Category: Organizations

AT&T and Brotherhood Crusade Launch BELIEVE Los Angeles to Increase Number of Diverse Filmmakers

(photo courtesy of Brotherhood Crusade)

AT&T recently announced it is deepening its commitment to Brotherhood Crusade in Los Angeles – a 50-year old grassroots organization with a vision of improving quality of life and meeting the unmet needs of low-income, underserved, under-represented and disenfranchised individuals in South LA – through a $150,000 contribution to the organization’s new Media Collective.

The new program, called BELIEVE Los Angeles, is a grassroots campaign committed to supporting workforce development, career readiness programs, with a special emphasis on digital media and entertainment employment opportunities for underserved students in Los Angeles, especially diverse millennials who want to be filmmakers. The initiative is an extension of AT&T Believes℠, a larger company-wide initiative designed to create positive change in local communities.

Believe Los Angeles aims to increase the number of diverse storytellers in the entertainment industry, in front of and behind the camera. The semi-annual 11-week program will provide hands-on opportunities to 15-20 students to hone skills, form creative partnerships, create short films and gain industry access needed to be successful.

“We’re honored to join with Brotherhood Crusade to help support local emerging filmmakers succeed in the entertainment industry and give back to the South LA community,” said Rhonda Johnson, President of AT&T California. “The launch of this innovative program is perfectly aligned with African American History Month and Black Future Month, a time to celebrate the contributions of the people and organizations who strengthen our African-American and other diverse communities.”

“AT&T’s support of Brotherhood Crusade’s Media Collective will help aspiring artists within the local film industry grow their skills and network, as well as make a tremendous difference in their careers,” said Charisse Bremond-Weaver, President and CEO of Brotherhood Crusade.

To learn more, go to: https://brotherhoodcrusade.org/contact/

Illinois Schools and Kapor Center Launch All-Expenses Paid Illinois SMASH Academy – STEM Tech Camp for Teens From Underrepresented Groups

(photo via smash.org)

According to jbhe.comSouthern Illinois University Carbondale and the Illinois Institute of Technology have partnered with the Kapor Center to launch the Illinois SMASH Academy – a 5-week, all-expenses paid STEM summer camp for high school students from underrepresented groups in Chicago and Southern Illinois.

The Kapor Center, based in Oakland, is dedicated to leveling the playing field in tech, making the field more diverse, inclusive and better equipped to address society’s challenges and opportunities.

The Kapor Center has already established SMASH academies in California, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. According to the center’s data, every SMASH student graduates high school and 91 percent earn a college degree within five years, 31 percentage points higher than the national rate.

The new program will accept 35 ninth graders from Chicago and 35 from Southern Illinois for the first year of the academy, which will be held at the Illinois Institute of Technology. The deadline to apply is March 1.

Participating students will attend the summer camp for three years, until they graduate from high school. They will study a variety of disciplines including math, biology, chemistry, and engineering. They will also receive SAT and ACT test prep in order to prepare them for college.

“These are future leaders,” said Meera Komarraju, interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. “Even one kid, if they are able to pursue their dreams, for their family and the part of society they live in, this can have a big ripple effect.”

Anyone interested in the program can find more information here.

Author Claire Hartfield, Illustrator Ekua Holmes and More Win 2019 Coretta Scott King Book Awards

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Claire Hartfield, author of “A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919,” and Ekua Holmes, illustrator of “The Stuff of Stars,” are the winners of the 2019 Coretta Scott King Book Awards honoring African American authors and illustrators of outstanding books for children and young adults.

Tiffany D. Jackson, author of “Monday’s Not Coming,” and Oge Mora, illustrator of “Thank You, Omu!” are the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent winners.

The awards were announced yesterday at the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits in Seattle, Washington and will be presented in Washington, D.C. at the ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition in June.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards. Presented annually by the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee of the ALA’s Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT), the awards encourage the artistic expression of the African American experience via literature and the graphic arts; promote an understanding and appreciation of the Black culture and experience, and commemorate the life and legacy of Mrs. Coretta Scott King for her courage and determination in supporting the work of her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., for peace and world brotherhood.

