According to studies by the American Psychological Association (APA), minorities experience a significant degree of marginalization and discrimination, which can stifle socioeconomic growth as well as access to healthcare, including formal mental health support.
So, in the spirit of aiding those who don’t have the opportunity, access to, or much time for mental healthcare, Tedx speaker, performance coach and GBN’s “This Way Forward” contributor Dena Crowder has put together a three-minute “Power Shot” with some guiding words and a quick breath exercise that can help you re-center in these overwhelming times:
On Friday, May 15th, GirlTrek’s #DaughtersOf LIVE discussions continue with Dr. Bernice A. King and Ilyasah Shabazz uniting for a first-ever public conversation on their families’ legacies, debunking the myths that have followed them and sharing the lessons they learned from their legendary mothers Coretta Scott King and Betty Shabazz.
The conversation, starting at 7 p.m. EST via FB LIVE, will be centered around the radical lessons King and Shabazz’s mothers passed down and the generational healing they each experienced that molded them into the fearless women they’ve become.
#DaughtersOf is a multifaceted-initiative to examine the immediate and critical importance of self-care and healing for Black women through the lens of their matrilineal traditions.
It is a call for a mass rejuvenation through the sharing of our stories on hope, healing and happiness. Daughters Of will include a gorgeous feature film and videos where Black women call their mothers’ names and share everything from self-care secrets to recipes and stories of healing and thriving. View the trailer below:
“Among the definitions that GirlTrek shares for its name and work is ‘To heal our bodies, inspire our daughters, and reclaim the streets of our neighborhoods.’ I believe that the three-fold purpose within this definition is critical to our holistic health, from our consciences to our communities,” said Dr. Bernice A. King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King.
“I join with GirlTrek in fulfilling this purpose by engaging in a #DaughtersOf conversation with my sister-friend, Ilyasah Shabazz. It is my hope that the conversation honors our foremothers, inspires our daughters and encourages those who experience the moment to commit to building the Beloved Community.”
“Black women have turned pain into purpose for generations in this country, and now more than ever we need to look to the past for the lessons that can be applied right now to help us navigate trying times,” said GirlTrek cofounder Vanessa Garrison.
“Our goal with these #DaughtersOf livestreams is to pass on the knowledge and wisdom of the women who came before us and to teach us all how to persevere through trying times, because it is what Black women have always done.”
With more than 650,000 active members and counting, GirlTrek as profiled on CNN, is the largest health movement and nonprofit for Black women and girls in the country.
GirlTrek encourages Black women to use radical self-care and walking as the first practical step to leading healthier, more fulfilled lives. GirlTrek is on a mission to inspire one million Black women to walk in the direction of their healthiest, most fulfilled lives by the end of 2020 and it all starts with taking the pledge at GirlTrek.org.
It’s no secret how much the Good Black News team loves and reveres Stevie Wonder, as we have been celebrating him throughout May with various tributes, posts and playlists on the main page and across our social media.
But today, on May 13, Stevie Wonder’s actual birthday, we want to offer you links to all things Stevie, like his official website, Instagram (which is playing Stevie music live all day!) and Twitter, the biography written about him, as well as the Wikipedia and Biography entries that encapsulate the his life and career in words and video.
But really, to know Stevie all you have to do is listen to his music, especially the songs that comprise the majority of his offerings to this world – album tracks never released as singles – aka Stevie Wonder’s Deep Cuts.
Our newest playlist is comprised solely of these songs, and arguably they are as moving and meaningful as his tunes that topped the charts.
In fact, many of these songs (“You and I,” “Too High,” “Bird of Beauty,” “Love’s In Need of Love Today,” “Rocket Love”) are more popular with Stevie stans than many of his global hits.
They are sequenced in chronological order (like our companion playlist of chart releases and hits “The Age of Wonder”) so the listener can hear the evolution of Stevie Wonder’s writing, production and sound. Enjoy – and Happy Birthday, Stevie! We love you!
Although I’m typically calm-if-a-bit-nerdy when I meet artists I admire, there is one time in my life I fully lost my natural mind for someone. That someone was the woman and musical legend Good Black News is celebrating today, April 25, on what would have been her 103rd birthday – Ella Fitzgerald.
To set the scene, it was the day of my college graduation in June of 1990. I was standing in my black cap and gown next to my roommates, as the graduating class formed something akin to a Soul Train line for alumni, professors and distinguished guests to walk through on the way to taking the stage for the ceremony. I’d spent four long, great years earning a bachelor’s degree at Harvard in American History and Literature with a minor in African-American Studies. I also DJ’d at the college radio station 92.3FM WHRB all four of those years.
