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Gregg Reese

Stories by Gregg

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The American Film Institute presents its 30th iteration

festivals can be a welcome departure from the formula driven blockbusters that dominate the movie industry. This year’s 30th annual American Film Institute Festival, held Nov. 10-17, offers up a platform for emerging talents to showcase their wares, along with tributes to established stars and the festival’s yearly Legacy lineup of cinema classics.

Documentary recalls the history of local dissent

Among the offerings at the upcoming “I’ve Known Rivers Film Festival” is a documentary highlighting an obscure facet of the Black Liberation struggle, titled “Jackson: Not Just a Name.”

Vaino Spencer, First Black female judge, dead at 96

Vaino Hassan Spencer, the first Black female judge in California, passed away in her Los Angeles home at 96 of natural causes, her family reported.

CAAM introduces fall exhibition season with ‘Can’t Stop Won’t Stop’

“While the California African American Museum opened its doors in 1984 (chartered in 1977), it has until recently remained one of the best kept secrets in Los Angeles.” —Deputy Director Naima J. Keith

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Mourners turn out for funeral of Olympian’s daughter

Hundreds of mourners gathered for the funeral of Trinity Gay on Oct. 22 at the Southland Christian Church in the Lexington suburb of Nicholasville, Ky. Gay, the 15-year-old daughter of Olympic sprinter Tyson Gay and a budding track star in her own right, suffered a gun shot wound to the neck at approximately 4 a.m. on Oct 16, in a Lexington Restaurant parking lot near the University of Kentucky.

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Walton Isaacson uses cultural awareness to reap profits for clients

One of the most successful television shows in recent years, the period drama “Mad Men” was alternately criticized for its accuracy and it’s exclusion of ethnic minorities in its depiction of the advertising industry of the 1960s.

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Eso Won Books hosted ‘Birth of a Nation’ forum

Following the media build up prior to its Oct. 7 opening, “The Birth of a Nation” generated some $7 million in box office revues in its first weekend, short of the projected $10 million anticipated.

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Junior welterweight champ succumbs to heart disease at 60

Aaron Pryor, whose aggressive, predatory pugilist style (earned him the nickname “Hawk”) which allowed him to claim the Junior Welterweight Championship and a spot in the International Boxing Hall of Fame, died in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, on Oct. 9 at 60. He had been suffering from heart disease and vision problems for several years.

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Manna from Heaven?

News of a major nonprofit jackpot to Black Lives Matter may be premature

“Now is the time to call for an end to state violence directed at communities of color. And now is the time to advocate for investment in public services—including but not limited to police reform—together with education, health, and employment in communities for people that have historically had less opportunity and access to all those things.”

El Ganzo’ has confusing storyline highlighted by first-rate acting

El Ganzo is an actual hotel in Mexico, and the title of the latest feature film by director Steve Balderson. A quirky/skewed version of a road movie (in keeping with Balderson’s reputation as a filmmaker of eccentrically stylized productions), it introduces us to a strange White American tourist (Susan Traylor) who walks away from a traffic accident, wanders absent mindedly through the sweltering heat, then checks into the self-titled hotel on the tip of Baja, California without any luggage.

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‘Birth of a Nation’ explores one man’s conflict with spiritual duality

Social control or call for emancipation?

The union between slave descendents and Christianity is one of the most enduring covenants in American history.

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Cannabis World Congress explores commercial potential of legal pot

Marijuana, once the provocative past time of the marginalized and those rebellious of the status quo, is now a 10-figure industry manifested by the recent Cannabis World Congress and Business Expo held at the Los Angeles Convention Center Sept. 7-10.

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Rumblings within the ranks (part one)

Once upon a time on the West Coast, the City of Angels boasted a police department reputedly every bit as corrupt and tainted as it’s counterparts back east. Efforts to “clean up” the wayward boys in blue had mixed results, until the mayor appointed a spit and polish Marine Corps General, William A. Worton, as chief in 1949.

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Grief gets a character study in ‘Five Nights in Maine’

Coming to terms with grief is often complicated by unresolved, preexisting conditions between the survivor and the decedent. For the movie “Five Nights in Maine,” available on Video on Demand, the loving relationship between Fiona (Hani Furstenberg) and her husband Sherwin (David Oyelowo) is interrupted by her sudden death coming back from a visit to her cancer-ridden mother.

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Dress rehearsal

The Democratic faithful confront the hurdle of party unity in Philadelphia

As the Democratic Party assembles in Philadelphia, the dust may or may not have cleared from the Republican fireworks in Cleveland, Ohio.

