Category: Community

R.I.P. Grammy Winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Bill Withers, 81

Singer-songwriter Bill Withers (photo via wikipedia.com)

According to Variety.com via Associated Press, Grammy winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Bill Withers, whose career in music blossomed in the early ‘70s via a string of highly-personalized hits such as “Lean On Me,” “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Lovely Day,” and “Use Me,” died from heart complications on Monday in Los Angeles. He was 81. Withers is survived by his wife and two children.

To quote the article:

“We are devastated by the loss of our beloved, devoted husband and father. A solitary man with a heart driven to connect to the world at large, with his poetry and music, he spoke honestly to people and connected them to each other,” the family said in a statement to AP. “As private a life as he lived close to intimate family and friends, his music forever belongs to the world. In this difficult time, we pray his music offers comfort and entertainment as fans hold tight to loved ones.”

Withers was 33 years old and working on an aircraft assembly line in 1971 when his first hit, the self-penned, Grammy-winning “Ain’t No Sunshine,” soared up the charts. He quickly followed up that success with a run of hit singles that included “Use Me” and the gospel-soul smash “Lean On Me,” which won a belated Grammy Award as best R&B song in 1987.

While those songs are recognized today as classics, Withers was not able to top the surprise commercial success of his early career. His subdued, introspective, often acoustic-based style grew increasingly at odds with the hard funk and disco of the ‘70s, and disputes with his record labels slowed his production at the height of his popularity. He essentially retired from performing and recording in the mid-‘80s. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.

Withers was born July 4, 1938, in the mining town of Slab Fork, VA. He was afflicted with a stutter from an early age. He enlisted in the Navy at 18, and, as his speech disability receded, he began singing and songwriting. After nine years of service, he was discharged in 1965.

Relocating to Los Angeles, he began performing in local clubs at night while working assembly line jobs in the aviation industry. In 1970, a demo tape he had recorded caught the interest of the well-traveled black record exec Clarence Avant, who signed Withers to his label, Sussex Records.

Withers debut album “Just As I Am” was released in May 1971; Withers is pictured on the cover holding a lunchbox in his hand, for the shot was taken during his lunch break at Burbank’s Weber Aircraft, where he continued to install toilet seats in commercial airplanes.

The collection was the first major hit produced by Booker T. Jones, the former keyboardist for the Memphis instrumental soul act Booker T. & the MG’s, who appeared on the set with former band mates Donald “Duck” Dunn and Al Jackson. Stephen Stills, of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and studio ace Jim Keltner also contributed to the record’s eclectic sound.

The LP contained “Ain’t No Sunshine,” an incantatory two-minute cry of pain that its author said was inspired by a viewing of Blake Edwards’ drama about alcoholism “The Days of Wine and Roses.” The song — released as the B-side of the “Harlem” 45, which was flipped by DJs — soared to No. 3 on the pop chart and No. 6 on the R&B rolls, garnered a Grammy as best R&B song, and pushed “Just As I Am” into the national pop top 40. The album’s moving “Grandma’s Hands” also reached No. 18 on the R&B side.

For his follow-up, Withers recruited four members of the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band, a popular L.A. act fronted by singer Charles Wright, to back him and co-produce his sophomore album. “Still Bill” (1972) topped its predecessor, shooting to No. 4 on the pop list and No. 1 on the R&B album chart; the LP was pushed by the massive hit singles “Lean On Me” (No. 1 pop and R&B) and “Use Me” (No. 2 pop, No. 1 R&B). In 1973, Withers wed “Room 222” sitcom star Denise Nicholas, but the marriage lasted only a year.

He made his last appearance in the national top 10 in 1981 with a guest vocal on “Just the Two of Us” (No. 2 pop, No. 3 R&B), a romantic ballad issued on hitmaking saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr.’s album “Winelight.”

After Columbia’s release of “Watching You Watching Me” (No. 143, 1985), Withers stepped away from performing. In later years, he explained his retreat from the stage and the studio, and ultimately from writing, to Alix Sharkey of England’s Telegraph: “That kind of stuff, to me, was a lot more interesting at 35…. I’m not motivated to wanna draw attention to myself or travel all over the place. There was a time for that. When it was done, it was done.”

