Obama Designates Three Civil Rights Monuments as National Monuments in Last Week of Presidency

A young protester confronted by a police officer and a snarling police dog is depicted in a sculpture in Kelly Ingram Park in Birmingham, AL (Butch Dill/AP)

article by Chandelis R. Duster via nbcnews.com

Evoking images of newly freed slaves who sought to help reconstruct a war-torn nation and Birmingham civil rights crusaders who marched against injustice, President Obama announced Thursday several new civil rights monuments on the eve of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, Freedom Riders National Monument, and the Reconstruction Era National Monument designations comes during Obama’s last days in the White House.

“These monuments preserve the vibrant history of the Reconstruction Era and its role in redefining freedom. They tell the important stories of the citizens who helped launch the civil rights movement in Birmingham and the Freedom Riders whose bravery raised national awareness of segregation and violence. These stories are part of our shared history,” President Obama said in a statement.

The Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument includes the Birmingham Civil Rights District, a historic landmark in Alabama and the heart of the civil rights movement, where civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. marched and fought racism. The district includes the 16th Street Baptist Church, where four young African American girls were killed and others injured when a bomb exploded during a church service. Kelly Ingram Park, the A.G. Gaston Motel, Bethel Baptist Church, and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute are also part of the monument.

The Freedom Riders National Monument is located in Anniston, Alabama honors those who rode integrated buses and were often brutally beaten, jailed or killed in their quest for equality.

The Reconstruction Era National Monument in coastal South Carolina includes four sites that chronicle the saga of newly freed slaves who sought to help rebuild and strengthen the region. Continue reading

Born on this Day in 1929: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

Martin-Luther-King-Jr-9365086-2-402Although Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday will not be nationally observed until tomorrow, January 16, we want to honor King today as well, on his actual day of birth.

To learn more about this monumental agent of political and social change, go to biography.com, and to listen to a speech of his more relevant today than ever, check out this concluding segment from 1967’s “Where Do We Go From Here?” above.

Some stirring quotes from this speech of Dr. King’s include:

… I’m concerned about a better world. I’m concerned about justice; I’m concerned about brotherhood; I’m concerned about truth. And when one is concerned about that, he can never advocate violence. For through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate through violence. Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light can do that.

And:

And I say to you, I have also decided to stick with love, for I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind’s problems. And I’m going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it isn’t popular to talk about it in some circles today. And I’m not talking about emotional bosh when I talk about love; I’m talking about a strong, demanding love. For I have seen too much hate. I’ve seen too much hate on the faces of sheriffs in the South. I’ve seen hate on the faces of too many Klansmen and too many White Citizens Councilors in the South to want to hate, myself, because every time I see it, I know that it does something to their faces and their personalities, and I say to myself that hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love.  If you are seeking the highest good, I think you can find it through love.

Schomburg Research Center in NY Designated a National Historic Landmark

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article by Ameena Walker via ny.curbed.com

Late last year, St. Bartholomew’s Church on Park Avenue was named a National Historic Landmark, and in the months since, the Department of the Interior hasn’t been resting on its laurels. Yesterday, the agency announced 24 new National Historic Landmarks, including a few in the five boroughs. The biggest: New York City’s mecca for information on the African diaspora and culture, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. (h/t DNAInfo)

The center, located at 515 Malcolm X Boulevard, was named after Afro-Latino immigrant Arthur (Arturo) Alfonso Schomburg, and operates as part of the New York Public Library system. Here’s what the DOI had to say about it:

[It] represents the idea of the African Diaspora, a revolutionizing model for studying the history and culture of people of African descent that used a global, transnational perspective. The idea and the person who promoted it, Arthur (Arturo) Alfonso Schomburg (1874-1938), an Afro-Latino immigrant and self-taught bibliophile, reflect the multicultural experience of America and the ideals that all Americans should have intellectual freedom and social equality.

It’s currently in the process of receiving a $22 million renovation helmed by Marble Fairbanks Architects, Westerman Construction Company, and the City Department of Design and Construction. The entire project is expected to wrap up in 2017 and will present changes that include a larger gift shop, updated Langston Hughes Auditorium, expanded Rare Book Collection vault, and many more changes.

To read full article, go to: http://ny.curbed.com/2017/1/12/14247950/schomburg-research-center-national-landmark-nyc?platform=hootsuite

Lady Liberty Depicted as a Woman of Color on U.S. Currency for 1st Time

article via nbcwashington.com

For the first time in American history, Lady Liberty will be portrayed as a woman of color on United States currency, NBC News reported. In celebration of the U.S. Mint and Treasury’s 225th anniversary, the new $100 coin was unveiled on Thursday featuring Lady Liberty as a black woman.

