Dr. Robert E. Johnson Becomes University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth’s 1st African-American Chancellor

Dr. Robert E. Johnson (photo via jbhe.com)

article via jbhe.com

The board of trustees of the University of Massachusetts has named Robert E. Johnson as chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. The campus enrolls about 7,300 undergraduate students and 1,600 graduate students. African Americans make up 14 percent of the undergraduate student body.

When Dr. Johnson takes office, he will become the first African American to lead the UMass Dartmouth campus. Since 2010, he has been president of Becker College in Worcester, Massachusetts. Earlier in his career, Dr. Johnson has served in administrative roles at Sinclair Community College, the University of Dayton, Oakland University, and Central State University.

A native of Detroit, Dr. Johnson is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he majored in economics. He holds a master’s degree in education administration from the University of Cincinnati and a doctorate in higher education administration from Touro University International.

Source: The University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth Names Its Next Chancellor : The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education

Documentary “The Duce’s Boxer” Details How Leone Jacovacci, an African Italian Boxer, Humiliated Mussolini

1928 European Middleweight Champion Leone Jacovacci (photo via eurweb.com)

article via eurweb.com

A documentary about Leone Jacovacci, a black Italian boxer who discredited 20th century Italian dictator Benito Mussolini’s racist ideology by winning a European boxing title is making waves in Italy and abroad, reports Variety. “The Duce’s Boxer” tells the story of Jacovacci, an African Italian born in the Congo who won the 1928 European middleweight title by beating Mario Bosisio, a white Italian boxer supported by the country’s Fascist leaders, in front of 40,000 fans in Rome’s National Stadium.

Mussolini, outraged, then ordered Jacovacci and his achievement erased from Italy’s history books. But 89 years later, Jacovacci’s story has been resurrected. “The Duce’s Boxer” premieres today (March 21) in 25 Italian cities to mark the U.N. International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Based on the book “Black Roman” by Italian sociologist Mauro Valeri, a former head of the country’s National Xenophobia Observatory, “The Duce’s Boxer” is directed by first-timer Tony Saccucci. Saccucci used archive footage from Italian state film entity Istituto Luce and photos provided by Jacovacci’s family, according to Variety.

Saccucci found that footage of the title match had been tampered with by Fascist censors. Jacovacci’s story is reminiscent of American track-and-field athlete Jesse Owens’ feat when he won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, debunking Hitler’s creed of Aryan supremacy.

To read more, go to: New Documentary Details How a Black Italian Boxer Humiliated Mussolini | EURweb

Nancy Abu-Bonsrah Makes History as 1st Black Female Admitted to Johns Hopkins’ Neurosurgery Residency

(image via twitter.com)

article via thegrio.com

Nancy Abu-Bonsrah is making history after being admitted to Johns Hopkins as its first black female neurosurgeon. On Friday, March 17, fourth-year medical students participated in a Match Day event in which they discovered where they would be doing their residency training over the summer. Each student held an envelope with the name of their matched hospital, and when Abu-Bonsrah opened hers, it had the name Johns Hopkins.

Abu-Bonsrah was thrilled, saying, “Everything is special about the match. It will be a dream come true.”Nancy Abu-Bonsrah is making history during #WomensHistoryMonth Read her story on @BBCNews here https://t.co/9k4kaygRTz pic.twitter.com/rAx12tb2vF— Hopkins Med News (@HopkinsMedNews) March 20, 2017

Asked about herself, Abu-Bonsrah had this to share: “I was born in Ghana and spent the first 15 years of my life there. My family and I came to Maryland about 11 years ago. I did most of high school at Hammond High in Columbia, Maryland, and went to college at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. I came to Johns Hopkins right after undergrad. I will be the first physician in my family, including the extended family.”

As for her future plans, she said, “I am very much interested in providing medical care in underserved settings, specifically surgical care. I hope to be able to go back to Ghana over the course of my career to help in building sustainable surgical infrastructure. I will be matching into neurosurgery, a field that I am greatly enamored with, and hope to utilize those skills in advancing global surgical care.

To read full article, go to: Johns Hopkins admits its first black female neurosurgeon | theGrio

R.I.P Chuck Berry, 90; Musical Legend and Architect of Rock ’n’ Roll

article by Jon Pareles via nytimes.com

Chuck Berry, who with his indelible guitar licks, brash self-confidence and memorable songs about cars, girls and wild dance parties did as much as anyone to define rock ’n’ roll’s potential and attitude in its early years, died on Saturday. He was 90.

The St. Charles County Police Department in Missouri confirmed his death on its Facebook page. The department said it responded to a medical emergency at a home and Mr. Berry was declared dead after lifesaving measures were unsuccessful.

