Category: Ceremonies

Jordan Peele Becomes 1st African-American to Win Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay

Jordan Peele – Original Screenplay – ‘Get Out’ 90th Annual Academy Awards, Los Angeles, USA – 04 Mar 2018 (Photo by Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

At last night’s 90th Annual Academy Awards ceremony, “Get Out” writer/director/actor Jordan Peele won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, the first African American to ever earn this honor. On Saturday evening, Peele also won Independent Spirit Awards for Best Feature and Best Director.

Last year, “Moonlight” writers Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, and the first African American to win an Oscar in either writing category was Geoffrey Fletcher for “Precious” in 2009. The only other African-American to win for writing is John Ridley in 2013 for the Adapted Screenplay to “12 Years A Slave.” “Mudbound” writer/director Dee Rees made her own bit of history this year by being the first African-American woman nominated in the Best Adapted Screenplay category; the first woman ever nominated in either category was Suzanne DePasse in 1972 for “Lady Sings The Blues.”

Retired NBA superstar Kobe Bryant took home the Oscar with his creative partner Glen Keane for “Dear Basketball,” the first nomination and win for an African American in the Best Animated Short category.

The complete list of last night’s winners is below:

Best Picture:“The Shape of Water” (WINNER)
“Call Me by Your Name”
“Darkest Hour”
“Dunkirk”
“Get Out”
“Lady Bird”
“Phantom Thread”
“The Post”
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Actress:

Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (WINNER)
Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”
Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”
Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
Meryl Streep, “The Post”

Actor:

Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour” (WINNER)
Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

Director:

“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro (WINNER)
“Dunkirk,” Christopher Nolan
“Get Out,” Jordan Peele
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig
“Phantom Thread,” Paul Thomas Anderson

Original Song:

“Remember Me” from “Coco,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez (WINNER)
“Mighty River” from “Mudbound,” Mary J. Blige
“Mystery of Love” from “Call Me by Your Name,” Sufjan Stevens
“Stand Up for Something” from “Marshall,” Diane Warren, Common
“This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman,” Benj Pasek, Justin Paul

Original Score:

“The Shape of Water,” Alexandre Desplat (WINNER)
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” John Williams
“Dunkirk,” Hans Zimmer
“Phantom Thread,” Jonny Greenwood
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Carter Burwell

Cinematography:

“Blade Runner 2049,” Roger Deakins (WINNER)
“Darkest Hour,” Bruno Delbonnel
“Dunkirk,” Hoyte van Hoytema
“Mudbound,” Rachel Morrison
“The Shape of Water,” Dan Laustsen

Original Screenplay:

“Get Out,” Jordan Peele (WINNER)
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Martin McDonagh
“The Big Sick,” Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig
“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
Continue reading “Jordan Peele Becomes 1st African-American to Win Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay”

Lena Horne, Legendary Performer and Civil Rights Activist, Honored with U.S. Forever Stamp

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

The U.S. Postal Service today celebrates the life and legacy of Lena Horne as the 41st honoree in the Black Heritage stamp series during a first-day-of-issue ceremony at Peter Norton Symphony Space.

“Today, we honor the 70-year career of a true American legend,” said Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman, who dedicated the stamp. “With this Forever stamp, the Postal Service celebrates a woman who used her platform as a renowned entertainer to become a prolific voice for civil rights advancement and gender equality.”

Joining Stroman to unveil the stamp were Gail Lumet Buckley, an author and Horne’s daughter; Christian Steiner, photographer; and Amy Niles, president and chief executive officer, WBGO Radio.

The stamp art features a photograph of Lena Horne taken by Christian Steiner in the 1980s. Kristen Monthei colorized the original black-and-white photo using a royal blue for the dress, a color Horne frequently wore. Monthei also added a background reminiscent of Horne’s Stormy Weather album, with a few clouds to add texture and to subtly evoke the album title. Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamp. Anyone can share the news of the stamp using the hashtags #LenaHorneForever and #BlackHeritageStamps.

