(TALLADEGA, AL) – The recent Coronation of Miss Talladega College 2020-2021 Patria Gatson was unlike any of the college’s previous coronations.

“COVID-19 has forced colleges to find creative ways to maintain their cherished traditions. Our Miss Talladega College 2020-2021 Coronations was held outdoors, and our queen arrived in a horse-drawn carriage wearing a face shield,” said Dr. Billy C. Hawkins, Talladega College President. “Many people thought the outdoor event was among our most beautiful coronations ever and said the horse-drawn carriage added an extra-special touch. Some suggested that we hold future coronations ceremonies outside. In the midst of the pandemic, measure initially taken as health and safety precautions may actually inspire many colleges to form new traditions.”

Mr. Anthony Jones, who served as the Miss Talladega College advisor for over 20 years, added, “In our many decades of holding the Miss Talladega College coronation, the event was never outdoors and our queen has never arrived on a horse-drawn carriage.”

While the weather in the small Alabama town was pleasant enough for the November gathering, taking a traditionally indoor event outside presented a variety of unexpected challenges. Had he not set up early, Jones believe the event might have been a disaster.

“The wind kept blowing up the backdrop. We had to pin it down and find bricks to hold it in place. We also had to carefully select and secure the greenery to make sure nothing blew away,” said Jones.

The greatest challenge for Jones was figuring out how to make the event, which traditionally runs 1 1/2 hours and attracts throngs of students and alumni, into an elegant 30-minute affair with socially distanced chairs and relatively few attendees. Dr. Hawkins applauded Mr. Jones’s for accomplishing this mission and making the event special for Miss Talladega and her Royal Court.

“Miss Talladega College, Patria Gatson, is an exceptional scholar and an outstanding campus leader. She and members of her royal court deserved their special day. While I made the difficult decision to cancel Homecoming and many other significant events due to the pandemic, I am pleased that Mr. Jones used his creativity to help us safely maintain – and enhance – our coronation tradition.”

Patria was crowned by Dr. Hawkins, Miss Talladega College 2019-2020 De’Jha Billingsley and Mr. Talladega College 2019-2020 Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba Ndiaye. Members of the the Royal Court included Miss Senior Jordan Dubose, Gentleman in Waiting Robert Walker, Miss Junior Ayala Seaborn, Mr. Junior Kobe Dickerson, Miss Sophmore Chaniaya McKenzie, Mr. Sophomore Trayon Miller, Miss Freshman Christian Mckinney, and Mr. Freshman Ulises Rivera Jr. Miss Talladega College 1994-1995 Terri A. Harvill delivered the invocation, and Talladega College Show Stopping Crimssonettes dancers Yvonne Hamilton and Ranisha Morris performed.


About Talladega College
The oldest private Historically Black College in Alabama, Talladega College was founded in 1867 by two former slaves, William Savery and Thomas Tarrant. Talladega College is the home of the renowned Hall Woodruff Amistad Murals, which received rare reviews from the New York Times during a three year, eight-city tour. For more information, visit www.talladega.edu.

RALEIGH, NC – The Saint Augustine’s University (SAU) Board of Trustees has announced the passing of the 12th President, Dr. Irving Pressley McPhail. President McPhail began his tenure on July 15, 2020. In the short time he was the University’s Chief Executive Officer, he made a memorable and positive impact in moving the University in the direction of being a “Learning Centered” campus.

Although the University has not immediately released details of his death, many sources, including ABC 11, has confirmed that McPhail was hospitalized over the weekend with COVID-19. It has been stated that the President tested positive for the virus more than a week before he was admitted to the hospital. He died from complications related to the virus.

Prior to becoming president at SAU, Dr. McPhail was previously the sixth president and CEO at the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc. (NACAME), founding chancellor at the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC), president at St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley, and president at LeMoyne-Owen College. He also served as university provost and dean of academic affairs at Delaware State University, and chief operating officer at the Baltimore City Public Schools.

The University plans to keep all stakeholders informed of the details of public events and university memorial arrangements to honor the life and legacy of President McPhail. These detail will be published on the University’s website.

The Board of Trustees will be working internally to determine its next steps and the future direction of the University. Previous Interim President, Dr. Maria A. Lumpin, will return to serve, effective immediately.

