Sidney Keys III, 11, Founds Books N Bros to Help Other Boys Fall in Love with Reading

Sidney Keys III founded Books N Bros, a reading club that emphasizes making reading fun while lifting up works of African American literature and culture. (KELLY MOFFITT | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO)

article by Kelly Moffitt via news.stlpublicradio.org

Six months ago, 11-year-old St. Louisan Sidney Keys III started a reading club for boys his age to band together in their love of books. He calls it Books N Bros, and the club has an emphasis on making reading fun while lifting up African American literature and culture.

“Books N Bros is a book club for boys and we read books and African American literature because every time I go to the library at my school, there aren’t many African American literature books there,” said Keys in an interview on St. Louis on the Air. “I already love to read and since we don’t get that much time to read in school, we just discuss in groups. I wanted to read a book but I also wanted to discuss it with other people.”

Keys’ mom, Winnie Caldwell, said she knew Sidney had always loved to read because he’d often come to her wanting to talk about books.

About six months ago, they went to visit EyeSeeMe, a bookstore in University City focusing on African American children’s literature. While there, Winnie shot a video of Sidney reading in the store and it went viral on Facebook. Some 62,000 people have viewed the video and it has been shared 1,700 times.

Books N Bros card (KELLY MOFFITT | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO)

“He hadn’t seen [a bookstore] like that before and I certainly never had, so he was making himself comfortable on the floor, reading a book,” Caldwell said. “… When you get to a point when he is 11 years old and it was so shocking for him to relate to someone on the cover in a positive aspect rather than it be some negative urban story we see a lot. I would like to make sure he sees himself in being whatever he can be.”

After the video went viral, she and Sidney sat down to think about what he wanted to do next. A book club immediately jumped to mind.

“We specifically reach out to boys around ages 8-10 because that is statistically the age they stop reading — we wanted to combat that,” Caldwell said.

Keys added: “My motivation is I already love to read but it would be awesome, even better, to read with other people. I want to keep doing it because I don’t know what will make me stop reading because I love to read.”

The club meets once a month, discussing one book the club has voted on. While their numbers are still small, the book club has grown each month. Last month, two new members joined bringing the group to 7-10 members each month. The group is welcoming to boys of all backgrounds and races, but the club does focus on stories with African American protagonists.

Keys and Caldwell have also struck a deal with the Microsoft Store at the Galleria, where the book club meets. The boys discuss their books for an hour before each gets 30 minutes to play video games on a personal console at the store. A group called Serving with the Badge also donated 200 books to the book club so boys can take books home with them for their personal collection.

Some of the book club favorites so far have been “Danny Dollar,” “Hidden Figures” and “Supah Dupah Kid.” In February, for Black History Month, the group read “A Song for Harlem: Scraps of Time,” by Patricia McKissack, a St. Louis-based children’s book author.

For now, the book club has plans to stay boys-only, but Caldwell said there’s another book club called Nerdy Girls, which is aimed at girls between ages 6-12 and has over 75 members. Caldwell and Keys plan on partnering with Nerdy Girls in the future.

Caldwell said that if there are boys who are interested in joining the club, which costs $20 per month, they can find more information on the website https://www.booksnbros.com/ or email info@booksnbros.com.

To read full article, go to: Books N Bros’ 11-year-old founder wants to help boys love reading at an age when they often don’t | St. Louis Public Radio

John Singleton-Produced Documentary “L.A. Burning: The Riots 25 Years Later” to Air April 18 on A&E Network 

Director John Singleton (photo via Variety.com)

article by Cynthia Littleton via variety.com

A&E Network will mark the 25th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots next month with a two-hour documentary from filmmaker John Singleton. “L.A. Burning: The Riots 25 Years Later,” set to debut April 18, tells the story of the civil unrest that shook the nation from the perspective of those who lived through a week of upheaval following a jury’s acquittal of four Los Angeles Police Department officers charged in the 1991 beating of African-American motorist Rodney King.

King’s arrest and savage treatment at the hands of veteran LAPD officers was caught on videotape by a local resident who gave the incendiary footage to KTLA-TV Los Angeles. KTLA’s coverage and airing of the nine-minute recording depicting cops kicking and beating King with batons while he was lying on the ground set off a firestorm of outrage and protest over the LAPD’s treatment of minorities.

The incident coincided with the dawn of the 24/7 news cycle fueled by the growth of cable news and the spread of home video recording technology.Singleton, a native of Los Angeles, was fresh out of USC film school and had just launched his career as a movie director with 1991’s Oscar-nominated “Boyz n the Hood” when the riots erupted on April 29, 1992, the day acquittals of the four officers were handed down by a nearly all-white jury.

