The Good News Network recently highlighted the story of Ahmed Ali, 21, a non-verbal student who has been attending the Minneapolis Public School system’s Transitions Plus Program for the last three years.
Ali was chosen to give a commencement address this year, making history with it by using speech software he helped develop with a speech pathologist to deliver words he composed on his own to his appreciative audience.
I am going to give free wisdom to the graduates… you will achieve a lot of amazing things with or without disabilities. Without a doubt. Secondly, life is basically a marathon. As human beings, we are running a relay race,” said Ali via his device. “The track is your life. Every time you achieve something you pass the baton to the next person. Guess who you are passing the baton to? It’s you. Each stage of your life you are passing it to a new you. It’s not the end of the line for you, but it’s a new you in our beautiful world.
KARE11 posted video of highlights from Ali’s software-delivered speech. Watch below:
The Boondocks was a satirical animated series that followed two brothers, Huey and Riley Freeman, as they moved from the inner city to the suburbs known as Woodcrest. Throughout the comic strip and the animated series, The Boondocks blended political and social commentary through a wide range of exaggerated characters from Riley to Uncle Ruckus.
What isn’t known is whether or not the show will return to Adult Swim on the Cartoon Network. Also, it’s not clear whether Academy Award winner Regina King, who voiced both Huey and Riley, will return, though according to blackamericaweb.com, John Witherspoon will reprise his role as Granddad.
According to deadline.com, Universal Pictures plans to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Spike Lee’s groundbreaking and still-topical filmDo the Right Thing with a re-mastered 4K restoration that will hit theaters June 28.
In partnership with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and the Criterion Collection, the re-release will include one-week engagements as well as single-day showtimes June 30 at select AMC, Regal Cinemas, Cinemark, and Alamo Drafthouse theaters. There also will be 35mm screenings at select theaters in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin and Brookline, MA.
“When Spike Lee’s revolutionary Do the Right Thing was released by Universal Pictures 30 years ago this June, it ignited a national conversation on race and race relations in America that challenged our assumptions about ourselves and our country and heralded the arrival of a generation-defining filmmaker,” said Jim Orr, Universal’s President of Domestic Theatrical Distribution.
Set during one sweltering summer day on a block of Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, the film follows the interactions among neighborhood characters Mookie (Lee), Sal (Danny Aiello), Da Mayor (Ossie Davis), Mother Sister (Ruby Dee), Mister Señor Love Daddy (Samuel L. Jackson), Tina (Rosie Perez), Buggin Out (Giancarlo Esposito), Jade (Joie Lee), Pino (John Turturro) and Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn). Tensions rise as demands for a black person’s photo be added to the Italians-only Wall of Fame at Sal’s Pizzeria create heated confrontations that ultimately explode into police-instigated violence.
Public Enemy recorded the film’s anthem “Fight The Power,” which remains an influential hip-hop classic to this day (see video below). Lee earned an Original Screenplay Oscar nomination for the film, and Aiello earned a Supporting Actor nod. On July 23, the Criterion Collection also will celebrate the 30th anniversary with a Blu-ray/DVD release of a director-approved definitive edition featuring the new 4K restoration.
In addition to co-owning entertainment marketing firm D3 Entertainment Group and the Vibe Room recording studio in Nashville with sister Michelle and twin brother Clyde, Kendall Duffie‘s talents also include being a deep sea diver and a vegan chef.
Now, with the encouragement of peers, family and fans like Grammy-winning Gospel legend Yolanda Adams endorsing his delicious vegan creations (see Yolanda Adams’ reaction to Duffie’s cuisine below), Duffie is set to unveil a new dining experience in his hometown of Nashville, Tennessee–Deep Sea Vegan.
On June 15, Duffie will launch his Deep Sea Vegan brand with a special pop-up restaurant event to be held at East Nashville’s trendy BE-Hive Vegan Store & Deli, located at 2414 Gallatin Avenue. The BE-Hive will close its regular service at 4 p.m. CT that afternoon, and two hours later, the venue will be transformed into Deep Sea Vegan. From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. CT, diners will be treated to some of the tastiest food on the planet.
“I’m not trying to convert people to veganism,” Duffie notes. “But I am trying to educate people about the health benefits of a plant-based diet. And I’m trying to dispel the myth that a vegan diet is not tasty. There are literally thousands of edible plants, with an incredible variety of tastes and textures. And best of all, the food is delicious!”
Duffie started his own journey toward a vegan diet for health reasons. “I had gained a lot of weight, my blood pressure was through the roof and my cholesterol was way too high,” he confesses. “I realized I needed to pursue a healthier lifestyle. I started eating a vegetarian diet, then went vegan. My cholesterol dropped, my blood pressure leveled out, and I lost weight–all very positive things.”
