NYU Professor and Novelist Zadie Smith to Receive Langston Hughes Medal for Writing

Zadie Smith (photo via lithub.com)

via jbhe.com

Zadie Smith, the acclaimed novelist who is a professor of creative writing at New York University, has been selected to received the Langston Hughes Medal from the City College of New York. The medal honors writers of poetry, drama, fiction, biographies, and critical essays from throughout the Black diaspora. Professor Smith will honored on November 16 at City College’s annual Langston Hughes Festival.

Previous winners of the Langston Hughes Medal include James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Walter Mosley, Gwendolyn Brooks, Octavia Butler, August Wilson, and Edwidge Danticat. Smith is the author of five novels including her latest work Swing Time (Penguin Books, 2016). She also published an essay collection Changing My Mind (Penguin Books, 2009) and writes frequently for the New Yorker magazine and the New York Review of Books.

A native of London, Professor Smith is a graduate of Kings College of the University of Cambridge. She joined the faculty at New York University in 2010.

Source: Zadie Smith of New York University to Receive the Langston Hughes Medal : The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education

Author Paul Beatty Becomes 1st American to Win Man Booker Prize With ‘The Sellout’

Paul Beatty, who won the Man Booker Prize for “The Sellout,” a satire about race in America, at a ceremony Tuesday in London. (Credit: John Phillips/Getty Images)

article by Alexandra Alter via nytimes.com

Paul Beatty’s novel “The Sellout,” a blistering satire about race in America, won the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday, marking the first time an American writer has won the award.

The five Booker judges, who were unanimous in their decision, cited the novel’s inventive comic approach to the thorny issues of racial identity and injustice.

With its outrageous premise and unabashed skewering of racial stereotypes, “The Sellout” is an audacious choice for the judges, who oversee one of the most prestigious awards in literature.

“The truth is rarely pretty, and this is a book that nails the reader to the cross with cheerful abandon,” Amanda Foreman, the head of the judging panel, said at a press briefing in London before the winner was announced. “It plunges into the heart of contemporary American society.”

At a ceremony in London, Mr. Beatty said that writing “The Sellout” had taken an emotional toll.

“It was a hard book for me to write; I know it’s hard to read,” he said. “I’m just trying to create space for myself. And hopefully that can create space for others.”

A raucous tragicomedy that explores the legacy of slavery and racial and economic inequality in America, the novel felt deeply resonant at a moment when police violence against African-Americans has incited protests around the country and forced Americans to confront the country’s history of racism.

In a review in The New York Times, Dwight Garner wrote that the novel’s first 100 pages read like “the most concussive monologues and interviews of Chris Rock, Richard Pryor and Dave Chappelle wrapped in a satirical yet surprisingly delicate literary and historical sensibility.”

To read full article, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/26/business/media/paul-beatty-wins-man-booker-prize-with-the-sellout.html?_r=0

EDITORIAL: Serena Williams Wins 7th Wimbledon Title, 22nd Grand Slam and Makes Us All Feel Like Champions

Serena Williams ended her yearlong pursuit of Steffi Graf’s mark for Open-era Grand Slam wins by defeating Angelique Kerber in straight sets in the Wimbledon final Saturday. (Credit: Andy Rain/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson, GBN Editor-in-Chief (@lakinhutcherson)

I don’t know about anyone else, but I really needed this today.  I specifically set my alarm this morning to wake me at 6AM (PST) to watch Serena Williams compete for her seventh – yes, take that in – seventh Wimbledon title, and to tie Steffi Graf for the most Grand Slams won in the Open Era.

I’ll admit, regardless of the week of continued brutality and violence by police against black citizens and the gut-wrenching retaliation in Dallas because of such violence, as a lifelong fan, I most likely would have been up and watching Serena anyway.  But because of its timing, this victory – this continued rising, this perseverance – was that much more coveted, and that much sweeter.

Although Williams did not mention or comment on what’s been happening in America as she accepted her trophy, don’t think she’s remained silent in the media about it.  On her Twitter (which we here at GBN happily follow), she spoke directly to the recent atrocities and let us know they were on her mind days before this most crucial, career-defining match:

This tweet leads me to speculate that Serena was that much more focused, that much more centered and that much more desirous of the outcome that occurred – because she knew in her heart she wasn’t just winning her 22nd Grand Slam and making history for herself, but for all of us.

So thank you, Serena – for playing your best tennis today and being so damned undeniable.  You have been and are a shining light and the G.O.A.T. and a champion for the ages.  You are loved and supported in all of your endeavors.  You are #blackexcellence.  (And P.S. having Beyoncé and Jay Z in your box was on point, too! #Freedom #Formation)

Now, to the tennis facts, courtesy of Naila-Jean Meyers via the New York Times: Continue reading

Tennis Greats Venus and Serena Williams Both Advance to Wimbledon Semifinals

Venus Williams

Venus Williams after beating Yaroslava Shvedova to advance at Wimbledon (July 5, 2016)

article via eurweb.com

Venus Williams was all smiles, and even giggled a little as she defied expectations and earned a spot in the Wimbledon semifinals in London today, beating unseeded 28-year-old Yaroslava Shvedova 7-6 (5), 6-2.

