How a high school student won more than $1 million in college scholarships

derriusquarles_1383304056_52In high school, Derrius Quarles was rebellious in class, disruptive and often late. But the words of a high school teacher had a profound impact on his goals for the future. Through determination and creativity, Derrius earned more than $1.1 million in college scholarships. Now he’s paying it forward by advising other students on how to bridge the gap in funding for college.

To learn more about the benefits and costs of higher education, and how to pay for college, check out the results of the 2015 survey by our sponsor, Discover Student Loans.





Website I Facebook I Twitter

Derrius Quarles’ journey to attending and paying for college has been anything but simple. As a product of the Illinois foster care system and the south side of Chicago; higher education did not always seem to like a feasible possibility for him. More accessible at times were the fleeting opportunities of the urban streets. Facing the obstacles of his father’s murder in Chicago at the age of 4, being taken away from his mother’s custody at the age of 5, and traversing the foster care system for nine years; the challenges of the inner-city almost lead him down a path of crime and fast money. During his first year of high school, receiving an education was not a priority. That was until a biology teacher by
the name of Nivedita Nutakki took him out into the hallway after he showed up twenty minutes late for class and told him “You have so much potential, and yet you choose to waste it”. From that day forward, he approached school differently. Mrs. Nutakki’s words provided an awakening of sorts. It provided him a type of motivation he had never received in his life before, a type of motivation that screamed, “of course you can do it”.

Over the next two years of high school, (while living in his own apartment) Derrius laid the foundation–work ethic, attitude, and vision–that would lead him to accumulating over 1.1 million dollars in scholarships and financial-aid. He is the first in his family to attend college and is proud to be a current Gates Millennium, Horatio Alger, Coca-Cola, Dell, Chicago, Nordstrom, and Gilman Scholar.

Million Dollar Scholar is the culmination of his eagerness to see other students


succeed, especially those who face disadvantages that often act as barriers to a college education. It is Derrius’ hope that all students, no matter what their background, can realize that they are Million Dollar Scholars and that it is very possible to obtain the funds for a post-secondary education.


Dream. And when you dream–dream big, dream hard, dream wild. Allow your imagination to become the jet engine that propels you to places unseen, sounds unheard, knowledge unknown, and success unaccomplished. There will be people who do not understand your vision, there will be those who believe your dreams have no value. Why? Well, because of the simple fact that it is not easy to dream these days. Now, more than ever, the world needs people with wild imaginations and seemingly unachievable dreams. This is your hour and it will be the only hour you ever receive, do not waste your sixty minutes making small plans.”


It’s time for Beckham’s homophobic critics to move on


When I was little, I wanted to play the piano. My mom was a pianist and I spent many hours alone banging on the keys of her baby grand in our basement trying to make music. But I never learned. My parents chose my sister to take piano lessons while I was signed up to play football instead.

I didn’t complain because I actually liked football. But I loved piano. Years later, when I lived in a senior society house in college, I spent more hours playing the piano in our shared living room. And years after that, I bought a digital piano for my home and tried to teach myself to play.

I never asked my parents why they didn’t let me play piano, but I think it had something to do with society’s understanding of gender roles. Boys were supposed to play sports while girls were encouraged to participate in the arts. That was a problem for me because I liked both.

I’ve been a fan of three NFL teams over the years — the former St. Louis Cardinals, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (when Doug Williams was quarterback) and the New York Giants. I’ve also been a superfan of Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, so much so that I was a little jealous last season when Odell Beckham Jr. arrived and stole the spotlight from my injured hero.


But Beckham won me over with his incredible one-handed catches and thrilling game-saving plays that kept the Giants in contention even when the rest of the team kind of sucked. In his first 25 NFL games, Beckham caught more passes and ran for more receiving yards than any player in NFL history. His touchdown reception against Dallas last season was so amazing that the Cowboys even posted the video on their website.

On the surface, life should be good right now for Odell Beckham Jr. But beneath the surface, Beckham has faced homophobic taunts and anti-gay slurs, both on and off the field, all season long.

A prominent gossip website posted an article a few weeks ago on what it called Beckham’s “most suspect moments.” The article referred to Beckham as a “sassy” baller and discussed his “questionable” behavior. Meanwhile, another website posted a blunt piece this week under the salacious headline: Is Odell Beckham Jr. Gay? The author concluded that “there’s not a shred of evidence to suggest Beckham is gay,” as though homosexuality were some sort of crime to be proven in court.

By the time Cam Newton and Josh Norman arrived at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey last Sunday, rumors had been circulating in the NFL for months about Beckham’s sexual orientation. NFL Hall of Famers Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders report that Beckham has been targeted with homophobic slurs all year by other players in the league. Similarly, the Giants team complained that the Panthers had threatened Beckham with a baseball bat before last Sunday’s game.

Perhaps that explains Beckham’s wildly inappropriate behavior against the Carolina Panthers, where he was penalized three times for unsportsmanlike conduct and later suspended for one game. Beckham appealed the suspension, lost and apologized. To his credit, he made no excuses for his “embarrassing” conduct or his dangerous helmet-to-helmet hit on Norman.

Odell-Beckham-JrAside from his childish behavior last Sunday, Beckham has conducted himself admirably. Unlike some past and present players, Beckham didn’t angrily denounce the questions about his sexuality and didn’t try to find a quick girlfriend to prove his heterosexuality. As far as I can tell, he’s said nothing public about his sexual orientation.

So what if he posts videos of himself dancing and clowning around with other guys? So what if he doesn’t have a traditional Black hairstyle? He has the right to be himself. And yet he has endured withering attacks, even on his own Instagram and Twitter accounts, where numerous followers regularly hurl anti-gay insults.

