Tag: Civil Rights

Civil Rights Icon Fannie Lou Hamer Biopic to be Scripted by “Remember The Titans” Writer Gregory Allen Howard

Fannie Lou Hamer (photo via powerpacplus.org)

by Mike Fleming Jr. via deadline.com

Remember the Titans scribe Gregory Allen Howard has teamed with Chris Columbus1492 production company to tell the story of Fannie Lou Hamer, a sharecropper with a sixth-grade education who became an important voting-rights advocate and founded the first integrated political party in the South in mid-’60s Mississippi.

Hamer grew up in a family of 20 kids and picked cotton for most of her life. After going to a doctor to have a tumor removed, she discovered she was given a hysterectomy at age 47 by a white doctor, without her consent, because of a movement by the state to sterilize women to reduce the number of poor blacks in Mississippi.

Hamer became a Civil Rights activist, surviving assassination attempts

Gregory Allen Howard (photo via deadline.com)

and a near-fatal beating to get her moment at the Democratic National Convention, where she challenged President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968 with her legendary, “Is This America?” speech.

While LBJ hastily called a ruse press conference in the hope of diverting attention away from her speech, Hamer’s powerful words were widely broadcast and reverberated around the world. Howard, who studied Hamer’s accomplishments as a college student, has long been obsessed with bringing her story to the screen. Hamer died in 1977.

To read more, go to: Civil Rights Icon Fannie Lou Hamer Movie; Gregory Allen Howard script | Deadline

PBS to Air Documentary on Iconic Civil Rights Leader John Lewis this February

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Congressman John Lewis (photo via eurweb.com)

article by Ny Magee via eurweb.com

Georgia congressman John Lewis is finally getting what many believe to be the TV treatment he deserves. The civil rights icon is the focus of a forthcoming new documentary set to air on PBS.

Get In The Way: The Journey of John Lewis” aims to tell the story of the civil rights pioneer, who led a 26-hour sit-in for gun control, marched with Dr. King, challenged political houses and continues to fight for human rights, per Jetmag.com.

According to the film’s website, it offers a “highly personalized narrative of an epic chapter in U.S. history.”  The biographical documentary will air on PBS as part of the network’s Black History Month programming.

“He is the moving, roaring protector of the rights afforded to every person in this nation. Get in the Way arrives at the perfect time,” actress and activist Alfre Woodard is quoted as saying in the documentary highlights.

“Get In The Way” airs on Feb. 10.

To read full article, go to: http://www.eurweb.com/2017/01/john-lewis-pbs-air-documentary-iconic-civil-rights-leader/#

Jesse Williams’ BET Humanitarian Award Speech Was EVERYTHING – Clutch Magazine

BET Humanitarian Award recipient Jesse Williams (photo via clutchmagonline.com)

article via clutchmageonline.com

Actor, activist and entrepreneur Jesse Williams was honored at Sunday night’s BET Awards, and his acceptance speech was everything!The  Advancement Project board member not only gave an emotionally charged speech, but also dedicated his award to his fellow organizers.

“This is for the real organizers all over the country. The activists, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers of students that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do,” said Williams, who linked arms with Ferguson activists in the wake of Michael Brown’s death in the fall of 2014 and executive-produced Stay Woke, a documentary which traced the evolution of the Black Lives Matter movement and debuted on BET in May.

To see video of his speech, click here: http://www.bet.com/video/betawards/2016/acceptance-speeches/jesse-williams-receives-humanitarian-award.html

Williams also paid homage to black women, who are often times the unsung heroes of the movement.“Black women who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves.” “We can and will do better for you,” he said.  Williams reminded attendees to remember those who died and why we’re still fighting to make people understand that black lives do matter. And he also spoke a word about the culture vultures.

