Muhammad Ali to Have Louisville, KY Airport Renamed in His Honor

Muhammad Ali (photo from Stanley Weston Archive via essence.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, boxing legend, Vietnam War protester and civil rights activist Muhammad Ali will soon have his hometown airport renamed after him.

“Muhammad Ali belonged to the world, but he only had one hometown, and fortunately, that is our great city of Louisville,” Mayor Greg Fischer said. “Muhammad became one of the most well-known people to ever walk the Earth and has left a legacy of humanitarianism and athleticism that has inspired billions of people.”

Lonnie Ali, Ali’s widow, said in a statement she is happy that Louisville is changing its airport’s name “to reflect Muhammad’s impact on the city and his love for his hometown.”

“Muhammad was a global citizen,” she stated, “but he never forgot the city that gave him his start. It is a fitting testament to his legacy.”

To read more: https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/2019/01/16/louisville-airport-sdf-getting-new-name/2594657002/

27th Annual Pan African Film and Arts Festival to Screen Long-Awaited Aretha Franklin Documentary “Amazing Grace” On Opening Night February 7

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

The Pan African Film & Arts Festival announced today that it will celebrate its 27th Annual Opening Night on Thursday, February 7, with a screening at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles of Amazing Grace, the long-awaited Aretha Franklin concert documentary.

Amazing Grace, produced by Alan Elliott, was originally filmed and directed by Sydney Pollack in 1972 at New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, California. A rare gem, the documentary has not been seen or released before now due to technical and rights issues.

The festival, which presents a slate of over 170 new projects by black filmmakers from the US and around the world and exhibits more than 100 fine artists and unique craftspeople, runs from February 7 through Monday, February 18, with most films shown at the Cinemark Rave 15 Theatres and the adjacent Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Los Angeles.

“It’s such a blessing to open the festival this year with Amazing Grace,” expressed PAFF Co-Founder and Actor Danny Glover. “Aretha Franklin is a rare treasure. To be graced with this film is an honor and a testament to the perseverance and long-standing prominence of the festival’s impact.”

Over the past 26 years, The Pan African Film & Arts Festival has sought to increase cultural awareness and bridge diverse communities from the African diaspora by providing a creative safe space for the development and expression of the Black narrative through film, poetry, art and music. This year, PAFF will “amPAFFify” and ignite the Pan-African experience through next-generation storytelling.

To further “amPAFFify” PAFF’s proud history, the organization recently launched an “#IAMPAFF” Meme Generator, designed to allow festival supporters to share their own stories on social media. Festival supporters can join in the fun by creating a meme to tell their story at paff.org/iampaff.

“27 years ago, we made a political, cultural, social and intellectual decision to get involved in film festivals as it became clear that a platform to showcase Black films was needed,” shared Ayuko Babu, Executive Director and Co-Founder of PAFF.

“It’s been a privilege to be a platform for many filmmakers and talent to share their unique stories through the lens of their own experiences, visions and creative artistry. The on-going challenge is… who’s story gets told on the small screen and big screen? The Pan African Film Festival is a way of showing distributors the stories that matter to people of color.”

This year’s program features the Filmmakers Brunch, ARTFest, PAFF Institute Panels, StudentFest, LOL Comedy Series, Children’s Fest, SpokenWord Fest, Seniors’ Connection and much more.

Individual screening tickets and all festival passes can be purchased at paff.org/tickets. Group sales discounts are also available. For more information, visit the PAFF website at paff.org or call 310-337-4737.

Born On This Day in 1940: Civil Rights Activist, SNCC Leader, and Former NAACP Chairman Julian Bond

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

As time passes, it becomes easier and easier to venerate only those we habitually do and forget about those who fought the same fight but perhaps didn’t have as prominent a position in the battle.

So today, a week before we will all – rightfully – celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his significant contributions to the betterment of this nation, I want to focus on one of his brothers-in-arms, the charismatic lecturer, activist, freedom fighter and leader in his own right, Julian Bond.

Horace Julian Bond was born Jan. 14, 1940, in Nashville, Tennessee and passed in 2015 in Fort Walton Beach, Florida at the age of 75. His father, Horace Mann Bond, rose to become the first African-American president of his alma mater, Lincoln University. Though his father expected Julian to follow in his footsteps as an educator (which he eventually did), as a young man, Bond instead was attracted to political activism.

While a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Bond became one of original leaders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).  In 1960, after word spread of student sit-ins at lunch counters in Greensboro, N.C., Bond and others at Morehouse organized protests against segregated public facilities in Atlanta. Bond dropped out of Morehouse in 1961 to devote himself to the protest movement, but returned in the 1970s to complete his English degree.

