Waters Applauds Decision by Six NBA Teams to Boycott Playoff Games Following the Shooting of Jacob Blake

LOS ANGELES – Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Chair of the House Financial Services Committee (FSC), issued a statement today applauding the players of six NBA teams for deciding to sit out yesterday’s three playoff games following the shooting of Jacob Blake, the Kenosha Wisconsin father who was shot seven times in the back in front of his children by a Kenosha police officer.

“I commend the players of the Milwaukee Bucks, Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trailblazers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets for expressing their outrage, frustration and disgust at the violence which continues to be perpetrated by the police upon unarmed African Americans.

“These incidents, fueled by white supremacy and racism, have been happening for generations, only to be swept under the rug. It is only through the spotlight being shone upon them by high profile public figures, the tireless work of civil rights advocates, Black elected officials and the increased presence of cell phone video that our country is finally realizing how commonplace it is for Black people to fall victim to police violence.

“I am especially proud of individuals such as former NBA athlete, now sports analyst, Marques Johnson and Los Angeles Clippers coach ‘Doc’ Rivers who have decided that ‘enough is enough’ and are willing to show America how painful this injustice has been for its Black citizens by expressing their honest emotions of anguish and frustration. I also commend the players of the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, Atlanta Dream, Los Angeles Sparks, Minnesota Lynx, Connecticut Sun and Phoenix Mercury for joining this boycott and not playing their games last night.

“The women athletes of the WNBA have long inspired us by their willingness to stand up to injustice day in and day out. I am hopeful that despite the great challenges we face, 2020 can be a watershed moment for America to finally and truly come to grips with its deeply rooted personal and institutional racism.

“Without shame, Mitch McConnell has buried the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in his legislative graveyard while Black families bury their loved ones who should still be with us. Instead of banning no-knock warrants and chokeholds that could have prevented the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and many others, Republicans would rather conduct studies and request data. To them I say: the data is the blood on the street. We don’t need data to validate what we experience. We need action and we need it now.”

‘Black Panther’ star Chadwick Boseman dies at 43

Actor Chadwick Boseman, who brought the movie “Black Panther” to life with his charismatic intensity and regal performance, has died.

Boseman has battled colon cancer since 2016 and died at home with his family and wife by his side, according to a statement posted on his Twitter account. He was 43.

“A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you so many of the films you have come to love so much,” the statement said.

“From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more, all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy.”

With his role as King T’Challa in the boundary-breaking film “Black Panther,” he became a global icon and an inspiring symbol of Black power. That role was the “honor of (Boseman’s) career,” the statement said.

He graduated from Howard University

A South Carolina native, Boseman graduated in 2000 from Howard University, a historically Black college in Washington, DC. While there, he also attended the British American Drama Academy at Oxford in 1998.

“It is with profound sadness that we mourn the loss of alumnus Chadwick Boseman who passed away this evening. His incredible talent will forever be immortalized through his characters and through his own personal journey from student to superhero! Rest in Power, Chadwick!” University President Wayne A. I. Frederick said in a statement.

Boseman’s breakout performance came in 2013 when he played Jackie Robinson in the film “42.” Boseman’s passing was announced the day Major League Baseball honored Jackie Robinson Day, an annual commemoration delayed by several months due to the pandemic.

“His transcendent performance in ’42’ will stand the test of time and serve as a powerful vehicle to tell Jackie’s story to audiences for generations to come,” Major League Baseball tweeted Friday about the actor.

Boseman made his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in 2016 as T’Challa/Black Panther in “Captain America: Civil War. Black Panther then got his own stand-alone movie that released in 2018, which broke box office records. Marvel Studios president had previously announced the second movie of the “Black Panther” saga would debut in theaters in May 2022.

The actor starred in other films, including playing James Brown in “Get On Up” and Thurgood Marshall in “Marshall.”

Boseman returned to his alma mater in 2018 to give the commencement speech. He told the graduates about his early days acting on soap operas, saying he was fired from an unnamed production after he questioned what he felt was its stereotypical portrayal of Black characters.

“The struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose,” he said at the time.

He concluded with his iconic “Wakanda Forever” salute.

‘A superhero to many’

Boseman “brought history to life” with his roles, Martin Luther King III said.

“As Black Panther, he was also a superhero to many,” he wrote on Twitter. “And despite his 4 year long battle with cancer, he kept fighting and he kept inspiring. He will be missed.”

