According to the Los Angeles Times, Diahann Carroll, star of stage and screen who changed the course of television history as the first African American woman to star in a TV series (1968’s ground-breaking sitcom “Julia”) and to win a lead actress Tony Award, has passed away. She was 84.
The Oscar-nominated actress and breast cancer survivor, who also starred in “Paris Blues” with Sidney Poitier, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, primetime soap “Dynasty” and “White Collar,” died of cancer, her daughter Suzanne Kay said Friday.
Born Carol Diahann Johnson in 1935 in the Bronx, Carroll moved to Harlem with her parents at a young age. With their support, she enrolled in dance, singing and modeling classes and attended Music and Art High School with Billy Dee Williams, who would later costar with her in “Dynasty.” By 15, Carroll was modeling for Ebony, and by 18 she got her big singing break after winning the televised talent show “Chance of a Lifetime” in 1954.
Carroll debuted as an actress in 1954’s Oscar-nominated adaptation of “Carmen Jones,” a retelling of the Bizet opera with an all-black cast alongside Dorothy Dandridge, Harry Belafonte and Pearl Bailey. In 1959, she headlined the musical “Porgy and Bess” with Dandridge, Sidney Poitier and Sammy Davis Jr.
Carroll was nominated for a lead-actress Oscar for her turn as a single mother in the 1974 comedy “Claudine” opposite James Earl Jones, and earned a Tony Award in 1962 for Richard Rodgers’ “No Strings.”
In the late 1960s, Carroll was cast in “Julia,” the enormously successful NBC sitcom that featured her as a war-widowed nurse raising a son.
Carroll won a Golden Globe for female TV star and a nomination for best TV show, among other nods. She also earned a lead actress in a comedy Emmy nomination in 1969. Because the show was sponsored by toymaker Mattel, she served as the model for one of the first black Barbie dolls and found her likeness plastered on a variety of merchandise, including lunch boxes and coloring books.
According to bronx.news12.com, after days of students protesting for change at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in Bronx, NY, their lockout of administration has ended in victory.
Nearly 90 students took part in the lockout that started Monday, and some even slept at the school. Thirty students spent Wednesday afternoon and evening negotiating with board members and school administrators – alongside alumni mediators who were involved in a similar push for equality at the school almost 50 years ago.
The campaign for change was launched at Fieldston after a video surfaced recently showing students engaging in racist and hateful behavior a few years back.
Isbella Ali was one of the students who helped secure the changes, which include racial bias training for all staff and parents, recruiting more students and faculty of color, and introducing a mandatory black studies course to the curriculum.
“We’ll make sure that they implement the demands that they have agreed too,” says Ali.
Students in the Bronx felt the school’s @ecfs1878 response to their demands to address racism on campus were inadequate..
The Board of Trustees signed off on 16 long-term improvements put forth by members of the “Students of Color Matter” movement. One of their demands for the administration was establishing a new system to report bias.
State Attorney General Letitia James released a statement saying, “Students in this state and around the country often learn about the importance of activism, civil rights, and social justice in their textbook, but rarely do they have the opportunity to live it.”
Sean “Diddy” Combs announced Tuesday that he’s pledging $1 million to the Capital Preparatory Schools network to help provide children from underserved communities access to high-quality education. The school has been approved to expand to a third location in the New York City’s Bronx borough, and is set to open in September 2019.
Capital Prep Schools is a free, public charter school network, currently operating in Harlem and Bridgeport, Connecticut. The schools provide students in grades K-12 with a year-round, college preparatory education and has sent 100 percent of its low-income, minority, first-generation high school graduates to four-year colleges every year since its first class graduated in 2006. Capital Prep Bronx will open to serve 160 students in 6th to 7th grade and will grow to serve 650 students in 6th to 11 grade during an initial five-year term.
“Mr. Combs’ commitment and leadership continue to inspire us. On behalf of the Capital Prep students, parents and teachers I want to express our sincerest gratitude for such a generous gift,” said Dr. Steve Perry, the founder of Capital Prep Schools. “Mr. Combs wanted to open schools to develop leaders. What he’s done with his investment is embody what we expect students to do, which is to invest their resources in our communities.”
Combs is a Harlem native and worked closely with Dr. Perry to expand the school to new locations as well as enlist a team of educators, parents, and business leaders to bring the idea to life. He is also a benefactor.
“I came from the same environment these kids live in every day,” Combs said. “I understand the importance of access to a great education, and the critical role it plays in a child’s future. Our school provides historically disadvantaged students with the college and career skills needed to become responsible and engaged citizens for social justice. We don’t just teach kids to read, write and compute, we teach them how to make a difference and nurture them to be future leaders of our generation.”