Among the sit-ins and protests, Bond worked to register voters and in 1965 was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives. White members of the House refused to let him take his seat, accusing him of disloyalty, as Bond and SNCC were known for their stand against United States involvement in the Vietnam War.

His case against the House of Representatives went to all the way to the Supreme Court. In a unanimous decision in 1966, the Court ordered the Georgia state legislature to seat Bond on the grounds that it was denying Bond freedom of speech.

Bond served 20 years in the two houses of the legislature and while a lawmaker, he sponsored bills to establish and fund a sickle cell anemia testing program and to provide low-interest home loans to low-income Georgians. He also helped create a majority-black congressional district in Atlanta.

Bond also became a co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a legal advocacy organization based in Montgomery, Alabama, and served as its president from 1971 to 1979. He remained on its board for the rest of his life.

Bond published a book of essays titled “A Time to Speak, A Time to Act” about politics and the movement, and in 1998, Bond became chairman of the NAACP, serving in that position until 2010. Through the years, Bond also taught at Harvard, Williams, Drexel and the University of Pennsylvania.

While at Harvard, I had the personal honor and pleasure not only from taking a class from Bond, but also in taking him up on his offer to call him for dinner so he could spend time with and speak directly to his students. He didn’t give his office number – I didn’t speak to an assistant – I spoke to his wife, and then him.

Bond came to my dorm and had dinner with me and half a dozen other undergrads. He was kind, patient, thoughtful and wry – he answered all types of questions about MLK, SNCC and anything else we asked. What struck me the most when I wasn’t in complete awe, was how real and unassuming he was. No bluster, no overinflated sense of importance – just a man about the work he had done and was still doing until the day he died.

Julian Bond, thank you for your example, your service and for taking the time to make this then awkward undergraduate feel a little less awkward and that much more empowered. You are not and never will be forgotten.

NAACP to Host 2019 Women in Power Town Hall With Sen. Kamala Harris and Reps. Karen Bass, Lucy McBath and Marcia Fudge

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) will host its first tele town hall of the year, the Women in Power Town Hall, on Tuesday, January 15, 2019, at 5pm PST/8pm EST. The telephone program, NAACP’s first public forum of the year, will provide a platform for leading women in policy and activism to engage listeners in a critical discussion about the top priorities for the next 12 months. Interested participants can RSVP for the event here.

Following the swearing in of the most diverse Congress in history, filled with more women of color than ever before, this event will feature Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members, elected officials, NAACP leaders, along with business and civic leaders in a candid conversation about the 2019 agenda, issues impacting communities of color, and how women can continue to be leading advocates.

Women in Power Town Hall

Special guests for the town hall include Senator Kamala Harris, who was the driving force behind the historic anti-lynhcing bill which passed in the Senate at the end of 2018, CBC Chairperson and California Representative Karen Bass, and Representative Lucy Mcbath of Georgia’s 6th district who won on a campaign of reform after her son Jordan Davis was killed by a white man for playing his music too loud.

The NAACP’s Panelists will be Derrick Johnson, NAACP President & CEO, Lottie Joiner from The Crisis Magazine and Tiffany Dena Loftin, the NAACP’s Youth & College National Director. The event will be moderated by Errin Whack of the Associated Press.

“Our country spoke up last year, and what we said collectively is that we want women at the forefront of our nation for at least the next two years,” said  Loftin. “NAACP is poised to hit the ground running this year, and we’re proud to have some of the most powerful women in America lead our first town hall this year.”

The NAACP tele town hall series draws up to 3,000 participants and takes the form of a radio Q&A program.

Born On This Day in 1928: Ruth Brown, Grammy and Tony Award-Winning “Queen of R&B” and Musicians’ Rights Activist

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Ruth Alston Brown (born Ruth Weston), singer-songwriter and actress known for hit songs such as “So Long,” “Teardrops from My Eyes,” “5-10-15 Hours,” “(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean” and “Oh What A Dream” which earned her the nicknames “Miss Rhythm” and “Queen of R&B,” was born January 12, 1928 in Portsmouth, VA. She would have been 91 years old today.

In 1945 when she was just 17, Brown ran away from her home in Portsmouth along with trumpeter Jimmy Brown, whom she married, to sing in bars and clubs.  According to biography.com, Brown would later discover that Jimmy was already married and their marriage was legally void.

By the time Brown learned of Jimmy Brown’s bigamy, she had already developed a reputation under his surname, so she kept the name Ruth Brown as a stage name for the rest of her life.

Brown soon spent a month with singing with Lucky Millinder‘s orchestra. Famous bandleader Cab Calloway‘s sister Blanche Calloway, owner of the Crystal Caverns nightclub in Washington D.C., became Brown’s manager and offered Brown a regular gig performing at her club. Willis Conover, the future Voice of America disc jockey, caught Brown’s act and recommended her to Atlantic Records bosses Ahmet Ertegün and Herb Abramson.