The NAACP also paid tribute to the actor, saying Boseman showed “us how to conquer adversity with grace.”

“For showing us how to ‘Say it Loud!’ For (showing) us how to walk as a King, without losing the common touch. For showing us just how powerful we are,” their Instagram statement said. “Thank you ChadwickBoseman.”

Sen. Kamala Harris, who also attended Howard, said she was heartbroken over Boseman’s death.

“My friend and fellow Bison Chadwick Boseman was brilliant, kind, learned, and humble,” she tweeted. “He left too early but his life made a difference. Sending my sincere condolences to his family.”

Actor Mark Ruffalo, who starred aside Boseman in the Marvel movies as the Hulk, said the death adds to the growing list of tragedies in 2020.

“What a man, and what an immense talent,” Ruffalo tweeted. “Brother, you were one of the all time greats and your greatness was only beginning. Lord love ya. Rest in power, King.”

A’lelia Bundles Offers Praise and Critique of Netflix’ “Self Made” at Virtual Screening of Walker Documentary

WORLD Channel recently hosted a virtual discussion, screening, and Q&A with filmmaker Stanley Nelson and Madame C.J. Walker biographer, A’lelia Bundles. The host of WORLD Channel’s Local USA, Tina Martin, led the Q&A and discussion of Nelson’s timeless 1981 documentary on Madame C.J. Walker’s life, “Two Dollars And A Dream,” now streaming on WORLD’s YouTube channel.

Walker has become more popular as a historical figure over the past decade; known to many as the woman who pioneered the Black hair care industry.

The film showcases the promotional slides Walker used to market her products, clips of marketing films made by the Walker company, interviews with former employees, and rare archival photos including those of her palatial estate in New York, and of Walker with luminaries such as Booker T Washington and WEB DuBois, further broadening understanding of all Walker was and did.

Nelson made “Two Dollars And A Dream” when very few were aware of Walker’s contributions to American business. His friendship with Bundles goes all the way back before the making of the film. Bundles revealed during the discussion that she helped do the audio for some of the interviews.

Much of the discussion focused on the 2020 Netflix limited series, “Self Made,” about Walker’s life, starring Octavia Spencer; with Bundles and Nelson parsing what the series got right and what it didn’t. Bundles lauded Ocatvia Spencer’s depiction enthusing, “I thought Octavia Spencer was perfectly cast as Madame Walker. Every time she came on screen, I could see the pages of my book coming alive.”

Bundles also expressed her pleasure at the show’s depiction of successful early twentieth century Blacks. “I think there are a lot of people, both Black and white, who don’t know anything about that. They don’t know that there were prosperous, educated Black people back then.”

Because the public is still just learning about Walker, however, there are things, Bundles feels could have been done differently. “It’s one thing if you’re George Washington or Marilyn Monroe and there are 52 films out there about you, you can take more creative license. But with a first pass, it’s helpful if we don’t distort people too much.”

Bundles would also have preferred that Walker’s romantic relationships reflected reality more. In “Self Made,” Walker’s daughter A’lelia (played by Tiffany Haddish) had a relationship with a woman named Esther. “Esther was not a real person,” explained Bundles. “A’lelia Walker’s real life conflict was over two men, both of them doctors and both of whom she married.”

FB Ransom, played by Kevin Carroll, was also overly distorted. Ransom worked at The Walker Company for over 30 years. He oversaw many developments including the Walker Building in Indianapolis, a precursor to the modern day shopping mall. Ransom, who is also Nelson’s grandfather, Bundles shared, “was a much stronger character and was really a straight arrow. As a young man he made an oath to never drink, smoke, or gamble.”

She explained she has voiced her concerns during the series’ development. “I objected very strongly to the way that they depicted Ransom. He was central to the day to day operations of the business. It was made to seem as if he, or a Black business, would do something illegal. That didn’t happen.”

To this Nelson added, “That generation coming out of enslavement, were strivers. They believed that if you walked the straight and narrow, and you strove and pushed, good things would happen. There were Blacks who might have gone to juke joints but the ones associated with the company, were very strict.”

Bundles also found the handling of the Madame C.J. Walker and Addie Munro relationship problematic. She admitted that the two businesswomen became adversaries. However, she clarified that the colorist dynamic applied to the Addie Munro character was totally fabricated. “I would not have done the Addie Munro character,” Bundles stated. “She was a stand-in for Annie Malone, who was a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist who didn’t have a colorism issue.”