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Dress rehearsal

The Democratic faithful confront the hurdle of party unity in Philadelphia

As the Democratic Party assembles in Philadelphia, the dust may or may not have cleared from the Republican fireworks in Cleveland, Ohio.

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Fiction merges with historical fact in Tarzan reboot

“Your Majesty's Government has been, and is now, guilty of waging unjust and cruel wars against natives, with the hope of securing slaves and women, to minister to the behests of the officers of your government.”

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Parliament-Funkadelic keyboard master Bernie Worrell dead at 72

Keyboard wizard and funkster extraordinaire Bernie Worrell has died after a long battle with lung cancer. He was 72. Worrell’s wife, Judie, posted his passing on the musician’s Facebook page thusly:...

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Rise of the Far Right

The specter of fear reigns supreme in the run up to the election

xenophobia 1. : fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign

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Rise of the Far Right

The specter of fear reigns supreme in the run up to the election

By now it is still uncertain whether the juggernaut of the Donald Trump campaign will reach Nirvana in the Oval Office, but it certainly has earned itself more than a mere footnote in the annals of American politics.

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Black writers and businesses join forces at the Carson Community Center

The legacy of Americans of African descent extends beyond the realm of athletics and entertainment. To perpetuate and build upon the lesser- known heritage of literacy is a core objective of the annual Black Writers on Tour conference held at Carson’s Juanita Millender-McDonald Community Center on April 30

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Is South LA arms merchant an asset to the community?

A recent court decision highlights the pros and cons of Botach Tactical in Leimert Park

Among the many yarns of folklore traversing the annals of South L.A. are the misadventures of street hoodlum extraordinaire Ronald Washington (AKA “Muscle Beach” as an homage to his chiseled physique), who stepped into the big time, when he engineered the heist of an old Wells Fargo at 3423 W. 43rd Place in Leimert Park.

Biopics reflect the duality of genius

The problem with casting prominent actors in biographies is the difficulty of forgetting the celebrity of the performer in the role of a real life person

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Author Toni Morrison receives the PEN Award

Nobel Prize-winning novelist and Princeton University professor emeritus Toni Morrison has received the 2016 PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction.

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Lost in the Promised Land

The saga of Jonestown gets a fictionalized treatment

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Ken Howard, star of television's 'White Shadow,' dead at 71

While it did not match the ratings of long-running prime time soap opera "Dallas," the sports derived television drama "The White Shadow" (1978-81) stood out from the typical Afro-centric sitcom offerings of the era, by crossing boundaries and pushing envelopes to generate its own cultural legacy.

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West Coast jazz great Ernestine Anderson dies at 87

“She can sing the blues, and she can sing a ballad. She can swing you out of the country!” —Fellow songstress Etta James on the vocal styling of Ernestine Anderson.

Better Brothers of Los Angeles recognizes individual achievement with second Truth Awards

Better Brothers of Los Angeles (BBLA) celebrated a successful first year of existence with their second annual “Truth Awards,” on March 5. Last year’s initial gala, held at the historic Wilshire Ebell Theatre on

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The underworld embraces diversity in ‘Triple Nine’

Diversity is in full effect in the recently released thriller “Triple Nine,” although most of its multi-ethnic cast fails to display any redeeming qualities during this 115-minute potboiler. The sheer number of characters

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#OscarsSoRock!

Irreverent comic throws a life line to Hollywood as its’ Great Black Hope

Controversy is a funny thing. It alternatively (and sometime simultaneously) attracts and repels us. Back in 2005, Chris Rock was selected to be the first African American host of the 77th Academy Awards ceremony in an effort to give the show an “edge” by appealing to a youthful audience. However, well before the

Who got de money?

The seeds of diversity lie within the ability to fund dissimilar view points

Towards the close of this year’s Pan African Film Festival (PAFF), a mild murmur of disenchantment circulated among theater-goers about the closing night screening of the Miles Davis biopic, “Miles Ahead.”

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Prince protégé, Denise Matthews, dead at 57

Vanity renounced ‘party life’ for God

At the peak of her performing career, Denise Katrina Matthew’s unbridled sexuality drew comparisons to Tina Turner, but she abandoned it all to achieve tranquility as a born-again evangelist.

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Is there fear of the Black movie goer?

Perception and reality are two interchangeable states of being that can be alternatively in sync or oppositional (and contradictory).