Straight, gay or bi, Odell Beckham Jr. is living his life, and it’s time for Beckham’s homophobic critics to get on with their lives. In a few days, we’ll begin the year 2016, and my wish for my people in the new year is that we finally catch up with the calendar. We live in a wonderful time of change, with a Black president, a woman as the frontrunner to succeed him and gays and lesbians with the freedom to marry their loved ones.

Clearly, we have gay players in the NFL. Even Black gay players in the NFL. Many in the LGBT community would cheer if Odell Beckham Jr. were one of them. But it would be more wonderful if he could live his life freely, regardless of his sexual orientation. For too long, Black men, of all sexual orientations, have been defined far too simplistically, reduced to hypermasculine stereotypes of bravado that don’t allow us to share all of who we are.

We’re not all jocks. We’re not all rappers and thugs. We’re not all sexual creatures. Some of us like to play football and piano. We are human, with all the diversity of human existence that comes with it.

So this year, my Christmas wish for Odell Beckham Jr., and for all the little Black boys and girls out there marching to the beat of a different drum, is that they can live in a world where they are free to be themselves, not who anyone else wants them to be. That’s the greatest gift of all.




Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, created Kwanzaa in 1966. After the Watts riots in Los Angeles, Dr. Karenga searched for ways to bring African-Americans together as a community. He founded US, a cultural organization, and started to research African “first fruit” (harvest) celebrations. Karenga combined aspects of several different harvest celebrations, such as those of the Ashanti and those of the Zulu, to form the basis of Kwanzaa.

Family lighting candles celebrating Kwanzaa --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Family lighting candles celebrating Kwanzaa — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbin


The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili. Each family celebrates Kwanzaa in its own way, but celebrations often include songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading, and a large traditional meal. On each of the seven nights, the family gathers and a child lights one of the candles on the Kinara (candleholder), then one of the seven principles is discussed. The principles, called the Nguzo Saba (seven principles in Swahili) are values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing community among African-Americans. Kwanzaa also has seven basic symbols which represent values and concepts reflective of African culture. An African feast, called a Karamu, is held on December 31


The candle-lighting ceremony each evening provides the opportunity to gather and discuss the meaning of Kwanzaa. The first night, the black candle in the center is lit (and the principle of umoja/unity is discussed). One candle is lit each evening and the appropriate principle is discussed.

The seven principles, or Nguzo Saba are a set of ideals created by Dr. Maulana Karenga. Each day of Kwanzaa emphasizes a different principle.

Unity:Umoja (oo–MO–jah)
To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

Self-determination: Kujichagulia (koo–gee–cha–goo–LEE–yah)
To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.

Collective Work and Responsibility: Ujima (oo–GEE–mah)
To build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together.

Cooperative Economics: Ujamaa (oo–JAH–mah)
To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

Purpose: Nia (nee–YAH)
To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Creativity: Kuumba (koo–OOM–bah)
To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.




Faith: Imani (ee–MAH–nee)
To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

The seven principles, or Nguzo Saba are a set of ideals created by Dr. Maulana Karenga. Each day of Kwanzaa emphasizes a different principle.

Mazao, the crops (fruits, nuts, and vegetables) 
Symbolizes work and the basis of the holiday. It represents the historical foundation for Kwanzaa, the gathering of the people that is patterned after African harvest festivals in which joy, sharing, unity, and thanksgiving are the fruits of collective planning and work. Since the family is the basic social and economic center of every civilization, the celebration bonded family members, reaffirming their commitment and responsibility to each other. In Africa the family may have included several generations of two or more nuclear families, as well as distant relatives. Ancient Africans didn’t care how large the family was, but there was only one leader – the oldest male of the strongest group. For this reason, an entire village may have been composed of one family. The family was a limb of a tribe that shared common customs, cultural traditions, and political unity and were supposedly descended from common ancestors. The tribe lived by traditions that provided continuity and identity. Tribal laws often determined the value system, laws, and customs encompassing birth, adolescence, marriage, parenthood, maturity, and death. Through personal sacrifice and hard work, the farmers sowed seeds that brought forth new plant life to feed the people and other animals of the earth. To demonstrate their mazao, celebrants of Kwanzaa place nuts, fruit, and vegetables, representing work, on the mkeka.

Mkeka: Place Mat 
The mkeka, made from straw or cloth, comes directly from Africa and expresses history, culture, and tradition. It symbolizes the historical and traditional foundation for us to stand on and build our lives because today stands on our yesterdays, just as the other symbols stand on the mkeka. In 1965, James Baldwin wrote: “For history is not merely something to be read. And it does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the facts that we carry it within us, are consciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do. It could scarcely be otherwise, since it is to history that we owe our frames of reference, our identities, and our aspirations.” During Kwanzaa, we study, recall, and reflect on our history and the role we are to play as a legacy to the future. Ancient societies made mats from straw, the dried seams of grains, sowed and reaped collectively. The weavers took the stalks and created household baskets and mats. Today, we buy mkeka that are made from Kente cloth, African mud cloth, and other textiles from various areas of the African continent. The mishumaa saba, the vibunzi, the mazao, the zawadi, the kikombe cha umoja, and the kinara are placed directly on the mkeka.

Vibunzi: Ear of Corn
The stalk of corn represents fertility and symbolizes that through the reproduction of children, the future hopes of the family are brought to life. One ear is called vibunzi, and two or more ears are called mihindi. Each ear symbolizes a child in the family, and thus one ear is placed on the mkeka for each child in the family. If there are no children in the home, two ears are still set on the mkeka because each person is responsible for the children of the community. During Kwanzaa, we take the love and nurturance that was heaped on us as children and selflessly return it to all children, especially the helpless, homeless, loveless ones in our community. Thus, the Nigerian proverb “It takes a whole village to raise a child” is realized in this symbol (vibunzi), since raising a child in Africa was a community affair, involving the tribal village, as well as the family. Good habits of respect for self and others, discipline, positive thinking, expectations, compassion, empathy, charity, and self-direction are learned in childhood from parents, from peers, and from experiences. Children are essential to Kwanzaa, for they are the future, the seed bearers that will carry cultural values and practices into the next generation. For this reason, children were cared for communally and individually within a tribal village. The biological family was ultimately responsible for raising its own children, but every person in the village was responsible for the safety and welfare of all the children.

