To read the full article in the New York Times about Dr. Cuts click here.
Desmond Romeo, originally from Trinidad, opened Dr. Cuts on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn twelve years ago. Since that time he has worked closely with the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, which 'collaborates with community members to design, incubate and replicate neighborhood-based interventions that address health conditions that disproportionately affect minorities.' Today, old and new patrons of the establishment come to Dr. Cuts not only to receive styling services, but also to engage in a forum where clients are encouraged to discuss personal and health concerns. After receiving training from the AAIUH, Mr. Romeo and his staff play a dual role as barbers and community health ambassadors, and lead an open dialogue about conditions such as diabetes, prostate cancer, HIV, and hypertension.
To read the full article in the New York Times about Dr. Cuts click here.
On February 6, 1993 Arthur Ashe died of AIDS-related pneumonia in New York at the age of 49. His body was laid in state at the Governor’s Mansion in his hometown of Richmond, VA. He was the first person to lie in state at the mansion since the Confederate general "Stonewall" Jackson in 1863. More than 5,000 people lined up to walk past his casket.
Four days later, more than 6,000 people attended his funeral. Former U.N. ambassador and mayor of Atlanta Andrew Young delivered the eulogy.
Click here to view a video of the speeches made during the funeral by a number of dignitaries including former Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown, New York City Mayor David Dinkins, Civil Rights activist Jesse Jackson and Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder.
Below are several quotes from the service about Arthur Ashe’s legacy:
“No one has been more open to others… he had a quiet soul amid a very busy and noisy life. He lived and carried that grace and dignity, setting an example for so many people.”
“If I can do it, you can do it. That was his message.”
“Arthur Ashe. He walked with kings but never lost the common touch. Arthur Ashe. An extraordinary man who accomplished extraordinary things.”
“I knew him as a man. A man of palpable integrity, a man of unshakable conviction.”
“Arthur Ashe stands alone, set apart from all others, an authentically transcendent figure. Brilliant but genuinely self-effacing; assertive but never judgmental. He embraced global human rights issues and causes with a tenacity never diminished by the illness that ultimately claimed his life.”
-Randall Robinson (founder of TransAfrica)
“Arthur spent his life insuring that young African-Americans could succeed in whichever career they chose. Arthur Ashe accepted the fame that came with his success, but he was great because he also accepted the responsibilities. If there was ever a man who proved civility is not a weakness, he proved that you don’t have to be loud to be strong.”
“It is said that service to others is the rent we pay for space on earth. Arthur Ashe left us with his rent paid in full. Let him not look down and find any of us in arrears.
In this poignant retrospective by Richard Evans he reflects on Althea Gibson's legacy as the first African American to win a Grand Slam title and the significance of this achievement within the context of 1950s race relations in American Society. A critical trailblazer for Arthur Ashe, he acknowledged, “I had a few issues... but Althea had it far worse. She faced discrimination at every turn.” Evans comments on the challenges Gibson faced and the supportive influence of players such as Alice Marble and Angela Buxton. Upon hearing that Althea Gibson was denied entry into the U.S. Championships at Forest Hills despite deserving it on merit, Alice Marble publicly stated, "If tennis is a game of ladies and gentlemen, it is also time we started acting more like gentlepeople and less like sanctimonious hypocrites. If Althea Gibson represents a challenge to the present crop of women players, it is only fair that they should meet that challenge on the courts." Read the full article here.
On this day in 1965 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other religious and lay leaders led the 54 mile “Alabama Freedom March” from Selma to Montgomery, the state capital. The march began following President Lyndon B. Johnson’s authorization of the National Guard of Alabama and additional federal troops to supervise the safety for the marchers.
This was the third attempt to conduct a nonviolent march in protest of the discrimination and intimidation the black population of Selma experienced during its attempt to register black voters. In January of 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) announced a campaign to focus specifically on extending voting rights to the black population in Alabama. This campaign was of particular importance to the residents of Selma, as blacks accounted for more than 50% of its population, but, despite repeated efforts to register to vote, represented only 2% of registered voters at the time.
In February of 1965 during a nonviolent demonstration in Marion, Alabama, state troops joined local police forces to disband demonstrators and a state trooper fatally shot Jimmie Lee Jackson, a 26-year-old church deacon. In response to Jackson’s violent death and discrimination and intimidation of black voters throughout the state, activists set out on the first march from Selma to Montgomery on March 7. They were met with a blockade of state troopers and local law enforcement at Edmund Pettus Bridge, several miles outside of Selma. The confrontation turned violent as troopers attacked the marchers with clubs and tear gas. Many were severely injured as a result, and televised coverage of the incident caused national outrage, coining the event ‘Bloody Sunday.’
In response to this incident, Dr. King and leaders of the SCLC organized a second march from Selma to Montgomery on March 9, but were stopped once again at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and, in light of the violence that occurred several days earlier, decided not to proceed. The first two attempts at this march brought national attention to the cause, including support from President Lyndon B. Johnson.
