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The Democratic Presidential Debate is Where? 6 Facts about Texas Southern University

As you may or may not know, the next Democratic Presidential Debate is happening September 12th in Houston, Texas, but very few people have no idea about the school hosting the event, Texas Southern University.

This institution is a student-centered comprehensive doctoral university committed to ensuring equality, offering innovative programs that are responsive to its urban setting, and transforming diverse students into lifelong learners, engaged citizens, and creative leaders in their local, national, and global communities.

Since its existence, Texas Southern has made it a priority in achieving student success, academic quality, funding, partnerships, and culture. Their rankings on the national stage is a head above the rest, being #1 in degrees for African Americans in Texas, and #1 in doctoral-professional degrees in the lone star state.

To get us excited about this week’s debate host, I have found six fun facts about the beloved HBCU that makes it unique:

  1. It’s rich history: Texas Southern started as Houston Colored Junior College in 1927 with more than 300 students in its first semester. The school upgraded to a four-year institution to be known as Houston College for Negros in 1934 and was housed at Yates High School before outgrowing it in 1946. The school had another name change in 1947 calling it the Texas State University for Negros and finally became the school that we know and love in 1951, where it has over 9,500 students, making it the second-largest HBCU in the great state of Texas, and offers a variety of majors like Education, Pharmacy, and Business. 
  2. Their alumni are fire: The graduates of Texas Southern have made a dent into the cultural thread of history for this country in politics, sports, and music. Civil Rights Activists, Barbara Jordan, became the first African American elected into the Texas State Senate after Reconstruction and the first Southern African American woman elected into the U.S. House of Representatives. The school’s Public Affairs department is named in her honor. Football Hall of Famer, New York Giants Defensive End and TV host, Michael Strahan, wore the burgundy and grey as a member of their football team before entering the draft in 1993. He also gave back by donating high-end equipment to his former team.  And gospel singer, Yolanda Adams, recently announced her syndicated radio show “The Yolanda Adams Morning Show” will be broadcasting at the university’s public station KTSU 90.9 FM in Houston. 
  3. Debate coach trained Denzel Washington for a role: The candidates should get some pointers from TSU’s debate coach emeritus Thomas F. Freeman. His 70-year tenure at Texas Southern as professor and head coach of their award-winning debate team used his talents for the film “The Great Debaters” in 2007. Actor, Denzel Washington, got training from Freeman for him to play Wiley College professor, Melvin B. Tolson in the 1930s. 
  4. Houston’s first driver-less shuttle is on TSU’s campus: Back in June, the students got a cool way to commute to class with the self-driving METRO shuttle. This shared autonomous shuttle is the first in the Houston metro area. The shuttle rolls on the school’s Tiger Walk promenade that goes up to 12 miles per hour. 
  5. The most murals on any campus: As part of the seniors’ final project, Art majors have created 128 murals around campus since 1947. The idea came from the art department’s founder, Dr. John Biggers, and the majority of the murals are housed in Hannah Hall. 
  6. Their law school is full of #BlackGirlMagic: Just last month, the Thurgood Marshall School of Law hired Joan R. M. Bullock as its new dean, making her the first female dean in its school’s history. The school can also brag about the historical election of 17 Black female judges elected during the mid-term elections in November. Of those judges, eight of them are TSU graduates. 

We got a genius working at Clark Atlanta y’all!

If you haven’t heard of the name Dr. Jamie Pleasant, you are in for a treat! Pleasant’s place of work, Clark Atlanta University, announced earlier this week that their Professor of Marketing and Associate Dean of the Business School has been certified as a genius!

The newly discovered brainiac got confirmation of this from Mensa International, a membership club for the top 98 percentile of their approved IQ test. Only 100,000 people in the world are members of this prestigious organization and one of those members work at a Historically Black College or University (HBCU)!

“I was completely shocked and humbled at the same time when I got my results for acceptance from this very distinguished intellectual organization,” Pleasant said in a statement.

You would think that a person of his intelligence would want to work at an Ivy League school, but instead Pleasant wants to continue teaching at CAU. By Pleasant receiving this recognition, this means that the students at this beloved HBCU will get some of the best education in the country because they will be taught by one of the smartest in the world.

Pleasant went on to say, “I will do my best to represent Clark Atlanta University and Mensa at a very high level of academic and intellectual excellence by continuing innovative teaching methods and cutting-edge research.”

Clark Atlanta employing Pleasant at their institution is one of the reasons why HBCUs are very important to our educational enrichment in America. To learn more about Pleasant and the school that he works for, visit Clark Atlanta’s website HERE.


Beyoncé Homecoming marches HBCUs onto the mainstream of pop culture

“If you surrender to the air, you can ride it.”

                          Toni Morrison, Howard University 1953

That was how Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé began its journey of Black excellence. The documentary, starring Beyoncé Knowles Carter, takes you on the eight-month preparation of her 2018 performances at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

The now historic show marked Mrs. Carter as being the first African American Woman to headline the festival since it started in 1993. Not only was this a historical moment for Coachella, but it was the symbolic homecoming of her return to the stage since having her twin babies.

Beyoncé put a lot of thought into her performance, especially wanting to find a way to expose her beloved Beyhive to another side of her, which was her passion for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The inspiration was weaved carefully thought out the execution of her performances. From the musical arrangements of her chart-topping hits to the rhinestones on the costumes of the over 200 dancers, musicians, and background singers on stage, Homecoming gave her fans the HBCU experience without even having to go to class.

The History of HBCUs

“Education must not simply teach work– it must teach life.”

