Editor’s Note: Michael Lomax, Ph.D, is president and CEO of UNCF, the United Negro College Fund, the largest private provider of scholarships and other educational support to minority and low-income students. Previously, Lomax was president of Dillard University in New Orleans and a literature professor at Morehouse and Spelman colleges.
It was on this day in 1854 that Ashmun Institute, the first college established solely for African-American students, was officially chartered.
Twelve years later, Ashmun was renamed as Pennsylvania’s Lincoln University and became the nation’s first degree-granting institution for African-Americans, or what we now know as a historically black college and university.
Where Lincoln led, others followed, and there are now 105 historically black colleges and universities, enrolling more than 370,000 students and awarding 20% of all undergraduate degrees earned by African-Americans.
“A mind is a terrible thing to waste,” the almost universally recognized motto of UNCF, the United Negro College Fund, has come to represent the aspirations of all historically black colleges and universities to ensure that all Americans can earn the college degrees they need and the 21st century economy demands.
UNCF makes those aspirations real for nearly 60,000 students each year by providing financial support for 38 private historically black colleges and universities and awarding 13,000 scholarships to students at 900 colleges and universities.
Like Lincoln University, these historically black colleges and universities began when African-Americans had few other higher education options. Much has changed since then. Today, a college education is not a “good-to-have” but a “must-have,” the basic requirement for almost every fast-growing and good-paying job and career path.
Today, African-Americans can attend almost all colleges and universities, but more than four times as many students choose historically black colleges and universities than 40 years ago. What’s the secret of their enduring success?
Historically black colleges and universities have endured and thrived because, just as in their early years, they are giving students the education they need and that we, as a community and as a nation, need them to have. FULL POST
Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks including CNN. He is the co-director of the upcoming documentary "The Muslims Are Coming!" and co-host of a new CNN podcast "The Big Three" that looks at the top three stories of the week. Follow him on Twitter @deanofcomedy.
By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
(CNN) - I'm an American-Muslim and I despise Islamic terrorists. In fact, despise is not even a strong enough word to convey my true feelings about those who kill innocent people in the name of Islam. I hate them with every fiber of my being.
I'm not going to tell you, "Islam is a religion of peace." Nor will I tell you that Islam is a religion of violence. What I will say is that Islam is a religion that, like Christianity and Judaism, is intended to bring you closer to God. And sadly we have seen people use the name of each of these Abrahamic faiths to wage and justify violence.
The unique problem for Muslims is that our faith is being increasingly defined by the actions of a tiny group of morally bankrupt terrorists. Just to be clear: The people who commit violence in the name of Islam are not Muslims, they are murderers. Their true religion is hatred and inhumanity.
The only people terrorists speak for are themselves and the others involved in their despicable plot. They do not represent me, my family or any other Muslim I know. And believe me, I know a lot of Muslims.FULL STORY
Editor's Note: Hussein Rashid is a native New York Muslim. He teaches at Hofstra University in the department of religion. He is an associate editor at Religion Dispatches, a term member on the Council on Foreign Relations, and fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.
(CNN) - After the tragic Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, a dramatic firefight in Watertown and the final capture of one of the two suspects, there are two names tied to this tragedy: Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, two brothers believed to be behind the attack.
We are learning quite a bit about them: where they grew up, what the older brother may have believed and how friends and family remember them.
However, whatever we learn about them does not tell us why they did what they did – only parts of who they are. It is easy, in the initial aftermath of the bombings, to make careless associations between identity and motive, similar to post 9/11 reaction.
But this time, there is a change in rhetoric of how potential suspects are identified, particularly if they are Muslim. It is because of this change we are learning to move past paralyzing fear and maturing in how we think of what it means to be American. FULL POST
Editor's note: Benjamin Todd Jealous is president and CEO of the NAACP.
By Benjamin Todd Jealous, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Earlier this month Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) visited Howard University to take a swing at repairing relations between African Americans and the Republican Party.