On March 16 Selma demonstrators submitted a marching plan to Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr. The judge approved the plan and ordered Governor Wallace (an outspoken anti-integrationist) and local law enforcement not to harass, threaten marchers, or otherwise interfere with the March. Subsequently, President Johnson asked that Governor Wallace call to duty the 10,000 available National Guardsmen in Alabma to escort the marchers throughout the march and maintain a peaceful demonstration. Governor Wallace refused to do so. On March 20 President Johnson furiously contacted the National Guard in Alabama and coordinated necessary support for them to execute the mission.
The march lasted five days, as planned, from March 21-25. Some 50,000 marchers joined Dr. King on the road from Selma to Montgomery. The marchers camped overnight in yards of supporters, and were entertained along the way by notables such as Lena Horne and Harry Belafonte. The marchers arrived safely in Montgomery on March 25 and a delegation of leaders attempted to deliver a petition to Governor Wallace, but were unsuccessful.
Nonetheless, the march did achieve its ultimate goal in August of that year, when Congress passed the Voting Rights Act (79 to 18 in the Senate and 328 to 74 in the house), which President Johnson proudly signed into law on August 6, 1965. Among its provisions, the Act gave the executive branch of government direct authority to protect the voting rights of minorities and to keep watch on states that historically were known to discriminate against minority voters.
Forty-eight years later, on June 25, 2013 in the case of Shelby v. Holder the U.S. Supreme Court declared unconstitutional Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, stating that ‘its formula can no longer be used as a basis for subjecting jurisdictions to preclearance.’ Section 4 primarily addresses the question of redistricting to enable some to vote while preventing others from doing the same. Shortly after the ruling, several states under Republican control passed legislation restricting voter eligibility. Many have commented on the implications of this ruling and its polarizing effect in today’s society. Since the ruling last June, Attorney General Eric Holder has decided to take a gamble and make voting rights a hallmark of his tenure by suing states who have passed such legislation in hope of bringing high profile cases to the Supreme Court once again to demonstrate the continued validity of Section 4 and repeal last year’s decision.
For more information on the march from Selma to Montgomery and the Voting Rights Act, please see below.
Earlier this month The School Nutrition Association celebrated National School Breakfast Week, the culmination of its annual campaign to promote school breakfasts and the importance and intersection of nutrition and education for school age children. In honor of this program www.ArthurAshe.org is highlighting federal school nutrition programs such as National School Breakfast Program (NSBP), National School Lunch Program (NSLP), and healthy living programs such as Let’s Move! In this light we will take a look at the historical context and impetus behind these programs and the effects they have on children in our society.
The NSLP is the most widespread and utilized student meal program in the U.S. The existence of the program allows for all children enrolled in school to receive a nutritious lunch every school day. Depending on a child’s household income, the child can purchase a meal through the NSLP at full price or reduced price, or he or she may be eligible to receive school lunch for free. Approximately 95% of public schools participate in the program and during the 2011-2012 school year 29 million children in more than 98,347 schools and residential childcare institutions participated in the NSLP.
The NSBP was founded on a similar premise: the federal government works with participating schools to ensure that children have the option of purchasing (or in some cases receiving one for free) a nutritious breakfast at school. This option was made under the assumption that many children may not eat a nutritious breakfast at home in the morning due to either a long commute to school, or as a result of their family’s inability to afford a healthy one at home or at school. Three out of four schools that serve lunch also serve breakfast. During the 2011-2012 school year, 12.5 million children in 89,666 schools and institutions participated in the School Breakfast Program. Of these children, 10.5 million, or 84%, received free or reduced price breakfasts.
The movement to incorporate federal standards for meals in public schools began in the early 20th century and was formalized through legislation in the mid 20th century as a result of the National School Lunch Act (NSLA) of 1946. This act was the first piece of legislation in which Congress gave the National School Lunch Program ongoing appropriations and alleviated its dependence solely on donation of agricultural surpluses to provide low cost or free school meals to children who may otherwise be at risk for undernourishment. The latter half of Section 2 of the NSLA states the purpose of the act as "… to assist States, through grants-in aid and other means, in providing an adequate supply of food and other facilities for the establishment, maintenance, operation and expansion of nonprofit school lunch programs.” (paraphrased)
Subsequently, the NSLA has been amended several times to meet various goals such as adjustment of funding, grant allocations and emphasis on improving programs in particular states. The Child Nutrition Act of 1966 further supplemented the NSLA and shifted the focus toward the importance of nutritional content of school meals and their link to child learning and development.