Perhaps the most exciting reveal was that Bundles is working on a new book. “There’s a lot I’ve learned in the past ten years. There’s certainly more than Stanley knew when he was making “Two Dollars and A Dream,” so we have more dimensions for the A’lelia Walker story and I’m really eager to tell that story.

Voices of Carmen A Youthful New Twist on an Old Opera Classic

An award-winning actress/director/choreographer has brought a youthful, modern-day flavor to a century-and-a-half old opera classic. CJay Philip, Artistic Director of Dance & Bmore, a multidisciplinary Baltimore based ensemble, is the creator of “Voices of Carmen” (VOC), a musical adaptation of the opera Carmen.

Set in a high school, the VOC musical brings a contemporary spin to this iconic story that’s filled with fresh, yet familiar renditions of George Bizet’s compositions, as well as a dozen original Pop, Hip Hop and R&B songs, written and arranged by Philip, and her husband Winston Philip.

A virtual performance of excerpts through the Enoch Pratt Library premiered July 20, 2020, and an out- door “Carmen Concert” will take place July 30, 2020 at Eager Park

“I’m very excited to continue this program for our young people who had so much of their lives cancelled this year already,” said Philip. “Despite the state of the world, we felt that the show must go on and have been figuring out how to produce a virtual/video production that I think will be groundbreaking for a musical.”

Carmen is an opera by Georges Bizet based on an 1845 novella by French dramatist Prosper Mérimée. The title character, a wild Spanish gypsy, is unscrupulous in matters of the law and of he heart. Carmen is an enduring story of passion, lust, jealousy, obsession, and revenge.

“Twelve years ago, I wrote this adaptation of Carmen,” said Philip. “I wrote the script and we had a summer program in the hills of Switzerland. We had lines wrapped around the block to see the show. I wanted to do the show in the U.S. All I needed answered was the ‘when?’ and ‘why’? My husband and I moved to Baltimore in 2010. As soon as I met the young people in Baltimore, I was like ‘OMG, these young folks are really talented.’ That answered the ‘when?’ and ‘why?’ In 2018, I formed the Carmen Youth Council.

”She added, “I gathered around the Youth Council, and in February we started doing workshops. I asked them if they thought the story of Carmen was too far-fetched. They said it was happening everyday at school. The production was an opportunity to look at the emotional health of our youth.

” The piece examines escalating conflict among young people, and hopes to serve as a catalyst for community dialogue and improved emotional health and aware- ness, while providing resources for conflict resolution. VOC has 34 young people, 26 cast members and eight crew members mentored by a staff of eight adults.

“There are 19 zip codes and 20 schools represented,” said Philip. “Before the shutdown happened due to COVID-19, we wanted youth to have a voice inside this musical. We give them a lot of leadership. I am so blown away by our young people. They are so creative. I am so excited.”

In addition to rehearsals, every Wednesday special guests present workshops in job training and professional development for the cast and crew. There are also workshops on three social emotional components that build on each other – Emotional Intelligence (reading, video, and written reflection); Restorative Practices workshop led by Restorative Response Baltimore; and a teen workshop on Intimate Partner Abuse by the House of Ruth.

CJay Philip, Artistic Director of Dance & Bmore, is the creator of Voices of Carmen

Courtesy Photo

CJay Philip, Artistic Director of Dance & Bmore, is the creator of Voices of Carmen

“VOC premiered in Baltimore in July of 2019,” said Philip. “Looking at 2020, we had every expectation to do this live. We partnered with the House of Ruth working with young people. I wanted to do something for people who feel they are at the edge. The theme for our show is ‘Crossroads.’ You can make a decision that can change the trajectory of your life.” Philip, who has performed in several Broadway productions, has directed and choreographed hundreds of musical and performance events around the world including “The Who’s Tommy,” and the Emmy Award–winning NBC broadcast of the “McDonalds Gospel Fest.” She teaches Interdisciplinary Collaboration at Baltimore School for the Arts, and Musical Theater at Baltimore Centerstage. “Carmen is fiery, but substantive,” she said, noting the production was submitted and chosen by several theater festivals. “One of the other important things about this show, is that it can be duplicated. Schools don’t have to cancel their musical. They can still be fully engaged.”

According to Philip, VOC is being made available for production at schools and regional theaters across the country. Included in the production package are best practices for collaboration between students and faculty: safe space guidelines, collaborative language, and youth leadership roles developed by the Carmen Youth Council.

