Jordan Peele and ABC President Channing Dungey to Be Honored by African American Film Critics Association

Filmmaker Jordan Peele (l), ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey (r) [photo credit: Getty Images via hollywoodreporter.com]

by Arlene Washington via hollywoodreporter.com

The African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) has named Get Out writer-director Jordan Peele and ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey among the recipients of its special achievement honors.

Alcon Entertainment’s co-CEOs Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove and Los Angeles Film Festival president Claudia Puig will also be recognized at AAFCA’s special achievement luncheon in 2018, which along with its annual awards ceremony will be a “Celebration of Women in Cinema.” The success of female-helmed films this year, from big-budget features including Patty JenkinsWonder Woman to Dee Rees‘ anticipated Mudbound (which recently screened at New York Film Festival), has inspired AAFCA — the largest group of black film critics — to proclaim 2017 the “Year of the Woman in Cinema.”

The organization stated that with films including The Zookeeper’s Wife, A United Kingdom, Detroit and The Beguiled, “women are rightfully being recognized for their long overdue equity in potential for quality, successful filmmaking.” “There is no argument that women have made a bold step forward this year in Hollywood,” says AAFCA president Gil Robertson, who co-founded the organization in 2003 with Shawn Edwards. “The evidence demonstrated during the past year speaks for itself both in terms of box office and critical recognition by women, and we predict that there will be continued momentum going forward. We are also pleased that African American women are a part of this progress and are taking advantage of increased opportunities to make their cinematic imprint.”

The organization also said that future projects, including Ava DuVernay‘s A Wrinkle in Time in March 2018, show that women and African American directors are heading toward a normalcy in getting more big-screen opportunities. “Women wrote, produced and directed some of the year’s most compelling, provocative and culturally relevant movies,” adds Edwards. “However, there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that women have a permanent place at the table with equal representation.”

In addition to the AAFCA special achievement luncheon on Feb. 3 in Marina del Rey, Calif., the organization’s annual awards program will take place on Feb. 7 at the Taglyan Complex in Hollywood.

Source: Jordan Peele, ABC’s Channing Dungey to Be Feted by AAFCA | Hollywood Reporter

Surf’s Up! A Look at Ghana’s Emerging Surfing Community

Mr. Brights Surf School (photo via nbcnews.com)

by Erica Ayisi via nbcnews.com

Michael Bentum can do 360 surf turns with perfection. He rides the waves along the coast of Busua, Ghana, with height and speed. His surfboard soars beside the ocean swell, as crowds of children watch from the coastline applauding in admiration. Bentum is their surfing hometown hero. “I can tell you now that I’m the best in Ghana,“ the 21-year-old said. Bentum recently won the International Surfing Day Competition, held in the Krokrobite suburb of Accra. He took home a surfboard from Share the Stoke, a watch from Rip Curl and 500 Cedis ($112).

Forty-six surfers from 17 countries traveled here for the competition. Three are from Ghana. It’s the 12th surfing event in the country organized by Brett Davies of England. He owns Mr. Bright’s Surf School and wants the world to know that Africans have been surfing for centuries.“Most Africans are very fit and athletic,” he explained. “The African surfers I have had the pleasure of surfing with and coach pick up surfing fast.”Mr. Brights

Photo Credit: Erica Ayisi (via nbcnews.com)

Children living in this small fisherman’s village also grow up surfing as way of life. Their playground is a raw, untapped beach. Women walk on the sand carrying items on their heads and babies swaddled in clothe on their backs. It’s picturesque Africa. Peter Ansah, owner of Ahanta Waves Surf School & Camp, says their home is a surfer’s paradise. “When I was small, I would always come to the beach and try to surf with a piece of wood.” As a child, he met a couple from the United States using surfboards at Busua beach. Intrigued by the long pointy structure, he asked to use it in place of wood – falling in love with catching waves.“Whenever I’m surfing, I forget about everything. I have nothing to think about. The only thing is that I enjoy it!” he described. He’s been surfing for 13 years and opened his surf school for locals and tourists alike. “A lot of people think it’s not possible to surf in Ghana because they think there’s no waves or no ocean in Ghana,”Ansah said.“IT’S NOT ONLY EUROPEANS SURFING. WE ARE SURFING IN AFRICA AND RIGHT HERE IN GHANA TOO.”

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Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Dawoud Bey, Rhiannon Giddens, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Tyshawn Sorey and Jesmyn Ward Receive 2017 MacArthur “Genius” Grants

2017 MacArthur Fellowship Recipients Dawoud Bey, Rhiannon Giddens, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Tyshawn Sorey and Jesmyn Ward (Photo collage via blavity.com)

via blavity.com

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has announced the winners of this year’s fellowship, better known as the “genius” grant. 24 fellows were chosen, whose professions range immensely across the board. There are historians and musicians, computer scientists and social activists, writers, and architects.

What they all have in common is that each of the recipients has been selected for having “shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction” — and each will receive a $625,000 award from the foundation “as an investment in their potential,” paid out over five years with no strings attached. This year, there were six black recipients of the amazing award:

1. Njideka Akunyili Crosby, 34, painter living in Los Angeles

“Njideka Akunyili Crosby is visualizing the complexities of globalization and transnational identity in works that layer paint, photographic imagery, prints, and collage elements.”

2.  Dawoud Bey, 63, photographer and educator living in Chicago

“Dawoud Bey is using an expansive approach that creates new spaces of engagement within cultural institutions, making them more meaningful to and representative of the communities in which they are situated.” Continue reading

NBA Legend Michael Jordan Donates $7 Million to Build Medical Clinics in Charlotte, NC

Michael Jordan (photo via huffpost.com)

by Taryn Finley via huffingtonpost.com

Michael Jordan is donating $7 million to build two medical facilities to serve at-risk and underserved communities in Charlotte. The Hornets owner’s donation will fund the Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Clinics, expected to open late 2020.

