Category: Community

Steven L. Reed Elected Mayor of Montgomery; 1st African American to Lead Alabama’s Capitol Since its Founding

Newly-elected Montgomery, Alabama mayor Steven L. Reed (photo via wtvm.com)

Voters in Montgomery, Alabama made history Tuesday by decisively electing Steven L. Reed as their new and very first African American mayor in the 200 years since the city’s founding.

To quote the Washington Post:

Reed, already a trailblazer as Montgomery County’s first black probate judge, defeated David Woods, owner of the local Fox affiliate, in a non-partisan runoff election with 67 percent of the vote and all precincts reporting, according to the unofficial election results.

“This election has never been about me,” Reed, 45, said during his victory speech. “This election has never about just my ideas. It’s been about all of the hopes and dreams that we have as individuals and collectively in this city … and the way we found the opportunity to improve outcomes regardless of neighborhood, regardless of Zip code, regardless of anything that may divide us or make us different from one another.”

His victory reverberated well beyond Montgomery as many celebrated the milestone in a city remembered as both the cradle of the Confederacy and the birthplace of the civil rights movement. Montgomery, where about 60 percent of residents are black, was the first capital of the Confederate States of America, becoming a bastion of racial violence and discrimination in the Jim Crow era but also of protests and resistance in the civil rights era.

It’s home to the Montgomery bus boycott against segregation led by Rosa Parks, and it’s home to the Selma to Montgomery marches for voting rights led by Martin Luther King Jr. It was in Montgomery where, after the third march in March 1965, King addressed a crowd of 25,000 people on the steps of the Alabama Capitol, famously saying, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

“This is a historic day for our nation,” Karen Baynes-Dunning, interim president and chief executive of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is based in Montgomery, said Tuesday on Twitter. “The election of Steven Reed, the first black mayor of Montgomery, AL, symbolizes the new inclusive & forward thinking South that so many have worked to achieve.”

To read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/10/09/steven-reed-montgomery-first-black-mayor-alabama/

History-Making Tyler Perry Studios Has Grand Opening Gala in Atlanta with Oprah, Beyonce and More

Tyler Perry (photo via commons.wikipedia.org)

Actors, directors, musical artists, filmmakers and politicians such as Oprah Winfrey, Beyoncé, Stacey Abrams, Ava DuVernay, Viola Davis, Samuel L. Jackson, Spike Lee, Tiffany Haddish, Whoopi Goldberg, Reginald Hudlin and Halle Berry showed up to support filmmaker and entrepreneur Tyler Perry as he formally opened his Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta.

Tyler Perry Studios marks the first time that an African-American person has owned and operated a major film studio anywhere in the U.S.

Perry also reportedly named his twelve sound stages after living and late legends such as Denzel Washington, Oprah Winfrey, Halle Berry, Sydney Poitier, Della Reese, Spike Lee, Harry Belafonte, Cicely Tyson, Whoopi Goldberg, Diahann Carroll and Will Smith.

“Why did it take so long?” Goldberg wondered in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “Why was he the first to get it? Now he’s the man who makes the decisions, chooses the movies, and he doesn’t have to ask anybody for shit. There’s nothing better than that. He’s never on his knees. He gets what he needs because he provided it.”

Davis concurred by saying, “Tonight is history. Tonight is not just entertainment and flamboyancy, it’s not just an excuse to get dressed up. It’s an excuse to celebrate a historic moment, which is a black artist taking control of their artistic life and the vision that God has for their life,” she said. “What’s happened with us historically is we’re waiting for people to get us. We’re waiting for people to throw us a crumb. That’s not what Tyler Perry has done. I want to be able to look back on this and say ‘I was there.'”

Winfrey added of Perry: “Tyler is my little big brother. To see him rise to this moment that I know he’s dreamed about, planned, defined, clarify for himself, it’s just a fulfillment of a dream. It’s wonderful to see.”

DuVernay, among others, touchingly reported on the momentous occasion on her Instagram and Twitter:

To read and see more, go to: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/inside-tyler-perry-studios-grand-opening-gala-1245752

R.I.P. Diahann Carroll, 84, Groundbreaking Actress and Tony Award Winner

 

Diahann Carroll (photo via commons.wikipedia.org)

According to the Los Angeles Times, Diahann Carroll, star of stage and screen who changed the course of television history as the first African American woman to star in a TV series (1968’s ground-breaking sitcom “Julia”) and to win a lead actress Tony Award, has passed away. She was 84.

