Tag: Presidential Medal of Freedom

Cicely Tyson, 93, Will Finally Receive an Academy Award

Cicely Tyson (photo via the wrap.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to vanityfair.com, legendary actor Cicely Tyson is finally getting an Oscar. The 93-year-old, who was nominated for an Academy Award once before in 1973 for her performance in Sounder, has been announced as one of the recipients of this year’s Honorary Oscars. She’ll be recognized alongside publicist Marvin Levy and composer Lalo Schifrin. In addition, producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall will be given the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. The Governors Awards will take place on November 18.

“Choosing the honorees for its awards each year is the happiest of all the Board of Governors’ work,” Academy President John Bailey said in a statement. “And this year, its selection of five iconic artists was made with universal acclaim by the Academy’s 54 spirited governors.”

Tyson, the sole performer among the honorees, has been working in film and television since her career kicked off over six decades ago in 1957, quickly breaking boundaries with performances in projects such as The River Niger, A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ But A SandwichFried Green Tomatoes, The Help, the acclaimed miniseries Roots, and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman—a TV movie that would go on to inspire an aspiring thespian named Viola Davis. Davis and Tyson would later work together on How to Get Away with Murder. The awards Tyson has won already run the gamut: a Tony, multiple Emmys, and even a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Like the rest of her fellow awardees, this will be the first Oscar for Tyson.

Tyson was last seen publicly at the funeral of Aretha Franklin, where she performed a spoken wordadaptation of the Paul Laurence Dunbar poem “When Malindy Sings” called “When Aretha Sings.” To see it, click below:

Katherine G. Johnson Computational Facility Opens at NASA Langley Research Center

NASA Legend Katherine Johnson with Dr. Yvonne Cagle (photo by Megan Shinn via 11alive.com)

via 11alive.com

HAMPTON, Va. (WVEC) — An American treasure is being honored in Hampton. A new facility at the NASA Langley Research Center is named after Katherine Johnson. She’s the woman featured in the movie “Hidden Figures” for her inspiring work at NASA Langley. People knew the mathematician as a “human computer” who calculated America’s first space flights in the 1960s. “I liked what I was doing, I liked work,” said Katherine.

The 99-year-old worked for NASA at a time when it was extremely difficult for African-Americans — especially women — to get jobs in the science field. “My problem was to answer questions, and I did that to the best of my ability at all time,” said Katherine. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015. She said, “I was excited for something new. Always liked something new.” U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck, and “Hidden Figures” author Margot Lee Shetterly were among the dignitaries who were on hand to honor Johnson.

Governor McAuliffe said, “Thank goodness for the movie and the book that actually came out and people got to understand what this woman meant to our county. I mean she really broke down the barriers.” The Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility (CRF) is a $23 million, 37,000-square-foot energy efficient structure that consolidates five Langley data centers and more than 30 server rooms. One NASA astronaut, Doctor Yvonne Cagle, said Katherine is the reason she is an astronaut today. “This is remarkable, I mean it really shows that when you make substantive contributions like this, that resonate both on and off the planet. There’s no time like the present.” Doctor Cagle said she’s excited the new building is named after Katherine. “Thank you all, thank everyone for recognizing and bringing to light this beautiful hidden figure,” said Cagle.

The facility will enhance NASA’s efforts in modeling and simulation, big data, and analysis. Much of the work now done by wind tunnels eventually will be performed by computers like those at the CRF. NASA Deputy Director of Center Operations, Erik Weiser said, this new facility will help them with their anticipated Mars landing in 2020.

Source: NASA legend Katherine Johnson honored in Hampton | 11alive.com

Civil Rights Activist Dorothy Height to Be Honored on 2017 U.S. Postage Stamp

Dorothy Height U.S. postal stamp, 2017.
Dorothy Height U.S. postal stamp, 2017. BLACK HERITAGE: DOROTHY HEIGHT STAMP IMAGE © 2016 UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

article via theroot.com

The U.S. Postal Service just announced civil rights leader Dorothy Height will be honored as the 40th stamp in the Black Heritage Forever series. The painting of Height is based on based on a 2009 photograph shot by Lateef Mangum. Art director Derry Noyes designed the stamp.

