People often cite Arthur Ashe as the first African American
to win Wimbledon (1975). He was indeed the first African American male to
win the men's singles title, but it was, in fact, Althea Gibson, who was the
first African American to cross the color line playing and winning at
Wimbledon (1957 and 1958) and at the U.S. Nationals (1957 and 1958 – precursor
of the U.S. Open).
This fall, THIRTEEN's American Masters presents Althea, premiering
nationwide Friday, September 4, 2015 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings)
during the U.S. Open. The 90-minute documentary reveals the highs and
lows of this remarkable athlete whose life and achievements transcend sports
and have entered the annals of African American history. From her roots as a
sharecropper's daughter in the cotton fields of South Carolina, to her emergence
as the unlikely queen of the highly segregated tennis world in the 1950s, her
story is a complex tale of race, class and gender.
Yesterday, FAMU Board of Trustees Chairman Rufus Montgomery
rebuffed a group of state lawmakers who made a public request that he either
resign or be voted out of his leadership position. He hinted that those
legislators might hurt FAMU’s ability to abide by Southern Association of Colleges
and Schools (SACS) Standard 3.2.4, which says university boards must stay free
from political interference.
“For the good of the institution and to prevent charges of
undue political interference, I hope that our elected officials will allow our
Board to do the job we were appointed to do,” he said.
WCTV-6 contacted the SACS headquarters in Atlanta, Ga. and
asked it about the issue. The television station reported that: “A
representative with SACS says if the FAMU Board of Trustees remove Montgomery
as chair solely or largely because the legislators asked them to -- that would
raise concerns. SACS is not looking into the matter at this time, but, FAMU
could get a warning, probation, or lose accreditation.”
Back in 2011, Rufus Montgomery was quiet after the Southern Association
of Colleges and Schools (SACS) scolded Gov. Rick Scott for interfering in the
FAMU Board of Trustees’ duties by trying to pressure it to suspend then-President
James H. Ammons. SACS told the governor that his actions could jeopardize
SACS Standard 3.2.4 states that each member’s governing
board must be “free from undue influence from political, religious, or other
external bodies and [protect] the institution from such influence.”
Rufus had called for Ammons to be placed on administrative
leave only seven days before the governor made his statement in support of the same proposal.
He declined to criticize Scott for placing FAMU’s accreditation in danger. But
yesterday, Rufus appeared to be very anxious to remind a group of FAMU alumni lawmakers
about SACS Standard 3.2.4.
Pam Oliver, sideline reporter for FOX NFL Sport and 60
Minutes Sports contributor, delivered the 2015 Summer Commencement address
yesterday to a near capacity crowd at the Alfred Lawson Teaching Gymnasium and Multipurpose Center.
“Today is not the end of your relationship with FAMU, but
just the beginning. FAMU is here for you. When you are at your height or when
you face difficulties, know that you have a Rattler nation that will always support
you,” Oliver told the graduates.
FOX Sports reporter Pam Oliver will serve as the keynote speaker at the FAMU’s
2015 summer commencement ceremony.
Oliver is a renowned sports broadcaster with more than 30
years of experience. She studied broadcast journalism at FAMU. Currently, she
is entering her 21st season as a sideline reporter for FOX Sports’
award-winning presentation of National Football League games. She was
originally a reporter with ESPN during the early 1990s before joining FOX
Sports in 1995. In recent years, she also has done courtside reporting on TNT
during the first two rounds of the NBA Playoffs.
FAMU alumnus George Cooper, executive director of the White
House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, passed away
on Sunday. The cause of his death has not been released to the public.
U.S. President Barack Obama appointed Cooper to the position
in 2013. He expressed his condolences on behalf of himself and First Lady
Michelle Obama in public statement yesterday.
“George’s passing is a great loss for my Administration, the
HBCU and higher education communities and for everyone that knew him,” the
president said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Diana, family and
friends during this difficult time.”
Last week, a majority of the justices on the Florida Supreme
Court said that Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner and her fellow Democratic
senators were correct in their argument that the House of Representative’s
early adjournment violated the state constitution. But the court denied a
request for a writ of mandamus to force the House to come back to work.
House Speaker Steve Crisafulli (R-Merritt Island) sent the
120 members of his chamber home on April 28 in the middle of an impasse over
budget negotiations with the Senate. According to the Associated Press, “the
House has been adamantly opposed to expanding Medicaid to more than 800,000
Floridians, even though the Senate has proposed a plan that would allow the
state to eventually privatize Medicaid and require recipients to work or attend
The adjournment came three days before the scheduled end of
FAMU alumna and Florida State University doctoral candidate
Kendra Mitchell was awarded a grant from the prestigious and highly competitive
Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. Mitchell is a graduate of FAMU’s Department of
English and Modern Languages.