As famed sportscaster Harry Kalas would have said, it was largely a swing and a miss.
Paul struck out when he tried to equate today's Republican Party with the party of Abraham Lincoln, while ignoring much of the 150 years in between. (He even acknowledged his mistakes shortly after). But his willingness to step up to the plate can provide a lesson for a GOP struggling to get on top.
Republicans will not win black votes by paying lip service to party history while attacking social programs and voting rights. But they can make inroads by showing a commitment to civil rights, something Paul managed to do briefly in his remarks.
Paul received applause when he told the Howard crowd, "We should not have drug laws or a court system that disproportionately punishes the black community." He illustrated using one issue where the GOP can connect with black voters: criminal justice reform.FULL STORY
Editor’s Note: World-renowned chef, author and Emmy winning television personality Anthony Bourdain visits Los Angeles' Koreatown in "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” with self-described "bad Korean" Roy Choi and David Choe. Grace Lee is a Los Angeles-based independent filmmaker of fiction and documentary films that have explored identity. Her new film is “American Revolutionary" about Detroit activist Grace Lee Boggs.
(CNN) - Over the years, I’ve envied the achievements of the “good Koreans”: their Ivy League credentials, their fluency in the Korean language and their dedication to their golf game and families - no matter what.
Even into my 30s, I regularly pondered whether it was too late to go to medical or law school so I could provide for my parents in their twilight years, or at least give them something to brag about to other Korean parents.
I went to graduate film school instead and made films on topics such as zombies, street food and electoral politics. My latest documentary, "American Revolutionary," is about a 98-year-old Chinese-American woman in Detroit who devoted her life to the civil rights and black power movement.
My career may sound exciting to the average reader. But these pursuits do not come with job stability or a 401(k). Bad Korean.
At the same time, I know many “good Koreans” who confide to me that they wish they could have chosen a different path. They tell me about their dreams of making movies. I tell them I wish I had their benefits and health insurance.
They are incredulous when I tell them my parents never pressured me to make a ton of money, that they instead encouraged my sister and me to be independent and seek happiness on our own terms. I tell them that I wished they had meddled a little more – maybe then I could have gone to an Ivy League school!
Perhaps one of the hallmarks of being Korean-American is that we always think we could be better. No matter how good we are, we are not good enough. FULL POST
Editor's note: Farhana Khera is the president and executive director of Muslim Advocates, a national legal advocacy organization dedicated to promoting freedom, justice and equality for all, regardless of faith.
By Farhana Khera, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Like so many Americans across the country, I was shocked when I heard of the attacks at the Boston Marathon. A part of me immediately traveled back to when I was cheering runners myself as a student at Wellesley College, the midpoint for the marathon, a time when such dangers as bombings never crossed our minds.
Boston is an indelible part in the personal history and identity of those who have lived or attended school in the city. That someone had detonated bombs at an event that symbolized unity in a place known for its rich diversity and as a birthplace of our nation's freedom was heartbreaking.
This last week has seen a whirlwind of fighting in a dramatic manhunt, leaving an entire city on lockdown and lives in danger. I am heartened to hear stories where the human spirit rose above the ugliness and absolute horror facing the community. Law enforcement officers and other first responders risked their lives to help others. Several marathoners ran straight to the hospital to give blood, and doctors rushed to hospitals. A restaurant opened its doors and offered free food to its neighbors while they were stuck in a lockdown.