While Elvis Presley was rock’s first pop star and teenage heartthrob, Mr. Berry was its master theorist and conceptual genius, the songwriter who understood what the kids wanted before they knew themselves. With songs like “Johnny B. Goode,” “Maybellene” and “Roll Over Beethoven,” he gave his listeners more than they knew they were getting from jukebox entertainment.

Chuck Berry (photo via nytimes.com)

His guitar lines wired the lean twang of country and the bite of the blues into phrases with both a streamlined trajectory and a long memory. And tucked into the lighthearted, telegraphic narratives that he sang with such clear enunciation was a sly defiance, upending convention to claim the pleasures of the moment. In “Sweet Little Sixteen,” “You Can’t Catch Me,” “Rock n Roll Music” and other songs, Mr. Berry invented rock as a music of teenage wishes fulfilled and good times.  (The Beach Boys reworked his “Sweet Little Sixteen” into “Surfin’ U.S.A.” Mr. Berry sued them and won a songwriting credit.)

Born Charles Edward Anderson Berry on Oct. 18, 1926, in St. Louis, he grew up in a segregated, middle-class neighborhood there, soaking up gospel, blues, and rhythm and blues, along with some country music.He spent three years in reform school after a spree of car thefts and armed robbery.

He received a degree in hairdressing and cosmetology and worked for a time as a beautician; he married Themetta Suggs in 1948 and started a family. By the early 1950s, he was playing guitar and singing blues, pop standards and an occasional country tune with local combos. Shortly after joining Sir John’s Trio, led by the pianist Johnnie Johnson, he reshaped the group’s music and took it over.

From the Texas guitarist T-Bone Walker, Mr. Berry picked up a technique of bending two strings at once that he would rough up and turn into a rock ’n’ roll talisman, the Chuck Berry lick, which would in turn be emulated by the Rolling Stones and countless others. He also recognized the popularity of country music and added some hillbilly twang to his guitar lines. Mr. Berry’s hybrid music, along with his charisma and showmanship, drew white as well as black listeners to the Cosmopolitan Club in St. Louis.

In 1955, Mr. Berry ventured to Chicago and asked one of his idols, the bluesman Muddy Waters, about making records. Waters directed him to the label he recorded for, Chess Records, where one of the owners, Leonard Chess, heard potential in Mr. Berry’s song “Ida Red.”

A variant of an old country song by the same name, “Ida Red” had a 2/4 backbeat with a hillbilly oompah, while Mr. Berry’s lyrics sketched a car chase, the narrator “motorvatin’” after an elusive girl. Mr. Chess renamed the song “Maybellene,” and in a long session on May 21, 1955, Mr. Chess and the bassist Willie Dixon got the band to punch up the rhythm.

“The big beat, cars and young love,” Mr. Chess outlined. “It was a trend and we jumped on it.”

The music was bright and clear, a hard-swinging amalgam of country and blues. More than 60 years later, it still sounds reckless and audacious.

To read full article, go to: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/18/arts/chuck-berry-dead.html

John Singleton-Produced Documentary “L.A. Burning: The Riots 25 Years Later” to Air April 18 on A&E Network 

Director John Singleton (photo via Variety.com)

article by Cynthia Littleton via variety.com

A&E Network will mark the 25th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots next month with a two-hour documentary from filmmaker John Singleton. “L.A. Burning: The Riots 25 Years Later,” set to debut April 18, tells the story of the civil unrest that shook the nation from the perspective of those who lived through a week of upheaval following a jury’s acquittal of four Los Angeles Police Department officers charged in the 1991 beating of African-American motorist Rodney King.

King’s arrest and savage treatment at the hands of veteran LAPD officers was caught on videotape by a local resident who gave the incendiary footage to KTLA-TV Los Angeles. KTLA’s coverage and airing of the nine-minute recording depicting cops kicking and beating King with batons while he was lying on the ground set off a firestorm of outrage and protest over the LAPD’s treatment of minorities.

The incident coincided with the dawn of the 24/7 news cycle fueled by the growth of cable news and the spread of home video recording technology.Singleton, a native of Los Angeles, was fresh out of USC film school and had just launched his career as a movie director with 1991’s Oscar-nominated “Boyz n the Hood” when the riots erupted on April 29, 1992, the day acquittals of the four officers were handed down by a nearly all-white jury.

Five days of violence and unrest left at least 55 people dead, more than 2,000 injured and inflicted more than $1 billion in property damage.“I believe the 1992 L.A. uprising has never truly been given a voice until now,” Singleton said. “We’ve attempted to chronicle the untold stories and unique perspectives of people whose lives were profoundly affected by this event. As a native Los Angeleno I know the actions of that three-day event didn’t just appear out of thin air. The city was a powder keg boiling at the seams for many years under police brutality and economic hardship of people of color.”

