Category: Community

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/

NY Metropolitan Opera to Hire All-Black Chorus for Fall Revival of “Porgy And Bess”

“Porgy and Bess” leads Eric Owens and Angel Blue (via metopera.org)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to washingtonpost.com, The Metropolitan Opera in New York plans to hire an all-Black outside chorus for its first presentation in nearly thirty years of ”Porgy and Bess,” which opens the Met’s season on September 23.

Performances of “Porgy and Bess,” which premiered in 1935, are licensed by the Gershwin family, which specifies an all-black cast. Written by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, and DuBose Heyward and Dorothy Heyward, “Porgy” depicts a man living in Catfish Row, a poor, Black community in Charleston, South Carolina.

When the Met originally presented “Porgy” in 1985, it hired an outside chorus then too. At that time, there were three only Black members of the Met’s regular chorus of 81. That number today is six Black members in a group of approximately the same total now, the Met said.

“I think the Met is regarded as an institution that is colorblind when it comes to casting,” Met general manager Peter Gelb said. “We have many African-Americans and other black artists who are appearing on our stage in major roles.”

The Hungarian State Opera created controversy last year when it presented an unauthorized production with a largely white cast.

Performers Eric Owens and Angel Blue (pictured above) head the opening-night cast, which will be conducted by David Robertson and includes Denyce Graves, Latonia Moore, Golda Schultz and Ryan Speedo Green.

To see video of Owens and Blue talking about the upcoming production, click here.

Battalion Chiefs Queen Anunay and Kishia Clemencia Rise Through Male-Dominated Ranks of D.C.’s Fire Department

Battalion Chiefs Queen Anunay, left, and Kishia Clemencia in Washington. Both lead mostly male teams in a field dominated by men. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)

Young cadets Queen Anunay and Kishia Clemencia stood out in their class at the D.C. Fire Academy as being among the few women in a male-dominated field. Of the department’s 1,550 members at the time, 35 were women.

Fast forward nearly three decades, and Anunay and Clemencia are the ones in charge.

The two women were appointed in recent months to battalion chief posts at the department — promotions that made them the third and fourth women to hold the positions in the 135-year-old department’s history. There were no women among the department’s 41 battalion chiefs late last year before their promotions.

In their new roles, Anunay, 45, and Clemencia, 44, help oversee nearly 100 firefighters at 11 firehouses in the District. They were selected among a pool of 44 candidates — the only two women who qualified during an interview process measuring their preparedness for the high-ranking position.

“They will create a path for all of our young, female firefighters that shows them, ‘Oh, I can do that. That’s within my reach.’ ” D.C. Fire Chief Gregory M. Dean said. “They’re pioneers.”

Keep reading: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/theyre-pioneers-two-women-rise-through-the-male-dominated-ranks-of-dcs-fire-department/2019/02/07/95184c1a-2572-11e9-81fd-b7b05d5bed90_story.html?utm_term=.11ddd038eccc

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.

The Gill Brothers, 13, 10 and 8, Launch Frères Branchiaux, an Eco-Friendly Candle Brand Now in Macy’s

From left, brothers Collin, Austin and Ryan Gill run Freres Branchiaux. (Chanel Jaali Photography)

According to the Washington Post, brothers Collin, 13, Ryan, 10, and Austin Gill, 8, started their candle business Frères Branchiaux for two reasons: to afford the Nerf guns and video games they wanted and, more importantly, to help raise money to combat homelessness in the District.

“I want to give back to the community because they gave to us,” Ryan says.

The brothers donate 10 percent of their proceeds to homeless shelters in the area, a promise they’ve kept since launching Frères Branchiaux in 2017.

Demand has grown rapidly for their scented, soy-based candles, which can be purchased at several stores in D.C. and at select Macy’s across the country.

The Gill brothers are pretty busy with school and their business, so they would make the most of a D.C. dream day and explore some of their favorite places around the city, along with a few new ones.

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/express/2019/01/24/gill-brothers-freres-branchiaux-would-spend-their-dc-dream-day-exploring-new-spots-with-plenty-ice-cream-involved/?utm_term=.0bd244c58443

BHM: Extra! Extra! Read All About Ethel Payne, “First Lady of the Black Press”

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Now that the government shutdown is over and national museums are open again (unless that mess happens again), Black History Month is an especially poignant time to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) if you are in the D.C. area.

I had the good fortune to visit NMAAHC two years ago, and still remember acutely its “Making a Way out of No Way” exhibit, which focusses on the six avenues African-Americans pursued post-slavery to gain equity and agency in the United States – Activism, Enterprise, Organization, Education, Faith, and… the Press.