Mary J. Blige will be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the recording category.
The ceremony will take place on Jan. 11 at 6201 Hollywood Blvd. in front of Eastown. Sean “Diddy” Combs will join Hollywood Chamber president and CEO Leron Gubler to unveil the star.
“Mary J. Blige is one of the most popular singers of our generation. Fans will be thrilled to see her star on the Boulevard as her career milestones are celebrated on this very famous sidewalk,” said Ana Martinez, producer of the Walk of Fame ceremonies.
The Grammy Award-winning artist has recently been recognized for her acting work. Blige received Golden Globe Award, SAG Award, and Critics’ Choice Award nominations for her role in Dee Rees’ period drama “Mudbound,” as well as a Golden Globe nom for best original song for “Mighty River.”
Born in the Bronx, N.Y., Blige got her start in music by signing with Uptown Records in 1989. At 18 years old, she was the label’s youngest and first female artist. Her debut album, “What’s the 411?,” was executive produced by Combs and spun off hits including, “You Remind Me” and “Real Love.” Since then, she’s released 12 additional albums that have garnered nine Grammy Award wins from her 31 nominations.
Among her most popular songs are “Family Affair,” “No More Drama,” “Be Without You,” “Not Gon’ Cry,” “Love Is All We Need,” and “Seven Days.”
Her film debut was in 2001’s “Prison Song,” followed by Tyler Perry’s “I Can Do Bad All by Myself.” She also starred alongside Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, and Russell Brand in 2012’s “Rock of Ages,” and appeared in 2013’s musical drama “Black Nativity.”
On the TV front, Blige has guest starred on “How to Get Away With Murder,” “Empire,” and “30 Rock.” She also played Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West, on NBC’s musical “The Wiz Live!”
A snippet and the link to this brave man’s work is below. Please read and follow this groundbreaking series via medium.com as well as Shaun King (Facebook, Twitter). He is doing so much what needs to be done to root out injustice not only in NYC, but all across the country:
What I’m about to tell you is the most painful, traumatic, outrageous, outlandish, over-the-top story of government sanctioned police brutality, wrongful imprisonment, wrongful convictions, forced testimony, widespread corruption, money, lots of money, and deep, deep, deep soul-snatching psychological abuse in modern American history. I would not have believed it had I not seen it all for myself. The rabbit hole I am about to take you down is deep and twisted. It should lead to the termination of a whole host of officials. Many should be arrested and a comprehensive independent investigation should begin immediately.
I receive hundreds of personal emails about injustice in America every single day. In mid-July, dozens of those emails were about a Bronx teenager named Pedro Hernandez. People all over the country had seen reports from Sarah Wallace of NBC New York or James Ford of Pix 11 on how Hernandez, who was jailed at Rikers Island, was running out of time to be released in time to start college. Hernandez had won awards at Rikers for his leadership and academic performance, and had also been granted a scholarship from the Posse Foundation to enter college this fall. Offered a plea deal from the Bronx DA’s Office to be released for time served, Hernandez did what few people in his position would do — he turned down the deal. Accused of shooting Shaun Nardoni, a neighborhood teenager, in the leg on September 1st, 2015, Hernandez was offered a ticket out of Rikers in exchange for admitting he shot Nardoni. The District Attorney even sweetened the pot and pledged to expunge his record in five years if he met all of the terms of his probation. Hernandez still refused to take the deal — continuing to pledge that he was completely innocent and would rather take his chances with a jury before admitting to something he didn’t do.
For nearly a week, people emailed me about Pedro’s case before I finally clicked on the link to see what it was all about. Tory Russell, an activist and organizer from St. Louis, who I’d come to know fr
om Ferguson, sent me a direct message on Twitter asking me if I could read the story and support Pedro somehow. I was on vacation with my family and it still took me another three days to finally read the story. I was hooked, but I had questions. As I Googled Pedro’s name and case, I saw several local reports that stated he had been wrongfully arrested and harassed by the NYPD for years. A guard at another facility was actually arrested and charged with criminal assault, endangering the welfare of a child, criminal obstruction of breathing and blood circulation, and harassment after being caught on film brutally beating and choking Pedro. Eight different eyewitnesses had all come forward to state that Pedro was not the shooter. Many even went so far as to identify the actual shooter. Why then, did Pedro remain behind bars? Why did it seem like the NYPD had it out for him? And how could the Bronx DA simultaneously believe that Pedro was safe enough to set free if he took the plea, but so dangerous, that if he didn’t, his bail would be set at an outrageous $250,000 with a stipulation that he not pay the typical 10%, but pay all $250,000 — effectively ensuring that he’d never get out on bail. That Pedro Hernandez, with the entire deck stacked against him, still refused to take a plea, hooked me.