Mishumaa Saba: The Seven Candles
Candles are ceremonial objects with two primary purposes: to re-create symbolically the sun’s power and to provide light. The celebration of fire through candle burning is not limited to one particular group or country; it occurs everywhere. Mishumaa saba are the seven candles: three red, three green, and one black. The back candle symbolizes Umoja (unity), the basis of success, and is lit on December 26. The three green candles, representing Nia, Ujima, and Imani, are placed to the right of the Umoja candle, while the three red candles, representing Kujichagulia, Ujamaa, and Kuumba, are placed to the left of it. During Kwanzaa, on candle, representing one principle, is lit each day. Then the other candles are relit to give off more light and vision. The number of candles burning also indicate the principle that is being celebrated. The illuminating fire of the candles is a basic element of the universe, and every celebration and festival includes fire in some form. Fire’s mystique, like the sun, is irresistible and can destroy or create with its mesmerizing, frightening, mystifying power.

Mishumaa saba’s symbolic colors are from the red, black, and green flag (bendara) created by Marcus Garvey. The colors also represent African gods. Red is the color of Shango, the Yoruba god of fire, thunder, and lightning, who lives in the clouds and sends down his thunderbolt whenever he is angry or offended. It also represents the struggle for self-determination and freedom by people of color. Black is the people, the earth, the source of life, representing hope, creativity, and faith and denoting messages and the opening and closing of doors. Green represents the earth that sustains our lives and provides hope, divination, employment, and the fruits of the harvest.

Kinara: The Candleholder
The kinara is the center of the Kwanzaa setting and represents the original stalk from which we came: our ancestry. The kinara can be shape – straight lines, semicircles, or spirals – as long as the seven candles are separate and distinct, like a candelabra. Kinaras are made from all kinds of materials, and many celebrants create their own from fallen branches, wood, or other natural materials. The kinara symbolizes the ancestors, who were once earth bound; understand the problems of human life; and are willing to protect their progeny from danger, evil, and mistakes. In African festivals the ancestors are remembered and honored. The mishumaa saba are placed in the kinara.

Kikombe Cha Umoja: The Unity Cup
The kikombe cha umoja is a special cup that is used to perform the libation (tambiko) ritual during the Karamu feast on the sixth day of Kwanzaa. In many African societies libation are poured for the living dead whose souls stay with the earth they tilled. The Ibo of Nigeria believe that to drink the last portion of a libation is to invite the wrath of the spirits and the ancestors; consequently, the last part of the libation belongs to the ancestors. During the Karamu feast, the kikombe cha umoja is passed to family member and guests, who drink from it to promote unity. Then, the eldest person present pours the libation (tambiko), usually water, juice, or wine, in the direction of the four winds – north, south, east, and west – to honor the ancestors. The eldest asks the gods and ancestors to share in the festivities and, in return, to bless all the people who are not at the gathering. After asking for this blessing, the elder pours the libation on the ground and the group says “Amen.” Large Kwanzaa gatherings may operate just as communion services in most churches, for which it is common for celebrants to have individual cups and to drink the libation together as a sign of unity. Several families may have a cup that is specifically for the ancestors, and everyone else has his or her own. The last few ounces of the libation are poured into the cup of the host or hostess, who sips it and then hands it to the oldest person in the group, who asks for the blessing.

Zawadi: Gifts
When we celebrate Imani on the seventh day of Kwanzaa, we give meaningful zawadi (gifts) to encourage growth, self-determination, achievement, and success. We exchange the gifts with members of our immediate family, especially the children, to promote or reward accomplishments and commitments kept, as well as with our guests. Handmade gifts are encouraged to promote self-determination, purpose, and creativity and to avoid the chaos of shopping and conspicuous consumption during the December holiday season. A family may spend the year making kinaras or may create cards, dolls, or mkekas to give to their guests. Accepting a gift implies a moral obligation to fulfill the promise of the gift; it obliges the recipient to follow the training of the host. The gift cements social relationships, allowing the receiver to share the duties and the rights of a family member. Accepting a gift makes the receiver part of the family and promotes Umoja.



President Barack Obama praises Zaevion William Dobson as ‘a hero at 15’

herorBarack Obama described Zaevion William Dobson, a high school football player who was killed as he shielded three girls from gunfire, as a “hero” in a message posted on the president’s official Twitter account.

The shooting that killed Dobson, 15, began Thursday night in Knoxville, Tennessee. Police said men drove to Dobson’s neighborhood in retaliation for an earlier shooting and “randomly fired multiple times.”

Obama took to Twitter on Saturday to praise Dobson and weigh in on the shootings, which police investigators believe to be gang-related.

Rob Black, Dobson’s football coach at Fulton High School in northern Knoxville, called Dobson a “fine, fine young man.” Knoxville Police chief David Rausch said Friday that investigators have not found a reason that Dobson would be targeted.

“Unfortunately, they picked a random group of young men and women who were just hanging out and trying to prepare to celebrate the holiday,” Rausch said.

Dobson was a sophomore at Fulton High School, which brought in counselors to speak to students taking makeup tests Friday morning.

“He was really one of our success stories,” Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero said. “Involved in sports, a mentee of one of our organizations in town. But still he falls victim to this.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.




