Tag: Mississippi

Agnes Fenton of Englewood, NJ Turns 110, Has “Nothing to Complain About”

God and Johnnie Walker Blue are the keys to longevity says Agnes Fenton, who turns 110 years old on Saturday. Fenton still lives in her own home in Englewood.
God and Johnnie Walker Blue are the keys to longevity says Agnes Fenton, who turned 110 years old on Saturday. Fenton still lives in her own home in Englewood. NJ. (AMY NEWMAN/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

“The birthday is just another day,” Agnes Fenton whispered, pooh-poohing the milestone she reaches Saturday.  Fenton, who has a lovely face, celebrated No. 110.

And just like that, the beloved Englewood resident — who has extolled the wonders of Miller High Life and Johnnie Walker — punched her ticket into the ultra-exclusive “supercentenarian” club.

Of the 7 billion people on the planet, a microscopic number are 110 or older. Robert Young, director of the Gerontology Research Group, which keeps track of supercentenarians, estimates 600. Dr. Thomas Perls, founding director of the New England Centenarian Study at Boston University School of Medicine, of which Fenton is a participant, puts the number at 360.

That means roughly 1 in every 10 million people in the world is a supercentenarian.  Which makes Agnes Fenton special.  Just don’t tell her that.

When a reporter visited her in the run-up to the big birthday, Fenton answered “lousy” when asked how she felt.  But she warmed to the conversation and emphasized that God is the reason she’s lived this long.

“When I was 100 years old, I went to the mirror to thank God that I was still here. And I thank him every morning,” she said in a voice one must strain to hear. She sat in a wheelchair at the kitchen table in her green-shingled, Cape Cod-style home near Route 4.

“He gave me a long life and a good life, and I have nothing to complain about. … You’ve got to have God in your life. Without God, you’ve got nothing.”

Agnes Fenton was born Agnes Jones on Aug. 1, 1905, in Holly Springs, Miss. She spent her early years in Memphis and ran a restaurant there called Pal’s Duck Inn. Fenton, who has no children, came north to Englewood in the 1950s with her second husband, Vincent Fenton. She worked as a cafeteria manager for a magazine publisher, then as a nanny. Her husband, whom she called “Fenton,” died in 1970.

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Will Smith and Jay Z To Produce HBO Mini-Series About Emmett Till

Will Smith and Jay Z found success when they signed on as producers for the Broadway musical Fela, and now the two will team up again to produce an HBO mini series about Emmett Till.

Entertainment Weekly reports the two, along with Jay Brown, James Lassiter, and Aaron Kaplan are executive producing the untitled mini series. Till was a 14 year-old from Chicago sent to spend the summer in Mississippi. One evening, Till was kidnapped from his bedroom and savagely beaten by white men because he whistled at a white woman. At Till’s funeral, his mother Mamie had an open casket to showcase the brutality of her son’s death.

Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, the men responsible for Till murder, were found not guilty of their crimes, but later publicly admitted their involvment. Currently there are no writers for the mini series or an expected release date.

Earlier this year, famed film critic Roger Ebert‘s widow, Chaz Ebert, announced her own Emmett Till project.  We are not sure if both these Till projects will see the light of day, but we certainly hope so.  The more the history of African Americans is explored, and this particular turning point in the early struggle for racial justice and civil rights, the better.

R.I.P. Grammy Award-Winning Blues Master and Musical Legend B.B. King

(Photo: Associated Press)

B. B. King, whose world-weary voice and wailing guitar lifted him from the cotton fields of Mississippi to a global stage and the apex of American blues, died Thursday in Las Vegas. He was 89.

His death was reported early Friday by The Associated Press, citing his lawyer, Brent Bryson, and by CNN, citing his daughter, Patty King.

Mr. King married country blues to big-city rhythms and created a sound instantly recognizable to millions: a stinging guitar with a shimmering vibrato, notes that coiled and leapt like an animal, and a voice that groaned and bent with the weight of lust, longing and lost love.

“I wanted to connect my guitar to human emotions,” Mr. King said in his autobiography, “Blues All Around Me” (1996), written with David Ritz.

In performances, his singing and his solos flowed into each other as he wrung notes from the neck of his guitar, vibrating his hand as if it were wounded, his face a mask of suffering. Many of the songs he sang — like his biggest hit, “The Thrill Is Gone” (“I’ll still live on/But so lonely I’ll be”) — were poems of pain and perseverance.

