‘Black Panther,’ ‘Black Lightning,’ ‘Luke Cage’ Highlight Rise of Black Superheroes

Image via variety.com

by Daniel Holloway via variety.com

Diversity is on the uptick in comics-inspired TV and film. When “Luke Cage” exec producer Cheo Hodari Coker declared at his show’s San Diego Comic-Con panel last year, “The world is ready for a bulletproof black man,” the crowd erupted in cheers. So did the internet. “Right before I said it, I knew what I was feeling,” Coker later told Variety. “I had said variations of it during the day. It was coming from an emotional place, but I didn’t think it was going to reverberate the way that it did. But I’m glad that it did.”

The “Luke Cage” panel came in July on the heels of widespread protests sparked by the killings of unarmed black men by white police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota. When the show premiered in September, it became the first live-action series about a black superhero since 1994’s “MANTIS.” Now it’s getting some company. Next season the CW will premiere “Black Lightning,” based on the DC Comics superhero. And next year Marvel will debut “Black Panther,” the studio’s first feature with a black hero in the lead.

Social, political and business trends have converged to put black superheroes at the centers of burgeoning television and film franchises after years of being relegated to supporting status. Dan Evans, VP of creative affairs at DC Entertainment, cites the emergence of black superheroes on-screen as part of a larger trend in television and film. “There’s so many examples now, from ‘24’ to ‘The Fast and the Furious’ to ‘Creed,’” says Evans, whose office door features an oversize image of Cyborg, the black teen hero who will play a key role in the upcoming “Justice League” movie. “We’ve seen again and again that if you tell a good story with these characters, people will come.”

In superhero comics, the first appeals to underserved minority audiences came with the debuts of Black Panther (1966), Luke Cage (1972), Black Lightning (1977) and others. “These black superheroes emerge parallel to the changes in American race relations in the late 1960s with the emergence of the Black Power movement,” says Adilifu Nama, author of “Super Black: American Pop Culture and Black Superheroes.” The movement’s push for equality and representation rippled through popular culture. “It wouldn’t be very sensible to think that these demands for diversity would only be in the realm of lunch counters and bus transportation.”

To read full article, go to: ‘Black Panther,’ ‘Luke Cage’ Highlight Rise of Black Superheroes | Variety

MOVIES: Watch 1st Trailer for Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time”

by Seth Kelley via variety.com

The first footage from Ava DuVernay’s highly-anticipated “A Wrinkle in Time” is finally here. Disney did the honors during its D23 Expo on Saturday.

DuVernay, the director of “Selma” and the documentary “13th,” among other projects, joined “A Wrinkle in Time” in February 2016. The story follows a group of children as they travel through time and visit strange worlds in order to find their missing father. Storm Reid plays the oldest daughter, Meg Murray, in the movie.

The cast includes Oprah Winfrey as Mrs. Which, Reese Witherspoon as Mrs. Whatsit, Mindy Kaling as Mrs. Who, and Chris Pine, who all joined the stage to present “Wrinkle” alongside DuVernay and Reid. Zach Galifianakis and Gugu Mbatha-Raw also star, but were not in attendance.

Jennifer Lee, who wrote and co-directed “Frozen” with Chris Buck, is responsible for the film adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s classic children’s book for Disney.

Earlier in the weekend, Winfrey was honored as a Disney Legend. During her acceptance speech, the legendary actress spoke about the studio’s impact on her life. “Disney, ABC 7 let me be me,” she said of her long-running “Oprah Winfrey Show.”

“A Wrinkle in Time” is expected to hit theaters March 9, 2018. The teaser can be seen above.

To read full article, go to: http://variety.com/2017/film/news/a-wrinkle-in-time-trailer-disney-ava-duvernay-watch-video-1202496728/

Oscar Winner Barry Jenkins to Direct Adaptation of James Baldwin’s “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Barry Jenkins (photo via variety.com)

by Justin Kroll via variety.com

Barry Jenkins is set to direct an adaptation of “If Beale Street Could Talk” for Annapurna Pictures, marking his first feature film since his hit “Moonlight” won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Original Screenplay.

Based on the novel by James Baldwin, “If Beale Street Could Talk,” the story follows Tish, a newly engaged Harlem woman who races against the clock to prove her lover’s innocence while carrying their child. It is a celebration of love told through the story of a young couple, their families and their lives, trying to bring about justice through love, for love and the promise of the American dream.

Production on the film is expected to start in October. Jenkins, who has wanted to make the film for many years, wrote the screenplay during the same summer sojourn in 2013 when he penned “Moonlight.” Since then, Jenkins has been working with the Baldwin Estate. Baldwin’s sister, Gloria Karefa-Smart, says, “We are delighted to entrust Barry Jenkins with this adaptation. Barry is a sublimely conscious and gifted filmmaker, whose medicine for melancholy impressed us so greatly that we had to work with him.”

“James Baldwin is a man of and ahead of his time; his interrogations of the American consciousness have remained relevant to this day,” Jenkins said. “To translate the power of Tish and Fonny’s love to the screen in Baldwin’s image is a dream I’ve long held dear. Working alongside the Baldwin Estate, I’m excited to finally make that dream come true.”