Heroic high school football player killed shielding teenage girls from gunmen


When the shooting began Thursday night in Knoxville, Tenn., Zaevion Dobson faced a split-second choice: run away and save himself or use his body as a shield to protect those around him.

Nobody would’ve have blamed the 15-year-old Fulton High School football player for doing the former. But Dobson, survivors would later recall, sacrificed himself, jumping on top of three teenage girls who were sitting on a porch with a few other friends when two men approached and began shooting randomly into the group, according to the Associated Press.

“If it wasn’t for Zaevion, if he would have just ran off the porch, we would have probably been shot,” Kiara Rucker told CBS affiliate WVLT.

Dobson was killed by a bullet that struck him in the head, police said. He was the only person among the group who was hit.

“You’re my hero, I’ll never forget you,” Faith Gordon, who credited Dobson with saving her life, wrote on Twitter.

“Unfortunately, they picked a random group of young men and women who were just hanging out and trying to prepare to celebrate the holiday,” Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch, who earlier struggled to hold back tears discussing the teenager’s sacrifice at a news conference, told the AP.

Zach Dobson, the victim’s brother, told NBC-affiliate WBIR-TV that the shooting took those on the scene by surprise. By the time the group of young people realized that Dobson had been shot in the moments of confusion that followed, it was too late.

“He was laying there, and I just pick him up and put him in my arms,” his brother said. “He was dead. Unfortunately, he wasn’t lucky, but he saved two lives.”

“I pulled on him and said ‘You can get up now’ but he didn’t get up,” Gordon told WVLT. “So I just went upstairs, and by the time I came back to make sure everything was real, (I saw) he was shot in the head.”

A day later, Dobson, who described himself as “shocked,” was still trying to understand what motivated the shooters.

“Why would you shoot at random bystanders,” he told WBIR-TV.  “For nothing. We were just sitting there chilling.”

Investigators are wondering the same thing. They believe the shooting was part of a series of gang-related shootings that began Thursday night when a 46-year-old woman was shot inside her apartment several miles away. The victim, Lisa Perry, is expected to survive, according to the AP.

In a an act of retribution gone awry, police say Perry’s son — 23-year-old Brandon Perry — joined several other men, drove to Dobson’s neighborhood and went on a shooting spree. Police don’t believe there was a motive for shooting Dobson.

Perry was eventually shot as well, after crashing his car into an apartment, the AP reported. He died Friday.

Police arrested two other men who fled the scene of the crash but released one of them.

The detained suspect — identified by authorities as 20-year-old Christopher D. Bassett — is charged with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and violating probation, according to WBIR-TV. He is being held without bond, the station reported.

“These cowardly and senseless acts of violence must stop,” Rausch told the AP. “We should be preparing to celebrate the Christmas holiday, but now we have two men who are dead.”

At Fulton High in northern Knoxville, Dobson’s death led to an outpouring of grief among classmates of the sophomore. Online, he was celebrated for his final act of heroism. On Friday, counselors were at the high school to speak with grieving students, and a moment of silence was held in the gym, according to the AP.

“He was really one of our success stories,” Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero told the AP. “Involved in sports, a mentee of one of our organizations in town. But still he falls victim to this.”

Rob Black, the coach of the Fulton football team, described his player as a “fine, fine young man.”

“Only a sophomore, but a very contagious young man who was very liked by his peers and his teachers,” Black told the AP. “Going to be a tough time as we leave from here and go meet with our football players.”

Friends and family — as well as countless strangers who were drawn to Dobson’s story — turned to social media to celebrate Dobson’s life.

Dobson described his relative as an “awesome kid” and “awesome brother.”

“Just know that I miss him,” Dobson said. “I miss my brother.”



INSPIRATIONAL: How A Blind Teen ‘Sees’ With Sound



In a pillow fight, 14-year-old Ben Underwood can deliver a dead-on shot; in foosball, he’s a determined competitor; when a video game is going, his fingers fly. And when he is on his skates, he’s fearless. For most teenagers, it’s nothing remarkable. But Ben is blind.

As CBS News correspondent John Blackstone found out, Ben uses sound to find his way around. To walk down the street with Ben is to be amazed at what he can see with his “ears.”

Ben makes clicking sounds and while walking down a sidewalk can even determine the difference between a fire hydrant and a trash can.

Ben was just 2 years old when cancer claimed his eyes. Both were surgically removed. It was a day of heartbreak for his mother, Aquanetta Gordon.

“And he woke up from that surgery and Ben said, ‘Mom, I can’t see any more, I can’t see any more,'” she recalls. “And I said ‘You can’t use your eyes but you’ve got your nose, and your ears and your mouth.'”

From that day on, Ben has used his hearing, his sense of touch, his sense of smell to conquer a world of darkness. And he is good: while going for a walk with Blackstone, Ben deftly stepped around a fallen trash can on the sidewalk.

Somehow, Ben has mastered echolocation. It’s the same way dolphins get around, bouncing sound waves to figure out where they are.

On a trip to Sea World a few weeks ago, Ben found that he and the dolphins shared an amazing talent.

Out of the water, it becomes easy to forget that Ben is blind, as Blackstone found out when he was beaten 5-2 in a friendly match of foosball.

Playing video games with his brother Isaiah, in the assault of noise, Ben can figure out everything that’s happening just by listening.

How does he manage to compete? “Because they got different voices,” Ben explains.

“Nobody is going to tell him that there is an impossibility for him. ‘Cause there are none,” says his mom.

“This mom ought to be teaching a course on how do you raise a kid who can’t see well,” says Kaiser-Permanente ophthalmologist Dr. James Ruben.

