Three of ‘Central Park Five,’ Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson and Raymond Santana Jr., Receive High School Degrees at Bronx Preparatory Graduation

From left, Mr. Santana, Mr. Richardson and Mr. Salaam with Emmanuel George, executive director of the school. (Credit: Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times)

by Elizabeth A. Harris via nytimes.com

The auditorium in the northwest Bronx was speckled with balloons. Balloons that said, “Congrats Grad!” and “You’re so special!” Balloons arranged on stage in columns of white, blue and yellow. Balloons in the shape of champagne bottles. And a parade of shiny floating letters that spelled out “Graduate of 2017.” Nearly 60 teenagers accepted diplomas from Bronx Preparatory High School there on Monday, amid all the usual trappings of a graduation ceremony. But for three men in their 40s who joined the teenagers onstage, wearing the same blue academic robes, the day was no less meaningful.

They were Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson and Raymond Santana Jr., three members of the Central Park Five. Years ago, they missed the graduation ceremonies for their own high schools because they were in prison for a crime they did not commit.On Monday, they received honorary diplomas and the capped, gowned feting they had been denied. “Even though we were not able to go back and right the wrong of not getting our high school diplomas outside, here we are being honored in such a way in front of our family and friends,” Mr. Salaam said from the stage, smiling broadly. “This is a blessing.”

The Central Park Five was a group of teenagers convicted of the brutal rape in 1989 of a woman who was jogging in Central Park. They refused plea bargains, insisting that incriminating statements they had made to the authorities had been coerced, and spent from seven to 13 years in prison. More than a decade after their conviction, the five men, all of whom are black or Hispanic, were exonerated. DNA evidence confirmed that the crime had been committed by another man, Matias Reyes, who confessed to acting alone.

The five have since reached settlements with New York City and the state totaling nearly $45 million, according to their lawyer. The youngest was 14 at the time of their arrest. The oldest was 16. A documentary about their ordeal called “The Central Park Five” was released in 2012, and a government teacher at Bronx Prep, Marielle Colucci, has used the movie as a tool to teach students about the justice system. This year, after her students asked if they could meet the men, Mr. Richardson spoke to their class.“The most important thing for me as a teacher is that they leave here knowing their rights and what they actually mean, and there is no one better to speak to that than these guys,”

Ms. Colucci said of her students, who are all members of minorities. “Because they could find themselves in that same situation right now when they walk out across the street.”Cassius Gil, the school’s assistant principal, said he had a conversation with Emmanuel George, the school’s executive director, after Mr. Richardson’s visit. Mr. Gil said they wondered: “Did they ever get a high school diploma? We should give them a high school diploma.”In fact, the three men did already have diplomas — each received a G.E.D., and then an associate degree, while still in prison. But they never had a ceremony, and a piece of paper in the mail is not the same.“It’s kind of emotional,” Mr. Santana said at the ceremony, which was at Lehman College in the Bronx.

To read full article, go to: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/26/nyregion/central-park-jogger-case-honorary-diplomas.html?_r=2

Ice Cube Honored with Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Ice Cube (photo via vibe.com)

by Jessica McKinney via vibe.com

It’s hard to think that after roughly 30 years in the music industry and blessing the culture with hits like “F**k the Police” and both the Barbershop and Friday series’, that Ice Cube hasn’t already gotten a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But in reality, he actually hasn’t. That is, until today (June 12), when the hip hop icon was honored with his very own star on Hollywood Boulevard.

Director of Boyz in the Hood, John Singleton, was one of  people who spoke at Ice Cube’s star ceremony Monday afternoon. “The mark of a true man is how many people he influences in his lifetime,” Singleton said. “That’s how I see Cube.” Dr. Dre was also in attendance to watch his longtime friend and former N.W.A partner be honored. While the multi-faceted artist has definitely influenced many, he suggested the honor was still somewhat surprising.