Born in Brooklyn, NY, on June 30, 1917, Horne was a trailblazer in Hollywood for women of color and used her fame to inspire Americans as a dedicated activist for civil rights.

Horne began her career as a dancer at Harlem’s Cotton Club and later became a featured vocalist with touring orchestras. The rampant racial discrimination she encountered from audiences, hotel and venue managers and others was so disconcerting that she stopped touring, and in 1941, she made her move to Hollywood. A year later, she signed a contract with MGM — one of the first long-term contracts with a major Hollywood studio — with the stipulation that she would never be asked to take stereotypical roles then available to black actors. Her most famous movie roles were in Cabin in the Sky and Stormy Weather, both released in 1943.

During World War II, Horne entertained at camps for black servicemen, and after the war worked on behalf of Japanese Americans who were facing discriminatory housing policies. She worked with Eleanor Roosevelt in pressing for anti-lynching legislation. In the 1960s, Horne continued her high-profile work for civil rights, performing at rallies in the South, supporting the work of the National Council for Negro Women, and participating in the 1963 March on Washington.

Horne’s awards and honors include a special Tony Award for her one-woman Broadway show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music; three Grammy Awards; the NAACP Spingarn Medal; and the Actors Equity Paul Robeson Award. She was a Kennedy Center Honors recipient in 1984, and her name is among those on the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site.

Customers may purchase the Lena Horne Forever stamp at The Postal Store at usps.com/shop, by calling 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724) and at Post Office facilities nationwide. A variety of stamps and collectibles also are available at ebay.com/stamps.

Grammy Award Winner Mary J. Blige to Receive Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Mary J. Blige (Source: TARA ZIEMBA / Getty)

by Rebecca Rubin via variety.com

Mary J. Blige will be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the recording category.

The ceremony will take place on Jan. 11 at 6201 Hollywood Blvd. in front of Eastown. Sean “Diddy” Combs will join Hollywood Chamber president and CEO Leron Gubler to unveil the star.

“Mary J. Blige is one of the most popular singers of our generation. Fans will be thrilled to see her star on the Boulevard as her career milestones are celebrated on this very famous sidewalk,” said Ana Martinez, producer of the Walk of Fame ceremonies.

The Grammy Award-winning artist has recently been recognized for her acting work. Blige received Golden Globe Award, SAG Award, and Critics’ Choice Award nominations for her role in Dee Rees’ period drama “Mudbound,” as well as a Golden Globe nom for best original song for “Mighty River.”

Born in the Bronx, N.Y., Blige got her start in music by signing with Uptown Records in 1989. At 18 years old, she was the label’s youngest and first female artist. Her debut album, “What’s the 411?,” was executive produced by Combs and spun off hits including, “You Remind Me” and “Real Love.” Since then, she’s released 12 additional albums that have garnered nine Grammy Award wins from her 31 nominations.

Among her most popular songs are “Family Affair,” “No More Drama,” “Be Without You,” “Not Gon’ Cry,” “Love Is All We Need,” and “Seven Days.”

Her film debut was in 2001’s “Prison Song,” followed by Tyler Perry’s “I Can Do Bad All by Myself.” She also starred alongside Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, and Russell Brand in 2012’s “Rock of Ages,” and appeared in 2013’s musical drama “Black Nativity.”

On the TV front, Blige has guest starred on “How to Get Away With Murder,” “Empire,” and “30 Rock.” She also played Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West, on NBC’s musical “The Wiz Live!”

Source: http://variety.com/2018/music/news/mary-j-blige-hollywood-walk-of-fame-star-1202653233/

Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison Honored by Princeton University with Dedication of Morrison Hall

Photo: Princeton University
Author and Professor Toni Morrison at Morrison Hall dedication (Photo: Princeton University)

via blavity.com

Princeton University showed respect and honor to author Toni Morrison by dedicating Morrison Hall on Friday, Nov. 17. Morrison – who in 1993 became the first African American to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature – is the Emeritus Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities at the university. The building dedication took place after Morrison’s keynote address at the Princeton and Slavery Project Symposium.