In addition to being all about hip-hop, house, R&B and dance music, I fell in love with jazz at WHRB, too. So much so that I got up several mornings a week to jock the 6-8am “Jazz Spectrum” program at WHRB, and even found a way to incorporate jazz into my senior thesis by comparing jazz autobiography to the slave narrative. Not exactly everyone’s idea of a page-turner, I know, but it was nice and egghead-y, earned me high honors from my department, and was a sneaky way to earn credit while spending time deepening my nascent love of jazz and jazz history.
So when I heard Ella Fitzgerald – the singer whose interpretation of “Lullaby of Birdland” took my heart and mind to heights of joy so unexpected that I immediately began to consume her versions of every standard as if they were musical narcotics – was on the list of people receiving honorary degrees from Harvard that year, I was beyond thrilled. Ella, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan and Nancy Wilson were my personal Mt. Rushmore of jazz singers, and having her name indelibly connected to my class was momentous.
But I also knew she’d had some recent health issues (she was 73 at the time) and did not expect her to accept her doctorate in person. In fact, I was saying pretty much that to my roommate Susan as several of the distinguished graduation guests filed past us. And then I turned. And saw her. Elegant. Beautiful. Smiling. Ella.
There was a consistent smattering of applause accompanying every step she took. When I finally caught my breath, all that came roaring out of my mouth was the primal scream – “ELLLLLLLAAAAA!!!! ELLLLLLLAAAAA!!!” I couldn’t stop. I was hopping up and down and cheering and – as I said before – losing my natural mind.
I saw on my roommate’s face and other faces around me that amused “Damn, what exactly is happening to her right now?” look, but that was all in slow motion and I did not care because a national treasure was walking towards me. The architect of vocal improvisation and scatting and so much pure jazz singing greatness was in my sights, and I could not contain myself.
I think Ella heard me before she saw me, because I saw her glance my way, smile, then veer close enough to lay her hand on my forearm. Yes, that’s right, I can now and forever brag that the one and only Ella Fitzgerald touched me.
As I observed her small but mighty hand on my forearm, it reminded me of my grandmother’s. From it I felt a gentle squeeze – and in that squeeze she communicated her amusement, her thanks, and, if I’m being 💯 about it, encouragement to get a gotdamn grip on myself and attempt some level of decorum. I was at my graduation ceremony, her hand reminded me, not Showtime at the Apollo. And then she kept going down the line and when no more dignitaries were left to file past us, we collapsed the Soul Train line and headed to our seats.
I have no idea what else was said or done during the rest of that ceremony – I spent most of it plotting with my wing woman Karen Moody on how to get close enough to the stage so I could ask Ella for her autograph. Moody offered to distract the security guard once the ceremony was over – she turned on her gift of gab and I was able to glide by and up to Miss Fitzgerald with a pen and the only paper I had, my graduation program. Ella graciously signed it and smiled at me once again as security quickly became undistracted and pointed me away.
Thirty years later, when I look back on this moment, I can’t help but ask myself exactly why I went so crazy. The obvious answer is, duh – ELLA FITZGERALD – but it was such lightning bolt of energy that came through me, it was more than that. Back then I didn’t know much about her life, her professional or personal struggles, but something in me knew to honor the totality of who she was, what she’d gone through and what she gave to this world.
Ella Fitzgerald deserved (and got) a full body-and-soul shout out from the younger generation through me that day. To let her know that she was seen, heard, loved and would never be forgotten, particularly by those, like me, who present to the world in the same type of package.
And here I am again, thirty years later, shouting out love and appreciation for the one and only Ella, master of tone, phrasing, intonation, improvisation and interpretation, so the next generation may know her and pass on to the next their appreciation for one of the best to ever do it.
Below is a playlist compiled in her honor, as well as several other resources and links to foster even more awareness of the “First Lady of Song.” Love you always, Ella!
Of course, it would take a superstar group of powerful Black women to sell and make a movie about The Clark Sisters, the pioneering Detroit siblings who are now in their fifth decade of rocking the gospel music world.
Tonight’s “The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel” (airing on Lifetime at 8PM) comes from executive producers Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige and Missy Elliott, co-executive producer Holly Davis Carter, writer Camille Tucker and director Christine Swanson.
I had my own Clark Sisters experience while working as an executive at TV One back in 2007-08, where The Clark Sisters were the subjects of one of the very first episodes of network’s successful biography series “UnSung,” a show I developed and initially oversaw.
At the time, I generally knew enough about The Clark Sisters to recognize their breakthroughs in transforming the gospel music sound – and I felt that the world had not generally afforded them enough credit for that. But I didn’t know much else about their personal story and ended up fascinated by the conflicts and struggle, and of course, all the music. It’s not a surprise to me that producer Carter said she’s been trying to make this movie for 15 years – it is a worthy story to tell.
In honor of this movie accomplishment, Good Black News offers a career-spanning Spotify playlist below to allow you to keep enjoying the patented Clark Sister Sound all weekend long.
