This week in black women: a royal wedding and the best golfer you've never heard of.

This is the fifth edition of "This week in black women," a weekly column dedicated to signal-boosting the black women who make the world spin.

This week, we shout out a pioneering mayor, a cool-as-a-cucumber newscaster, a legendary golfer, and more. Celebrate them! Follow them! Support them! Let's do this.

"Go off, sis": Rhodes Scholars

The Rhodes Scholarship is one of the most distinguished academic awards for university students. Just 32 young people are selected to receive the prestigious award each year, which covers expenses for two or three years of graduate study at Oxford University.


This year, 10 African-American students earned the honor, including six women: Simone Askew, Jasmine Brown, Camille Borders, Tania Fabo, Chelsea Jackson, and Thamara Jean.

GIF from Tracee Ellis Ross/YouTube.

"Taking care of business": LaToya Cantrell

In a landslide victory, Cantrell was elected the next mayor of New Orleans. She will be first woman mayor in the city's 300-year history.

This is not Mayor-Elect Cantrell, but it IS the appropriate response to hearing about a city's first female mayor. Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images.

"Y'all play too much": Rahel Solomon

Solomon is a newscaster in Philadelphia who is going viral this week after completing the "one-chip challenge" with her colleague on air.

The challenge involves eating a single, albeit dangerously spicy, Paqui brand chip. Solomon ate the chip and barely flinched. Her colleague, however? Not so much.

The highlight of the video is Solomon calmly asking, "Can we get a medic in here for Jim?"

"If you don't know, now you know": Ann Gregory

Every week, I ask you to send me links to stories or people I should highlight. Reader Mark S. let me know about one of his favorite women in history:

"Not sure if there is a time limit on your series on black women but I think Ann Gregory deserves a shout out."

He's right. Gregory is a trailblazing athlete who doesn't get nearly enough props.

Born in 1912, Ann Gregory (née Moore) was the first and one of the best black women to play golf. Gregory didn't pick up the game until she was in her 30s, but her storied amateur career spanned more than four decades.

She played in United Golf Association tournaments for black players, where she earned the unofficial title "The Queen of Negro Women's Golf." She was not only a dynamo on the course, but an active community volunteer, military wife, and mother. She competed well into her 70s, winning gold at the U.S. Senior Olympics in 1989. She passed away in February 1990.

Athletes like Gregory paved the way for other golfers of color, including Tiger Woods, whose club is shown here. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images.

"Let the people know": Dee Rees

Dee Rees is the director behind the new film "Mudbound." The film follows two families — one black and one white — in the years immediately surrounding World War II.

In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Rees revealed why focusing on stories from the Jim Crow era is vital.

"When a certain person says 'make America great again,' I think this period is the 'again' he’s referring to. And I’m trying to get behind this mythology of the 'greatest generation,' who we were, what we really did and what did it cost. The American educational system has a reductive, simplified view of history. But things didn’t end with [the abolishment of] slavery. This period is our link between our then and our now."

"Mudbound" is currently streaming on Netflix and in a handful of theaters. It's also generating some early Oscar buzz.

Director Dee Rees attends the MoMA's Contenders Screening of "Mudbound." Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images for Museum of Modern Art, Department of Film.

And of course, a bunch of happy tweets about Meghan Markle.

Prince Harry and actress Meghan Markle announced their engagement this week. Markle is biracial and American, so needless to say, my Twitter timeline was very excited.

Final thoughts: Common

I, for one, support this idea 100%.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less