Aggies make a difference in the community

Making a difference, doing what’s right and living the dream is exactly what students along with the A&T family did over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. N.C. A&T has a growing tradition of community service over the holiday weekend. This year the Martin Luther King Jr. Committee, which is responsible for the holiday celebrations, dedicated three days to help uplift the Greensboro community. On Jan. 19, students along with financial aid counselors went to Dudley High School to help students fill out financial aid forms and speak about college life. Students also had the time to interact with college students who are achieving their dreams. “You can make it if you just believe,” said Shannon Cannady, Student Government Association vice president for Internal Affairs. “Today’s youth need encouragement, often times they see too many bad images and not positive images.” The Habitat of Humanity Resale store is where the Aggie helping hands were on Saturday. While at the resale store, volunteers got the opportunity to greet customers as well as assist them in purchasing items. The revenue from all items purchased will go back to the support the building of a new house by Habitat for Humanity. The House that Aggies Built is one of those homes slated for future construction. “This is the reason we get out and do community service. It is the dream of the A&T family to have a house built by Aggies and we hope that all of today’s efforts will make us one step close to that reality,” said Mary Barbee, a member of the MLK Jr. committee. On Monday the university family went to Moses Cone Hospital, where Aggies spent time with ill children in the pediatric unit. They played games and read to the children. Also on Monday volunteers painted, cooked, read and spent time with the children at Summit House. Later that day volunteers put on a program for the families of the Smith Homes housing community. The program was filled with high-intensity stepping from the Wells Memorial Step Team and dramatic monologues from the Richard B. Harrison Players. Program participants were greeted by Chancellor James Renick and other students like Brian Holder and Nikia Isley-George, who gave personal testimonies about obstacles they have overcome. The day came to a close with lunch and a special presentation of gifts by the Student Government Association and the Student Union Advisory Board to the community center. Kamien Fazion, Student Union Advisory Board president, organized this year’s community service events. “I hope that other organizations on campus and Aggies come out a do more community service through out the year. It is very important that we keep Dr. King’s dream alive through helping others,” Fazion said.

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Lady Aggies looking to end Bisons streak

Tonight, the Lady Aggies will travel to Washington, D.C. to face the conference leading Howard Lady Bisons in a midseason MEAC match up. The Lady Aggies are still reeling from a heartbreaking 73-71 defeat at the hands of Norfolk State, while the Lady Bison are riding high on a four game winning streak. In order for the Lady Aggies to win this game they must hold on to possession of the ball. This year, the Lady Aggies averages 27.6 turnovers per game and an anemic 0.4 assist to turnover ratio. When the Lady Aggies lost to UNC-G on Jan. 17, turnovers played a big part in their demise. During the game, the Lady Aggies turned over the ball 23 times and the Lady Spartans capitalized on the mistakes. On several occasions this season, the Lady Aggies lost games that they could have won, if it was not for their numerous turnovers. The Lady Aggies should also turn in a brilliant defensive effort to shut down the Lady Bison’s scoring threat of freshman center, Andrea Gardner and Guards Channell Washington and Essence Coggins. The three combine to average 45 points per game. The Lady Aggies must stop them to have a chance. Winning the battle of the boards will be another key to the Lady Aggies winning the game. This season, the Lady Aggies are rebounding well with 42.5 boards per game, while Howard averages 41.6 rebounds. If they could rebound well tonight, the Lady Aggies will be competitive in the game. Speaking of being competitive, the Lady Aggies were just that during the few games they have played leading up to this one. Before the defeat by Norfolk State, the Lady Aggies led by seven points in their recent game against Hampton. In the second half, the Lady Pirates scored 12 unanswered points as the Lady Pirates went on to defeat the Lady Aggies 73-62. Next week, the Lady Aggies will host Delaware State and go on a two game road trip to face the Lady Rattlers of Florida A&M and the Bethune Cookman Lady Wildcats.

