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Barack Obama Remembers Iconic Director John Singleton

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“He opened doors for filmmakers of color to tell powerful stories that have been too often ignored,” the former president wrote.

Renowned director John Singleton died Monday at the age of 51, prompting a flood of condolences and tributes from across Hollywood ― and beyond.

On Tuesday, former President Barack Obama tweeted out a remembrance of his own, recalling Singleton’s trailblazing 1991 classic, “Boyz N the Hood,” as “one of the most searing, loving portrayals of the challenges facing inner-city youth.

“He opened doors for filmmakers of color to tell powerful stories that have been too often ignored,” Obama wrote.

The critically acclaimed film was nominated for two Oscars, including for John Singleton for best director. Singleton, who was 24 at the time, became both the youngest and the first African American person to be nominated for the award.

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Omarosa still keeps in touch with current White House staffers, and focuses on a 2020 candidate

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The former reality star turned polarizing political operative says she’s remained in contact with current White House staffers, even after she spilled the beans on President Trump’s administration in the book “Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House,” which is out in paperback this week.

“I have talked to a lot of people who currently serve in the White House, and who previously served in the White House,” Manigault Newman, 45, told the Daily News.

“Let's think about the people who have left,” she continued. “So many of them have gone through very similar experiences like me, where Donald Trump publicly had someone else get rid of them or whatever. There is a whole, long line of people that he's treated that way. There is a group of us who talk and who communicate, and who commiserate.”

One of Trump’s prominent 2016 campaign staffers, Manigault Newman was appointed as Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison after Trump took the oath of office in 2017. She was fired from that role in December 2017 – then channeled her vitriol for her book, which was released in August. The book was supported by numerous audio recordings she made during her time in the White House.

Manigault Newman was mum when it came to naming names this time around.

“I'm not gonna betray the confidence of my friends and my colleagues,” she said. “We interact, let's just say that. No, we don't have a [group chat]. And there are people who are currently [working] there who are not comfortable. They feel afraid to leave because they know that the work that they're doing is so important. And they also know that he's erratic, and he hasn't been filling positions of people who leave.”

“He doesn't see the need to fill those positions. You can't run a private company with 40% of your staff vacant,” she said. “Why does he think he can run the government that way? I just don't understand it. It alarms me. And it should concern all Americans.

Amid Trump’s tumultuous first term in office, Manigault Newman doesn’t believe he’ll stand a chance in the 2020 election.

“He has demonstrated that he does not have the fortitude, the intellect, the temperament, the self-control to be the Leader of the Free World,” she maintained. “And the American people will give you a chance to serve and to lead, but if they see you flailing as he is, then they will replace you.”

“Remember, he serves because of the will of the people,” she continued. “They gave him a chance and he squandered it.”

The Youngstown, Ohio native, who also served in the Clinton Administration, believes Trump’s base is diminishing and many of the people who supported him early on have lost hope in him.

“He has been losing support, not gaining support,” she said.

“In order for him to win, he has to expand his base. But if you look at the trend lines, his base is shrinking. You have to figure out where he is going to make up the difference, particularly in those really competitive races in battleground states, like the state of Ohio, where I grew up. What happens you go into Cuyahoga County or Mahoning County? What happens when you get into Greene County in the south? He's going to face challenges that he did not face the first time around. And he has to somehow find a way to make up those gaps.”

Speaking of 2020, the self-proclaimed “free thinker,” who has aligned herself with swing voters, is planning to lead a movement to elect anyone other than the current White House occupant.

“Hashtag anybody but Trump,” she deadpanned.

“I’ve been in politics 20 years," Manigault Newman said. "This is the first time in 20 years that I don’t have to take a position... I’m going to sit back and look at all the candidates, Republican and Democrat, and they’re both going to have to earn my support and my vote, and I will decide.”

One candidate from the 2020 field stands out to Manigault Newman, however.

“I’m not supporting any particular candidate,” she said, adding, “I will say that I’m a little partial because I’m a proud graduate of Howard University, and to see a very smart, intelligent African-American woman from my own university running, I believe will have an incredible impact on young women like myself entering politics, serving at the highest levels and being engaged in a process that we were not necessarily given access to.”

“And I think it pays wonderful homage to Shirley Chisholm, another New Yorker, who was willing to take that big leap,” she added. “I like to just highlight Kamala Harris, if I could, and the significance of her being in this race.”

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Harris’ Campaign Focuses on Black Colleges for Support

California Sen. Kamala Harris has described her experience as a student at a historically Black college as “one of the most important aspects” of her life. Now, her Democratic presidential campaign is using that experience to connect with voters.