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2016 Pan African Film Festival offers visual diversity

As the rest of the entertainment capital remains embroiled in a discussion of the question of diversity and

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Clarence “Blowfly” Reid, precursor to modern funk, hip hop dies at 76

Pioneering funk rapper Clarence “Blowfly” Reid died of liver cancer in a Florida hospice on Jan. 17. He was 76.

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Will Smith’s talents take a serious turn in ‘Concussion’

Half way through the newly released drama “Concussion,” an interesting exchange takes place between an African American actor playing an African and an African playing an African American. Adewake Akinnuoye-Agbaje (actually British of African

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Melvin Williams, inspiration for ‘The Wire,’ dead at 73

Melvin Douglas Williams, the legendary drug kingpin and hustler who inspired the

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar reveals cerebral side with ‘Mycroft Holmes’

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has always generated attention for his basketball prowess, but at the same time he has spawned an equal amount of curiosity within the sports fan spectrum for his personality, which has never quite fit the mold of the stereotypical “jock.”

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Paris displays its schematic for social dysfunction

Attacks reflect discord, neglect

At the beginning of the year, Our Weekly looked into the conflicted history of race relations within the French republic.

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Semper Fidelis! An American legend is remembered

Jack McDowell was enjoying a beverage at a long-forgotten San Francisco drinking establishment in 1965, when a tall Negro (as they were known then) Marine Captain, resplendent in his service “A” olive green and khaki uniform, walked in.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates, Robin D.G. Kelley ponder racial injustice at library event

“… the belief in the preeminence of hue and hair, the notion that these factors can correctly organize a society, and that they signify deeper attributes, which are indelible—this is the new idea at the heart of these new people who have been brought up hopelessly, tragically, to believe that they are White.”

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‘Morementum’ Entertainment seeks to smooth the rocky road to Hollywood

Alas, the road to fame and fortune is precarious and uncertain for even the most talented of us seeking to make our mark in Hollywood. There are long stretches of discouragement and opposition along the boulevard of broken dreams.

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Screening, discussion looks back on grisly legacy of the ‘Grim Sleeper’

In light of the recent spree of mass shootings across the country, focus is once again directed to the topic of gun control. All of this is well and good, but tends to overlook the reality that American violence is a fact of life with or without the inclusion of firearms.

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AFTERMATH: Fallout in the wake of the O.J. Simpson verdict

As the 1990s progressed, "Byrd" Thorpe could look back on a successful career climbing the corporate ladder at IBM. Seizing the opportunities afforded by affirmative action and the gains of the Civil Rights Movement, he'd carved out a comfortable living with a decent portfolio of rental properties and a comfortable home in Baldwin Hills. Just to keep busy in the idle hours of his retirement, he snagged a sideline selling office furniture.

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‘The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution’ underscores historic parallels

“Was he insane? F*** yeah that boy was crazy, and he got a lot of people hurt!” —Afro-Puerto Rican community activist

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‘Shetani’s Sister’ pits flawed vice cop against street sociopath

While most of Iceberg Slim’s (aka Robert Beck) underworld sagas take place in the frigid winters of the East Coast and Midwest, he spent the last three decades of his life (and the period in which he made his mark as a writer) in the relative tranquility of Los Angeles. This idyllic change of scenery proved to be as treacherous as the mean streets of his youth, however. His publisher, Holloway House, gouged him out of his fair share of the considerable profits he earned for them in much the same way that they exploited other chroniclers of the urban experience, like Donald Goins and Joe Nazel.

A cult icon is examined in ‘Street Poison’

Robert Beck, aka Iceberg Slim, in terms of his impact on shaping our global cultural landscape, is probably now as essential reading as William Shakespeare. —Scottish novelist Irvine Walsh

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Julian Bond, charismatic activist and public servant, dead at 75

As the not so new millennium drones onward, and this country continues to be a cauldron of intolerance, this milestone suggests that the venerated memories of the Civil Rights era are not merely dusty entries to be pondered during a history lesson. The passing of active participants of this struggle only serves to highlight the lessons that may be applied to the continued specter of intolerance.

Was it worth it?

Looking at the Riots and their impact on the community

America’s obsession with anniversaries may be likened to an addiction. During the course of this year, in particular, we have or will commemorate the recurring date of numerous notable events.

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Inner City Romance

A mid-century take on cultural appropriation

Alternative publications purport to offer a fresh take on subjects covered by the mainstream media, and often tackle taboo, off-limit issues avoided by the establishment.

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