“When you coming up doing music, movies, just trying to be creative, you never figure you’ll be on the Hollywood Walk of Fame one day,” he said.Ice Cube’s Walk of Fame ceremony comes only three days after the release of the 25th anniversary edition of the rapper’s politically-charged album, Death Certificate. Coincidentally, it is only three days before his 48th birthday.

To read more, go to: Clap For Him: Ice Cube Finally Honored With Hollywood Star

These Black Graduates Swag Surfing are the Epitome of Black Joy

(photo via twitter.com)

by Jenna Amatulli via huffpost.com

You may think your graduation was lit, but did you and every one you know swag surf? No?Well, sit down and read on. Graduates at Howard University and Langston University decided to dance themselves into post-grad life by celebrating with a group swag surfin’ session. And the videos are truly glorious. Take a look at these from a Howard U ceremony that appears to have gone down on May 12:

To read more, go to: These Black Graduates Swag Surfing Are The Epitome Of Black Joy | HuffPost

The Jackie Robinson Foundation Breaks Ground on the Jackie Robinson Museum in NY

(L-R) Hannah Storm, Ayo Robinson, Sonya Pankey, Founder of the Jackie Robinson Foundation Rachel Robinson, Meta Robinson, and Vice-Chair of the Jackie Robinson Foundation Sharon Robinson attend the Jackie Robinson Museum Groundbreaking at the Jackie Robinson Foundation on April 27, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images for Jackie Robinson Foundation)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

The Jackie Robinson Museum is one step closer to becoming a reality.

The Jackie Robinson Foundation hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for donors on April 27, 2017.  The 18,500-square foot space will honor the late sports legend Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball and played an active, pioneering role in the modern civil rights movement.  “Jack lived his life with such great purpose,” said Rachel Robinson, JRF Founder and wife of Jackie Robinson. “I hope that visitors to the Museum will not only learn about his journey and experience his energy, but that they will be inspired to view each day as a chance to make a difference.”

The Jackie Robinson Museum will expand the Foundation’s mission to educate and expose current and future generations of Americans to a man and an era that were pivotal in forming the more inclusive society that we are today. Exciting, interactive exhibitions, educational outreach efforts, and dynamic programing to illuminate the life and character of one of the most storied athletes of all time are all on the Museum’s agenda. “We are proud to realize Rachel Robinson’s dream of establishing a fixed tribute to her husband’s rich legacy,” said Della Britton Baeza, JRF’s President & CEO.  “Jackie Robinson’s contributions to our country propelled us through challenging social times and continue to encourage us to practice empathy and brotherhood toward others. The Jackie Robinson Museum will satisfy sports fans who will learn more about Jackie Robinson’s great accomplishments as an athlete and visitors of all walks of life who want to be inspired by a true humanitarian.”

Located in the heart of downtown Manhattan, just blocks north of the 9/11 Memorial, the Foundation has retained Gensler as Design Architect in collaboration with Ralph Appelbaum Associates, Exhibit Designer, to develop the Jackie Robinson Museum.

JRF has secured lead gifts from a diverse group of partners including:  Nike, Inc., Phil Knight, the Yawkey Foundation, the City of New York, New York Mets, Citi, Strada Education Network, Los Angeles Dodgers, Major League Baseball, the Tull Family Foundation, New York Yankees, and Stephen Ross. Half way to its $42 million fundraising goal, which is inclusive of a Museum operating endowment, the Foundation plans to open the Museum’s doors in the spring of 2019.   

JRF Welcomes Donations: visit www.jackierobinsonmuseum.org to support the Museum’s fundraising efforts.

About the Jackie Robinson Foundation

Established in 1973 to perpetuate Jackie Robinson’s memory, the Jackie Robinson Foundation (JRF), a national, public, non-profit organization, administers one of the nation’s premier education and leadership development programs for minority college students. In addition to generous financial assistance, JRF offers a comprehensive set of support services that includes mentoring, job placement, career guidance, leadership training and practical life skills. JRF’s celebrated four-year program yields a consistent, 98% college graduation rate. JRF has provided over $70 million in grants and direct program support to 1,500 students who have attended over 225 colleges and universities.