“This is a very, very special, beautiful occasion for me,” Morrison said.

During the opening fort he dedication ceremony, Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber emphasized the importance of Morrison Hall, referring to it as a “181-year-old building that is the home and the heart of the undergraduate college at Princeton University.” Previously, Morrison Hall was called West College, and inside, students can find the Office of the Dean of the College. On Nov. 14, a portrait of Morrison created by Paul Wyse was hung in the building.

“How fitting that the first building named through this process will now honor a teacher, an artist and a scholar who not only has graced our campus with the highest imaginable levels of achievement and distinction, but who has herself spoken eloquently about the significance of names on the Princeton campus,” Eisgruber said, referring to an address Morrison delivered in 1996 at Princeton’s 250th convocation, titled “The Place of the Idea; the Idea of the Place.”

Other speakers at the ceremony included Morrison’s close friend Ruth Simmons, president of Prairie View A&M University and her former student MacKenzie Bezos who graduated from Princeton in 1992 and is now an author. In 2016, the university trustees approved naming and dedicating one of the institution’s most prominent buildings after Morrison. Simmons helped recruit Morrison to Princeton when Simmons was acting director of the Center for African American Studies. In her remarks, Simmons said, “It doesn’t take much for Toni to get a swelled head; this is going to take it over the top.”

Morrison joined the Princeton University faculty as a literature and creative writing professor in 1989. She transferred to emeritus status in 2006. According to the Princeton, the Sula writer played a major role in expanding the university’s commitments to the creative and performing arts and to African American Studies. In 1994, Morrison founded the Princeton Atelier, which brings together undergraduate students in interdisciplinary collaborations with acclaimed artists. Morrison’s papers, which were already a part of the university library’s permanent collection since 2014, became available to students, faculty and worldwide scholars in 2016 for research purposes.

To read full article, go to: https://blavity.com/princeton-university-honors-nobel-laureate-toni-morrison-by-dedicating-morrison-hall

She Met Her Prince (for Real!) at a D.C. Nightclub – New York Times

Ariana Austin and Joel Makonnen aka Prince Yoel (Credit: Jared Soares for The New York Times)

by Katie Rogers via nytimes.com

Few love stories resemble a fairy tale as much as the courtship and marriage of Ariana Austin and Joel Makonnen. Of course, it helped that the groom is an actual prince and the bride has a prominent lineage of her own. Mr. Makonnen, known as Prince Yoel, is the 35-year-old great-grandson of Haile Selassie, the last emperor of Ethiopia. And Ms. Austin, 33, is of African-American and Guyanese descent; her maternal grandfather was a lord mayor of Georgetown, the capital of Guyana.

As the couple noted on their wedding website, their union happened when “Old World aristocracy met New World charm.” The old and new combined on Sept. 9, in a marathon day of events that lasted from 11 a.m. until late in the evening, and took place within two states.

The festivities began with a ceremony at the Debre Genet Medhane Alem Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Temple Hills, Md. In an incense-filled sanctuary, guests in stockinged feet watched as at least 13 priests and clergymen helped officiate the Ethiopian Orthodox ceremony between Mr. Makonnen and Ms. Austin, who just days before had converted to the religion.

Hours after the ceremony, the pair celebrated with a formal reception at Foxchase Manor in Manassas, Va., with 307 guests, amid gold sequins, platters of Ethiopian food and preboxed slices of Guyanese black cake for people to take home. Their marriage had been more than a decade in the making. In the nearly 12 years since they first met on a dance floor at the Washington nightclub Pearl, in December 2005, Mr. Makonnen and Ms. Austin have pursued degrees, jobs and, at times, each other. Eventually, planning a wedding just became the next item on this ambitious couple’s to-do list. “I think we both had this feeling that this was our destiny,” Ms. Austin said. “But I felt like I had things that I had to do.”

