Gov. Evers Signs Executive Order #59 Relating to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in State Government

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers signed Executive Order #59 relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion in state government. Executive Order #59, among other things, requires state agencies to develop and implement equity and inclusion action plans, directs the Wisconsin Department of Administration to develop and provide mandatory equity and inclusion training for all state agency employees, and creates the Governor’s Advisory Council on Equity and Inclusion. 

“Ensuring our state workforce not only reflects the folks we serve, but implements culturally responsive and equitable policies, is critical for our state government to be effective,” Gov. Evers said in a prepared statement on Nov. 12. “I look forward to the progress of the advisory council and these state agencies as we work together to build more inclusive work environments that empower folks of diverse backgrounds to thrive in their workplaces.”

Journalist Gwen Ifill to Be Memorialized with USPS Forever Stamp

The United States Postal Service has unveiled several new Forever stamps that will be issued in 2020. Among the stamp-sized works of art is a portrait of late PBS journalist Gwen Ifill. 

Ifill’s stamp will be a part of USPS’ Black Heritage series. The esteemed journalist died in 2016 following a battle with cancer. She was 61. Throughout her career, Ifill moderated vice-presidential debates and worked for 17 years as a moderator on PBS “NewsHour.” She was also managing editor of “Washington Week.”

A 2008 photo of Ifill taken by photographer Robert Severi is now set to appear on a Forever stamp. “Among the first African Americans to hold prominent positions in both broadcast and print journalism, Ifill was a trailblazer in the profession,” according to USPS. The Postal Service has been celebrating people, events and cultural milestones on these special stamps since 1847.

Princeton Theological Seminary approves $27 Million in Reparations

Princeton Theological Seminary, a private school of theology in New Jersey, has promised to spend $27.6 million on scholarships and other educational initiatives to address its historical ties to slavery.

According to a press release, “Princeton Theological Seminary Board of Trustees unanimously endorsed the implementation of a multi-year action plan to repent for its ties to slavery. The approved series of new initiatives, ranging from increased student financial assistance to curriculum changes to added support for the Center for Black Church Studies, is a direct response to a report the Seminary published in October 2018 after conducting a two-year historical audit.

As reported in a study by the seminary, “when Princeton Theological Seminary was founded in 1812, it was part of a national culture and a local community that was deeply entangled in slavery. The faculty and students at Princeton Seminary in its early years through the Civil War would have encountered slavery as a familiar aspect of life. It was part of the context of their theological studies in this place.”

Film About 8-Year-Old Chess Prodigy Who Overcame Homelessness to be Produced by Trevor Noah

The inspiring story of a young chess prodigy whose family overcame homelessness is coming to the big screen. According to Deadline, Trevor Noah will produce a film about 8-year-old Tani Adewumi; a New York-based chess champion who has defied the odds. The film will be based on three books about the family that will be released under the W Publishing group in 2020.

Adewumi garnered national attention earlier this year after becoming the New York State chess champion for his age division. Under the guidance of his school’s chess coach Shawn Martinez, he learned how to play chess within a year and began participating in competitive matches. He went on to win the New York State Chess Championship title for the kindergarten through third-grade division. While in the spotlight for excelling at chess, a focus was put on Adewumi and his family’s living situation.

His family fled from Africa to the U.S. to escape the Boko Haram extremist group two years ago and had been living in a homeless shelter. After their story received national attention, a GoFundMe page was created to help his family afford a permanent home.

He’s the First African American to Receive a Face Transplant. His Story Could Change Health Care

Time Magazine writes: Robert Chelsea turned down the first face he was offered. It was a fine face, one that could have taken him off the transplant waiting list after just a couple months. But Chelsea —severely disfigured after a catastrophic car accident five years earlier — was in no hurry. He’d gotten used to tilting his head back so food and water wouldn’t fall out of his nearly lipless mouth. He knew how to respond compassionately to children who stared in shock and fear. The face, offered in May 2018, had belonged to a man with skin that was much fairer than what remained of Chelsea’s — so light that Chelsea, who is African American, couldn’t bear the thought of becoming “a totally different looking person.”

Chelsea’s doctors understood his hesitance. Face transplants in general are rare. Since the first partial one was performed in France in 2005, fewer than 50 have been completed worldwide. A new patient joining the ranks is always noteworthy, but Chelsea’s case carries even more weight than usual. Because he is the first African American to receive a full-face transplant, Chelsea’s treatment is expected to have ripple effects that transcend his case. Disparities in the medical system that cause Black Americans to die at higher rates than whites of so many things — like heart disease, cancer diabetes and HIV/AIDS—have also produced gaps in organ donation and transplantation. Widespread mistrust of the medical system has made many African Americans wary of tissue donation, contributing to donor shortages; in turn, only 17% of Black patients awaiting an organ transplant got one in 2015, compared with about 30% of white patients.

School Board to Consider Renaming Glendale Elementary School to Honor of Dr. Virginia Henderson

The Board of Education has received a proposal to rename Glendale Elementary School in recognition of Dr. Virginia Henderson.

Henderson, who passed away earlier this year, was a school psychologist at Glendale Elementary from 1976 to 1991, when she moved to Central Office to serve as the Special Assistant to the Superintendent for Equity and Diversity. During this time, Henderson also created the African American Ethnic Academy to recognize the capacity for excellence in African American children, build their self-esteem and increase their educational opportunities.   

Henderson retired in 1997 but remained a diversity consultant with the school district working to eliminate racial disparities. She dedicated her work to all children but she had a high commitment to students of color and students with special needs.