Five days of violence and unrest left at least 55 people dead, more than 2,000 injured and inflicted more than $1 billion in property damage.“I believe the 1992 L.A. uprising has never truly been given a voice until now,” Singleton said. “We’ve attempted to chronicle the untold stories and unique perspectives of people whose lives were profoundly affected by this event. As a native Los Angeleno I know the actions of that three-day event didn’t just appear out of thin air. The city was a powder keg boiling at the seams for many years under police brutality and economic hardship of people of color.”

Among those featured in the documentary are actor-activist Edward James Olmos, police officers, rioters, bystanders caught in the crossfire and reporters who covered the upheaval. “L.A. Burning” hails from Entertainment One and Creature Films. The doc is directed by One9 and Erik Parker.

“L.A. Burning” is one of several TV productions in the works to mark the anniversary of the violence that shook Los Angeles and the world. Filmmaker John Ridley is behind the two-hour ABC special “Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992,” set to air April 28.  On April 18, Showtime will air the documentary “Burn Mother—–r Burn!,” examining the history of racial tensions and rioting in Los Angeles.

To read full article, go to: A&E Network Sets Los Angeles Riots ‘25 Years Later’ Documentary From John Singleton (EXCLUSIVE) | Variety

Alex Hibbert and Jacob Piner, Youth Stars of Oscar-winning “Moonlight,” to Receive Keys to City of Miami Gardens

Alex Hibbert and Jaden Piner of “Moonlight” (photo via thegrio.com)

article by Kimberly Wilson via thegrio.com

The boys of “Moonlight” will be getting their moment.

Both 13-year-old Alex Hibbert and 12-year-old Jaden Piner, are slated to receive keys to the city of Miami Gardens, FL at this year’s Jazz in the Gardens Music Festival. The two students from Norland Middle School in Miami Gardens had starring roles in the Oscar-winning film “Moonlight,” with Alex playing young Chiron and Jaden playing Kevin, Chiron’s best friend.

“We think it’s a great opportunity for us to acknowledge what they’ve done at a young age, and tell them how proud we are of them,” shares Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver G. Gilbert III. “Because so often when you hear about young black kids, people don’t want to tell you the stories of these kids and areas that they excel in,” continues Mayor Gilbert. “We aren’t talking about them most times. Most times we’re talking about young black boys in a negative context, so anytime we get an opportunity to tell them how extraordinary they are, we will do it. And ‘Jazz In The Gardens’ is the biggest stage that we can offer in the city.”

The key ceremony will be just one highlight of the highly-anticipated weekend. As the staple event each year in the city of Miami Gardens, Jazz in the Gardens Music Festival is back for its 12th year, and is quickly growing beyond its borders. Hosted again by veteran comedian Rickey Smiley, the city can expect more than 70,000 music lovers from all over the United States and Caribbean Islands.

The festival will take place this upcoming weekend, March 17-19 at Hard Rock Stadium, featuring performances by Jill Scott, Esperanza Spalding, Common, and LLCoolJ.

To read more, go to: Young stars of Oscar-winning “Moonlight” to receive keys to the city of Miami Gardens | theGrio

TECH: Five STEM Programs Geared Towards Girls

(photo via blackenterprise.com)

article by Samara Lynn via blackenterprise.com

In honor of International Women’s Day, let’s focus on tomorrow’s women—today’s girls. It’s no secret; future success requires well-balanced literacy in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Girls are in danger of being left behind in a technology-first world, and this disadvantage starts in the classroom.

Studies show that, after the age of six, girls think boys are naturally smarter.That has to change, and this change can start by giving girls a head start in science and mathematics at as young an age as possible. While grown women continue the fight to equalize opportunity and advancement on the career battlefield, here are some great programs you can get your girl involved with now to make her STEM-strong.

GOALS for Girls Summer Intensive

The GOALS (Greater Opportunities Advancing Leadership and Science) for Girls Summer Intensive is a free, six-week program for eighth and ninth grade girls. Fifty girls are selected to participate in hands-on experiences, field trips, and conversations with influential women currently in STEM fields. The program focuses on aerospace science, Earth science, and engineering; providing a range of studies appealing to different interests.

Google’s MadeWithCode

Girls can jump right in online and start learning to program with MadeWithCode. The site offers an online community where girls support and learn from one another. There are also actual community MadeWithCode events listed, and parents can host a MadeWithCode party IRL, by downloading the party kit.

New York STEAM Girls Collaborative 

The NGCP (National Girls Collaborative Project)is an effort to bring together those who teach STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) courses and programs that seek to engage girls in STEAM. It publishes reports and delves into the topic of diversity in STEM. On the NGCP website, there is a drop-down menu that lets you search in all states and countries for a wide assortment of STEM/STEAM programs targeted toward girls.

Girls Who Code

Girls Who Code is 40,000 members strong. It is an international effort, with Girls Who Code groups in several countries. Parents can look for already established Girls Who Code clubs in their area, or start their own. There is also a yearly Summer Immersion Program open to girls in tenth and eleventh grade that introduces them to computer science and provides insight into the hottest tech careers.