On July 30, 2020 at 6:30 p.m., an out door “Carmen Concert” will be held in Eager Park, located on N. Wolfe Street. The event is free, but attendees are asked to register through Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/voices-of-carmen-outdoor-concert-tickets-114354027976.

On August 13-14, 2020 at 8 p.m., VOC will hold a drive-in “Carmen Concert” performance in partnership with Motor House on W. North Ave. On August 27, 2020, a movie musical live-stream of VOC will premier at 7 p.m. on Voices of Carmen YouTube Channel, followed by a VIP virtual After Party withthe cast.

FILM REVIEW: Fatal Affair


Fatal Affair Starring Nia Long + Omar Epps | Official Trailer | Netflix

Dull suspense/thrillers are most often mired in formula. Example: Woman in distress. Man stalks her. Confrontations and narrow escapes. Big do-or-die finale. The Perfect Guy (Sanaa Lathan is hounded by Michael Ealy) stuck to those basics. Fatal Affair does too and adds nothing new to the mix.

Director/writer Peter Sullivan and co-writer Rasheeda Garner stay on the path most traveled. Even their setting seems generic and predictable: Coastal hideaway HGTV gray home with white shutters in the fictional California town of Ocean Crest. You’d almost expect to see the crew from House Hunters, Love It or List It or Property Brothers in the next frame introducing the couple to their new house.

Ellie (Nia Long), a corporate attorney, is going through a transition. She’s leaving her San Francisco firm and preparing to start her own practice. She’s just moved out of the city to a quieter small town and a plush beachside property. Her husband Marcus (Stephen Bishop, Moneyball) is an architect recovering from a physical injury. Their daughter Brittany (Aubrey Cleland) attends U.C. Berkeley and is home on occasion.

Shortly before her departure, Ellie’s company hires David (Omar Epps), a tech expert, to do some consulting and espionage work for a client. Cue the drum roll: Ellie and David have history. Their “friends in college” backstory includes him liking her and her shading him. One night when Ellie is expecting to meet her gal pal Courtney (Maya Stojan, TV’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) for drinks, she invites the ever-attentive David along. Courtney bows out, leaving David and Ellie to rehash the past and rekindle a flame. Flirtations turn into fondling. She cuts it off. He’s gotta have it.

Obsession. Overwrought passion. Fixation. Call it what you want, David’s drive to land a woman who disses him goes beyond the pale, deep into an uncontrollable mental illness. Making his manic state riveting would require forethought, development and innovation. All of that is lacking.

The antagonist certainly has a mean streak, but it is never diabolical. Frightful, never eerie. Pedestrian, never over-the-top. The protagonist is caught in a hard place. Scared of him but even more petrified of her husband finding out she was this-far from giving it up to another man. Sprinkles of violence, battery, abuse and terror ensue. Very little blood is spattered. Nothing graphic enough to make you avert your eyes. If abject fear — the whole point of a good thriller — never shows up on the screen, you won’t feel it at home either.

Visually, what’s on view is a step up from what was in the old days referred to as a “straight-to-video” title. In these days of streaming, these kinds of B-movies are now blending into higher and lower quality films that find more accessible homes on Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, HBO Max… Places where mediocrity can have a long, on-demand shelf life among gems.

Matthew Janszen’s musical score, with its sinister violins, screeches at the right times, but that isn’t a compliment. Darcy C. Scanlin’s production design, Debra Echard’s set decoration and Alex Stamm’s art direction make all the homes, offices and bars look artificial. There is a tacky glossiness to Eitan Almagor’s cinematography that wipes away any realism. And Randy Carter’s editing, though swift at cutting the proceedings down to 89 minutes, neither helps nor hinders.

The script pulls on everyday vulnerabilities many long-standing couples face. Ellie confesses to David that her marriage has issues: “One day you wake up 20 years later and the person next to you is a complete stranger.” Fine. Then the plotline becomes far-fetched and never comes back to earth: As it becomes clearer that the tech wizard is willing to threaten her marriage and family, Ellie sets up a meeting with David in a restaurant. What really scared woman would invite her stalker to brunch? Sullivan and Garner needed to dig a lot deeper for the dialogue, characters’ backstories and motivations to turn this drivel into something remotely compelling. Something that would make Fatal Affair more fiendish and macabre like Fatal Attraction.

