STATEMENT: CAP’s Carmel Martin on the Administration’s Executive Order Restoring Pell Grant Access to Incarcerated Students

Washington, D.C. — The Obama administration announced on Friday that the U.S. Department of Education will launch a pilot to test the effects of restoring access to Pell Grants for incarcerated students. This measure will give a limited number of individuals at selected correctional facilities a chance to obtain education and training to prepare for employment upon release. Carmel Martin, Executive Vice President for Policy at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement in response:

We applaud the Obama administration for taking this important step. Prison education and training is truly a win-win—boosting formerly incarcerated individuals’ employment rates upon release, substantially decreasing recidivism, and yielding tremendous cost savings in reduced incarceration. In fact, studies show that every dollar spent on prison education saves $4 to $5 in reduced incarceration costs during the next three years, when recidivism is most likely. Yet despite their cost effectiveness, prison education and training programs are far too scarce, in large part because Congress removed access to Pell Grants for inmates in 1994, putting prison education and training out of reach for inmates who want to increase their employability and chances of successful re-entry. The president’s action today will help ensure public safety and give a limited number of individuals in select correctional facilities the chance to obtain the education and training they need to forge a pathway to successful re-entry and to have a meaningful shot at a second chance.

In a recent report from the Center for American Progress, "One Strike and You’re Out,"Rebecca Vallas and Sharon Dietrich address how mass incarceration and criminal records serve as underappreciated drivers of poverty and inequality in America by presenting barriers to employment, housing, education and training, building good credit, and more. The report offers a roadmap of policy recommendations—including calling for testing the restoration of Pell Grants to incarcerated individuals—to ensure that Americans with criminal records have a fair shot at making a decent living, providing for their families, and joining the middle class.

The Grambling Football Team Boycott

Grambling State University

Since 2007-08, overall state funding for Grambling has gone from $31.6 million to $13.8 million. The school has attempted to bridge that gap by increasing tuition, but it has fallen short, and cuts have been made across the board.

Grambling State University (GSU) is the latest HBCU to make national mainstream news recently. Most notably there was Howard University with its fiscal issues and forced resignation of President Ribeau and my alma mater, Florida A&M University and the aftermath of the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion. It goes without saying that all of the institutions mentioned are iconic in black society.  Their rich histories of accomplishments in spite of tremendous challenges and ability to produce outstanding alumni are sources of pride for all HBCUs.

The revolt of the Grambling football team and student protest should not be taken lightly. The Grambling football team’s actions, though ill-timed, are laudable and just might be the tipping point in motivating the activism needed in moving toward adequate state funding that has seen the University cut from $31.6 million to $13.8 million in since 2007-08. 

Changes in coaching staff (particularly the firing of Doug Williams), poor training facilities, insufficient food and long arduous travel by bus are some of the complaints by the football team. The sad reality is that most HBCUs find themselves in a financially fragile state.

Dr. Pogue, GSU President, apologized to Jackson State University for the cancellation of the football game. It was JSU's Homecoming game. If you attended an HBCU, you know how big of a deal Homecoming is. The pageantry of the week of activities and reunion of friends is difficult to reduce to words. If you didn’t attend an HBCU but you did see the movie Drumline, halftime really is showtime and the bragging rights over which school has the best marching band is more passionate than the results of the football game. So, to ruin Jackson State’s homecoming game, was not the most effective action in seeking support for the demands of the GSU football team. It should be noted that 22 players did show up to board the buses for the JSU game and receiving a letter from University officials basically threatening revocation of their student-athlete scholarships.

The GSU football team has successfully drawn attention to their plight. Prayerfully the school's administration will resolve this issue quickly. Anyone who knows the history of Grambling and college football can't help but think of Eddie Robinson, Grambling's legendary football coach, and how he would feel if he were alive today. Forfeiting a football game is one thing but saving one's history and legacy is another. 

