Tag: Arkansas

R.I.P. Joe Jackson, 89, Patriarch of Musical, Legendary Jackson Family

Joe Jackson (photo via latimes.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Joseph Walter Jackson aka Joe Jackson, the patriarch of one of the most famous singing family acts of all time, has died, according to the Los Angeles Times. He was 89. Jackson died at 2:55 a.m. Wednesday at Nathan Adelson Hospice in Las Vegas, Clark County coroner John Fudenberg told the Associated Press.

Jackson was born in the tiny town of Fountain Hill in southeast Arkansas on July 26, 1929, to Samuel and Chrystal Lee Jackson. His father was a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse; she was one of his students. After the parents separated, Jackson went with his father to Oakland and later joined his mother in Indiana. An early marriage was annulled. He married Katherine Scruse in 1949.

A onetime amateur boxer, Jackson was working as a steelworker in Gary, Ind., when he began relentlessly coaching his children to be singers, plotting a record deal even before it grew clear that Michael, at the time four years old, wasn’t just another voice in the crowd, but would soon become the lead singer of the Jackson 5 on the Motown label and eventually a world-reknowned superstar solo act.

Motown founder Berry Gordy recalled seeing 9-year-old Michael try out in 1968. The boy singer crooned Smokey Robinson’s “Who’s Loving You” like “a man who had been living with the blues and heartbreak his whole life,” Gordy recalled. “I couldn’t believe it.” It was a prelude to future breakout performances.

Who could have imagined what it was like to grow up a poor black man in the South, robbed of dignity, bereft of hope … working long hours in the steel mills? Is it any wonder why he pushed his sons so hard to succeed as performers? – Michael Jackson

The Jackson 5’s first three singles sold millions of copies, and their national television debut in 1969 was a sensation. As time went on, other family members, such as Jermaine and  baby sister Janet, had solo musical success. But Michael Jackson’s fame would prove stratospheric. Jackson managed his childrens’ careers until the 1980s.

Joe Jackson is survived by his wife, Katherine, and their children: Janet, Jermaine, La Toya, Rebbie, Randy, Jackie, Marlon and Tito Jackson, as well as several grandchildren. He is also survived by daughter Joh’Vonnie Jackson, his child with longtime girlfriend Cheryl Terrell.

Faces of Hope: Patrick Oliver Teaches Kids to Be Successful Readers and Writers

Patrick Oliver traces his success back to this scene: As a little boy in his home in the projects of Little Rock, he shared the morning newspapers with his parents and his grandfather. Each person grabbed a section of the newspaper and passed the other sections around. He and his grandfather, who lived nearby, shared the sports pages.

Years later when he worked himself up from a low level job to one as a material analyst and senior contract administrator in the defense industry, he remembered those scenes at home. His reading and writing skills allowed him to easily understand systems and write proposals that suggested more efficient ways of operating, thus gaining him attention, respect and promotions from upper management. Oliver never forgot the connection between the rituals at his house and his success at work.

“The success of me being a success in corporate America is because of my reading,” he said. “Our house was full of newspapers and magazines,” he said.

Now a literary consultant, program manager and radio host in Little Rock, he devotes most of his life to developing programs that introduce black youth to literature and the importance of reading and writing well. In 1993, he founded “Say It Loud! Readers and Writers,” the nonprofit that provides opportunities for youth ages 10 – 18 to participate in literary arts activities and events designed to enhance their appreciation for literature as a tool for empowerment. Today, in addition to programs in Little Rock, he has partnerships with programs in Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

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Maya Angelou Honors Mom, Grandmother in New Book

Dr. Maya Angelou poses at the the Special Recognition Event for Dr. Maya Angelou � The Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait at Dr. Angelou's home June 21, 2010 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. (Photo by Ken Charnock/Getty Images)

Dr. Maya Angelou (Photo by Ken Charnock/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — Writer, actor, dancer. Activist, teacher, composer. In the melange of Maya Angelou’s 85 years is also daughter, of two women who deserved one with a good memory.  So Angelou writes in her latest literary memoir, “Mom & Me & Mom,” a sweet ode to “Lady,” her mother Vivian Baxter, and “Momma,” her paternal grandmother Annie Henderson, who took her in at age 3 in tiny, segregated Stamps, Ark., and returned her at age 13, when the time was right.

