Friday, September 01, 2017

Friday Information on September 1, 2017

Black Excellence flourished continuously from 2010 to our time. On February 14, 2010, The New Press published Michelle Alexander’s book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindess.” This book is historic as it exposes once again the disproportionate enforcement of harsh drug laws against black people (which causes economic dislocation and social problems in many families of the black community). It appeared on the NY Times bestseller list for 10 months. Sister Michelle Alexander exposes the current prison industrial complex as a New Jim Crow which disenfranchises minorities. America has only 5 percent of the world’s population, but about 25 percent of the world’s prisoners are Americans. Nearly 40 percent of U.S. prisoners are African Americans. Many felons can’t vote even after they have paid their debt to society and even if they have a nonviolent drug offense. The Movie Precious received many accolades and nominations. Mo-Nique wins best supporting actress for her role as Mary Lee Johnson (the mother of Precious played by Gabourey Sidibe). Mo’Nique congratulated Miss Hattie McDaniel for her sacrifice and courage.  In March 14, 2010, Disney officially coronated its first African American Disney Princess named Tiana. On April 26, 2010 the revival of August Wilson’s Tony award winning play Fences opened at the Cort Theater on Broadway in New York City. African Americans Kenny Leon was the director and Denzel Washington was the lead role of Troy Maxon. Troy Maxon was a former Negro League player who is confronting his mortality as a worker in Pittsburgh. James Earl Jones had the role in 1987.

Both Denzel Washington and Viola Davis (who plays the wife of Troy name Rose) won Tonys for Leading Actor and Leading Actress in a Play. Leon continued to create plays and win awards. On February of 2011, the 53rd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles have Carolina Chocolate Drops win the Best Traditional Folk Album with their album. The group was based in Durham, North Carolina. Rhimain Giddens traveled into Gambia in 2006 to study West African music. He is the lead vocalist in the group. In 2011, the Oprah Winfrey Show aired its final episode after 25 years. She launched OWN or the Oprah Winfrey Network in 2011. Tyler Perry in 2011 increases his influence as the first African American to own his own major television and film studio (the Atlanta based Tyler Perry Studios). In January of 2012, the biracial duo of  Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele debut their show Key & Peele that deals with race, relationships, comedy, sex, and life in general. In February of 2012, Octavia Spencer won Best Supporting Actress in an Oscar for the role of Minny Jackson in the film The Help. Shonda Rhimes’ created the network drama Scandal starring Kerry Washington. It was the first time in more than thirty years that a black woman has been cast as the lead in a drama. Rhimes’ production company of Shondaland ran Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away with Murder, etc. This year of 2012 represented a new era of TV in which new shows not only show racial complexities, but more complex story lines including the group of web-based TV institutions like Netflix. Fred Luter Jr. on June 19, 2012 became the first African American president of the Southern Baptist Convention. The SBC is the largest Protestant body in America. Luter helped to rebuild his church after the Katrina disaster. On July 2012, 49 year old Donald Thompson was the first black President of the McDonald Corporation. On August 2, 2012, then 16 year old Gabby Douglas was the first black female to win the individual all around gold medal in the women’s gymnastics at the Summer Games in London. The 2012 London Olympics featured record accomplishments from those of black African descent. On November 2012, Barack Obama became the first African American to be re-elected in American history. The last of the Scotssboro Boys were pardoned by the Board of Alabama Pardons and Paroles on April 4, 2013. Orange is the New Black premiered on the futuristic video steaming outlet Netflix in 2013. It has many African Americans are in the prison series.

By September 17, 2013, Glenn H. Hutchins donated $15 million to build the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University. Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was its inaugural director. The movie Fruitvale Station, which is about the last hours of Oscar Grant’s life in 2013 won acclaim and awards. The historic film 12 Years a Slave shows graphic violence and the reality of slavery. It is a movie about the 1853 memoir of Solomon Northrup (who was a free black man from New York. He was kidnapped and sent into slavery in Louisiana before he finds freedom from bondage). The actor Chiwetel Ejiofo and actress Lupita Nyong’o achieve great awards (by 2014). In 2014, John W. Thompson is the chairman of Microsoft. In 2014, Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson (or the director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City) presented a 13 episode documentary series called Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey on the Fox network. Tyson met Carl Sagan (the creator of the original 1980 Cosmos) before. Lupita Nyong’o was named People as the Most Beautiful woman in the world. She has won the Oscar in 2014. Lupita represents the total refutation of colorism and she has a beautiful intellectual personality and spirit. Her dark skin complexion is not only beautiful, but glorious. Kara Walker released the phoenix structure of the “A Sutelty or the Marvelous Sugar Baby” which wants to expose how evil economic and sexual exploitation of black women is. On April 5, 2014, Maya Angelou smiled at the unveiling of her portrait at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. On June of 2014, theater star and great vocalist Audra McDonald was the first performer to win 6 Tony Awards for acting. She played the legendary blues singer Billie Holiday in the play of “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.” Audra McDonald publicly acknowledge the excellence of those who came before her by saying, “I am standing on Lean Horne’s shoulders. I am standing on Maya Angelou’s shoulders. I am standing on Diahann Carroll and Ruby Dee, and most of all, Billie Holiday.” Norm Lewis (a black man) was in Broadways’ Phantom of the Opera and Keke Palmer (a black woman) played in Hammerstein’s Cinderella. By August 25, 2014, then 13 year old Mo’Ne Davis was the first female pitcher to earn a win in the Little League World Series. She is shown on the Sports Illustrated magazine. She is the first girl to pitch a shutout a Little League postseason game.

