Category Archives: Education

Chicago State University Honors Gwendolyn Brooks with 1st ever Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Festival

By: Micaela Shambee– Editor, The Drive

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— On Friday, April 13th 2018, at Chicago State University, the first Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Festival took place in honor of the late Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000). Held on the fourth floor of the recently renamed Gwendolyn Brooks Library, the day long event treated attendees to inspiring speeches and performances by young poets from High schools and Grammar schools across Chicago.

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The honorees, Nora Blakely (Gwendolyn Brooks’ daughter), Haki Madhubuti (Third World Press), and Emily Lansana (University of Chicago) gave rousing speeches, and shared stories of their experiences with Gwendolyn Brooks. In addition, attendees were treated to amazing performances by Chicago State University MFA students Reshay Ingram, and Jerimah Moore, spoken word community group Rebirth/Reborn and student poets from Wendell Philips Academy.

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Honoree-Haki Madhubuti (Third World Press)
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Honoree-Emily Lansana (University of Chicago)
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Honoree–Nora Blakely (Brooks Permissions)

Click here to see MFA Students Reading from our Facebook live: facebook.com/thedrivestudentblog

 

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The festival left attendees with a full understanding of the impact that Gwendolyn Brooks has had on Chicago State University, poetry, and children. Gwendolyn Brooks was known as the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize for her 1949 book Annie Allen. (Also paving the way for new Pulitzer Prize winner Kendrick Lamar).

According to PoetryFoundation.org,

“Gwendolyn Brooks is one of the most highly regarded, highly influential, and widely read poets of 20th-century American poetry. She was a much-honored poet, even in her lifetime, with the distinction of being the first black author to win the Pulitzer Prize. She also was poetry consultant to the Library of Congress—the first black woman to hold that position—and poet laureate of the State of Illinois. Many of Brooks’s works display a political consciousness, especially those from the 1960s and later, with several of her poems reflecting the civil rights activism of that period. Her body of work gave her, according to critic George E. Kent, ‘a unique position in American letters. Not only has she combined a strong commitment to racial identity and equality with a mastery of poetic techniques, but she has also managed to bridge the gap between the academic poets of her generation in the 1940s and the young black militant writers of the 1960s.’

Learn more about Gwendolyn Brooks at the PoetryFoundation.org

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Photo Credit: PoetryFoundation.org Gwendolyn Brooks at her typewriter. Courtesy of Getty Images.

The Gwendolyn Brooks Center

Also, check out the Gwendolyn Brooks Center to learn more about Brooks’ impact on Chicago State University in the Gwendolyn Brooks Library.

From the Library’s Website:

“Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing (GBC) was founded in 1990 on the historic campus of Chicago State University (CSU). It is named after Ms. Brooks, the former Poet Laureate of the State of Illinois and Distinguished Professor of English at Chicago State University. This Gwendolyn Brooks Conference for Black Literature and Creative Writing is sponsored by [sic] The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council and the Chicago State University College of Arts & Sciences.”

The Gwendolyn Brooks Creativity Festival Flyer Master Final Updated for Email
Design by Micaela Shambee for the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Festival

Did you attend the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Festival? What was your favorite moment? Who was your favorite speaker? Sound off in the comments below!

–And remember,

 

Stay informed, open-minded, and driven.

Event Photos courtesy of The Drive Student Blog and Dr. Kelly Norman Ellis (Chicago State University)

 

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Natural Hair: Why Aren’t You Accepted? By Tian Taylor

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Imagine being told that the natural texture of your hair is accepted only in recreational facilities.  This means you cannot wear your hair in its natural texture to school, work, or any other professional institutions/facilities.  A person who is being told this may respond, “Why?”  Imagine the response is, “Well it is a distraction, not manicured. It’s unattractive and not accepted.” Assume the person with natural hair conforms and says, ” Ok. Well how should I wear my hair?” The response? “Well you’ll wear it normal, manicured, attractive…basically the complete opposite of your natural texture. Now that… is more acceptable.” This is the solution that people of color (globally) are given when their natural texture is displayed in non-recreational facilities.

