Civil Rights Icon Fannie Lou Hamer Biopic to be Scripted by “Remember The Titans” Writer Gregory Allen Howard

Fannie Lou Hamer (photo via powerpacplus.org)

by Mike Fleming Jr. via deadline.com

Remember the Titans scribe Gregory Allen Howard has teamed with Chris Columbus1492 production company to tell the story of Fannie Lou Hamer, a sharecropper with a sixth-grade education who became an important voting-rights advocate and founded the first integrated political party in the South in mid-’60s Mississippi.

Hamer grew up in a family of 20 kids and picked cotton for most of her life. After going to a doctor to have a tumor removed, she discovered she was given a hysterectomy at age 47 by a white doctor, without her consent, because of a movement by the state to sterilize women to reduce the number of poor blacks in Mississippi.

Hamer became a Civil Rights activist, surviving assassination attempts

Gregory Allen Howard (photo via deadline.com)

and a near-fatal beating to get her moment at the Democratic National Convention, where she challenged President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968 with her legendary, “Is This America?” speech.

While LBJ hastily called a ruse press conference in the hope of diverting attention away from her speech, Hamer’s powerful words were widely broadcast and reverberated around the world. Howard, who studied Hamer’s accomplishments as a college student, has long been obsessed with bringing her story to the screen. Hamer died in 1977.

To read more, go to: Civil Rights Icon Fannie Lou Hamer Movie; Gregory Allen Howard script | Deadline

Philando Castile Family Reaches $3M Settlement with City of St. Anthony, MN

Valerie Castile, mother of Philando Castile (photo via eurweb.com)

by Amy Forliti via thegrio.com

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The mother of Philando Castile, the black motorist killed by a Minnesota police officer last July, has reached a nearly $3 million settlement with the city that employed the officer, avoiding a federal wrongful death lawsuit that attorneys said could have taken years to resolve. The settlement to be paid to Valerie Castile, who is the family’s trustee, was announced Monday and comes less than two weeks after officer Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted of manslaughter and other charges connected to her son’s death.

Castile, a 32-year-old elementary school cafeteria worker, was shot five times by Yanez during a traffic stop after Castile told the officer he was armed. Castile had a permit for his gun. The shooting gained widespread attention after Castile’s girlfriend, who was in the car with her then-4-year-old daughter, livestreamed its gruesome aftermath on Facebook. The acquittal of Yanez, who is Latino, prompted days of protests, including one in St. Paul that shut down Interstate 94 for hours and ended with 18 arrests.

The $2.995 million settlement for Valerie Castile will be paid by the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust, which holds the insurance policy for the city of St. Anthony. The plan for distribution of funds requires approval by a state court, which could take several weeks. Robert Bennett, who along with attorney Glenda Hatchett is representing Valerie Castile, said a decision was made to move expeditiously rather than have the case drawn out in federal court, a process that would “exacerbate and reopen terrible wounds.” The settlement will also allow the family, the city and community to work toward healing, Bennett said.

“No amount of money could ever replace Philando,” a joint statement from the attorneys and city of St. Anthony said. “With resolution of the claims the family will continue to deal with their loss through the important work of the Philando Castile Relief Foundation.” Bennett said the foundation’s mission is to provide financial support, grief counseling, scholarships and other help to individuals and families affected by gun violence and police violence.

Bennett said Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, is not part of the settlement. Reynolds has also hired an attorney, but it’s not clear if she is still planning a lawsuit or has any standing for a federal claim. Reynolds’ attorney did not return messages Monday.

The settlement happened faster than others stemming from the killings of black men by police officers elsewhere. Last week, a $1.5 million settlement was reached in the case of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old who was killed by a white officer in Ferguson, Missouri. That settlement came nearly three years after the death of Brown, whose parents sued the city.

Bennett said his decades-long relationship with Joe Flynn, the attorney who represented St. Anthony in Castile’s case, helped bring a quick resolution. He also said the city of St. Anthony has a commitment to make positive changes to their police department. The city is undergoing a voluntary review by the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, with the goal of improving trust between the police department and the communities it serves.