Paul Sullivan’s direction lacks style, which puts more pressure on the storyline and plot pieces to rouse anxiety and keep an audience’s attention. As the feeble thriller aspects mount, desperate phone calls are dialed, missed opportunities to escape grow and touches of gruesomeness add up to nothing. If you’re debating a trip to the fridge as the film progresses, don’t. Just get up and grab that beer, soda or pint of ice cream and be assured that you won’t miss one crucial plot detail that will stop you from figuring out how the film will end…

Fans of Nia Long will be happy to know that she still has her chops. She’s as beautiful as she was back in Boyz ‘N the Hood days. Older, more mature and as captivating. Omar Epps is a solid actor always capable of making you believe his character. Both seem far better than the material. The unlikely scene-stealer is Stephen Bishop. His career is not as storied as the two lead actors, which makes him a bit of a mystery. He turns the role of Marcus into the guy next door, a man who you think you know from somewhere, but you really don’t. Friendly, concerned and adapting as things spiral out of control, Bishop deserves a leading role in a film.

Fatal Affair never builds to the dramatic desperation its genre requires. Never becomes more than the sum of its parts. That’s a crime. More of a crime than any felony in the movie.

Visit NNPA News Wire Film Critic Dwight Brown at DwightBrownInk.com and BlackPressUSA.com.

” The Show Must go on” Camp Hippodrome Holds Performance Via Zoom

Spectators had the opportunity to “Zoom” in to watch this year’s Camp Hippodrome participants as they performed a choreographed dance routine to a “Hairspray” medley. The live performance took place Thursday, July 9, 2020 from the homes of the campers, and epitomized the old showbiz saying, ‘the show must go on.’

Sponsored in part by JP Morgan Chase and the PNC Charitable Trust, Camp Hippodrome offers two, one-week programs every summer. The camp’s second week culminated with the memorable dance routine, which the campers performed via the software platform Zoom.

Leading up to the ‘Grand Finale’ of this year’s Camp Hippodrome, middle school students in Baltimore City and Baltimore County logged into Zoom for musical workshops, choreography training, and career sessions for campers to learn more about future career opportunities in theatre.

Camp Hippodrome is a free program that provides students with the opportunity to receive professional instruction during the summer at the Hippodrome Theatre.

Following the performance, Jeremiah Sutton, Constance Tittle, and Bailey Cordell, talked about participating in this year’s Camp Hippodrome, which could not be held at The Hippodrome due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Me and the other kids all have one thing in common, and that is that we all wanted to come to camp,” said Jeremiah, who attends Sudbrook Magnet Middle School.

Jeremiah also talked about “Hairspray,” the Broadway musical based on John Waters’ 1988 film of the same name.

“The message of Hairspray is really good,” said Jeremiah. “People will realize how long ago it was written, and see in real life it is happening right now.”

Constance attends Ridgely Middle School.

“Ever since I was little, I have wanted to sing and reach out to people and connect with people,” said Constance, who is participating in the camp for the third time. “Virtual camp was more than I expected. This is better than being there for me. This virtual camp is just so amazing, and I just thank God for Wi-Fi.”

This year marked Bailey’s first time participating in Camp Hippodrome.

“I have always liked to perform,” said Bailey who attends Pine Grove Middle School. “It’s a great way to connect with people, a great way to communicate through art, and a great way to get your feelings and thoughts across without being super bland.”

She added, “It gives us something fun to do. They [Camp Hippodrome] tell us about unions, we meet special guests, we learn about monologues and things we are supposed to do. They help us so much and it is a great experience for anyone who wants to be an actor. Despite being miles away, we still did fun things and managed to create this great environment.”

Olive Waxter is the executive director of The Hippodrome Foundation.

“We have this incredible, most beautiful resource in the state of Maryland,” said Waxter. “It’s a little frustrating—we all have to be safe and follow the rules. But I am proud of them and they have risen to the challenge. I know they would prefer to be here at The Hippodrome.”

When asked if she questioned whether or not Camp Hippodrome would take place this year,

Waxter said: “I really had doubts about a virtual camp. But, I knew we had to do something. I had doubts about if we would be able to establish the relationships, and if the intimacy would be the same. But computers, digital and screens are something the kids understand better than we do.”

She added, “It has been quite a surprise. I was a doubter and I should not have been. It has been a fun experience seeing the kids get better and better with their skills. They are all gutsy. My favorite moment is always the finale. I love to see the kids having fun. That’s what this is all about. This year was kind of emotional.”