Brown was unable to audition for Atlantic as planned because of a car crash, which resulted in an almost year-long stay in the hospital. Regardless, she signed with Atlantic Records and Brown’s series of hits for Atlantic Records in the 1950s had many referring to the record label as “the house that Ruth built.”

Nevertheless, Brown’s popularity and R&B charts success did not translate into personal financial wealth. Due to a practice known as “whitewashing,” in which white singers covered black artists’ songs without permission, Brown’s records never sold nearly their full potential. Furthermore, Atlantic Records made Brown pay her recording and touring expenses out of pocket—costs that nearly equaled her cut of the sales.

According to wikipedia.org, during the 1960s, Brown faded from public view, moved to Long Island, New York, where she worked various part-time jobs as a teacher’s aide, school bus driver and maid just to make ends meet.

Brown returned to music in 1975 with the help of comedian Redd Foxx, and a series of comedic acting jobs followed. These included roles in the 1988 John Waters film Hairspray, and the Broadway productions of Amen Corner and Black and Blue. The latter earned her a Tony Award in 1989 as Best Actress in a Musical. She also won a Grammy Award for her album Blues on Broadway that same year.

Bonnie Raitt and Ruth Brown during 8th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, 1993 in Century City, CA, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)

Brown’s fight for musicians’ rights and royalties in 1987 led to the founding of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation to help emerging as well as aging R&B musicians. The nonprofit was financed by a settlement with Atlantic Records. Brown, who is also aunt to legendary Hip-Hop artist Rakim, was inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

Brown died in a Las Vegas–area hospital on November 17, 2006, from complications following a heart attack and stroke she suffered after surgery the previous month. She was 78 years old. Brown is buried at Roosevelt Memorial Park in Chesapeake City, Virginia.

One of the first great divas of modern American popular music, Brown’s songs provided a blueprint for much of the rock ‘n’ roll that soon came after her. In addition to the musical legacy she left, Brown also left future artists a more artist-friendly environment, thanks to her tireless work to reform the royalty system. To get a glimpse of Brown, and hear her legendary voice and style, click below:

MOVIES: “Little” Trailer Released Today Starring Issa Rae, Regina Hall and Marsai Martin – In Theatres April 12

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

I have to admit, I have been waiting for this. Ever since I heard a year ago that then 13 now 14 year-old Black-ish star Marsai Martin came up with the concept for this movie and sold it to Universal, I have been excited about the potential of “Little.” Seeing the trailer for it, released today, makes me feel only more justified in rooting for its fruition.

Starring Issa Rae, Regina Hall and Martin (Martin and Hall also serve as executive producers), “Little” is produced by Will Packer Productions, written by Tracy Oliver (“Girls Trip”) and Tina Gordon Chism (“Peeples”) and directed by Chism.

Hall plays Jordan Sanders, a snarky tech mogul who shows little regard for her assistant April (Rae). After a confrontation with a young girl, Hall wakes up to find that she is a tween (Martin) again and has to lean on her assistant, the only one in on the secret, to run the company, while she heads back to grade school. Based on the trailer, this movie looks like a potential comedy blockbuster as well as great family entertainment.

“Little” will be in theaters April 12 – mark your calendars – and check out the trailer below:

Coretta Scott King Awards to Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Honoring African-American Children and Youth Literature in 2019

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Coretta Scott King Award Seal (artist: Lev Mills)

Libraries, schools and civic organizations across the country and world will host a variety of celebrations to observe the 50th anniversary of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards. Given annually since 1969, the awards commemorate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and honor his wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood.

The awards are sponsored by American Library Association‘s Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT) and are supported by ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services (ODLOS).

Award founders Glyndon Flynt Greer, a school librarian in Englewood, New Jersey, Mabel McKissick, a school librarian in New London, Connecticut, and John Carroll, a book publisher, envisioned an award that would recognize the talents of outstanding African-American authors and encourage them to continue writing books for children and young adults.

Winners are selected by the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Jury and announced annually to a national audience at the ALA Youth Media Awards. The awards serve as a guide for parents, librarians and caregivers, for the most outstanding books for youth by African American authors and illustrators that demonstrate an appreciation of affirm African American culture and universal human values.

The Coretta Scott King Book Award titles promote understanding and appreciation of the culture of all peoples and their contribution to the realization of the American dream of a pluralistic society.

The first Coretta Scott King Award was presented in 1970 at the New Jersey Library Association conference in Atlantic City. The award went to Lillie Patterson, author of “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Man of Peace.” In 1974, the committee honored an illustrator for the first time. The award went to George Ford for his illustrations in “Ray Charles” by Sharon Bell Mathis. That year, the Coretta Scott King seal was designed by Lev Mills, an internationally renowned artist in Atlanta to identify book jackets of award winners.