Not only is she one of only two Black candidates in a field that’s expected to grow to more than 20 candidates, she’s also the only candidate who attended a historically Black college or university, commonly called an HBCU. And she’s the first major-party candidate to have graduated from an HBCU — Washington’s Howard University — since Jesse Jackson ran for president in the 1980s.

To be sure, she is not the only candidate focusing on such institutions.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks at the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority South Central Regional Conference in New Orleans, Friday, April 19, 2019. Harris is tapping into a network of historically black colleges and universities to mobilize her supporters (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke have campaigned at historically Black colleges. So has the other Black candidate in the 2020 race, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.

At a CNN town hall last month in Orangeburg, home to two of South Carolina’s HBCUs, Booker noted that his parents and grandparents were educated at historically Black institutions and that “the majority of Black doctors, Black lawyers, Black generals are produced by HBCUs.”

But Harris’s campaign has visited more historically Black colleges than any candidate, and she is burnishing her personal ties to this community, and not just to current students.

“Presidential candidates are recognizing HBCUs as a political and cultural center for the broader Black community,” said Aimee Allison, the founder of the political network She The People, which plans a candidate forum Wednesday at Texas Southern University, a historically Black college.

Allison said that holding events at these schools is an “essential part of a long-term strategy to build trust and relationships” with Black voters.

Harris’s focus on historically Black colleges could be particularly important in South Carolina, home to eight HBCUs. Black voters are vital to success for Democratic primary candidates anxious to win the South’s first primary.

In Orangeburg, Harris’s town hall Saturday night was moderated by Bakari Sellers, a former South Carolina state representative who recently endorsed her campaign.

Turning to a group of South Carolina State students seated on bleachers, Harris talked briefly about the value of attending a historically black institution.

“At an HBCU, everything you are told is that you can be whatever you want to be, and there will be no barriers to that success,” she said. “And you are told as a young black student that you do not need to make choices and fit into anyone’s narrow definition of what it means to be a young black person in America.”

Harris added later that historically black colleges “teach us that there will always be a community that will support us, whatever we will decide to do,”

Including, perhaps, running for president.

Joann Berry, a 66-year-old who worked at South Carolina State for more than two decades, said that historically black colleges don’t just give diplomas, “they’re more like family.” She said that the fact that Harris had attended an HBCU could give her an advantage with connecting here.

While Berry has yet to decide who to support in South Carolina’s primary, she said Harris is among the candidates she’s considering.

“I’m proud of her. I have faith in her just like I had faith in Barack Obama,” said Berry. “A lot of people said he couldn’t do it — and he won.”

Harris’ campaign has made a number of overt appeals, in South Carolina and elsewhere, to the network of HBCUs.

One of Harris’s early congressional backers, California Rep. Barbara Lee, held events at Benedict College in Columbia on her behalf.

Harris also waded into the local issue of Denmark Technical College, which primarily serves residents of rural Allendale, Bamberg and Barnwell counties, and has been battling declining enrollment.

Her first significant policy rollout, aimed at increasing teacher pay nationwide, specifically calls for the federal government to support programs dedicated to teacher recruitment, training and professional development, particularly at HBCUs.

Harris’s first news conference as a presidential candidate was held at her alma mater, with the leaders of the Howard University Student Association on hand. She recalled that she had run her first political campaign as freshman class representative.

“This is where it all began,” she said.

On Twitter, her campaign even took note of Beyonce’s “Homecoming,” which was released this past week and paid homage to the musical legacy of historically black colleges. Harris said “Homecoming” ”exemplifies and rightly celebrates the spirit and legacy of HBCUs.”

“She brought our culture and tradition to the world stage and as a proud Howard graduate, I can’t wait to watch,” Harris wrote.

Other times, the exchanges come unprompted.

On an earlier trip to South Carolina, Harris was addressing a gathering of more than a dozen female leaders in Columbia when 83-year-old Marjorie Hammock arrived. Hammock, wearing a crew-neck Howard University sweat shirt, slowly made her way through a throng of reporters and onlookers.

When Harris noticed her, she immediately called to her.

“Hey, Bison, I know you,” Harris said, referencing Howard’s mascot, as the women laughed.

“We both went to Howard,” said Harris, 54, and joked, “I was there before her.”

Hammock, who attended Howard in the 1950s, said later that Harris’s campaign “gives me also hope for this country” and that seeing a Howard graduate run for president “reinforces the fact that the legacy continues.”

