Awards season is coming to a close, but not before BET payed tribute to “black excellence” in Washington, DC at this year’s BET Honors. The 2016 honorees were Lee Daniels (Television and Film Award), Mellody Hobson (Award for Corporate Citizen), Patti LaBelle (Award for Musical Arts), L.A. Reid (Award for Excellence in Entertainment) and Eric Holder (Public Service Award).
No Oscar nominations, no problem! We did a darn good job celebrating ourselves at the NAACP Image Awards. Black Hollywood showed up and showed out as they were honored for their contributions to the arts last night. This year’s show had a different feel in light of the controversy surrounding the lack of diversity of the Academy Award nominations and the subsequent call for a boycott of the Oscars by actress Jada Pinkett-Smith. Throughout the night, entertainers shared the feelings about being celebrated by their own in spite of the lack of acknowledgment by the Academy.
Who would have thought that in 2016 we would still be fighting against racism, classicism and the continued disregard for the talents and contributions of black people to the world. In fact, the fight for equality seems just as prevalent in 2016 as it was in 1968 when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was slain on a balcony in Memphis, Tennessee. Yesterday was a day to honor him. It was a day to refocus on his dream and what needs to be done to keep it alive. It was a day where entertainers including comedian Chris Rock, actors Harry Belafonte, Octavia Spencer, Michael B. Jordan, musical artists India Arie, J. Cole, Jussie Smollett and numerous others joined hundreds of people to pay tribute to Dr. King and other civil rights leaders. The event touted as “#MLKNOW” was sponsored by Blackout for Human Rights and the Campaign for Black Male Achievement and was held last night at the Riverside Church in Manhattan where Dr. King delivered his historical sermon opposing the Vietnam War in 1967.
The man that I call “The People’s Champ” has proven once again why he deserves the title. Back in 2013, Washington Township High school student, Cierra Bosarge, wrote the rapper asking him to attend her high school graduation. Cole responded to Cierra assuring that he would be there as long as she got accepted into a four year college by then. Fast forward to June 2015, Cierra met Cole’s condition and got accepted into a few four year institutions!
Last week Jermaine Cole released his third studio album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, debuting at #1 on Billboard 200. In a time when it seems like nobody is actually purchasing music, J. Cole’s album sold over 375K in it’s first week with no promotion and no single in rotation on the radio. How did he manage that? Maybe because people need and want to hear his message. And what is his message? Love, positivity and authenticity. In an industry where those characteristics are few and far between, Cole is a breath of fresh air. Fresh, relatable, charming and smart, Cole is for the people; and the people can tell.
“We are not the sum of our worst moment” — Katy Parson
In the wee hours of the morning yesterday, the world lost one of its many heroes, Marion Barry, Jr. Barry came to national prominence as mayor of the nation’s capital. The first prominent civil rights activist to become chief executive of a major American city, Barry was a savvy politician. After moving from Mississippi to Washington, DC in 1965 to manage it’s local Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee office, he became heavily involved in coordinating peaceful street demonstrations as well as a boycott to protest bus fare increases. At the time, over half of the population of Washington D.C. was black, and they had no political representation. Barry wanted to change that. He made an immediate impact in the community organizing a “mancott” of the bus system when the owner decided to raise prices from 20 to 25 cents and serving as the leader of the Free D.C. Movement.
Every year the Congressional Black Caucus takes over DC during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference. From receptions to social mixers, CBC Week is filled with so many events that it’s hard to choose which ones to attend. This year I kept it a bit low key, popping into a few mixers and networking events. But there was one event that I couldn’t miss. The Inaugural Congressional Black Caucus Closing Brunch presented by Let’s Do Brunch NYC, Digital Divas and DC’s Akil Waite at the ever so chic Barcode Restaurant & bar in downtown DC was a must-go.
Just because other people don’t see you talent or appeal doesn’t make it any less valuable. Sometimes it means you were meant to take your journey on a road less traveled. Getting someone to publish her first novel was difficult but April Sheris took that as a challenge to start her own publishing company. Since then her entrepreneurial spirit has taken her to even greater heights. I caught up with the author turned publisher and she shared how she jump started her career as an author, how she gives back and a few tidbits on getting your work published. Read more below.
The best way to bring about change is to be the change you want to see. Over a half dozen hip hop artists are doing just that with a song dedicated to Mike Brown. Rapper The Game talked about enlisting his counterparts to come together for the track.
“The issues in Ferguson really hit home for me, and I feel compelled to use my musical platform to address this,” the Game tells Rolling Stone. “I am a black man with kids of my own that I love more than anything, and I cannot fathom a horrific tragedy like Michael Brown’s happening to them. This possibility has shaken me to my core. That is why this song must be made and why it was so easy for so many of my friends to come together and unite against the injustice.”
‘Tis the season to be on Beyonce’s list of philanthropic ventures. The diva who donated $500,000 to Chime for Change back in June has now donated $7 million dollars to build low-income housing in her home town, Houston, Texas, for homeless men, women and children. How dope is that?