Ambassador Fenty: Rihanna Named Ambassador to her Home Country Barbados

(Photo by Eduardo Parra/Getty Images)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to thegrio.com, international singing star and cosmetics entrepreneur Rihanna has a new title to add to her resume – ambassador to her home country of Barbados.

“Rihanna has a deep love for her country and this is reflected in her philanthropy, especially in the areas of health and education,” Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said in a statement.

The prime minister hailed Rihanna — who grew up and was raised as Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty in Bridgetown, Barbados — as a music icon with “significant creative acumen and shrewdness in business. Mottley said Rihanna has made significant charitable contributions to the island. “She also shows her patriotism in the way she gives back to this country and continues to treasure the island as her home,” Mottley said.

According to the island’s Government Information Service website, Rihanna’s official title is Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the island in the Caribbean Sea with 285,000 residents. Rihanna’s job in her new role extends beyond her 2008 role as cultural ambassador to promote tourism. Ambassador Fenty’s new responsibilities now extend to promoting education and investment for Barbados as well.

The songstress and creator of the year-old Fenty Beauty makeup line hailed for meeting the needs of women of all colors said in a statement that she could not be more pleased with her appointment. Rihanna maintains residences in Barbados and in Los Angeles.

Rihanna said she is proud to take on such a prestigious title in her home country. “Every Barbadian is going to have to play their role in this current effort, and I’m ready and excited to take on the responsibility,” she said in the statement, posted by CNN. “I look forward to working with Prime Minister Mottley and her team to reimagine Barbados.”

J. Cole’s Dreamville Foundation Raising Funds to Aid Hurricane Victims in Hometown of Fayetteville, NC

J. Cole (photo via billboard.com)

by Melanie Eversley via thegrio.com

Rapper/singer J. Cole is raising funds through his Dreamville Foundation to help people from his hometown of Fayetteville, N.C., who have been affected by Hurricane Florence.

“The Dreamville Foundation is looking to lend a helping hand to the community, children, and families affected by Hurricane Florence,” the nonprofit which is based in Fayetteville, N.C., said on its webpage. “There will be hot food stations placed throughout the city, temporary housing options for families and stocking of food pantries/shelters (as) well as supporting other local nonprofits who help provide services for the people in Fayetteville.”

According to CBS News at least, 42 people have died as a result of Florence, which barreled through the Carolinas last week.

The goal of the 4-year-old organization is to inspire urban youth, according to the website. Cole is quoted on the homepage as saying, “I want to start the process of showing them there are other options besides what’s on the screen. They don’t have to be a rapper or an athlete, there are people who manage the rappers, who book the shows. There are so many jobs you can do, this is about expanding their minds to those possibilities.”

The hurricane forced the cancellation of J. Cole’s inaugural Dreamville Festival, which was slated to take place in Raleigh and include not only J. Cole but also Big SeanSZANelly and Young Thug. The festival has been rescheduled for April 2019, according to the Dreamville Festival Twitter account.

Cole, born Jermaine Lamarr Cole, was born on a U.S. military base in Germany but raised in Fayetteville. Along with the foundation, he is the founder of Dreamville Records, with his manager, Ibrahim Hamad.

Read more: https://thegrio.com/2018/09/22/j-cole-launches-fundraiser-florence-victims/

Elton Brand Becomes One Of Three Black General Managers in NBA For Philadelphia

Philadelphia 76ers new GM Elton Brand (photo via Chicago Tribune)

via blackamericaweb.com

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — Only two years out of the NBA, Elton Brand is set to return to the league as a 39-year-old general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers.

For a franchise that underwent the painful “Process” for a few seasons and had its last GM caught up in a Twitter scandal, a youth movement in the front office could be what the Sixers need to take the next step into Eastern Conference contention. Brand is ready to help lead the way.

“I’m going to rely on my team,” Brand said. “Not just on the court, but the off-the-court team. I can’t keep saying it enough. In my opinion, we are one of the top groups in the NBA.”

Brand was introduced Thursday at the Sixers complex as the new GM, and it was made clear the two-time All-Star will not yield the power to make the final decisions, but rather work in concert with coach Brett Brown and the rest of the front office.

