Category: News

Eugene Bullard, the 1st Known African-American fighter Pilot, Now Has Statue at Museum of Aviation in Georgia

Eugene Bullard statue in Georgia (photo via aero-news network)
Fighter pilot Eugene Bullard (photo via wikipedia.org)

Eugene Bullard, who became known as the Black Swallow of Death, was the first African-American pilot to fly in combat. Bullard now has a statue in his honor, unveiled last week in Warner Robins, Georgia, at the Museum of Aviation next to Robins Air Force Base, and about 100 miles south of Atlanta.

To quote from CNN:

His distant cousin, Harriett Bullard White, told CNN she wept with joy as she placed a wreath at the statue during a ceremony, attended by Air Force officers, nearly two dozen family members and several surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen.

“All my life I’d known how great he was. Of course, no one else knew who he is,” White said. “He’s an American hero and someone all Americans should know about.”

Born in Columbus, Georgia, in 1895, Bullard ran away from home as an 11-year-old, wandering the South for years before stowing away on a freight ship destined for Scotland.

The next year, 1913, he settled in France. When World War I broke out, Bullard enlisted in the French Foreign Legion, serving first in the infantry.

But after being wounded in battle, Bullard made a $2,000 bet with a friend that he could become a military aviator despite his skin color, according to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. He won the bet, receiving his wings as a member of the Aéronautique Militaire in May 1917. That November, he claimed he shot down two German fighters, though accounts vary as to whether those aerial victories could be confirmed.

Black military pilots wouldn’t become common in America until the famed Tuskegee Airmen began training to fly in 1941. President Harry Truman formally desegregated the U.S. armed forces with an executive order in 1948.

To read more: https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/09/us/first-black-fighter-pilot-statue-trnd/index.html

Kenyan Runner Eliud Kipchoge Breaks 2-Hour Marathon Mark in Austria

Eliud Kipchoge wins INEOS 1:59 Challenge in Vienna, Austria (image via twitter.com)

According to bbc.com, elite Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge, 34, has become the first athlete to run a marathon in under two hours, beating the mark by 20 seconds.

Kipchoge covered the 26.2 miles in one hour 59 minutes 40 seconds in the Ineos 1:59 Challenge in Vienna, Austria on Saturday.

This feat will not be recognized officially as the marathon world record because it was not in open competition and he used a team of rotating pacemakers.

“This shows no-one is limited,” said Kipchoge. “Now I’ve done it, I am expecting more people to do it after me.”

To read more: https://www.bbc.com/sport/athletics/50025543

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Awarded 2019 Nobel Peace Prize

Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed Ali (photo via commons.wikipedia.org)

According to the New York TimesAbiy Ahmed, the prime minister of Ethiopia, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his work in restarting peace talks with neighboring Eritrea and beginning to restore freedoms in his country after decades of political and economic repression.

To quote the article:

Abiy, 43, broke through two decades of frozen conflict between his vast country, Africa’s second most populous, and Eritrea, its small and isolated neighbor. When he became prime minister of Ethiopia in 2018, he threw himself at a breakneck pace into reforms at home, and peace negotiations with the rebel-turned-dictator Isaias Afwerki, president of Eritrea.

To read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/11/world/africa/nobel-peace-prize.html

Tyler Perry to Build Compound for Displaced Women, Children and LGBTQ Youth at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta

 

Filmmaker and entrepreneur Tyler Perry told Gayle King on CBS This Morning this week that his eponymous film studio in Atlanta will soon provide a safe haven for homeless women, displaced LGBTQ youth, and sex trafficking victims.

Perry is the first African American man to own a major movie studio, a 330-acre property that was once a Confederate Army base. But he is most excited about the aspect of helping those in need. “You know, the studio’s gonna be what it is,” Perry said.

“I’ll tell you what I’m most excited about next is pulling this next phase off, is building a compound for trafficked women, girls, homeless women, LGBTQ youth who are put out and displaced … somewhere on these 330 acres, where they’re trained in the business and they become self-sufficient.”

