“For Colored Girls” 40th Anniversary Commemorated In New York Art Exhibition

ntozake_shangeCommemorating the 40th anniversary of Ntozake Shange’s groundbreaking choreopoem For Colored Girls is an introspective exhibition, i found god in myselfwhich is kicking off the fall season at The New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture from Sept. 19 to January 2015.  Her work i found god in myself explores issues of femininity and gender, love and loss, empowerment and sisterhood.

Since its debut performance in California in 1974, Shange’s work has captivated, provoked, inspired and transformed audiences all over the world. Since, the work has remained a cornerstone of feminist, black, and LGBTQ-theory studies in colleges and theaters alike, both in the United States and abroad.

Shange is a past recipient of the The Women of Power Legacy Award, which recognizes outstanding impact, achievement and leadership by women in business, the arts, education, government and other influential industries. Black Enterprise recognized Shange in 2011 for her body of work as a playwright, poet, and self-proclaimed feminist who addressed issues relating to race and gender.

Turning to the choreopoem not simply as an engaging work of text or drama but as a well of social, political and deeply personal issues affecting the lives of women of color, the New York exhibition will feature 20 specially commissioned pieces in honor of each individual poem, additional non-commissioned artworks on display at satellite locations that address the work’s themes and archival material donated by Shange. The exhibition’s title is drawn from one of the last lines recited in the finale poem a laying on of hands. The title suggests that navigating through the complexities of what it means to be of color and female is only enlightened by an understanding, acceptance and appreciation of self. With self-empowerment comes the process of  “…moving to the ends of their own rainbows.”

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Michelle Obama’s 50th: First an AARP Card Tweet on Friday, Then Last Night, “A Fun, Fun Party”

michelle obama-aarpFirst Lady Michelle Obama spent Friday, January 17th – her actual birthday – out of sight, with no public appearances, except the tweet of a photo of herself holding up her AARP card. She tweeted, quote, “Excited to join Barack” in the 50-plus club today . “check out my @AARP card!”

But last night, January 18th, Beyoncé and Stevie Wonder rocked the White House at a star-studded, late-night dance party celebrating Obama’s 50th, two guests told the Chicago Tribune today.  President Barack Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha joined family friends, elected officials, entertainers, athletes, business executives and big donors at the gala, which kicked off Saturday and lasted until the wee hours Sunday morning, the sources said.

The event was closed to the press, and the White House did not release a guest list or any other details. But two guests spoke to the Tribune on condition of anonymity, describing a bash at which a deejay kept people on the dance floor in the East Room until after 3 a.m. Washington time.  VIP guests, according to sources, included political luminaries Bill and Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, national security adviser Susan Rice, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Democratic National Committee official Donna Brazile.

Other high-profile guests included Sir Paul McCartney, Magic Johnson, Chicago-born actress/singer Jennifer Hudson, singer Janelle Monae, actor Kal Penn, TV personality Al Roker, actress Ashley Judd, tennis great Billie Jean King, retired Olympic figure-skater Michelle Kwan and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, the sources said.

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Self-Employment Can Help Boomers, Retirees, Like CEO Mary Parker, Stretch Savings (VIDEO)

Mary Parker, CEO of All N 1 Security
Mary Parker, Founder/CEO of ALL(n)1 Security Services in Atlanta, GA

The biggest fear for many people these days is whether their nest egg will last throughout their retirement. One way to avoid outliving your money is to work longer—on your own terms.  While you may not be able to retire at 65 (or don’t want to), if you’re doing work that you enjoy in your own business, setting your own schedule, and fulfilling goals that you’ve set yourself—it may not even feel like work.

Many Baby Boomers and retirees plan to start a business or are already self-employed, and many of their businesses are turning a profit. Pursuing professional dreams while working for themselves has enabled many older self-employed workers to secure their financial future.  A recent survey by AARP found 10 percent of workers ages 45 to 74 plan to start a business and 15 percent of workers in this age range are already self-employed. Some started a business due to a job loss, others had already retired but weren’t ready to fully stop working.

On average, self-employed workers who are in their 40s or 50s spend nearly two decades working for themselves, the study found.  “What we see is that most of the individuals that start businesses later in life represent professional services,” said Jean Setzfand, vice president for financial security at AARP. “Whether it be lawyers or accountants, data processing that tends to be more of what we see in terms of older self-employed workers.”

Mary Parker, a 59-year-old entrepreneur, spent more than three decades navigating two challenging industries before taking the helm of her own firm. After being downsized from her job as at auto manufacturing plant early in her career, Parker saw a job opening for a security officer.  Some people may have seen that as a step down from the managerial role she previously held. Yet, she saw the long-term potential of taking this position and started to learn the security business from the ground up.

“In terms of career opportunities, you never really think about a security guard being anything other than a guard. What I learned was the security industry is a very lucrative industry,” she said.  While rising through the ranks in that field, she felt she would be best fulfilled if she was running her own firm.  “Although my career in corporate America was very successful, I just believe that any time you work for other people there are so many limitations,” she said.

Like many self-employed workers, including Boomers, Parker focused on providing a service.  In 2001, Parker founded ALL(n)1 Security Services, based in Atlanta, Ga., which provides security personnel and technology. As CEO, she runs a multi-million dollar enterprise with more than 200 employees.  See video of her story below:

Parker isn’t alone in her accomplishments. Most of those surveyed by the AARP said their businesses were successful.  “Once you have the life experience, you probably have a shorter pathway to being successful and that is something we’re seeing,” AARP’s Setzfand said.  Nearly three-quarters of older self-employed workers surveyed by AARP indicated that their business made a profit in 2011. This may explain why 9 out of 10 self-employed older workers believe it is not likely that they will have to give up working for themselves in the next year.

Parker certainly intends to keep running her business. Thanks to a diversified portfolio of retirement funds and real estate investments, she said she could retire in a few years, but she’ll probably just keep working.  “When I’m ready to retire in the next 3 to 5 years, financially I don’t have to worry about what that will look like,” Parker said. “I will not have to work, although I know I will continue to work.”

report by Sharon Epperson via nbr.com