Since the passage of the Coinage Act in 1792, all coins are required to feature an “impression emblematic of liberty,” in either words or images. Until the new coin designed by Justin Kunz was unveiled, Lady Liberty had always been depicted as a white woman.

The coins will cost $100 each and will be available to the public on April 6.

Source: For the First Time, Lady Liberty Depicted as a Woman of Color on US Currency | NBC4 Washington

National Museum of African History and Culture All-Star Tribute to Air on ABC Tonight

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National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. (photo via notey.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

The National Museum of African American History and Culture takes center stage on ABC Television tonight. The network will air “Taking the Stage: African American Music and Stories that Changed America” on ABC stations nationwide at 9 pm EST/8 pm CST.

Filmed live at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as part of the Grand Opening celebration of the Museum, the program features an all-star tribute of music, dance, and spoken word on the African American experience. Oprah Winfrey, Stevie Wonder, Mary J. Blige, and Tom Hanks are among the many artists who participated in the program, which includes a special salute to the Tuskegee Airmen.

The special will feature new film footage of iconic items from the museum’s collections – items ranging from a plane used to train the famed Tuskegee airmen for World War II combat duty to a bible owned by Nat Turner. The film is accompanied by music, dance and dramatic readings by a wide range of stage and screen actors.

#TakingtheStage

“Moonlight”, “Atlanta”, Donald Glover, Viola Davis and Tracee Ellis Ross Win at 74th Annual Golden Globes

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Golden Globe winners Tracee Ellis Ross, Viola Davis and Donald Glover (photo via thejasminebrand.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

On Sunday’s 74th Golden Globe Awards, the most shocking-but-deserved win of the night was Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” taking the honor of Best Motion Picture, Drama over “Hacksaw Ridge”, “Hell or High Water”, “Lion” and “Manchester by the Sea.”

Viola Davis won Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for her powerhouse performance in the Denzel Washington-directed “Fences,” while on the television side, “Black-ish” lead Tracee Ellis Ross became the first African-American woman since Debbie Allen in 1983 to win Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy.

Donald Glover and his lauded FX cable creation “Atlanta” went two-for-two by winning both awards he was nominated for:  Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy and Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy.  

The complete winners list follows below: Continue reading

Astronaut Jeanette Epps to be NASA’s 1st African-American Crew Member on International Space Station

NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps (photo via mashable.com)

article by Miriam Kramer via mashable.com

NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps is set to become the first African-American crewmember on the International Space Station when she flies to space next year, the space agency announced Wednesday.

Epps’ months-long trip should begin in 2018, and it will mark the first time she has traveled to orbit, following in the footsteps of the women who inspired her to become an astronaut.  “It was about 1980, I was nine years old. My brother came home and he looked at my grades and my twin sisters’ grades and he said, ‘You know, you guys can probably become aerospace engineers or even astronauts,'” Epps said in a NASA video interview.

“And this was at the time that Sally Ride [the first American woman to fly in space] and a group of women were selected to become astronauts — the first time in history. So, he made that comment and I said, ‘Wow, that would be so cool.'”   While other African-American astronauts have flown to the Space Station for brief stays during the outpost’s construction, Epps will be the first African-American crewmember to live and work on the station for an extended period of time.

Robert Curbeam, Stephanie Wilson, Joan Higginbotham, Al Drew, Leland Melvin and Robert Satcher, along with their space shuttle crewmates, helped to complete the space station during its first 11 years,” space historian Robert Pearlman, who runs the website collectSPACE.com, told Mashable.

Melvin actually encouraged Epps to apply to become an astronaut when the space agency put out a call for their 2009 class, Epps said. And that encouragement paid off. Epps was selected as one of 14 astronaut candidates in NASA’s 2009 class. NASA received 3,500 astronaut applications that year. Her astronaut selection wasn’t the first time she worked with the space agency, however. Epps was a NASA fellow while at the University of Maryland for graduate school in aerospace engineering and then worked in a lab at Ford Motor Company for more than two years, according to the space agency.

From there, Epps’ path to becoming an astronaut takes a decidedly atypical turn. Most astronauts come to the Astronaut Corps either through training in science or as a military officer, but after Ford, Epps spent more than seven years at the Central Intelligence Agency as a technical intelligence officer.”I did a lot of scientific stuff, but I also did a lot of operational stuff,” Epps said. “We worked in non-proliferation issues, which was great. It’s reverse engineering at its best.” Epps also volunteered to go to Iraq with the CIA for four months to help search for weapons of mass destruction.

To read full article, go to: NASA’s first African-American Space Station crewmember is your new role model