“They live in nice apartments. There’s day care. There’s all of these wonderful things that allows them to reenter society. And then pay it forward again,” Perry continued. “So that’s what I hope to do soon.”

The land for Tyler Perry Studios was acquired by Perry in 2015 and is located on the historic grounds of the former Fort McPherson army base in Atlanta, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“Think about the poetic justice in that,” Perry said. “The Confederate Army is fighting to keep Negroes enslaved in America, fighting, strategy, planning on this very ground. And now this very ground is owned by me.”

The major motion picture studio includes 40 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, 12 purpose-built sound stages named after African-American luminaries such as Oprah Winfrey, Diahann Carroll, and Harry Belafonte, 200 acres of green space, and a diverse backlot.

To read more: https://www.blackenterprise.com/tyler-perry-studios/

Steven L. Reed Elected Mayor of Montgomery; 1st African American to Lead Alabama’s Capitol Since its Founding

Newly-elected Montgomery, Alabama mayor Steven L. Reed (photo via wtvm.com)

Voters in Montgomery, Alabama made history Tuesday by decisively electing Steven L. Reed as their new and very first African American mayor in the 200 years since the city’s founding.

To quote the Washington Post:

Reed, already a trailblazer as Montgomery County’s first black probate judge, defeated David Woods, owner of the local Fox affiliate, in a non-partisan runoff election with 67 percent of the vote and all precincts reporting, according to the unofficial election results.

“This election has never been about me,” Reed, 45, said during his victory speech. “This election has never about just my ideas. It’s been about all of the hopes and dreams that we have as individuals and collectively in this city … and the way we found the opportunity to improve outcomes regardless of neighborhood, regardless of Zip code, regardless of anything that may divide us or make us different from one another.”

His victory reverberated well beyond Montgomery as many celebrated the milestone in a city remembered as both the cradle of the Confederacy and the birthplace of the civil rights movement. Montgomery, where about 60 percent of residents are black, was the first capital of the Confederate States of America, becoming a bastion of racial violence and discrimination in the Jim Crow era but also of protests and resistance in the civil rights era.

It’s home to the Montgomery bus boycott against segregation led by Rosa Parks, and it’s home to the Selma to Montgomery marches for voting rights led by Martin Luther King Jr. It was in Montgomery where, after the third march in March 1965, King addressed a crowd of 25,000 people on the steps of the Alabama Capitol, famously saying, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

“This is a historic day for our nation,” Karen Baynes-Dunning, interim president and chief executive of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is based in Montgomery, said Tuesday on Twitter. “The election of Steven Reed, the first black mayor of Montgomery, AL, symbolizes the new inclusive & forward thinking South that so many have worked to achieve.”

To read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/10/09/steven-reed-montgomery-first-black-mayor-alabama/

Oprah Winfrey Donates $13 million to Morehouse College

Oprah Winfrey at Morehouse (photo via twitter.com)

According to cnn.com, Oprah Winfrey now has the largest endowment ever at all-male HBCU Morehouse College in Atlanta after donating $13 million.

Winfrey visited Morehouse on Monday for the 30th anniversary of the Oprah Winfrey Scholars Program, the release said. The program started in 1989 and the fund stands at $12 million. Monday’s donation of $13 million pushed her total investment to $25 million.

“Seeing you young Oprah Winfrey scholars here today has moved me deeply,” Winfrey said Monday before announcing her donation. “I am so proud of you, I’m proud of everybody in attendance at this school who is seeking to know more clearly who you are, the value you hold and how you will share that value with the rest of the world.”

Winfrey’s donation comes after billionaire Robert Smith promised to pay off the student loan debt of the 2019 Morehouse graduates in May. Smith donated $34 million to the school last month, making good on his promise.

“I’m grateful to Oprah Winfrey for her generosity,” said Morehouse President David A. Thomas. “I am also feeling hopeful for Morehouse and what it has garnered in terms of philanthropic support with gifts like Oprah’s and Robert Smith’s. I am hopeful that this will also get others to step up with their support of Morehouse, but even more broadly, historically black colleges and universities.”