Immediately after her match on Court No. 1, her sister Serena Williams ran through Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in straight-sets 6-4, 6-4 to book her 10th Wimbledon semifinal.

As the announcers have mentioned at every turn, Venus is the eldest player in the tournament at age 36. Advancing to the Wimbledon semis at this age and with her health history is an accomplishment she also acknowledges as special.

“You can’t always have this big moment. If you’re Serena Williams, then I guess that happens a lot, but as Venus Williams this is an awesome day,” Venus said in her post-match interview.

Venus’s next opponent will be No. 4 Angelique Kerber, also a straight-sets winner today over No. 5 Simona Halep 7-5, 7-6 (2).

Serena Williams

Serena Williams (photo via eurweb.com)

Before Venus could take her victory walk off the court, mom Oracene and the family were hustling over to Centre Court to catch the beginning of Serena’s match.  It stayed fairly even through the first eight games, with no break points earned. Then Williams broke Pavlyuchenkova at 4-4 in the 2nd, and served out the match with ease.

“It’s good, I’m excited to get through. It felt really good,” she said after the match. Asked when she learned during warmups that Venus had won, Serena said: “I knew Venus was up, and then they showed the [final] score, and I was like: yay!”

On possibly facing Venus in the finals, Serena says they’re not even discussing that scenario. “We’re actually playing doubles today, and regardless, we’re just happy to play in the semi-finals. Obviously I want her to win so bad. I desperately want her to win if I’m not there [in the final].”

Serena moves one step closer to step closer to tying Steffi Graf’s open era record of 22 grand slam titles. Her next opponent will be Russia’s Elena Vesnin.

Read more at http://www.eurweb.com/2016/07/venus-serena-williams-advance-wimbledon-semifinals/#xCCkWiwM3jcEDGRU.99

Idris Elba, John Ridley Limited Series “Guerrilla” Ordered at Showtime

John Ridley Idris Elba GUERRILLA Showtime

RIDLEY: RYDER SLOANE; ELBA: RAY BURMISTON (image via Variety.com)

article by Daniel Holloway via Variety.com

Showtime has ordered “Guerrilla,” a limited series from “American Crime” creator John Ridley, starring Idris Elba. The six-episode drama will be broadcast in the U.S. on Showtime and in the U.K. on Sky Atlantic.

Ridley will write the bulk of the episodes and direct the first two. A love story set in one of the most explosive political times in U.K. history, the miniseries tells the story of a 1970s London couple who liberates a political prisoner and forms a radical underground cell. The group targets the Black Power Desk, a true-life counter-intelligence unit within Special Branch dedicated to crushing all forms of black activism. Though set against a backdrop of social upheaval and activism, the story focuses on the relationship between the two characters at its center.

“Guerrilla” will be co-produced by Fifty Fathoms and ABC Signature, and will begin production in London late this summer.

“We’re excited to partner with our friends at Sky to bring a fascinating and unexplored story spearheaded by John and Idris, two major creative talents at the top of their game,” said Showtime president and CEO David Nevins. “Guerilla will surely keep our audience at their edge of their seats.”

Elba will serve as executive producer through his Green Door Pictures with Ridley. Patrick Spence and Katie Swinden of Fifty Fathoms, Tracy Underwood of ABC Signature and Michael McDonald of Stearns Castle will also exec produce.

Ridley extended his overall deal with ABC Studios in January for three years. His “American Crime,” which ended its second season last month on ABC, received 10 Primetime Emmy Award nominations last year for season one, with star Regina King winning for outstanding supporting actress in a miniseries or movie. In 2014, Ridley won the Academy Award for best adapted screenplay for “12 Years a Slave.”

“I am both humbled by and impressed with Idris’s passion toward bringing this story to life,” said Ridley. “I share his commitment for populating the culture with driven and complicated people of color, and believe we have great partners on the producorial level, and with our broadcasters Sky Atlantic and Showtime.”

Elba is a four-time Emmy nominee whose TV credits include “The Wire” and “Luther.” He was nominated for a Golden Globe award for his work in last year’s Netflix feature film “Beasts of No Nation.” His upcoming films include “Star trek: Beyond” and “The Dark Tower.”

“It’s been a long time desire of mine to collaborate with Mr. Ridley and his work here is nothing short of a masterclass in character building and story-telling,” Elba said. “TV is in for a treat.”

Sidney Poitier to be Honored at British Academy Film Awards in February

Sidney Poitier to Be Honored at British Academy Film Awards

Cinema legend Sidney Poitier (photo via ebony.com)

Sidney Poitier will be honored by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) with the Fellowship at the EE British Academy Film Awards on Sunday, February 14. Awarded annually, the Fellowship is the highest accolade bestowed by BAFTA upon an individual in recognition of an outstanding and exceptional contribution to film, television or games.