In the meantime, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has made no secret of his desire to merge HBCUs with larger PWIs in the University of Louisiana System. Dwindling state fiscal resources, budget cuts and diversity will be used to convince taxpayers that merger is the wise move to make. Grambling and other HBCUs have to be marketed and managed differently. Ethnic pride and a rich legacy will no longer assure sufficient student enrollment numbers to support the existence of HBCUs.


Related Links:

Dennis Winston named interim coach

After Grambling player revolt, game at Jackson State canceled

Amid protests, Grambling State against Jackson State is canceled

The inside story of what caused Grambling football players to revolt



FAU Student Goes on Racial Tirade during Study Session [VIDEO]

Check out this video of FAU (Florida Atlantic University) student, Jonatha Carr, going ballistic in class study session. The student reportedly became angry when she did not like the answer the professor gave to a question she asked. The video shows her spewing profanity and racial epithets. She even pushes a male student in the forehead before she is physically removed from class and tased. 

From all indications, this is not typical behavior of the student but that incident was ugly. Maybe she needs to take a break from school. After the commotion, class resumed although half of the students left during the disturbance. 

You know racist YouTube trolls are totally using this opportunity to bash black people, especially black women,  with their comments on this video. They are oblivious to the young black woman trying to stop the outburst as well as the other black women looking shocked as the other students.


Waka Flocka, Voting and Crimes Against Our Children [VIDEO]

First there was T-Pain, now Waka Flocka. This video is sad on so many levels. I don't know who Waka Flocka is or what Waka Flocka means but I do know that here is a young man, obviously a celebrity since he's being interviewed on 106 & Park, who cannot hold an intelligent conversation. He could have been nervous but that doesn't explain the vocabulary and grammar issues.

It's easy to make jokes about this interview and some of the comments about this incident on YouTube are brutal but it's so not funny. From family to community to the educational system to the record company he works for --- this is so wrong. It's child abuse...neglect...fraud and a number of other charges we should be ashamed of as adults.

Artists like Waka Flocka are emulated by other young people, pushed through or kicked out of our educational system and neglected by family and community. Like many young people, he has potential but for whatever reason, we didn't nurture him. It's not too late for Waka Flocka and many other young people in our communities, so what are we going to do?

In case you forgot...

Get out and vote on November 2, 2010!

Bloggers of Color set to gather for largest conference ever


'Blogging While Brown' to be held June 18-19 in Washington, DC

Washington, DC --- At a time when many social media conferences are struggling with issues of diversity and inclusion among their speakers and attendees, the Blogging While Brown Conference continues to provide one of the largest lineups of Black social media experts and serves as one of the largest gatherings of Black bloggers each year. Since its launch in 2008 Blogging While Brown has grown to become the premier blogging conference dedicated to collaboration, education, and innovation among bloggers of color. 
Blogging While Brown 2010 will be held in Washington, DC, June 18-19, 2010 at the
Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Despite challenging economic times the conference has grown exponentially and this year's conference promises to be the largest ever

African Americans are embracing their roles as independent digital media content creators and are emerging as a burgeoning class of media owners.
"Blogging While Brown is a must-go to conference if you are looking for the next Black leaders in American culture. If you're a blogger who happens to be African American, this is the place to go to connect with and learn from those who have succeeded in the blogosphere," said Cheryl Contee of
Fission Strategy and co-founder of the blog, Jack and Jill Politics. Contee is a member of the Blogging While Brown Advisory Committee.
"For sponsors and media influentials, this is where the action is - look no further to find the next generation of influentials who already have strong, vital audiences who have flocked to build active, motivated communities online," Contee says.
Conference organizers predict that this year's conference will be the largest ever. "If the initial response to our Call for Ideas is any indication, this year's conference will be our largest ever," said Gina McCauley, the founder of the Blogging While Brown Conference.
This year the conference is once again expanding by adding a Blogging Day of Service. Conference organizers will be offering a FREE
Beginning Blogger Boot Camp aimed at non-bloggers in the local Washington, DC community. The Boot Camp will be held Friday, June 18 at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Public Library.
"It's our gift to our host community and a tangible manifestation of our goal to live in a world where everyone can blog," McCauley said.
Conference activities will kick off Friday morning with our pre-conference Beginning Blogger Boot Camp. Conference registration check-in begins Friday afternoon followed by our Friday night social event. Saturday will be a day filled with workshops, panels, case studies, and a town hall meeting. 
For more information and to register visit

