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Gregg Reese

Stories by Gregg

‘Can we all get along?’ examines the legacy of 1992 at CAAM

As part of the California African American Museum’s (CAAM) commitment to the welfare of the community, it has expanded its programming to include events outside its primary focus on “art, history, and culture.” So it was that program manager Tyree Boyd-Pates, curator of the museum’s current exhibit “No Justice, No Peace: LA 1992 (running through August 27)”, assembled a contingent of relevant individuals on May 18 to ponder just how much things have (or haven’t) changed since the rebellion/riot/uprising of late April-early May, 1992.

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‘Coming out of the Shadows’

Minority cannabis advocates meet in Culver City

The California Minority Alliance (CMA) recently held a seminar titled “Coming Out Of The Shadows In The Cannabis Industry After Proposition M” at the Veterans Memorial Complex in Culver City. They discussed how people of color can take advantage of business opportunities in the newly legal medical and recreational marijuana industry. The fact that the auditorium was filled to capacity is an indicator of the public’s interest to hear from the distinguished panelists.

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Where do we go from here?

The precarious dynamic between the LAPD and its Black constituency remains a point of contention

Now that the dust has settled in the wake of numerous documentaries, television news specials, formal studies by educational centers, think tanks and other entities in this, the 25th anniversary of the 1992 revolt/riot/uprising of Los Angeles, we may ask the burning questions: What did it mean, and where do we go from here? In light of the billions of dollars spent in well-publicized efforts to rebuild and/or revitalize the city, a few well-placed voices from differing vantage points consented to give their “take” on the passage of time, and the changes that have or have not taken place.

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‘Bronzeville, Little Tokyo’ serves up WWII L.A.

As the 33rd iteration of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (http://festival.vconline.org/2017/) gets underway today through May 3, a special

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Documentaries look back on the events of April, 1992

The history of motion pictures, now over a century old, has spawned legions of genres and sub-genres, most of them fictional, or made up stories meant to replicate reality.

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‘Guerrilla’ revisits Black Radicalism within the United Kingdom

John Ridley is on a roll. A seasoned writer whose credits stretch back to the 1990s, his 2013 Oscar winning screenplay for “12 Years a Slave” vaulted him into the stratosphere of show biz.

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Unapologetically Black

A 35-year retrospective of painter Kerry James Marshall comes to his home town

Drawing is a staple of everyone’s childhood and is an important avenue of cognitive development. Very few of us continue this activity into adulthood, and fewer still progress to the point where it becomes a profession or life’s work. Los Angeles-bred Kerry James Marshall has transcended this and more. Today, he is internationally known for his artwork (especially paintings) commenting on the narrative of the African-American experience.

‘I called him Morgan’ revisits a Jazz tragedy

Jazz and the crime film, or more precisely “film noire” is as a perfect a fit as any in the canon of film genres. In the hands of the right musician(s), improvisation can make for an intriguing counterpoint to the moody visuals of dimly lit scenes usually shot at night, with generous amounts of shadows and smoke (preferably in black and white), mounted on a plot complete with degenerate behavior, jilted lovers, and above all, a protagonist who is doomed from the start.

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There goes the neighborhood

The colonies of Baldwin Hills, Ladera Heights, and View Park-Windsor Hills comprise one of the most affluent Black residential areas in the United States. Baldwin Hills specifically has been dubbed “the Black Beverly Hills” (a title it shares with View Park) given by the African American Digest, Atlanta Black Star and other news organs serving Black audiences, as well as spawning an eponymous reality show on Black Entertainment Television.

Racial tensions of 1992 revisited at CAAM

The California African American Museum (CAAM) continues its string of socially relevant offerings with a commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the 1992 Los Angeles riot/uprising, titled “No Justice, No Peace.” This multi-media exhibit utilizes archival materials including documents, newspapers and videos, curated by Tyree Boyd-Pates to revisit those turbulent times, along with the decades leading up to them. This compelling display is accompanied by four equally forceful presentations addressing the African American experience.

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Down the rabbit hole of the radical Left

A 19-year-old heiress, the product of one of America’s wealthiest families, is abducted by a left-wing revolutionary band of college-educated-suburbanites-turned-terrorists, led by an escaped convict and recent convert to Marxism. Within a couple of months, the kidnappers forward a “communiqué” via audio recording to a radio station, in which the victim proclaims her solidarity with her captors; denounces her parents; repudiates her past life of privilege leading to speculation that she’s been “brainwashed.” Two weeks later, videotape from a bank robbery features the captive wielding a military rifle, as an apparently willing participant.