By September 30, 2014, the African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross” was released. It is Henry Louis Gates’ six part, six hour documentary about the five hundred year history of African Americans. It won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Historical Program, Long Form. The documentary won the Peabody Award, the Alfred I. DuPont Columbia University Award, and an NAACP Image Award. By 2014, Mia Love was the first African Ameircan woman Republican in Congress from Utah. Tim Scott of South Carolina was the first African American senator to serve Congress from the South since Blanche K. Bruce left office in 1881. Bruce was from Mississippi. Proposition 47 was passed in California (by November of 2014) which reduced many felonies that was used to reduce mass incarceration among minority communities. On December 25, 2014, Selma the movie is released. It was directed by Ava DuVernay. Selma was a film about the voting rights campaign in Selma, Alabama which resulted in the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The movie featured Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s and many unsung heroes’ actions. Many people at the film’s premier in New York City, the cast posed in “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts on the steps of the New York Public Library. They wanted to show solidarity with the movement against police brutality and for racial justice. Selma won many awards. The soundtrack had the song “Glory” done by Common and John Legend, which becomes a soundtrack for the new generation of social activists and African Americans in general. By February and March of 2015, remembrances exist about the 50th year anniversary of the Selma movement including Bloody Sunday. This comes after the Ferguson rebellion and other events. John Lewis, President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and other people gather to commemorate the sacrifice of those who fought for human rights. On May of 2015, the musician Akon announced that his foundation Akon Lighting Africa will cause the first solar academy to Africa called the Solektra Solar Academy (which will help people develop solar technology skills). On November 1, 2015, Michael Bruce Curry becomes the first African-American Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, having been elected by an overwhelming margin on the first ballot of the 78th General Convention the preceding June. In 2015, April Star (a then-10 year old girl) has promoted a positive body image and she has vitiligo. She is inspired by Winnie Harlow, who is a woman who has vitiligo too. The creators of the “School of Thought” line, Mars Five and Philadelphia Printworks feature shirts from fictional universities. The best part: The faux institutions are built on the philosophies of seminal black thinkers and leaders. Among the celebrated: Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, Marcus Garvey and Harriet Tubman. Haben Girma was the first deaf and blind graduate of the Harvard Law School. She is a lawyer and advocate of disability rights. On July 20, 2015, Girma met with US President Barack Obama at the White House to highlight the importance of accessible technology. She provided introductory remarks on the occasion, the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act. In 2015, at the age of 20, Jewell Jones was elected and sworn into the Inkster City Council. In 2015, Loretta Lynch was sworn in as the first African American woman to be the U.S. Attorney General on April. In 2015, the biracial actress Amandla Stenberg wrote words defending black womanhood and refuting cultural appropriation in her work, “Don’t Cash Crop my Cornrows: A Crash Discourse on Black Culture.” In October of 2015, (during Breast Cancer Awareness Month), Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams announced that he was purchasing 53 mammogram tests for women in honor of his mother. Sandra Hill, who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2014, was 53 years old when she died (hence his decision to provide said number of mammograms). Misty Copeland made many contributions in dance in 2015 and beyond. The 25-year-old Jasmine Twitty became the youngest person to be named a judge in Easley, S.C. The 2016 Rio Olympics is another example of tons of Black Excellence.

