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Three black teens are finalists in a NASA competition. Hackers spewing racism tried to ruin their odds.

Urban Marketing Group Staff

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The three D.C. students couldn’t believe the news. They’d developed a method to purify lead-contaminated water in school drinking fountains, and NASA announced last month that they were finalists in the agency’s prestigious high school competition — the only all-black, female team to make it that far.

“Hidden figures in the making,” one of the teens wrote in a celebratory text message to her teammates and coaches, a reference to the 2016 movie about the true story of three African American women who worked for NASA in the 1960s.

The next stage of the science competition included public voting, and the Banneker High School students — Mikayla Sharrieff, India Skinner and Bria Snell, all 17-year-old high school juniors — turned to social media to promote their project.

But while the teens were gaining traction on social media and racking up votes, users on 4chan — an anonymous Internet forum where users are known to push hoaxes and spew racist and homophobic comments — were trying to ensure the students wouldn’t win.

The anonymous posters used racial epithets, argued that the students’ project did not deserve to be a finalist and said that the black community was voting for the teens only because of their race. They urged people to vote against the Banneker trio, and one user offered to put the topic on an Internet thread about President Trump to garner more attention. They recommended computer programs that would hack the voting system to give a team of teenage boys a boost.

NASA said in a statement that voting was compromised, prompting it to shut down public voting earlier than expected. The federal space agency said it encourages the use of social media to build support for projects but wrote in a statement Tuesday that public voting was ended because people “attempted to change the vote totals.”

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Anacostia News

#RethinkSchool: Bringing Hopes and Dreams to Those Most in Need

Urban Marketing Group Staff

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Like moths to a light, people from all over the country gravitate to Washington, D.C. – longing to make a difference, witness history and understand the complexities of the political process. I am like many young transplants that moved to D.C. for work and began to understand the social justice issues that threaten those who are native to our nation’s capital.

However I, unlike many other young transplants, had to quickly navigate the complexities of the education system. From my own experience, I know the difference a quality education and support system can make on students growing up in poverty.

So, when I moved to D.C. as the sole caregiver for my teenage sister, I knew exactly what she needed to be able to thrive. She needed a quality education, healthy community and individuals who could serve as mentors. As I researched areas to live and send my sister to school, I discovered Anacostia is home to some of D.C.’s poorest and most violent neighborhoods. From food insecurity to lack of affordable housing, the residents in this community are confronted with daily obstacles.

When I got word that a new charter school, Digital Pioneers Academy (DPA), was opening in Anacostia, I was curious. I wondered if the founder received the same information about the area that I had. I wanted to know her hopes for the school and dreams for the poverty stricken community. Most of all, how they were going to Rethink School.

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Education

Home Schooling Is On the Rise, Lack of Black History a Major Driver Among African-Americans

Urban Marketing Group Staff

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A new wave of learning is taking off across the South, as an increasing number of African-Americans are choosing to home school their kids in lieu of the wanting, and often white-washed, curricula taught in public schools.

The National Home Schooling Research Institute estimates that nearly 220,000 African-American children are home schooled in the U.S. The lack of focus on African-American history, as well as the disproportionate disciplining of Black students, are big drivers for Black parents who home school.

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Community DMV

DCPS Back to School Block Party

Urban Marketing Group Staff

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On Saturday, September 22, join Mayor Bowser and interim Chancellor Amanda Alexander at the DCPS Back to School Block Party at Anacostia High School.

The Back to School Block Party will feature free food, fun activities for all ages, and performances from DCPS students. Local partner organizations and DC Government agencies will be on site to provide helpful information and resources, including college and career guidance, health and wellness resources, and information about food access programs.

RSVP HERE.

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