To read full article, go to: Moonlight Director Barry Jenkins New Movie: If Beale Street Could Talk | Variety

NPR’s Social Justice Summer Reading List for Kids

(image by Elizabeth Grabber via npr.org)

by Kayla Lattimore via npr.org

Social activist Innosanto Nagara wanted to find a fun book to read to his 2-year-old son that also talked about the importance of social justice. He wasn’t looking for the typical fiction written for children, instead, he was looking for unique narratives — by writers of color and/or authors who can speak about social issues through their own experiences. Nagara couldn’t find any. So he wrote one.

“Parents and teachers are realizing that what students read and learn affects how they see the world.” said Deborah Menkart, Executive Director for Teaching for Change, an organization that puts together social justice reading lists to inspire children throughout the summer. “Give kids credit,” says Stan Yogi, one of the authors on our list. “They have an innate sense of what’s right and what’s wrong. Being able to draw on that innate sense of justice through relatable stories is so important.”

Not all parents have the time to do what Innosanto Nagara did. For those who can’t, we’ve compiled a list — with help from Teaching for Change — of books that frame big issues through a lens children can understand.

A Is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara

Every letter is the definition of a different social movement. For F — kids learn about Feminism, when we get to G – kids learn about the meaning of grassroots organizing and why its important. This beautifully illustrated ABC book uses rhyming and alliteration to get your little reader excited about social change. If your child loves this work they may enjoy the author’s new work My Night at the Planetarium, which illustrates the important role the arts play in resistance.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Starr Carter is a 16-year-old girl who’s navigating the two worlds of her upper-class prep school and the reality of her poverty stricken neighborhood. After she witnesses her friend getting shot and killed in a confrontation with the police, she must deal with the consequences of talking about what she saw. The author unpacks the complexity and weight of standing up for what you believe in at a young age.

One of a Kind, Like Me / Único Como Yo by Laurin Mayeno, Robert Liu-Trujillo and Teresa Mlawer

A heartwarming story of a young boy, Danny, who fights gender stereotypes by dressing up as a princess for the school parade. The author, Laurin Mayeno, was inspired to write this from her own experience with her son Danny. “Sometimes as parents we must unlearn things we learned growing up,” says Mayeno. The book is bilingual, in English and Spanish, and discusses gender expression from a child’s point of view.

To see full list, go to: Summer Reading For Your Woke Kid : NPR Ed : NPR

Sci-Fi Writer Octavia Butler’s Inspirational Notes to Herself on Display at Huntington Library in CA Through 8/7

Octavia Butler is pictured in 2004 near some of her novels at a store in Seattle. (Joshua Trujillo / Associated Press)

by Karen Wada via latimes.com

Octavia E. Butler was a powerful and pioneering voice in science-fiction. The first black woman acclaimed as a master of the genre, she was known for vivid, expertly crafted tales that upended conventional ideas about race, gender and humanity. Although her creations were bold, Butler, who grew up poor in Pasadena, was “a private, reflective person who struggled with shyness and self-doubt,” said Natalie Russell, curator of a new exhibition at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, CA.

How such struggles influenced her life and art is one of the themes explored in “Octavia E. Butler: Telling My Stories.” Russell said the show uses an invaluable resource — the author’s archive — to examine both her published work and “who she was as told through her personal papers.”

One of Octavia Butler’s Notes to Self (photo via latimes.com)

Butler, who died at 58 in 2006, willed the Huntington 354 boxes of materials, a bequest Russell describes as “huge and unedited because Octavia kept everything and passed away unexpectedly after a fall.” She said the exhibition, which runs through Aug. 7, presents about 100 items, including manuscripts, photographs and notebooks filled with writing and self-motivational notes, including one that reads in part, “My novels go onto the bestseller lists. … So be it! See to it!”

Butler started writing science-fiction as a child. She spent years working to establish her career — and a new vision of what’s possible in a genre dominated by white men. Along the way, Russell said, she needed reassurance and reinforcement.

To read more, go to: At the Huntington, see the inspirational note black sci-fi writer Octavia Butler wrote to herself – LA Times

Tracy K. Smith Named New U.S. Poet Laureate by Library of Congress

Tracy K. Smith (Photograph © Rachel Eliza Griffiths)

by Sophia Nguyen via harvardmagazine.com

Tracy K. Smith has been named the new U.S. Poet Laureate by the Library of Congress, succeeding Juan Felipe Herrera. While the role doesn’t carry many specific official duties, it has traditionally involved raising awareness of, and increasing access to, poetry. “I am excited about the kinds of social divides that poetry may be able not just to cross but to mend,” Smith said in an interview with the library.

“One of my favorite things in the world is to sit and talk quietly about the things poems cause me to notice and remember, the feelings they teach me to recognize, the deep curiosity about other people’s lives that they foster. I am excited about carrying this conversation beyond literary festivals and university classrooms, and finding ways that poems might genuinely bring together people who imagine they have nothing to say to one another.” Smith has authored four books of poetry, the most recent of which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2012. Her memoir Ordinary Light was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2015.

In later chapters, she describes going to Harvard (where she joined the Dark Room Collective) as her mother’s health began to fail. In poetry workshops, she writes, “I had discovered that sitting down with an idea and letting it unfold in words and sounds offered me not just pleasure but an indescribable comfort.” Her new collection, Wade in the Water, comes out next April.

To read full article, go to: Library of Congress names Harvard alumna Tracy K. Smith as new Poet Laureate | Harvard Magazine

WATCH: Marvel’s “Black Panther” Teaser Trailer is Here!

Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o starring, Ryan Coogler directing. Out in theaters on Feb. 16, 2018.  Mark the date – we can’t wait!