Sidney Keys III, 11, Founds Books N Bros to Help Other Boys Fall in Love with Reading

Sidney Keys III founded Books N Bros, a reading club that emphasizes making reading fun while lifting up works of African American literature and culture. (KELLY MOFFITT | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO)

article by Kelly Moffitt via news.stlpublicradio.org

Six months ago, 11-year-old St. Louisan Sidney Keys III started a reading club for boys his age to band together in their love of books. He calls it Books N Bros, and the club has an emphasis on making reading fun while lifting up African American literature and culture.

“Books N Bros is a book club for boys and we read books and African American literature because every time I go to the library at my school, there aren’t many African American literature books there,” said Keys in an interview on St. Louis on the Air. “I already love to read and since we don’t get that much time to read in school, we just discuss in groups. I wanted to read a book but I also wanted to discuss it with other people.”

Keys’ mom, Winnie Caldwell, said she knew Sidney had always loved to read because he’d often come to her wanting to talk about books.

About six months ago, they went to visit EyeSeeMe, a bookstore in University City focusing on African American children’s literature. While there, Winnie shot a video of Sidney reading in the store and it went viral on Facebook. Some 62,000 people have viewed the video and it has been shared 1,700 times.

Books N Bros card (KELLY MOFFITT | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO)

“He hadn’t seen [a bookstore] like that before and I certainly never had, so he was making himself comfortable on the floor, reading a book,” Caldwell said. “… When you get to a point when he is 11 years old and it was so shocking for him to relate to someone on the cover in a positive aspect rather than it be some negative urban story we see a lot. I would like to make sure he sees himself in being whatever he can be.”

After the video went viral, she and Sidney sat down to think about what he wanted to do next. A book club immediately jumped to mind.

“We specifically reach out to boys around ages 8-10 because that is statistically the age they stop reading — we wanted to combat that,” Caldwell said.

Keys added: “My motivation is I already love to read but it would be awesome, even better, to read with other people. I want to keep doing it because I don’t know what will make me stop reading because I love to read.”

The club meets once a month, discussing one book the club has voted on. While their numbers are still small, the book club has grown each month. Last month, two new members joined bringing the group to 7-10 members each month. The group is welcoming to boys of all backgrounds and races, but the club does focus on stories with African American protagonists.

Keys and Caldwell have also struck a deal with the Microsoft Store at the Galleria, where the book club meets. The boys discuss their books for an hour before each gets 30 minutes to play video games on a personal console at the store. A group called Serving with the Badge also donated 200 books to the book club so boys can take books home with them for their personal collection.

Some of the book club favorites so far have been “Danny Dollar,” “Hidden Figures” and “Supah Dupah Kid.” In February, for Black History Month, the group read “A Song for Harlem: Scraps of Time,” by Patricia McKissack, a St. Louis-based children’s book author.

For now, the book club has plans to stay boys-only, but Caldwell said there’s another book club called Nerdy Girls, which is aimed at girls between ages 6-12 and has over 75 members. Caldwell and Keys plan on partnering with Nerdy Girls in the future.

Caldwell said that if there are boys who are interested in joining the club, which costs $20 per month, they can find more information on the website https://www.booksnbros.com/ or email info@booksnbros.com.

To read full article, go to: Books N Bros’ 11-year-old founder wants to help boys love reading at an age when they often don’t | St. Louis Public Radio

Colin Kaepernick Secures Cargo Plane and $1 Million in Aid via GoFundMe for Somalia

Colin Kaepernick (photo via essence.com)

article by Paula Rogo via essence.com

Kaepernick is putting his money, and power, where his mouth is

Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick continues to make philanthropic waves after securing a way to provide relief to the people of Somalia. After joining a Twitter campaign beseeching Turkish Airlines to send a cargo plane with aid, the former quarterback announced on Twitter Friday that he had secured one from the airline to bring supplies to the East African nation.

Turkish Airlines is one of the few that travel to Somalia, and the flight is expected to take place March 27.

The GoFundMe page’s goal is $1 million, a number it quickly surpassed in 24 hours.