Source: Jesse Williams’ BET Humanitarian Award Speech Was EVERYTHING – Clutch Magazine

U.S Supreme Court Rules Georgia Prosecutors Violated Constitution’s “Equal Protection” Clause by Rejecting Black Jurors in Murder Case

SCOTUS building (photo via wikipedia.com)
SCOTUS building (photo via wikipedia.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a 7-1 decision issued today, the Supreme Court of the United States held in Foster v. Chapman, No. 14-8349, that Butts County, Georgia prosecutors violated the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution by rejecting two prospective African-American jurors because of their race in the capital murder trial of  Timothy Foster, an African-American man who was convicted of capital murder in 1987 by an all-white jury.

Chief Justice Roberts’ majority opinion, which was joined by five of his colleagues, cited several pieces of evidence from the prosecutors’ files that supported the Court’s conclusion, including the first five names of a “Definite NO” list of six prospective jurors containing the only five African-Americans in the jury pool; multiple documents that identified the African-American prospective jurors by their race; and notes with “N” for “no” appearing next to the names of all the African-American members of the jury pool.

The Court also found that the race-neutral reasons the prosecutors offered for rejecting two of the African-American prospective jurors did not withstand scrutiny because (1) the prosecutors offered shifting rationales at different stages of the proceedings and (2) the reasons offered for excluding the African-American jurors did not result in the prosecutors rejecting white prospective jurors who had the same characteristics that led to the dismissal of the African-American jurors. The Court dismissed one of the prosecutors’ rationales as “[n]onsense.”

“The systematic exclusion of African-Americans from juries, particularly in serious criminal and capital cases, is a problem that we continue to see today,” stated Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  “The Lawyers’ Committee is pleased with the Supreme Court’s ruling which affirms the longstanding, fundamental constitutional principle that prospective jurors cannot be rejected because of their race. The evidence in this case was overwhelming that prosecutors were determined to try Mr. Foster, an African-American man, before an all-white jury.  All defendants are entitled to a fair trial and excluding prospective jurors based on their race taints the process because it means that defendants are not tried by a jury inclusive of their peers.”

The Supreme Court’s decision reversed the Georgia Supreme Court and sent the case back to the Georgia Supreme Court for further proceedings consistent with the opinion. Though he did not join in Chief Justice Roberts’s opinion, Judge Alito concurred in the judgment.  Justice Thomas dissented.

Jesse Williams to Produce, Star in Upcoming Harry Belafonte Biopic

Harry Belafonte (l) and Jesse Williams (r) [photo via theroot.com]
Harry Belafonte (l) and Jesse Williams (r) [photo via theroot.com]
article via thegrio.com

“Grey’s Anatomy” star and actvist Jesse Williams has plans to produce and star in a biopic about his fellow civil rights icon and entertainer Harry Belafonte. Williams announced the project during an appearance on Denzealots, a podcast by comedians W. Kamau Bell and Kevin Avery.

During the episode, Williams admitted that he cared more about activism than acting.  “I have an awesome job that I love,” he said, “but there’s this magnetic force that is constantly pulling me toward activism. I just have to do it.”

If you’re into social media, you probably already knew that. Williams is highly influential on Twitter, boasting more than one million followers. The young actor’s gained his influence, not with selfies, but with insightful tweets and short commentaries on issues impacting people of color.  He was heavily involved in the Justice for Flint concert which brought together residents, celebrities and performers to raise awareness on the water crisis.

Source: Jesse Williams to produce, star in upcoming Harry Belafonte biopioc | theGrio

Landmark Civil Rights Documentary “Eyes on the Prize, Parts I and II” Starts Re-airing Tonight at 9pmEST on WORLD Channel

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Public television’s WORLD Channel will present the complete Emmy-Award winning Eyes on the Prize I and II starting tonight, January 17, 2016. A 30-minute special feature, Eyes on the Prize: Then and Now, will launch the encore presentation of this historic two-part series and explore its impressive relevance today.