When the two met, Mr. Makonnen didn’t tell Ms. Austin about his royal background, and Ms. Austin, who was 21 at the time, wasn’t necessarily looking to meet her future husband. She was in the middle of a time in her life she fondly referred to as “the summer that never ended.” Mr. Makonnen, himself in bachelor mode, approached Ms. Austin and her friend Jami Ramberan, and told the two women that they looked like models for a brand of alcohol. “I said, ‘You guys look like an ad for Bombay Sapphire,’ or whatever the gin was,” Mr. Makonnen recalled of the pickup line, one now infamous with Ms. Austin’s family. (At the wedding, even Ms. Ramberan, a bridesmaid, recalled the strangeness of that evening: “You don’t expect to meet the person you’re going to marry at Pearl.”) Mr. Makonnen quickly focused on Ms. Austin: “Not even five minutes later I said, ‘You’re going to be my girlfriend.’ ”

To read full article, go to: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/13/fashion/weddings/she-met-her-prince-the-great-grandson-of-haile-selassie.html

Northwestern Professor and Poet Natasha Trethewey Wins the $250,000 Heinz Award in Arts and Humanities

Natasha Trethewey (photo via creativeloafing.com)

via jbhe.com

Natasha Trethewey, the Board of Trustees Professor of English at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, has been selected to receive the Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities. The award comes with an unrestricted $250,000 prize. Teresa Heinz, chair of the Heinz Family Foundation, stated that Professor Trethewey’s “writing captivates us with its power and its ability to personalize and fearlessly illuminate stories of our past as a people and a nation. We honor her not only for her body of work, but for her contributions as a teacher and mentor dedicated to inspiring the next generation of writers.”

Professor Trethewey is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry collection, Native Guard (Houghton Mifflin, 2006) and three other poetry collections. She is also the author of Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast (University of Georgia Press, 2010). Professor Trethewey served two terms as poet laureate of the United States. A native of Gulfport, Mississippi, Professor Trethewey is a graduate of the University of Georgia. She holds a master’s degree from Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia, and a master of fine arts degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Professor Trethewey will be honored with three other Heinz Award winners at a ceremony in Pittsburgh on October 18.

Source: Natasha Trethewey Wins the $250,000 Heinz Award in Arts and Humanities : The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education

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.

Katherine G. Johnson Computational Facility Opens at NASA Langley Research Center

NASA Legend Katherine Johnson with Dr. Yvonne Cagle (photo by Megan Shinn via 11alive.com)

via 11alive.com

HAMPTON, Va. (WVEC) — An American treasure is being honored in Hampton. A new facility at the NASA Langley Research Center is named after Katherine Johnson. She’s the woman featured in the movie “Hidden Figures” for her inspiring work at NASA Langley. People knew the mathematician as a “human computer” who calculated America’s first space flights in the 1960s. “I liked what I was doing, I liked work,” said Katherine.

The 99-year-old worked for NASA at a time when it was extremely difficult for African-Americans — especially women — to get jobs in the science field. “My problem was to answer questions, and I did that to the best of my ability at all time,” said Katherine. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015. She said, “I was excited for something new. Always liked something new.” U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck, and “Hidden Figures” author Margot Lee Shetterly were among the dignitaries who were on hand to honor Johnson.

Governor McAuliffe said, “Thank goodness for the movie and the book that actually came out and people got to understand what this woman meant to our county. I mean she really broke down the barriers.” The Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility (CRF) is a $23 million, 37,000-square-foot energy efficient structure that consolidates five Langley data centers and more than 30 server rooms. One NASA astronaut, Doctor Yvonne Cagle, said Katherine is the reason she is an astronaut today. “This is remarkable, I mean it really shows that when you make substantive contributions like this, that resonate both on and off the planet. There’s no time like the present.” Doctor Cagle said she’s excited the new building is named after Katherine. “Thank you all, thank everyone for recognizing and bringing to light this beautiful hidden figure,” said Cagle.