The Clark Sisters Playlist was crafted to include most of the key hits from The Clark Sisters – as well as highlights from the solo careers of Karen Clark Sheard, Dorinda Clark-Cole, Twinkie Clark, and even from next generation Clark family gospel superstar Kierra Sheard (who plays her mom Karen in the movie). For good measure, there’s also a rare solo track from Jacky Clark-Chisholm (a duet with movie exec producer Blige), and a coda from Dr. Mattie Moss Clark herself.
Jacky, Denise, Elbernita (Twinkie), Dorinda, and Karen were the five daughters of Mattie Moss Clark, a pioneering gospel music figure herself, who while raising her daughters also served as a minister of music for the Church of God In Christ, first at the local level in Michigan, but eventually at the national level.
GBN delights in the opportunity to commemorate the birth of Billie Holiday, one of America’s most talented singing artists, on what would have been her 105th birthday.
Born Eleanora Fagan on April 7, 1915 and raised primarily in Baltimore, MD, Holiday is best known for her signature songs “God Bless The Child,” which she co-wrote with Arthur Herzog, Jr. and “Strange Fruit,” the anti-lynching protest song she first recorded in 1939.
Above you can watch Lady Day in 1957 on CBS’ The Sound of Jazz performing “Fine and Mellow,” the blues standard she wrote and first recorded in 1939, with Jazz All Stars such as Lester “Prez” Young, Ben Webster, Roy Eldridge, Gerry Mulligan, Milt Hinton and Mal Waldron.
GBN would like to take a moment to commemorate the birth of one of the most talented musicians to ever grace planet Earth, Aretha Louise Franklin, on what would have been her 78th birthday.
Although 2020 will offer memorials to the Queen in the form of MGM‘s theatrical movie “Respect”starring Jennifer Hudson and the limited series under National Geographic Channel’s “Genius” banner starring Cynthia Erivo, it’s doubtful either will focus on an oft-overlook aspect of Franklin’s myriad talents: her songwriting.
Above you can watch Aretha performing “Think,” one of her best-known compositions in a clip from “The Blues Brothers,” while below you can listen to fourteen more gems penned by Aretha in a Spotify playlist called The Aretha Franklin Songbook:
After the box-office success of the Fox 2000 feature film “Hidden Figures” (full disclosure – I worked as a writer on that project) in 2016, several African-American women who worked at NASA and contributed to the space race, such as the recently departed Katherine Johnson, finally became a celebrated part of the cultural zeitgeist.
It was at that time I realized I knew the names of some black astronauts (Mae Jemison, Charles Bolden) – but didn’t know who the first black astronauts were or how they contributed to the space program. So I did some research and was thrilled to learn about Guion “Guy” Bluford, Ron McNair and Frederick Gregory – the first three African-Americans in space (the first person of African descent was Cuban cosmonaut Arnaldo TamayoMéndez).
Recently, the Smithsonian Channel released the documentary (watch above) “Black in Space: Breaking The Color Barrier” which primarily chronicles the journeys of Buford, McNair and Gregory. To learn more about them, read below:
Buford, McNair and Gregory were all NASA classmates in the “Class of 1978,” when NASA re-invigorated the space program after not sending anyone into space since Apollo 17 took its last journey in 1972.
This was also the class that was the first to train women as astronauts (Sally Ride) as well as the first Asian-American man (Ellison Onizuka).
According to deadline.com, writer/director Merawi Gerima’s Residue won the Audience Award at the 2020 Slamdance Film Festival, as well as receiving an Honorable Mention for the Grand Jury Prize.
First-time feature director Gerima is the son of acclaimed independent filmmaker Haile Gerima (Sanfoka). Merawi Gerima also produced and directed Residue, and his cast includes Obinna Nwachukwu, Dennis Lindsey, Taline Stewart, Jacari Dye, Julian Selman, Melody Tally, Ramon Thompson, and Derron Scott.
Check out the trailer below:
Residue tells the story of Jay, a young man who arrives home to find his neighborhood gentrified beyond recognition. Demetrius, his childhood best friend, is missing, but none of the remaining black folks trust Jay enough to provide any answers. Jay’s frustration compounds as he also finds himself alienated in the city at large, attacked from all sides. Jay visits his last friend Dion in prison, but leaves feeling powerless and infuriated. One final, chance confrontation results in Jay succumbing to the same forces as did his friends.
To honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2020, CBS This Morning aired Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s children, Bernice King and Martin Luther King III, and his granddaughter, Yolanda King, reading part of the civil rights icon’s insightful, inclusive “The American Dream” sermon, which built upon and extended his iconic “I Have A Dream” speech from 1963’s March on Washington. (See a brief history of that speech here.)
MLK Jr. originally delivered the “American Dream” speech at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta in 1965. To hear King himself, listen below: