Chance the Rapper has some major news. The rapper and his new production company, Social Function Productions have reportedly signed on to produce a concert in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics. The concert will reportedly include performances by the legendary Smokey Robinson, Jason Mraz, O.A.R., and more.
Chano announced the news on social media on Thursday (June 14). “I’m happy to announce that my new production company SFP and I are producing the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics here in Chicago,” he wrote, along with an official concert poster.
Chance reportedly announced the launch of his Social Functions Productions company only a few days before the concert news was revealed. It’s unclear of what other projects the company has in the works, but it will likely fuse Chance’s interests in music and philanthropy.
The Special Olympics will officially be held in Seattle on July 1, but the concert will kick off in Chance’s hometown of Chicago on July 21. You can purchase tickets to the concert here.
An Amazon engineer hailing from Detroit has a novel idea for that city’s unused school buses: turn them into mobile tech labs.
Thomas Phillips presented his idea at last month’s Hack the Central District Cultural Innovation Conference (Hack the CD) in Seattle, according to The Detroit Metro Times. The Aspire Tech Bus would be a school bus modified into a mobile tech lab. In this lab, students will work on coding projects as an actual software development team.
The planned curriculum includes two 16-week courses, in total. The mobile lab students will receive a Raspberry Pi computer. By the end of the program, they will have a portfolio of coding projects to present to potential employers.
“I envision this project as a ‘high-tech, voc-tech,’” he says, as giving students high-tech skills before college will better position them for success. “Some of them will choose to pursue their education further at the college/ university level, others will venture into the entrepreneurial sector. Both of these have far reaching implications that reverberate across the world,” said Phillips at the event.
Phillips’s project has already attracted attention, and he will soon launch a Kickstarter campaign for more support. “I want to drive around to different locations in the city and teach web development or other advanced STEM programming concepts to kids in Detroit,” he said in an interview. His goal is to eventually roll out his program to other underserved communities and school districts.
Comcast and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced a joint effort to deliver Internet access to public housing in Florida’s Miami-Dade County and the cities of Nashville, Philadelphia, and Seattle.
The program is called Internet Essentials. It includes high-speed Internet service with download speeds up to 10 Mbps, a free Wi-Fi router, access to free digital literacy training, and the option to purchase a computer for less than $150.
The initiative is part of the President Obama and HUD ConnectHome program to extend affordable broadband access to families living in HUD-assisted housing.Today’s announcement marks the eighth time in five years Comcast has expanded eligibility for the program in the company’s efforts to aid in closing the digital divide.
Initially, Internet Essentials was offered to families with children in the National School Lunch Program. It was then expanded to those with children in the reduced price school lunch program. Since, Comcast has expanded the program to include families with children in parochial, private, charter, and cyber schools, as well as students who are home-schooled.
Last year, Comcast created a pilot program to offers the service to low-income seniors and low-income community college students.
The University of Washington School of Law has established a new fellows program aimed at increasing diversity at the law school and the legal profession. The Christine Gregoire Fellows Program, named after the former governor of the State of Washington, will choose nine students from underrepresented groups this year. The students will receive paid summer internships at local law firms or in the legal departments of area corporations after completing their first year of law school. The fellows will participate in a mentoring program led by Governor Gregoire, and will receive training to help them pass the Washington State bar examination.
Kellye Testy, dean of the University of Washington School of Law, said that “if we are to realize our goal of leadership for the global common good and of creating a legal profession as diverse as our society’s makeup, we need to encourage more underrepresented students to enter the legal profession. This innovative partnership will help us better reach students who are currently pursuing other paths. Moreover, by enhancing diversity in our classrooms we will enhance our academic excellence for all students.”
J. California Cooper, an award-winning writer whose black female characters confront a world of indifference and betrayal, but find kinship there in unexpected places, died on September 20th in Seattle. She was 82. A spokesman for Random House, her publisher, confirmed her death. She had had several heart attacks in recent years.
Ms. Cooper won an American Book Award in 1989 for the second of her six story collections, “Homemade Love.” Her short story “Funny Valentines,” about a woman in a troubled marriage who repairs an old rift with a cousin when she moves back home, was turned into a 1999 television movie starring Alfre Woodard and Loretta Devine.
Writing in a vernacular first-person style, Ms. Cooper set her stories in an indeterminate rural past permeated with violence and the ghost of slavery. The African-American women she depicts endure abandonment, betrayal, rape and social invisibility, but they survive.
“Some Soul to Keep” (1987), her third collection, includes over-the-back-fence tales. One story tells of two women who become close friends after one woman’s husband dies and the other’s leaves. They learn that long-lived rumors of their dislike for each other had been fabricated by their husbands. Another story is about a blind girl who is raped by her minister, gives birth to his son and raises him alone because, she explains, he makes her forget she is blind.
Ms. Cooper’s 1991 novel, “Family,” one of five she wrote, is narrated by the ghost of a slave woman who committed suicide before the Civil War and who follows the lives of her descendants as they mingle and procreate in a new interracial world, marveling at how “from one woman all these different colors and nationalities could come into being.”