W.E.B. DuBois, Fisk University 1888

Officially, Historically Black Colleges and Universities are American institutions of higher education that were established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the intention of primarily serving the African-American community. The purpose for these institutions were needed after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation to end slavery in the southern United States. Segregation enhanced the need for the schools when predominantly white colleges refused to enroll Blacks into their schools.

film poster

In the 1930s, there was on record to be more than 121 HBCUs in existence, however, the Civil Rights Act also hurt the institutions with allowing Blacks to enroll in all schools in the country. As of today, there are 101 official HBCUs that offer programs ranging from associate degrees to doctorates and everything in between.

Some well know graduates of HBCUs are actress Taraji P. Henson (North Carolina A & T/ Howard University), Actor Samuel L. Jackson (Morehouse College), California Senator and Democratic Presidental Hopeful, Kamala Harris (Howard University), and Georgia Democratic Gubotorial Candidate Stacy Abrams (Spellman College).

The Marching Band Experience

Mention in the film, Beyoncé confides her love for HBCUs that started with her parents taking her to football games at Prairie View University and dance rehearsals at Texas Southern University was all of the inspiration Knowles Carter needed to create the best music festival performance of all time.

Going back to football, attending a game is VERY different than if you were going to a Division I game. For one thing, very few of the fans go to see the team. Instead, they want to see their school’s marching band perform for the entire duration of the game. The pride for their school’s marching band develops early in one’s life for no one gets disappointed by of the showmanship and entertainment pizzazz of the full-time students who put into the scores of music needing to be memorized. There’s even camaraderie between the two school’s bands as they try to outperform each other for bragging rights, which makes it a competition in itself.

Thank You, Beyoncé

“You can’t be what you can’t see.”

Marian Wright Edelman, Spellman College 1959

Minutes into the performance, Beyoncé gave her rendition of the “Black National Anthem” Lift Every Voice And Sing, lyrics written by Atlanta University (now called Clark Atlanta University) graduate James Weldon Johnson and later adapted musically by his brother John Rosamond Johnson, which was also sung by her daughter, Blue Ivy Carter (whom knows a lot more lyrics than most adults which is very impressive) in the documentary and its soundtrack. The anthem universally binds all of the schools together having them performed it at all of their sporting, artistic, and scholastic events.

Just like Morrison, Beyoncé surrounded herself to her culture of being a southerner, and African American, and, of course, a woman.

So thank you Beyoncé. Thank you for showing your love for HBCUs to everyone around the world. Thank you for the philanthropic support you have given these institutions in the past, and thank you for showcasing Historically Black Colleges and Universities front-and-center where they belong.


MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid to speak to graduates during University of the Virgin Islands’ Commencement Ceremony

Joy Reid

Historically Black institution, University of the Virgin Islands, announced journalist and host of MSNBC’s AM Joy, Joy-Ann Reid, will be the keynote speaker at their annual commencement ceremonies on May 16th and 17th.

UVI Logo

President of UVI, David Hall, mentioned his excitement in a statement, saying “We strive to bring outstanding individuals to our commencement so that they can inspire and stand as a model for what we want our students to become.”

Reid, whose father is from the Democratic Republic of Congo and mother from British Guiana, will be used to the tropical weather while speaking in the HBCU’s St.Croix and St. Thomas campuses.

“She is an outstanding author, journalist, television personality,” President Hall continues, “and an overall outstanding individual who has helped MSNBC become more diverse in its appeal.”

In addition to hosting AM Joy, Reid is an accomplished author of several books including Fracture: Barack Obama, the Clintons, and the Racial Divide, and written columns and articles for publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, the Miami Herald New York Magazine, and The Daily Beast. You can catch Reid’s show, AM Joy, on Saturday and Sunday mornings on MSNBC.


Life After Layoff: One year later

In early October 2017, I was awakened from my sleep when I got a phone call from the Digital Content Director of WLBT in Jackson, Miss, offering me a part-time job to join her team.

My training was done and I was flying solo that night.

I felt like I made it! I would be working, and not interning, for a television station that I’ve admired as a viewer and now becoming an employee. But a short time later, four months to be exact, my life came crashing down when I found out that my position of Digital Content Producer was being dissolved.

I was devastated. I loved so much about that job. I loved how my social media skills were improving. I loved the people I was working with. I loved finding out more about the Jackson metro area. Most importantly, I loved how my writing skills were improving.

What’s supposed to happen is when one door closes another door opens right, well not in this story. Instead, I feel like I’m in a purgatory of doing the insane ritual of filling out online applications and hearing different forms of the word “no.” The one I love the most is:

Even on Christmas Eve, I had a smile on my face because I was finally doing the job I’ve always dreamed of

“While your credentials and experience are valuable, we have determined that other candidates may better fit our needs at this time.”

Isn’t that the nicest way to say “Thanks for applying, but we found some people who are better than you.”

I have been proactive mentally, physically and even financially to find another dream job. I continued my studies at Syracuse University and used them to get a jump start in the job hunt. I went to job fairs, workshops, and spent a large amount of my money to take part in an internship in New York City. FOR FREE! (try to live there with not income, it’s stressful).

I even made this introductory video to send to recruiters on how I would be perfect for their organizations.

But on top of that, I had a health scare that took my anxiety and depression into a tailspin. “Was I going to be sick?” “Was I going to lose my hair?” “Was I going to die?” Those questions would be on repeat in my brain until I got a clean bill of health 8 months later.

Determined not to give in to defeat, I would say my favorite Bible verse in my head:

“I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.”

Philippians 4:13

My faith has strengthened with this experience and I know HE will get me through this. But for now, since no one will hire me, I will hire myself.

I’ve started my freelance company Allison Joyner Enterprises this year that I am so excited about! Here, I would be able to offer clients my content skills, particularly writing, to help enhance their business, publication, or website. READ MORE HERE

So if you need help with your social media or homepage, come to me at AJE and I’ll take care of you!

Allison Joyner, Founder & CEO of Allison Joyner Enterprises