The core Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program provides
approximately 800 teaching and research grants to U.S. faculty and experienced
professionals in a wide variety of academic and professional fields. Mitchell
is one of the 10 U.S. students selected as a part of the English Teaching
On Thursday, FAMU alumna and Florida Senate Democratic Leader Arthenia Joyner
(D-Tampa) sharply condemned Gov. Rick Scott’s plan to sue the Obama administration
for allegedly trying to strong-arm the state into expanding Medicaid.
“Today’s grandstanding underscores his commitment to wasting
Florida’s tax dollars to get what he wants, at whatever cost,” said Joyner,
who, together with the Senate Democratic Caucus has joined the Senate
Republicans in supporting the Florida Senate’s healthcare expansion plan. “This
is all about scoring points against [U.S. President Barack Obama]. It has nothing to do with
protecting ‘the healthcare of Floridians’ or ‘their right to be free from
On May 2, nearly 1,200 graduates will receive their degree
at FAMU’s Alfred L. Lawson, Jr. Multipurpose Center and Teaching Gymnasium in
Tallahassee. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will serve as the speaker
for the 9 a.m. ceremony and FAMU alumnus and filmmaker Will Packer will serve
as the speaker for the 2 p.m. ceremony.
“FAMU is dedicated to providing opportunities to students
from all walks of life to live out their dreams. Here is where the visions of
future educators, scientists, artists, pharmacists, entrepreneurs, journalists,
and politicians have begun to come to fruition,” said FAMU President Elmira Mangum.
“So, it is a great opportunity to have Will Packer, one of our most influential
graduates, and Secretary Vilsack, the leader of one of the nation’s most vital
organizations, to speak to our students as they prepare to go out into the
world and enrich our communities.”
The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce has selected FAMU
alumnus Brodes H. Hartley, Jr. as the recipient of its 2015 Health Care Heroes
AXA Advisors Lifetime Achievement Award. It is the chamber’s highest award for
an individual who has made a significant contribution to the health care
industry in South Florida. Hartley will receive the honor during a special luncheon on May 19 in Miami.
Hartley is the president and CEO of Community Health of
South Florida, Inc. (CHI), a nonprofit health care organization, a position he
has held since 1984.
He attended FAMU from 1952 to 1956, where he was also a
member of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps. After earning his bachelor of
arts degree from FAMU, he received a commission to serve as a second lieutenant
in the Army Medical Services Corps. He continued to serve in the Army for 26
years until his retirement in 1983 at the rank of colonel.
Hartley has served as the chairman of the FAMU Foundation,
Inc. and is recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the
Rachael Shackelford, an Emmy-winning FAMU alumna, recently joined
the Strauss Media Strategies as an account executive.
“I’m pleased to announce the continued growth of Strauss Media
Strategies,” said Richard Strauss, president and founder of Strauss Media
Strategies. “Rachael is a great addition to our ever-expanding team and I’m
thrilled to have her on board. Her many years of cable network television news
producer experience will pay huge dividends to the existing Strauss Media
Strategies base of clients.”
Prior to being hired at Strauss, Shackelford worked for nine
years at CNN where she was most recently an associate producer for “The
Situation Room,” with anchor Wolf Blitzer. She produced and booked guest
segments and handled guest logistics, both domestically and internationally.
FAMU alumnus Brian Tyms has received a contract renewal from
the #1 team in the NFL.
The defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots
announced yesterday that they had re-signed Tyms, 26, who originally joined the
Patriots as a free agent on July 27, 2014. He is entering his third NFL season.
On March 6, Gov. Rick Scott participated in the ceremony that
officially promoted FAMU alumnus Michael A. Calhoun to serve as the top ranked commissioned
officer of the Florida National Guard. As the new adjutant general, Calhoun
will command more than 9,900 National Guard personnel and over 2,000 Air
National Guardsmen from the organization’s headquarters in St. Augustine
beginning March 29.
“I am proud today to officially promote Brigadier General
Michael Calhoun to the rank of major general,” Scott said. “General Calhoun has
selflessly served our country for more than 30 years, and held many leadership
positions in the Florida National Guard. I am confident he will do a great job
as the Adjutant General of Florida and that the Florida National Guard is always
ready to respond to any emergency that may affect our state.”
Ken Riley's talents have taken him to places beyond his
Since leaving Polk County as a bright-eyed high school star,
he's played and coached on football fields in a multitude of cities across the
country. He's shared victories and magical moments with people from all walks
of life. On Saturday in Atlanta, the Bartow native was enshrined in the Black
College Football Hall of Fame.
Riley shared the spotlight with six other gridiron greats in
a formal affair which took place at the College Football Hall of Fame.
Common, a former FAMU student, is an Oscar winner.
On Sunday, he received the award for “Best Original Song” from
the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the 87th Academy Awards
ceremony. Common, whose birth name is Lonnie Lynn Jr., shared the honor with John
Legend for the song “Glory.”
The two artists also performed the song at the nationally
televised event shortly before the Academy announced that they had won.