Baxter, rough-and-tumble poor from St. Louis, and Henderson, refined believer in southern etiquette, are both long gone but figure big in Angelou’s legendary life.  The fierce and fun Vivian was Angelou’s abandoner and, later, her most loyal protector. She and Annie are familiar to admirers of the poet and spinner of autobiographical fiction. It’s Angelou’s eighth book to unravel her often painful and tumultuous life, including the 1969 National Book Award winner “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” chronicling her rape as a girl that left her mute for five years.

Angelou lost her beloved older brother Bailey in 2000, after his slide into drugs, and her mother in 1991, at age 79 or 85, depending on who’s doing the counting, joked Angelou in a recent telephone interview from her home in Winston-Salem, N.C., where she has lived part-time for more than 30 years while on the faculty of Wake Forest University.  Her son, Guy, whom she had at age 17, remains with us, enduring years on crutches after numerous surgeries for spinal injuries he suffered in an auto accident.

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R.I.P. Leo Branton Jr., Civil Rights Lawyer Who Defended Angela Davis

April 6, 1972: Defense attorney Leo Branton listens to Angela Davis as the two walk from court at San Jose. For obit of Branton.
April 6, 1972: Defense attorney Leo Branton listens to Angela Davis as the two walk from court at San Jose.

Leo Branton Jr., a civil rights and entertainment lawyer whose stirring defense of ’60s radical Angela Davis brought him his most celebrated victory in a six-decade career often spent championing unpopular cases, died of natural causes Friday in Los Angeles. He was 91.  His death was confirmed by his son Tony Nicholas.

Branton, the only African-American graduate of Northwestern University’s law school in 1948, helped singer Nat King Cole integrate an exclusive Los Angeles neighborhood, defended Communists in McCarthy-era Los Angeles and won misconduct cases against the Los Angeles Police Department decades before Rodney King became a household name.

“He was a hero of mine,” said Connie Rice, a prominent Los Angeles civil rights attorney who helped lead efforts to reform the LAPD after the King beating.  “All the things I’ve done, Leo Branton did 50 years before I even thought about going to law school. He saw himself not as a private practitioner out to make money for himself but as a lawyer with the skills to be a champion for black liberation.”

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New ‘Soul of the South’ Network to Launch in May

The Soul of the South Network, targeting African-American viewers, announced Thursday it will launch in 30 markets on May 27 after closing an initial round of funding for $10 million raised from the state of Arkansas and private investors, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The new network will be distributed initially by over-the-air stations and on digital channels on the broadcast spectrum but also plans to air on cable and expects its stations to qualify under FCC must-carry rules (which mandate nearby cable systems must carry it) because it is local and offers unique news programming.

Soul-of-the-South-Network

“Our distribution footprint covers at least 70 percent of all African-American households in the south and in Chicago and Philadelphia, which we call sister regions,” says Doug McHenry, the Hollywood-based producer of films including “New Jack City” and “House Party” and TV shows including “Malcolm & Eddie,” who is the new network’s president of entertainment.

By the end of this summer, Soul of the South expects to be in 50-60 markets with a high concentration of African-Americans, reaching 30-40 million households.
At launch over Memorial Day weekend, the network will not have any original programming outside of an active news presence in its local markets. McHenry says execs are in active negotiations with three Hollywood studios about licensing appropriate programming, including past situation comedies, dramas, documentaries and movies.

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Three College Seniors Win $25,000 Fellowships

Since 1968 about 2,200 American college students have been awarded Thomas J. Watson Fellowships. The program, begun by the founder of IBM, offers graduating college seniors at 49 leading colleges $25,000 to travel the world on independent study projects. This year it appears that three of the 40 Watson fellows are of African descent.

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Elias Aba Milki

is a senior at Amherst College. Next year he will travel to South Africa, Brazil, and Uganda to conduct research on how artists have used hip-hop music as a holistic tool for improving healthcare, such as using music to raise AIDS awareness.  Milki was born in New York but was raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He hopes to become a physician.

Jeanette Charles is a senior at Scripps College in California. Charles, of African-Latina descent, will spend the next year on her research project entitled “Afro-American Voices Through a History of People’s Literature.” She will travel to Venezuela, Peru, Nicaragua, Martinique, and Ecuador studying local poetry, literature, and oral histories of people of African descent in Latin America.
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Nathan Thomas

is a senior anthropology major at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas. He will use his Watson award to investigate cultural education in four metropolitan primary schools in Australia, Finland, South Africa, and India. Thomas, a native of Fayetteville, Arkansas, states that the four schools have established an educational philosophy that broadens their academic focus and each is renowned for capitalizing on its educational culture.

article via www.jbhe.com