In  2016, centuries after the abolishment of slavery and decades after the abolishment of discriminatory laws (mainly in the developed countries), the average person would believe that those who reside in developed countries, who often  take pride in their values of amalgamation, would not face this type of issue. Unfortunately, coiled hair (depending on the tightness) is not accepted in certain institutions. For several weeks,  there were  protest in Johannesburg, South Africa, in which black students at an all-girl’s school, Pretoria High school, were protesting against racist policies that prevent them from wearing their hair in its natural texture, as well as policies that even prevent them from speaking  their native language. Just think of the  fact that Africans are fighting to be African in Africa! These girls are unfortunately left with the ultimatum of  attending  ‘creditable” education that offers  he best education, but they have to assimilate to Eurocentric standards or not  assimilate. Unfortunately these  (private schools) schools are the ones that inflict these rules and regulations.

You also have these regulations at institutions right here in the United States.   In corporate America, employees cannot wear their hair at its natural state. The  many corporate policies  often state  that hair cannot have volume, braids, or be a distraction to the work place.   For example, in 2013, a 12-year-old girl named Vanessa Vandyck was told she had to change her hair otherwise she would be expelled for not following the schools’ dress code which stated …hair cannot be a distraction and it has to be its natural color.  In the Dominican Republic, Carolina Contreras opened a salon to cater to Afro-Latinas to embrace their natural hair.  Shortly after, a 16-year girl who came to her for a short hair cut, called her hysterically after stating that she could not enter a privileged high school that she applied for because of her afro.

In addition to these previous examples, there are numerous accounts of people being told that their natural hair is not accepted all over the world. This issue is much deeper than just hair. A lot of women and men wear their coils at its natural state because it not only displays that this person is accepting their natural self, but also appreciating their African ancestry and not hiding it. However, not everyone feels the same.  Natural hair is not only rejected in many areas, but sometimes it is not accepted by ones’ family. The standard of Europeanized beauty has become so globally prominent that some Black mothers or fathers have agreed to not accept natural hair. Or natural hair does not exude a professional appearance.  This is not just an American or South African concern; this is a societal issue in which society does not accept natural hair because society does accept African centered beauty.  There are often times in which it is appropriated, but not accepted. So my question is why do you fear something as minuscule or as simple as a person allowing their hair to grow naturally from their head? What does this represent for you?

 

Introduction for a Curriculum and Instruction Discussion by Chardel

Early in life practicing and enunciating words can be a chore that sometimes make beginning learners give up and find clever and ingenious ways of camouflaging illiteracy. Others become so infatuated with the challenge that they developed a lifestyle of building and learning enormous vocabularies. The rest of us simply falls somewhere between the two.

Listening to babies talk for the first time is just so cute. They babble on and on as though communication is taking place, but no true verbalization of real word is comprehensive to the people around. My grandniece goes on and on making sounds. We would respond by saying, “Aah, that’s right. That is right. You don’t say.” Our response causes her baby talk to enhanced with excitement and vigor as though she is really communicating. No real communication is taking place. We have no clue what she is expressing, if she is trying to express anything. Communication takes place when an idea or thought is expressed and it is comprehended by those who it was expressed to. If it is not understood, misunderstood or not heard then communication did not take place.

The pronunciation of the terms curriculum and instruction are initially difficult when first learned. Understanding their importance in education is not always translucent, but learning their purpose makes it essential in the learning process of becoming an educator.

The curriculum that the educational system develop and utilize for training educators to teach and instruct students has undergone trends and reconstructions to improve various failures in the educational system for decades. For instance, between 2011 to 2015 Chicago Public Schools (CPS), high school dropout rate has decrease from 42 to 35 percent. Although listening to babies learns how to speak are heart warming, watching educators, students, and young adults fumble and stumble in the system are not humorous. The following link gives a small report on the issue.