“This is a victory for the people, this is a victory for the people of Somalia,” said Kaepernick. “It was done out of love, out of respect for these people. We wanted to bring structure to this so we’re going to use the name Love Army for Somalia. So use the #LoveArmyforSomalia. This is amazing, let’s keep building, let’s keep going.”

To see full article, go to: Colin Kaepernick Secures A Plane and $1 Million In Aid For Somalia | Essence.com

HEALTH: Detroit Gets $9 Million Grant for Historic Study of Black Cancer Survivors to Develop Preventative and Treatment Strategies

Volunteer Bester King, a cancer survivor, at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. (Photo: Kathleen Galligan/Detroit Free Press)

article by , Detroit Free Press Columnist via freep.com

Bester King remembers the moment his doctor told him he had prostate cancer. The Detroit native, who grew up in the North End, was 61, had just retired two years earlier and had known the pain of the disease’s prowess. Both his parents had died of cancer.

“I wasn’t afraid. I don’t think I was in shock or anything,” said King, now 77. “I remember feeling a calmness. My dad had prostate cancer and passed two days before his 65th birthday. But that made me more aware of prostate cancer, so it helped save my life. I started getting checkups a lot sooner than I would have. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and lived to 95.”

King, who later also developed bladder cancer — and whose doctor also had both cancers — talks easily and forthrightly about his experiences. He hopes to recount those same experiences to researchers if chosen to participate in an unprecedented new project.

The Karmanos Cancer Institute and the Wayne State University School of Medicine just received a five-year grant to begin the nation’s largest-ever study of African-American cancer survivors — men and women — to examine why black people have a higher incidence of, and death from, cancer than other races.

The National Cancer Institute wants to use the study to develop national strategies to prevent and combat cancer in African Americans. The study, funded by a $9 million grant, will include 5,560 cancer survivors and 2,780 family members from Wayne, Oakland and Macomb County. It will allow researchers, through survivor’s words and analysis of biological specimens, to analyze the disease’s progression and recurrence and to examine the quality of life and mortality of black patients.

Participants are being chosen randomly and confidentially from the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results, or SEER database, a collection of cancer incidence, mortality, survival and treatment information. The death rate for African Americans outpaces whites in all four major categories of cancer — colorectal, female breast, lung, prostate. The death rate for prostate cancer, for instance, was 35.9 per 100,000 black metro Detroit residents dying in 2011-13 compared with 17.1 per 100,000 white metro Detroit residents dying during the same period. The death rate for lung cancer was 56.3 per 100,000 black metro Detroit residents compared with 48.6 per 100,000 white metro Detroit residents.

“This study is critical to ensuring that underserved populations in Detroit and around the country benefit from new approaches for cancer diagnosis, treatment, and prevention,” Dr. M. Roy Wilson, president of Wayne State University, said in a statement. “Focusing on the complex factors that generate disparities in cancer among underserved populations, such as African Americans, will lead to better treatments and improved approaches to cancer care for all Americans.”

To read full article, go to: Metro Detroit gets grant for historic study of black cancer survivors

Michelle Obama Celebrates International Women’s Day With Surprise School Visit to Female Students, Talks Education

Former First Lady Michelle Obama, participates in roundtable discussion with students at Cardozo Education Campus in Washington, DC March 8, 2017. (Photo: Chuck Kennedy)

article by Tierney Mcafee via people.com

Michelle Obama is still devoted to “letting girls learn.”The former first lady marked International Women’s Day with a surprise visit to 12 female students at a combined middle and high school in Washington, D.C.

Obama had a roundtable talk with the girls at Francis L. Cardozo Education Campus, several of whom are from the school’s international program for recent immigrants, including some girls from Africa and Latin America. She announced the visit on Snapchat Wednesday morning, saying: “We’re celebrating International Women’s Day with a group of amazing young women. We’re going to talk about education — the importance of it in their lives and in mine.”

Another snap showed the moment Obama walked into a classroom and surprised the stunned young women, who responded with a chorus of “Oh my Gods!”“Did you know?” the former first lady said with a smile. “You didn’t know.”“This school is amazing,” she added as she greeted the girls.After a round of hugs, Obama and the young students sat down to talk about education and their goals for the future.

