R.I.P. Craig Mack, 46, Grammy-Nominated “Flava In Ya Ear” Rapper

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to huffingtonpost.com, Grammy-nominated rapper Craig Mack, who performed the 1994 hit “Flava in Ya Ear” for Sean “Diddy” Combs’ Bad Boy label, has died at age 46. The New York Daily News confirmed his death with Alvin Toney, the producer of Mack’s breakout album, “Project: Funk Da World.” 

Mack succumbed Monday to heart failure at a hospital near his home in Walterboro, South Carolina, the producer said. He had been ill for some time. “It was a pleasure to know you & rock with you,” tweeted LL Cool J, who performed on Mack’s remix for “Flava in Ya Ear” with Notorious B.I.G., Busta Rhymes and Rampage.

The New York City-born rapper hit it big in his debut album for Bad Boy, “Project: Funk Da World,” which also generated a second single, “Get Down,” Billboard noted.

To read more about Craig Mack’s life and music, click here.

Two Works by “Magnetic Fields” Artist Mildred Thompson Acquired by National Museum of Women in the Arts

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Mildred Thompson, Magnetic Fields, 1990 (©The Mildred Thompson Estate; Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co., New York)

The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) announces the acquisition of two works by Mildred Thompson (1939–2003) in celebration of the museum’s 30th-anniversary year. With a career spanning more than four decades, Thompson created paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures with a signature approach to abstraction.

Inspired by the Atlanta-based Thompson’s inclusion in the recent exhibition Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction, 1960s to Today, the Georgia Committee of NMWA purchased a painting from her “Magnetic Fields” series for the museum. Camille Ann Brewer gifted a second work by Thompson to the museum to honor the memory of the artist.

“We are thrilled that donor Camille Ann Brewer and the Georgia Committee—one of 20 outreach committees around the world that support NMWA—have both donated to the museum’s collection incredible works by Mildred Thompson from the earlier and later parts of her career,” said NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling. “It is an honor to announce this gift today, on her birthday, and during the museum’s third annual #5WomenArtists social media campaign, which aims to increase awareness of gender inequity in the art world.”

After living in Europe to escape the racism and sexism that she had experienced in the United States, Thompson moved back permanently and began her series of “Magnetic Fields” paintings in the early 1990s. The painting gifted to NMWA, as well as the series as a whole, reflects Thompson’s quest to create a personal visual language for depicting phenomena and effects not visible to the naked eye. She studied, and had a longstanding interest in, quantum physics, cosmology and theosophy. Through her art, she sought to connect scientific knowledge and metaphysical philosophy.

Thompson’s interest in scientific phenomena and theories ran counter to expectations of what ‘black art’ should be during her lifetime, causing her work to be chronically overlooked by critics, galleries and museums. Today, thanks to the dedicated efforts of her partner, Donna Jackson, and estate curator, Melissa Messina, her works are finally gaining the recognition that eluded them for so long.

Artist Mildred Thompson (photo via askart.com)

In “Magnetic Fields,” the composition exudes a frenetic, pulsating energy of vivid yellows, reds and blues thanks to Thompson’s command of color theory. Simultaneously, her color choices imbue the composition with an emotional exuberance that complements its scientific inspiration.

Even before the Magnetic Fields exhibition opened, Brewer was inspired to gift the second work by Thompson to NMWA. That work, an untitled “wood picture” from Thompson’s European period, along with the newly gifted painting, mark important additions to the museum’s collection. Thompson’s wood pictures, which she began making in the 1960s while living in Germany, mark the artist’s decision to focus solely on non-representational art-making. Thompson’s use of found wood segments assembled into deceptively simple compositions brought about her first mature series of non-representational sculptural works. Made with salvaged wood, these works combine the aesthetic of Minimalism and found-object assemblage techniques like those of Louise Nevelson. With the addition of these works to the collection, NMWA is able to expand the narrative surrounding abstract artists as well as artists of color.

NMWA is located at 1250 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. It is open Mon.–Sat., 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sun., noon–5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for visitors 65 and over and students, and free for NMWA members and youths 18 and under. Admission is free the first Sunday of each month. For information, call 202-783-5000, visit nmwa.org, Broad Strokes Blog, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

“Black Panther” Crosses $1 Billion in Global Box Office; “A Wrinkle In Time” Debuts in 2nd with $33.5 Million

Danai Gurira, Florence Kasumba “Black Panther”(Photo by Marvel/Disney/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

“Black Panther” continues to dominate the North-American box office for the fourth weekend in a row, earning $41.1 million , according to Variety.com. In second place is the Ava DuVernay‘s family-friendly fantasy adventure “A Wrinkle in Time” with $33.5 million, not only giving Disney the two top movies for the weekend, but the first weekend in box office history where the top two movies are directed by African-Americans.

