Chris Rock Recites James Baldwin During Powerful MLK Day Event In Harlem

Chris Rock speaks at #MLKNow event (photo via lifestream.com)

Chris Rock speaks at #MLKNow event (photo via lifestream.com)

Chris Rock brought the powerful words of James Baldwin to life Monday during a tribute at the “MLK Now” event in Harlem honoring the late Martin Luther King, Jr.

The program, put together by the Campaign For Black Achievement and Blackout for Human Rights — organizations committed to social justice — took place at Harlem’s Riverside Church, where King delivered his riveting 1967 speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence.”

The event attracted a bevy of black Hollywood stars, who celebrated the legacy of King and other black historical icons. Some stars paid tribute through musical performances, like India.Arie, who praised Shirley Chisholm. Others, including Rock, gave powerful recitals.

Rock, who will host the Oscars next month, read the words to Baldwin’s widely praised 1963 letter, “My Dungeon Shook.” Watch Rock’s full performance (he takes the stage around the 1:44 mark) by clicking here.

“Creed” director Ryan Coogler, also the director and a founding member of Blackout for Human Rights, served as moderator for the event and introduced stars on the stage, including Harry Belafonte, Octavia Spencer, Jussie Smollett, Michael B. Jordan and India.Arie.

article by Lilly Workneh via huffingtonpost.com

11 Powerful Quotes From President Obama’s Final State Of The Union Address We Won’t Soon Forget

President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on January 12, 2016 at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. (Photo via telegraph.co.uk)

President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on January 12, 2016 at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. (Photo via telegraph.co.uk)

Tuesday night marked the last time President Barack Obama took the podium in the House Gallery to deliver a State of the Union address, and for many, he did not disappoint.

Setting a vision for America’s future, the president — in what was his shortest speech in two terms — put policy aside to focus on the gains the country has made in the economy, health care, and education in the past seven years.

But, harping back on his own time in the White House — one he obtained with a promise of bipartisanship and hope — the president took responsibility for the division between parties, saying “that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better.” That, the president said, “is one of the few regrets” of his time in office.

The rest of the president’s hour-long address remained upbeat, hopeful and full of change; no doubt a full circle moment for the Obama who ran the 2008 campaign.

Here, we gathered eleven statements made by the president last night that we won’t soon forget.

When he inserted himself in the upcoming presidential election by presenting four points for America’s future:

So let’s talk about the future, and four big questions that we as a country have to answer — regardless of who the next President is, or who controls the next Congress. First, how do we give everyone a fair shot at opportunity and security in this new economy? Second, how do we make technology work for us, and not against us — especially when it comes to solving urgent challenges like climate change? Third, how do we keep America safe and lead the world without becoming its policeman? And finally, how can we make our politics reflect what’s best in us, and not what’s worst?

When he addressed his GOP critics by stating the facts about the nation’s current position in the economy:

Let me start with the economy, and a basic fact: the United States of America, right now, has the strongest, most durable economy in the world.  We’re in the middle of the longest streak of private-sector job creation in history.  More than 14 million new jobs; the strongest two years of job growth since the ‘90s; an unemployment rate cut in half.  Our auto industry just had its best year ever.  Manufacturing has created nearly 900,000 new jobs in the past six years.  And we’ve done all this while cutting our deficits by almost three-quarters.

When he tackled both racism and politicians who perpetuate fear and discrimination without explicitly saying any names (we’re looking at you, Donald Trump):

When politicians insult Muslims, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid bullied, that doesn’t make us safer. That’s not telling it like it is. It’s just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. And it betrays who we are as a country.

And then again when he said:

Our answer needs to be more than tough talk or calls to carpet bomb civilians. That may work as a TV sound bite, but it doesn’t pass muster on the world stage.

And this:

Each time, there have been those who told us to fear the future…promising to restore past glory… We need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn’t a matter of political correctness.”

When he set college affordability as a goal for America’s shining future:

And we have to make college affordable for every American. Because no hardworking student should be stuck in the red. We’ve already reduced student loan payments to ten percent of a borrower’s income. Now, we’ve actually got to cut the cost of college. Providing two years of community college at no cost for every responsible student is one of the best ways to do that, and I’m going to keep fighting to get that started this year.

When he called out climate change-deniers:

Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it.  You’ll be pretty lonely, because you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it.