Shaquille O’Neal Honored by Los Angeles Lakers with Statue in Front of Staples Center in Los Angeles

Shaquille O’Neal and his Statute (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

article by Chelsea Edwards and Rob Fukuzaki via abc7.com

A 9-foot, 1,200-pound bronze statue of Laker great Shaquille O’Neal was unveiled in the front of Staples Center in  Friday. The statue, which is connected to Staples Center and suspended 10 feet off the ground, was brought to downtown Los Angeles on Thursday prior to the unveiling ceremony.

The ceremony at Star Plaza outside Staples Center included live music, a Ferris wheel, interactive games as well as speeches from O’Neal himself and his teammates, colleagues and friends. Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson, Jerry West, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spoke at the event.

“I just want to say thank you. I’ve learned so much from you as a player. Everything you’ve done for this city, everything you’ve done for this franchise,” Bryant said. “Kids, your kids, you guys should know your dad was a bad man. Congratulations and much love to you, my brother.”

A few of O’Neal’s six children also spoke during the ceremony and helped him unveil the massive statue hanging above the ground. O’Neal thanked Jerry West, his former teammates and, of course, the fans for believing in him throughout his career. “This moment is very unexpected because I see two Lakers ahead of me that definitely deserve this statue,” he said. “To the fans, you know I love you, and I just wanted you to know that I heard you in the games when I was missing free throws.”

At the end of his speech, he chanted, “Can you dig it?” to a cheerful crowd. O’Neal played for the Lakers from 1996 to 2004, leading the team to three consecutive NBA championships and winning the NBA finals MVP award each time.

Source: Shaquille O’Neal honored with statue in front of Staples Center | abc7.com

“Get Out” Filmmaker Jordan Peele to Receive CinemaCon Director of the Year Award

Jordan Peele (photo via thegrio.com)

article via thegrio.com

During this year’s CinemaCon Big Screen Achievement Awards, Jordan Peele will be presented with the CinemaCon Director of the Year Award for his 2017 blockbuster “Get Out.”

CinemaCon Managing Director, Mitch Neuhauser, announced the award on Monday saying, “With the phenomenon known as ‘Get Out,” Jordan Peele has instantaneously become a force to reckon with as a gifted and enormously talented director and filmmaker. He has audiences and critics around the globe enamored and spellbound, dare I say hypnotized, with his wildly inventive directorial debut, and we are ecstatic to be honoring him as this year’s ‘Director of the Year.’”

Peele will receive the award on March 30 at the ceremony at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, hosted by the Coca-Cola Company. The official convention of The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) will be held on March 27-30, 2017, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Peele’s thriller has received widespread acclaim and excellent reviews since its debut, including a 99 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

To read original article, go to: Jordan Peele to receive CinemaCon Director of the Year Award | theGrio

Barack Obama Named Recipient of 2017 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award

Barack Obama (photo via nbcnews.com)

article by Associated Press via nbcnews.com

Former President Barack Obama was named the 2017 winner of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award on Thursday for carrying on his fellow Democrat’s legacy.

“President Kennedy called on a new generation of Americans to give their talents to the service of the country,” Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline Kennedy, said in a statement. “With exceptional dignity and courage, President Obama has carried that torch into our own time, providing young people of all backgrounds with an example they can emulate in their own lives.”

Caroline Kennedy and her son, Jack Schlossberg, will present Obama with the award May 7 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. Obama tweeted he is “humbled” by the recognition.

The award is presented annually by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation to public servants who have made courageous decisions of conscience without regard for the personal or professional consequences. It is named for Kennedy’s 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “Profiles in Courage.” The book tells the stories of eight U.S. senators who risked their careers by taking principled stands for unpopular positions.

To read more, go to: Barack Obama Named Recipient of JFK Profile in Courage Award – NBC News