Commentary: African American Scientists and Inventors
by Black Kos Editor, Sephius1
Sylvester James Gates, Jr. (born December 15, 1950) is an American theoretical physicist, known for work on supersymmetry, supergravity, and superstring theory. He is currently the John S. Toll Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland, College Park and serves on President Barack Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
Gates received BS (1973) and PhD (1977) degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His doctoral thesis was the first at MIT on supersymmetry. With M.T. Grisaru, M. Rocek, and W. Siegel, Gates co-authored Superspace (1984), the first comprehensive book on supersymmetry.
Gates was nominated by the Department of Energy as one of the USA Science and Engineering Festival's "Nifty Fifty" Speakers to present his work and career to middle and high school students in October 2010. He is on the board of trustees of Society for Science & the Public.
Gates was a Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Scholar at MIT (2010-11) and is a Residential Scholar at MIT's Simmons Hall. He is pursuing ongoing research into string theory, supersymmetry, and supergravity at the MIT Center for Theoretical Physics.
Gates has been featured extensively on NOVA PBS programs on physics, notably "The Elegant Universe" (2003). He completed a DVD series titled Superstring Theory: The DNA of Reality (2006) for The Teaching Company consisting of 24 half-hour lectures to make the complexities of unification theory comprehensible to laypeople. During the 2008 World Science Festival, Gates narrated a ballet "The Elegant Universe", where he gave a public presentation of the artistic forms connected to his scientific research. Gates also appeared in the BBC Horizon documentary The Hunt for Higgs in 2012.....Read More
News by dopper0189, Black Kos Managing Editor
This is a potentially very dangerous group we need to keep an eye on. ColorLines: How the Right’s Building a ‘Poll Watcher’ Network for November.
Bill Ouren, True the Vote’s national elections coordinator, is presenting before a group of about 50 recruits in Boca Raton, Fla. He stands beneath a banner bearing his organization’s name, alongside that of the Koch brothers’ SuperPAC Americans For Prosperity, and the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity’s “Citizen Watchdog,” a rightwing group that teaches people how to become “investigative” journalists. He’s telling the story of how True the Vote grew from a small posse in Harris County, Texas, in 2009, to a deployed army of over 1,000 poll watchers across most of the state the following year. Ouren brags that the 2010 recruits reported “over 800 individual incidences of voter … irregularities.”
Irregularities is not a common term in the True the Vote vocab. Usually, it’s just called fraud. Seeing that the wording change has brought confusion to some of his audience’s faces, Ouren offers an explanation. “I use the word ‘irregularities’ because we don’t know if people did it intentionally or if they just didn’t know better.” That kind of logic isn’t normal for the group either, so he immediately adds, “So for those people who say voter and election fraud doesn’t exist, I’ve got 806 answers to that. It absolutely does in one election.”
Ouren and Americans for Prosperity gathered these recruits in Boca Raton in July to instruct them on how they could become “empowered” vessels for True the Vote’s poll watcher program. True the Vote is most widely known for its advocacy of restrictive photo voter ID laws. But while that might garner headlines, the group’s real focus is on policing the act of voting itself. As Ouren declared during the group’s national summit in April, and repeated again in Boca Raton, his recruits’ job is chiefly to make voters feel like they’re “driving and seeing the police following you.” He aims to recruit one million poll watchers around the country.
That’s an ambitious goal, and it’s easy to conclude Ouren’s eyes are bigger than his organizing stomach. But when you consider all of the eyes in True the Vote’s rapidly growing network, the goal may not be so far-fetched.
True the Vote’s emergence wasn’t an isolated event. Its rapid rise occurred in harmony with hundreds of other Tea Party groups across the nation, dozens of which exist in Texas alone and many of which have been “empowered” by True the Vote for “election integrity” kibitzing. It has plugged itself into an existing infrastructure of influential far right organizations hellbent on criminalizing abortion, banishing gun control, repealing the Affordable Care Act—and now, on intimidating would-be voters.