The facility will enhance NASA’s efforts in modeling and simulation, big data, and analysis. Much of the work now done by wind tunnels eventually will be performed by computers like those at the CRF. NASA Deputy Director of Center Operations, Erik Weiser said, this new facility will help them with their anticipated Mars landing in 2020.

Source: NASA legend Katherine Johnson honored in Hampton | 11alive.com

1st Black Men to Integrate U.S. Marines Honored 75 Years Later

John Thompson, Cleo Florence, Robert Thomas and Mack Haynes were honored on Saturday for their service as Marines. (WFMY)

by Taryn Finlay via huffingtonpost.com

The first African Americans to ever serve in the United States Marine Corps were honored on Saturday during a special ceremony at Joe C. Davidson Park in Burlington, North Carolina. For the 75th anniversary of Montford Point Marine Day ― which marks the day President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order to intregrate the Marines ― the Corps honored the black men who were trained at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina to become Marines in the 1940s.

Between 1942 and 1949, more than 20,000 servicemen received their basic training at Montford Point, according to the Camp Lejeune Globe. About 300 of them are still alive. Four of those men ― John Thompson, Cleo Florence, Robert Thomas and Mack Haynes ― were in attendance for Saturday’s ceremony, the Burlington Times News reports. “When I went in in 1947, how things was then and how things have progressed and how they are today… there’s been a great change, but there still be more change and we may be able to have one nation under God and one people.”

To read full article and to see video, go to: First Black Men To Enlist As Marines Honored 75 Years Later | HuffPost

Briana Scurry Becomes 1st African-American Woman Elected to National Soccer Hall of Fame

World Cup and Olympic Gold medalist goalie Brianna Curry (photo via theundefeated.com)

by Rihannon Walker via theundefeated.com

Briana Scurry’s soccer career began in Dayton, Minnesota. The 12-year-old was the only African-American and only girl on the team. Thirty-two years later, Scurry became the only African-American woman in the National Soccer Hall of Fame after she was elected recently in her fourth year of eligibility. The starting goaltender for the U.S. women’s national team that won the 1999 Women’s World Cup also was the first female goalie chosen for the hall, according to The Washington Post’s Steven Goff.

Scurry, who has been eligible since 2014, was the lone player elected among 33 nominees announced in May. Dr. Joe Machnik, a former player, coach, referee and commissioner, joined Scurry in the 2017 class. U.S. Soccer said details about the induction ceremony will be unveiled later.

A 14-year soccer veteran, Scurry retired from the Washington Freedom of the Women’s Professional Soccer League seven years ago. She suffered a career-ending concussion after taking a knee to the temple at full speed from a Philadelphia Independence forward. A gold medalist with the U.S. team at the 1996 and 2004 Summer Olympics, Scurry is remembered for her cross-net deflection of China’s Liu Ying’s spot kick that set up Brandi Chastain’s game-winning penalty-kick-to-shirtless-slide succession in the 1999 Women’s World Cup.

“It’s a fantastic honor to be inducted to the Hall of Fame. I remember watching the Olympics on the couch with my parents at 8 years old, dreaming of becoming an Olympian myself. It was with their help – and that of my coaches, teammates and countless others – that I was blessed to not only become an Olympian, but an Olympic and World Cup champion,” Scurry told U.S. Soccer. “Soccer had already given me so much more than I could possibly give back. Now, to be inducted alongside the likes of Michelle Akers, Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly – I am truly humbled. And though my mother and father have passed, I can feel their pride swell. Thank you for letting me play for you, and thank you all for this incredible honor.”

To read full article, go to: Briana Scurry is the first African-American woman elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame

The Good Things Black People Do, Give and Receive All Over The World
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