To hear some of his best music, listen to the Spotify playlist below:

To read more: https://variety.com/2020/music/news/bill-withers-dead-dies-singer-aint-no-sunshine-1234570209/

 

Former New York Knicks Star Stephon Marbury Sets Up Deal to Deliver 10 Million N95 Masks to NY Amid Covid-19 Crisis

Former NBA star Stephon Marbury (photos via Backgrid, Twitter)

According to nypost.com, former New York Knicks star Stephon Marbury wants to deliver something the city needs even more than an NBA title — 10 million N95 masks for hospital workers and other first responders on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

To quote:

Marbury, who played in the NBA 14 years before moving overseas to become a legend in the Chinese Basketball Association, told The Post he’s made arrangements with a mask supplier in China willing to sell New York 10 million masks “at cost” for $2.75 each – well below the roughly $7.50 that N95 retailers have been quoting the state.

The Coney Island native said he got the idea last week after learning of the state’s lack of protective gear and the astronomical price its been paying for masks. So the now-retired, former point guard decided to reach out to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a presumptive 2021 mayoral candidate who has backed Marbury’s local charities in the past, to let him know he’s ready to dish his biggest assist yet.

“At the end of the day, I am from Brooklyn,” Marbury said during a call from his Beijing home. “This is something that is close and dear to my heart as far as being able to help New York.”

“I have family there in Coney Island, a lot of family … who are affected by this, so I know how important it is for people to have masks during this time.”

With China now beginning to recover from the pandemic, Marbury’s mask contact has more N95s than that country currently needs, according to Brooklyn Borough Hall. The gear would be delivered 2 million at a time over five weeks.

Read more: https://nypost.com/2020/03/29/stephon-marbury-plans-to-deliver-10-million-masks-to-ny-amid-coronavirus-crisis/

Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation Donates $5 Million to Aid and Support Global COVID-19 Response

Rihanna (photo via commons.wikipedia.org

Rihanna‘s Clara Lionel Foundation announced yesterday that it will donate $5 million to aid in the global coronavirus response.

The foundation will team up with on-the-ground partners to serve marginalized communities in the United States, Caribbean, and Africa to prepare and protect against the spreading virus. Justine Lucas, Executive Director of the Clara Lionel Foundation, said in a statement, “Never has it been more important or urgent to protect and prepare marginalized and underserved communities–those who will be hit hardest by this pandemic.”

The Clara Lionel Foundation’s partners include Direct Relief, Feeding America, Partners in Health, The World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, the International Rescue Committee, and others.

Funds will support:

• Local food banks serving at-risk communities and the elderly in the United States;

• Acceleration of testing and care in countries like Haiti and Malawi, as well as the mobilization of resources and additional capacity and support for Native communities;

• Protective equipment for frontline health workers and diagnostic labs, the establishment and maintenance of intensive care units, and acceleration of the development of vaccines and other therapies across the globe;

• Healthcare worker training, virus prevention and containment in countries that will be on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response; and,

• Distribution of critical respiratory supplies.

The Clara Lionel Foundation stated on its website that it “believes that one of the most powerful weapons we have against COVID-19 is preparedness. Protecting our frontline health workers and marginalized communities around the world requires getting ahead of it fast and the time to act is now.”

Maryland 1st Grader Cavanaugh Bell, 7, Uses $600 of his Savings to Make Covid-19 Care Packages for Seniors

Cavanaugh Bell, 7, of Gaithersburg, Maryland is helping others out of his own savings during the coronavirus outbreak. (Courtesy of “Cool and Dope.” Taken by his mother, Llacey Simmons.)

Anyone, anywhere, at any age, can make a difference if they want. And Seven year-old Maryland child Cavanaugh Bell is doing exactly that.

According to fox5dc.com, young philanthropist Bell spent $600 of his own money, saved up from three Christmases and two birthdays, to create 65 “COVID-19 Carepacks” in addition to 31 hot meals from restaurant Buca Di Beppo, to serve to senior citizens and help local businesses impacted by being closed after Gov. Larry Hogan shut down restaurants Monday.

Cavanaugh filled several shopping carts at Target with food and a bottle of bleach to hand out to seniors. On top of that, he also helped feed 90 students in need on Thursday.

Cavanaugh started a non-profit called “Cool and Dopewith the mission to “eradicate all bullying and youth suicide through political and social action by his 18th birthday on Nov. 20, 2030.”

To read more: https://www.fox5dc.com/news/maryland-boy-uses-600-of-savings-to-make-coronavirus-care-packages-for-seniors-feed-90-students

Russell Wilson and Ciara Pledge to Donate One Million Meals to Food Lifeline and Feeding America in Wake of Pandemic

NFL Quarterback Russell Wilson and Musical Artist Ciara (photo via flickr.com)

According to NBCSports.com, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and singer Ciara have pledged 1 million meals to Food Lifeline and Feeding America in an effort to help keep Americans in need fed in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

To quote the article:

Obviously this worldwide pandemic, coronavirus, is changing the world, second-by-second, minute-by minute. People are losing loved ones, the elderly and the young, people in between. … So what we’ve decided to do is partner with our local food bank in Seattle, Seattle Food Lifeline, and we’re going to donate a million meals and hopefully make a difference,” Wilson said in a video message.

Wilson and Ciara mentioned people losing jobs in the wake of increasing shut down initiatives in an effort to keep the spread of the virus from proliferating an exponential rates. They’ve already seen friends in the area that work for companies such as Alaska Airlines, the Seattle Sounders – where the pair are part owners – and Seattle Children’s Hospital hit with the effects of the virus.

“We want to encourage every out there to join us in whatever way that you can, big or small,” Ciara said. “Everything makes a difference. Everything that we do together makes a difference and together we will conquer this tough time that we’re going through.”

The Feeding America network of food banks “distributes 4.3 billion meals each year through food pantries and meal programs throughout the United States and leads the nation to engage in the fight against hunger.”

Ten Years Ago Today: Good Black News Was Founded

Although we as a species are currently going through unprecedented times of hardship and uncertainty as we grapple with a global pandemic, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the creation of Good Black News a decade ago on March 18, 2010.

You can read the detailed story of GBN’s inception and creation here, because what I want to celebrate today more than anything else is you, GBN’s loyal readers and followers, who, in concert with the Good Black News Team, have slowly but steadily built a strong, respectful, and loving community that is willing to celebrate positivity, action, achievement, humor and humanity on a daily basis.

This kind of energy and fellowship is what the world needs more of right now, and we are so happy to have seen it grow and flourish on our dedicated website, goodblacknews.org, as well as across our social media on FacebookTwitter,  Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTubeRSS feed, and LinkedIn.

I will admit to having wanted to do more to celebrate ten years of GBN – offered a proper retrospective of our best stories, the times we’ve been news, big up our Top Fans, announce new plans for expansion, perhaps even throw a party! – but between personal and professional challenges this past year (sick family member, demanding day job), plus the current state of affairs due to coronavirus, these words I’m writing in this moment shall have to suffice.

Thank you for the appreciation you’ve shown GBN the past decade via follows, likes, comments, shares, reblogs, letters and e-mails, as they inspire me daily to keep GBN going.

Good Black News remains a labor of love for me and Lifestyle Editor Lesa Lakin, and we gratefully acknowledge the decade’s extraordinary volunteer contributors (in alphabetical order):  

Rebecca Carpenter, Susan Cartsonis, Dena CrowderJulie Bibb Davis, Alyss Dixson, Dan Evans, Gina Fattore, Julie Fishman, Michael Giltz, Eric Greene, Thaddeus Grimes-Gruczka, Skip Heller, Ashanti Hutcherson, Warren Hutcherson, Fred Johnson, Epiphany Jordan, Fabio KoelschBrenda Lakin, Joyce Lakin, Ray Lancon, John Levinson, Jason Lief, Neeta McCulloch, Hanelle Culpepper Meier, Jeff Meier, Catherine Metcalf, Minsun Park, Tajamika Paxton, Patrick-Ian Polk, Flynn RichardsonRosanna Rossetto, Gabriel Ryder, Terry Samwick, Becky Schonbrun, Susan Shaffer, Kelly SpearsCallie TeitelbaumTeddy TenenbaumArro Verse, Marlon West, and Joshua A.S. Young. 

You are all deeply, greatly appreciated.

Special thanks to Maeve Richardson for re-conceiving and redesigning all the GBN logos and banners across social media, designing the “Got Privilege” art for GBN’s 2016 viral “What I Said When My White Friend Asked For My Black Opinion on White Privilege” essay.

And extra special thanks to friend and best-selling author Terry McMillan for being the inspiration behind it all. P.S. GBN Patron Saint Terry has a new book arriving March 31. Consider checking out It’s Not All Downhill From Here! (amazon link)

Please continue to help us spread GBN by sharing, liking, re-tweeting and commenting, and consider following GBN on the main page, as well as wherever you are on social media.