(http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-chicago-school-graduation-rate-change-met-1002-20151001-story.html)

Social media, personal ambitions, spontaneous opportunities, and passions are drives that forces children and adults attempt to over come the up hill battle of learning missed lessons from the early years of school. Call it maturity, hindsight, or the determination and to teach yourself (self-educated). These posts are geared toward solutions that make the challenges of learning and teaching fun, entertaining with the success of a literate adult population.

(http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2011/12/08/high-school-dropout-rates)

New confusing policies implemented after decades of failures in the school system are seldom excepted with enthusiasm by disappointed parents and children. When unknown and unfavorable programs received with skepticism and someone of authority finally states the dismal results, the experts in the educational field opinions will not be valued. Finger pointing, placing blame have been a seventy year old game between the administrators, teachers, students, parents, and the system as a whole.

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wX78iKhInsc&list=PL9TCVt-CdNHaKubj4IQWHQxCkG87ZFemA)

Next time lets look at, talk about, and find some success stories, are there any?

Why Not Women’s Studies?

By: Kathrine Popielarz

As another wave of feminism appears to be sweeping the nation, especially in an election year with a prominent female candidate running for president, it seems appropriate to examine the emerging field of gender and women’s studies. According to the National Women’s Studies Association, Women’s Studies examines how sexuality, race, class, gender, age, ability, and structures of inequality are mutually constituted. It also looks at cultures, structures, and relationships that are formed as a result of the flow of people and resources across geopolitical borders.

There are a number of minor programs offered across U.S. colleges, including here in the Chicagoland area. Universities such as UIC, Bradley, and Concordia University all offer minors in Gender and Women’s Studies. However, the history of feminism and women’s oppression is certainly extensive enough to provide coursework beyond a minor. With this in mind here is a list of Chicagoland schools that offer Bachelor’s degrees (and more) in Gender and Women’s Studies:

DePaul University
Program: Women’s and Gender Studies
Website: http://las.depaul.edu/academics/womens-and-gender-studies/Pages/default.aspx

The program at DePaul emphasizes the “interconnectedness of systems and structures of gender, race, class, sexuality, age, ability, culture, religion and nation within broader historical, social, global, and transnational contexts.” They offer a number of incarnations of Women’s and gender studies from a four course certificate program to a master’s degree.

Loyola University
Program: Women’s Studies and Gender Studies
Website:
http://www.luc.edu/wsgs/academics/undergraduatemajor/

Loyola offers a minor, Bachelor’s, and master’s in Women’s Studies and Gender Studies. They also encourage students to include women’s studies as a second major or as a minor due to the fact that it is interdisciplinary and connects to many different majors.

Northwestern University
Program: Gender & Sexuality Studies Program
Website: http://www.gendersexuality.northwestern.edu/undergraduate/degree-requirements/major.html

This program  “offers students a comprehensive understanding of the intersections between gender studies and sexuality studies…[and] their relation to historical and contemporary feminist and LGBT activism.” The program at Northwestern has a larger sexuality component to it than the other programs listed here, but it still provides an examination of gender across disciplines. Northwestern offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in this field.

Although Women’s Histoty Month has come and gone and Hilary Clinton may not be your candidate for this year’s election, there is certainly no reason to stop celebrating women’s accomplishments or continuing to make strides in female empowerment. If you don’t become a women’s studies major, then there are still plenty of ways to get educated about feminism and women’s rights. However, there are plenty of reasons to study the discipline, and as women progress today it is never a bad idea to see where they came from  and how far they traveled.

SOURCES:

http://www.campusexplorer.com/colleges/major/031007B4/Area-Ethnic-Cultural-and-Gender-Studies/35172530/Womens-Studies/

http://userpages.umbc.edu/~korenman/wmst/programs.html

http://study.com/search/find.html?c1=200&c2=2859&c3=2866&q=2-24&schoolType=state&zip=&state=IL&sf=1

Ain’t I a Student?

By: Keyontai Redding

In honor of the college students who are suffering due to the budget crisis and in respect to abolitionist Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman”

Well students, where there is so much racket, there must be something awry!

I think between the students of Chicago State and the students of Governor’s State, all talking about student rights..the white man will be in a fix pretty soon!

Whats this I hear?

That man over there said that a student should have an education because an education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today!

I woke up and packed my book bag.  I have all the books I need for each class, and I remembered to grab my ten-page paper off the printer that’s due today. And in my hand I carry that passport so

Ain’t I  a student?

Look at me! Look at my hands! In these hands I hold my pens, my notes in my notebook, my high school diploma, my associate’s degree, and I’m preparing for my bachelor’s degree,

so Ain’t I a student?

I have paid for my education with grants, and loans, and some money out of my pocket

so Ain’t I a student?

I have been getting a education (good or bad) for going on 19 years…

so Ain’t I a student?

Then they talking about this thing in the head…what they call it??

Intellect!

Well let me tell you what that’s got to do with student rights or black rights!

I know that the word “ain’t” can’t be used in my ten-page papers, or on my graduation application or in my cover letter or on my resume! Why?  Because it’s not Standard American English but African American Vernacular English, so it’s not only a  student right but a black right to use it right now!

Intellect taught me that…so Ain’t I a Student?

Intellect also taught me that some people don’t want my black behind to get a education and that’s part of the reason why they want to close my predominantly black school , but if a black student need to complete two more levels of education to have the same probability of getting a job as their white peers, then wouldn’t it be mean not to let me get my little two more levels of education?

Because, Ain’t I a Student?

Then that man in the back wearing black  said a student should have a education because education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.

The first black educated men and women was strong enough to turn the world  Upside Down..ALL ALONE, Well us students here together ought to be able to turn it back and get it right side up AGAIN..and  WE asking to do it!

But “THE MAN” won’t let US!

Being a Full-Time Student and Revolutionary: Roles, Revolution & Education

 

By: Johnetta Anderson

“As another has well said, to handicap a student by teaching him that his black face is a curse and that his struggle to change his condition is hopeless is the worst sort of lynching.” – Carter G. Woodson

Revolution: a forcible overthrow of a government or social order in favor of a new system.

Student protesting and revolution is nothing new. Black elders and ancestors left great examples of resisting while obtaining an education. Many of our elders who were active in Black Liberation Movements now hold degrees from prestigious colleges and universities. After their involvement in sit-ins, peaceful protests, and boycotts, many of those young revolutionaries went on to become lawyers, professors, teachers, politicians, historians, mentors, and scholars. Many of those revolutionaries used their college education to work for their communities. The role of the Black student is to be a revolutionary, and the role of a revolutionary is to be a student. Our goal as Black students should be to use the education we receive in our career field to help our people.

I’ve been in conversations with comrades who believe that if everyone is not on the front line protesting and marching, then they are somehow not involved in the movement. This is indeed false. There are many roles in revolution. Black people are massively oppressed. As a Black college student and revolutionary, sometimes I struggle with my role in the movement. Where should I be? How should I fight against injustice when the fight is so huge? Here’s what I am learning, we have to use our professions (or intended professions) to fight for revolution and change. Example, I am an English major, and I am studying to become a professor (a cool ass professor). Because of my intended profession, I am always thinking of ways to revamp curriculum to teach African American authors and writers. To me, this is revolution. Although it is not publicized or interesting to the media, it is a form of change. What good is being on the front line marching, if our children are being educated by the enemy? They are both important and vital for Black liberation. Those who are working with youth as teachers, coaches, teaching artists, and facilitators of After school programs are apart of revolution.

One of the things that made the civil rights movement so powerful aside from the protesters is the people who were not marching, but they were affiliated. When lawyers were needed, there were Black lawyers who believed in the movement and were on call for jailed revolutionaries. There were artists who did not march, but provided the theme song, or poem, or painting, or picture for the movement. Doctors and nurses are important. When government closes trauma centers, there should be enough doctors who believe in the movement, to create our own healthcare centers in our neighborhoods. In this day and age when protesting has become the center of media attention, we must also keep in mind that education is important. We cannot afford to turn people away from the movement because they are not involved in peaceful protesting. We need nurses, doctors, lawyers, educators, rappers, poets, authors, photographers, businessmen/women, etc. We also need bail money for protesters.

