socioeconomic needs our target communities and to assist in the successful transition of our youths to a better life. All our educational programs are composed of stimulating activities and materials that are organized around well-developed curricula.

Re:LIFE is looking for mentors to be a part of our upcoming URBN Youth Start-UP (UYS) Program. This initiative is an intensive 15-week entrepreneurship program in partnership with Carver Federal Savings Bank. The goal of UYS is to expose students to entrepreneurship and financial literacy; students will identify a problem their communities and develop a business solution for this problem. By the end of the program, students would have development a business plan and should be able to implement their business solution in the communities.

UYS runs from September 4th to December 20th. Applicants to this program must be at least 16 years of age.

UYS mentors will be divided into two groups: the professional mentors and the entrepreneurial mentors. Entrepreneurial mentors will be individuals with entrepreneurial experience and are capable of providing practical advice to students based on their experiences as entrepreneurs. The professional mentors do not need to have entrepreneurial experience. Professional mentors will act as counselors and general advisors to the students. Each student group will be paired up with one professional mentor and entrepreneurial mentor.

Summary of mentor responsibilities:
– Work with proteges on projects and business plan
– Attend one mentor meeting per month
– Teach at least one life skill session of your choice; sessions are 45-90 minutes long
– Communicate with Re:LIFE at least once every other week about students’ progress

If you are interested in getting involved and learning more about Re:LIFE and its programs, visit www.relifeinc.org or email relife@relifeinc.org.

Individuals interested in attending this program as a student can apply online at www.relifeinc.org/urbnyouthstartupprogram