He says Aquanetta has done exactly the right thing with Ben: never being overprotective and never putting limits on him. “You know, I think the real story here is not, is not his talents, but his attitude. And attitude is what it’s really about.”

Aquanetta agrees. “We have to give our kids confidence. We give them pride. Empower him with who he is, and be proud of who you are, no matter what!” she says.

“‘There’s nothing you can’t do…” she adds. “And that’s the attitude, you know what I’m saying? That’s what I want to give him.”

Watching him in action, it seems clear that Ben really can do anything.

You can learn more about Ben by visiting

Real life super hero. Monday morning inspiration.

Posted by Natty on Monday, October 26, 2015

POWER TO THE PEOPLE! Trump rally interrupted by Black Lives Matter protesters

blacklivesmatterEnder Austin III with police while being removed from Donald Trump’s rally in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo: Hunter Walker/Yahoo News)

LAS VEGAS — Multiple protesters affiliated with a local group that supports the #BlackLivesMatter movement were forcibly removed from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign rally at the Westgate Las Vegas Casino and Resort on Monday evening.

Afterwards, protesters told Yahoo News they are also planning more demonstrations for the Republican debate that will be held at The Venetian casino on Tuesday. One protester ejected from the rally, Ender Austin III, said Trump supporters shouted “Hail Trump!” as he was carried out. In video of the incident, a man can be heard yelling for Austin to be set “on fire.”

The commotion began shortly after Trump, who is currently a frontrunner in the GOP primary took the stage. Trump invited a supporter named Jamiel Shaw to join him. Shaw’s son was shot and killed by an undocumented immigrant gang member in 2008.

“I always ask people what would you do? What would you do if an illegal alien in an 18th Street gang was released from the county jail you know and into our neighborhoods?” Shaw asked the crowd. “We don’t know what’s going on. That’s why we need Donald Trump.”

As Shaw spoke, Austin began shouting.

“That’s why we need gun control!” Austin yelled. “If there were no guns he wouldn’t have got killed.”

Protesters subsequently showed Yahoo News a video of the interruption. Austin was quickly grabbed by casino security.

“Get your hands off me!” Austin yelled. “Don’t touch me!”

Austin later told Yahoo he is a Pentecostal minister who was attending the event with a group called “Unity Vegas.” He said both he and the group support the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Austin said he had planned on staying at the rally, but felt he needed to interject when he did because he believed Trump was unfairly using the death of Shaw’s son to justify anti-immigrant policies.

“The majority of issues with gun violence are not with undocumented persons,” Austin said. “And to parade that as though this is the reason why we should deport millions of people and destroy millions of lives was disturbing to me.”

Austin added that his “heart is with” Shaw’s family for the “loss that they’ve endured.”

Though he briefly sat on the ground, Austin was eventually carried out of the event. Buzzfeed reporter McKay Coppins filmed some of Austin’s removal. In his footage, a man Coppins identified as a Trump supporter can be heard shouting “Light the mother—-er on fire!” at Austin.

Austin said he felt the remark about setting him on fire had “serious historical context” because he is a “person of African descent.” He also claimed other Trump supporters made inappropriate comments as he was being removed.

“I heard ‘Hail Trump!’ several times as though it were a Nazi youth or Hitler Youth group meeting or something of that nature,” Austin said. “I heard a lot of rhetoric that definitely put me in the mind of Nazi Germany, not 2015 America.”

Spokespeople for the Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.

Once outside, Austin said he was handcuffed and detained by police officers. Yahoo witnessed Austin being grabbed and pushed against a wall by police, but we were pushed from the area by Westgate security.

Watch a video of Austin being grabbed by the police here.

Austin said he was eventually released. He claimed a sergeant who spoke to him “insinuated” he would be arrested if he wanted to file a complaint.

“What disturbed me mainly was that they met someone who was definitely loud and hopefully disruptive, that was absolutely my intent, with a lot of force, physically assaulting me,” Austin said. “No one ever came and said, ‘Hey, you need to be quiet or leave or anything like that. I was met immediately with force.”

Austin said he came to the event with a group of about ten protesters from Unity Vegas. He was not the only one who was removed from the Trump rally.

Amanda Staten and Jonas Rand were also with the Unity Vegas group. Outside the event, they told Yahoo they were ejected moments after Austin. Staten said she was removed after she kicked a man who took the phone she used to film security ejecting Austin. She provided Yahoo a video that showed a man who grabbed her phone after asking, “Whose side you’re on?” Rand said he was removed from the rally for holding a Unity Vegas sign.

Rand, Staten, and Austin all said their group objected to many of Trump’s policies. Specifically, they cited his stances on Latino and Muslim immigrants. They also took issue with the fact Trump suggested a #BlackLivesMatter protester who interrupted one of his events last month “should have been roughed up.”

All three protesters told Yahoo there are further demonstrations planned for the Republican debate on Tuesday.

“I came here to show my support for my community and other minorities. … I came here basically to show, like, yes, we’re here, and we see you, and we want you to know this is how we feel,” Staten said. “No matter where you go there will always be somebody from #BlackLivesMatter at your event. You can have us jumped and cheer the people who are jumping on us. You can have us kicked out, but we’re always going to be there no matter what.”

Martin Luther King’s hate mail eerily resembles criticism of the Black Lives Matter movement



In the last year or so, as the Black Lives Matter movement has taken off, the cause has been criticized by (mostly) white people asking, “Yeah, but what about this?”

It turns out that this argument has been in style for at least half a century.

Indeed, this type of discourse is nothing new, as we can see when we examine the hate mail that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. received during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. It’s overwhelming how the fear of the status quo being changed has been something white America can’t stop thinking about–and loudly announcing how it’s a problem–for so long now. These messages could have been written yesterday in the comments of a Facebook post as easily as they were on stationery or in a telegram 50 years ago.