Duffie, a certified advanced deep sea diver, develops his own vegan recipes, many of them replicating the taste and texture of his favorite seafood dishes including such items as his “Deep Crab Burger” and “Deep Sea Fish Sandwich.”
“I’m pretty creative, so I decided to combine my passions–that’s how Deep Sea Vegan was born,” he says. “I decided to make it a pop-up restaurant because I’m a busy guy. I travel a lot for business, so the concept of a pop-up restaurant just made so much sense to me. It avoids the requirement for a fixed, brick ‘n’ mortar establishment, and allows me to be flexible on when and where I want to ‘pop-up.'”
“I look forward to seeing everyone on June 15 for the Nashville launch of Deep Sea Vegan,” says Duffie. “It will set your tastebuds free!”
For more information on Duffie, Deep Sea Vegan, and the Deep Sea Vegan pop-up restaurant in Nashville on June 15, 2019, go to Facebook (deepseavegan), Instagram (@deepseavegan) or the website deepseavegan.com.
The Christopher Wallace Memorial Foundation will host the official street naming ceremony of Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace Way to celebrate Brooklyn’s Notorious B.I.G., one of the greatest and most influential rappers of all time.
Voletta Wallace, Faith Evans, B.I.G.’s children T’Yanna Wallace and Christopher Wallace, representatives of the Christopher Wallace Memorial Foundation, members of the city council, and more will be present for the ceremony. Music will be provided by Hot 97’s DJ Enuff.
WHEN: Monday, June 10, 2019, 12-2pm EST
WHERE: Corner of St. James Place and Fulton Street Brooklyn, NY 11238
The Obama Foundation has selected the Columbia Center for Oral History Research to produce the official oral history of Barack Obama’s presidency, according to the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.
The project will provide a comprehensive, enduring record of the decisions, actions, and effects of his historic administration. The University of Hawai’i and the University of Chicago will also serve as contributing partners for the project, documenting Obama’s early life in Hawaii and his years in Chicago, respectively.
“Michelle Obama famously observed, ‘You can’t really understand Barack until you understand Hawai’i,’” said University of Hawai’i President David Lassner. “UH and our extraordinary Center for Oral History are looking forward to exploring those early days with those who were part of President Obama’s story.”
“We are pleased to collaborate with Columbia on this exciting project,” said University of Chicago faculty members Adam Green and Jacqueline Stewart in a joint statement. “The stories of Michelle and Barack Obama are intertwined with the story of Chicago and the South Side in particular. We look forward to contributing to that historic narrative, with a focus on how their city helped to shape them as civic leaders.”
Starting this summer and over the next five years, the Obama Presidency Oral History Project will conduct interviews with some 400 people, including senior leaders and policy makers within the Obama administration, as well as elected officials, campaign staff, journalists, and other key figures outside the White House.
The project will also incorporate interviews with individuals representing different dimensions of daily American life, whose perspectives will enable the archive to include how the general public was affected by the Obama administration’s decisions. Additionally, the research team will collect information about Michelle Obama’s work and legacy as First Lady.
“We are honored to document the legacy of President Obama. Our goal is to set a new benchmark for presidential oral histories in terms of the diversity and breadth of narratives assembled and depth of understanding achieved,” said Mary Marshall Clark, director of the Columbia Center for Oral History Research and a project co-investigator. “Central to our project is a commitment to candidly document the stories of key administration alumni and bring them into conversation with the varied experiences of Americans from all walks of life.”
In addition to hosting the project, Columbia has announced the formation of the Obama Presidency Oral History Advisory Board, composed of leading presidential historians, authors, and scholars who can speak to how the Obama administration affected the lives of those inside and outside of Washington D.C.
Sonita Alleyne was recently elected as master of Jesus College at the University of Cambridge in England, according to jbhe.com. The title of master is the equivalent of dean in the United States.
Alleyne will be the first woman and the first Black person to lead the college, which was established in 1496. She will also be the first Black master at either the University of Oxford or the University of Cambridge.
For the 300 years from 1560 to 1860, Jesus College was primarily a training college for Church of England clergy. It experienced major growth in the last half of the nineteenth century due to growing demand for university education from the expanding Victorian professional and middle classes.
It is an honour to be elected to lead Jesus College and I’m looking forward to becoming part of such an energetic and innovative community. Having met many Fellows, students and staff in recent weeks, I was struck by the positive and forward-looking ethos shared across the College.
“In addition to the outstanding education, the cross-disciplinary work and evident passion for arts, culture and sport I have seen at Jesus is impressive. Supporting the work of the College to widen access and participation to all that it offers promises to be incredibly rewarding. I left Cambridge thirty years ago, but it never left me. I am delighted to be returning.