The HBCU Campaign Fund organization mourns the loss of President McPhail and extends its deepest condolences and prayers to his wife, Dr. Christine McPhail; his children Dr. Kamilah McKissick and Mr. Ralph Bessard; other family and friends.

MEMPHIS, TN – The 31st Southern Heritage Classic (SHC) has announced its cancellation of events due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The decision to cancel all events was made after SHC’s management reviewed a copy of the Shelby County Health Department’s Health Directive No. 6 detailing emergency management relief efforts put in place to address COVID-19, specifically those regarding recreational or athletic activities. On average, over 75,000 people attend the SHC annually and individual events such as the tailgate in Tiger Lane, the football game between Jackson State University and Tennessee State University, the parade in Orange Mound, and others draw massive crowds which have the potential to increase the spread of the novel coronavirus. After careful consideration, all Southern Heritage Classic events that were scheduled for September 10-12, 2020 will no longer be held. Those who have purchased tickets for the football game can receive refunds at the point of purchase.

“I know this is a great disappointment to many who consider the SHC as one of the major highlights of the year. The health and safety of our attendees along with that of our staff, sponsors, and others is a top priority. I encourage everyone to keep practicing recommended safety and social distancing measures so that we can return to our social activities as soon as possible,” said Fred Jones, Founder of the Southern Heritage Classic.

SHC is grateful for Jackson State University, Tennessee State University, the fans, sponsors, and the SHC ambassadors, who have supported the classic throughout the years, and looks forward to your continued support. This isn’t the first challenge faced by SHC, and will overcome this one as have the others.

For more information, contact the Southern Heritage Classic Headquarters at 901-398-6655, 1-800-332-1991, or smc@smcentertainment.net.


CHICAGO, IL – Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot named Chicago State University President Zaldwaynaka Scott, Esq. to the COVID-19 Recovery Task Force for the City of Chicago. The committee held its first meeting last week virtually, co-chaired by Mayor Lightfoot and Sam Skinner, former White House Chief of Staff.

The COVID-19 Recovery Task Force is comprised of five core committees led by industry experts and government leaders, with recommendations developed out of the Policy & Economic Stimulus Committee, the Mental & Emotional Health Committee, and the Marketing & Business Development Committee. President Zaldwaynaka Scott, Esq. joined the Task Force as a member of the Mental & Emotional Health Committee.

“I am honored to join the Task Force,” said President Scott. “COVID-19 is severely impacting the health and economic well-being of Chicago’s black and brown communities. An equitable recovery will not occur without a laser focus on the communities hardest hit. Chicago State University, located on Chicago’s South Side, is Illinois’ only four-year Predominately Black Institution. As President of Chicago State, I and the University are fully committed to the Mayor’s vision.”

The Mental & Emotional Health Committee is focused on ensuring the health and well-being of Chicagoans are supported holistically during COVID-19, as residents experience grief due to the loss of loved ones and stress and anxiety due to unemployment and uncertainty about the future.

There is also a Regional Coordination Committee to ensure alignment across neighboring governing bodies, as well as a Committee titled Change Study that is analyzing the economic and social impacts of COVID-19 on Chicago.

The Task Force will meet weekly for up to eight weeks to create recommendations for a strong recovery from COVID-19 in the City of Chicago. For more information on the COVID-19 Task Force, visit here.


During this uncertain time, every gift makes a difference. #GivingTuesdayNow is an additional way you can extend a helping hand in making a difference in the lives of those who are financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is Giving Tuesday Now?

#GivingTuesdayNow (May 5) is a global day of unity in response to the unprecedented need cause by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

What should you give to HCF during this critical time?

  1. Students’ are negatively impacted by the crisis and are at risk of not being able to continue their educational efforts due to financial need.
  2. Our HBCUs are at risk and negatively impacted by the sudden transition to eliminating face-to-face instruction and moving to online instruction.
  3. The lack of technology for students and HBCUs, for their students’ ability to ensure online classroom connectivity is successful. Such as providing laptop ability.
  4. The cost of managing online classes for smaller HBCUs. This will negatively impact the operational budgets for the forthcoming academic year.
  5. Help support HBCUs who may face revenue loss from several sources due to the elimination of face-to-face instruction.
  6. To ensure that HCF continues to have the resources to do its essential work of supporting students and HBCUs during this global crisis.