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Was there a Beyoncé bump in applications to black colleges? It’s too early to tell, but ‘Homecoming’ definitely had an impact

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Beyonce reportedly hoped her Coachella performance would inspire more students to enroll at HBCUs. 

College students aren’t necessarily known as early risers, but on Tuesday morning Nia Page, a junior at Spelman College in Atlanta, made sure she was up well before 9 a.m.

That’s because her school was giving out tickets on a first-come first-serve basis beginning at 9:30 for an advanced screening of Beyoncé’s Homecoming documentary, which debuts Wednesday on Netflix NFLX, -0.06%

“It should be really exciting,” said Page, the rising student government president at Spelman, a prestigious black women’s college.

The film chronicles the making of Beyoncé’s Coachella performance last year, which was a celebration of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, a category of colleges created before 1964 with the primary mission of educating black students. The production included marching band performances in the style you’d encounter at a football game featuring an HBCU team and step team routines reminiscent of those you might see performed by a black Greek letter organization.

The mega-star followed up the performance by announcing a scholarship, called the Homecoming Scholars Award Program, that provided $25,000 to four students at four different HBCUs. The singer reportedly hoped that both her performance and the scholarship would inspire more students to enroll at HBCUs.

It’s difficult to tease out Beyoncé’s role in any student’s decision to enroll at a given college, but her decision to highlight HBCUs certainly had an impact. When eagle-eyed Spelman students spotted their school’s T-shirt hanging on a rack near Beyoncé as she prepared for Coachella, the event “basically went viral on Spelman’s campus,” Page said. “We were very, very proud of that, we loved it.”

In addition to creating buzz on HBCU campuses, Beyoncé’s performance may have also had an impact on prospective students’ decision-making. Page said that when she spoke to high school seniors last year who were considering Spelman as part of an admitted students program, “I heard Coachella brought up a lot.”

“We welcome the opportunity to join in the celebration of the invaluable contributions and distinct culture of historically Black colleges and universities,” Spelman’s president, Mary Schmidt Campbell, said of Tuesday night’s screening.

It’s perhaps too early and complicated to tell if there’s been a Beyoncé-bump in enrollment at these schools. But her performance comes as part of a broader increase in enrollment at HBCUs over the past few years. The uptick is a result of a variety of factors, including, experts say, more cultural and political appreciation for the schools.

That includes prominent politicians like U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, a California Democrat running for president and Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost the race for Georgia governor, highlighting their experiences at HBCUs on the campaign trail and looking to their alumni communities for political support. In addition, movies like Jordan Peele’s “Us,” which features prominent references to Howard University, are also putting the spotlight on these schools.

Total fall enrollment at HBCUs ticked up about 2% between the 2016 and 2017 academic years, even as college enrollment overall declined.

“It’s been a part of now a four-year movement that we’re seeing that has embraced and affirmed HBCUs in a way that hadn’t happened in recent years,” said Walter Kimbrough, the president of Dillard University, a private HBCU in New Orleans. Still, “whenever Beyoncé does something it takes it to another level,” he added.

Her performance and other more recent references to HBCUs aren’t the first pop culture references highlighting the schools. “A Different World,” a late 1980s and early 1990s-era sitcom and spinoff of “The Cosby Show” focused on the experiences of Denise Huxtable at a fictional historically black college. The show, which ran for several seasons, helped to influence a cohort of students to consider HBCUs that hadn’t necessarily before, said Crystal deGregory, a history professor at Kentucky State University, an HBCU.

“Is it a moment that is going to translate to dividends as enduring as lets say A Different World? I don’t think so,” deGregory said of Beyoncé’s performance. “Trends in pop culture are really too fleeting at this moment.”

In addition, HBCUs have faced enrollment challenges over the past several years. It may take more than some goodwill from a major star to overcome those hurdles. At the same time “A Different World” was pushing some students towards HBCUs, “you also had those most affluent in black America trying to demonstrate in the positioning of their children in highly selective and historically white institutions that they had arrived — that they were somebody,” deGregory said.

Changes to Parent PLUS loans hurt enrollment at HBCUs

HBCUs have also faced more recent major challenges enrolling students. In 2011, the Obama administration tightened the underwriting standards for Parent PLUS loans — a type of federal student debt that parents can use to help finance their childrens’ education. The loans are controversial because traditionally the Department has made them to parents without doing much to ensure they could repay them, saddling some with unsustainable debt as they approach retirement.