With $562 million in 24 days, “Black Panther” is now the seventh-highest domestic grosser of all time. It’s the first film since “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” to lead the North American box office for four straight weekends and it’s grossed $1.08 billion worldwide, 21st highest of all time. The Ryan Coogler tentpole is the 33rd movie to gross $1 billion. It’s the 16th Disney film to reach this milestone, and the fifth Marvel film to do so — joining the ranks of “The Avengers,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Iron Man 3,” and “Captain America: Civil War.”

International African American Museum in South Carolina Will Stand Where 100,000 Enslaved People Took 1st Steps on American Soil

by Manie Robinson via greenvilleonline.com

CHARLESTON – A swift, cool breeze lifts off the Cooper River. It frisks through the crowns of the towering palm trees that line the paved walkway. Small boats wobble in the calm waters on the east side of the Charleston peninsula. A neatly manicured patch of grass provides a tranquil spot for a blanket and a book. In the distance, the steel cables of the Ravenel Bridge stretch in splendor. To the right, flags fly over Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.

Soon, this waterfront will be home to the International African American Museum. The $100 million, 40,000-square foot facility will bridge solemn history and modern magnificence. It will offer captivating exhibits, engaging events and a breathtaking view of the Charleston Harbor.

However, this land is more than prime riverfront real estate. It connects deeply to the heritage the museum aims to commemorate. Ship voyage records reveal that nearly half of the enslaved Africans who were shipped to North America disembarked in Charleston. Many slaves took their first steps on American soil on this patch of land, which was once the largest wharf in North America. Historians estimate that more than 90 percent of all African-Americans can trace at least one ancestor to this land.

Eighteen years ago, former Charleston mayor Joe Riley pledged to build an iconic museum that honors that heritage and illuminates the achievements cultivated from that regrettable past. Since then, 37 other museums dedicated to African-American history and culture have been constructed. However, IAAM supporters contend that this land grants it a distinctive, visceral magnetism.

Riley’s vision has attracted support from city, county and state government, local business owners, national organizations and historians. Yet, Riley and IAAM chief executive officer and president Michael Boulware Moore (who is the great-great-great grandson of Civil War Hero and Congressman Robert Smalls) must raise millions more before construction can begin.

Moore’s passion for this project is personal. When he walks this pristine patch of grass, he can hear the shackles rattling as they dragged against the wooden planks. He can see his great-great-great-great grandmother walking across the wharf. “We know that she landed here. That’s sort of my original anchor to Charleston. It’s really deep emotional territory for me,” Moore said. “Every time I go, it hits me.”

“I understand the history that occurred there,” he said. “I understand tens of thousands of people, including my ancestors, disembarked there in chains. I am confronted by the emotions that must have been felt on that space and just by the enormity of what happened.”

The land’s significance

This serene site was once the epicenter of America’s ugliest enterprise. Nearly 250 years ago, this area was merely brackish marsh. Charleston merchant Christopher Gadsden converted it into the largest wharf in North America. It covered 840 feet from the Charleston Harbor to East Bay Street, between what are now Calhoun and Laurens Streets. Initially, Gadsden’s Wharf primarily serviced the rice industry. Eventually, it became a hub of the international slave trade. From 1783 to 1808, approximately 100,000 enslaved African men, women and children were forced into ships and carried on a voyage through darkness across the Atlantic Ocean into the Charleston Harbor.

According to historian and former South Carolina Historical Society archivist Nic Butler, on Feb. 17, 1806, the City Council of Charleston passed an ordinance stipulating that all vessels importing enslaved Africans port in Gadsden’s Wharf. Enslaved Africans were stored like crops in a wharf warehouse. Shackled to despair, hundreds of men, women and children died from fevers or frostbite. They were buried unceremoniously in a nearby mass grave. Those who survived those subhuman conditions were advertised in newspapers, sold and dispersed.

“Some have described it as the enslaved Africans’ Ellis Island,” University of South Carolina history professor Bobby Donaldson said. “If you can imagine people who endured and survived the Middle Passage from West Africa across the Atlantic, Gadsen’s Wharf is where they see land, where they see a dark and unknown future.”