Anonymity was key, of course.



“What about the violence by blacks in these cities?

What is this Black Power business? If it is a threat to Whites– why should Whites not retaliate? Why should Whites hire Blacks?



“Hang your head in shame.

You are responsible for all of these riots and havoc in this country today.”



“The hatred between the race is now at an all time peak and will get worse as the niggers continue to beat, rape and murder white women and girls.

A former friend of the negro, now a nigger hater”



“You don’t point out any FAULTS at all of your own people, just the whites.”



“How can you be a minster and have such hatred in your heart for the ‘white’-race and the Nation in general?

Do return that ‘Nobel-peace-prize’ that we bestowed upon you, (as a great honor) so we can give it to some one who really deserves it.”

As far as we can tell, that one was not sent by a member of the Nobel Committee.



“Your own day soon, I hope, will find out what you really are.

“It certainly must take unmititgated gall to ask the public, particularly “WHITEY” for funds to keep you and your ilk rolling along in the manner to which you have become to visibly accustomed.

“Your false image is beginning to catch up with your as well as others.

I believe and contribute to any cause for advancing human dignity.

With the best of bad luck to you, I am,




“It would be well if every American Negro compared his position and opportunity with that of his race in other countries. He would find that in none does the Negro have the advantages the United States gives him. As justified as may be many of the demands Negroes make, they are not the only matter of importance in the world.”


For more jaw-dropping cruelty and racism, check out The Painted Walrus’ full collection of hate mail on Imgur and The King Center.




TEACHERThis is what I wore to work today.

On my way to get a burrito before work, I was detained by the police.

I noticed the police car in the public lot behind Centre Street.  As I was walking away from my car, the cruiser followed me.  I walked down Centre Street and was about to cross over to the burrito place and the officer got out of the car.

“Hey my man,” he said.

He unsnapped the holster of his gun.

I took my hands out of my pockets.

“Yes?”  I said.

“Where you coming from?”


Where’s home?”


How’d you get here?”

“I drove.”

He was next to me now.  Two other police cars pulled up.  I was standing in from of the bank across the street from the burrito place.  I was going to get lunch before I taught my 1:30 class.  There were cops all around me.

I said nothing.  I looked at the officer who addressed me.  He was white, stocky, bearded.

“You weren’t over there, were you?” He pointed down Centre Street toward Hyde Square.

“No. I came from Dedham.”

“What’s your address?”

I told him.

“We had someone matching your description just try to break into a woman’s house.”

A second police officer stood next to me; white, tall, bearded.  Two police cruisers passed and would continue to circle the block for the 35 minutes I was standing across the street from the burrito place.

“You fit the description,” the officer said. “Black male, knit hat, puffy coat.  Do you have identification.”

“It’s in my wallet.  May I reach into my pocket and get my wallet?”


I handed him my license.  I told him it did not have my current address.  He walked over to a police car.  The other cop, taller, wearing sunglasses, told me that I fit the description of someone who broke into a woman’s house.  Right down to the knit cap.

Barbara Sullivan made a knit cap for me.  She knitted it in pinks and browns and blues and oranges and lime green.  No one has a hat like this. It doesn’t fit any description that anyone would have.  I looked at the second cop.  I clasped my hands in front of me to stop them from shaking.

“For the record,” I said to the second cop, “I’m not a criminal.  I’m a college professor.”  I was wearing my faculty ID around my neck, clearly visible with my photo.

“You fit the description so we just have to check it out.”  The first cop returned and handed me my license.

“We have the victim and we need her to take a look at you to see if you are the person.”

It was at this moment that I knew that I was probably going to die.  I am not being dramatic when I say this.  I was not going to get into a police car.  I was not going to present myself to some victim.  I was not going let someone tell the cops that I was not guilty when I already told them that I had nothing to do with any robbery.  I was not going to let them take me anywhere because if they did, the chance I was going to be accused of something I did not do rose exponentially.  I knew this in my heart.  I was not going anywhere with these cops and I was not going to let some white woman decide whether or not I was a criminal, especially after I told them that I was not a criminal.  This meant that I was going to resist arrest.  This meant that I was not going to let the police put their hands on me.

If you are wondering why people don’t go with the police, I hope this explains it for you.

Something weird happens when you are on the street being detained by the police.  People look at you like you are a criminal.  The police are detaining you so clearly you must have done something, otherwise they wouldn’t have you.  No one made eye contact with me.  I was hoping that someone I knew would walk down the street or come out of one of the shops or get off the 39 bus or come out of JP Licks and say to these cops, “That’s Steve Locke.  What the FUCK are you detaining him for?”

The cops decided that they would bring the victim to come view me on the street.  The asked me to wait. I said nothing.  I stood still.

“Thanks for cooperating,” the second cop said. “This is probably nothing, but it’s our job and you do fit the description.  5′ 11″, black male.  One-hundred-and-sixty pounds, but you’re a little more than that.  Knit hat.”

A little more than 160. Thanks for that, I thought.

An older white woman walked behind me and up to the second cop.  She turned and looked at me and then back at him.  “You guys sure are busy today.”

I noticed a black woman further down the block.  She was small and concerned.  She was watching what was going on.  I focused on her red coat.  I slowed my breathing.  I looked at her from time to time.

I thought: Don’t leave, sister. Please don’t leave.

The first cop said, “Where do you teach?”

“Massachusetts College of Art and Design.”  I tugged at the lanyard that had my ID.

“How long you been teaching there?”

“Thirteen years.”

We stood in silence for about 10 more minutes.

An unmarked police car pulled up.  The first cop went over to talk to the driver.  The driver kept looking at me as the cop spoke to him.  I looked directly at the driver.  He got out of the car.

“I’m Detective Cardoza.  I appreciate your cooperation.”