“A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919,” is an exposition of the socio-economic landscape and racial tensions that led to the death of a black teen who wanted to swim, and the violent clash that resulted. In 20 chapters, Hartfield’s balanced, eye-opening account contextualizes a range of social justice issues that persist to this day.

“Hartfield’s nuanced account of unrest between African Americans and white European immigrants in early 20th century Chicago fills a much-needed gap in the children’s literature world,” said Coretta Scott King Book Awards Jury Chair Sam Bloom.

In “The Stuff of Stars,” written by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrator Holmes uses hand marbled paper and collage to create a lush explosion of color that brings to life the formation of the universe while distinctly reflecting the essence of the African diaspora.

“Using oceanic waves of color, Holmes employs her trademark aesthetic to carry this creation story to its stunning crescendo,” said Bloom.

Holmes is a native of Roxbury, Massachusetts and a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. The recipient of several children’s awards, Holmes received the 2018 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for “Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets”; and a Caldecott Honor, Robert F. Sibert Honor, John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award, and Boston Globe-Horn Book Non-fiction Honor for Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement.”

The Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent affirms new talent and offers visibility for excellence in writing and/or illustration at the beginning of a career as a published African American creator of children’s books. In the timely thriller “Monday’s Not Coming,” author Jackson examines friendship, child abuse, and family relationships.

“Thank You, Omu!” is a fresh take on a timeless tale of altruism and community-mindedness. Mora’s collage work is skillfully pieced together with acrylic, marker, pastels, patterned paper, and old book clippings, creating a visual smorgasbord. Mora brings to life an amalgamation of many grandmothers and captures the African spirit of generosity and community.

Three King Author Honor Books were also selected:

“Finding Langston” by Lesa Cline-Ransome; “The Parker Inheritance” by Varian Johnson, and “The Season of Styx Malone” by Kekla Magoon.

Three Illustrator Honor Books were selected:

“Hidden Figures” illustrated by Laura Freeman, written by Margot Lee Shetterly; “Let The Children March” illustrated by Frank Morrison, written by Monica Clark-Robinson; and “Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop” illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, written by Alice Faye Duncan.

For information on the Coretta Scott King Book Awards and other ALA Youth Media Awards, please visit www.ala.org/yma.

“Black Panther,” “Black KkKlansman,” Regina King, Spike Lee and More Nominated for 2019 Academy Awards

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

The nominees for the 91st Academy Awards were announced early this morning by Black-ish star Tracee Ellis Ross and The Big Sick star Kumail Nanjiani, and among them were for the first time a superhero movie nominated for Best Picture, Black Panther, and the prolific Spike Lee‘s first nomination in the Best Director category for Black KkKlansman, which also was nominated for Best Picture.

Ever since the #OscarsSoWhite controversy of 2016, the demand for more diversity in movies and television has gained and retained attention. Although there are no African-Americans among the Best Actor or Best Actress nominees, Mexican actress Yalitza Aparicio was recognized for her work in Roma, and among the nominees in the Best Supporting Actress category are Golden Globe winner Regina King for her turn in If Beale Street Could Talk, and Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali, who garnered his third Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in Green Book.

Other notable African-American Oscar nominees this year are Kendrick Lamar and SZA in the Original Song category for “All The Stars” from Black Panther, and Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson, who might win for what she first became known for as she is also nominated (with Diane Warren) in the Original Song category for “I’ll Fight” from RBG.

“Black Panther” nominees Hannah Beachler and Ruth E. Carter; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse” co-director Peter Ramsey

Peter Ramsey, who is co-director on Best Animated Feature Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and Barry Jenkins in the Adapted Screenplay category for If Beale Street Could Talk. Spike Lee earned a second nod in the Adapted Screenplay category as one of the writers of Black KkKlansman.

Another first this year is Hannah Beachler‘s nomination for Production Design for Black Panther, the only African American woman to receive one in this category. Ruth E. Carter earned her third nomination for Costume Design (the first two were for Malcolm X and Amistad) for Black Panther and  composer Terence Blanchard, who has scored more than forty films and all of Spike Lee’s, finally earned an Original Score nomination this year for his work on Black KkKlansman.