Slaves were taken to different corners of the fledgling country. They toiled in fields to quicken the economy and fostered a lineage of influential American inventors, educators, soldiers, politicians, writers, philosophers, entrepreneurs, entertainers, activists and athletes.

Continue reading “International African American Museum in South Carolina Will Stand Where 100,000 Enslaved People Took 1st Steps on American Soil”

UMBC President Dr. Freeman Hrabowski to Receive American Council on Education’s Lifetime Achievement Award

Hrabowski has propelled UMBC from a small, regional college 25 years ago to an institution known for its excellence in math and science, as well as for the high numbers of students of color who go on to earn doctorates and medical degrees.

In speaking at the UMBC graduation in 2016, Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust said that Hrabowski had made the university into “a shining example of innovation in STEM education — and a premier pathway for students from all economic, racial and ethnic backgrounds to achieve doctoral degrees in medicine, science and technology.”

“The Meyerhoff Scholars Program alone is a ladder that has lifted more than 900 minority and low-income graduates to advanced degrees in math, science and medicine,” she said.

Hrabowski co-founded the Meyerhoff Scholars Program in 1988 with philanthropist Robert Meyerhoff. The program is open to high-achieving students interested in pursuing advanced research in science and engineering.   The award is the latest of Hrabowski’s accomplishments. He has been named one of “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News & World Report. He chaired the National Academies’ committee that produced a 2011 report on expanding minority participation in science and technology. In 2012, then-President Barack Obama made him chair of the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

“I am honored to accept this award on behalf of the UMBC community,” Hrabowski said in an email. “This achievement represents the work of so many colleagues here, people who have given their careers to serving students.”

Source: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/education/bs-md-co-freeman-hrabowski-award-20180227-story.html

Jerrod Carmichael to Adapt Dapper Dan’s Upcoming Memoir for Sony Pictures

Jerrod Carmichael (left), Dapper Dan (Courtesy of NBCUniversal; Jon Wes)

by Mia Galuppo via hollywoodreporter.com

The life of Dapper Dan — the godfather of hip-hop fashion, who dressed everyone from LL Cool J to Jay Z — is coming to the big screen.

Sony is developing a biopic based on Dapper Dan’s upcoming memoir (due out in 2019 via Random House), which will be adapted by Jerrod Carmichael. Set in Harlem, the feature is described as a “high-stakes coming-of-age story.”

Carmichael, who is best known as the creator and star of the NBC critical darling The Carmichael Show, will also produce alongside Josh Bratman of Immersive Pictures. Dapper Dan and Jelani Day, his son and brand manager, are set to executive produce.

Daniel “Dapper Dan” Day is a streetwear pioneer that outfitted some of the biggest New York City-based stars of the ’80s and ’90s out of his iconic store on 125th Street in Harlem. His clientele included Eric B. & Rakim, Salt-N-Pepa, P. Diddy, Mike Tyson, Aaliyah and Floyd Mayweather.

His style of remixing high-end logos from the likes of Gucci and Louis Vuitton into his designs led to litigation that eventually prompted the closure of his store. Over two decades later, in September of last year, Dapper Dan struck a partnership with Gucci to relaunch his exclusive Harlem atelier that includes a Dapper Dan x Gucci capsule that will be available along with the fall 2018 collection.

To read more: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/dapper-dan-biopic-works-sony-jerrod-carmichael-1092914

CUNY Professor Patricia Smith Wins the $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award

Patricia Smith is the 2018 winner of the $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award for her collection “Incendiary Art: Poems.” (Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths)

via jbhe.com

Patricia Smith, who teaches in the English department at the College of Staten Island of the City University of New York System, has been selected to receive the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. The award, which comes with a $100,000 prize, is given annually by Claremont Graduate University in California to a poet who “is past the very beginning but not yet reached the pinnacle of his or her career.” The $100,000 prize is the largest in the world for a single volume of poetry.

Professor Smith was honored for her poetry collection Incendiary Art: Poems (Northwestern University Press, 2017), which explores tragedy and grief in black communities across America. It is her eighth published poetry collection.

Professor Smith was a finalist for the Neustadt Prize, a two-time winner of the Pushcart Prize, and a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam, the most successful poet in the competition’s history.

Smith will receive the award April 19 at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. The award is one of the largest annual monetary prizes given to a single book of poetry by a mid-career poet, according the Kingsley Tufts website. The award was established at Claremont in 1993 by Kate Tufts to honor her husband, an executive in Los Angeles-area shipyards who also wrote and published poetry.

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/02/patricia-smith-wins-the-100000-kingsley-tufts-poetry-award/