It is these testaments of unity and heroism that make us stronger. Bostonians are coming together and helping each other because, as U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said, "When tragedy strikes, we are ... one family. We hurt together, we help each other together."FULL STORY
Editor's note: Jothy Rosenberg is the author of the memoir "Who Says I Can't?" He is a serial entrepreneur in the high-tech industry, has written three technical books, is an extreme athlete in skiing, biking and open water swimming and is about to do his 20th Alcatraz swim across San Francisco Bay. Watch his "Who Says I Can't?" series on YouTube, and follow him on Twitter
By Jothy Rosenberg, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Waking up to realize you suddenly have no leg or legs is as horrible an experience as one can have, and one that will, sadly, be faced by a number of people injured in the bombing of the Boston Marathon. It happened to me when I was 16 after a bone cancer diagnosis and amputation (the cancer later spread to my lung and caused a lung to be removed as well). As I looked down in the recovery room to where my right leg used to be, all I saw was a short stump.
This is frightening for sure, and only one of the things you're dealing with after an amputation. Luckily perhaps, your entire being is consumed just with healing; the bigger issues come later. First thing to deal with is massive physical pain from the surgery, and it will be worse because of the shrapnel packed bombs. The explosive force traumatizes the tissues and the fragments injected into the body cause collateral damage. Modern medicine does well with pain management, so this phase will, luckily, pass quickly.
For the new amputee, challenges come fast and furious, but so does the natural "fight" that is in all humans. My very first challenge was trying to stand on one leg. The body and the mind do not adjust immediately to major changes like the loss of a 25 pound leg, so balance while standing up is elusive. But it will come and that is a first little victory. It's the first of many little accomplishments that begin to build up one's zeroed-out self-confidence. Our bodies heal and adapt well–the mind is a bigger challenge.FULL STORY
Editor's note: Angela M. Kelley is vice president for immigration policy and advocacy at the Center for American Progress, a progressive research and policy institute.
(CNN) - Working diligently for over four months, a bipartisan group of senators - the so-called Gang of Eight – has accomplished a remarkable feat: They have produced an immigration bill that is pragmatic, creative and forward looking. The bill, introduced early Wednesday, is - like any big piece of legislation - a compromise.
Stakeholders will find parts they love and parts they loathe.
First, the parts to love: The senators have largely navigated a dizzyingly complex arena - U.S. immigration policy - in ways that while not perfect, would substantially improve the dysfunctional status quo.
Among other things, the bill would bring the nation's 11.1 million undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and put them on a road to citizenship. It would increase and streamline border security, mandate a national employment verification system and eliminate the visa backlogs that have caused decades-long family separations. And it would promote economic competitiveness by revamping employment-based immigration so that business can bring in needed workers while still protecting the wages and jobs of American workers.
It is a remarkable starting point but with several crucial missed opportunities.FULL STORY
Editor's note: Kevin Powell is an activist, public speaker, writer and president of BK Nation, a new national and multicultural organization focused on civic engagement and community development. He is the author of “Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, and the Ghost of Dr. King: Blogs and Essays.” Follow him on Twitter: @kevin_powell.
By Kevin Powell, Special to CNN
(CNN) – I love baseball, deeply.
I played stickball and punchball growing up on the potholed streets of Jersey City, and dreamed of becoming a second baseman for the New York Yankees.
I hungrily digested book after book on historic and mythical figures such as Joe DiMaggio and Ty Cobb, and played Little League, Babe Ruth League and high school baseball.
Little did I know that Jackie Robinson, the first black player in Major League Baseball in the modern era, had created the possibility of dreams for black boys like me. As a child I only vaguely knew that he broke baseball's color line.
Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter: @rubennavarrette.
By Ruben Navarrette, CNN Contributor
San Diego (CNN) - Every gang needs a leader. And what has become undeniably clear in recent days is that the de facto leader of the Gang of Eight is Marco Rubio.
The Florida lawmaker, and potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, appeared on seven Sunday talk shows, discussing - in English and Spanish - the specifics of a comprehensive immigration reform bill that he hammered out with three other Senate Republicans and four Senate Democrats. The legislation is expected to be formally unveiled on Tuesday.
This means that, by Wednesday, just about everyone will be angry. Conservatives will declare the provisions of the bill too lenient, while Hispanics will condemn them as too punitive. Welcome to the immigration debate.FULL STORY