High School student Fernando Carino stands with Summer Media Institute Staff Hamil Harris as the students rushed to the Supreme Court after the June 25 ruling vacating a federal right to abortion. (Courtesy: Hamil Harris)

By HR Harris,
Special to the AFRO

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness… (preamble to the U.S. Declaration of Independence) 

Thirty-five high school graduates of Howard University’s Multicultural Media Academy got a front seat to examine America’s Constitution.  Historic activity by The U.S. Supreme Court served as the bookends for an experiential two-weeks resulting in a life changing experience for both students and academy faculty.    

The virtual and in-person participants got a rare opportunity to witness the Supreme Court in action on two occasions during their sessions. 

In the first week of the academy, Howard Professor and Academy Coordinator Yanick Rice Lamb immediately dispatched the Academy’s local participants to the Supreme Court after the Court’s June 24, 5-4 decision, resulting in overturning Roe v. Wade ending the constitutional right to abortion. 

“We’re in breaking news mode,” said Rice Lamb, who knew the historic decision represented the   opportunity of a lifetime for students to capture live public opinion.  

Academy participants logged into sessions from all over the nation, while local students like Fernando Carino, from Maryland hurried to the Supreme Court for interviews with protesters who erupted into the streets close to the Court in the aftermath of the abortion decision.  

“It’s one thing to talk to students about capturing public opinion but quite another experience to actually walk with them through a live news event while it is happening” said Hamil Harris, Multicultural Media Institute instructor who accompanied students to the Supreme Court to capture public sentiment.  

“Fernando and his peers were on the scene live, with reporters from all over the world, observing and talking with people,” Harris added.  

Then, on the eve of the Multi-Media Institute’s closing ceremony, June 30, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in as the 116th Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Multi-media Institute participants again, participated in history watching her swearing in via live stream.  

The Howard University family of mentors helped the young Media Academy students put their remarkable two-week experience and the tumultuous activity of the Supreme Court into perspective during closing ceremonies July 1. 

“Be clear about who you are. Don’t let the cynics win,” Dr. Reed V. Tuckson, M.D., former Commissioner of Public Health for D.C. and President of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine from 1991-1997. “Your skills are needed more now than ever,” Tuckson added. 

“When I was in charge of the D.C. Department of Health and I would go to the morgue after there was a shooting of young and I often said, “That is somebody’s child,” Tuckson reminded the young reporters. 

Howard University Hospital Chief Executive Officer Anita Jenkins was asked after her lunchtime speech to the students what did Freedom mean to her.

“Freedom means that I shouldn’t have go up the down side of an escalator [to advance in life,]” she said. 

“Freedom means that we [Black Americans] get to go up the escalator when everybody else gets to go up,” Jenkins concluded.

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