The Oscar-nominated actress and breast cancer survivor, who also starred in “Paris Blues” with Sidney Poitier, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, primetime soap “Dynasty” and “White Collar,” died of cancer, her daughter Suzanne Kay said Friday.

Born Carol Diahann Johnson in 1935 in the Bronx, Carroll moved to Harlem with her parents at a young age. With their support, she enrolled in dance, singing and modeling classes and attended Music and Art High School with Billy Dee Williams, who would later costar with her in “Dynasty.” By 15, Carroll was modeling for Ebony, and by 18 she got her big singing break after winning the televised talent show “Chance of a Lifetime” in 1954.

Carroll debuted as an actress in 1954’s Oscar-nominated adaptation of “Carmen Jones,” a retelling of the Bizet opera with an all-black cast alongside Dorothy Dandridge, Harry Belafonte and Pearl Bailey. In 1959, she headlined the musical “Porgy and Bess” with Dandridge, Sidney Poitier and Sammy Davis Jr.

Carroll was nominated for a lead-actress Oscar for her turn as a single mother in the 1974 comedy “Claudine” opposite James Earl Jones, and earned a Tony Award in 1962 for Richard Rodgers’ “No Strings.”

In the late 1960s, Carroll was cast in “Julia,” the enormously successful NBC sitcom that featured her as a war-widowed nurse raising a son.

Carroll won a Golden Globe for female TV star and a nomination for best TV show, among other nods. She also earned a lead actress in a comedy Emmy nomination in 1969. Because the show was sponsored by toymaker Mattel, she served as the model for one of the first black Barbie dolls and found her likeness plastered on a variety of merchandise, including lunch boxes and coloring books.

To read more: https://www.latimes.com/obituaries/story/2019-10-04/diahann-carroll-dead

 

Lupita Nyong’o Authors Children’s Book “Sulwe” to Help Young Readers “See More Dark Skin in a Beautiful Light”

“Sulwe” by Lupita Nyong’o (image via amazon.com); Lupita Nyong’o (photo via commons.wikipedia.org)

According to popsugar.com, Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o is now a published author, and her children’s book Sulwe — which means “star” in the Luo language of her native Kenya — sends a powerful and much-needed message.

The 48-page book, to be released on October 15, focuses on the heartwarming, whimsical story of a young girl named Sulwe who goes on a journey to discover her own unique beauty.

“Sulwe has skin the color of midnight,” the summary reads. “She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.”

In her October 1st Instagram post, Nyong’o shared a photo of her 5-year-old self and reflected on how she felt about herself:

View this post on Instagram

This is 5-year-old me. I reflected on this little girl's feelings and fantasies when I decided to write my children's book, #Sulwe. With this book, I wanted to hold up a mirror for her. Here's why: As a little girl reading, I had all of these windows into the lives of people who looked nothing like me, chances to look into their worlds, but I didn't have any mirrors. While windows help us develop empathy and an understanding of the wider world, mirrors help us develop our sense of self, and our understanding of our own world. They ground us in our body and our experiences. #Sulwe holds up a mirror for dark-skinned children especially, to see themselves reflected immediately, and it is a window for all the others to cherish peering into. Colorism, society's preference for lighter skin, is alive and well. It's not just a prejudice reserved for places with a largely white population. Throughout the world, even in Kenya, even today, there is a popular sentiment that lighter is brighter. I imagined what it would have been like for this little girl to turn the pages of her picture books and see more dark skin in a beautiful light. This book is my dream come true for kids like her today. #Sulwe arrives October 15. ✨ Link in bio to pre-order. #NationalBookMonth #BrightnessIsJustWhoYouAre

A post shared by Lupita Nyong'o (@lupitanyongo) on

Lupita went on to point out that, even at a young age, girls are taught that light skin is preferred over dark skin, and that books like Sulwe can help to encourage self-love for darker-skinned girls everywhere.