“The 76ers are on the cusp of something very special and the next 12 months are really important,” Brand said. “I think that’s why I was the leading candidate, to bring stability to the organization and this group that I know really well.”

Brand had worked for the Sixers as vice president of operations and was the general manager of the Delaware Blue Coats, the 76ers’ G League affiliate.

Sixers owner Josh Harris said Brand emerged from a list of at least 10 candidates as the right choice to steady a franchise rocked by Bryan Colangelo’s sudden departure. Colangelo resigned in June as the 76ers’ president of basketball operations after what an investigation concluded was “careless and in some instances reckless” sharing of sensitive team information on Twitter. “I’ll lead with honesty, integrity,” Brand said.

Brown had assumed interim GM duties but wanted no part of holding the job full time. But he will work as Brand’s partner in key decisions the franchise faces coming off a 52-win season.

“Coach and I are aligned,” Brand said. “Teams that have won in the NBA, the GM, the coach have to get along. He’s going to have the players. But when it comes to trades, draft process, I’m running that. That’s what I’ve been hired for. Final say? Coach is going to have a voice in it.”

Brand played in 1,058 career games over 18 seasons with the Bulls, the Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas, Atlanta and two stints with the Sixers. He posted career averages of 16 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two blocks per game.

A two-time All-Star and the 2000 co-rookie of the year, Brand was also the recipient of the 2005-06 Joe Dumars Trophy, presented each season to the player who exemplifies the ideals of sportsmanship on the court.

“I think we’re at a new point in our team’s development into hopefully an NBA championship,” Harris said. “We need to be attracting talent here. Certainly, Elton’s image and who he is as a person were real positives. But leadership and managerial skills and the things you’ve got to do in the front office that aren’t just about image, he’s got those, too. But certainly, that was a huge positive.”

Brand said it’s fair to question his inexperience as he skyrocketed through the organization from the G League to GM. But it’s a job he’s ready to handle. “I’ll take the hits,” he said. “When there’s decisions made on the basketball side, I’m taking the hits.”

Brand, the fourth black GM in the NBA, is ready for the Sixers to put the offseason mess behind them and make a jump in the East. “This is a special team, an incredible opportunity, and we will lead a disciplined and determined path to building a championship organization,” he said.

To read more: https://blackamericaweb.com/2018/09/20/elton-brand-becomes-one-of-three-black-gms-in-nba-for-philadelphia/

Valentino Dixon, 48, Gets Released from 27 Years of Wrongful Imprisonment after Gaining National Attention for Golf Course Drawings

In a May 2013 file photo, Attica (N.Y.) Correctional Facility inmate Valentino Dixon poses with one of his golf drawings he created while in prison. (Photo: AP)

by  via usatoday.com

Convicted of a crime he never committed and serving time in one of the USA’s most notorious prisons, Valentino Dixon spent much of his free time drawing serene scenes of lush golf courses.

After 27 years behind bars, Dixon, 48, walked out of the Attica (N.Y.) Correctional Facility a free man Wednesday as his murder conviction in a 1991 shooting was officially overturned.

Dixon’s case gained national attention when he was profiled six years ago by Golf Digest for his meticulous attention to detail in the colored-pencil drawings he made of courses such as Augusta National — despite never having picked up a club in his life.

“They always say I don’t need to be drawing this golf stuff,” he has said. “I know it makes no sense, but for some reason my spirit is attuned to this game.”

From there, the publication and several other groups — including the Georgetown University Prison Reform Project — began looking into the questionable circumstances surrounding his conviction.

Even though Dixon had exhausted all his appeals, the Erie County district attorney’s office eventually revisited the evidence in the case, which resulted in a confession from the real gunman.

Upon his release, Dixon said he planned to go “to Red Lobster to celebrate with my family and my support team, then we’re going to go to a park.”