Eyes on the Prize, created by Executive Producer Henry Hampton, is a critically-acclaimed and in-depth documentary series on civil rights in America.  With the current national spotlight on issues of race and inequality—as well as the marking of the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, and the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott—the time is right for this series about the nation’s civil rights history to be front and center as part of an essential dialogue.

America continues to struggle with the recurring crisis of race-related violence; Eyes on the Prize and II can provide perspective for a new generation and be a touchstone for citizens who lived through the decades that the films depict. Journalist and writer Al Letson hosts new introductions to each episode.

“We are elated that this landmark series will once again be broadcast across the country, reaching millions of viewers—many of whom may never have seen the original airing. The series focuses on solutions to the conflicts that we face today.  Eyes on the Prize shows leadership, grass roots organization and personal sacrifice as the recipe that can create lasting change.  It is our hope the television programs together with our comprehensive outreach campaign will spark a national dialogue about this critical topic,” says Judi Hampton, president of Blackside, and sister of the late Henry Hampton (1940-1998).

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The WORLD Channel presentation, made possible with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Ford Foundation, includes Eyes on the Prize: Then and Now, a new, original 30-minute special, which will lead into the premiere January 17 of Eyes on the Prize, setting the groundbreaking documentary series in the context of today.  Narrated by music artist Aloe BlaccEyes on the Prize: Then and Now features Eyes on the Prize filmmakers, present-day activists, human rights leaders, and scholars. The special revisits key historical moments and explores commonalities with current national events.

“The WORLD Channel is honored to be presenting this signature series,” says Chris Hastings, Executive Producer of the WORLD Channel. “It’s a history that must be understood.  With Eyes on the Prize: Then and Now, we ask questions and draw comparisons about the struggle to achieve equality today. As conflicts and challenges continue, Eyes on the Prize remains essential viewing for all Americans.”

As part of the initiative, WGBH Education is developing a digital resource collection supporting Eyes on the Prize and civil rights themes in history and social studies curricula, to help the civil rights movement come alive for students today. This collection will be available on PBS LearningMedia in January.

Based at WGBH Boston, the national public media producer, WORLD Channel delivers the best of public television’s original documentary films and news to US audiences through local public television stations, including America ReFramed, AfroPopPOV and Local, USA.  The special Eyes on the Prize presentation also will be made available to all public television stations for local broadcasts (check listings) after the WORLD premiere.

EYES ON THE PRIZE I and II

Almost three decades since its premiere, the groundbreaking series Eyes on the Prize I and II will return to PBS this January.  Eyes on the Prize I will premiere on The WORLD Channel six consecutive Sundays – January 17, 24, 31 and February 7, 14, 21 at 9:00 p.m. (EST). Eyes on the Prize II will air eight consecutive Sundays—February 28, March 6, 13, 20, 27, and April 3, 10, 17 at 9:00 p.m. (EST).

Produced by Blackside, Eyes on the Prize tells the definitive story of the Civil Rights era from the point of view of the ordinary men and women whose extraordinary actions launched a movement that changed the fabric of American life and embodied a struggle whose reverberations continue to be felt today.  This multi-part Academy Award nominated documentary is the winner of numerous Emmy Awards, a George Foster Peabody Award, an International Documentary Association Award, and a Television Critics Association Award.

Through contemporary interviews and historical footage, Eyes on the Prize I and II, traces the civil rights movement from the Montgomery bus boycott to the Voting Rights Act; from early acts of individual courage through the flowering of a mass movement and its eventual split into factions.  The late Julian Bond, political leader and civil rights activist, narrates.  Descriptions of each episode follow below:

Continue reading “Landmark Civil Rights Documentary “Eyes on the Prize, Parts I and II” Starts Re-airing Tonight at 9pmEST on WORLD Channel”

Alicia Keys, John Legend, Pharrell and Others Perform at “Shining A Light: Concert For Progress on Race in America” Airing Tonight on A+E Networks & Several Others

