A Black-owned San-Diego-based technology company is working on raising funds to build a swim safety prototype. George A. Finley, president of Better Life Technologies Group, was distressed over the drowning last year of Albert Jones, a 7-year-old boy. So the CEO designed and had patented a swim safety system that is geared to help keep kids and adults from drowning. The system is called the “Albert Jones Anti-Distress Device” (AJADD) and is designed to allow a swimmer to send a distress signal to a caretaker or lifeguard. The device can also receive signals. “Our goal is to raise $360,000 to create a prototype for a product that will stem the tide of the nearly 400,000 people a year that die of drowning accidents, not counting the medical related injuries that may last a lifetime,” McKinney said in a statement. More information about the project is available at www.indiegogo.com/projects/saving-albert/x/842408
The 2014 NAACP Theater Festival will feature 10-minute plays, acting and dancing workshops and networking opportunities during its three-day event next week in Los Angeles. The fest is being held at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center and is being sponsored by the NAACP, the City of Los Angeles and Rent-A-Center. The opening night VIP reception takes place on Friday, Sept. 12, and features the return of first-time playwright Kinnik Sky and her award winning Play “Sunday Mourning,” which received seven nominations and three NAACP Theater Award wins in 2012. Other speakers and participants of note include television and film actor, Carl Gilliard, known for his roles on sitcoms such as “Freddie,” “Barbershop” and “Family Matters;” Tammy Townsend who stars in the 2015 Disney release “K.C. Undercover” with Zendaya and Kadeem Hardison; and actor, curator and producer Terrell Tilford, known for the role of Dr. Barton Shelby on “The Young and the Restless.” The 2014 NAACP production of plays will take place Saturday, Sept. 13th and Sunday, Sept. 14th. A complete lineup of workshops/moderators, performances, dates and times are listed on the NAACP Theater Awards & Festival website www.naacptheatreawards.com.
The 17th Annual First Ladies High Tea will take place Saturday, Sept. 13 at the Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel from noon until 3 p.m. This year’s event will honor renowned actress Cicely Tyson with the Legacy Award. Other honorees include actress Gugu Mbatha Raw (“Belle”), actress Alley Mills (“The Bold and the Beautiful”) and music executive Vicki Mach Lataillade. Gospel singer and Grammy award winner Smokie Norful will perform, as well as Tata Vega. Gospel stalwart Dr. Bobby Jones and Dr. Beverly “Bam” Crawford are co-hosts. In addition, several women will be honored for their roles in serving their communities through activism and charity, including Myesha Chaney of Antioch Church of Long Beach; Isabelle Drake of Greater Ebenezer Baptist Church; and Debra Williams of McCoy Memorial Baptist Church. The High Tea expects about 1,000 guests, which is expected to include state Senator Holly Mitchell, U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Los Angeles City Councilmember Curren Price.
Black-owned clothing line Gordesi by CLH will debut its spring/summer line at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, the hometown of its founder and president, Curtis L. Hutson. God’s Original Designs dedicates 7 percent of its profit to charitable organizations locally, national and internationally. The premier takes place Sunday, Oct. 12 from 7 until 11 p.m. and will feature radio personality Richard Blackwell as the host. In addition, national recording artist Algebra Blessett will perform, as well as some local favorites. About 20 years ago, Hutson found himself in jail. The then 30-year-old says that he called on the Lord to provide direction, guidance and a new focus. He recalls seeing the initials G.O.D. on the wall in his jail cell and thus named his clothing line after those letters: God’s Original Designs. Once out of jail and within a few years, Hutson launched his brand and it has been growing ever since. It has been worn by several Gospel recording acts, such as The Few and T.C. Clay, as well as recording artist and actress Jill Scott. Hutson says the pages of GQ and Esquire magazines, as well as the timeless style of Marilyn Monroe, inspired him. He sees Gordesi: God’s Original Design as style meets class infused with positive messaging. More information on the event and the line are available at www.gordesi.com
NBA star Dwayne Wade and television/film actress Gabrielle Union were married last weekend at a castle-like setting outside of Miami. The wedding, which was reportedly mostly planned by Wade, was estimated to have cost $5 million. The location of the ceremony—Chateau Artisan—was kept secret, as most guests were bussed from the hotel to the location. Celebrity guests at the ceremony included Ludacris, former teammate Lebron James and current teammate Chris Bosh. Also, singer John Legend sang during the ceremony.
Last weekend multi-platinum Grammy award winning artist Faith Evans was honored at Atlanta’s Black gay pride celebration, where she received its 2014 Humanitarian Award. “One of my best friends is the first transgender to win a reality show; a lot of them know my connection with her. I do a lot of events for gay pride. A lot of my fans are LGBT,” she said.