We have to learn to see the revolution as a long term fight. Because we view revolution as a short term thing, we create short term goals. We also create short term sayings, “I’ll die for revolution” or “I’ll die for the people.” We have to learn how to live for the people and for revolution. What kind of revolutionary will we be at 60 years old or 70 when we don’t have the physical ability to march and protest. Once we learn to view this fight as long term, then we’ll start to invest in finding different solutions to the many problems we face as oppressed people.

 

 

Chicago State University Closing is a Huge Loss for Minority Scholars by Angel Johnson

Chicago State University Closing is a Huge Loss for Minority Scholars

It is my last semester as a graduate student and I am still in a bit of shock. I have been trying to complete the M.F.A. in Creative Writing program for over three years. At times, I did not think I would ever be able to finish. It wasn’t all about me. I am a first generation college graduate. It was important for me to be the first person in my family to earn an advanced degree. I wanted to show the next generation that it was possible to transcend your surroundings and achieve goals.

It was right around the time that I enrolled for my final semester that news of Chicago State University’s funding crisis started to make national headlines. Family members and friends called me asking if I would finish after all. I told them yes but I was devastated. It was sad to think that my last semester at the Chicago State University might be the semester that the school was open.

I wanted to finish the MFA program more than anything but ultimately it was not just the degree that mattered after all. What I gained from my experience during the program was worth more than any academic achievement. I found my voice as a writer, educator and human being. I studied writers and artists who I could relate to because they looked, sounded, and experienced the world like I did.

My undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago was indeed well respected however I was always a minority first and a student second. Writing workshops were hit or miss. I often struggled  with challenges that none of my classmates or instructors could give me advice with. I was fortunate enough to receive a full scholarship however it was extremely difficult.

So I decided to enroll in the M.F.A. in Creative Writing program. I always loved writing and although I work in an industry altogether different, it is still my passion. I had many other challenges in my personal life so I knew that it was a good possibility that I might not complete the program. I looked forward to attending the writing workshops once a week during the evenings. I was able to critique and motivate my classmates and strengthen my writing techniques. I studied under writers such as Nnedi Okorafor, Quarash Lansana, and Kelly Norman Ellis. I was able to learn how to teach creative writing at the collegiate level from Dr. Conchetta Williams. It is empowering to know that if I ever wanted to pursue a career in writing, I have the training to do so. I grew more confident in my abilities with every semester.

In my second year, my job began requiring weekend work and my schedule became too hectic for me to continue the program part time. I took the year off but continued to write. Eventually, I found a company with a regular nine to five schedule and resumed my classes. When I realized just how close I was to finishing the program, I felt so surprised. I had made it. My classmates were in similar situations. They were juggling full time jobs, some had children, or elderly parents. We were all coming across the finish line. Of course, finishing the program this semester is bittersweet because of the loss of state funding to Chicago State University. As I conclude my program, the university might be closing as well. CSU, a mecca for minority students, will no longer be an option for first generation graduates like myself to achieve their educational goals.

Expecting while Expecting

 

By Keyontai Redding

It’s that moment in their education that every student looks forward to, anticipates, plans, and prays to the gods in hopes of reaching: the last semester of college. During the last semester of school, we usually begin looking for our graduation dress or suit, we practice smiling for our graduation pictures, we come up with a list of people who will be attending our graduation (while praying we receive enough tickets for all attendees),  and then we brag on how the time is near for us and far for others. After the realization that graduation is a real goal is in reach, we begin to get nervous. We understand that it (the goal reaching process) doesn’t stop at graduation, but it begins. We know what we need to be doing and we begin lining up the chips to get it done. We prepare our resumes, we write up our cover letters, we gain our letters of recommendation, we add to our portfolio, and we get ready to begin our career or take a step into grad school. But, what if you are a parent or expecting to be one?