The facilities will provide affordable access to primary and preventive care ― including behavioral health, physical therapy, social work, oral health and family planning ― to those with little-to-no health care.  “Through my years of working with Novant Health, I have been impressed with their approach and their commitment to the community,” Jordan, who was raised in Wilmington and attended UNC-Chapel Hill, said in a press release. “It is my hope that these clinics will help provide a brighter and healthier future for the children and families they serve.”

Estee Portnoy, a spokeswoman for Jordan, told the Charlotte Observer that he was largely motivated to contribute after a 2014 study found that compared to other big cities in the country, Charlotte’s poor children have the worst chance of making it out of poverty. Over five years, the two clinics are projected to serve nearly 35,000 underserved children and adults, according to the press release.

“This gift will transform the lives of thousands of families and children living in poverty-stricken communities,” Carl Armato, president and CEO of Novant Health, told the Associated Press. “We are thankful to Michael for his generosity. The gift will remove barriers to high-quality health care in some of the most vulnerable communities.”

ESPN reports that this is the former NBA star’s largest philanthropic gift ever. In 2016, Jordan gave $5 million to the National Museum of African American History and Culture; he also pledged $1 million to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Institute for Community-Police Relations to help “build trust and respect between communities and law enforcement.”

Source: Michael Jordan Donates $7 Million To Build Medical Clinics In Charlotte | HuffPost

Chance The Rapper Partners with Lyft to Raise Funds to Support Chicago Public Schools

Chance the Rapper (photo via chicagotribune.com)

by Tracy Swartz via chicagotribune.com

The ride-share service Lyft announced Tuesday that passengers can now round up their fare to the next dollar and donate the difference to Chance the Rapper’s fund to support Chicago Public Schools. The New Chance Arts and Literature Fund, devoted to creating and expanding Chicago arts education programs, is the first local organization Lyft is supporting through the “round up and donate” feature.

Lyft will automatically round up each fare for passengers who opt in via the “settings” tab on the Lyft app and choose their charity. The American Cancer Society, the American Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity are among the national organizations that have similar partnerships with Lyft, which is headquartered in San Francisco.

Chance the Rapper, born Chancelor Bennett and raised on the South Side of Chicago, announced the creation of the arts and literature fund in March. He said last month that his organization SocialWorks raised $2.2 million to help 20 Chicago public schools. And though his partnership with Lyft is new, the Grammy winner raps about ride-sharing in his song “All Night,” off last year’s “Coloring Book” project: “You should use your phone, call a Uber/ You a goofy if you think I don’t know you need a Lyft.”

Source: Lyft announces partnership with Chance the Rapper to support CPS – Chicago Tribune

Jada Pinkett Smith to Receive Icon Award at 2017 HBCU Power Awards

Jada Pinkett Smith (photo via blackamericaweb.com)

via blackamericaweb.com

The HBCU Power Awards has announced that actress, singer-songwriter, director, and philanthropist Jada Pinkett Smith will receive the “Icon Award” on the evening of excellence on Friday, October 20, 7PM at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

Smith began her acting career as the feisty “Lena” from the 80s sitcom “A Different World,” a show that brought HBCU life to tv screens across the country 30 years ago. Since then, Smith has curated a successful career in film and music while giving back to the community through the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation.

Actor/choreographer Derek “Fonzworth Bentley” Watkins (Morehouse c/o ’96) supermodel Jessica White and actor/comedian Deon Cole will co-host the show. Co-founded by Watkins along with event producer Jash’d Kambui Belcher (Morehouse c/o ’99) and Wall Street executive Roderick Hardamon (Morehouse c/o ’98), the HBCU Power Awards honors the achievements and accomplishments of HBCU alumni and supporters who are making innovative and leading-­edge achievements in business, sports, philanthropy, media, music, technology, TV, film, politics, civil service and fashion.

“We created the HBCU Power Awards to serve as a platform to celebrate black excellence and to highlight the importance of HBCUs in our communities,” says Belcher. “Our honorees embody the spirit of success and commitment to community that HBCUs have instilled in students for decades.”Adds Watkins: “In a time when the existence of our HBCUs is being threatened, the Power Awards is a shining reminder of the genius and innovation that black colleges generate every year.”

Sponsors of the 2017 HBCU Power Awards include Morehouse College, the Atlanta Hawks, Radio One, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Experience Grands Rapids and the Lowman Group/ dba the Athletes Foot.

Ticket prices start at $20 and are available at HBCUPowerAwards.com.

To read more, go to: Jada Pinkett Smith To Be Honored At HBCU Power Awards | Black America Web

U.S. Postal Service Honors National Museum of African American History and Culture with Forever Stamp

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by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Opened just a year ago on Sept. 24, 2016, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) became the 19th Smithsonian museum and the only national museum devoted exclusively to African American life, art, history and culture. The museum’s collections, which include art, artifacts, photographs, films, documents, data, books, manuscripts and audio recordings, represent all regions of the United States and acknowledge the cultural links of African Americans to the black experience around the world as well.

To commemorate NMAAHC, the United States Postal Service is issuing a Forever Stamp in its honor. The stamp art is based on a photograph of the museum showing a view of the northwest corner of the building. Text in the upper-left corner of the stamp reads “National Museum of African American History and Culture.”

The First-Day-of-Issue dedication ceremony will be held on Friday, October 13 in Washington DC at the NMAAHC, and the stamp will be available for purchase nationwide that same day.

The U.S. Postal Service will post a video of the event at facebook.com/USPS. Share the news on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtags #NMAAHC and #APeoplesJourney.