More: https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/golf/2018/09/19/golf-artist-inmate-freed-27-years-after-being-wrongfully-convicted/1363037002/

R.I.P. Dance Legend Arthur Mitchell, 84, Founder of the Dance Theater of Harlem

Arthur Mitchell in 1963. (Credit: Jack Mitchell/Getty Images)

by Jennifer Dunning via nytimes.com

Arthur Mitchell, a charismatic dancer with New York City Ballet in the 1950s and ’60s and the founding director of the groundbreaking Dance Theater of Harlem, died on Wednesday in Manhattan. He was 84. His death, at a hospital, was caused by complications of heart failure, said Juli Mills-Ross, a niece. He lived in Manhattan.

Mr. Mitchell, the first black ballet dancer to achieve international stardom, was one of the most popular dancers with New York City Ballet, where he danced from 1956 to 1968 and displayed a dazzling presence, superlative artistry and powerful sense of self.

That charisma served him well as the director of Dance Theater of Harlem, the nation’s first major black classical company, as it navigated its way through severe financial problems in recent decades and complex aesthetic questions about the relationship of black contemporary dancers to an 18th-century European art form.

Born in Harlem on March 27, 1934, Arthur Adam Mitchell Jr. was one of five children. His father was a building superintendent, and his mother, Willie Mae (Hearns) Mitchell, was a homemaker.

An avid social dancer all his life, Mr. Mitchell had his first exposure to formal training when a junior high school guidance counselor saw him dancing at a class party and suggested that he audition for the High School of Performing Arts in Manhattan.

Mr. Mitchell worked so hard there that in stretching he tore his stomach muscles and was hospitalized. But he was soon performing with the school’s modern-dance ensemble and experimenting with his own choreography. He also performed in Europe and the United States with Donald McKayle (who died in April), Louis Johnson, Sophie Maslow and Anna Sokolow, and he played an angel in a 1952 revival of the Virgil Thomson-Gertrude Stein opera “Four Saints in Three Acts” in New York and Paris.

Mr. Mitchell was 18 when he began studying with Mr. Shook, a demanding ballet teacher who encouraged black dancers to train in classical dance. On his graduation from the High School of Performing Arts he was offered a modern-dance scholarship at Bennington College in Vermont and a ballet scholarship at the School of American Ballet in New York. He chose to study ballet, although there were almost no performing outlets for black dancers in the field.

Beneath Mr. Mitchell’s gleaming smile and sunny charm was a tenacity of belief and purpose that could be almost frightening. In Lincoln Kirstein, a founder with Balanchine of the City Ballet school and company, Mr. Mitchell found a similarly stubborn friend. To get into the company’s corps de ballet, Mr. Kirstein told him, he must dance like a principal.

During his student years, Mr. Mitchell performed in modern dance and on Broadway in “House of Flowers,” and he was on tour in Europe with the John Butler Dance Theater when the invitation came to join City Ballet for the 1955-56 season.

When asked in an interview with The New York Times in January what he considered his greatest achievement, he said, “That I actually bucked society, and an art form that was three, four hundred years old, and brought black people into it.”

His dancing in just two roles created for him by New York City Ballet founder and choreographer George Balanchine ensured him a place in American ballet history.

In the first, in “Agon,” a trailblazing masterwork of 20th-century ballet that had its premiere in 1957, Mr. Mitchell embodied the edgy energy of the piece in a difficult, central pas de deux that Balanchine choreographed for him and Diana Adams. In this duet, “Balanchine explored most fully the possibilities of linear design in two extraordinary supple and beautifully trained human bodies,” the dance historian and critic Lillian Moore wrote.

“Can you imagine the audacity to take an African-American and Diana Adams, the essence and purity of Caucasian dance, and to put them together on the stage?” he said. “Everybody was against him. He knew what he was going against, and he said, ‘You know my dear, this has got to be perfect.’ ”

Five years after “Agon,” Balanchine created the role of a lifetime for Mr. Mitchell as the high-flying, hard-dancing, naughty Puck in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” He danced the part, Walter Terry wrote, “as if he were Mercury subjected to a hotfoot.”

Mr. Mitchell would forever be identified with the role.