The music historian Peter Guralnick once noted that Mr. King helped expand the audience for the blues through “the urbanity of his playing, the absorption of a multiplicity of influences, not simply from the blues, along with a graciousness of manner and willingness to adapt to new audiences and give them something they were able to respond to.”

B. B. stood for Blues Boy, a name he took with his first taste of fame in the 1940s. His peers were bluesmen like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, whose nicknames fit their hard-bitten lives. But he was born a King, albeit in a sharecropper’s shack surrounded by dirt-poor laborers and wealthy landowners.

Mr. King went out on the road and never came back after one of his first recordings reached the top of the rhythm-and-blues charts in 1951. He began in juke joints, country dance halls and ghetto nightclubs, playing 342 one-night stands in 1956 and 200 to 300 shows a year for a half-century thereafter, rising to concert halls, casino main stages and international acclaim.

He was embraced by rock ’n’ roll fans of the 1960s and ’70s, who remained loyal as they grew older together. His playing influenced many of the most successful rock guitarists of the era, including Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix. Continue reading “R.I.P. Grammy Award-Winning Blues Master and Musical Legend B.B. King”

Tree Planted at the U.S. Capitol in Memory of Emmett Till

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The Capitol building sits on a 59-acre park that includes hundreds of trees.  The newest, a sycamore, was planted Monday, in memory of a black teenager who, nearly 60 years ago, was murdered for whistling at a white woman, helped spark the civil rights movement.

imagesHis name was Emmett Till.

On August 28th, 1955, the Chicago teen was taken by a group of white men from his great-uncle’s home while visiting Money, Miss. His shot and battered body was found three days later in a nearby river. Two white men were acquitted. At Till’s funeral, his mother Mamie proclaimed: Let the world see what they did to my boy.

Fifty thousand people filed by his open casket.

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A plaque is seen at the base of a tree planted in honor of Emmett Till on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, 11/17114. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson says Till’s murder served as a catalyst for supporters of civil rights.

“All those people who are about his age, you are about 14 in 1955, then became the front ranks of the civil rights movement,” said Nelson.

Perhaps this young American Sycamore Tree will help keep Till’s memory alive.

article by Elaine Quijano via cbsnews.com

R.I.P. “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” Singer and Motown Veteran Jimmy Ruffin

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NEW YORK — Jimmy Ruffin, the Motown singer whose hits include What Becomes of the Brokenhearted and Hold on to My Love, died Monday in a Las Vegas hospital. He was 78.

Philicia Ruffin and Jimmy Lee Ruffin Jr., the late singer’s children, confirmed Wednesday that Ruffin had died. There were no details about the cause of death.

Ruffin was the older brother of Temptations lead singer David Ruffin, who died in 1991 at age 50.

Jimmy Lee Ruffin was born on May 7, 1936, in Collinsville, Miss. He was signed to Berry Gordy‘s Motown Records and had a string of hits in the 1960s, including What Becomes of the Brokenhearted, which was a Top 10 pop hit. He had his second Top 10 hit, Hold on to My Love, in 1980.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Sara Gibbs, a Nurse Who Adopted Baby Left On A Doorstep, Sends Her to College 18 Years Later

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Thinking she’d never become a mom, single nurse Sara Gibbs decided to adopt the newborn girl abandoned on the doorstep of a Corinth, Mississippi, doctor’s office. Eighteen years later, Gibbs is sending her adoptive daughter, Janessa, to college.

“I was single. I worked night shift. I worked 12-hour-nights,” says Gibbs. “There was nothing in my life that had prepared me for a baby.”

Gibbs says she wasn’t even on the schedule for work that day, but she was called in and among one of the first responders.  “I feel like it was divine intervention, it had to be, because I wasn’t even supposed to be there,” she says.

But with help from her pastor and her hospital friends, she found the courage to adopt Janessa.  “She always tells me that whoever my mother is did it for her,” Janessa says.  “She’s the best mom ever,” she adds of Gibbs. “She’s always been my mom.”

Janessa heads to college in the fall.

To see video of this story, click here.

article by Teronda Seymore via clutchmagonline.com

Robin Roberts to Receive Walter Cronkite Journalism Award for Excellence from ASU

Robin Roberts“Good Morning America’’ co-anchor Robin Roberts will receive the 2014 Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism from Arizona State University’s Cronkite School.

The university announced that Roberts will receive the award during an Oct. 6 luncheon in Phoenix, reports the AP. Past winners include Bernard Shaw, Tom Brokaw, Diane Sawyer, Jane Pauley, Brian Williams and Helen Thomas.