“Colorism, society’s preference for lighter skin, is alive and well. It’s not just a prejudice reserved for places with a largely white population. Throughout the world, even in Kenya, even today, there is a popular sentiment that lighter is brighter.”

To order Sulwe on Amazon, go to: https://amzn.to/2ozcMLQ

Award-Winning Author Ta-Nehisi Coates Tours U.S. Cities with New, Best-Selling Novel “The Water Dancer”

“The Water Dancer” Author Ta-Nehisi Coates (photo via wikipedia.commons.org)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Award-winning author Ta-Nehisi Coates is currently touring and discussing his first novel, “The Water Dancer,” in venues across the country.

Upcoming dates include the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago on Thursday, October 3, where Coates will be joined in conversation by renowned Chicago poet, Tara Betts, and October 17th at West Angeles Cathedral in Los Angeles, where Coates will be in conversation with Black Panther, Creed and Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler.

To register for Chicago, click here. To register for Los Angeles, click here.

Just how powerful are our memories? This is the central question of “The Water Dancer” by Coates, famously known for his Atlantic essays, and a National Book Award winner for “Between the World and Me.”

“The Water Dancer” follows Hiram Walker, a young slave in antebellum Virginia , as he explores the metaphorical and metaphysical boundaries of his world.

A remarkable blend of historical fiction and fantasy, evocatively detailed and constantly thought-provoking, “The Water Dancer” serves as a profound reminder of Coates ongoing proposition: that we must remember and speak of our history in relation to present predicaments.

To see more of Coates’ upcoming tour dates and information on tickets, click here.

NBA Legend Michael Jordan Donates $1 million to Hurricane Relief in the Bahamas

Michael Jordan (photo via commons.wikipedia.com)

NBA Legend and former Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan announced on Tuesday he will donate $1 million to relief efforts in the Bahamas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, CBS News reported.

“I am devastated to see the destruction that Hurricane Dorian has brought to the Bahamas, where I own property and visit frequently,” Jordan said in a statement, shared on Twitter by his spokeswoman and manager, Estee Portnoy.  “My heart goes out to everyone who is suffering and those who have lost loved ones.”

To read more: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/michael-jordan-donates-1-million-to-hurricane-dorian-relief-in-the-bahamas-after-storm/

WNBA Legend Lisa Leslie to Be Honored with Statue Outside Staples Center in Los Angeles

 

WNBA great Lisa Leslie (photo via flickr.com)

WNBA superstar and Olympic gold medalist Lisa Leslie will be the first female athlete honored with a statue outside of Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Arash Markazi reported the news, writing that the Los Angeles Sparks and Anschutz Entertainment Group still have to iron out the specific date but agreed Leslie will be the 11th statue outside of the famed sports and entertainment arena. Leslie’s statue will also be the first of a WNBA player outside of a team’s home arena.

According to bleacherreport.com, Leslie went to the Sparks in the WNBA’s inaugural draft in 1997 and played her entire career with the team through 2009. During her professional basketball career, Leslie won three league MVPs, two championships, four Olympic gold medals and three All-Star Game MVPs .

Leslie, who was the first WNBA player to dunk in a game, was also named to eight All-Star teams and 12 All-WNBA teams, including eight first-team selections. In addition to her WNBA achievements, she once scored 101 points in a half during a game for Morningside High in Inglewood, and was named first-team all-conference in each of her four seasons at USC.

Leslie will now be forever memorialized alongside statues of Los Angeles legends such as Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Future to Give Away College Scholarships via FreeWishes Foundation at Each Stop of New Tour

Future (photo via commons.wikipedia.org)

Good Black News just learned from Hip Hop Wired that rapper Future is working to support students trying to advance their education with college scholarships via his FreeWishes Foundation.

Last week the Atlanta hip hop artist visited his alma mater, Columbia High School, in Atlanta, GA. He and his artist Guap Tarantino surprised undergraduates with an unscheduled performance, specially designed merchandise and a check for $10,000 in the school’s name. Future will continue to pay it forward with a new initiative coinciding with his new “Legendary Nights” tour.

To quote Hip Hop Wired:

“Prospective students around the country can now enter to win a college scholarship in the amount of $2,000.00 via his FreeWishes College Scholarship. 17 scholarships will be awarded in total and gifted at each tour stop. Along with the scholarship, lucky recipients will also receive 2 tickets to the Legendary Nights Tour and an exclusive “I Am A Dreamer” sweatshirt.