Barb Wirsing is the Education Director of The Hippodrome Foundation.

“I usually have my Kleenex,” said Wirsing. “They are just incredibly talented youth. It brings me to tears.”

Walters Art Museum Announces Summer Art Adventures: Museum at Home Edition

The Walters Art Museum is pleased to announce its free Summer Art Adventures program. Designed for ages 6 to 11 and combining live workshops, at-home art making projects, and art making videos, Summer Art Adventures features a variety of formats to support busy schedules and learning preferences.

Live workshops led by Walters educators are offered on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, with morning classes designed for ages 6 to 8, and afternoon sessions for children aged 9 to 11-years-old. In addition, Summer Art Adventures includes downloadable activity packets that include an introduction to a work of art from the Walters collection, an art-making project using materials that can be gathered from around the house, coloring sheet, and a scavenger hunt.

“Our free summer programming is

another way we are fulfilling an important part of our mission, which is to serve as an educational partner with families in the region,” said Julia Marciari-Alexander, Andrea B. and John H. Laporte

Director. “We want to connect students with art and learning throughout the summer months and during this challenging time, it’s vital to provide working parents with additional no-cost resources that cater to their specific needs.”

To accommodate families with limited

Internet access, 2,000 Summer Art Adventures Art Kits are available for free for Baltimore City and County residents and can be picked up at distribution sites around the city. Each kit, available in English and Spanish, includes the activity packet along with all of the supplies needed to complete the art making activity.

“Summer Art Adventures is a free digital version of some of our most popular offerings and everything is designed to give options to families that best suit their schedules and access to technology,” said Amanda Kodeck, Ruth R. Marder Director of Education. “Each 75-minute program is interactive, led by professional educators, and aims to connect students with works from the collection that span the globe. Kids will have opportunities to participate in art games or challenges, and to explore their own creative process with fun and imaginative art making.”

The themes and dates for each week are:

*Fashion Forward—July 20-24

*Full STEAM Ahead—July 27-31

*The Natural World—August 3-7

*Art Tales—August 10-14

Registration is available at: thewalters.org.

Thousands View NNPA’s First Virtual Convention

The first virtual convention in the 80-year history of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) earned a thumbs-up from partners and sponsors.

The successful event’s website, vitualnnpa2020.com, generated more than 55,000 pageviews to conference attendees in only two days. Several hundred thousand additional impressions were generated by social media posts and livestreams on Facebook and YouTube.

“We share in your excitement and applaud your efforts in successfully executing the first virtual NNPA Annual Convention,” Lester Booker, of General Motors Communications, wrote in a congratulatory email to NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.

“Over the past two days, I’ve had the opportunity to view some of the convention and was impressed with its content, execution, and professionalism,” Booker continued, noting that GM officials continue to value and appreciate the company’s more than 50-year partnership with the Black Press of America.

Several other partners and sponsors joined General Motors, including Pfizer Rare Disease, RAI Services Company, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the NFL, Facebook Journalism Project, AARP, Black Hollywood Education Resource Center (BHERC), Hyundai, Wells Fargo, Molson Coors, Volkswagen, The United States Census, Comcast Universal, Compassion & Choices, API, Ascension, Nissan, and UAW.

“The NNPA overall is pleased with the impact, the reach and the engagement across the United States and throughout the world for our first virtual convention,” NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., stated.

“This represents a tremendous step forward for the Black Press of America. We note that during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Black Press of America has been able to overcome many of the obstacles that the pandemic continues to present. We plan to rebroadcast the virtual NNPA 2020 convention as soon as we conclude some post-production edits and additions.”

Chavis added that the NNPA remains most grateful to its corporate sponsors for helping to make the first virtual convention a success.

“We intend to let the world know that we appreciate our partners and sponsors and their support,” Chavis declared.

Claudette Perry, the NNPA’s executive administrator, stated that she’s breathing a sigh of relief that the convention was well-received by so many viewers.

“I was very delighted that many of the celebrities whose stories have been conveyed through the Black Press for decades showed their appreciation for our publishers with their congratulatory sentiments on our first virtual convention as well as their recognition of 193 years of the Black Press,” Perry said.

“To the NNPA in-house production team, I say thank you for all the great content and design you brought to the convention virtual space. You are awesome. I thank also the young people on the technology panel who had great advice for us ‘beyond millennials.’”