The Oscars will be broadcast live by ABC on Feb. 24 at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET. Below is a complete list of all the nominees:

Continue reading ““Black Panther,” “Black KkKlansman,” Regina King, Spike Lee and More Nominated for 2019 Academy Awards”

Teen Nahyle Agomo Honored for Peacekeeping by Honey Brown Hope Foundation as it Works to Expose Inequitable Student Discipline in Fort Bend School District

(photo via defender network.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to The Defender, Fort Bend, Texas teen Nahyle Agomo has been honored by the Honey Brown Hope Foundation with its Peacekeeper Award, for working to “keep the peace” among her peers while subsequently being disciplined by her school.

Agomo was suspended from Thurgood Marshall High School after trying to de-escalate a fight between fellow students. She says school officials told her that she should have found an adult, and then she was suspended for three days for “disruptive conduct.”

“My intent was to stop a pregnant student and her unborn child from getting hurt. The district ignored my intentions and wrongfully suspended me,” the honor student said.

It’s a glaring contrast, The Defender reported, that Honey Brown Hope Foundation founder and activist Tammie Lang Campbell says is indicative of what is wrong in the Fort Bend Independent School District, as the district continues to unjustly penalize Black students.

According to a six-year study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR), Black students in Fort Bend ISD were six times more likely to receive out-of-school suspensions than white students and four times as likely to be placed on in-school suspension.

During the 2016-2017 school year, African-American students represented about 64 percent of all students who received out-of-school suspensions in FBISD, even though only 28 percent of the FBISD student population is African-American.

“Fort Bend ISD refuses to hold their administrators accountable for not being onsite to deescalate the incident, but they insist on upholding the wrongful three-day suspension of an honor student who should have been praised – not punished,” Campbell said.

Campbell says her organization decided to honor Agomo with the Peacekeeper Award for her effort to bring about peace among peers.

“Even though the district will not remove the suspension from my record, the outcome is better because of The Honey Brown Hope Foundation’s help to not only have my side of the story added to my official record, but also because of them giving me the Peacekeeper Award,” added Agomo.

Source: https://defendernetwork.com/news/local-state/teen-honored-as-activist-works-to-raise-awareness-about-fort-bend-isd-discipline/

NAACP to Host 2019 Women in Power Town Hall With Sen. Kamala Harris and Reps. Karen Bass, Lucy McBath and Marcia Fudge

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) will host its first tele town hall of the year, the Women in Power Town Hall, on Tuesday, January 15, 2019, at 5pm PST/8pm EST. The telephone program, NAACP’s first public forum of the year, will provide a platform for leading women in policy and activism to engage listeners in a critical discussion about the top priorities for the next 12 months. Interested participants can RSVP for the event here.

Following the swearing in of the most diverse Congress in history, filled with more women of color than ever before, this event will feature Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members, elected officials, NAACP leaders, along with business and civic leaders in a candid conversation about the 2019 agenda, issues impacting communities of color, and how women can continue to be leading advocates.

Women in Power Town Hall

Special guests for the town hall include Senator Kamala Harris, who was the driving force behind the historic anti-lynhcing bill which passed in the Senate at the end of 2018, CBC Chairperson and California Representative Karen Bass, and Representative Lucy Mcbath of Georgia’s 6th district who won on a campaign of reform after her son Jordan Davis was killed by a white man for playing his music too loud.

The NAACP’s Panelists will be Derrick Johnson, NAACP President & CEO, Lottie Joiner from The Crisis Magazine and Tiffany Dena Loftin, the NAACP’s Youth & College National Director. The event will be moderated by Errin Whack of the Associated Press.

“Our country spoke up last year, and what we said collectively is that we want women at the forefront of our nation for at least the next two years,” said  Loftin. “NAACP is poised to hit the ground running this year, and we’re proud to have some of the most powerful women in America lead our first town hall this year.”

The NAACP tele town hall series draws up to 3,000 participants and takes the form of a radio Q&A program.

Coretta Scott King Awards to Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Honoring African-American Children and Youth Literature in 2019

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Coretta Scott King Award Seal (artist: Lev Mills)

Libraries, schools and civic organizations across the country and world will host a variety of celebrations to observe the 50th anniversary of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards. Given annually since 1969, the awards commemorate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and honor his wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood.

