time exposed photo of headlights in urban center

Black History Month 2019

February is Black History Month—a time when the world pays tribute to the many contributions of African Americans and recognizes the adversities faced throughout the history of the African American diaspora.  Cambridge College is proud to share the stories of inspiring African American leaders throughout the month of February below.

Henry Hampton
Henry Hampton

Henry Hampton was an American film maker, journalist, and Cambridge College Trustee known for his work documenting the Civil Rights Movement and the African American experience throughout the second half of the twentieth century.  In 1968, Henry established Blackside, Inc., one of the largest African American run production companies in the United States.  Through Blackside, Inc., Henry produced Eyes on the Prize: American’s Civil Right Years 1954-1965, a 14-part documentary chronicling the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.  Eyes on the Prize is often hailed as one of the most comprehensive and impactful documentaries on the Civil Rights Movement, and was commended by the Boston Globe as, “one of the most distinguished documentary series in the history of broadcasting.”

Henry was an Academy Award nominee and the recipient of seven Emmy Awards as well as multiple other broadcasting recognitions.  As a Cambridge College Trustee, Henry was instrumental in helping to bolster the college’s mission and dedication to the advocacy of social justice.

 

Ayanna Pressley
Ayanna Pressley

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley is a newly elected member of the United States House of Representatives from Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District. On November 3rd, 2009, she was the first black woman elected to the Boston City Council and is now the first to be elected to Congress from Massachusetts. She worked as an aide to Representative Joseph Kennedy at the beginning of her career, and eventually served as Senator John Kerry’s political director. As an at-large representative on the Boston City Counsel, she created and chaired the Committee on Healthy Women, Families and Communities which focuses on the reduction and prevention of violence, stabilizing families and solving problems that impact women and girls. She now serves on U.S. House Committees on Financial Services and Oversight and Government Reform.

Some of her many awards and recognitions include the EMIILY’s List Rising Star Award in 2015 and was named one of Boston Magazine’s ower Players. In 2014, Pressley was named to Boston Magazine’s Power of Ideas list, was a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Ten Outstanding Young Leaders honoree, and earned the Victim Rights Law Center's Leadership Award. Congresswoman Pressley is a friend and supporter of Cambridge College, and spoke at the grand opening of our Boston campus in October 2017. Her dedication to improving equality and quality of life for the city of Boston makes Pressley one of the most valued members of our community.

Mel King
Mel King

Mel King is a distinguished educator, politician and community organizer that spent countless years improving the city of Boston. After beginning his career as a teacher in the Boston Public School District, he served as director at several non-profit organizations focused on low-income youth. In 1967, King became the Director of the New Urban League of Greater Boston, which assisted the unemployed with job training and improved public education and human services in the area. Years later he was elected to the Massachusetts State Legislature serving as Representative from the 9th Suffolk District. In addition to writing several well-received books regarding the black community in Boston, he served as an adjunct professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he created the Community Fellows Program (CFP) in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. Upon his retirement from MIT, he founded the South End Technology Center at Tent City, which provides computer training for low-income individuals, which he still directs at 90 years old. Community development leaders created the Mel King Institute for Community Building in 2009 to honor King for his dedication to the city of Boston and to continue his meaningful work. Mel is a friend of Cambridge College and served as a panelist for a 2015 Black History Month event titled "Boston's Black Education Movement and the People Who Led It." Mel King is one of Boston’s greatest African American leaders and his legacy will leave a forever lasting impact on the city.

Serena Williams
Serena Williams

Serena Williams is the one of the most accomplished and winningest athletes in not only tennis, but in the history of modern sports. The right-hander turned pro in 1995 and is still highly ranked on the World Tennis Association rankings at the age of 37. Williams holds the most Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles combined among active players. She has reached number one in singles by the Women’s Professional Tennis Association on eight separate occasions. She shares the women’s tennis Olympics gold medal record with her sister Venus, which includes one singles gold and three doubles golds.

Williams also created The Serena Williams Foundation which funded the Serena Williams secondary school in Jamaica and also donates money for scholarships for underprivileged youth. She is actively involved with several other charities focusing on education, justice, poverty, domestic abuse and health. Williams is an inspiration to not only African American girls across the nation, but to all athletes that strive to be the best.

John Barros
John Barros

Since 2014, John Barros has served as Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s Chief of Economic Development in which he heads the Boston Redevelopment authority. He was named fifteenth on Boston Magazine’s “Top 100 Influential People in Boston” rankings and the highest ranked African American on the list. He has been dedicated to making Boston’s rapid growth as a city affordable and inclusive through housing initiatives and job creation. For over thirteen years, he served as Executive Director of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI), the largest urban community land trust in the country. He also works with both national and foreign companies and investors to create more jobs and heighten tourism in the city.

Mr. Barros has served as a member of the Boston School Committee, the Aspen Institute’s Roundtable on Community Change, and Co-Chairperson of the Center for Community Builders. John is a member of the 2005 Fellows class in the South African-United States Center for Leadership and Public Values, and in 2007 was named a Barr Foundation Fellow. Barros is a lifelong Bostonian who has bettered Roxbury and the city of Boston as a whole, and will continue to do good as he continues his work for the local government.

For more information on Black History Month, as well as a collection of resources and events, please visit africanamericanhistorymonth.gov.

 

Check back each week for more inspiring stories