One of the last ballets Mr. Mitchell performed with City Ballet was Balanchine’s “Requiem Canticles,” a tribute to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. created shortly after he was killed in 1968. Profoundly affected by the King assassination, Mr. Mitchell began to work toward establishing a school that would provide the children of Harlem with the kinds of opportunities he had had.

Mr. Mitchell, center, working with members of the Dance Theater of Harlem in 1997. He founded the company in 1969 with the dance teacher Karel Shook, a friend and longtime mentor. (Sara Krulwich/The New York Times)

He founded the Dance Theater of Harlem the next year with Karel Shook, a friend and longtime mentor. In the early 2000s, the company, along with its dance school, faced mounting debt, and it was forced to go on hiatus in 2004. But it returned to performance in reduced form in 2012 and now tours regularly and performs at City Center. The school today has more than 300 students.

Mr. Mitchell became artistic director emeritus of Dance Theater in 2011.

He returned to the company in August to oversee a production of “Tones II,” a restaging of one of his older ballets. It is to be performed in April, to commemorate Dance Theater’s 50th anniversary.

South Central Black Cowboys Documentary ‘Fire On The Hill’ to Debut at Los Angeles Film Festival on Sunday (VIDEO)

by Tambay Obenson via shadowandact.com

Making its world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival (LAFF) this Sunday, September 22 at the LAFF, is director Brett Fallentine‘s Fire on the Hill, a feature-length documentary that tells the intriguing story of the last public horse stable in South Central Los Angeles called Hill Stable, where a relatively unknown culture of urban cowboys is under threat, with focus on the lives and struggles of 3 inner-city cowboys.

The western-documentary’s synopsis reads: South Central Los Angeles was once home to one of the most recognized cowboy communities in the Nation. Yet after decades of urban development and rising street gang activity, this community – which had produced world champions – shrunk to all but a one-block horse stable known as “The Hill.” When a mysterious fire destroys the Hill Stable in 2012, the future of this once thriving culture finds itself at the brink of vanishing forever.

The film follows three cowboys in the wake of the fire. Ghuan, seeing the fire as an opportunity to resurrect the stable in his own vision must win over the broken cowboy community and hunt down the land’s estranged owner before developers get to it first; Chris, a rising bull rider from Compton, enters into his rookie year of professional rodeo and discovers that the L.A. streets aren’t so easy to leave behind; and Calvin, having found freedom on the back of a horse, must choose between the cowboy lifestyle and his family when his inner demons come back to haunt him.

This genre-bending documentary shines a new light on what it means to be a “cowboy” in America today, depicting a Los Angeles that has rarely been seen before.

Fire on the Hill is a Preamble Pictures Production in association with RYOT, Contend and Enzo, and is written, directed and produced by Brett Fallentine.

For festival tickets and other info, visit the LAFF’s website. Check out the trailer below:

Source: https://shadowandact.com/exclusive-trailer-poster-premiere-for-laff-bound-south-central-black-cowboys-doc-fire-on-the-hill

Tennis Star Naomi Osaka to Sign Adidas’ Biggest Deal With a Woman Athlete at $8.5M

Naomi Osaka (AP Images)

via newsone.com

2018 U.S. Open women’s tennis champion Naomi Osaka is winning both on and off the court. After defeating Serena Williams, the 20-year-old Haitian and Japanese athlete has become a household name. According to Business Insider, Osaka is slated to make history by inking the biggest deal that Adidas has ever offered to a woman athlete.

Osaka is reportedly working on a deal with the sports brand that is worth $8.5 million per year, the news outlet writes. The deal could possibly make her one of the highest-paid women in the realm of sports; out-earning her tennis opponents. Osaka currently has a contract with Adidas for six figures which is ending this year.

It seems as if the Adidas deal is just the beginning of more endorsements to come for Osaka. She recently signed a three-year endorsement deal with Nissan to be one of their brand ambassadors. “With a combination of grit and grace, Naomi Osaka is not afraid to take on the best tennis players of our time, and win,” Asako Hoshino, Senior Vice President, Nissan, told the news outlet. Osaka is humbled to represent the brand and says she was drawn to Nissan because of its “strong Japanese DNA and global competitive spirit.”