Please also consider joining our e-mail list via our “Contact Us” tab on goodblacknews.org. We will only use this list to keep you updated on GBN and send you our upcoming weekly e-newsletter (which may finally launch for real for real, as we will soon have a lot more time to focus on it!) — nothing else. And, of course, you may opt out at any time.

Thank you again for your support, and we look forward to providing you with more Good Black News in the coming decade, and beyond!

Warmly,

GBN Founder and Editor-in-Chief Lori Lakin Hutcherson

The EBONY Foundation Works to Feed Over 650,000 Children and Seniors Weekly During COVID-19 Pandemic, Starts in Detroit

Image of Food Drive (photo via wikipedia.commons.org)

To address the increased need for food assistance during the COVID-19 outbreak amid school closures and social distancing, the EBONY Foundation starting today, wants  community to know “WE GOT YOU” by coordinating the delivery over a million tons of food to community members in need.

This food recovery initiative will start in Detroit serving Oakland, Wayne and Macomb counties and the EBONY Foundation seeks to use this model in communities nationwide.

Experts agree that school closures and social distancing will play an important role in limiting the transmission of coronavirus. Families and advocates have concerns about how system-wide closures will impact communities who rely on schools for a range of public services, including providing low-income children with breakfast and lunch, which at times may be the only meal they receive during the day.

The EBONY Foundation has appointed Darryl Anderson of Unique Food Management as the Michigan coalition Chair to coordinate organizations such as Meals on Wheels, Lighthouse, Forgotten Harvest and over dozen food pantries with one common mission – to move over a million tons of food and feed over 650,000 children and seniors weekly during this pandemic. Anderson has over a decade of state and nationwide organizing in food recovery distribution.

National emergencies affect each community differently. For over 75 years the EBONY and JET brand has been at the forefront of championing social justice issues for the Black community. As the quote goes, “When American catches a cold. The Black community catches pneumonia.” Now we have the coronavirus, which has a catastrophic impact on our community, education, economics, and basic health – and EBONY will step up.

“Our families often live in households without food or water at times and now we have this pandemic. Some families rely routinely on food pantries, even in relatively healthy economic times. Some families have no safety nets. school closures would cut off access to some of their only reliable meals. When resources get tight, people without means tend to get squeezed the hardest,” says a spokesperson from the EBONY Foundation.

“The problem is straightforward: Without school, a lot of our communities kids often don’t eat. Close to 30 million children use the National School Lunch Program each year.”

Anderson will be coordinating the EBONY Foundation’s pilot initiative of grab & go breakfast and lunch pickups at the schools as well as negotiating with the school district for school bus deliveries to those that are homebound.

Partnering organizations and schools include: Variety Feeds, Micah 6 Sprout, Baldwin Center, Dream Center, All Saints Church, Pontiac Youth Rec, Meet Up and Eat up, Avondale Elementary and Middle School, and the Waterford Schools.

For more information or to get help coordinating resources in another state, reach out to: wefeedyou@ebonyjet.org and www.ebonyjet.org.

Charles Barkley to Sell Memorabilia to Build Affordable Housing in his Alabama Hometown

NBA great Charles Barkley (photo via commons.wikipedia.org)

According to the Washington Post, former NBA superstar Charles Barkley is selling his 1993 NBA MVP trophy and an Olympic gold medal among other memorabilia from his Hall of Fame basketball career so he can use the proceeds to build affordable housing in Leeds, Ala., where he grew up.

“That stuff’s not that important to me. I’ve had an unbelievable life,” Barkley told Birmingham’s WJOX-FM last week, explaining why he isn’t attached to these possessions. “I’ve been in Leeds a lot and we’ve probably got 30 eyesores, as I call them, where houses used to be when I was growing up. Either a rotted-out house or there’s just weeds that have overgrown.

“So, what I’m trying to do — I want to work with the city of Leeds, I want them to give me the spaces, number one. I want them to give me the houses, and I’m going to use my own money, selling my memorabilia.”

