Collaborating Authors

Trump tells black churchgoers in Detroit 'I'm here to learn'

PBS NewsHour

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks with Shalga Hightower, mother of Iofemi Hightower who was killed in 2007, at a meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 2, 2016. DETROIT -- Donald Trump said Saturday he wanted to help rebuild Detroit and told members of a black church that "there are many wrongs that should be made right" as the GOP presidential nominee tried to woo African-Americans two months before the election. Seated in the front row was Omarosa Manigault, a former contestant on Trump's reality television series who has been helping guide his outreach to the black community. Also in the audience was Detroit native Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who ran against Trump in the primaries and is now advising the campaign. While protesters were a vocal presence outside, Trump made a pitch inside for support from an electorate strongly aligned with Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Some Detroit blacks not rolling out welcome mat for Trump

Associated Press

In this Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016, photo, Toni McIlwain stands outside the building that housed her Ravendale Community nonprofit that offered education and drug prevention programs in Detroit. Trump is planning to attend a service Saturday at an African American church in Detroit. In this Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016, photo, Toni McIlwain stands outside the building that housed her Ravendale Community nonprofit that offered education and drug prevention programs in Detroit. Horace Sheffield, one of several prominent pastors, labor leaders and elected officials planning a silent march Saturday morning to Bishop Jackson's church.

The daunting struggle to diversify elite public high schools

PBS NewsHour

GWEN IFILL: As the school year nears its end, a number of highly selective public high schools around the country are struggling to deal with a longer-term problem, how to enroll more students of color. Special correspondent Spencer Michels looks at one such school, in this report produced in association with Education Week. Motivated, hard-driving and talented students have propelled this four-year institution to the top tier of national public school rankings. Its graduates include scientists, politicians, entertainers and a Supreme Court justice. Chrislyn Earle, here in a psychology class, is a senior.

The Coronavirus Has Intensified Systemic Economic Racism Against Black Americans

The New Yorker

The last day that Nicole Smith worked at her twelve-dollar-an-hour job as an after-school teacher in Smyrna, Georgia, was March 13th. A month later, her husband, Reggie, was furloughed from his job installing hardware and software for an I.T. company. For three months Reggie had no paycheck, but this week his firm asked him to return to work. Nicole doesn't know if she'll ever return to her job. With little savings, this African-American couple has struggled to stay current on their rent and avoid having their ten-year-old Dodge Charger repossessed.

Systemic equity in education


Too often in higher education, the legacy of laws, policies, and practices that have systematically denied educational opportunities to Blacks is ignored, thereby perpetuating racial inequities. In the United States, higher education is a key route to career success and upward socioeconomic mobility. Unfortunately, this path is increasingly becoming most accessible to privileged communities. As the new president of Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts, and as a woman of color, I am in a position to help unburden higher education from systemic racism and promote positive change that extends beyond academic boundaries. My parents instilled in me the importance of education for personal and familial uplifting as well as a means of helping other Black Americans to achieve success. They reminded me that all people are created equal and have inalienable rights—a right to education among them. At a young age, I realized why they tried to enforce this notion. I vividly recall that as a third grader in 1963, I had to walk past a newly built all-white school to be picked up and bused to a dilapidated all-Black school in another part of Panama City, Florida. I wondered what it was like inside. Surely the pristine brick exterior and the well-appointed playground were indicators that, within those walls, white students had new and current textbooks, unlike the worn and outdated ones in my Black school. I wondered what justification there was for denying Blacks the same educational experiences as those afforded to whites. On the bus, I saw the stark contrast as we traveled from an integrated to a segregated neighborhood. As we turned down the dirt road leading to the Black school, I remember a sense of moving between two very different worlds. Separate worlds indeed, but not equal. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896 legalized “separate but equal” educational institutions and opportunities for Blacks. Even though the landmark decision of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 declared “separate but equal” to be unconstitutional, many schools remained segregated, including the one in Florida near where my military family lived nearly 10 years later. In higher education, historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) were established in the United States in the early 19th century for Blacks to obtain advanced degrees. Until Brown , most college-educated Blacks graduated from HBCUs. I eventually became the first Black student to get a doctorate in chemical engineering from Rice University; the fifth woman in the nation to obtain that degree; and the first Black woman in the country to hold a tenure-track position in chemical engineering. But it is discouraging that the challenges that existed along my journey remain challenges faced today by Black students interested in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. There is still a lack of diversity among faculty and students in engineering schools. This environment has negative consequences and feeds a vicious cycle. The dearth of Black faculty role models and mentors contributes to the underrepresentation of Black students. Structural and social barriers such as hostile climates, bias, and tokenism make it difficult to achieve a sense of belonging and limit career choices and opportunities for Black students and faculty, further perpetuating the persistent underrepresentation. Today, 3.9% of students in the United States who graduate with a bachelor's degree in engineering are Black. And only 4.1% of students who graduate with a Ph.D. in engineering in the nation are Black. Dismantling systemic racism in higher education will require efforts to think and operate in new ways beyond existing programs that support students of color—those efforts are typically targeted to individuals, and what's needed in addition are efforts that promote institutional change. Engineering colleges are a good place for breaking things down and rebuilding. Olin, for example, is committed to applying a co-creation model of change (where students, faculty, and administration work together) that relies on a combination of leadership, shared responsibility and accountability, courageous and effective discourse, mutual understanding, community engagement, and design approaches that have the potential for meaningful change. The lessons learned in our process of experimentation and discovery hopefully can be shared to help other colleges interested in achieving similar goals. It's time to abandon the myth that students and faculty of color can't be found. Higher education must challenge the status quo.