The new standards announced in 2011 stipulated that, among other things, parents who had accounts in collections within the last five years wouldn’t be eligible. Given that African-Americans have historically had limited access to wealth in America, black families were particularly reliant on Parent PLUS loans. The tightened underwriting had the effect of making it much more difficult or nearly impossible for many students to attend HBCUs, sending many of the schools into a state of financial panic.

The Obama administration later loosened the standards, but the damage was already done, said Brian Bridges, the vice president for research and engagement at UNCF, an HBCU member organization. Between 2010 and 2015, the number of students enrolled at HBCUs dropped from 327,000 to 293,000, an analysis of Department of Education data by the Pew Research Center found.

Now, a more public embrace of HBCUs by Beyoncé and others is helping to reverse this trend.

“While it is hard to show a direct correlation between student enrollment at our 47 member-schools and Beyonce’s amazing performance at Coachella, what we do know is the attention, positive news coverage and goodwill she has generated has certainly been welcomed and impactful,” Harry Williams, the president of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, an association of public HBCUs, said in a statement. “We have seen more positive media exposure on HBCUs, our marching bands, culture, and value in the higher education space.”

More overt racism is pushing some students to HBCUs

But there are also other societal factors at play. The uptick in racial tension over the past few years at colleges that have been historically majority white, in addition to the increase in public displays of racism after the election of President Donald Trump has students and their families looking for colleges where they feel safe and understood.

Students are looking for colleges “where there are more people who look like them and understand their experience in America,” Bridges said. “HBCUs are a beneficiary of that. Some of the tension in the country is driving students and their families to consider HBCUs more closely again.”

‘Some of the tension in the country is driving students and their families to consider HBCUs more closely again.’
— Brian Bridges, the vice president for research and engagement at UNC

While the renewed attention to HBCUs from Beyoncé and others is welcome, deGregory said she wishes the mega star and others would do more to ensure the longterm stability of the schools.

“These generous gifts to institutions vis a vis the Beyoncé scholars are transformative in the lives of those students,” she said. “One would be hard-pressed to make the claim that they are transformative in the life of the institutions themselves. It quite frankly just requires way more resources.”

The $100,000 in total that Beyoncé donated to these schools is frankly a drop in the bucket compared to some of the multi-million and even billion dollar donations announced by predominantly white institutions on a semi-regular basis.

Representatives for Beyoncé did not return a request for comment.

HBCUs have historically relied in part on philanthropy from wealthy white donors

HBCU’s struggle to bring in as much as these institutions in part due to broader inequality in higher education financing, a system where the schools with the most resources continue to grow those resources.

But HBCUs also face a very specific challenge in their quest to sustain their finances: the racial wealth gap. Given that black families have less wealth to draw on, HBCUs are often serving students and families for whom paying for college is a major challenge. That also means when their students graduate, they may have less wealth from which to donate back to their alma mater.

HBCUs have also historically relied on philanthropy from wealthy white donors, but it’s been notoriously fickle, deGregory said. As soon as black students were allowed to attend historically white institutions, and did, white philanthropists who had traditionally supported black students by supporting majority-black schools began doing so by supporting majority-white institutions that enrolled back students — but in relatively low numbers.

Beyoncé’s activism surrounding HBCUs could widen the network of support — including monetary — for these schools by bringing the “power of HBCUs to new and old audiences,” said Marybeth Gasman, the director of the Penn Center for Minority-Serving Institutions.

“I do think that when you have somebody of that stature doing these things it does cause kind of a ripple effect,” she said.

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Tiger Woods Celebrates Masters Win With The Sweetest Family Embrace

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His family was ready to greet him with wide open arms.

Amid a frenzy of cheers and celebratory chants, a happy Tiger Woods strode off the 18th green after securing his fifth Masters win on Sunday to share the moment with his smallest, but no doubt most ardent, supporters ― his two children. 

Woods’ 10-year-old son, Charlie, ran into his father’s outstretched arms near the hole and was lifted into the air by Woods as they shared a tight embrace. Following close behind to greet Woods and exchange hugs were the golfer’s mother, Kultida Woods, his 11-year-old daughter, Sam Alexis, and his girlfriend, Erica Herman.

Fans on social media likened the emotional moment to one Woods had with his late father, Earl Woods, when he won his first green jacket at the age of 21 in 1997.

Sunday’s win was Woods’ 15th in golf’s major tournaments ― but his first in one of those four in almost 11 years. No doubt making it that much more special was that it was the first such triumph that he could savor with his children ― his daughter was still a baby when he won the U.S. Open in June 2008 and his son hadn’t been born.

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