The former first lady later took to her Instagram to share a photo and reflect on her visit.

“Celebrating the beauty and diversity of our country on this #InternationalWomensDay with some of the many fierce and promising girls here at DC’s Cardozo Education Campus,” she wrote. “I loved visiting this school because it tells the American story in so many ways. Three years ago, Cardozo established its International Academy with only 150 students, but today it boasts nearly 400 who are thriving in and out of the classroom. By embracing young immigrants and their diverse cultures and contributions, Cardozo is a model for our entire country. The girls I met with today are ready to take on the world. We’ve just got to make sure that the world is ready for them.”

To read and see more, go to: Michelle Obama Celebrates International Women’s Day with Surprise School Visit

Chance the Rapper Donating $1 Million of Spring Tour Ticket Sales to Chicago Public Schools

Chance the Rapper (photo via rollingstone.com)

article by Dan Hyman via rollingstone.com

Chance the Rapper announced on Monday that he will donate $1 million to the Chicago Public Schools Foundation “for arts and enrichment programming.” The announcement came at a press conference held at Westcott Elementary School in the Grammy-winning rapper’s native South Side neighborhood of West Chatham, during which he presented an oversized check to students flanking him on both sides.

The announcement comes days after the Coloring Book rapper met with Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner to discuss what he believes is a lack of state funding directed towards the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) systems. “The governor gave me a lot of vague answers in our meeting and since has called me over the weekend,” Chance told a group of reporters and students gathered on Monday. It’s a sentiment he shared minutes after his talk with Rauner on Friday, when he told the Governor, via reporters, to “Do your job!” “Our talks were unsuccessful,” Chance continued. “Gov. Rauner still won’t commit to giving Chicago’s kids a chance without caveats or ultimatums.”

Chance’s efforts principally stem from Rauner’s veto of a bill that was set to delegate $215 million in funding to CPS, “an important compromise on behalf of the schools and the students across the state,” Chance noted. As a result, CPS may have to lay off thousands of staff or, as Chance passionately explained, even cut the school year short by 13 days. “This means over 380,000 kids will not have adult-supervised activities in June and could possibly be put in harm’s way,” he explained.

The rapper said his $1 million donation was made possible through ticket sales for his upcoming spring tour and a joint effort between concert promoters (including Live Nation, AEG and Ticketmaster) and local venues and promoters across the country. The rapper did not give specifics on how the money would be raised, but noted that the aforementioned companies “were able to band together to use funds from ticket sales to donate to CPS.”

On top of the rapper’s $1 million, Social Works, a local non-profit organization Chance created last year, will match every $100,000 raised for the CPS with an additional $10,000 to be allocated for specific Chicago public schools. (The charity has set up a website to receive donations for CPS.) In light of the $1 million donation, Chance will give out 10 additional $10,000 donations to select local schools, including Westcott Elementary.

To read full article, go to: Chance the Rapper Donating $1 Million to Chicago Public Schools – Rolling Stone

Michelle Obama Surprises High School Students in D.C., Talks Struggles and Life Goals for Two Hours

Former first lady Michelle Obama speaking with D.C. students (photo via washingtonpost.com)

article by Perry Stein via washingtonpost.com

When former first lady Michelle Obama walked into a D.C. high school classroom, the stunned students erupted in tears. One student even darted out of the classroom to regain her composure before she could sit next to her. Obama, who still lives in Washington, made a surprise visit Tuesday to Ballou STAY High School to speak with 14 students for two hours.

Upon arriving, she hugged each of them before taking her seat in the circle. “Once she came in, it was an inspirational feeling,” said Alliyah Williams, 18. “She was so sweet and warm. She was like a mom.”

[Watch Michelle Obama crash these D.C. classrooms and surprise students.]

After visiting the public alternative high school in Southeast Washington, she tweeted “Always love visiting DC schools. Thank you for hosting me today @BallouSTAY. Stories of students #reachinghigher continue to inspire me.” The tweet referenced the White House initiative “Reach Higher” she launched to encourage students to continue their education.

To read more, go to: Michelle Obama surprises D.C. students, talks struggles and life goals for two hours – The Washington Post

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