History-Making Tyler Perry Studios Has Grand Opening Gala in Atlanta with Oprah, Beyonce and More

Tyler Perry (photo via commons.wikipedia.org)

Actors, directors, musical artists, filmmakers and politicians such as Oprah Winfrey, Beyoncé, Stacey Abrams, Ava DuVernay, Viola Davis, Samuel L. Jackson, Spike Lee, Tiffany Haddish, Whoopi Goldberg, Reginald Hudlin and Halle Berry showed up to support filmmaker and entrepreneur Tyler Perry as he formally opened his Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta.

Tyler Perry Studios marks the first time that an African-American person has owned and operated a major film studio anywhere in the U.S.

Perry also reportedly named his twelve sound stages after living and late legends such as Denzel Washington, Oprah Winfrey, Halle Berry, Sydney Poitier, Della Reese, Spike Lee, Harry Belafonte, Cicely Tyson, Whoopi Goldberg, Diahann Carroll and Will Smith.

“Why did it take so long?” Goldberg wondered in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “Why was he the first to get it? Now he’s the man who makes the decisions, chooses the movies, and he doesn’t have to ask anybody for shit. There’s nothing better than that. He’s never on his knees. He gets what he needs because he provided it.”

Davis concurred by saying, “Tonight is history. Tonight is not just entertainment and flamboyancy, it’s not just an excuse to get dressed up. It’s an excuse to celebrate a historic moment, which is a black artist taking control of their artistic life and the vision that God has for their life,” she said. “What’s happened with us historically is we’re waiting for people to get us. We’re waiting for people to throw us a crumb. That’s not what Tyler Perry has done. I want to be able to look back on this and say ‘I was there.'”

Winfrey added of Perry: “Tyler is my little big brother. To see him rise to this moment that I know he’s dreamed about, planned, defined, clarify for himself, it’s just a fulfillment of a dream. It’s wonderful to see.”

DuVernay, among others, touchingly reported on the momentous occasion on her Instagram and Twitter:

To read and see more, go to: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/inside-tyler-perry-studios-grand-opening-gala-1245752

R.I.P. Diahann Carroll, 84, Groundbreaking Actress and Tony Award Winner

 

Diahann Carroll (photo via commons.wikipedia.org)

According to the Los Angeles Times, Diahann Carroll, star of stage and screen who changed the course of television history as the first African American woman to star in a TV series (1968’s ground-breaking sitcom “Julia”) and to win a lead actress Tony Award, has passed away. She was 84.

The Oscar-nominated actress and breast cancer survivor, who also starred in “Paris Blues” with Sidney Poitier, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, primetime soap “Dynasty” and “White Collar,” died of cancer, her daughter Suzanne Kay said Friday.

Born Carol Diahann Johnson in 1935 in the Bronx, Carroll moved to Harlem with her parents at a young age. With their support, she enrolled in dance, singing and modeling classes and attended Music and Art High School with Billy Dee Williams, who would later costar with her in “Dynasty.” By 15, Carroll was modeling for Ebony, and by 18 she got her big singing break after winning the televised talent show “Chance of a Lifetime” in 1954.

Carroll debuted as an actress in 1954’s Oscar-nominated adaptation of “Carmen Jones,” a retelling of the Bizet opera with an all-black cast alongside Dorothy Dandridge, Harry Belafonte and Pearl Bailey. In 1959, she headlined the musical “Porgy and Bess” with Dandridge, Sidney Poitier and Sammy Davis Jr.

Carroll was nominated for a lead-actress Oscar for her turn as a single mother in the 1974 comedy “Claudine” opposite James Earl Jones, and earned a Tony Award in 1962 for Richard Rodgers’ “No Strings.”

In the late 1960s, Carroll was cast in “Julia,” the enormously successful NBC sitcom that featured her as a war-widowed nurse raising a son.