Among those featured in the documentary are actor-activist Edward James Olmos, police officers, rioters, bystanders caught in the crossfire and reporters who covered the upheaval. “L.A. Burning” hails from Entertainment One and Creature Films. The doc is directed by One9 and Erik Parker.

“L.A. Burning” is one of several TV productions in the works to mark the anniversary of the violence that shook Los Angeles and the world. Filmmaker John Ridley is behind the two-hour ABC special “Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992,” set to air April 28.  On April 18, Showtime will air the documentary “Burn Mother—–r Burn!,” examining the history of racial tensions and rioting in Los Angeles.

To read full article, go to: A&E Network Sets Los Angeles Riots ‘25 Years Later’ Documentary From John Singleton (EXCLUSIVE) | Variety

USC Professor Raphael Bostic Named 1st African American President of a Federal Reserve Regional Bank

Raphael Bostic (photo via latimes.com)

article by Jim Puzzanghera via latimes.com

USC professor Raphael Bostic made history on Monday when he was named president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, becoming the first African American to lead one of the Fed’s 12 regional banks. The choice of Bostic, 50, director of the Bedrosian Center on Governance at USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy, comes after members of Congress and advocacy groups have sharply criticized the central bank for a lack of diversity.

They had pushed for a diverse choice to head the Atlanta region, in part because it has a large African American population. Bostic acknowledged the significance of his appointment, which he said “is a very big deal” that made him the answer to a “Jeopardy” question.

“It’s not lost on me that I …am the first African American to lead a Federal Reserve institution,” he said in a short video released by the Atlanta Fed. “It’s kind of daunting. It’s an overwhelming thought. It’s a tremendous privilege.” “I look forward to this being a stepping stone for many others to have this opportunity as well,” Bostic said.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), who was among four prominent African American House members who urged a diverse choice for the Atlanta position, hailed Bostic as an “outstanding choice” and called his selection a “long-awaited first step towards building diversity among the Federal Reserve’s senior leadership.”

Bostic’s appointment was approved by the Atlanta Fed’s board of directors and the Board of Governors in Washington. He will take over on June 5, succeeding Dennis Lockhart, who announced his resignation in September and stepped down on Feb. 28.

The job involves overseeing about 1,700 employees in the Atlanta region — Alabama, Florida, Georgia and parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee — and participating in monetary policy deliberations in Washington.

To read full article, go to: USC professor named first African American president of a Fed regional bank – LA Times

Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation Launches African Film Heritage Project to Restore Over 50 African Films

(image via shadowandact.com)

article via shadowandact.com

The Film Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1990 dedicated to protecting and preserving motion picture history. By working in partnership with archives and studios, the foundation has helped to restore over 750 films, which are made accessible to the public through programming at festivals, museums, and educational institutions around the world.

The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project has restored 28 films from 20 different countries representing the rich diversity of world cinema. In addition, the foundation’s free educational curriculum, “The Story of Movies,” teaches young people – over 10 million to date – about film language and history.

Martin Scorsese is the founder and chairman of The Film Foundation which today announced what it calls the African Film Heritage Project, created to do what is very necessary work – locate, restore, and preserve African films; many of which are seemingly *lost* to history, or just not widely accessible and could greatly benefit from restoration and re-release/re-discovery.

African cinema history is deeper than many outside of the continent might realize. But, as has been noted on this blog in the past, some of the older films are impossible to get one’s hands on, unless made by the continent’s higher profile filmmakers like the late Ousmane Sembene.

The project is in partnership with the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers (FEPACI) and UNESCO. Said Scorsese during the announcement: “There are so many films in need of restoration from all over the world. We created the World Cinema Project to ensure that the most vulnerable titles don’t disappear forever. Over the past 10 years the WCP has helped to restore films from Egypt, India, Cuba, the Philippines, Brazil, Armenia, Turkey, Senegal, and many other countries. Along the way, we’ve come to understand the urgent need to locate and preserve African films title by title in order to ensure that new generations of filmgoers — African filmgoers in particular — can actually see these works and appreciate them.”

As Cheick Oumar Sissoko, FEPACI secretary general (and a Malian filmmaker), notes: “Africa needs her own images, her own gaze testifying on her behalf, without the distorting prism of others, of the foreign gaze saddled by prejudice and schemes. We must bear witness to this cradle of humanity which has developed a rich and immense human, historical, cultural and spiritual patrimony.”

This will certainly go a long way towards making African films – especially classics of African cinema – widely accessible, and hopefully help fuel budding filmmakers across the continent.

To read full article, go to: Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation Launches African Film Heritage Project to Restore 50+ African Films – Shadow and Act