Osaka’s win over Serena Williams at the 2018 US Open garnered a lot of attention after Williams was hit with a slew of unjust code violations for coaching, breaking a racket, and her exchange of words with umpire Carlos Ramos. Despite the drama surrounding the match, the tennis veteran displayed sportsmanship by giving her opponent encouraging words as the crowd booed the outcome. “She said that she was proud of me and that I should know that the crowd wasn’t booing at me. So, I was really happy that she said that,” said Osaka during a recent appearance on The Ellen Show.

Source: https://newsone.com/3826727/naomi-osaka-adidas-deal/

Brown University Physics Professor S. James Gates Jr. to Lead the American Physical Society

Theoretical Physicist S. James Gates, Jr. (via cspan.org)

via jbhe.com

S. James Gates Jr., Ford Foundation Professor of Physics at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, has been named to the presidential line of the American Physical Society, a nonprofit organization that represents more than 55,000 physicists in higher education and the physics industry worldwide. Dr. Gates will serve as vice president in 2019, president-elect in 2020, and president in 2021.

Before joining the Brown faculty in May 2017, Dr. Gates served as a professor at the University of Maryland for 33 years. His research interests include theoretical physics, specifically the areas of supersymmetry and supergravity. He has won the National Medal of Science, which is the highest honor bestowed upon American scientists by the U.S. President.

Professor Gates is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, serves on the board of trustees of Society for Science and the Public, and was a member on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology under President Obama. He is a co-author of the supersymmetry textbook, Superspace or One Thousand and One Lessons in Supersymmetry (Addison-Wesley, 1983).

Dr. Gates holds two bachelor’s degrees, one in mathematics and one in physics, and a Ph.D. in physics all from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/09/sylvester-james-gates-to-lead-the-american-physical-society/

LeBron James and John Legend Team Up to Produce TV Remake of “Lean On Me” for the CW

by Stacy Ann-Ellis via vibe.com

LeBron James and John Legend are two men in the entertainment space who are continuously working on major new endeavors. The I Promise School founder and newly-minted EGOT, respectively, are putting their talents together to bring a fan favorite to the TV screen. According to Deadline, James and Legend will be working with writer Wendy Calhoun for a women-led CW adaptation of the biographical film, Lean on Me.

The potential series—which will bear the same name as 1989 original—follows Amarie Baldwin, a young black principal in Akron, Ohio, with hopes of resuscitating a struggling urban school. Naturally, as she overcomes daily hurdles within the walls of her workplace, she is also facing challenges at home on the love life and family front. Baldwin is subbing in for beloved lead Lean on Me character Mr. Clark, who was famously played by Morgan Freeman.

In addition to Calhoun, who has worked on Station 19, Empire, Nashville and more, Legend and James are sharing production duties with Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius’ Get Lifted, and Warner Bros. TV.

Source: https://www.vibe.com/2018/09/lebron-james-john-legend-lean-on-me/

NBA Legend Isiah Thomas Seeks to Increase Celebrities’ Support of HBCUs with “Lift Every Voice” Program

Isiah Thomas (photo via freep.com)

by jbhe.com

Isiah Thomas, a former star in the National Basketball Association, is partnering with Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens to encourage athletes, entertainers, and other successful people to support HBCUs. According to a statement released by the university, the new program is “intended to inspire successful athletes, entertainers and other influential partners to re-commit, embrace and support historically Black colleges and universities.”

This program will be called “Lift Ev’ry Voice.” This refers to the song “Life Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” which is commonly referred to as the “Black National Anthem.” James Weldon Johnson wrote the song originally as a poem and had his brother John Rosamond Johnson set it to music. He was a composer and music professor at what was then Florida Baptist Academy. That educational institution is now known as Florida Memorial University.

Thomas played two years of college basketball for Indiana University before entering the NBA draft. He played for 13 years  for the Detroit Pistons. Thomas completed his degree from Indiana University during the Pistons’ offseasons and later earned his master’s degree in education from the University of California Berkeley.

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/09/nba-legend-isiah-thomas-seeks-to-increase-celebrities-support-of-hbcus/