Here’s a look at African American people and issues making headlines throughout the country.
Compton rapper Game is the subject of a $250,000 lawsuit resulting from two canceled concerts in Beirut, Lebanon. The Crystal Group filed a lawsuit against Game in Manhattan Federal Court, claiming they wired the rap star $30,000 for a July 2011 performance in which he canceled. According to the lawsuit, the Crystal Group suffered massive damages when Game canceled at the last minute. As a result, the Crystal Group lost money on promotions, hotel and travel expenses, ticket sales and refunds. To make matters worse, the Crystal Group claims they agreed to reschedule the canceled show, only to have Game skip out on a second, makeup date in Dubai. The Crystal Group is suing Game, born Jayceon Taylor, and his touring company, BWS Touring, for breach of contract.
The International Visitors Council of Los Angeles recently welcomed 20 talented musicians from Africa through the U.S. Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program. These musicians are in Los Angeles to examine the use of Hip Hop to encourage social responsibility and civic engagement. During their stay they will have a unique opportunity to meet the culturally varied group Ozomatli, also known as “U.S. State Department Cultural Ambassadors.” Ozomatli is a seven-piece band that formed in Los Angeles and had long been a favorite of international audiences. The main purpose of the meeting with Ozomatli will be to examine the music scene of L.A. and the cultural influences that exist within the city. In addition, the visitors council has also arranged for the group to meet with American music producer Theron Feemster, who worked with such musical talent as Michael Jackson, Nelly, Mary J. Blige and JoJo.
District of Columbia
YAGO Entertainment Group has announced the theatrical film premiere of “Hoodwinked,” director Janks Morton’s sequel to the 2007 award-winning documentary “What Black Men Think,” which will show on Thursday, Sept. 6, at the Avalon Theatre in Washington, D.C. The retail release of “Hoodwinked” and the companion book “Black People Don’t Read,” will also be made available for purchase at Amazon.com on that same date. “Hoodwinked” is an examination of the role that myths, stereotypes and misrepresentations have played in the lives of the modern-era African American. The film explores how negative imagery in the media, deficit-model activism, and a community disillusioned and ill-informed about its own positive attributes has led to a dangerous form of negative self and group perception about Black achievements. The film features commentary and insights from key Black leaders, activists and educators such as Steve Perry (CNN), Marc Lamont Hill (FOX & BET), Boyce Watkins, Jawanza Kunjufu and Ivory Toldson.
“R&B Divas” tells the current real-life story of five multi-talented, R&B stars–Faith Evans, Nicci Gilbert, Syleena Johnson, Monifah Carter, and Keke Wyatt. The docu-series captures the friends as they come together to record a charity album inspired by the late Whitney Houston. At the same time, they are all juggling myriad personal challenges, triumphs and responsibilities in addition to making music, including raising families. Beginning Monday with eight one-hour episodes, the divas will give a personal glimpse into their private worlds as they lean on each other and offer candid revelations about their efforts to deal with major life challenges and transitions such as divorce, parenting issues, drugs, alcohol, physical abuse and more.
Sylvia’s restaurant just celebrated 50 years of business and community outreach. The milestone event was kicked off in Harlem with a complimentary soul-food breakfast, children’s activities, and live entertainment. Guests also participated in old and new school games with great prizes from the event sponsor, Target. Sylvia’s restaurant’s Golden Jubilee brought out more than 300 people, a host of celebrities and family friends–all to honor the late “Queen of Soul Food” and the years of contributions she made to American cuisine and African American culture. The emcee was Michael K. Williams from HBO’s “The Wire” and “Empire Boardwalk,” who also led a tribute mini-parade that was presented by celebrity baker Cake-Man Raven. Also celebrating was Chef Marcus Samuelson of the Food Network, Rev. Calvin Butts and socialite Flo Anthony.
Championing the mission of responsible fatherhood, Kenneth Braswell, executive director of Fathers Inc. and Ties Never Broken Fatherhood Ministries, was added to the lineup of Bishop T.D. Jakes’ annual ManPower Conference. More than 7,000 men from all over the world attended the three-day event designed to help all men discover their God-given gifts and talents, as well as gain essential tools to enhance their spiritual journeys. The conference took place at the Potter’s House in Dallas. This year’s ManPower Conference theme was, “Where Men Talk,” and featured speakers such as Jakes, Pastor Marvin Sapp, the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, Bishop Michael Pitts and Pastor Donnie McClurkin. Braswell moderated the panel, “RealTalk: Rebuilding Men, Rebuilding Their Lives and Overcoming Adversity.” Panelists included Kirk Franklin, Kwame Kilpatrick and Wess Morgan.
The Rice University Art Gallery will exhibit a series of African American art for the school’s 100th anniversary from Sept. 13 through Nov. 18. Nineteenth- and 20th-century pieces by masters and emerging regional artists will be on display. The exhibition will show a total of 72 works by 67 different African American artists. “Art is one of the important ways we seek to understand our society and express the human experience, and this exhibition is part of Rice’s increasing commitment to bringing important works of art to our campus,” Rice University President David Leebron said in a press release. “We welcome the Houston community to Rice to enjoy this unique and remarkable collection, along with all our other public art.” The exhibit, titled “Tradition Refined: The Larry and Brenda Thompson Collection of African American Art,” includes work from Romare Bearden, Thelma Johnson Streat and Radcliffe Bailey, among others.
A group that worked in the Green Bay area about 20 years ago to provide events and educational programs for the Black community is trying to make a comeback. The Northeast Wisconsin African American Association recently held a “think tank meeting” at Universal Designs Salon for former, recent and future members to gather ideas for the organization’s return to the community. “We wanted to set this up to help the Black community come together and to start programs that will help us succeed in Green Bay,” said Kimyatta Ratliff, president of the organization also known as NEWAAMA. Ratliff hopes to begin a tutoring program for children and teens, and to implement educational programs that tackle important topics such as health and voting rights.
The last three years have been a whirlwind for Atlanta-based songwriter, Darius Paulk. Singer Vashawn Mitchell recorded his tune “Nobody Greater” and watched it rise to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Gospel Songs chart and spend a solid year in the Top 10 in 2010-2011. “Darius wrote a song that captured and changed the hearts of so many lives, and he’s only scratched the surface,” Mitchell says. “The world will soon experience more of his heart of worship.” This week Paulk released his first digital EP, “Lyrics & Melodies,” a five-song cyber album that is available on iTunes and other online music stores. “God has invested so much into me and I want to exhaust every area of gifting that he’s blessed me with, and singing happens to be one of them,” he said.
COMPILED BY JULIANA NORWOOD