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Faith brings student to life after deadly accident

Back in his hometown of Charlotte, Tensley Brandon played basketball in the AAU league and looked forward to accepting a scholarship offer from one of many colleges. But what happened two years ago changed everything, when he suffered a life-threatening car accident. It put him in the hospital for five months and left his loved ones in a state of shock, wondering about his outcome. The accident happened on a Saturday morning while Brandon was on his way to basketball practice. He remembers driving, then going off the side of the road. At first he was in a coma. Later in his recovery, he was able to communicate with visitors by waving his hand in the air. Friends, relatives and church members kept him in their prayers and updated everyone on his status. “Man that was nobody but the Lord,” said Yvonne Curry, who attends the same church. “Because of how serious the accident was some people were afraid that he might not survive.” He fought through it like a soldier and survived. But there in the hospital, his emotions started to kick in and left him feeling as if he wouldn’t be able to play basketball or do anything else he was used to doing on his own because of his leg amputation. While he was lying in the hospital, he had some time to think. “I’m just going to make the best of my situation because if God brought me this far he loves me and wants me to do my part by helping myself in my recovery,” said Brandon. With a strong faith in the Lord and plenty of determination, Brandon underwent a miraculous recovery. He began rehab, where the physical therapist wanted to him go from sitting in a wheelchair to using a straight leg walker to using a cane. Another rehab process he has been undergoing is a speech therapy. Before the therapy his speech was slurred and hard to understand. In July of 2000, he graduated from Independence High School in Charlotte and decided to accept a scholarship from N.C. A&T. He is now a freshman, and wants to major in print journalism. Here at A&T, he has some of his high school friends and some new friends. He doesn’t mind sharing his experiences with others. “Even though I can’t do a lot of things that I used to do, but I’m blessed to be able to continue my education and pursue a career,” he said. From the way Brandon described his determination, he has a big heart and believes that whatever setbacks you may have, minor or major, you can overcome them by faith, will and determination.

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Harrison Players bring two new plays to Robeson Theatre

This season, the Richard B. Harrison Players are performing two shows that are spectacular and sure to pique the interest of all those who come to enjoy the productions. The first show, “Gangsters Over Harlem,” is set in the 1930s and is about a woman named Trixie who is caught between two warring gangs of Harlem mobsters. Trixie finds herself in the line of danger when her lover finds out that she is a spy for the other gang. She has to pull off a trick that will save her life. This play runs Feb. 22-26, at 8 nightly and with a 3 p.m. matinee on Sunday. The other play on the spring program is Sophocles’ “Antigone”. This show, which will be staged April 12-16, is the story of a girl who has lost her mother and father and after a brutal war between her brothers, loses them as well. The king, who is also her uncle, has said that one of her brothers will not be buried. She takes it upon herself to defy the king and give her brother the proper burial. Will the king inflict the punishment that he swore against the person who committed this crime, or will God’s law prevail? So mark your calendars for these productions by the Richard B. Harrison Players this spring.

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20 Questions

Some of these questions are on issues from last semester because we didn’t get a chance to address them earlier. This first edition of “20 Questions” is dedicated to all those we lost in the struggle over in Dowdy. In other words…all the people who didn’t come back this semester. Here’s a question for ya’ll…now can I get your parking space?

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It’s Miller time

There was once a kid out of Wallace, N.C., who had aspirations of playing basketball on the collegiate level. Once sought by the Aggies of A&T, this kid wanted to be the best point guard he could be. But things didn’t work out right away for J.J. Miller. He put on the blue and gold but had only minimal playing time for two years.After a graduating class and the arrival of a new coach, Curtis Hunter, he was named a full-time starter a season ago. Meanwhile, media and spectators still said he didn’t have enough to be the man and lead the Aggies to prominence. They said he lacked an offensive game and turned the ball over too much. They said all he’d have to do is pick up some offense and control the ball and he’d be the man. Well if that’s the case, then James “J.J.” Miller is the man. As point guard, J.J. leads the Aggies, averaging 16.3 points per game as well as a low assist-to-turnover ratio. Though the Aggies are below the .500 mark at 7-8, they are beginning to seize their moments as they’ve won five of their last seven games including an 82-80 thriller against Hampton. Miller led all scorers with 30 points. As college basketball commentator Dick Vitale would say, “He’s a P-T-Pier baby!” Many others on his team and opposing teams fell the same way. “J.J. has been terrific for A&T this year,” said UNCG head coach Fran McCaffery. “He scores by getting to the rim and shooting the three-pointer which makes him that much more difficult to guard.” Miller also caught a lot of people’s eyes when he exploded for 34 points against Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. “I feel J.J. is the heart and soul of this basketball team,” said freshman guard Cornelius Tolliver. “The thing I like most about him is that his leadership off the court is just as good as his leadership on the court. I’ve learned a lot from him through practice and watching him play.” Miller is among the MEAC leaders in several statistical categories. He ranks fourth in scoring, 14th in FG Pct., sixth in assists, fourth in free throw percentage, fifth in three-point percentage, second in three-pointers made, and ninth in assist-to-turnover ratio. “J.J. can be a special player when he’s under control,” said Aggie head coach Curtis Hunter. “Sometimes he’s trying too hard, but that’s due to lack of consistent help from his teammates at times.” As Miller goes, so do the Aggies, and as his game continues to elevate to a new level, watch the Aggies basketball team to follow their leader.