Brainwashed: Black Inferiority/White Superiority [VIDEO]

Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority

“You’ve been misled. You been had. You been took.”  --- Malcolm X

Tom Burrell has written a powerful book, Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority, that exposes and explains why the black collective finds itself in a current condition of dysfunction. It was difficult to put this book down because Burrell’s perspective is different from many books on this same broad subject.

Burrell’s perspective as a marketing and public relations expert is straight forward, eye-opening and raw. Our mental conditioning must be addressed before blacks can ever realize true, substantive progress as a people.

Brainwashing is not just a victimization of blacks although blacks seem to be the most damaged by it. Whites have been brainwashed, as have women, men, Latinos, Asians, etc., etc., etc. Pick a group, any group and you have been brainwashed too.

Shout out to Roland Martin of the Tom Joyner Morning Show for interviewing Tom Burrell and turning me on to this book. I've purchased a few as gifts. We'll discuss this book in more detail. Get a copy and Stop the Brainwash!


From the White House: President Barack Obama's Speech to America's School Children


Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama

Back to School Event

Arlington, Virginia
September 8, 2009

The President: Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today. 
I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.
I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.   
Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, "This is no picnic for me either, buster."
So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year. 
Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.
I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn. 
I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox. 
I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve. 
But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed. 
And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself. 
Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide. 
Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.
And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.
And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future. 
You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy. 
We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country. 
Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.
I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in. 
So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse. 
But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.
Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right. 
But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying. 
Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future. 
That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America. 
Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.
I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall. 
And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.
Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same. 
That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.
Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it. 
I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things. 
But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.
That’s OK.  Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." 
These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying. 
No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in. 
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals. 
And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.
The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best. 
It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.
So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?  
Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.
Source:  The White House

UNCF’s An Evening of Stars telecast airs January 24 and 25 honoring singing legend Patti Labelle


         An Evening of Stars® 2009 will pay tribute to rhythm and blues singer Patti LaBelle with the Award of Excellence for her outstanding career and history of support for UNCF. Patti LaBelle has won two Grammy Awards and has received three Emmy Award nominations.

         Presenters and performers for 2009 include: Big Daddy Kane, Wayne Brady, Kobe Bryant, Fantasia, Vivica A. Fox, Jennifer Hudson, Duane Martin and Brian McKnight. Beyonce, Wyclef Jean and Mariah Carey also join An Evening of Stars® in taped video messages to Patti Labelle.

         The two-hour 30th anniversary celebration was taped before a live audience at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles in late 2008 and will air nationwide on January 24 and 25, 2009.

         For more information on An Evening of Stars please visit For behind-the-scenes footage and exclusive content from the 2009 show, visit

© 2009, on the black hand side,

Vote for this blog for Best Pop Culture Blog and Best Blog About Stuff in the 2009 Bloggers Choice Awards.

Morris-Brown College Needs Money or Faces Shut Down


Morris-Brown College has faced tremendous challenges in recent years. The latest obstacle forcing immediate resolution is the interruption of water service to the campus. MBC owes $380,000.

The College has made payment toward the bill but disputes the amount charged because of the reduced the number of facilities now used. Enrollment has dwindled to 240 students and the college is still addressing accreditation issues.

Previous college administrators were found guilty of federal charges for securing loans for students who did not exist. Current trustees and administrative staff have developed a long-range plan to keep the institution open but restoration of water service and keeping the doors open is key to that survival plan.

Click here to give to Morris-Brown College.


© 2009, on the black hand side,

Vote for this blog for Best Pop Culture Blog and Best Blog About Stuff in the 2009 Bloggers Choice Awards.