Simone Manuel at 20 was the first black woman swimmer to win an individual gold medal at an Olympic Games involving swimming ever. Simone Biles won gold in the women’s gymnastics team all around completion including 3 more medals (which shows her legacy as a great athlete). Gabby Douglas won a gold medal in the Rio Olympics too. Ibtihaj Muhammad was the first woman to compete for an U.S. Olympic team while wearing a hijab (she is a Muslim) and she helped the women’s fencing team to win bronze in the team saber competition. Jenny Arthur is a black woman who was involved in weightlifting during the Rio Olympics. She set an American record in lifting 252 kg or 535 pounds.  Daryl Homer was the first American to win silver in the saber completion since 1904 and the first American medalist in the saber competition since Peter Westbrook (who is also a black man) won bronze in 1984. Michelle Carter also made history, but in her case, it was by becoming the first American woman — let alone black American woman — to ever win gold in the women's shot put competition. She now constitutes one-half of Team USA's first ever father-daughter Olympic medalist pair: Her father, Michael Carter, won silver in men's shot put in 1984. Sister Ashleigh Johnson was the first black athlete ever to make the U.S. Olympic women’s water polo team. She won gold as a team in Rio. This was the second consecutive Olympic victory for the team. Sister Claressa Shields won the gold medal for middleweight women boxing. She is from Flint, Michigan. Afro-Brazilian woman athlete Rafaela Silva won gold in judo. Nzingha Prescod is a great black woman fencer. Usain Bolt won many medals in the 2016 Rio Games. He is the best sprinter in human history. Brianna Rollins won gold, Nia Ali won silver, and Kristi Castlin won bronze in the 100m hurdles race. They praised God for their victory. Allyson Felix, English Gardner, Tianna Bartoletta, and Torie Bowie won the 4X100 relay race. Allyson Felix won many individual medals too including Torie Bowie and others. The women 4X4 00 relay was won by Courtney Okolo, Natasha Hastings, Phyllis Francis, and Allyson Felix. Arman Hall, Tony McQuay, Gil Roberts, and Shawn Merritt (from Portsmouth, VA) won the 4X400 m relay. The African American players in the men and women’s USA national basketball teams have shown excellence too. On 2016, Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green is one of fewer than 100 black female physicists in the country, and the recent winner of $1.1 million grant to further develop a technology she’s pioneered that uses laser-activated nanoparticles to treat cancer. Director Ava DuVernay released the documentary 13th which exposes the cruelty of the prison industrial complex or mass incarceration. 13th is in reference to the 13th Amendment, which says that all people are free except under imprisonment. It talks about race, the War on Drugs, and the suppression of rights of citizens (even after they paid their debts to society). The film explores the role of ALEC, backed by corporations, that has provided Republican state and federal legislators with draft legislation to support the prison-industrial complex. Only after some of the relationships were revealed did corporations like Wal-Mart and others receive criticism and drop out of the organization. It criticized Republicans and Democrats for its role in the acceleration of the reactionary prions industrial complex policies. The documentary won many awards. Also, Ava Duvernay created Queen Sugar in September of 2016, which dealt with employment, social activism, family, sex, and black life (involving siblings) in the South.

On December 2016, Hidden Figures was released. It was an autobiographical film that gave respect to the contributions of African American women mathematicians who worked at NASA. They were key in making sure that space missions were run successfully with their advanced knowledge of mathematics. The film stars Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who calculated flight trajectories for Project Mercury and other missions. The film also features Octavia Spencer as NASA supervisor Vaughan and Janelle Monáe as NASA engineer Mary Jackson, with Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Glen Powell and Mahershala Ali in supporting roles.  In 2017, many black people were involved in the historic Women’s March like Tamika Mallory. On April 27, 2017, the Jackie Robinson Foundation Breaks Ground on the Jackie Robinson Museum in NY. The 18,500-square foot space will honor the late sports legend Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball and played an active, pioneering role in the modern civil rights movement.  “Jack lived his life with such great purpose,” said Rachel Robinson, JRF Founder and wife of Jackie Robinson. “I hope that visitors to the Museum will not only learn about his journey and experience his energy, but that they will be inspired to view each day as a chance to make a difference.” The Jackie Robinson Museum, when it is completed, will be found in Downtown Manhattan, just blocks north of the 9/11 Memorial. On August of 2017, Briana Scurry became the 1st African-American Woman elected to National Soccer Hall of Fame. In August of 2017, when musician Darryl Chamberlain noticed that school music programs in his native Kansas City had been decimated by budget cuts, he decided to do something about it. Teaching lessons and buying instruments secondhand, he launched the A-Flat Orchestra, made up of children ages 10 to 17.  Tianna Bartoletta won her bronze medal in the long jump during the final days of the 2017 IAAF world championships (in London). The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, is commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the first Black residential students on campus by creating a mural that will be permanently displayed at the university’s Swen Library. In the fall of 1967, Lynn Briley, Karen Ely, and Janet Brown became the first AfricanAmerican students to live in residential housing. All three black women graduated four years later in 1971. In August 2017, the mural was released. The women used their faces in order for the bronze casts to exist. We will see more contributions in the future too.

By Timothy

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