Cronkite School Dean Christopher Callahan says Roberts has made outstanding contributions to journalism and demonstrated great personal courage.

The Mississippi native, a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University, faced public battles with breast cancer in 2007 and a bone marrow disorder in 2012. She worked for several radio and television stations and ESPN before being named co-anchor of ABC’s ‘‘Good Morning America’’ in 2005.

article via eurweb.com

Oscar Winner Mo’Nique Returns To Screen In Independent Film “Blackbird”

Mo'Nique 2009 OscarsIn her first screen starring turn since the ferocious portrayal as an abusive mother in 2009′s Precious won her the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, Mo’Nique has joined Isaiah Washington in the Patrik-Ian Polk-directed Blackbird, an adaptation of the novel by Larry Duplechan. Washington took the lead in this indie last fall off his starring role as the DC sniper in Blue Caprice earned him a Gotham Award nomination. The film just shot in Hattiesburg, MS.

is__130909161142Mo’Nique is also executive producer with her husband, Sidney Hicks, through Hicks Media. Newcomer Julian Walker plays the star singer in the church choir who feels like a misfit in his high school and struggles with his sexual awakening and the realization he is gay, something that doesn’t land well in a religiously conservative small Mississippi town. This coincides with his younger sister going missing and his parents splitting up. Mo’Nique plays another character who’s not going to win mother of the year awards: the youth’s heartbroken mom, who blames her son’s lifestyle revelation for his sister going missing. Washington plays his supportive father trying his best to help his son’s transition to manhood.

Blackbird is a film about the choices people are forced to make as they struggle to figure out how to be themselves,” Hicks said. “And why should just being who you are be a struggle? Since Mo’Nique won the Oscar, we have received a flood of scripts, but nothing captured our attention until Isaiah — who we have a high level of respect for — sent us Blackbird. We became instant fans of Patrik-Ian Polk and knew we had to get behind this important film.”

Polk is producing through Tall Skinny Black Boy Productions, Keith Brown through Kbiz Entertainment, Washington through his Coalhouse Productions, and Carol Ann Shine. Terrell Tilford, Gary L. Gray, Kevin Allesee, Torrey Laamar, Nikki Jane and D. Woods round out the cast. Worldwide sales for the film are being handled by Hicks Media and attorney Ricky Anderson of Anderson & Smith.

article by Mike Fleming Jr. via Deadline.com

Natasha Trethewey Appointed to a Second Term as Poet Laureate of the United States

Natasha TretheweyNatasha Trethewey, the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University in Atlanta, was reappointed to another term as Poet Laureate of the United States. She is also serving a four-year term as the poet laureate of the state of Mississippi.

James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress, stated, “The Library and the country are fortunate Natasha Trethewey will continue her work as Poet Laureate. Natasha’s first term was a resounding success, and we could not be more thrilled with her plans for the coming year.”

Professor Trethewey is the author of four collections of poetry. Her collection, Native Guard, won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize. Her fourth collection, Thrall, was published late last year by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. She is also the author of Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast (University of Georgia Press, 2010).

A native of Gulfport, Mississippi, Professor Trethewey is a graduate of the University of Georgia. She holds a master’s degree from Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia, and a master of fine arts degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

article via jbhe.com

Born On This Day in 1925: Civil Rights Activist and Veteran Medgar Evers

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The life of Medgar Evers was cut far too short 50 years ago, when the civil rights activist and war veteran was assassinated at just 37-years-old by a White supremacist. Although Evers would not live to see the Civil Rights Movement blossom, he helped plant early seeds of change in the Deep South that eventually took hold.  Born in the small town of Decatur, Miss., on July 2, 1925, Evers was one of five children to his parents,James and Jesse.

The family lived on a small farm, while James worked in a nearby sawmill. Young Medgar would have to walk 12 miles to school each day, eventually earning his high school diploma. In 1943, Evers was drafted into the U.S. Army and fought in World War II in the countries of France and Germany. Discharged honorably in 1946 after earning the rank of sergeant, Evers entered into Alcorn College (now Alcorn State University) to study business administration.

During his senior year, Evers would marry fellow student Myrlie Beasley (now Evers-Williams) and the couple went on to have three children, DarrellReena, and James. Evers graduated from Alcorn College in 1952. The young couple moved to Mound Bayou in Mississippi, and Evers worked for notable civil rights activist T.R.M. Howard as an insurance salesman. Evers also served as the president of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL). The RCNL staged boycotts in the state against gas stations that denied Black patrons from using their restrooms.

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