Photo of the Provost Guard of the 107th Colored Infantry, Fort Corcoran, Washington D.C., 1863 courtesy of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

#HappyMemorialDay 🇺🇸 from #BrooklynGirlCode! 🖤

Photo of the Provost Guard of the 107th Colored Infantry, Fort Corcoran, Washington D.C., 1863 courtesy of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Photo of the Provost Guard of the 107th Colored Infantry, Fort Corcoran, Washington D.C., 1863 courtesy of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Another Memorial Day is upon us! And with all the events going on in the world, it’s hard to take a moment to relax and reflect on what Memorial Day really means to us as American citizens. For some, it’s (paid) time off of work and a well deserved break. For others, it’s all about the family gatherings and cookouts and celebrating another season of summer. All of these traditions are well accepted. However, many might not know that the origin of Memorial Day actually started in Charleston, S.C. (a place where most of my family is from) in the 1800’s and the holiday began to commemorate 200+ Union soldiers that died due to the result of poor conditions at the Confederate Prison Camps in Charleston during the Civil War. The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture posted a great photo on Instagram of a group of African-American soldiers from the war to educate readers on the origin of Memorial Day. NMAAHC stated in their caption:

“Today is the day that our nation takes pause to celebrate the service and sacrifice of our military heroes that gave their lives to secure our freedoms. The earliest commemoration of what would later become Memorial Day, was organized in a former Confederate Prison Camp in Charleston, S.C. on May 1, 1865. The celebration was established by over 1,000 newly freed African Americans, in addition to U.S. Colored Troops regiments and a small group of white Charlestonians. This group came together to honor the 257 Union soldiers that died as a result of the poor conditions of the Confederate Prison Camp during the war. They removed the soldiers from a mass grave that the Confederates made and created proper burial grounds for Union soldiers. Together they sang hymns, set flowers, and gave readings in honor of the soldiers’ sacrifice. #MemorialDay #MilitaryAppreciationMonth #APeoplesJourney #ANationsStory”

Author Sewell Chan also wrote a great piece for the New York Times titled The Unofficial History of Memorial Day. In the article, Chan gets more in depth about the holiday. A great article to check out when you get a free moment from stuffing your face with cheeseburgers. Salute to all of the soldiers who lost their lives fighting to keep us free so that we can all have the opportunity to celebrate these holidays in peace! -xoxo #BrooklynGirlCode ❤

The Unofficial History of Memorial Day via The New York Times

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President Obama on the White House lawn watching Olympian Fencer Tim Morehouse and U.S. National Team Fencer Daria Schneider fence. Photo courtesy of AP

#TheAudacityOfHope: Obama’s Best White House Photos

The votes are all in and it’s official! Our beloved President Barack Obama is on his way out of the White House and Donald Trump is on his way in! *Takes 5 minute break to digest what I just typed.* Still, with that being said, nothing can take away from the two great terms that President Barack Obama gave us as the 44th President of the United States of America. He was a President of many firsts. Including the first to visit the island of Cuba since President Calvin Coolidge in 1928. President Obama also became the first president to visit a federal prison in 2015, the first time for any sitting president in the history of the United States. So, in honor of Obama exiting, I’ve compiled a list of some of his best photos taken by Chief Official White House photographer Pete Souza over the last eight years via his awesome and eloquent Instagram account. So, no tears today, please! Because life will most definitely go on! Just sit back and check out the awesome photos below and remember all the good times that we had while Obama was here!

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Only right that President Obama and former President Abraham Lincoln meet face-to-face.
President Obama on the White House lawn watching Olympian Fencer Tim Morehouse and U.S. National Team Fencer Daria Schneider fence. Photo courtesy of AP
President Obama on The White House lawn watching Olympian Fencer Tim Morehouse and U.S. National Team Fencer Daria Schneider fence. Photo courtesy of Associated Press.

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President Obama became the first sitting president in the history of the United States to visit inmates at a federal prison in 2015. Photo via okwassap.com.

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Because we all need a beer break sometimes, right?
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And a coconut water break, too!

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2016 Olympic Fencer and my friend, Ibtihaj Muhammad with President Barack Obama at the White House.
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Syrian Refugee Olympian, Yusra Mardini poses with Barack Obama photo via NBC Sports.

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Temple Univerity, North Philly, Mass Gentrification, Temple University Police

The Side Effects of #MassGentrification in #NorthPhilly and #AnyTown, U.S.A.

This past Friday on October 21st, 2016 at approximately 8:30pm EST about 150 teens gathered on Temple University‘s North Philadelphia campus in front of the Pearl Theatre. The teens allegedly gathered after being called together via a social media post. Once the kids who were said to be between the ages of 14-17 years old congregated, they began attacking Temple University students, parents, police officers and even punched one officer’s horse in the head twice. In what seemed to be a well-organized revolt against Temple University Police. By the time the attack was over, there were only about four arrests made.

Why did the kids of this North Philadelphia neighborhood decide to come together and go on this crazy rampage? The only thing I could think of is mass gentrification. I myself am a graduate of Temple University (School of Journalism, Public Relations and Advertising ’04) and prior to graduating, the extreme renovation of Temple University’s North Philly campus was in its early stages.

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A crowd of kids gathered on Temple University’s North Philly campus on 10.21.16 and went on a violent rampage. Image via The Washington Post.

Now when I return to Temple’s campus once or twice a year to help out my college Fencing coach and Temple University icon, Dr. Nikki Franke with some of her various competitions (which I myself once competed in), I can see the plan that the university had to take over the entire North Philly area finally coming into fruition. It’s obvious. But, what about the the families who have lived for decades on these blocks and in these buildings that Temple has been taking over at such a rapid pace? What about the people being pushed out of their homes so Temple can build new buildings and facilities and hire other employees who more than likely aren’t even from the neighborhood and have no connection to the neighborhood whatsoever? You’re going to have a lot of angry folks and this time around it was the kids of North Philly saying “Look, we’ve had enough!” Mass gentrification is taking place all over America right now and the truth of the matter is we’re going to see more of these type of events happening due to a whole bunch of people (kids included) being fed up.

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Photo via @az_duz_it‘s Instagram and The Washington Post

When I was a student at Temple University, I tutored at a program organized by the university called “Temple Tutors.” Temple University students currently enrolled at the school would go to the various schools in the area and tutor students during and after school hours. I was pretty disgusted everyday I walked into the schools I was tutoring at when I saw how decrepit the school supplies that the students had to use were. Some of the school text books were hanging from the bind, literally. So, this made me think that maybe there are positive effects of mass gentrification, as well? When better schools are being built with better resources this is a good thing. However, there has to be some type of common ground between the people responsible for the renovating and the people who live in the neighborhoods being renovated or else these types of events will continue to take place.

I hope all the families, police officers, students, etc. who were affected by this unexpected revolt are doing well. Sometimes events like this have to occur to make things better. Either way, I will always represent my alma mater to the fullest. “][“U baby!!!