These alliances have helped expand True the Vote’s range of influence over election activities. Today it boasts having trainees in 35 states, people who’ll spot “irregularities” and chalk them up as “fraud” and then use that tally to justify new voting restrictions. As one strategy, the group buys voter rolls from states and counties, then disseminates the lists to thousands of largely unsupervised volunteers, who are urged to submit to election officials names from the rolls that may be improperly registered.
Catherine Englebrecht of True the Vote speaking at the Tea Party Patriots American Policy Summit in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo: Creative Commons/Gage Skidmore
A gaffe is when a politician accidentally tells what they are really thinking. Talking Point Memo: South Carolina Lawmaker Said ‘Amen’ To Email Comparing Blacks To ‘Bees Going After A Watermelon’.
State Rep. Alan Clemmons, who authored the South Carolina voter ID law being argued in federal court this week, admitted on Tuesday he welcomed a racist email he received from a friend in support of the law.
Clemmons replied with “Amen” and “thank you for your support” after a man named Ed Koziol wrote that black and poor voters would “be like a swarm of bees going after a watermelon” if the legislature offered a reward for obtaining identification cards, according to McClatchy.
At the trial, Clemmons called the response “poorly considered.”
A civil rights lawyer also asked Clemmons about packets of peanuts that were distributed with cards that read “Stop Obama’s nutty agenda and support voter ID.” Clemmons reportedly testified previously that he was the one who handed out the packets, but this time he said he could not remember doing so.
When you allow the Tea Party to display racially loaded signs for months on end, you set the stage for incidents like this. Maynard Institute: "People Think We've Gone Further Than We Have".
Patricia Carroll, the CNN camerawoman who was assaulted with peanuts and called an animal by two attendees at the Republican National Convention, told Journal-isms on Thursday that "I hate that it happened, but I'm not surprised at all."
Carroll, who agreed to be named for the first time, said she does not want her situation to be used for political advantage. "This situation could happen to me at the Democratic convention or standing on the street corner. Racism is a global issue," she said by telephone from Tampa.
Carroll said no one took the names of the attendees who threw peanuts at her Tuesday on the convention floor and told her, "This is what we feed animals." She alerted fellow camera operators, producers and CNN security. The head of the delegation — she was not certain of the state — told her the perpetrators must have been alternates, not delegates.
But Carroll, 34, said that as an Alabama native, she was not surprised. "This is Florida, and I'm from the Deep South," she said. "You come to places like this, you can count the black people on your hand. They see us doing things they don't think I should do."
Carroll noted of the Republican convention, "There are not that many black women there."
She said she wanted to thank CNN, which "has been behind me 100 percent." Although she was stationed on the floor next to Fox News, she was not operating the camera at the time. The perpetrators "didn't know what I was doing. I happened to be standing there," near one of the delegations.
"I can't change these people's hearts and minds," Carroll added. "No, it doesn't feel good. But I know who I am. I'm a proud black woman. A lot of black people are upset. This should be a wake-up call to black people. . . . People were living in euphoria for a while. People think we're gone further than we have."
Republican efforts to restrict voting rights come in a variety of forms. Some of the most notable efforts involve onerous voter-ID laws and closing early-voting windows. Maddow Blog: Court rejects Florida GOP voter-registration restrictions.
But in Florida, GOP officials have also placed sweeping restrictions on voter-registration drives. As Laura explained overnight, new Republican-imposed rules have made it almost impossible for progressive groups to register new Democratic voters. This isn't an accident.
And according to a federal court this morning, the law is simply unacceptable.
A federal judge said Wednesday he would permanently remove harsh restrictions on third-party voter registration groups that have handicapped registration efforts in Florida this year. U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle said he would grant a motion to permanently remove the restrictions once he receives confirmation that a federal appeals court has dismissed the case (the state of Florida has agreed to dismiss their appeal).
