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Common Core a ‘Crystal Stair’ for a Memphis school

studentsstudymothersson 600In the last school day before Mother's Day, 8-year-old Frankie Munthe was eager to share his interpretation of "Mother to Son" with his classmates. He explained that it's about "roadblocks," referring to the poem's first line: "Well, son, I'll tell you. Life for me ain't been no crystal stair. It's had tacks in it, And splinters, And boards torn up, And places with no carpet on the floor – Bare."

Written in 1922 by Langston Hughes during the Harlem Renaissance and now regarded as a classic work, the poem is commonly taught in schools, but students may not encounter it until after junior high or even college. However, the introduction of Common Core State Standards in Tennessee has afforded even elementary school teachers the flexibility to use curriculum in ways that foster critical thinking skills and require students to explain and defend their observations.

"I find that they can feel and identify with that poem," Graham Farnsworth, Frankie's teacher, said of his second-grade class, "and things that are higher level. Did they hit that poem like they would in a college class? No. But did they get things out of it? I can still teach the standards but also get them to learn a little bit of something about their history and our history as Americans."

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What Donald Sterling got right about African Americans

James Braxton_Peterson_600In life, much like in the NBA, playing a reactionary defense can often result in overplaying your position and ultimately losing the game itself.

As we continue to wonder at the media train wreck that Donald Sterling's life has become, too many will lose sight of the possibility that some truth may be buried in the morass of his most recent comments and his direct attack on Magic Johnson.

To be clear, Donald Sterling is, by multiple definitions, a racist.

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Building muscle to fight ‘the disease of aging’

strenght training_600If you want good health, a long life and to feel your best well into old age, the No. 1 most important thing you can do is strength-training, says Dr. Brett Osborn, author of "Get Serious, A Neurosurgeon's Guide to Optimal Health and Fitness."

"Our ability to fight off disease resides in our muscles," Osborn says. "The greatest thing you can do for your body is to build muscle."

He cites a large, long-term study of nearly 9,000 men ages 20 to 80. After nearly 19 years, the men still living were those with the most muscular strength. (BMJ, formerly British Medical Journal, 2008).

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Insufficient Vitamin D linked to prostate cancer in African Americans

prostatestudy 600The relationship between melanin and vitamin D – the nutrient that sunlight provides – may explain why African American, Caribbean, and men of African ancestry have the highest rates of prostate cancer than anyone in the world, according to a new study.

The study by a team of researchers at Northwestern University, which appears in this month's issue of Clinical Cancer Research, finds that vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased risk of diagnosis among black men – but not among white men.

"Our report is the first to describe the association of vitamin D deficiency and outcomes of prostate biopsies in high-risk men with an abnormal (blood test or clinical exam)," the study states. "If vitamin D is involved in prostate cancer initiation or progression, it would provide a modifiable risk factor for primary prevention and secondary prevention to limit progression, especially in the highest risk group of African-American men."


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Toyota’s James Colon nets top honor from Grambling State University

toyotacolon 600Grambling State University has awarded James Colon, vice president of African American Business Strategy at Toyota Motor Sales, Inc., an honorary doctorate degree – the most prestigious degree the historically black university offers.

Colon netted the honor at the 2014 Spring Commencement ceremony (May 9th). Grambling recognized Colon for his commitment to diversity in the automobile industry and long-term support of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and the academic achievement of young African Americans.

At Toyota, Colon is responsible for engaging Hispanic and African-American businesses and media, and optimizing relationships with important external Hispanic and African American groups. Under his leadership, the automaker implemented the Toyota Green Initiative designed to educate and encourage students on HBCUs to live environmentally conscious lifestyles. Nearly 5,000 people have made the Promise Pledge to live green, and 28 HBCUs have participated in the Green Campus Contest.

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