Carroll won a Golden Globe for female TV star and a nomination for best TV show, among other nods. She also earned a lead actress in a comedy Emmy nomination in 1969. Because the show was sponsored by toymaker Mattel, she served as the model for one of the first black Barbie dolls and found her likeness plastered on a variety of merchandise, including lunch boxes and coloring books.

To read more: https://www.latimes.com/obituaries/story/2019-10-04/diahann-carroll-dead

 

Lupita Nyong’o Authors Children’s Book “Sulwe” to Help Young Readers “See More Dark Skin in a Beautiful Light”

“Sulwe” by Lupita Nyong’o (image via amazon.com); Lupita Nyong’o (photo via commons.wikipedia.org)

According to popsugar.com, Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o is now a published author, and her children’s book Sulwe — which means “star” in the Luo language of her native Kenya — sends a powerful and much-needed message.

The 48-page book, to be released on October 15, focuses on the heartwarming, whimsical story of a young girl named Sulwe who goes on a journey to discover her own unique beauty.

“Sulwe has skin the color of midnight,” the summary reads. “She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.”

In her October 1st Instagram post, Nyong’o shared a photo of her 5-year-old self and reflected on how she felt about herself:

View this post on Instagram

This is 5-year-old me. I reflected on this little girl's feelings and fantasies when I decided to write my children's book, #Sulwe. With this book, I wanted to hold up a mirror for her. Here's why: As a little girl reading, I had all of these windows into the lives of people who looked nothing like me, chances to look into their worlds, but I didn't have any mirrors. While windows help us develop empathy and an understanding of the wider world, mirrors help us develop our sense of self, and our understanding of our own world. They ground us in our body and our experiences. #Sulwe holds up a mirror for dark-skinned children especially, to see themselves reflected immediately, and it is a window for all the others to cherish peering into. Colorism, society's preference for lighter skin, is alive and well. It's not just a prejudice reserved for places with a largely white population. Throughout the world, even in Kenya, even today, there is a popular sentiment that lighter is brighter. I imagined what it would have been like for this little girl to turn the pages of her picture books and see more dark skin in a beautiful light. This book is my dream come true for kids like her today. #Sulwe arrives October 15. ✨ Link in bio to pre-order. #NationalBookMonth #BrightnessIsJustWhoYouAre

A post shared by Lupita Nyong'o (@lupitanyongo) on

Lupita went on to point out that, even at a young age, girls are taught that light skin is preferred over dark skin, and that books like Sulwe can help to encourage self-love for darker-skinned girls everywhere.

“Colorism, society’s preference for lighter skin, is alive and well. It’s not just a prejudice reserved for places with a largely white population. Throughout the world, even in Kenya, even today, there is a popular sentiment that lighter is brighter.”

To order Sulwe on Amazon, go to: https://amzn.to/2ozcMLQ

Award-Winning Author Ta-Nehisi Coates Tours U.S. Cities with New, Best-Selling Novel “The Water Dancer”

“The Water Dancer” Author Ta-Nehisi Coates (photo via wikipedia.commons.org)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Award-winning author Ta-Nehisi Coates is currently touring and discussing his first novel, “The Water Dancer,” in venues across the country.

Upcoming dates include the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago on Thursday, October 3, where Coates will be joined in conversation by renowned Chicago poet, Tara Betts, and October 17th at West Angeles Cathedral in Los Angeles, where Coates will be in conversation with Black Panther, Creed and Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler.

To register for Chicago, click here. To register for Los Angeles, click here.

Just how powerful are our memories? This is the central question of “The Water Dancer” by Coates, famously known for his Atlantic essays, and a National Book Award winner for “Between the World and Me.”

“The Water Dancer” follows Hiram Walker, a young slave in antebellum Virginia , as he explores the metaphorical and metaphysical boundaries of his world.

A remarkable blend of historical fiction and fantasy, evocatively detailed and constantly thought-provoking, “The Water Dancer” serves as a profound reminder of Coates ongoing proposition: that we must remember and speak of our history in relation to present predicaments.

To see more of Coates’ upcoming tour dates and information on tickets, click here.