The awards are sponsored by American Library Association‘s Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT) and are supported by ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services (ODLOS).

Award founders Glyndon Flynt Greer, a school librarian in Englewood, New Jersey, Mabel McKissick, a school librarian in New London, Connecticut, and John Carroll, a book publisher, envisioned an award that would recognize the talents of outstanding African-American authors and encourage them to continue writing books for children and young adults.

Winners are selected by the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Jury and announced annually to a national audience at the ALA Youth Media Awards. The awards serve as a guide for parents, librarians and caregivers, for the most outstanding books for youth by African American authors and illustrators that demonstrate an appreciation of affirm African American culture and universal human values.

The Coretta Scott King Book Award titles promote understanding and appreciation of the culture of all peoples and their contribution to the realization of the American dream of a pluralistic society.

The first Coretta Scott King Award was presented in 1970 at the New Jersey Library Association conference in Atlantic City. The award went to Lillie Patterson, author of “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Man of Peace.” In 1974, the committee honored an illustrator for the first time. The award went to George Ford for his illustrations in “Ray Charles” by Sharon Bell Mathis. That year, the Coretta Scott King seal was designed by Lev Mills, an internationally renowned artist in Atlanta to identify book jackets of award winners.

Such notable African American authors and illustrators as Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Walter Dean Myers, Virginia Hamilton, Jerry Pinkney and Christopher Paul Curtis are just an example of the notable artists who have received the award.

Currently the Coretta Scott King Book Award Anniversary Committee is planning 50th anniversary celebration events to take place during the whole of 2019, with a special Gala on June 21st in Washington D.C. This one-hour ticketed program will feature a host of special guests in the fields of children’s and young adult literature including Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, and National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Jacqueline Woodson.

Additional information regarding Coretta Scott King Book Award 50th Anniversary activities will be available within the coming weeks at www.ala.org/csk.

Coretta Scott King Book Award merchandise is available thought the ALA Store at https://www.alastore.ala.org.

The Congressional Black Caucus Sworn in Today With More Than 50 Members – Largest in its History

CBC Members of the 116th Congress

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

The Congressional Black Caucus, for the first time in its 48-year history, has more than 50 members. At today’s swearing in ceremony the total was 55 members, nbcnews.com reports.

Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif, was elected CBC chair, and according to her website, the Caucus will also chair five full House Committees in addition to 28 House Subcommittees.

The caucus includes elected officials from both the House and Senate, and since its establishment in 1971, the CBC has been committed to using the full Constitutional power, statutory authority, and financial resources of the federal government to ensure that African Americans and other marginalized communities in the United States have the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.

As part of this commitment, the CBC has fought to address critical issues such as voting rights, criminal justice reform, equal access to quality education.

To learn more about the Congressional Black Caucus, go to: https://cbc.house.gov.

Fabolous Spends 100K+ on Gifts for Brooklyn Youth in Annual Toy Drive

Fabolous made Christmas come early for kids in the Madison Square Boys and Girls Club of Brooklyn this year with his annual Christmas Toy Drive. The event was made possible by the Brooklyn rapper’s foundation A Fabolous Way (which is designed to merge communities and the arts), Def Jam and D’usse.

“On behalf of The Boys and Girls Club, we would like to thank Fabolous and Lisa for bringing joy to some of our families this holiday season,” said the Director of Clubhouse Operations, Antonio Fort. “Fab has visited us in the past and we appreciate his positive message of inspiration to the youth.”

The event was held at the lavish Red Rabbit in New York City’s Meat Packing District neighborhood. According to Page Six, Fab spent over 100K on the presents. “I don’t put a money amount on Christmas — I just want to show people that they are special to me,” he said. “But, it is safe to say I have spent over $100,000.”

Although he’s definitely generous, he admits that doing the actual shopping is tough for him because of his busy life. What matters most to him is making sure he’s giving someone a thoughtful gift.

To read more: https://www.vibe.com/2018/12/fabolous-brooklyn-annual-toy-drive

Shea Moisture Founder Richelieu Dennis to Transform Madam C.J. Walker’s Estate into Training Center for Black Women Entrepreneurs

Richelieu Dennis; Villa Lewaro Estate (Photos via becauseofthemwecan.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

In this 100th year anniversary of its completion, the historic Villa Lewaro estate of the nation’s first self-made female millionaire and beauty pioneer, Madam C.J. Walker, has been purchased.