I said nothing.

“I’m sure these officers told you what is going on?”

“They did.”

“Where are you coming from?”

“From my home in Dedham.”

“How did you get here?”

“I drove.”

“Where is your car?”

“It’s in the lot behind Bukhara.”  I pointed up Centre Street.

“Okay,” the detective said.  “We’re going to let you go.  Do you have a car key you can show me?”

“Yes,” I said.  “I’m going to reach into my pocket and pull out my car key.”


I showed him the key to my car.

The cops thanked me for my cooperation.  I nodded and turned to go.

“Sorry for screwing up your lunch break,” the second cop said.

I walked back toward my car, away from the burrito place.  I saw the woman in red.

“Thank you,” I said to her.  “Thank you for staying.”

“Are you ok?”  She said.  Her small beautiful face was lined with concern.

“Not really.  I’m really shook up.  And I have to get to work.”

“I knew something was wrong.  I was watching the whole thing.  The way they are treating us now, you have to watch them. ”

“I’m so grateful you were there.  I kept thinking to myself, ‘Don’t leave, sister.’  May I give you a hug?”

“Yes,” she said. She held me as I shook.  “Are you sure you are ok?”

“No I’m not.  I’m going to have a good cry in my car.  I have to go teach.”

“You’re at MassArt. My friend is at MassArt.”

“What’s your name?”  She told me.  I realized we were Facebook friends.  I told her this.

“I’ll check in with you on Facebook,” she said.

I put my head down and walked to my car.


My colleague was in our shared office and she was able to calm me down.  I had about 45 minutes until my class began and I had to teach.  I forgot the lesson I had planned.  I forget the schedule.  I couldn’t think about how to do my job.  I thought about the fact my word counted for nothing, they didn’t believe that I wasn’t a criminal.  They had to find out.  My word was not enough for them. My ID was not enough for them.  My handmade one-of-a-kind knit hat was an object of suspicion.  My Ralph Lauren quilted blazer was only a “puffy coat.”  That white woman could just walk up to a cop and talk about me like I was an object for regard.  I wanted to go back and spit in their faces.  The cops were probably deeply satisfied with how they handled the interaction, how they didn’t escalate the situation, how they were respectful and polite.

I imagined sitting in the back of a police car while a white woman decides if I am a criminal or not.  If I looked guilty being detained by the cops imagine how vile I become sitting in a cruiser?  I knew I could not let that happen to me.  I knew if that were to happen, I would be dead.

Nothing I am, nothing I do, nothing I have means anything because I fit the description.

I had to confess to my students that I was a bit out of it today and I asked them to bear with me.  I had to teach.

After class I was supposed to go to the openings for First Friday. I went home.


Read the original press reports of Rosa Parks’ arrest


EDITOR’S NOTE: Rosa Parks’ arrest for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on Dec. 1, 1955 — the start of the Montgomery bus boycott — got relatively little attention, initially. The Montgomery Advertiser noted it briefly the following day, and covered it in more detail Dec. 4 as protesters began to organize the boycott.

The story went national Dec. 5, when The Associated Press wrote of the plan to make Parks the test case for laws segregating public transportation.

On the 60th anniversary of Parks’ arrest, the AP is making available its initial story on the boycott.


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A court test of segregated transportation loomed today following the arrest of a Negro who refused to move to the colored section of a city bus.

While thousands of other Negroes boycotted Montgomery city lines in protest, Mrs. Rosa Parks was fined $14 in Police Court today for having disregarded last Thursday a driver’s order to move to the rear of a bus. Negro passengers ride in the rear of buses here, white passengers in front under a municipal segregation ordinance.

An emotional crowd of Negroes, estimated by the police at 5,000, roared approval tonight at a meeting to continue the boycott.

Spokesmen said the boycott would continue until people who rode buses were no longer “intimidated, embarrassed and coerced.” They said a “delegation of citizens” was ready to help city and bus line officials develop a program that would be “satisfactory and equitable.”

Mrs. Parks appealed her fine and was released under $100 bond signed by an attorney, Fred Gray, and a former state president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, E.D. Nixon.

Mr. Gray and Charles Lanford, another Negro lawyer representing the 42-year-old department store seamstress, refused to say whether they planned to attack the constitutionality of segregation laws affecting public transportation.

The Supreme Court in Washington already has before it a test case against segregation on buses operating in Columbia, S.C. The United States Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., has ruled in this case that segregation must be ended. If the Supreme Court sustains the decision, the effect will be to outlaw segregation in all states and cities.

Mrs. Parks was charged first with violating a city ordinance that gives bus drivers police powers to enforce racial segregation. But at the request of City Attorney Eugene Loe, the warrant was amended to a charge of violation of a similar state law. The state statute authorizes bus companies to provide and enforce separate facilities for whites and Negroes. Violation is punishable by a maximum fine of $500.

Other Negroes by the thousands, meanwhile, found other means of transportation or stayed home today in an organized boycott of City Lines Buses, operated by a subsidiary of National City Lines at Chicago.

The manager, J.H. Bagley, estimated that “80 or maybe 90 percent” of the Negroes who normally used the buses had joined the boycott. He said “several thousand” Negroes rode the buses on a normal day.

From the cotton fields of Georgia to the glamour of Copley Place, Boston

Then & Now: Upscale retailer is in the right place

From the cotton fields of Georgia to the glamour of copley place, Ophelia Bakon has risen above to reach the forefront of fashion


Ophelia Bakon timeline

1947 Born, Covington, Georgia

1959 Family moves to Massachusetts after father’s death

1983 Opens Nouveau Fashion Gallery as an appointment-only store in a Boylston Street office

1985 Nouveau moves to Dartmouth Shops in Copley Place

2015 Moves to second floor in main mall of Copley


Take the escalators to the second floor of Copley Place across from Barney’s New York to the Nouveau Fashion Gallery and you’ve entered the world of haute couture, or at least it’s Boston’s equivalent, minus the outrageous Paris price tags.