Alleyne was born in in Bridgetown, Barbados, but grew up in East London. She is the director and founder of the Yes Programme, an online careers information scheme which gives school pupils an insight into how classroom skills translate to real world careers.
Her current non-executive posts include chair of the British Board of Film Classification, director of the Cultural Capital Fund, governor of the Museum of London and member of the Skills for Londoners Business Partnership Members Group – advising the Mayor of London on improving skills provision to meet the capital’s needs.
Previous board roles include the National Employment Panel, BBC Trust, London Skills and Employment Board, chair of the Radio Sector Skills Council, non-executive director of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and member of the Court of Governors at the University of the Arts London.
Alleyne holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Cambridge.
Lonnie G. Bunch III, the founding director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), was appointed the new Secretary of the Smithsonian on Tuesday. According to dcist.com, Bunch is the fourteenth person to hold the position in the Smithsonian’s 173-year history, and the first African American.
As Secretary, Bunch will manage the administration of the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, 21 libraries, and the National Zoo. He is also responsible for its $1.5 billion annual budget. Bunch succeeds David J. Skorton, who announced his resignation in December.
“Lonnie has spent 29 years of his life dedicated to the Smithsonian, so he knows the institution inside and out,” said David Rubenstein, the chair of the Smithsonian Board of Regents on Tuesday. The Board met at the Supreme Court earlier in the day unanimously elected Bunch as Secretary.
“He’s also highly regarded by members of Congress and highly respected by our donor base,” Rubenstein added, while also citing Bunch’s “incredible character” and his leadership of the NMAAHC as major assets.
“You’re going to make a historian cry,” Bunch said when he spoke at Tuesday’s press conference. “This is an emotional moment, because the Smithsonian means so much to me personally and professionally.”
The museum has been such a huge success that tickets are still largely required more than two years after opening, with visitors staying for hours longer than at other facilities. In its first year of operation, NMAAHC welcomed nearly 2.4 million visitors and was the fourth-most visited Smithsonian institution.
“It tells the unvarnished truth,” Bunch told DCist on the one-year anniversary of the museum’s opening. “I think there are people who were stunned that a federal institution could tell the story with complexity, with truth, with tragedy, and sometimes resilience.”
Over his tenure, Bunch and his team of curators made it a point to continue building a collection for the museum’s future, including acquiring artifacts from the Black Lives Matter movement, and to integrate D.C.’s own rich history into the fabric of the museum.
According to the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln recently debuted an online database of more than 500 court cases in which enslaved persons had sued to gain their freedom. The Dred Scott case in 1857 is the most famous of such cases, but there were many more.
The project collected, digitized, and makes accessible the freedom suits brought by enslaved families in the Circuit Court for the District of Columbia, Maryland state courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court. African-American enslaved families accumulated legal knowledge, legal acumen, and experience with the law that they passed from one generation to the next.
The freedom suits they brought against slaveholders exposed slavery a priori as subject to legal question. The suits in Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital, raised questions about the constitutional and legal legitimacy of slavery, and by extension, affected slavery and law in Maryland, Virginia, and all of the federal territories.
One such case was that of Ann Williams, who leapt from the third floor window of a tavern on F Street in Washington, D.C., after she was sold to Georgia slave traders and separated from her family. She suffered a broken back and fractured her arms, but she survived.
In 2015, original documents about her came to light at the National Archives. Williams and her husband were reunited and had four more children. Then she sued for her freedom. And won. Below is a short film about her story:
The online database concentrates on cases filed in Washington, D.C. in the 1820s and 1830s. More than 100 of these cases involved enslaved persons who were represented by Francis Scott Key, the author of the “Star Spangled Banner.” As such the database is named “O Say Can You See: Early Washington, D.C., Law and Family.”
The historic “Shelley House”at 4600 Labadie Avenue in St. Louis was dedicated yesterday by the National Park Service as Missouri’s first official site on the new U.S. Civil Rights Trail. U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay and Aurelia Skipwith, deputy assistant Secretary of Interior, headlined the event.
The U.S. Civil Rights Trail, created by legislation written by Clay, aims to preserve significant places that had critical roles in the civil rights movement in the United States.
The Shelley House was at the center of the U.S. Supreme Court decision (Shelley v. Kraemer) which struck down restrictive racial covenants in housing in 1948. The nationally impactful decision pitted J.D. and Ethel Shelley, a black couple who wanted to buy the house, against Louis and Fern Kraemer, white neighbors who tried to keep them out.
Other notables in attendance were St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, St. Louis NAACP President Adolphus Pruitt, and members of the Shelley family.