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Charity Stripe robs Aggies of win

The N.C. A&T Aggies and UNC-Greensboro Spartans basketball game is a big story around this time of year in Greensboro. It usually means a big turnout as well as a great game and everyone who attended the game knew they were getting their money’s worth. The Aggies have owned the Spartans over the previous two years with impressive wins, but this night belonged to the Spartans in the end. The Aggies failed on many opportunities to seize the game as they came up short all night long from the free throw line. In the end, it was Spartans 67-Aggies 65. Aggie head coach Curtis Hunter seemed muchdispleased after the loss. “If you can’t hit lay-ups and free throws, you’ll have a tough time beating anybody. We committed a lot of turnovers that we normally do not commit,” said Hunter. The Aggies dug themselves in and out of holes throughout the game but could not overcome the Spartans’ last burst. With 12 minutes remaining in the second half, A&T trailed 47-37 but made a run to cut the lead to 47-44. After a 12-0 run by UNCG put them up 61-49 with three minutes to play, the Aggies needed one last spurt. Swing man Anthony Debro provided the much-needed spark as he hit successive three pointers to trim the Spartans lead to 61-55 with 2:30 remaining. Once again, the Aggies cut the lead to 63-59 with 39 seconds remaining in the game but could not convert their free throws down the stretch. With the score 67-62 with four seconds left, Aggie point guard J.J. Miller hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to 67-65 but time expired as the Spartans inbounded the ball. “With a 10- or 12-point lead, you’d like to cruise to victory, but in this type of rivalry, that just doesn’t happen,” said Spartan head coach Fran McCaffery. The Aggies struggled all night from the line as they connected on a dismal six of 16 and also missed the front ends of three one-and-ones down the stretch. The Spartans, meanwhile, hit their free throws throughout the game and down the stretch as they finished 16 of 18 from the line to ice the win. “We hurt ourselves by playing in spurts,” said Miller. “This loss hurts but we can’t dwell on it. We have two big conference games ahead and we must be ready.” Debro’s 17 points led all Aggie scorers while J.J. Miller added 16 points. The Spartans got 21 points from freshman guard Jay Joseph to lead the way.

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Aggie men coming out of the cellar

After a promising off season, the N.C. A&T Aggies basketball team entered the 2000-2001 season with high expectations and goals to reach. Many things were set in place as nearly the entire squad from last year’s 14-15 team returned, but as the Aggies dropped their first four games of the year, many of their believers became doubters. “They were trying too hard early in the season,” said David Allen, Aggie alumnus. “They will realize their strengths more as the season goes along.” Maybe they were pressing themselves a little bit with all the expectations swirling around them, and they could have easily hung their heads and given up. After that dismal start, though, the Aggies have turned the corner. The Aggies have won six of their last eight games including huge conference wins against Hampton University, Norfolk State University. The main reason the Aggies have been successful as of late is the emergence of senior point guard J.J. Miller. Miller is the team’s leading scorer at just over 16 points a game and plays nearly the entire game in most cases. “When J.J. plays under control he can be special,” said Curtis Hunter, Aggie head coach. “He’s cut down on his unforced turnovers, but he’ll still make that one play in a game that could overshadow everything else he did.” Miller is helped by swing man Anthony Debro, who has taken his game to another level this year. With the return of All-MEAC forward Bruce Jenkins, the Aggies could become a force in the MEAC.

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BET Tonight Host sends strong message to A&T students