Height was a tireless activist who dedicated her life to fighting for racial and gender equality. She lived a remarkable life that was in service to her community but African-American women in particular. Although she rarely gained the recognition granted her male contemporaries, she became one of the most influential civil rights leaders of the 20th century. She was the president of the National Council of Negro Women for forty years and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994.

In 1990, Height, along with 15 other African Americans, formed the African-American Women for Reproductive Freedom. She served as national president of Delta Sigma Theta sorority from 1947 to 1956; was the chairperson of the Executive Committee of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights; and an honored guest at the inauguration of President Barack Obama on January 20, 2009, where she was seated on stage.

Height is the 15th African American woman to appear in the series. The stamp will be available in 2017.

To read full article, go to: http://www.theroot.com/blog/the-grapevine/dorothy-height-to-be-honored-on-2017-u-s-postage-stamp/

NASA Chief Charles Bolden Celebrates Influence of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson in Vanity Fair

katherine-johnson
Katherine Johnson, photographed at Fort Monroe, in Hampton, Virginia. (Photograph by Annie Leibovitz)

article by Charles Bolden via vanityfair.com

When I was growing up, in segregated South Carolina, African-American role models in national life were few and far between. Later, when my fellow flight students and I, in training at the Naval Air Station in Meridian, Mississippi, clustered around a small television watching the Apollo 11 moon landing, little did I know that one of the key figures responsible for its success was an unassuming black woman from West Virginia: Katherine Johnson.

Hidden Figures is both an upcoming book and an upcoming movie about her incredible life, and, as the title suggests, Katherine worked behind the scenes but with incredible impact. When Katherine began at NASA, she and her cohorts were known as “human computers,” and if you talk to her or read quotes from throughout her long career, you can see that precision, that humming mind, constantly at work. She is a human computer, indeed, but one with a quick wit, a quiet ambition, and a confidence in her talents that rose above her era and her surroundings.

“In math, you’re either right or you’re wrong,” she said. Her succinct words belie a deep curiosity about the world and dedication to her discipline, despite the prejudices of her time against both women and African-Americans. It was her duty to calculate orbital trajectories and flight times relative to the position of the moon—you know, simple things. In this day and age, when we increasingly rely on technology, it’s hard to believe that John Glenn himself tasked Katherine to double-check the results of the computer calculations before his historic orbital flight, the first by an American. The numbers of the human computer and the machine matched.

To read full article, go to: Katherine Johnson, the NASA Mathematician Who Advanced Human Rights with a Slide Rule and Pencil | Vanity Fair

Taraji P. Henson to Star as Math Genius Katherine Johnson in New Film “Hidden Figures”

Taraji P. Henson (photo via zap2it.com)
Taraji P. Henson (photo via zap2it.com)

article by Dan McNary via Variety.com

“Empire” star and Golden Globes award winner Taraji P. Henson will play mathematics genius Katherine Johnson in “Hidden Figures” for Fox 2000.

The studio has been developing the adaptation of the Margot Lee Shetterly book “Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race,” to published by this fall by HarperCollins.

The story centers on Johnson, a brilliant African-American mathematician who, along with her colleagues Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson, served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history — the momentous launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, and his safe return. The three women crossed all gender, race and professional lines while embarking on the mission.

Glenn flew the Friendship 7 mission in 1962 and became the first American to orbit the Earth.  Johnson was recently honored by Barack Obama with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“St. Vincent” director Ted Melfi is attached to direct. Producers are Peter Chernin and Jenno Topping through Chernin Entertainment; Donna Gigliotti of Levantine Films; and Melfi.

Elizabeth Gabler and Marisa Paiva are overseeing the project for Fox 2000. Fox has already set a January 13, 2017 release date for “Hidden Figures.”

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

Mathematician Katherine G. Johnson, Slugger Willie Mays and the Late Shirley Chisholm to Receive Presidential Medals Of Freedom

Shirley Chisholm, Willie Mays and Katherine G. Johnson (photo via GBN)
2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom Honorees Shirley Chisholm, Willie Mays and Katherine G. Johnson (photo via GBN)

Ninety-seven-year-old Katherine G. Johnson was a pioneer in American space history.  A NASA mathematician, Johnson’s computations have influenced every major space program from Mercury through the Shuttle program.