What people expect of YOU vs What you expect of Yourself

This semester (my last semester), I am expecting a child and a degree. My grandmother expects me to take the semester off because she believes that the female stays home to take care of the child. My fiancee expects me to take the semester off because he believes that the male works while the female stays at home to take care of the child. My mom expects me to take the semester off because she feels that I need to relax and prepare for the child. But, I expect to be holding my degree and my child by the end of the semester. Besides,  I’m pretty sure that I am not the only student who is expecting while expecting. I mean, What’s the big deal? All I have to do is add another process (preparing for a child) to THE PROCESS (preparing for  a degree).

Meeting Deadlines and Making Doctors Appointments

We all know that the last semester gives us a chance to either increase our G.P.A or keep it leveled out. We all probably dream about wearing stoles that showcase our hard work and dedication. We all know that this is why it is imperative to stay on top of deadlines. FASFA deadlines, enrollment deadlines, scholarship deadlines, and the graduation application deadlines need to be handled quickly and efficiently. On top of focusing on those deadlines we need to focus on project deadlines, homework assignment deadlines, midterm deadlines, and finals.

Along with all of these deadlines, an expectant parent has to focus on making doctor’s appointments and actually going to them. This semester I made all of my doctor’s appointments begrudgingly.  Having 11 o’clock classes means that I have to schedule doctors appointments for 8 a.m. on class days or try to get them on days that I don’t have class (which is hard but the smarter thing to do).

Finishing the Graduation Application, WIC Application and Childcare Application

The last step we must complete before being able to say that we will be walking across the stage is the graduation application. The graduation application requires us to allow for at least one week to let our advisor review our academic records to confirm our degree requirements. It takes another week to get appropriate signatures from different offices, and pay off any outstanding balances. We then pay our application fee, and we wait on the email that tells us we meet the qualifications for graduation. When expecting, instead of completing  just one application, you may need to complete three.

Along with the graduation application, you may want to fill out an application for WIC. WIC, Women Infant Children, is a federally funded program implemented by the City of Chicago Department of Public Health that provides pregnant, breastfeeding, postpartum women, children and infants with nutrition assistance. You may also want to fill out the childcare application so that you can get some assistance from the State of Illinois to pay for your child care. The state of Illinois used to cover your childcare if you were going to school or working, but because of budget cuts, they only cover your childcare if you are working. So,  unless you have a family member who doesn’t mind watching your child while finishing your degree, then you like me are finishing a degree, working, and preparing for a child. Yes, it’s POSSIBLE!

Taking Graduation Pictures and Maternity Pictures

While waiting on a response from the following applications, you can be doing some fun things too. Picture taking is a girl’s favorite thing to do and I know the fellas enjoy them too, no matter how much they act like they do not.  Taking your own  graduation pictures  and taking maternity pictures could be lots of fun. A photo shoot that allows you to showcase your educational achievements and your humane achievement are two of the most important photos you will take in life.

What makes things Easier

If you, like I,  am expecting while expecting, then here is a checklist to go by to make things easier.

  • Pay Attention to DEADLINES
  • Schedule appointments during times you will be able to MAKE THEM
  • It’s not about what others expect of you, Its what YOU EXPECT of YOU
  • Remember the GOAL IS GRADUATION

For more information on WIC visit :http://www.womeninfantschildrenoffice.com/illinois-wic-application-wa13

For more information on Childcare visit: http://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=29720

Get On The Bus!!!

rally

 

Chicago State University’s Student Government Association is sponsoring a trip to Springfield next Wednesday, February 17th. They are asking a 100 students to join them for the State of The Budget Address. Be Informed! Get On The Bus!!!

If you would like to join, please click the link below and fill out the survey.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PJTFWB2

#SAVECSU #FUNDBLACKEDUCATION