Because of my lifelong interest in journalism, I am personally drawn to stories about the Black Press, which has existed in some form since antebellum times (the first black publication of record is the Freedom Journal in 1827), and exists to this day.

Yet so many don’t know about its rich history and how its presence and its reporters not only served often unrecognized communities, but also were (and still are) deeply involved in activism and social justice at every turn in every era on local, state and national levels.

Enter Ethel Lois Payne.

Long before former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer attempted to call out American Urban Radio Networks’ correspondent April Ryan for giving him what he thought was a disrespectful headshake while simply trying to do her job, Ethel Payne was agitating White House officials in the press room on a daily.

Payne set the standard in the 1950s when she became one of only three black journalists to be credentialed as a member of the White House Press Corps.

Known as the “First Lady of the Black Press,” Payne was a columnist, lecturer, and freelance writer. She combined advocacy with journalism as she reported on the Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s and 1960s, and was known for asking questions others dared not ask.

It was just unheard of for blacks to be standing up and asking presidents impertinent questions and particularly a black woman. – Ethel Payne

Payne became the first female African-American commentator employed by a national network when CBS hired her in 1972. In addition to her reporting of American domestic politics, she also covered international stories, and questioned every president from Eisenhower to Reagan.

As Payne’s biographer, James McGrath Morris, who wrote Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press says, “Her not being known today is really a legacy of segregation, in that she was iconic to a large segment of the U.S. population, but like most black institutions, the Chicago Defender was entirely invisible to white Americans. So the notion of discussing civil rights with the President of the United States, in that case Eisenhower, she felt she was part of ‘the problem’ and couldn’t pursue typical objective reporting. Instead she adopted a measure of being fair. It may seem like a small distinction but it wasn’t. Her questions were laden with an agenda.”

Born in Chicago, Illinois, the granddaughter of slaves, Payne’s father worked as a Pullman Porter, one of the best jobs open to African Americans in those times. He died at age forty-six after contracting an deadly infection from handling soiled linens and clothes on the train, when Ethel was fourteen years old. Her mother then took various domestic jobs to support the family, which made it difficult to educate all of her children.

Ethel spent her childhood in the predominantly black neighborhood of West Englewood bit attended Chicago public schools, notably the mostly white Lindblom Technical High School. Payne longed to be a writer and pushed to continue her education at Crane Junior College and the Chicago Training School for City, Home, and Foreign Missions.

Continue reading “BHM: Extra! Extra! Read All About Ethel Payne, “First Lady of the Black Press””

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.

Berklee College Professor Julius P. Williams Becomes 1st African-American President of the Conductors Guild

Julius P. Williams (photo via wikipedia.org)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to jbhe.com, Julius P. Williams has been named President of the Conductors Guild, a global membership organization comprised of conductors of symphony, opera, ballet, choral, band, contemporary, and chamber ensembles. Dr. Williams is the first African American president in Conductors Guild history, and began his two-year term in earlier this month.

Williams is a Professor of Composition at the Berklee College of Music in Boston currently, as well as artistic director and conductor of the Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra. His other positions include music director and conductor of Trilogy: An Opera Company in New Jersey, composer with the Boston Symphony Orchestra‘s “Composer-in-Residence Project.” Williams also works with the Boston Pops Orchestra.

“The appointment of Julius Williams as president of Conductors Guild is both meaningful and newsworthy. Maestro Williams has not only the stellar credentials, but the right vision, breadth and leadership, to set a powerful example for our field,” said Afa S. Dworkin, president and artistic director of The Sphinx Organization. “We applaud the Conductors Guild on this news and look forward to many inspiring programs and ideas that will undoubtedly emerge!”

Throughout his career, Williams has conducted ensembles at Carnegie Hall, and performances with orchestras in Dallas, Savannah, Hartford, Sacramento, Tulsa, and Knoxville, as well as the Harlem Symphony, Armor Artist Chamber Orchestra, Connecticut Opera, and the Kalistos Chamber Orchestra in Boston.

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2019/01/julius-p-williams-becomes-first-african-american-president-of-the-conductors-guild/

Gov. Newsom Appoints Pediatrician, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris as California’s First-Ever Surgeon General | KTLA

Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday announced the appointment of a pediatrician as California’s first-ever surgeon general. Newsom said in a news release that Dr.
— Read on ktla.com/2019/01/21/gov-newsom-appoints-pediatrician-as-californias-first-ever-surgeon-general/

“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:

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