Black Girls Code 

Black Girls Code has become synonymous with diversifying and leveling the STEM fields. It’s one of the better known STEM programs for girls, and that is, without a doubt, due to the persistence and dedication of founder Kimberly Bryant. From hackathons to events around the country, girls are sure to find instruction, access, and leadership by joining Black Girls Code.

To read original article, go to: 5 Programs to Make Your Girl STEM-Strong

Chance the Rapper Donating $1 Million of Spring Tour Ticket Sales to Chicago Public Schools

Chance the Rapper (photo via rollingstone.com)

article by Dan Hyman via rollingstone.com

Chance the Rapper announced on Monday that he will donate $1 million to the Chicago Public Schools Foundation “for arts and enrichment programming.” The announcement came at a press conference held at Westcott Elementary School in the Grammy-winning rapper’s native South Side neighborhood of West Chatham, during which he presented an oversized check to students flanking him on both sides.

The announcement comes days after the Coloring Book rapper met with Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner to discuss what he believes is a lack of state funding directed towards the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) systems. “The governor gave me a lot of vague answers in our meeting and since has called me over the weekend,” Chance told a group of reporters and students gathered on Monday. It’s a sentiment he shared minutes after his talk with Rauner on Friday, when he told the Governor, via reporters, to “Do your job!” “Our talks were unsuccessful,” Chance continued. “Gov. Rauner still won’t commit to giving Chicago’s kids a chance without caveats or ultimatums.”

Chance’s efforts principally stem from Rauner’s veto of a bill that was set to delegate $215 million in funding to CPS, “an important compromise on behalf of the schools and the students across the state,” Chance noted. As a result, CPS may have to lay off thousands of staff or, as Chance passionately explained, even cut the school year short by 13 days. “This means over 380,000 kids will not have adult-supervised activities in June and could possibly be put in harm’s way,” he explained.

The rapper said his $1 million donation was made possible through ticket sales for his upcoming spring tour and a joint effort between concert promoters (including Live Nation, AEG and Ticketmaster) and local venues and promoters across the country. The rapper did not give specifics on how the money would be raised, but noted that the aforementioned companies “were able to band together to use funds from ticket sales to donate to CPS.”

On top of the rapper’s $1 million, Social Works, a local non-profit organization Chance created last year, will match every $100,000 raised for the CPS with an additional $10,000 to be allocated for specific Chicago public schools. (The charity has set up a website to receive donations for CPS.) In light of the $1 million donation, Chance will give out 10 additional $10,000 donations to select local schools, including Westcott Elementary.

To read full article, go to: Chance the Rapper Donating $1 Million to Chicago Public Schools – Rolling Stone

NBA Champion Stephen Curry Helps Donate 20,000 Shoes to Children in Africa

NBA star Stephen Curry (photo via vibe.com)

article by Desire Thompson via vibe.com

Stephen Curry has used his star power to help Liberty University collect over 20,000 shoes for children in Africa. CBS Sports reports Curry paid a visit to LU on Wednesday (March 1) for the drive and the school’s convocation.

Curry teamed up with Kick’n It for a Cause founder and LU alum Chris “COSeezy” Strachan for the “Kick’n It for A Cause Shoe Drive.” Started by Strachan, the organization is an extension of the lifestyle sneaker brand Kick’N It.

The shoes donated will be sent to children in the Republic of Congo, in hopes of reducing illnesses contacted through bare feet. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention cites the top causes of death in the DRC include diarrheal diseases, lower respiratory infections, and malaria.

Kick’n It will continue accepting donations for the cause until March 5.

Find out how you can help here.

To read full article, go to: Steph Curry Helps Donate 20,000 Shoes To Children In Africa

Grade School Basketball Players in New Jersey Forfeit Season Rather Than Ban Girls from Team (VIDEO)

(photo via YouTube)

article via nytlive.nytimes.com

A Catholic Youth Organization basketball team in New Jersey voted to forfeit the season so they could keep two female players on the team. As NJ.com reports, the league’s director told the St. John’s Chargers that they were not allowed to play as a co-ed team, that their record would be wiped because girls had played “illegally,” and that they would be prohibited from playing the final two games of the season if the female players remained on board.

Jim Goodness, a spokesperson for the archdiocese of Newark, told NJ.com that the “rules specifically state the teams should be boys or girls only.”Parents and coaches decided to let the children vote on how they would proceed. When asked if they wanted to “play the game without the two young ladies on the team,” or “stay as a team as you have all year,” all eleven players voted to keep the girls on the team and forfeit the season.

To see video of vote, click below:

Assistant coach Keisha Martel, whose daughter plays with the Chargers, reiterated the consequences of their decision. “It doesn’t matter!” one boy replied.

To read more, go to: Grade-school basketball players forfeit season rather than ban girls from team – Women in the World in Association with The New York Times – WITW