Since the passage of the aforementioned legislation numerous studies have been conducted on the different facets of national school meal programs and their impacts (both positive and negative) on child health, learning, and development. For instance, since the 1990s the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has funded studies about “key characteristics of school meal programs, the school environments in which the programs operate, the food and nutrient content of the school meals and, in some studies, the contributions of school meals to the students’ diets." The most recent of these studies, the School Nutrition Dietary Assessments (SNDA) have been conducted a total of four times to date. The SNDA measures the rate at which schools adhere to nutritional standards by using the standards set by the School Meal Initiative (SMI). Below are some points of interest, according to latest study, the SNDA-IV:
· Of the 600 schools studied in the survey, 85% or more of all schools offered NSLP lunches that on average met or exceeded SMI standards for protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron
· A majority of schools offered and served average NSLP lunches that were consistent with the SMI standard for total fat (no more than 30% of total calories from fat) or came within 10% of this standard
· Most schools offered and served School Breakfast Program (SBP) breakfasts that, on average over a typical school week, were consistent with the SMI standards
· Compared with elementary schools nationwide, large proportions of HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) elementary schools met most SMI standards for both lunches offered and served (e.g., with regard to standards for calories, vitamin C, iron, total fat and saturated fat)
One can surmise that First Lady Michelle Obama’s initiative, Let’s Move! works closely with the USDA to analyze SNDA results and evaluate the state of school meal programs across the country and the effect on this generation of American children. The mission of Let’s Move!, as stated on www.letsmove.gov:
“… this initiative is dedicated to solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation, so that children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams. Combining comprehensive strategies with common sense, Let’s Move! is about putting children on the path to a healthy future during their earliest months and years; giving parents helpful information and fostering environments that support healthy choices; providing healthier foods in our schools; ensuring that every family has access to healthy, affordable food; and, helping kids become more physically active.”
In this spirit, in 2010 President Obama signed the Child Nutrition Reauthorization: Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The Act authorized funding for federal school meal and child nutrition programs and increased access to healthy food for low-income children. The bill has a particular focus on improving child nutrition and reducing childhood obesity, increases access to school meals, and improves regularity of monitoring and evaluation of the program to ensure quality and adherence to nutritional standards.
Let’s Move! has a number of initiatives under its umbrella geared toward healthy living for America’s children and families on state, local, and neighborhood levels. Since its inception, the program has successfully collaborated with organizations in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors to promote and adhere to improved nutritional guidelines, produce advertising that encourages children to consume more fruits and vegetables, fund programs that provide opportunities for more physical activity in neighborhoods across the country, and, of course, in 2012, the First Lady, in conjunction with Epicurious, USDA, and the Department of Education, hosted the first-ever Kids’ State Dinner to celebrate healthy lunchtime recipes created by kids.
Since the turn of the century our commitment to a holistic approach to youth education and children’s health has evolved from federal legislation mandating the availability of school lunch for all children to a focus on both nutritional values and content of school meals, and thanks to more recent initiatives, a demonstrated a commitment at the national, state, and local levels to improve children’s well-being and reduce the risk of obesity for generations to come. Time will be a deciding factor in the effectiveness of these programs. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled, and today, nearly one in three children in America are overweight or obese. However, there are some encouraging CDC findings with respect to younger generations, specifically, children ages 2-5. Within this age group obesity has declined 43% in the last 10 years. Additionally, another study focused particularly on low-income 2-4 year old children who participated in federal nutrition programs found a significant decline in obesity rates among this cohort. These findings suggest that the message of healthy eating, moving, and living, in conjunction with availability of the appropriate resources, has come a long way to set healthy habits that will have a positive impact on these children well into their adult lives.
Nonetheless, much remains to be done, particularly for older children and adolescents, as approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years old are obese in the United States, and the numbers are even higher within minority populations and low-income children. Much like a commitment to one’s personal health, we have made a commitment to raise healthy future generations of Americans. Our commitment thus far has made a proven difference. If we can sustain healthy living initiatives for decades to come this will not only help us become a healthier society, but will also demonstrate a positive economic impact: studies have shown that rising rates of obesity directly contribute to rising medical costs. For instance, Ross A. Hammond commented in a 2012 article that childhood obesity alone is responsible for $14.1 billion in direct medical costs annually. In addition, by some estimates, nearly 21% of all current medical spending in the United States is now obesity related. Lastly, a recent analysis concluded that total Medicaid spending would be almost 12% lower in the absence of obesity. Therefore, one can conclude that funding and sustaining programs that focus on healthy living and obesity prevention will have a significant impact on reduction of healthcare costs in the long term. Time will tell if we stay the course, as will the obesity-related expenditures of our healthcare system.
For more resources on this, topic, please visit:
Arthur Ashe Learning Center
Inspired by Arthur Ashe’s proactive life as a conscious leader, humanitarian, educator and athlete, the Arthur Ashe Learning Center promotes his legacy to educate and motivate —with an emphasis toward inspiring youth. By vividly focusing upon the areas of education, health and wellness, citizenship and self-reliance, the AALC fosters empowerment and leadership in the individual and the community, elevating