It’s good enough for Liv UllmanDebra Winger, Monique and even Lou Gossett Jr., though we’re not quite certain whom he shops for. Should he need a model for an item, the rail-thin woman behind the counter with the coif to shame Diana Rosswill gladly wrap herself in it, in a sweeping motion all but guaranteeing whoever it is will like it.

It’s a long way from Ophelia Bakon’s childhood, when her mother made the family’s clothes from grain sacks to wear in the cotton fields of Georgia. “My mother had to take me and (my sister) Wanda to the cotton fields with her,” Bakon recalls of Covington, Georgia, in the early 1950s. “She would put Wanda under a big bush and I would help her pick cotton and she would say, ‘Go and check your sister. Make sure no ants is on her.’ ”

The sisters — there are four in all, and one brother — also had to improvise their toys, such as a whirligig fashioned from a June bug tied to a stick.

Bakon is reminiscing in the store the sisters have run for 30 years. They’re all co-owners, but Ophelia is its face and full-timer, while the others have worked in other careers. This summer, they turned a corner, literally, by moving upstairs from a location that was openly called “the ghetto of Copley Place.”

“It was referred to as Black Alley or the ghetto of Copley or Minorities Row. We had all kinds of names,” Ophelia says of the strip of shops facing the Back Bay MBTA station, with limited access to the indoor mall.

She says she knew she had wanted to move into Copley as soon as she heard the development was making the minority spaces available — something the developers offered following protests by a displaced low-income community. On that row, she recalls seeing countless shops come and go, including a bookstore shortly after Nouveau’s opening in 1985.

“This young girl, I think she was about 24, 25; the first day she said to us, ‘I’m going to make a million dollars in a year,’ ” Bakon says. “And we were like, ‘OK!’ After about a month she would come in in the morning, turn the lights on, leave, and come back about 7 and turn the lights off. She lost that little bit of hope, and she started to goof off, basically, and eventually closed.”

Not that it was solely the fault of the proprietors. For years, Bakon says, the shops clamored for an elevator connecting to the main mall to no avail. “During those 30 years we learned about patience, perseverance, faith,” she says.

“When a customer walks in, you know what her body type is, what looks great on her. You learn how to relate to all nationalities, all personalities,” she continues, describing her clientele as “80 percent white, Middle Eastern, Asian, and maybe 20 percent black,” contrasting: “When we first started in 1983 (in an appointment-only office down Boylston Street), it was predominantly black.”

Bakon traces her aspirations to the late 1950s, when the family moved to Boston after the death of her father, assisted by his Social Security benefits. “We had never seen a place with beautiful hardwood floors, indoor plumbing, electricity. We loved it,” she recalls of the house on Highland Avenue in Fort Hill; a palace compared to their Georgia shotgun shack.

Her oldest sister, Fannie, had already graduated from college and settled in Boston. Ophelia and her other siblings followed. Ophelia studied business at Boston University Metro College and earned a cosmetology certificate from Wilfred Academy.

With the move, she says traffic and sales have doubled, but that’s all you’ll get. Refreshingly open, Ophelia willingly talks about anything — volunteering her age as 68 well before reaching that mark on Oct. 28 — except the store’s financials. Dun and Bradstreet lists the store’s revenue at $290,000, while A to Z Databases places it closer to $400,000. Sometimes earned the hard way.

“Yes. Yes. Like when I’m sitting there for a week, and no customer comes in. A week. A whole week,” she says. “I learned how to take that time and do other things. That’s how I developed my displaying skills. Just learning. Rather than make it a negative situation.”

Putting it further into perspective are real tragedies: The murder of her grandson five years ago and the passing of a son three years later. Her own near-death experience and, as she describes it, “a very bad relationship, domestic violence.”

Refreshingly open? Make that painfully so.

So will the move inside make that much a difference?

So Ophelia perseveres, her improbable journey likely unknown to the women who wander in, prepared to drop a hundred or two or three for a sweater-coat that makes a statement.

And who decide, like Ophelia after 30 years outside, they’re in the right place.

‘Once he died…’

Wanda Bakon keeps slipping up when telling the family story.

“Once Daddy died — well, not once he died, but after he died,” she says with an embarrassing chuckle, “we got a TV, a refrigerator. We got linoleum on our floors. We got couches. And then we moved to Boston, where kids had allowances.”

No disrespect or anything less than love is intended toward her late father; it’s just Wanda’s habit in telling the history. Her sister Ophelia picks it up.

“We came from what’s referred to as a shotgun shack. It was actually a two-family,” Ophelia Bakon recalls. “They had three rooms, and we had three.”

That was before their move North, where they share their memories in their women’s fashion boutique in Boston’s chic Copley Place mall. Their mother was born in the early 20th century the granddaughter of a landowner — highly unusual among African Americans in the rural, Jim Crow South, and even more so because they’d held onto the land. With that came an inheritance, though divided among 12 descendants, and zero assets from her marriage (the sisters say they may have eloped) to an unskilled laborer.

One by one, their mother’s relatives migrated north and relative prosperity while they wallowed in poverty. Then, in the mid-1950s, their father died, and the family received his Social Security death benefits. Though their mother was very frugal, she did spring for some material goods, and most importantly, took the children North — something that hadn’t happened earlier, Wanda recalls, “because Daddy wouldn’t go.”

“I didn’t know that,” says Ophelia.

“Daddy wouldn’t go. He would not leave.”

“Oh!” Ophelia exhales.

“So once he died ..!” their voices ring together.