Flowers in the Concrete Jungle

Some Duke Ellington students don’t feel safe at their temporary U Street location in Washington DC. Duke Ellington was relocated to the District’s first ward in August 2014 as their building at 3500 R Street underwent some much needed renovations. However, since then, students, alumni and staff feel their safety have decreased tremendously.

Duke Ellington School of the Arts has been home to many of the District’s talented youth since it was established and a joined venture by the late Mike Malone and Peggy Cooper Cafritz in 1974. Since its establishment It has been located at the heart of Georgetown. Many students commuting from the violent streets of southeast DC consider the location a “safe haven” offering the students a more welcoming environment to artistically express themselves. Be it dressing more expressively or coming to terms with their unique sexual identities they find safety behind the walls of Ellington.

Ellington Alumni Rashawnda Williams said “I’ve never felt more like myself among individuals who I considered peers. Even now still in college my heart desperately yearns for that connection. It was so rare. I just knew when it was over I would never have another experience like Ellington”.

when asked about his experience at Ellington Arts Marcus Spaulding agreed with Williams “you never quite understand how great something is when you’re living in the moment of it. You just know that when it’s gone they’ll never be another”.  

However, as of the summer of 2014 that safe haven that students know and love would temporarily inaccessible to the youth that currently call this place their home as well as those that once did.

Despite not loving the move, Williams thought the renovation was long overdue. When asked about her experience at Ellington Williams said  “The budget seemed to be a little lacking as far as the building’s interior was concerned. The majority of the funding seemed to be funneled back into the students for artistic ventures and less so the general upkeep of the building. That thing was coming down any day” she said.

However, it seems the true cost of relocating would not only be a monetary cost to the school but a sacrifice to the students as well.

Artistic ambitions aside Ellington parents send their children to this particular school for the comfort of safety in a city that is growing increasingly dangerous by the day.

According to the Metropolitan Police Department, as of the second week of September 120 deaths have been recorded within the District. That’s a 50% increase from this same time last year. Gun crimes alone are up 20%.

According to Ronald Newman a member of the board of directors and a strong presence within the school “the temporary location has definitely has a major impact on  student admissions and safety”

In the past five years or so the residents of the Georgetown area have petitioned to have Duke Ellington School of the Arts become a neighborhood school without the arts component for their children who lack any craft. The school has constantly been in danger of being removed from the hands of the students and staff simply because of the black presence it comes along with.

Hardy elementary school is located close within the proximity of the original campus. Parents of the students also had this to say in the Washington Post article “Chancellor Rhee is trying to squeeze African American students out of the middle school”.     

This current school year marks the one year anniversary of both the school’s new location and the anniversary of then principal of the school father payne’s passing. William Garay past department chair of the technical theatre program had this to say about the situation “The first year was difficult but that’s because of the unfortunate circumstance of our principal Father Payne passing, it’s different without him there but we’ve managed and we’ve finally got it together man! if you ever need another story to report on this is the sunday times” as he motions toward the new location.

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An Evening with Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates visited Howard University on October 7th 2015 to kick off the national tour for his New York Times bestseller “Between the World and Me”. During his visit Coates gave his opinion on the state of black America in light of the present turmoil as it relates to the hope for a better black America or lack thereof.

“The hope is Howard University,” Coates said as he discussed his five-year stint as a student at the university which is also called “The Mecca”  by it’s students, and how ultimately he would take what he learned from his father and the Moorland Spingarn on-campus research facility and make a career out of it.

When asked about his experience at the lecture, William Hemsley, a staff member of the Howard University communications department said  “I had no prior knowledge of Ta-Nehisi Coates before I attended the lecture, but I thought he was very honest and sincere.”

Howard University has a lengthy list of many notable alumni aside from Coates that includes Thurgood Marshall, Phylicia Rashad, Debbie Allen and Toni Morrison. It has been home to many outstanding figures within the Black American community.  

Though he never successfully graduated from Howard University he is revered as a “true son of Howard” as he has used the knowledge he found at “The Mecca” and gone on to find amazing success as author of Between the World and Me which reflects on the struggles of the Black American.

Coates has had an illustrious career as a journalist, even going on to becoming a National Correspondent for The Atlantic. The Atlantic is a highly respected news publication that covers politics, news, business, technology but more importantly culture where Coates specializes in particularly in regards to Black Americans.  

Ta-Nehisi opened the evening with an excerpt from his bestseller that set the tone for what was to follow for the rest of the evening. In his excerpt Coates vividly reflects on one of his memories as a student at Howard University and how being there gave him a subconscious sense of community among his own people. “I didn’t read the book but it’s now on my to do list”, said Helmsley.

He recalls how everyone around him, though very different we’re all one in the same, the “survivors of catastrophe”. Oddly enough his return to Howard has signified just that.

He is a survivor of catastrophe. Statistically speaking uneducated Black Americans are the highest unemployed race group.

Coates said even though” I was not the greatest student I never stopped studying”.

 

As a result of his hunger for black education he has still found accomplishments without the degree.

Coates spent the majority of the evening speaking highly of the importance of black educational institutions and what they represent.

As he recalled an interaction with a critic of his bestseller he was asked “why is the book so bleak? where is the hope?,” to which he replied the “the hope is in Howard University”.

He goes on to state multiple times that “there is a presence here that you simply can’t find anywhere else” as he referred to the black intellectuals present on the campus. He constantly credits the university and its Moorland Spingarn research facility for sparking all of his success.

As the evening came to a close the floor was opened to the University’s student body. They presented questions that challenged Cotes’ knowledge of the grand spectrum of the continuing black struggle.

However, if Coates did find himself without a response he would admit that he himself did not have all of the answers at this current moment. Much like the students present at his lecture he still considers himself a student when it comes to the subject area that he specializes in for the Atlantic. He said “journalism gives him an excuse to be a student again” because of all of the research it includes.

&Pizza

&Pizza is quickly becoming one of the Districts quickly rising juggernauts within the food scene. For my third major assignment I was given the task of producing a photo story that tells the process of an event using 5 photos so I thought what better option than to use this beautiful artistry? Enjoy

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News Blog Example

For my first class assignment I was to Identify a particular news outlet (television, radio, blog or news website) and draw information from that example as a source of reference moving forward with this particular project. I selected none other than http://www.fox5dc.com because of its compelling edge on providing breaking news around the clock in a timely manner. It could be on social media, live television or on broadcast cable, fox news gets you the news when it happens as it happens. For example the website is updated almost every two hours or so. I’d like to emulate their sense of variety when it comes to publishing a story. You could find anything from hot trends around town to breaking murder stories almost fluidly. Given that it’s a news website they don’t particularly identify one specific person as the author of the website. It gives credit to the entire staff.

Welcome to Wonderland!

I created this blog for the sole purpose of satisfying a multimedia journalism course requirement. However, given my creative nature and my growing fondness of the art of blogging I’m more than certain this will be a more permanent situation for me nat the conclusion of this class. I would like to walk away from this class with a more comfortable understanding of the field of journalistic research and reporting on all media platforms. I know that’s more than a lot to expect out of a semester’s time but I feel as though it’s in my best interest to be prepared to break into the field of journalism at any moment on just about any platform given the new data age we live in. To be more specific I hope to learn how to

  • grab a reader’s attention in the first sentence of an entry or article
  • conduct thorough research
  • properly give an in-depth interview
  • properly prepare an article with the information I’ve collected from an interview