The first Black actress to earn a lead dramatic Emmy will bring another pioneering Black woman, Shirley Chisholm, to life on screen.
Deadline reported yesterday (November 29) that Viola Davis will produce and star in “The Fighting Shirley Chisholm.” This will be the “Widows” star’s first project under the first look deal that JuVee Productions, the company she co-heads with husband Julius Tennon, recently signed with Amazon Studios. Davis confirmed the project today (November 30) by retweeting JuVee’s tweet with one of the late Democratic politician’s quotes:
"If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair." Love you Ms. Chisholm. Unbought and Unbossed!!!♥️ https://t.co/Be0bWlXeWb
Black women wanting to enact positive change is nothing new. But “Grabbing Back” is a particularly inspiring project given the recent uptick in African-American women’s political ambitions. Black women are showing up — exemplified when the nation witnessed the astounding turnout and overwhelming support of 98 percent of black female voters for Democrat Doug Jones, turning Alabama’s senate seat blue for the first time in twenty five years. Inspired by this historic move, filmmakers Pamela French, Shareen Anderson and Wendy Missan have turned their lens toward the powerful movement of African American women across the nation wanting to make a difference and a run for office.
According to the Washington Post, nineteen black women hold seats in Congress, including one in the Senate. An additional two black women are non-voting delegates in the House. Three black women hold statewide offices, including lieutenant governors in Kentucky and New Jersey. And in 2017, voters in New Orleans and Charlotte made history by electing black women as mayor. A film chronicling the journey of African American women seeking office is certain to inspire.
“Grabbing Back” shadows Tanzie Youngblood, Tamara Harris and Rev. Dr. Stephany Rose Spaulding, three determined first-time congressional candidates from New Jersey and Colorado. Youngblood, a retired schoolteacher and widow, was motivated, like many women running today, by the present-day political climate and Hillary Clinton’s defeat. “With what’s going on now, I have to get involved,” Youngblood said. “People say things need to be done. I’m actually doing something.” Since she got off the sidelines and announced her congressional bid for New Jersey’s 2nd District, Youngblood has gained some serious recognition both from her constituents and the media; Tanzie was one of the “Avengers” on the Time Magazine’s January 2018 cover story. And in a recent Newsweek article, Youngblood explains one of her biggest challenges is getting her own party’s support, “I’ve been very loyal to this party, but I don’t feel the loyalty back. They don’t see the value in a candidate like me,” Youngblood said.
Like Youngblood, Tamara Harris who is running in New Jersey’s 11th district, says she “became severely concerned for our democracy. What I realized was that if I didn’t step up…the foundations that underpin the advocacy that I care about so much would be under attack and greatly at risk.” Harris brings a tremendous wealth of attributes to her candidacy as a children’s and family advocate and former businesswoman with international finance experience.
Rev. Dr. Stephany Rose Spaulding sees her run for office as yet another call to service. As an educator, a person of faith, and an active member of the community, Spaulding hopes to genuinely represent and serve her constituency to bring inclusion, innovation, and a voice to each person in Colorado’s Congressional District 5. The electrifying International Women’s March drew huge numbers of people and convinced her CO5 deserves a new, fresh representative who will be responsive to the unique needs and concerns of the people.
In addition to the three main candidates, “Grabbing Back” will season the film series with three other formidable women also seeking a seat at the table: Navy Veteran Pam Keith from Florida’s 18th District; Councilor Ayanna Pressley (who was first elected to the Boston City Council in 2009 and is the first woman of color ever elected to the Council) and Shion Fenty, a Republican from Virginia’s 4th District. The filmmakers feel that the story wouldn’t be fairly told without crossing the aisle to include a Republican candidate. Shion believes, “The 4th District deserves a representative in Washington who will fight to empower our communities and our families to chart their own path in achieving the lives they’ve envisioned for their families. That is why I am running for Congress.”
You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas. – Shirley Chisholm
It is fitting and not lost on the filmmakers that this year marks the 50th anniversary of Shirley Chisholm’s election to the House in 1968 as an “Unbought and Unbossed” reformer from Brooklyn. She was the first black woman elected to the United States Congress and she represented New York’s 12th Congressional District for seven terms from 1968 to 1983. In 1972, she announced her groundbreaking campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. As the first black woman to run for president for a major political party, Chisholm was making history. While her bid for the top job at the White House was short-lived, the symbolism of her run is as powerful today as it was then. She was a pioneer for her generation, a woman of many firsts: the first African American Congresswoman, the first African American to run for President, and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
For more information about the project (and to see a great trailer for “Grabbing Back”) click here:
Tony Award-winning actress Anika Noni Rosewill produce as well as starin a film about Shirley Chisholm, the first woman ever to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination and the first major-party black candidate for President of the United States.
In 1968, she became the first African-American elected to Congress.
The film was first announced in 2010 with Viola Davis attached to the project, but a producer of the project has confirmed Rose’s attachment to the project, which is currently in development.
The event attracted a bevy of black Hollywood stars, who celebrated the legacy of King and other black historical icons. Some stars paid tribute through musical performances, like India.Arie, who praised Shirley Chisholm. Others, including Rock, gave powerful recitals.
Rock, who will host the Oscars next month, read the words to Baldwin’s widely praised 1963 letter, “My Dungeon Shook.” Watch Rock’s full performance (he takes the stage around the 1:44 mark) by clicking here.
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
Women of the storied African-American sorority Delta Sigma Theta flooded a Senate hearing room on Wednesday to support their fellow sorority sister and Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch.
Lynch, who is set to face a tough hearing for the post, started a chapter of the sorority at Harvard with current Attorney General Eric Holder’s wife, Sharon Malone. Though the connection was seen as controversial to members of the right-wing media, her sorority sisters proudly donned the organization’s signature colors—crimson and cream—in the hearing room.
The sorority was founded in 1913 at Washington, D.C.’s Howard University on tenets of empowerment, justice, and community service. Several current and former members of Congress are members, including Reps. Joyce Beatty and Marcia Fudge of Ohio, Rep. Yvette Clark of New York, and former Congresswomen Barbara Jordan and Shirley Chisholm.
On November 5th 1968, Shirley Chisholmbecame the first black woman elected to Congress. She represented New York’s 12th District and went on to maintain that seat for seven terms until 1983. Born in New York the daughter of West Indian parents, Chisholm was known for using her political career to fight for social justice and education. In 1969, Chisholm became one of the founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus. She then went on to become the first African American to make a bid to become President of the United States — running for a Democratic nomination in 1972.
Chisholm died in 2005, however in 2004 she said about her legacy, “I want history to remember me not just as the first black woman to be elected to Congress, not as the first black woman to have made a bid for the presidency of the United States, but as a black woman who lived in the 20th century and dared to be herself.”