A business in Chicago is going to sponsor a year’s worth of rent for the family of Jaheim Benton, one of the players on the Jackie Robinson West Little League baseball team (which won the U.S. World Series Championship game) whose family is reportedly homeless. Spencer Leak Jr., vice president of the Leak & Sons Funeral Home, said he heard about Benton’s situation while he was on hold when calling into a Chicago radio station. “I just felt for them. I look at my son and my daughter and by the grace of God, they’re able to come home to their own beds every night. But that could all end tomorrow,” Leak told the Huffington Post. “God has blessed us, so we have to give back. Whether it be help for a funeral or housing or giving food, we have to step up to do that.” Both parents work, but had their hours cut back and couldn’t keep up with their mortgage. In addition to Jaheim, Bentons care for his brother and sister and three grandchildren. The family has been staying at a family friend’s home. “This shouldn’t have even been a story,” Leak added. “If I had heard of it before now, it wouldn’t have been a story because I would have done something about it.”
The Amistad Research Center in New Orleans is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on Wednesday, Sept. 10 with a dinner and live auction. The event will take place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Phelps Dunbar and feature Jazz violinist Stephanie Jordan. “I am honored to be invited to perform at the Amistad Research Center’s celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” Jordan commented. “For it was entertainers such as Lena Horne, Mahalia Jackson, Harry Belafonte, Sam Cooke and other early supporters of the Civil Rights movement from the entertainment industry who understood that it is part of their duty to affect change. It is their steadfast approach in the quest for equality which inspires me as we move forward into the next 50 years.”
Thousands of people peacefully attended the funeral services for slain teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson last week. Brown, who was unarmed at the time, was shot multiple times and killed by a police officer. His death prompted unrest and calls for action against the Ferguson officer who shot Brown, as well as the town’s police department. In addition to a local investigation, the U.S. Dept. of Justice, and the FBI are conducting investigations to determine if Brown’s civil rights were violated. Political figures, religious leaders and other high profile individuals spoke at the funeral, which was covered heavily by major television networks such as MSNBC and CNN. Speakers included the Rev. Al Sharpton, T.D. Jakes, Jamal Bryant and civil attorney Bernard Crump, who is representing the family. Sharpton told the crowd: “We are not anti-police. We respect police. But those police that are wrong need to be dealt with just like those in our communities who are wrong need to be dealt with.” Sharpton also talked on how Black America has always risen to the challenge. “Blackness was never about being a gangster or thug. Blackness was about how no matter how low we were pushed down, we rose up anyhow. Blackness was never surrendering our pursuit of excellence. When it was against the law to go to some schools, we built Black colleges and learned anyhow.”
About 200 people gathered at a Wal-Mart in Beavercreek to protest the shooting of a young man by police. Reportedly, the young man had an air rifle inside the store, which he was waving around. John Crawford III, was fatally shot by two officers when, they say, he did not put the rifle down. However, Crawford’s family’s attorney says that the store’s videotape will show the shooting was not justified. A special grand jury will convene on Sept. 22 to consider criminal charges against the officers. State and federal authorities are said to be monitoring the situation.
The Las Vegas Jazz Festival hits the JW Marriott from Sept. 19-21 with a stellar lineup that includes a variety of Jazz and R&B performers. Playing and singing under a broadly stretched Jazz-themed umbrella, the annual festival this year opens on Friday with Frankie Beverly & Maze, Cameo and sax showman Eric Darius. Saturday begins with performances by guitarist Tim Bowman, Jazz in Pink fronted by Gail Johnson and Karen Briggs, with special guest Jeannette Harris, and a power-packed pairing of sax superstars Euge Groove and Richard Elliot. R&B crooners headlining Saturday evening’s show include Keith Sweat, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and Eric Benet. The Sunday session includes singers Ledisi and Anthony Hamilton, as well as Jazz numbers from Brian Culbertson, who is on his 20th anniversary tour playing familiar favorites from his original songbook that boasts 27 Billboard No. 1 singles. Popular jazz vocalist Will Downing and songstress Leela James will also perform, as well as sax players Elan Trotman and Jessy J with vocal stylist Selina Albright as a trio. For detailed information, go to (www.lvjazzfestival.com)
Multi-platinum recording artist Mariah Carey and actor/artist/television host Nick Cannon are separated. Cannon told one news source last week; “There is trouble in paradise. We have been living in separate houses for several months.” According to Vibe magazine, Cannon has been living in hotels and the couple has been arguing frequently. Apparently Carey suspects Cannon of infidelity, but Cannon tells a different story and has gone so far as to say that she is not mentally stable. TMZ reported that divorce is immanent and that the couple’s attorneys are already working on a property settlement and a custody agreement for the two children. One source told E News that the two stopped getting along months ago. “This is not all of a sudden. There have been issues for a while… She wants to end it and it has been in the works for months, which is why her house in the Bahamas and the house in Bel-Air are on the market.” Carey (44) and Cannon (33) were married in the Bahamas in April of 2008. In April 2011, Carey gave birth to twins Moroccan and Monroe. The split comes as a surprise to many, as the couple went out of its way each year to renew its wedding vows.