Harlem Will Soon Be Home to 20-Story Hip Hop Hall of Fame Museum

(photo via huffpost.com)

by Brennan Williams via (huffpost.com)

Earlier this month, the Hip Hop Hall of Fame Museum won a bid to acquire a Harlem building and development site for a new state-of-the-art facility that will “preserve, archive, exhibit, educate, and showcase hip-hop Music and culture from around the world.”

Phase one, which is set to begin in February 2018, of the museum’s development plan will include, among other things, a multimedia film production studio and a television content production center for students “that will be training for careers in tech and media, while producing real-life content for the museum, and the hip hop television channel network,” the museum’s founder, JT Thompson, said in a release.

Eventually the 20-story building will include 5-star hotel, retail mall, an arcade, restaurant and concert lounge. The organization has also launched a $150 million fundraising campaign to help complete funding for the entertainment complex.

Last year, Thompson ― who’s also an Army veteran ― told the New York Post that the museum’s progress has been a “labor of love.”

“Hip hop is about empowering yourself, moving beyond the music,” he said. “The HHHOF and I have a duty and responsibility to preserve this rich history of music and culture. [You need to] pull yourself up by your bootstraps to pursue your dreams.”

“This has been a labor of love. It’s had its valleys, mountains, peaks and falloffs. In the Army, I had leaders, mentors and brothers like teammates working to achieve something special. In life and in business, be disciplined and finish strong without quitting.”

For more info on the development of the Hip Hop Hall of Fame Museum, please visit the museum’s website.

Source: Harlem Will Soon Be Home To A 20-Story Hip Hop Museum | HuffPost

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

Joy Bishara and Lydia Pogu, Two Escaped Boko Haram Abductees, Graduate From High School in VA, Head to Southeastern University

(photo via instagram.com)

by Taryn Finley via huffpost.com

Two of the nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014 are telling their story. Joy Bishara, 20, and Lydia Pogu, 19, are among the 57 girls who were able to escape from the terrorist group. The duo gave People Magazine a detailed account of horrors they faced when the gunmen invaded their school in Chibok, Nigeria, and the events that followed.

The girls were sleeping when the invasion occurred. They woke to the sounds of gunshots and bombs. Pogu told People that men in uniforms stormed into their dorm and told them they were officers who were there to protect them. But the girls said they knew they weren’t real officers based on the way they described themselves.

“We were all crying and screaming. They told us to keep quiet or they’re going to kill us. So they start to shoot their guns up on top of us, making us quiet. All of us were scared. We were just holding each other,” Bishara said. “They asked us to follow them, we should go with them. When we tried going with them, some of us start running … then they went and put us all back together and said, ‘OK, you all have to cooperate or else we are going to just shoot any girl who just followed a different direction that we didn’t point.”

She said they gave the girls an ultimatum: run away and die or get on a truck and leave with them. Once the truck drove away with the girls on it, it created clouds of dust, making it difficult to see behind the truck. Girls began jumping from the truck and running away in different directions. Bishara and two other girls found each other in the bush and were able to stop a motorcyclist, who brought them back to Chibok.

Bishara and Pogu were able to return back to their families. In August of the same year, the duo and several other girls who escaped moved to the United States to complete school. With the help of a Christian nonprofit and a Nigerian activist group, they were able to attend boarding school in Virginia. Bishara and Pogu transferred their senior year and recently graduated from Canyonville Christian Academy. Both gave speeches at the ceremony. They will be attending Southeastern University in Florida in the fall and have started a GoFundMe to help with their expenses.

In April 2014, Boko Haram abducted as many as 276 schoolgirls from Chibok. The girls were subjected to rape, torture, starvation and forced marriages. They were also forced to join the group’s army. This sparked the #BringBackOurGirls campaign online and caught the attention of notable figures, including former first lady Michelle Obama.

To read more, go to: 2 Escaped Boko Haram Victims Graduate From High School | HuffPost

Family in New Jersey Wins $429 Million Lottery, Uses Money to Fight Poverty

The Smith Family (photo via thegrio.com)

via thegrio.com

Last year, the Smith family in Trenton, New Jersey, won the $429 million Powerball lottery, and they planned to use all that money to help fight poverty. Pearlie Mae Smith and her seven children meant what they said at a press conference when they promised to give that money back to their community.