To quote the article:

Panini, a sports card and memorabilia company that Barkley has a relationship with, estimated that the MVP trophy alone could fetch $300,000 to $400,000, Barkley said. And his 1992 and 1996 Olympic gold medals? “ ‘I don’t even want to guess,’ ” Barkley said he was told, “ ‘but I can get you a lot for those gold medals.’ ”\

“I got an autograph deal with Panini and I was talking to the guys,” Barkley said. “All that stuff is at my grandmother’s house; I don’t even keep it, to be honest with you. And I said, ‘How much could I get for my MVP trophy and my two gold medals? And I got an autographed plaque signed by the [1992] Dream Team.’ He says, ‘Oh, I can get you a lot of money for that stuff.’ ”

Barkley went to high school in Leeds, which is about 20 miles east of Birmingham, and played collegiately at Auburn from 1981 to 1984. Now working for TNT, Barkley lives in Arizona but remains vocal about his Alabama roots. He has toyed with the idea of running for political office and hasn’t shied away from offering his opinion, whether it’s about Roy Moore when he was a candidate for Senate in 2017, the issues of race and poverty, or Trump.

“I want to do something really nice for Leeds. And if I could build 10 to 20 affordable houses — I want to do green housing, too,” he said. “If I could sell all that stuff, it would just be a really cool thing for me.”

To read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2020/03/09/charles-barkley-is-selling-memorabilia-build-affordable-housing-his-alabama-hometown/

Delta Sigma Theta Helps Create Anna Pearl Barrett Memorial Scholarship at Texas Southern University for Students to Study Abroad

Source: Nell Reed / Delta Sigma Theta

Anna Pearl Barrett, an alumna of Texas Southern University, along with the Houston Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta are creating new opportunities for students to study abroad in the future.

According to blackamericaweb.com, the sorority presented TSU with $150,500 from Barrett’s bequest to DST, which Texas Southern University’s Foundation matched to create one of the HBCU’s largest endowments: the Anna Pearl Barrett Houston Alumnae Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Memorial Endowed Scholarship.

To quote Black America Web:

The $301,000 investment will financially assist students who desire to study in other countries and happens to fulfill one of the goals of International Awareness and Involvement, part of DST’s Five-Point Programmatic Thrust.

Barrett, a career educator who passed in 2014, was the first TSU exchange student to study in Spain. The school’s study abroad program began its initial journey to Tanzania in 2001 and today, more than 100 students travel abroad every year, per Gregory Maddox, Ph.D., Dean of the Graduate School and Director of International Programs.

The scholarship helps raise the profile of studying abroad. According to the Institute of International Education, undergrad students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities participate in study abroad programs at lower rates than their counterparts across the U.S.

The Anna Pearl Barrett Memorial Endowed Scholarship was celebrated with a reception hosted earlier this month at TSU and attended by more than 200 Deltas as well as Barrett’s relatives, Mayor Sylvester Turner, TSU Acting President Ken Huewitt, TSU Vice President of University Advancement Melinda Spaulding, and a representative from the Office of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.

To read more: https://blackamericaweb.com/2020/02/20/delta-sigma-theta-gift-creates-301000-endowed-scholarship-at-texas-southern-university-2/

Students at LeBron James’ I Promise School in Ohio to Receive Free Tuition to Kent State

Photo via Kent.edu

The inaugural class of NBA superstar LeBron JamesI Promise School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, has received some life-changing news, according to CNN.

All 193 students, who are high school juniors, will be receiving free tuition to Kent State University. The students, who were visiting the Kent State campus, erupted in cheers when they were told of the news, while many of their parents, watching from a live feed in a separate room, burst into tears.

Video of the announcement was released on Wednesday by the LeBron James Family Foundation. To see the video on Twitter, click here.

To quote the CNN article:

On Wednesday, James told reporters that his school has a great relationship with Kent State and the University of Akron. When the school opened in 2018, plans were announced to promise free tuition to the University of Akron when the students graduate.

“We have so many options, and I just know that so many kids in my community just don’t have many options,” James said. “So for me to be able to be in a position where I can give these kids options to decide what they want to do with their future, it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever done.”

According to a press release, the students will be guaranteed free tuition for four years as well as one year of a free room and meal plan. The students will be eligible for the package as college freshmen for the 2021-2022 academic year. To be eligible, they must be admitted to Kent State, fill out required financial aid forms and have completed a required number of community service hours each semester.

To remain eligible, students need to remain in good academic standing, take part in a required number of community service or volunteer hours and complete a minimum number of credit hours per year.

“We are so pleased to take our partnership with the LeBron James Family Foundation to this next level and welcome these students fully into the Kent State family,” said Kent State President Todd Diacon. “Kent State looks forward to the time when our campus is teeming with I Promise students.”