“Martin Luther King Jr. is dead and he is not coming back,” said Tavis Smiley to a crowded Harrison Auditorium on Jan. 19 during the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative celebration. Smiley, host of BET Tonight and a popular author, asked students, “Now that Rev. King has passed, what are you gonna do?” He noted that King did a lot in the civil rights movement, but what is this generation going to do to continue where he left off? Smiley drew an allusion to Moses, who led his people out of bondage, but there was life after bondage and the people had to do for themselves. “This generation does not know what it means to have someone tell you no because of your skin color,” said Smiley. “In our parents’ and grandparents’ generation there were many things that African Americans were the first to accomplish, and in this generation we can be the first to accomplish other things not thought of by previous generations.” Smiley’s third and final point hit home with many of the program attendees. “Think black first, 100 percent of the time,” said Smiley. By thinking black first Smiley brought out that African Americans could have a positive effect on the African American community. However, he noted that there are no African American airlines, so thinking black in that instance may be some new business for African Americans to get involved in. Though Smiley was delayed in his arrival to Aggie Land, he did not let that hinder him from signing autographs and taking pictures with some of his biggest fans. People lined aisles of Harrison Auditorium to get his signature on their copies of Smiley’s newest book, “How to Make Black America Better.” “We have worked hard this year to get Mr. Smiley on our campus,” said Shannon Cannady, committee member. The Martin Luther King Jr. committee who planned other events to the holiday started planning last year with suggestions for the committee for this year’s program keynote speaker. “Many of the committee suggested last year that Tavis is who they wanted and we went after him,” said Marva Watlington, who serves as committee chairperson. The Lyceum committee, Student Government Association, Student Affairs and Student Activities absorbed the cost of for Smiley’s visit. “It is wonderful when several bodies on campus can come together and sponsor one major event for the campus and community,” said Nicole Watlington, Miss A&T. Plans for the 2002 Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative ceremony are already underway. The committee has met and come up with names such as leading African American historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Merlie Evers-Williams as keynote speakers.

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Harlem Renaissance brought to life by actor in “Of Ebony Embers”

“Of Ebony Embers” is a jazz-driven, one-man play that focuses on three influential Black poets of the Harlem Renaissance: Countee, Cullen, Langston Hughes and Claude McKay. The Core Ensemble featuring Akin Babatunde brought “Of Ebony Embers” to Robeson Theatre, Thursday night, Jan. 18, to commence the Lyceum Series at North Carolina A&T. The lives of these poets are examined through the eyes of painter Aaron Douglas, played by Babatunde. The Core Ensemble, which consists of Tahirah Whittington playing the cello, Hugh Hinton on piano and Michael Parola on percussion, has enjoyed nationwide success and recognition. Babatunde has appeared regularly on Public Television’s children’s program Wishbone. He has also been a member of the Alley Theater in Houston, Texas, the Dallas Theater Center and Trinity Repertory Theater in Providence. The play, which was written by Babatunde, takes place in Harlem, New York City on a January evening in 1935 in Douglas’ home. Douglas has planned a memorial dinner in honor of Wallace Thurman and Rudolph Fisher, to which he invites the poets. Babatunde also brings Cullen, Hughes and McKay back to life as he acts out each poet’s reaction to the invitation. The Core Ensemble provided the musical backdrop that enhanced Babatunde’s emotional fluctuations as he transformed from one character to another. The Core Ensemble played music from jazz legends such as Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton and Thelonius Monk. Babatunde’s performance was compelling and he displayed his well-developed theatrical abilities. However, there were times when I found myself confused. His characters were responding to Douglas’ invitation, I understood that much. But they would sometimes drift off into another topic. Maybe I missed something, I don’t know. I found the music to be the play’s saving grace because it was entertaining and, as mentioned before, it complemented the emotions of the actor. Overall, the acting, and the music were excellent, despite the confusing plot. I would recommend this play to anyone, if the opportunity is granted to them.

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A&T ranked 1st in state for best black college

N.C.A&T has the honor of being the highest-ranked North Carolina university in Black Enterprise magazine’s biannual survey and listing of the top 50 colleges in the nation for black students. It placed 13th, ahead of such other colleges as UNC-Chapel Hill, Tuskegee University and Duke. The survey, which started in 1999, serves as an ally to parents and their college-age children in their war to find the right college. The survey also helps the parents of these students get the essentials of colleges and universities other than their alma mater. To come up with the rating system, Black Enterprise magazine recruited a list of 936 higher educational professionals who are employed with the universities that were involved with the study. The various professionals rated the colleges and universities on the basis of whether they felt that the schools had the balance of a good educational and a socially stable environment for black students. In the listing’s first year, A&T was ranked as the ninth best choice, but this ranking does not mean that the school is doing anything different. However, there is one thing that could possibly alter the university’s position in the poll. In 1999 version of the list, the magazine used a ratio of the proportion of all degrees received by black students over the proportion of undergraduates in a measure of the colleges’ and universities’ graduation rate. Chancellor James Renick, commenting on the pros and cons of ratings, noted that a high ranking can give the university exposure. “I think it (the ranking) gives us some increased visibility,” said Renick. The drawbacks are that people can be reeled in by statistics and numbers. “However, a ranking is subjective because it depends on what’s being ranked,” Renick said. “We focus day in and day out to improve the university, independent of what rankings have to say,” he added.

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