The suit was originally filed back in December by the League of Women Voters of Florida, Rock the Vote, and the Florida Public Interest Research Group Education Fund. The Justice Department opposed the restrictions in a separate lawsuit.
An unsung hero. News Observer: Durham resident paved way for women, blacks as physician’s assistants.
Some people tried to dissuade Joyce Nichols from applying to the physician’s assistant program at Duke.
No woman had been admitted before, let alone a woman of color – to any PA program across the country. Nichols had three children who depended on her income, so how would she both go to school and earn a living during this two-year, full-time commitment?
Already on staff on the cardiac floor of the hospital as a licensed practical nurse, she happened to work with Dr. Eugene Stead, the man who established Duke’s PA program. The program was originally designed to further the training of ex-military medical staff. But Stead apparently saw something in her and encouraged her to apply, said her husband, McArthur Nichols.
But knowing Joyce Nichols, who died last month after a years-long battle with colon cancer, Stead’s encouragement might not have even been necessary.
“She was a very determined person,” McArthur Nichols said. “Once she had her mind set on anything, she was not to be denied.”
The program was established in 1965, and Nichols graduated in 1970 as the first woman, and first African American woman, to become a PA in the United States.
She learned about six months into the program that the other PA students were given stipends – something she had not been offered, her husband said. She inquired and was eventually awarded a stipend as well, but there was no back pay.
There is a dark side to many of the mahogany antiques purchased unbeknownst by many art patrons. New York Times: Beyond the Luster of Mahogany
Mahogany for 18th-century furniture was harvested under appalling conditions across the Caribbean. Slaves branded with owners’ monograms lived in thatched huts and scouted for trees. They had to drag and roll felled mahogany trunks to riverfronts and then float the logs, which were chained together, to ships waiting in bays full of sharks and coral reefs.
There were only a few upsides to the task. “Enslaved woodcutters had the option of wielding their machetes against a despised authority or just slipping away into the surrounding forest,” the historian Jennifer L. Anderson writes in a new book, “Mahogany: The Costs of Luxury in Early America” (Harvard University Press).
In a recent interview Ms. Anderson emphasized that she did not want readers to begin recoiling in horror from mahogany antiques, despite the material’s origins in cruelty. Her goal, she said, was to reveal the human dramas and real estate battles behind the objects.
She researched the subject at former mahogany plantations, piecing together how whites and blacks had coexisted and sometimes formed blended families. The Rhode Island-born merchant Jonathan Card ended up on an island in Belize, secretly married to Dorothy Taylor, his former housekeeper, who was black. His brother James joined him in the mahogany trade, supplying carpenters in Newport, R.I., whose work sells for millions of dollars today.
Slave rebellions and unrest sometimes delayed timber harvests. The business eventually failed, and James Card’s paltry estate after his death included two mahogany tables. “Such were the vagaries of frontier life,” Ms. Anderson writes.
New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York
“Felling Mahogany in Honduras” depicts cutting the trees to make furniture for the wealthy, as slaves did across the Caribbean in the 18th century.
Keeps our collective roots alive in dance form. Washington Post: African American dancers promote Lindy Hop and its cultural significance.
It’s hard for Sonny Allen not to be noticed in the ballroom of the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel. It’s not because he’s worked with Duke Ellington and on the extravagant ballroom dance scenes in Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X.” It’s not even because he is one of the first inductees into the International Lindy Hop Hall of Fame. Allen, 75, stands out not for his black suit in a room full of vibrant colors, but for his black skin.
Allen was one of the few African Americans present at the International Lindy Hop Championships over the weekend. The Lindy Hop is a swing dance popularized and originated by blacks in Harlem during the 1920s.
“In order to know where you’re going, you have to know where you came from,” Allen said. “This is a fabulous event, but these are the most blacks that I’ve seen at a swing since I’ve been to it.” Of the hundreds of dancers who competed for the audience, only a handful were black.
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