What Can You Do to Help?

Donate today by visiting www.hbcucampaignfund.org/donate, and share the donation on social media using #GivingTuesdayNow.

Donate via Mobile Cash App using cash tag $CampaignForHBCUs.

Share the word about our mission and follow #HBCUCampaignFund on Facebook, Twitter @hbcucampaign, and on Instagram.

WASHINGTON – On May 4, 2020, at 1 p.m. (ET), FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks will virtually host the HBCU Presidents’ Roundtable: The State of Connectivity in the Age of the COVID-19 Pandemic to discuss the connectivity needs of students, faculty, and staff at Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCUs) during this unprecedented crisis. As millions of people conduct their daily activities from their respective homes, the need to remain connected has become more important than ever. In order to facilitate distance learning, HBCUs across the country have found creative solutions to address broadband connectivity for their students and employees who live in rural areas, urban communities, and suburban towns.

HBCUs play a critical role in our nation, and these institutions must have the tools necessary to continue their leadership in education and service. This event will feature special remarks from U.S. Representative Alma Adams (NC-12) & U.S. Representative G.K. Butterfield (NC-01) and convent Presidents and leadership from HBCUs across the nation. This panel discussion will be moderated by David Johns, Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition and former Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. This hour-long event will be livestreamed at www.fcc.gov/live.

Confirmed Panelists:

  • Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston, President of Norfolk State University
  • Dr. M. Christopher Brown II, President of Kentucky State University
  • Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick, President of Howard University
  • Dr. George T. French, Jr. – President of Clark Atlanta University
  • Dr. Larry Robinson – President of Florida A&M University
  • Dr. Quinton T. Ross, Jr. – President of Alabama State University
  • Mr. Tom Jackson – Vice Chancellor for Information Technology/Chief Information Officer of North Carolina A&T State University
  • Dr. Adebisi Oladipupo -Vice President for Information Technology of Morgan State University

Advance registration is not required. Audio/video coverage of the meeting will be broadcast live with open captioning over the internet from the FCC’s web page at www.fcc.gov/live. The FCC’s website is free to the public.

For additional information about the roundtable, please contact Alisa Valentin in the Office of Commissioner Geoffrey Starks (202) 418-2500 or Alisa.Valentin@fcc.gov.


INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Indiana Black Expo (IBE) has canceled its Summer Celebration, which would have marked the event’s 50th anniversary, as well as its Circle City Classic football game, due to the coronavirus pandemic, organization announced on Thursday in a press release.

“Over the last 30 days, IBE’s leadership has been monitoring the impact of COVID-19 across the country and within our city and state. We have abreast of information and data provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) and Marion County Health Department (MCHD).

Advancing our mission – being a voice and vehicle for the social and economic advancement of the African-American community over the last 50 years – includes our responsibility to protect the health and safety of those who attend our traditional community engagement programs and events. Under the current pandemic circumstances and with the concurrence of our Board of Directors, we are cancelling all IBE events that invite physical public gatherings in 2020.

More specifically, this will include:

  • Summer Celebration events involving public gatherings in July including the Free Concert, Exhibition Hall, 50th Anniversary Gala and All White Affair; and
  • Circle City Classic events involving public gatherings in late September.

While the current opinions of the health experts are that the virus is expected to peak in Indiana (as well as other states) by early May, followed by an anticipated trend of decreasing pandemic-related hospitalization and deaths, there are other troubling health risk factors that must be considered as well. Despite the encouraging forecasts, we find ourselves no closer to a vaccine, we continue to be challenged by insufficient testing nationwide, and there are still many unknowns about the virus.

Even more alarming is the impact of COVID-19 within the African American population nationwide. We are suffering disproportionately.”

All public events, including free concerts, luncheons, 50th Anniversary Gala, and the Circle City Classic football game, college fair, and parade are cancelled. Business and education conferences will continue virtually.

The Circle City Classic football game which brings a huge gathering is played between two historically black colleges and universities, as well as provides a college fair the day of the game.

Information about refunds for purchased tickets can be found on the Summer Celebration website.

About Indiana Black Expo

IBE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, has been a pillar of the African American community for decades. As a year-round, multifaceted community service organization with 12 chapters, IBE works to create and advance opportunities for families in central Indiana. For more information, visit www.indianablackexpo.com.