Black Female Cadets Make History At West Point Graduation
34 black female cadets from West Point's Class of 2019 pose at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York.
Cadet Hallie H. Pound/U.S. Army via AP

Black Women Cadets Make History At West Point Graduation

Yes, #BlackGirlMagic.

A record number of black female cadets are set to graduate from West Point (The United States Military Academy). After completing four years of education and "testing their limits," 34 black women will be walking across the stage at the 2019 commencement ceremony for the first time in the school's 217-year history.

Earlier this month, the black female cadets came together for a pre-graduation group photo. Little did they know, the photos of them in traditional Old Corps uniforms with ceremonial sabers would make their rounds on social media.

“My hope when young Black girls see these photos is that they understand that regardless of what life presents you, you have the ability an fortitude to be a force to be reckoned with,” shared one of the cadets, Tiffany Welch-Baker, in an interview with Because Of Them We Can.

Although West Point admitted its first black cadet until 1870, the academy didn’t graduate its first black cadet until the Reconstruction in 1877. In 1979, Vincent K. Brooks was made the first black captain of the Corps of Cadets. In 2017, Simone Askew became the first Black woman to lead the Corps of Cadets.

Senior cadet Stephanie Riley told Associated Press in another interview: “I just showed myself and those who thought I couldn’t do it initially that yes, I can. And not just, ‘Yes, I can.’ I can show other little girls that yes, you can come to West Point. Yes, you can do something that maybe the rest of your peers aren’t actually doing. And yes, you can be different from the rest of the group.”

The class of 2019 includes a total of 223 women, another milestone since the first female cadets' graduation in 1980. The total number of graduation African Americans doubled to 110, while the number of graduating Latinos became the largest, 88, in the academy's history. West Point also appointed Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams as its first black superintendent in July 2018.

Not only will West Point be graduating its 5,000th female cadet, but it will also have its highest number of female Hispanic graduates, 19. The commencement ceremony is set for Saturday, May 25, with Vice President Mike Pence delivering the commencement speech.

Congratulations to the black ladies of West Point's graduating Class of 2019!

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Billionaire Robert F. Smith Will Also Cover Parents’ Loans In Morehouse College-Debt Plan

In May 2019, Morehouse College’s graduating class of 2019 not only received the gift of their degrees, but also a unique opportunity to enter society debt-free. During his commencement speech, billionaire and owner of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, Robert F. Smith announced his pledge to cover each student’s loans, and now their parents will be able to get in on the life-changing gesture.

According to Bloomberg, Smith will pay off the federal loans taken by the students’ parents, adding to a $34 million tab. Private student loans gifted by the college, and federal and state loans will be covered under Smith’s plan.

Morehouse's president, David Thomas, said this action will hopefully inspire the recipients to follow in Smith's footsteps. “It is our hope that our graduates will use their newfound financial freedom to pursue their career goals, to lead and serve the community, and to remember the spirit of the gift given to them by paying it forward to support the education of future classes of Morehouse Men.” The HBCU aims for the plan of action to be completed by 2020.

For Smith, with a reported net worth of $6 billion, his vision through this program aims to inspire other colleges and universities to take a charge against this country's student debt crisis and “to receive gifts from alumni and other supporters that can offset the burden of student loans and give students the freedom to pursue their dreams, the capital to invest in the economic growth of their families and the time that they can give back meaningfully to strengthening their communities.”

According to Forbes, U.S. federal student loan debt has totaled over $1.5 trillion.

Wow! Billionaire Robert F. Smith surprises Morehouse graduates by announcing his family will eliminate the student debt of the entire class of 2019 with a grant. #PayItForward #HBCU pic.twitter.com/lbZmttSsB6

— Tomthunkit™ (@TomthunkitsMind) June 10, 2019

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DMX Reportedly Signs New Deal With Def Jam

DMX has signed a new deal with Def Jam Records, bringing him back to the label that distributed his early albums and classic singles. According to AllHip-Hop, X re-linked with the record label over the summer and is set to drop a Christmas album, DMX-Mas, either later this year, or in 2020.

X dropped his quadruple platinum debut album, It’s Dark And Hell is Hot, via Def Jam/Ruff Ryders Records in 1998. He went on to release four more album under the label including, his triple platinum sophomore LP, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, followed by ..And Then There Was X, the latter of which became his most successful studio album selling five million copies in the U.S. alone.

X, whose birth name is Earl Simmons, is one of hip-hop’s best-selling artist with just over 17 million records sold, but like many other recording artist, the beloved MC hit more than a few bumps over the years. The 48-year-old Yonkers native has endured money struggles and a very public battle with sobriety that played a part in his returns trips to jail. He was most recently released from custody this past January, after serving a year in prison for tax evasion.

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J. Cole Says He Won't Be Doing Anymore Guest Features

Don’t expect to hear a J. Cole guest verse on songs for other artists. Cole recently blessed tracks like Young Thug’s “The London” and 21 Savages “A Lot,” but the North Carolina born rhymer says that he’s done making guest appearances after the release of his biggest feature yet: Gang Starr’s “Family and Loyalty.”

Naturally, the “Middle Child” rhymer was honored and elated to be featured on the track, and working with DJ Premier might be the perfect way to bow out of the features game. “This is the last feature you’ll hear from me,” Cole tweeted Friday (Sept. 20). “Thank you to everybody I got to work with during this run.”

This a honor to be on this song. NEW Gang Starr 🤯🤯🤯🤯 💎💎💎💎

This is the last feature you’ll hear from me. Thank you to everybody I got to work with during this run. 🙏🏿@REALDJPREMIER This song a classic, thank you. RIP GURUhttps://t.co/MMBI5Z2Fcq

— J. Cole (@JColeNC) September 20, 2019

“Family and Loyalty,” marks the first new single from Gang Starr in 16 years, and reacquaints us with the lyrical genius of Guru, who died from cancer in 2010.

As for Cole, the Grammy-nominated rapper has a lot on his plate between his solo career and the Dreamville Records imprint. The label boasts a star-studded roster that includes Bas, Cozz, Omen, EarthGang, and the incomparable Ari Lennox. The collective released their third compilation album, Revenge of the Dreamers III, earlier this year.

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