Willie Mays, 84, who ended his esteemed baseball career with 660 home runs, became the fifth all-time record-holder in the sport.

Shirley Chisholm made history in 1968 by becoming the first African-American woman elected to Congress. She helped found the Congressional Black Caucus, ran for president in 1972, and served seven terms in the House of Representatives.

Now, they are among 17 Americans who will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the U.S., to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

President Barack Obama will present the awards on November 24 during a ceremony at the White House.

“I look forward to presenting these 17 distinguished Americans with our nation’s highest civilian honor,” the statement reads. “From public servants who helped us meet defining challenges of our time to artists who expanded our imaginations, from leaders who have made our union more perfect to athletes who have inspired millions of fans, these men and women have enriched our lives and helped define our shared experience as Americans.”

Chisholm’s medal will be presented posthumously.

Click here to read the complete list of award-winners.

article by Lynette Hollowayvia newsone.com; additions by Lori Lakin Hutcherson 

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”

R.I.P. Chicago Cubs Legend Ernie Banks, 1st Black Player in Team History

The Chicago Cubs' Ernie Banks poses in 1970. The Cubs announced Friday night that Banks had died. The team did not provide any further details. Banks was 83.
The Chicago Cubs’ Ernie Banks poses in 1970. The Cubs announced Friday night that Banks had died. The team did not provide any further details. Banks was 83

Baseball’s Chicago Cubs report that Hall of Fame shortstop Ernie Banks has died. “Mr. Cub,” who began his career in the Negro leagues, was the first black player for the team — eighth in the majors overall — and played in 14 All-Star games in his 19 seasons, all with the Cubs.

“Forty-four years after his retirement, Banks holds franchise records for hits, intentional walks and sacrifice flies and in RBIs since 1900,” MLB.com reports. “He likely holds club records for smiles and handshakes as well. … His 2,528 games are the most by anyone who never participated in postseason play. Chicago never held him responsible for that and believed he deserved better.”

Banks, who was 83, was named National League MVP in 1958 and 1959, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.

His back-to-back MVP awards were among the few given to players on losing teams, notes The Associated Press:

“Banks’ best season came in 1958, when he hit .313 with 47 homers and 129 RBIs. Though the Cubs went 72-82 and finished sixth in the National League, Banks edged Willie Mays and Hank Aaron for his first MVP award. He was the first player from a losing team to win the NL MVP.

“Banks won the MVP again in 1959, becoming the first NL player to win it in consecutive years, even though the Cubs had another dismal year. Banks batted .304 with 45 homers and a league-leading 143 RBIs.”

article by Christopher Dean Hopkins via npr.org

First Black PGA Golfer Charles L. Sifford Earns Presidential Medal of Freedom

Known as the “Jackie Robinson of Golf” because of his strides in breaking through golf’s stiff racial barriers, Sifford provided counsel to Robinson during his climb up to fame. His words of wisdom came from walking a path of resistance from showing interest in goals as a young boy in Charlotte, N.C.

Caddying while practicing his skills, Jim Crow laws prevented Sifford from advancing beyond gopher status. His determination to make golf dreams come true garnered death threats even after the PGA banned its Whites only clause. Today, Sifford boasts a Honorary Doctor of Law Degree by the University of St. Andrews given to him  in 2006. And he is the third golf pro to receive the Medal of Freedom after Arnold Palmer in 2004 and Jack Nicklaus in 2005. Sifford was voted in by a panel of sporting who’s who including congressional politicians and athletes like Tiger Woods, Alonzo Mourning, Bill Russell and Jim Brown.

“The PGA of America joins our friends throughout sports today in paying tribute to Dr. Charles Sifford upon receiving this prestigious honor,” said PGA of America Interim President Derek Sprague. “The hard-fought efforts and perseverance of Dr. Sifford continue to inspire our industry to evolve and elevate all efforts in diversity and inclusion. We must be mindful and proactive in creating meaningful opportunities for everyone to participate in this great sport.”

article by Raqiyah Mays via blackenterprise.com