The New Voices Foundation, which helps women of color entrepreneurs achieve their vision through innovative leadership initiatives, will spearhead the stabilization of the structure and planning for future uses. The acquisition was facilitated by the Dennis Family, including entrepreneur, investor, and social impact innovator Richelieu Dennis, who once owned Shea Moisture and currently owns Essence Magazine.

The 28,000 square foot property is a historic residence that embodies the optimism and perseverance of the American entrepreneurial spirit.

“In the one hundred years since Madam Walker built her majestic home, Villa Lewaro, it has served as a landmark both to her own success and to her endeavor to create a space dedicated to the achievement and empowerment of African Americans,” said Brent Leggs, director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.

Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976 for its architectural significance, Madam Walker’s Villa Lewaro estate, named after her daughter (A’LElia WAlker RObinson), was once a social and cultural gathering place for notable leaders of the Harlem Renaissance, such as James Weldon Johnson, Zora Neale Hurston, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Langston Hughes.

The home, which Madam Walker called her “dream of dreams,” was designed and completed 100-years ago by the first licensed Black architect in the state of New York and a founder of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Vertner Tandy.

Walker was the first person of color to own property in Irvington, close to Lyndhurst, a National Trust Historic Site. During the time it was built, Villa Lewaro was located on what was referred to as Millionaire’s Row and in an area that was also home to Rockefellers and Astors. Purchased in 1993, for the last 25 years Villa Lewaro served as the family home of Ambassador Harold E. Doley, Jr. and his wife Helena.

With a long admiration of Madam C.J. Walker, the Dennis family first reignited her cultural, entrepreneurial and hair care legacy through the acquisition of the Madam C.J. Walker brand in 2013 – when conversations to acquire Villa Lewaro also first began – and the brand’s subsequent relaunch on retail shelves in 2016 at Sephora.

“To be able to steward something so rich in our culture, history, legacy and achievement through the New Voices Foundation and guide it into its next phase of impact and inspiration is an incredible honor that my family and I welcome with tremendous responsibility and humility,” said Dennis. “When we relaunched the Madam C.J. Walker brand two and half years ago, our goal was to give the brand back to our community and elevate it in the iconic way deserving of such a phenomenal woman. Today, we have a similar focus with Villa Lewaro as its significance is much greater than just a house or property or historic landmark. It is a place where – against all odds – dreams were formed, visions were realized and entrepreneurs were born, and we look forward to returning its use to support that mission.”

Dennis continued, “Squarely aligned with the mission of the New Voices Foundation, we are excited to announce that the vision for future use of the property includes utilizing Villa Lewaro as both a physical and virtual destination where women of color entrepreneurs will come for curriculum-based learning and other resources aimed at helping them build, grow and expand their businesses. When people think of entrepreneurship services for women of color, we want them to think of the New Voices Foundation and Villa Lewaro.”

Madam Walker’s great-great-granddaughter and biographer, as well as brand historian, A’Lelia Bundles, added, “No one at the time believed that a Black woman could afford such a place. So, I can think of no better way to celebrate Villa Lewaro’s 100th anniversary than the vision of the New Voices Foundation and the Dennis family for this historic treasure as a place to inspire today’s entrepreneurs, tomorrow’s leaders and our entire community. Richelieu’s own success story – from a humble family recipe to an international enterprise with an economic empowerment mission – very much mirrors Madam Walker’s journey of empowering and uplifting women. Just as Madam Walker aided in the preservation of abolitionist Frederick Douglass’s Washington, DC home, the Dennis family continues this tradition of preserving historic sites that raise awareness about the contributions people of color have made to the American narrative.”

The National Trust holds a perpetual preservation easement on Villa Lewaro that ensures the property’s historic character will be preserved. This easement was jointly supported by the Dennis and the Doley families. The home was named a National Treasure by the National Trust in 2014 and is part of a growing portfolio of African American historic sites protected through the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, an initiative designed to raise the profile of African American sites of achievement, activism, architecture, and community.