Such notable African American authors and illustrators as Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Walter Dean Myers, Virginia Hamilton, Jerry Pinkney and Christopher Paul Curtis are just an example of the notable artists who have received the award.

Currently the Coretta Scott King Book Award Anniversary Committee is planning 50th anniversary celebration events to take place during the whole of 2019, with a special Gala on June 21st in Washington D.C. This one-hour ticketed program will feature a host of special guests in the fields of children’s and young adult literature including Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, and National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Jacqueline Woodson.

Additional information regarding Coretta Scott King Book Award 50th Anniversary activities will be available within the coming weeks at www.ala.org/csk.

Coretta Scott King Book Award merchandise is available thought the ALA Store at https://www.alastore.ala.org.

Nicholas Buamah, 7, Authors Book Added to U.S. Library of Congress Catalog

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

7 year-old Georgia second grader Nicholas Buamah, author of Kayla & Kyle The Walking Dictionaries: Election Day, a book that helps elementary school students build their vocabularies, was recently added to the Library of Congress catalog, according to blackenterprise.com.

Buamah’s mother Danielle, says the book sparked from an idea she had to help her son fortify his own vocabulary. “I developed the character of Kayla when Nicholas was younger to help teach him expanded vocabulary,” she said in a statement. “After being praised by his first-grade teacher for using the word ‘collaborate’ during his first week of school, I asked Nicholas what he thought about writing a book to help his friends expand their vocabularies. He thought it was a great idea, as long as one of the main characters could be a male figure, and that’s when he created Kyle.”

Buamah had his first-ever book signing in December at Barnes & Noble in Atlanta suburb Snellville. “He sold out in one hour and people kept coming in the store afterward, requesting a copy so much that Barnes & Nobles invited him back,” his mother told Black Enterprise.

Volume 2 of The Walking Dictionaries is scheduled to be released this summer. Buamah wants his book to be available in every elementary school library in the country. He also one day aspires to attend MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and study to become a mechanical engineer.

NJ Assemblywoman Angela McKnight and Financial Blogger Tiffany Aliche Create Bill to Teach Middle Schoolers Money Management

The signing of Bill A1414 (Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, 3rd from left; Acting Governor Shiela Oliver, seated. Credit: Anthony McKnight)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to hellobeautiful.com, middle school students in New Jersey are about to get some much-needed education about finances thanks in part to two women determined to make sure they learn how to understand and handle money.

Financial educator Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche and Assemblywoman Angela McKnight worked in tandem to draft and advocate a financial literacy bill that would give growing children a fighting chance at the future.

Financial Literacy Bill A1414 instructs the New Jersey State Board of Education to require school districts to incorporate financial literacy instruction into curriculums for enrolled students in grades 6 through 8. Middle schoolers will be presented with vital information that has the potential to change the course of their lives by preparing them to properly evaluate their finances and deal with debt as adults.

First introduced by McKnight in 2016, the bill gained co-sponsorship from Assembly Democrats Nicholas Chiaravalloti, Eliana Pintor Marin, Jamel Holley, Benjie Wimberly and Annette Quijano. A1414 was signed into law by the state’s Acting Governor (and first ever black Lieutenant Governor) Sheila Oliver this Thursday at Jersey City’s PS 34 President Barack Obama School.

“Early financial literacy should be an essential part of every school curriculum, because it’s a critical skill needed for success in adulthood,” said Aliche via press release. “Today New Jersey took a historic leap forward in helping our children secure a brighter future. Today was a manifestation of why I started The Budgetnista; to help give people the tools the need to live richer lives,” she continued.

Regarding the bill, McKnight said, “One of the most important lessons a person can learn is how to manage their money. Many young people go into adulthood knowing little about finances, and end up making decisions that cost them in the long run.”

McKnight added, “Teaching our kids early about the importance of managing their money and making sound financial decisions can prevent them from making costly mistakes and set them on the right financial path.”

The Congressional Black Caucus Sworn in Today With More Than 50 Members – Largest in its History

CBC Members of the 116th Congress

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

The Congressional Black Caucus, for the first time in its 48-year history, has more than 50 members. At today’s swearing in ceremony the total was 55 members, nbcnews.com reports.

Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif, was elected CBC chair, and according to her website, the Caucus will also chair five full House Committees in addition to 28 House Subcommittees.

The caucus includes elected officials from both the House and Senate, and since its establishment in 1971, the CBC has been committed to using the full Constitutional power, statutory authority, and financial resources of the federal government to ensure that African Americans and other marginalized communities in the United States have the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.

As part of this commitment, the CBC has fought to address critical issues such as voting rights, criminal justice reform, equal access to quality education.

To learn more about the Congressional Black Caucus, go to: https://cbc.house.gov.