Fellows previously honored for their work in film include Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Sean Connery, Elizabeth Taylor, Stanley Kubrick, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Judi Dench, Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Lee, Martin Scorsese, Alan Parker and Helen Mirren. Mike Leigh received the Fellowship at last year’s Film Awards.

Sidney Poitier said: “I am extremely honored to have been chosen to receive the Fellowship and my deep appreciation to the British Academy for the recognition.”

Amanda Berry OBE, chief executive of BAFTA, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled that Sidney Poitier is to become a Fellow of BAFTA. Sidney is a luminary of film whose outstanding talent in front of the camera, and important work in other fields, has made him one of the most important figures of his generation. His determination to pursue his dreams is an inspirational story for young people starting out in the industry today. By recognizing Sidney with the Fellowship at the Film Awards on Sunday, February 14, BAFTA will be honoring one of cinema’s true greats.”

Sidney Poitier’s award-winning career features six BAFTA nominations, including one BAFTA win, and a British Academy Britannia Award for Lifetime Contribution to International Film.

Poitier began his acting career on Broadway in the 1940s before moving to film in 1950, receiving his first credit as Dr. Luther Brooks in No Way Out. He was the first African American to play a wide range of leading roles; he was BAFTA-nominated for his performances in Edge of the CityA Raisin in the SunLilies of the Field (for which he was the first African American to win the Oscar for Best Actor in 1964), A Patch of BlueIn the Heat of the Night and The Defiant Ones, for which he won a BAFTA and Oscar in 1959. His other acting credits include Blackboard JungleTo Sir With LoveGuess Who’s Coming to DinnerSneakersThe Jackal and Porgy and Bess.

Poitier was awarded an Honorary Oscar in 2002 “for his extraordinary performances and unique presence on the screen and for representing the industry with dignity, style and intelligence.” Poitier has also been nominated for seven Golden Globes, winning once, and was presented with the Cecil B DeMille Award in 1982.

Alongside his illustrious acting career, Poitier has directed nine feature films, including the Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder comedy Stir Crazy, as well as Buck and the PreacherUptown Saturday Night and Fast Forward.

In television, Poitier’s acting credits include Separate but EqualChildren of the Dust and, portaying Nelson Mandela, Mandela and de Klerk.

As well as pushing the boundaries of his craft on screen, Poitier played an active role in the American civil rights campaign and served as ambassador of the Bahamas to Japan and UNESCO from 1997 to 2007. In 1974, Queen Elizabeth II conferred a knighthood on Poitier, and in 2009 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award of the USA, by President Obama.

The EE British Academy Film Awards take place on Sunday, February 14, at the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden. Stephen Fry will be returning to host this year’s ceremony, which will be broadcast exclusively on BBC One in the UK and in all major territories around the world. On the night, www.bafta.org will feature red carpet highlights, photography and winners interviews, as well as dedicated coverage on its social networks including Facebook (/BAFTA), Twitter (@BAFTA / #EEBAFTAs), Tumblr and Instagram.

article via ebony.com

Black Victorian Photos Exhibit “Black Chronicles II” at Harvard University’s Cooper Gallery Through December

BlackJonas-and-Xiniwe-Photo-Hi_6053

“We are not what we seem.” When the iconic novelist Richard Wright wrote those words, in 1940, he was describing the African-American experience. As a stunning new exhibit at Harvard University’s Ethelbert Cooper Gallery shows, the complexity of seeing and identity took its own twists on the other side of the Atlantic when the relatively new art of photography began producing images of people of color in Victorian England.

In more than 100 photographs, including a striking set that has been lost for more than 120 years, “Black Chronicles II” reveals a mash-up of racist imagery and cultural tropes that in many ways will be familiar to American viewers — and still often reveals the timeless humanity of the subjects.

Current issues of cultural identity and self-determination are at the fore of the exhibit, says gallery executive director Vera Grant, although the works themselves were largely made from 1862 to 1899. Curated by Renée Mussai and Mark Sealy of the London-based arts agency Autograph ABP, “Black Chronicles II” was produced through original research in private collections in the United Kingdom in collaboration with the Hulton Archive, London, a division of Getty Images. Part of a larger ongoing project called “The Missing Chapter,” it is the second in a series of exhibitions dedicated to excavating archives that began in 2011 with a small showcase done in collaboration with Magnum Photos in London.

570-Black_Peter Jackson Photo Hi

Despite the anonymity of many of its subjects (research is ongoing), “Black Chronicles II” reveals the complicated nature of life for people of color in Victorian England. Ndugu M’Hali, for example, came to the public’s attention as Kalulu, the boy servant of the explorer Sir Henry Morton Stanley. In this show, he is depicted several times, in both African and Western dress, a child between cultures.

A more formal series of small portraits — largely cartes de visites, or calling cards — opens the exhibit. These include images of Sarah Forbes Bonetta, a native of West Africa who was “given” to Queen Victoria as a slave and raised as her goddaughter. In two portraits from 1862, one with her husband, she appears the essence of a calm, well-dressed Victorian lady, despite her tragic history.

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