John Legend at "Shining A Light" Concert
John Legend at “Shining A Light” Concert

A+E Networks and iHeartMedia are simultaneously airing “Shining a Light: A Concert for Progress on Race in America” on Friday, November 20 at 8PM ET/PT.  The sold-out concert was recorded at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, CA on Wednesday, November 18th, and the two-hour special event will air across the entire A+E Networks portfolio in more than 130 territories globally, including A&E, HISTORY, Lifetime, H2, LMN and FYI, as well as on more than 130 iHeartMedia broadcast radio stations nationwide and the iHeartRadio digital platform.  Additionally, AOL has joined in the simulcast making the historic special event available to anyone with internet access across the globe on AOL.com.

Artists Aloe Blacc, Andra Day, Nick Jonas, Tom Morello, Smokey Robinson and Big Sean join the previously announced performers including Zac Brown Band, Eric Church, Jamie Foxx, Rhiannon Giddens, Tori Kelly, John Legend, Miguel, Pink, Jill Scott, Ed Sheeran, Sia, Bruce Springsteen, Sting and Pharrell WilliamsLL Cool J, Marshall Faulk, Morgan Freeman, George Lopez, Mario Lopez, Nicki Minaj, Kurt Warner and Nick Young are among the presenters joining the telecast.

Alicia Keys has joined John Legend and Pharrell on extraordinary journeys to Baltimore, Ferguson and Charleston, where they met with a diverse group of residents in communities at the center of the national conversation on racial inequality and violence.  Joined by NPR’s Michele Norris with John Legend in Ferguson, award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien with Pharrell Williams in Charleston and ABC News’ Byron Pitts in Baltimore, these visits included intimate discussions and special private performances by each for those most effected.  These incredibly moving, heart wrenching and eye-opening moments will be featured throughout the two-hour concert, as well as in the one-hour special, “Shining a Light: Conversations on Race in America,” airing immediately following the concert on A&E Network and AOL.com at 10pm ET/PT.

To see Alicia Keys perform Donny Hathaway’s “Someday We Will All Be Free”, watch below:

The concert will kick off A+E Networks’ campaign to confront issues of race, and promote unity and progress on racial equity, inspired by the response of the Mother Emanuel family members in Charleston and others working for reconciliation and change around the country.

The concert and the ancillary programming will help raise money for the Fund for Progress on Race in America powered by United Way Worldwide (ShiningALightConcert.com).  The fund will provide grant funding to individuals and organizations fostering understanding, eliminating bias, as well as provide support to Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church and the broader A.M.E. denomination. The fund will support efforts to address racism and bias through public policy change, individual innovation, and community mobilization.

Tickets for the concert on November 18 sold out within 3 hours of the on-sale date raising more than $150,000 to benefit the Fund for Progress on Race in America powered by The United Way Worldwide.

To see a clip of John Legend’s performance of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” from the event, watch below:

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

Barack Obama Becomes 1st U.S. President to Pose For LGBT Magazine Cover

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama, already known as the first U.S. president to advocate for gay rights during an inauguration speech, just became the first Commander-In-Chief to pose for the cover of an LGBT magazine.

Gracing the cover of OUT magazine’s OUT 100 issue as “Ally of the Year” comes as no surprise — Obama is likely to go down in history as one of the most progressive presidents, if not the only one who has fought so tirelessly for LGBTQ rights. Shortly after taking office, Obama signed a bill repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. And in June, after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide, Obama delivered an emotional address to the nation, calling it a “victory for America.”

“This is the first time a sitting president has been photographed for the cover of an LGBT title, a historic moment in itself, and a statement on how much his administration has done to advance a singularly volatile issue that tarnished the reputations of both President Clinton and President Bush,” OUT’s editor-in-chief Aaron Hicklin wrote.

Obama granted the magazine an interview that highlighted his own upbringing and how it affects his perspective on equality.