When he discussed the government’s role in making sure the system is not rigged to protect the wealthiest Americans while ignoring those living in poverty:

I think there are outdated regulations that need to be changed, and there’s red tape that needs to be cut. But after years of record corporate profits, working families won’t get more opportunity or bigger paychecks by letting big banks or big oil or hedge funds make their own rules at the expense of everyone else; or by allowing attacks on collective bargaining to go unanswered. Food Stamp recipients didn’t cause the financial crisis; recklessness on Wall Street did. Immigrants aren’t the reason wages haven’t gone up enough; those decisions are made in the boardrooms that too often put quarterly earnings over long-term returns.

When he, in what was an emotional moment for Vice President Joe Biden after losing his son to cancer, put his friend in charge of “mission control” for future cancer research:

Last year, Vice President Biden said that with a new moonshot, America can cure cancer. Last month, he worked with this Congress to give scientists at the National Institutes of Health the strongest resources they’ve had in over a decade. Tonight, I’m announcing a new national effort to get it done. And because he’s gone to the mat for all of us, on so many issues over the past forty years, I’m putting Joe in charge of Mission Control. For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the family we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all. Medical research is critical. We need the same level of commitment when it comes to developing clean energy sources.

When he told America to get more focused with foreign policy:

We also can’t try to take over and rebuild every country that falls into crisis. That’s not leadership; that’s a recipe for quagmire, spilling American blood and treasure that ultimately weakens us. It’s the lesson of Vietnam, of Iraq — and we should have learned it by now.

And when he told Americans to believe, despite cynicism, that they can change this country and change the face of politics.

If we want a better politics, it’s not enough to just change a President. We have to change the system… It won’t be easy. Our brand of democracy is hard. But I can promise that a year from now, when I no longer hold this office, I’ll be right there with you as a citizen — inspired by those voices of fairness and vision, of grit and good humor and kindness that have helped America travel so far. Voices that help us see ourselves not first and foremost as black or white or Asian or Latino, not as gay or straight, immigrant or native born; not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans first, bound by a common creed. Voices Dr. King believed would have the final word — voices of unarmed truth and unconditional love.”

You can read the president’s full transcript, here.

article by Christina Coleman and Lynette Holloway via newsone.com

GBN Wishes Everyone a Happy Mother’s Day

To all the mothers, grandmothers, daughters and sons – may you have a wonderful day celebrating or being celebrated as the most important women in our lives. Happy Mother’s Day – like Kevin Durant says, you are the real MVP!1526776_10152256493054086_2240527185522353751_n

GBN Quote of the Day – Attorney General Eric Holder on Combating Stand Your Ground Laws

Attorney General Eric Holder

Attorney General Eric Holder

According to newsone.com, on Sunday Attorney General Eric Holder spoke to the NAACP regarding the Department of Justice’s ongoing inquiry into filing federal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman in the aftermath of his acquittal in the Trayvon Martin trial.  Holder may not have been direct about the possibility of the DOJ bringing suit, but he was direct about his opinions on gun violence, inequality and the danger of “Stand Your Ground” Laws:

Today – starting here and now – it’s time to commit ourselves to a respectful, responsible dialogue about issues of justice and equality – so we can meet division and confusion with understanding, with compassion, and ultimately with truth.  It’s time to strengthen our collective resolve to combat gun violence but also time to combat violence involving or directed toward our children – so we can prevent future tragedies. And we must confront the underlying attitudes, mistaken beliefs, and unfortunate stereotypes that serve too often as the basis for police action and private judgments.

Separate and apart from the case that has drawn the nation’s attention, it’s time to question laws that senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods. These laws try to fix something that was never broken. There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force if – and the “if” is important – no safe retreat is available.

But we must examine laws that take this further by eliminating the common sense and age-old requirement that people who feel threatened have a duty to retreat, outside their home, if they can do so safely. By allowing and perhaps encouraging violent situations to escalate in public, such laws undermine public safety. The list of resulting tragedies is long and – unfortunately – has victimized too many who are innocent. It is our collective obligation – we must stand our ground – to ensure that our laws reduce violence, and take a hard look at laws that contribute to more violence than they prevent.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

GBN Quote Of The Day

Oprah Winfrey“Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right.” — Oprah Winfrey, Founder and CEO of the OWN Network

GBN Quote Of The Month

“America, I believe we can build on the progress we’ve made and continue to fight for new jobs and new opportunity and new security for the middle class. I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.”   — President Barack Obama

GBN Quote Of The Day

“The act of registering to vote… gives one a sense of being.  The black man who goes to register is saying to the white man, ‘No.'”

–Stokely Carmichael aka Kwame Ture, former leader of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and honorary prime minister of the Black Panther Party