All too often, our Black boys are told what they can’t do rather than what they can, but one school district is fighting back. Six years ago, the Oakland Unified School District’s Office of African American Male Achievement (AAMA) introduced Manhood Development, a mentoring program taught by Black men that caters to Black boys. “Having classes where Black boys feel safe—where they can truly be their authentic selves and begin to learn how to navigate the rest of the school or their community—unlocks their beauty and brilliance in ways that, unfortunately, not enough classes in schools are doing,” says Chris Chatmon, executive director of the AAMA. More than half of the boys from the initiative’s first year are attending college with scholarships, and the percentage of Black male students within the program with a GPA of at least 3.0 has risen from 16 to 25 percent.
Our history matters—and we benefit from learning it. A recent study found that high schoolers in San Francisco who enrolled in ethnic studies performer better in classes than those who didn’t. Those students achieved GPAs that were 1.4 points higher than students not enrolled.
More than 1,300 low-income Kansas City families are receiving the gift of high-speed Internet. Last summer, Google Fiber partnered with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to bring free, fast Internet to public housing complexes in 20 cities across the country. The program, which officially kicked off in Kansas City this past February, will expand to 10 other cities.
There’s a new head honcho in the sports world. Earlier this year, former Coca-Cola executive Lisa Borders was named president of the WNBA, making her the second Black woman to oversee the organization. In her new role, Borders hopes to extend the league’s reach even further.
It’s no secret that the Black community is a political force—during the 2012 elections, Black women voted at higher rates than any other demographic. A new report found that Wisconsin, Ohio, Mississippi, Michigan and Missouri boast the highest number of politically engaged Blacks in the country. Let’s continue to harness our voting power in 2016.
Silicon Valley isn’t the only place churning out tech geniuses. In 2015, coding wizard Ernestina Edem Appiah founded the Ghana Code Club, an after-school initiative that, through computer games and web site building, teaches students between the ages of 8 and 17 coding skills. The program is launching in 20 schools in Ghana to serve 20,000 children.
After Nevada third-grader Lauren Laray heard that her friend’s little sister was diagnosed with cancer, the pint-size do-gooder sprung into action. Laray, who has a YouTube channel offering tutorials for various crafts, began making wigs for young cancer patients and created a GoFundMe page that surpassed its goal of $1,200. She plans to make 30 wigs by this summer and donate them to the Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation.
Want to buy Black but don’t know where to start? There’s an app for that. Atlanta-based entrepreneur Dionne Mahaffey’s WHERE U Came From is a free app that provides a nationwide database of hundreds of Black-owned businesses in cities like Washington, D.C., San Antonio and Seattle. Users can download the app from The App Store or Google Play and browse for Black service professionals—from doctors to personal shoppers to plumbers.
A New York City jury found NYPD Officer Peter Liang guilt of second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, second-degree reckless endangerment and official misconduct for the November 2014 shooting 28-year-old Akai Gurley. Liang was patrolling a Brooklyn apartment building when Gurley and his girlfriend entered the stairwell three flights below. Liang fired a shot, which ricocheted off the cinder block wall, fatally wounding Gurley.
“The resident of Ferguson have suffered the deprivation of their constitution rights—the rights guaranteed to all Americans—for decades. They have waited decades for justice. They should not be forced to wait any longer.” U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, announcing a federal lawsuit against the city of Ferguson, Missouri, for failure to implement the Department of Justice’s police reform recommendations.