Ms. Cooper was clear about the religious values that informed her stories. “I’m a Christian,” she told The Washington Post in 2000. “That’s all I am. If it came down to Christianity and writing, I’d let the writing go. God is bigger than a book.”
In an interview on NPR in 2006, she said, “What I’m basically trying to do is help somebody make some right choices.”
The City of Seattle officially broke ground on a long-awaited park in honor of former resident, Jimi Hendrix. Jimi Hendrix Park will be a memorial garden encompassing two-and-a-half acres in the city’s Central District.
The park’s organizers, the Jimi Hendrix Park Foundation, have raised over $1million for the project and say they envision the land as being “a place where people of different backgrounds will find the motivation to explore music and art, while celebrating Seattle’s cultural heritage,” according to Rolling Stone.
The guitar legend’s sister, Janie Hendrix, who is also the president and CEO of Experience Hendrix – the company that manages the singer’s estate, said: “Every project endorsed by our family which bears Jimi’s name is meaningful to us, but this park holds special significance.
“Seattle will always be Jimi’s home. This very area is where Jimi grew up, where his dreams cultivated and his creative energy awakened, in many ways. So to see this amazing place of beauty, dedicated to Jimi and his artistry, blossom into reality is indescribably fulfilling.
“Having been involved in every facet of the park’s creation, I can honestly say that this musical garden is a fitting representation of Jimi’s imagination. It is truly inspired.”
The concept for the park was first announced by the organization in 2011 and was intended for completion in time for what would’ve been the singer’s 70th birthday the following year. It is believed the bulk of construction work is set to take place next year.
Think of trailblazing black TV shows, and The Cosby Show immediately comes to mind. But before the Cliff Huxtable, there was Fat Albert, Bill Cosby’s beloved animated creation that became famous for his catchphrase, “Hey, hey, hey!” Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids began airing in 1972, around the same time that other cartoons and animated shows finally began featuring black characters that weren’t all embodiments of negative stereotypes. “It wasn’t until the early 1970’s that Saturday Morning television cartoons started to feature image affirming Black characters with a modern look and positive story lines that delivered culturally relevant messages,” writes Pamela Thomas, aka SistaToFunky, on the website of her online Museum of UnCut Funk.
The museum, which I discovered thanks to a recent NPR story, is a treasure trove of African-American pop cultural artifacts and ephemera, from Blaxploitation movie posters to black comic books. Perhaps the most extensive is the black animation collection, which includes extensive explanatory texts, YouTube links, and original production cels and drawings. Thomas, who has a degree in black history from City College and is a former art dealer, focuses not just on shows with all-black casts, like Fat Albert and The Jackson 5ive cartoon, but on black characters that popped up in other shows, like Josie and the Pusscats’ Valerie Brown, whom she dubs the “first positive Black female character in a Saturday morning cartoon series”; and the “first Black male superhero character in a Saturday morning cartoon,” Schoolhouse Rock’s Verb (“I can question like: What is it? / Verb, you’re so demanding,” the song goes).
Saying it has an obligation to prepare students for a more global society, the University of Washington will require undergrads to complete a course in some area of diversity — economic, cultural or political — before they can graduate.
The new policy, initiated by a group of mostly minority students, followed three failed attempts over the past 22 years to introduce changes meant to ensure that all graduating students know a little more about other cultures and people who differ from them than they did when they first arrived.
The three-credit course won’t add to the number of hours students now need to obtain a bachelor’s degree. And it won’t apply to current undergrads, only to the incoming class in the year the policy takes effect — possibly next fall. Helen Fillmore, a graduating senior majoring in environmental science and resource management, is a member of First Nations @ UW and of the UW Students for Diversity Coalition, which began pushing for these changes nearly three years ago.
Quincy Jones wants to improve our children’s music education and so the famed composer-producer has partnered up with app creator Chris Vance to launch Playground Sessions. The application will teach users how to read and play piano music with tutorials from pianist David Sides. Adults and children will receive real-time feedback as they attempt to master any of the 70 popular songs from artists like Beyoncé, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry included in the program. There’s “such a need for this,” Jones said. “The concept is brand new. I have been praying for this for a long time. It has a learning concept similar to Rosetta Stone. I’m blown away by this.”
Jones also added that children in the United States are behind other kids when it comes to music education and that Playground Sessions will give them an edge. Jones’ alma mater, Garfield High School in Seattle, will be one of the first to introduce the app to its students.
The 44th Annual Coretta Scott King Awards for children’s literature were held Monday at the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in Seattle. “Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America” by Andrea Pinkney and Brian Pinkney won the Author Award.
Bryan Collier received the Illustration Award for the cover art of the Langston Hughes poem “I, Too, Am America.” Other books honored included “No Crystal Stair,” by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and “Ellen’s Broom” by Kelly Starling Lyons and Daniel Minter.
The Coretta Scott King Awards are given annually to African-American authors and illustrators of outstanding young adult and children books about the black experience. For a full list of the 2013 winners, click here.