To read full article, go to: Philando Castile family reaches $3M settlement in death | theGrio

African-American Female Political Leaders Demand DNC Invest in Their Leadership

(photo via dailykos.com)

by Sameer Rao via colorlines.com

The Democratic Party relies on Black women to be the most consistent and engaged progressive constituency, but rarely supports their political leadership. A group of 27 Black female political advocates and leaders released an open letter demanding that Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman Tom Perez stop taking them for granted.”We have voted and organized our communities with little support or investment from the Democratic party for voter mobilization efforts,” reads the letter, which was published by NBC BLK yesterday (May 24).

“We have shown how Black women lead, yet the party’s leadership, from Washington to the state parties, have few or no Black women in leadership. More and more, Black women are running for office and winning elections—with scant support from Democratic Party infrastructure. Well, like civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, who testified at the 1964 Democratic convention demanding Blacks have a seat and voice within the Party, we are ‘sick and tired of being sick and tired.'”

The letter’s signatories include elected officials like U.S. congress members Marcia Fudge and Joyce Beatty (both D-OH) alongside advocates like Women’s March co-chair Tamika Mallory and Higher Heights for America’s Glynda Carr and Kimberly Peeler-Allen. The group collectively recognizes electoral victories by senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) and state-level politicians that, despite their strategic importance, did not compel Black women’s inclusion in DNC leadership: Black women also made important progressive wins in Minnesota, where IIhan Omar became the first Somali-American Muslim elected to the state legislature; Kentucky, where Attica Scott became the first woman elected to the state legislature in 20 years; Cook County, Illinois, where Kim Foxx was elected state’s attorney; Orange County, Florida, [where Aramis Ayala became] the first Black state’s attorney in Florida’s history; the state of Texas, [which] elected its first woman SheriffZena Stephens; and Jefferson County, Alabama, [which] elected nine Black women to the judicial branch.

This February, in the DNC elections, we saw an increase in overall diversity within the officer ranks, but no increase in leadership representation of Black women. Since taking office, you have met with and listened to key constituencies. But you have yet to host a Black women leaders convening.”Organizing without the engagement of Black women will prove to be a losing strategy, and there is much too much at stake for the Democratic Party to ignore Black women,” the signers continue. “In the absence of our inclusion in discussions about the Party’s forward movement, we question whether the Party values our loyalty and takes our commitment seriously.”The letter ends with a call for Perez to meet with Black women leaders, which he has yet to publicly confirm or reject. Read the full letter on NBCnews.com.

Source: READ: Black Female Political Leaders Demand DNC Invest in Their Leadership | Colorlines

NFL QB and Activist Colin Kaepernick to have Memorabilia Featured at National Museum of African American History and Culture

Colin Kaepernick (photo via Getty Images)

by thegrio.com

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is already looking to include Colin Kaepernick in it halls. Director Lonnie Bunch reached out to sociologist Harry Edwards as the museum was being developed, and Edwards was part of the game-changers exhibit featuring famous black sports stars and their impact on the world. To that end, Edwards recently donated a collection of Kaepernick’s memorabilia to the museum, suggesting that they should put up an exhibit featuring Kaepernick sooner than later.

“I said, ‘Don’t wait 50 years to try to get some memorabilia and so forth on Kaepernick,’ ” Edwards told USA TODAY Sports. “ ‘Let me give you a game jersey, some shoes, a picture … And it should be put right there alongside Muhammad Ali. He’s this generation’s Ali.’ ”

Kaepernick was rocketed to nationwide attention when he decided to take a knee during he national anthem in protest of the state of race relations in the United States, a decision that prompted a wave of similar protests across the country.

To read more, go to: Colin Kaepernick memorabilia to be featured at the Smithsonian | theGrio

Young Black Democrats, Eager to Lead From the Left, Eye Runs for Office in 2018

Representative Stacey Abrams, 43, a likely Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia in 2018, at the State Capitol in Atlanta. (Credit Kevin D. Liles for The New York Times)

by Alexander Burns via nytimes.com

MACON, Ga. — In Georgia, a Democratic lawmaker planning a run for governor promises to confront President Trump and what she calls the “fascists” surrounding him. In Maryland, a former president of the N.A.A.C.P. warns national Democrats not to take African-Americans for granted.