“It was like affirmation from God because we each have dreams that we want to fulfill in this life, and do for our community and do for each other and for our families and we have been funded to do that,” Smith’s daughter Valerie Arthur said last year when the family won about $25 million apiece after taxes when they decided to take their winnings in a lump sum.

They used the money to pay off bills and student loans before they put it back into their community with the Smith Family Foundation. “We want to fund programs that directly affect systems of poverty so we can help change the systems or change the dynamics that are causing people to be in poverty,” Harold Smith told NJ.com. “Rather than just helping them find food or give away food, we can make it so they now have the ability to obtain employment, get their proper education in order to be able to go out and get their own food.”

The foundation will work with the city in order to provide both long- and short-term grants for Trenton.

Source: Family wins $429 million lottery, aims to use money to fight poverty | theGrio

Ice Cube Honored with Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Ice Cube (photo via vibe.com)

by Jessica McKinney via vibe.com

It’s hard to think that after roughly 30 years in the music industry and blessing the culture with hits like “F**k the Police” and both the Barbershop and Friday series’, that Ice Cube hasn’t already gotten a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But in reality, he actually hasn’t. That is, until today (June 12), when the hip hop icon was honored with his very own star on Hollywood Boulevard.

Director of Boyz in the Hood, John Singleton, was one of  people who spoke at Ice Cube’s star ceremony Monday afternoon. “The mark of a true man is how many people he influences in his lifetime,” Singleton said. “That’s how I see Cube.” Dr. Dre was also in attendance to watch his longtime friend and former N.W.A partner be honored. While the multi-faceted artist has definitely influenced many, he suggested the honor was still somewhat surprising.

“When you coming up doing music, movies, just trying to be creative, you never figure you’ll be on the Hollywood Walk of Fame one day,” he said.Ice Cube’s Walk of Fame ceremony comes only three days after the release of the 25th anniversary edition of the rapper’s politically-charged album, Death Certificate. Coincidentally, it is only three days before his 48th birthday.

To read more, go to: Clap For Him: Ice Cube Finally Honored With Hollywood Star

Aretha Franklin Honored with Aretha Franklin Way in Hometown of Detroit

Aretha Franklin wipes away tears as she has street dedicated to her in hometown of Detroit (photo via huffingtonpost.com)

by Jenna Amatulli via huffingtonpost.com

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, was honored with a street named after her in Detroit this week.

A portion of Madison Avenue ― beginning at the corner of Brush Street outside of the Detroit City Music Hall for the Performing Arts ― is now called Aretha Franklin Way.

Franklin was near-speechless during the unveiling ceremony:

The 75 year-old songstress later spoke on the stage at the Music Hall on Thursday evening, thanking the city of Detroit for always supporting her and joking about needing some Kleenex.

“Thank you again for this resplendent and magnificent honor of this street, Aretha’s Way. I want to see it every time I come down here, I’m going to dance down it!” she said.

Source: Aretha Franklin Overcome With Emotion After Street Named After Her In Detroit | HuffPost

Screen Actors Guild Foundation to Honor Rashida Jones with 2017 Actors Inspiration Award for Philanthropy

Rashida Jones (photo via lifetailored.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

The Screen Actors Guild‘s SAG-AFTRA Foundation announced today that Emmy®-nominated actor Rashida Jones will receive its Actors Inspiration Award, an honor recognizing artists who give back to the community by championing worthy philanthropic causes which make a difference in the world. On Monday, June 12th, the award will be presented to Ms. Jones at the Foundation’s 8thAnnual Los Angeles Golf Classic, an event benefiting its assistance and children’s literacy programs.

Rashida Jones is an actor, director, producer, screenwriter, musician and activist. Her philanthropy includes work with the International Rescue Committee, traveling around the world as an advocate for the nonprofit which delivers lifesaving care to people fleeing conflict and natural disaster; serving on the board and as a celebrity ambassador for Peace First, a youth organization that encourages the development of the world’s next generation of peacemakers; and supporting Oceana in its mission to protect and restore the world’s oceans. In addition, she lends her voice to several other important charities including Amnesty International, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and The Trevor Project. Ms. Jones is also a supporter of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s online children’s literacy program Storyline Online (storylineonline.net) and will be filming a new video for Storyline Online following the Actors Inspiration Award ceremony. She will join the ranks of actors Viola Davis, Lily Tomlin and Chris Pine as Storyline Online advocates. Rashida Jones’ commitment to supporting vulnerable populations around the world, the environment, and children’s literacy embodies the spirit of the Actors Inspiration Award. Continue reading