Aug 25, 2019

Virginia marks 400 years since arrival of first African slave ship

Guests throw flower petals Saturday during the African Landing Commemorative Ceremony to honor Africans who died at sea during the Atlantic slave trade. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed Saturday an order to review educational standards for teaching black history, as the state marks the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans to the region with a series of events this weekend.

Why it matters: The arrival of a ship carrying "20 and odd" Africans from Angola to what was then the British colony of Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619 is considered a pivotal point in what became a system of race-based slavery, per AP. The commemorations come at a time when white nationalism is a growing danger in the U.S.

The big picture: Northam said as he announced the review at the 2019 African Landing Commemorative Ceremony at Chesapeake Bay in Hampton, "We are a state that for too long has told a false story of ourselves." He said action must be taken to address such issues.

  • Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus and attended the event, told AP it was important to hear the truth about the nation’s past, "not just the parts that make us feel good, but the difficult parts as well."
  • In his speech, Northam — who was embroiled in a blackface photo scandal this year— said he had confronted "some painful truths" after meeting with Virginians over the past several months to listen to views about inequities that still exist — including his own "incomplete understanding regarding race and equity."

Go deeper: 2020 Democrats propose new approaches to slavery reparations

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Biden: Racism in the U.S. is a white man’s problem

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden at the Iowa Federation Labor Convention on Aug. 21. Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden told reporters Tuesday that racism in the U.S. is "overwhelmingly a white man’s problem visited on people of color" as he criticized President Trump over the racial divide, USA Today reports.

What presidents say matter … They can make markets rise and fall. They can send people to war. They can, in fact, also appeal to the worst damn instincts of human nature."
— Biden's remarks to reporters, according to USA Today
Go deeperArrowAug 28, 2019

Morehouse College debt relief will assist parents

Robert F. Smith gives the Morehouse College 135th Commencement May 19 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Marcus Ingram/Getty Images

Billionaire Robert F. Smith's pledge to pay off the Morehouse College class of 2019's student loan debt, previously estimated to be a $40 million gift, will cost $34 million and will "now include federal educational debt amassed by parents," Bloomberg reports.

The big picture: Student debt in the U.S. has reached $1.5 trillion, according to the Center for American Progress, and the class of 2018 graduated with a record average of $29,200 in loans to help pay for a bachelor's degree. Black students are also 20% more likely than others to need federal student loans. The USC Race and Equity Center found this year that public higher education lacks resources to support black students from admissions to graduation.

Go deeperArrowSep 21, 2019

Event Horizon Telescope hopes to produce first-ever moving image of a black hole

The first-ever photo of a black hole. Photo: EHT Collaboration

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration hopes to produce the first-ever moving image of a black hole by the end of the 2020s.

Why it matters: Still images of black holes can give scientists a lot of information about the mysterious and fundamental objects. But videos can help them drill into the details of how black holes consume matter and affect the galaxies they find themselves within, EHT project director Shep Doeleman said.

Go deeperArrowSep 10, 2019