The mayor of Tallahassee, Fla., goes even further, declaring that Democrats have failed by fixating on centrist voters.In states from Massachusetts to Florida, a phalanx of young black leaders in the Democratic Party is striding into some of the biggest elections of 2018, staking early claims on governorships and channeling the outcry of rank-and-file Democrats who favor all-out battle with Mr. Trump and increasingly question his legitimacy as president.

By moving swiftly into the most contentious midterm races, these candidates aim to cement their party in forceful opposition to Mr. Trump and to align it unswervingly with minority communities and young people. Rather than muting their differences with the Republican Party in order to compete in states Mr. Trump won, like Georgia and Florida, they aim to make those distinctions starker. And, these Democrats say, they are willing to defy the conventional strategic thinking of the national party establishment, which has tended to recruit moderate, white candidates for difficult races and largely failed to help blacks advance to high office under President Barack Obama.

Stacey Abrams, the Democratic leader in the Georgia House of Representatives and a likely candidate for governor, said Democrats would win by confronting a president who was viewed with fear and hostility by the party’s base. Rather than pivoting to the center, Ms. Abrams, 43, said Democrats should redouble their focus on registering and energizing blacks, Hispanics and Asian-Americans, as well as young and low-income voters, who often decline to participate in politics.“There is a hunger for representation,” Ms. Abrams said in an interview. “There is a desire to make certain the state starts to serve everyone.”

At a “Macon Resists” town hall event in central Georgia last month, Ms. Abrams appealed to an auditorium of anxious Democrats with just that approach. The state, she said, is speeding toward a political crossroads, with Republicans “terrified of the evolving nature of our state.”“We can either move forward or we can let the president, and those fascists that surround him, pull us backwards,” she said. “I plan to go forward.”

Ms. Abrams, who filed paperwork this month to explore a run for governor, spent much of the event explaining the wrangling of the Georgia legislature in cool, pragmatic terms. But in the interview, she was adamant that Democrats could not “fake a conservative bent” in order to win the next election in her state, which voted for Mr. Trump by about six percentage points.“A Democrat wins an election in Georgia by speaking truth to power,” she said.In other states, black Democratic leaders have been just as pointed in their calls for the party to try something new.

Benjamin T. Jealous, a former president of the N.A.A.C.P., is exploring a campaign for governor of Maryland while warning the national party that minority voters could stay home if they are not inspired. Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee and a declared candidate for governor of Florida, said Democrats had repeatedly erred by failing to “lean into our base” and by chasing votes nearer to the center instead.

These candidates have brandished data indicating that black turnout slumped in 2016, the first presidential election in a dozen years without Mr. Obama on the ballot: The Census Bureau found that black turnout last year dropped sharply from 2012.

The field of states where youthful black Democrats are competing in 2018 is likely to expand: In Massachusetts, Setti Warren, the 46-year-old mayor of Newton, is gearing up for a race against Gov. Charlie Baker, a hugely popular Republican. African-American candidates are more tentatively considering statewide races in Illinois, Nevada and Ohio. And in Virginia’s off-year elections, Justin Fairfax, a 38-year-old former prosecutor, is the favorite to become the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor.

To read full article, go to: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/15/us/politics/black-democrats-governor-races-2018.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share&_r=0

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

Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank Walks Back Trump Praise after Backlash from Brand’s Top Celebrity Endorsers

Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank (l); Misty Copeland, Stephen Curry, Dwayne Johnson (photos via thegrio.com)

article via thegrio.com

BALTIMORE (AP) — The CEO of Baltimore-based sports apparel company Under Armour is responding to criticism he received after calling President Donald Trump “an asset to the country.” Kevin Plank wrote an open letter to Baltimore published as a full-page advertisement in The Baltimore Sun Wednesday.

He wrote that his choice of words during an interview with CNBC last week “did not accurately reflect my intent.” Three celebrities the company sponsors — basketball star Stephen Curry, actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and ballerina Misty Copelandwere among those voicing concerns about his praise of Trump.

Plank says the company stands for equal rights and job creation and believes “immigration is a source of strength, diversity and innovation for global companies based in America.” He says the company opposes the president’s travel ban.

Source: Under Armour CEO walks back Trump praise after backlash from brand’s top celebrity endorsers | theGrio