Thursday, August 4, 2022

Nas Cook '21 Founds New Nonprofit

Nas Cook '21 saw something that wasn't right...and now he's making it right.

When Nas was a boy, his father delivered papers for The Tennessean. On more than one occasion, police officers thought Mr. Cook looked like he didn't belong in the neighborhood where he was delivering papers, so they pulled him over. With the looming possibility of being pulled over at any moment simply for the color of his skin, Mr. Cook could not do his job without some degree of fear or trepidation. Nas hated to see what his father had to endure. Adding to his confusion about his father's treatment was the fact that his mother worked for the Davidson County Sheriff's Office. How could there be such a fracture between two groups in society when he saw representatives of those two groups living happily together in his own home?

Then, soon after Nas earned admission into MBA, something changed. The next time Mr. Cook got pulled over, he was proudly wearing an MBA baseball cap. When the officer saw the hat, he immediately apologized to Mr. Cook and let him go about his day. All the other times when the police stopped Mr. Cook were awful and wrong, but this one broke the proverbial camel's back. This incident seems to be the key moment that inspired Nas to take action. He could not let these implicit biases stand unchallenged.

With a year of Princeton under his belt and the backing of its John C. Bogle '51 Fellowship in Civic Service, Nas is back in town running a new nonprofit called Nashville Youth Initiative (NYI). The organization's goal is to "build common experiences between law enforcement and the urban community to promote inclusion and diversity." NYI is addressing the very problems Nas and his family faced. Modeled loosely after some of the police athletics leagues in the northeast, NYI brings police officers and urban youth together here on the MBA campus.

On a typical day at NYI Camp here at MBA, kickball, dodgeball, and other games fill the morning. Officers and kids play alongside each other. It's worth saying again: officers and kids play alongside each other. Then, thanks to the generosity of Slim & Husky's, everyone enjoys delicious pizza together in the MBA dining hall. The day concludes with some academics, discussions about cultural diversity, a public speaking class, and some team-building activities.

In addition to the MNPD officers, Nas also has some fellow MBA alumni and students helping to run the NYI camp: Mark Pyburn '21, Miles Versa '21, Mario Mansour '21, Kendrick Abernathy ‘21, Ashton Terrell ‘21, Johnothan Moore '23, Eriq George '23, and Palmer Phillips '24. MBA is proud to play host to the important work that Nas and his team have done here this summer.
When Nas heads back to school this fall, he'll be leaving Nashville in better shape than he found it.

Friday, March 4, 2022

Rewarding Work Makes Merry Men

Three MBA students have found rewarding work with a local social enterprise. Walker Stevens, Reid Harrington, and Gus Kirkland spend their Saturdays and their summers "connecting those with too much with those with too little" in their work for a thoughtful business called Junkdrop. Think of them as legitimate Robin Hoods for hire. A family wanting to remove old furniture can call Junkdrop who will haul it away and deliver it directly to a family without any furniture at all.

The job is both hard work, as we move couches down flights of stairs, yet also rewarding when we get to see the smiling faces as we fully furnish empty homes. -Gus

The three friends found out about this relatively new business through a family connection. Reid was the first on board, and he soon asked Walker and Gus to join him in this rewarding work that plays an important role in the community. The work of Junkdrop has even garnered attention from Channel 5, The Tennessean, and The Today Show.

It's heartening to see the way friendships here on The Hill can bring out the best in everyone. Moreover, the friendships continue growing as they work alongside each other to "make significant contributions to society". It's what we try to foster here with ample opportunities for teamwork and an environment that catalyzes this kind of caring camaraderie.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

The 100th Birthday of a Banned Book

Today, February 2nd, 2022, is the 100th anniversary of the publication of James Joyce’s novel, Ulysses.  Joyce's novel is widely regarded to be the most important work of fiction of the 20th century. Published in Paris in 1922, this novel explored the narrative technique of stream of consciousness and a range of other experimental styles. It was banned in Britain and the United States until the mid-1930s because of its exuberant illustration of the functions of the human body, and also the book’s criticism of mainstream views on religion, and nationalism. Set in Dublin on a single day, June 16th, 1904, the book features many of that city’s residents but three characters– the young man Stephen Dedalus, the older Leopold Bloom, and his wife Molly – dominate the book, as does the geography, language and character of Dublin city

First Page
Cover of 1934 Edition

In 2005, one of MBA’s most generous friends presented MBA with a copy of the 1922 edition (only 1,000 copies were printed), and a copy of the USA, 1934 first edition (the first “unbanned” version). The 1934 edition features original inserts of line drawings by Matisse, depicting scenes from Homer’s The Odyssey.

Illustrations by Henri Matisse


Both of these editions of the novel may be viewed in the school’s Patrick Wilson Library.

The Iconic Final Lines

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