As I reached out to Pedro’s family, I was immediately struck by something peculiar. I’ve written nearly 1,000 stories about police brutality and misconduct and have interviewed hundreds of families suffering through the consequences of those things. Almost every single one of those families, particularly when they are still in a stage of grief or conflict, without fail, want to speak exclusively about their very specific case. Pedro’s family was different. They immediately wanted me to know that Pedro was not alone, but that he was just one of hundreds of victims whose lives had been turned upside down by officers from the 42nd precinct in the Bronx who were working in close concert with the Bronx District Attorney’s Office. The accusations were so sweeping and broad that I wasn’t sure how to process them.
A recently-discovered letter reportedly handwritten by El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (aka Malcolm X) in 1964 describes racism at that time as an “incurable cancer” that was “plaguing” America.
Los Angeles historic manuscript and letter dealer, Moments in Time, retrieved the six-page letter, reportedly written by the civil rights activist. It went on sale Sunday for $1.25 million.
Gary Zimet, president and owner of Moments in Time, received the letter from a contact who discovered it in a storage locker in the Bronx, New York. Zimet has decided to keep the person’s name anonymous.
“It’s extraordinary,” he told The Huffington Post. “I haven’t sold it yet but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before I do.”
The letter details a monumental period in the late activist’s life — his 1964 pilgrimage to Mecca, the year prior to his assassination in 1965 in New York City. In the beginning of the letter, Malcolm X describes his pilgrimage as “the most important event in the life of all Muslims,” and goes on to explain why his experience was so enlightening.
Also in the letter, Malcolm X suggests a solution to solving race relations. The passage is particularly striking to read now, at a time when America is still grappling with racism. He writes:
If white Americans could accept the religion of Islam, if they could accept the Oneness of God (Allah) they too could then sincerely accept the Oneness of Men, and cease to measure others always in terms of their ‘difference in color’. And with racism now plaguing in America like an incurable cancer all thinking Americans should be more respective to Islam as an already proven solution to the race problem.
The American Negro could never be blamed for his racial “animosities” because his are only reaction or defense mechanism which is subconscious intelligence has forced him to react against the conscious racism practiced (initiated against Negroes in America) by American Whites. But as America’s insane obsession with racism leads her up the suicidal path, nearer to the precipice that leads to the bottomless pits below, I do believe that Whites of the younger generation, in the colleges and universities, through their own young, less hampered intellects will see the “Handwriting on the Wall” and turn for spiritual salvation to the religion of Islam, and force the older generation to turn with them.
In regards to the legitimacy of this letter, Zaheer Ali, an oral historian who served as the project manager and senior researcher of the Malcolm X Project at Columbia University, says it’s likely this letter was actually written by Malcolm X.
“Based on everything I’ve seen, handwriting and context, I can confidently say that yes, this letter is his letter,” he told the Huffington Post. ‘The content is consistent, this isn’t uncommon. He was very prolific.”
Ali explained that the pilgrimage to Mecca had a profound effect on Malcolm X and that he often sent letters about it as a way to “broadcast” his message. However, Ali doesn’t believe this letter should be for sale. “I don’t think you can put a price tag on this,” he explained. “Even though this is his personal correspondence, his intention was that this was to be made available to the public.”
Regardless, Ali believes the letter’s message, addressing race and religion, is particularly timely today. “However this letter surfaced, it surfaced at the right time.”
Bronx, NY – Designated as a New York City Historic Landmark, the Andrew Freedman Home, a vibrant location for arts and culture, is revitalizing the artistic landscape of the Bronx, New York. On September 5, New York University alumni and producer Walter E. Puryear will mount “The Fall of the Kings,” a new American drama set in the 1940s.
The play tells the story of an African-American heiress and her Caribbean (Cuban) husband fighting to sustain their family in the midst of an economic disaster.
Described by the New York Times as “exactly the sort of place…that contemporary arts dreams are made of” the venue carries an undeniable palatial air and encompasses over 100,000 square feet. Freedman, a millionaire, former owner of the New York Giants and financier of the city’s first subway lines, bequeathed funding to construct the Home in the 1920s as a luxurious residence for once-wealthy senior citizens.
The playwright, Mai Sennaar, is an alumna of the Tisch School of the Arts. She is a mentee of noted playwright and screenwriter Richard Wesley (The Mighty Gents, Broadway) and Broadway and film actress Novella Nelson. At the age of 19, Sennaar’s first play, “The Broken Window Theory,” was produced at the famed Nuyorican Poets’ Cafe starring Tony Award-winner Tonya Pinkins and directed by Tony Award-nominee Michele Shay.