“My mom instilled in me the strong belief that every person is of equal worth,” Obama told Hicklin. “At the same time, growing up as a black guy with a funny name, I was often reminded of exactly what it felt like to be on the outside. One of the reasons I got involved in politics was to help deliver on our promise that we’re all created equal, and that no one should be excluded from the American dream just because of who they are. That’s why, in the Senate, I supported repealing DOMA [the Defense of Marriage Act]. It’s why, when I ran for president the first time, I publicly asked for the support of the LGBT community, and promised that we could bring about real change for LGBT Americans.”

He also discussed how daughters Sasha and Malia have helped him recognize the generational shift in attitudes towards the LGBTQ community, urging for the end of damaging conversion therapy for young people that doesn’t allow them “to be who they are.”

“To Malia and Sasha and their friends, discrimination in any form against anyone doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t dawn on them that friends who are gay or friends’ parents who are same-sex couples should be treated differently than anyone else,” Obama said. “That’s powerful. My sense is that a lot of parents across the country aren’t going to want to sit around the dinner table and try to justify to their kids why a gay teacher or a transgender best friend isn’t quite as equal as someone else. That’s also why it’s so important to end harmful practices like conversion therapy for young people and allow them to be who they are. The next generation is spurring change not just for future generations, but for my generation, too. As president, and as a dad, that makes me proud. It makes me hopeful.”

You can read the full interview here.

article by Christina Coleman via newsone.com

Pearl Thompson, 93, Returns to North Carolina Public Library to Get Library Card Denied to Her in 1942 (VIDEO)

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Pearl Thompson is honored at the Cameron Village Regional Library July 2, 2015, in Raleigh, N.C. (YOUTUBE SCREENSHOT)

Pearl Thompson was a student at Shaw University in 1942 when she walked over to a public library in Raleigh, N.C., to check out a book she was assigned to read for class.

But instead of issuing a library card to Thompson and allowing her to check out the book, the library staff at the Olivia Raney Library—a library intended only for whites at the time—sent Thompson to the basement and told her that she had to read the book there and couldn’t take it out of the library.

More than 70 years later, Thompson, now 93, is being honored in Raleigh, N.C., as a lifelong educator, and she has made it a point to return to get the library card that was denied her so long ago.

Thompson told the News & Observer that she knew that the Olivia Raney Library, Raleigh’s first public library, was only for white patrons, but she was on a mission to get the book that she needed.

“I expected to go in and get a book,” Thompson said.

That thirst for knowledge and determination to break down racial barriers in educational spaces stayed with her. Thompson went on to teach in Raleigh’s segregated black schools for more than a decade. In an emotional video showing the Raleigh event that honored her work, Thompson described how she vowed that she would work hard to give children opportunities to learn, and to expose them to the resources they would need to succeed.

article by Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele via theroot.com

Baltimore Plans To Equip Police Vans With Video Cameras After Freddie Gray’s Death

Protests in Baltimore over Freddie Gray
Source: Anadolu Agency / Getty

After a vociferous public outcry over the death of Freddie Gray, who suffered a fatal spinal cord injury in police custody this spring, Baltimore officials announced plans Wednesday to equip transport vans with video recording cameras, according to Reuters.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said the change comes in the wake of protests after the death of 25-year-old Gray, who was fatally injured while being transported to lockup in a police van in April on an unspecified charge. Gray’s death sparked days of fiery protests over police brutality in the Black community.

From Reuters:

We’re working through a process that will place cameras with recording capabilities in the backs of all our police vans, to ensure that we have a more complete record of what occurs there,” Rawlings-Blake told reporters.

The van in which Gray was transported had a non-recording camera that the driver could use to monitor the passengers, but it was not working at the time.

Rawlings-Blake also announced plans to review riot gear used by police during the unrest, as some of it failed to work, the report says. She said the city needs working equipment so that police can respond if trouble breaks out following trial verdicts in the Gray case.

article by Lynette Holloway via newsone.com