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It ain’t ‘Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner’

‘Get Out’ probes the racial boundaries of political correctness

The appeal of horror to moviegoers is not lost on the bean counters and film executives who determine what viewing fare will be offered up to the fickle masses. Determining what is scary is, of course, a subjective thing, as well before the advent of psychology, the Greek philosopher Aristotle suggested that people liked to be scared because it allowed them to purge their emotions, as a kind of catharsis.

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PAFF celebrates 25 years of ethnic imagery

This year’s iteration of the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) is especially memorable, because it marks the 25th year of this showcase for cinema by and about people of African descent. For a quarter century, the event has expanded upon its stated goal to promote racial tolerance and “reinforce positive images and help destroy negative stereotypes.”

Cashing in on ‘the green rush’

Economic opportunities abound in the wake of Proposition 64

It’s official. With the passage of Proposition 64, adults 21 and over may now possess small amounts of the (previously) controlled substance called marijuana or cannabis sativa, a privilege previously reserved for patients whose health requirements mandated a physician’s prescription for the medicinal consumption of this controversial plant.

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A perfect political storm

Political scientists attempt to explain the November election surprise

It was all but inevitable. An upstart candidate, a celebrity to be sure, but with no track record in political office or other tangible experience to speak of, up against former first lady, senator, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, a marquee figure with international name recognition for the highest office in the land. Just a year ago, reputable media onlookers considered investment tycoon Donald J. Trump a long shot, even among the 17 challengers vying for the Republican presidential nomination, which included a cluster of distinguished senators (Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida, and Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania) and numerous ex-governors (Jeb Bush of Florida, Chris Christie of New Jersey, Jim Gilmore of Virginia, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, and John Kasich of Ohio.)

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A perfect political storm

Political scientists attempt to explain the November election surprise

It was all but inevitable. An upstart candidate, a celebrity to be sure, but with no track record in political office or other tangible experience to speak of, up against former first lady, senator, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, a marquee figure with international name recognition for the highest office in the land. Just a year ago, reputable media onlookers considered investment tycoon Donald J. Trump a long shot, even among the 17 challengers vying for the Republican presidential nomination, which included a cluster of distinguished senators (Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida, and Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania) and numerous ex-governors (Jeb Bush of Florida, Chris Christie of New Jersey, Jim Gilmore of Virginia, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, and John Kasich of Ohio.)

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‘The Simpsons’ ventures into the realm of hip hop with ‘The Great Phatsby’

Since its inception in 1989, “The Simpsons” has gone on to become the longest running scripted primetime series in American television history. During the last three decades, it has picked up scores of accolades including 31 Emmy Awards (for excellence in primetime television programming), 30 Annie Awards (for excellence in the medium of animation), and one Peabody Award (for distinguished public service achievement in radio, television, and the World Wide Web media).

Author E.R. Braithwaite dead at 104

By any standards Guyana born E.R. Braithwaite’s accomplishments during the course of his 104 year life time were considerable. By turns an educator, diplomat, social worker and Royal Air Force pilot, his most notable accolade came with the publication of the 1959 autobiographical novel “To Sir, with Love,” which later became a major motion picture starring Sidney Poitier. The author and Cambridge University graduate died on Dec. 12, in Rockville, Md., of cardiac related disorders.

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Easy Rawlings tumbles through the mean streets of L.A. in ‘Charcoal Joe’

“… all the Black men and women I knew who woke up angry and went to bed in the same state of mind. Life was a bruise for us back then, and today too. We examine every action for potential threats, insults, and cheats. And if you look hard enough, you will find what you’re looking for—whether it’s there or not.” —From “Charcoal Joe,” 2016 by Walter Mosley.

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A scholarly chat on our racial heritage

Ibram Kendi chronicles the beginning of racism

Racism, an intricate component of the American saga since colonial times, is arguably the most contradictory element of the ideals upon which the country was founded, and a provocative rebuttal brought up whenever the United States seeks to point fingers at the human rights violations of its neighbors, in its self-appointed role as global policeman. Now, in a new millennium and well into our second century as a republic, this scar across the conscience of our nation is ever prominent as we embark upon the start of a new, polarizing Presidential administration.

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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.

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.

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.”

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

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