“The Fall of the Kings” production crew includes choreographer, Dyane Harvey-Salaam, whose Broadway, film and television credits include: The Wiz (original stage and film versions) and the Spike Lee film “School Daze.” Set designer, Christopher Cumberbatch’s work has appeared both in theatre and in the Spike Lee films, “Crooklyn” and “Malcolm X.” Composer Dianaruthe Wharton Sennaar is a founding member of Sweet Honey in the Rock and composer for Ntozake Shange’s Broadway hit “For Colored Girls…” The award-winning, Grammy-nominated composer and trumpeter Christian Scott is a featured guest soloist on the play’s main theme.
“The Fall of the Kings” is an immersive theatre experience where the fourth wall crumbles and the story moves the audience through intimate rooms and enthralling portrayals, welcoming the audience right into the home and lives of the Kings.
“Kings” opens today, September 5 at 8pm, with performances running through November 1st. Tickets range from $30-$45. Discounts are available for groups, Bronx residents, seniors, and students. Exclusive Bed & Breakfast and Bus trip packages are also available.
Two legends in the hip-hop community are making it their goal to raise awareness about health and wellness with the launch of several juice bars in New York’s most impoverished neighborhoods.
In an interview with Elite Daily, Styles P and Jadakiss, known for their group The Lox, explain the inspiration behind opening Juices For Life, a juice bar that promotes healthy living. The rappers opened up about their childhoods, reminiscing about the unhealthy snacks, like honey buns and chips, they would eat daily.
Consuming junk food in their hometown of Yonkers, NY not only put a strain on their wallets, but their health. In recent years, both artists were inspired to change the lifestyle in their neighborhoods and beyond.
“You’re going to get out what you put into your body,” Jadakiss said. “We didn’t know. All we knew was run to the fast food spots or run to get big bags of candy. It’s a bunch of garbage.”
Juices For Life can be found in the Bronx borough of New York City, with two other locations in the borough of Queens and in Yonkers. The juice bars also offer drinks intended to help alleviate allergies, arthritis, acne, and bronchitis. The musicians declare there’s simply nothing “soft” about promoting fruits and vegetables in the Black community.
“Our juice bars are open in the hoods on purpose to educate our people on health awareness.” Styles P said. “Build it and they will come.”
“Most of the hood don’t have access to good food, most of the hood don’t have health insurance…”Jadakiss added.
The City University of New York has renamed its preparatory high school in The Bronx in honor of Derrick Griffith, its founding principal. Dr. Griffith was killed in the Amtrak train wreck in Philadelphia this past May.
In a resolution renaming the school, the board of trustees of the City University of New York said that “Dr. Griffith transformed thousands of lives of young New Yorkers who were uplifted by his encouragement as they found the resolve to pursue education and build personal beliefs in their own ability to persevere. He was a true visionary whose compassion and intelligence were paralleled only by his sense of humor and love for his students, colleagues, friends and family.”
At the time of his death, Dr. Griffith was dean of student affairs at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York. He joined the staff at Medgar Evers College in 2011 as an assistant provost. He served as the founding principal at the Preparatory Transitional High School of the City University of New York from 2003 to 2010.
One month before his death at the age of 42, Griffith completed work on a doctorate in urban education at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He was a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Hip-hop icon Grandmaster Flash is set as an associate producer and adviser on The Get Down, Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming Netflix series about the 1970 NYC music scene and the birth of rap. “I can’t tell you just how much joy and great spirit we are getting from working with some of the founding fathers of the form,” Luhrmann said in a statement. “Not only in music, dance and graffiti but the culture of the time in general. The whole team is absolutely thrilled to have Grandmaster Flash on board.” Netflix also said today that newcomer Mamoudou Athie will play the DJ legend on the show (see photo above). Best known to mainstream audiences for the 1982’s “The Message,” Grandmaster Flash emerged from the ’70s Bronx scene along with fellow DJs Kool Herc and Afrika Bambaataa as a pioneer of the fledgling genre. “Flash developed a host of specific techniques that allowed DJs to move seamlessly from one break beat to another,” said author-journalist Nelson George, part of The Get Down writing team. “Flash’s innovations, developed in his Bronx apartment bedroom, are the bedrock of club spinning, even in the age of (vinyl emulation program) Serato.”
Flash’s involvement with Get Down follows VH1’s announcement last month of The Breaks, an original movie and potential backdoor pilot about the 1990s NYC hip-hop scene. Gang Starr’s DJ Premier will serve as music producer for that project, becoming the latest music great to oversee soundtracks for TV series including Timbaland on Fox’s Empire and T Bone Burnett on ABC’s Nashville.