Students interested in applying for the grant must follow FreeWishes’ social media feed (@freewishesfoundation) and submit a 500- word essay detailing “How Receiving This Scholarship Would Be A Dream Come True” to info@freewishes.org by noon of each tour date.”

For more information, visit FreeWishes.org.

John Warner Smith Appointed Poet Laureate of Louisiana, 1st Black Man to Hold the Position

John Warner Smith (photo via commons.wikipedia.org)

According to jbhe.com, professor and writer John Warner Smith has been appointed by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and the state’s Governor, John Bel Edwards, to serve as the next Poet Laureate of Louisiana. This appointment makes Smith the first African American man to hold the position.

“John Warner Smith’s writing captures the human experience through meaningful, passionate poetry that moves your emotions. John is not only a talented and gifted poet, he is a trailblazer who devotes himself to education and the greater good of the community,” Gov. Edwards said.

“He is making history today as the first African American male appointed as Louisiana Poet Laureate, and I’m confident that John will serve our great state well. I want to thank the LEH for leading this search, and I congratulate all of the nominees whose writings tell the unique stories of Louisiana, the place we call home.”

Currently, Smith teaches English at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He has published four collections of poetry: Muhammad’s Mountain (Lavender Ink, 2018), Spirits of the Gods (University of Louisiana Lafayette Press, 2017), Soul Be A Witness (MadHat Press, 2016), and A Mandala of Hands (Kelsay Books-Aldrich Press, 2015). His fifth collection, Out Shut Eyes: New & Selected Poems on Race in Americais forthcoming this year from MadHat Press.

Read more: https://www.jbhe.com/2019/08/john-warner-smith-is-the-first-black-male-poet-laureate-for-the-state-of-louisiana/

Non-Profit CLLCTIVLY Works to Raise $100K for Baltimore’s Black-Led Social Change Organizations

On August 22, 2019, according to eurweb.com, individuals and organizations throughout Baltimore, Maryland will demonstrate the pride they have for their city and the amazing people in it.

In honor of Black Philanthropy Month, social impact organization CLLCTIVLY will launch its inaugural Day of Giving (CLLCTIVGIVE) for Black-led social change organizations serving in Greater Baltimore.

This 24-hour fundraising event is part of CLLCTIVLY’s mission to be a resource for the Greater Baltimore community that seeks to find, fund and partner with Black social change organizations.

The one-day campaign seeks to raise $100,000 in direct support for local organizations, and garner 10,000 donors! (10,000 @ $10) To participate, visit BaltimoreGives.org and select an organization to support.

“I am a big believer in the power of collectives. I grew up in the church and watched churches pool their resources every Sunday. Truthfully, each of us is a philanthropist in our own right. It’s not about the amount. When we support one another, our communities are stronger,” states Jamye Wooten, the founder of CLLCTIVLY.

Research shows that annually, approximately 95% of the $60 billion in US foundation funding goes to white-led organizations and that Black-led organizations only receive 2%. To create thriving communities across Baltimore, CLLCTIVLY is helping to lead the charge to increase investment in Black-led organizations and provide them with the resources needed to build the infrastructure and the financial sustainability needed to support their work.

“Awareness is key. There are hundreds of organizations working hard in our communities every day. The more people know about the incredible changemakers in our communities, the more inclined they will be to support,” says Wooten.

To read more: https://eurweb.com/2019/08/19/100k-to-be-raised-for-baltimore-black-organizations/

About
CLLCTIVLY.org is a social impact organization in Baltimore, Maryland that serves as a resource for those seeking to find, fund and partner with Black social change organizations in the Greater Baltimore community. CLLCTIVLY aims to create an ecosystem to foster collaboration, increase social impact and amplify the voices of Black-led organizations in Greater Baltimore. CLLCTIVLY also offers no-strings-attached micro-grants of $1,000. Jamye Wooten, a co-founder of Baltimore United for Change, launched CLLCTIVLY in 2019. To join CLLCTIVLY, apply for the Black Futures Micro-Grant or to shop at the Black Futures online store, visit www.CLLCTIVLY.org