Perry continued:

“To our corporate partners and sponsors I extend my deepest appreciation for their support of our 2020 convention. The NNPA will continue showing its support for each of you, post-convention and throughout the year.”

Sparking the interests were several important topics and a host of celebrity guests, including livestream interviews and performances by Deniece Williams, Anthony Hamilton, Carlos Santana, Cindy Blackman Santana, Sandra “Salt” Denton, Boyz II Men’s Shawn Stockman, and journalist Jemele Hill.

“The livestreams were amazing with all of the big names that we had it really brought an element that you don’t always see at a conference, and it really has helped to shine a spotlight on our publishers,” NNPA Chair Karen Carter Richards declared. “The shoutouts to the Black Press from people like Magic Johnson, Sen. Kamala Harris, Rep. Maxine Waters, Attorney Joey Jackson, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and the others were simply delightful.”

Richards noted that she’s grateful to the partners and sponsors of the NNPA, and she’s elated that each continues to support the publishers of the Black Press of America.

“That’s who I’m so happy for today,” Richards said.

“Our publishers work so hard, and they have fought the good fight for so long, this conference and what NNPA has put together and accomplished with digital has let the world know how vital the Black Press is and always have been.”

Following opening remarks by Chavis, Richards, and NNPA Convention Chair Terry Jones, Wells Fargo presented a discussion titled, “Navigating Finances through COVID-19,” which was followed by a webinar titled, “Hope, Misinformation, Fear, Sickness and Death: Physicians Discuss the Impact of COVID-19 on Black Communities.”

That physicians’ webinar included nationally-renown African American physicians Ebony Jade Hilton, Leigh-Ann Webb, Taison Bell, Cameron Webb, and Rochanda Mitchell who all are members of the NNPA Coronavirus Task Force.

Terry Jones emphasized, “The Virtual NNPA 2020 Annual Convention was impactful across the nation and throughout the world via print, online and social media. The Black Press retains its relevancy as the trusted voice of Black America.”

A webinar about the Black Press of America’s future engagement and empowerment, included Mississippi Link Publisher Jackie Hampton, AFRO Publisher Dr. Frances Draper, Cincinnati Herald Publisher Jan Michele Kearney, “Make it Plain” host Mark Thompson, and Washington Informer Editor D. Kevin McNeir.

“I thought it was time we show the larger scale folks that we do the same kind of work they do,” McNeir stated during the webinar.

“I’ve been with the Black Press for 25 years. I believe we have a story that is unique and significant, and it has not gotten old. We give the Black story, that’s who we are.”

Day 1 of the conference concluded with the NNPA National Townhall titled, “Education and the Future of Black America, From Pre-K to High School and onto College.”

The education town hall panel included Dr. Peggy Edwards-Jones, Kathryn Procope, and Dr. Elizabeth Primas, program manager of the NNPA Education Public Awareness Program.

The second day of the convention featured webinars on “Technology and Innovation: The Challenges and the Opportunities for the Black Press,” that included data scientists Enchanta Jackson and Jamercia Gray, computer scientist Perry Busby, New York Beacon Associate Publisher Ashley Smith, and Westside Gazette Publisher Bobby Henry Sr. The final webinar of the convention was “Black Millennial Voices and Visions for Transformation,” hosted by Houston Forward Times award winning Associate Editor and BlackPressUSA columnist Jeffrey Boney. The millennial panel included Micha Green, Editor of the Washington, DC AFRO; Lafayette Barnes IV, Editor of The Bridge and Assistant Editor of The Washington Informer; and Franklin Chavis, founder and curator of Black Millennial Voices.

The conference concluded with a star-studded awards ceremony and performances that included a stirring rendition of “You’ve Got a Friend,” by The Temptations, who dedicated their performance to the Black Press, two special songs by Supremes legend Mary Wilson and a pre-recorded performance by Ziggy Marley.

Wilson received the NNPA Lifetime Trailblazer Achievement Award, and Marley received the NNPA Global Icon Award which he dedicated to his legendary parents, Bob and Rita Marley.

“I’ve received many awards throughout my life, but this one feels special to me,” Marley stated in accepting his award. “Music is a powerful tool. Human beings have powerful beings. We can achieve whatever we wish to achieve if we are willing to do what it takes to achieve it. Standing up or kneeling down.”

Public Enemy’s Chuck D, Attorney Ben Crump, Hip-Hop Legend MC Lyte and Congresswoman Karen Bass, Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, were also among those receiving awards.

“Receiving the Outstanding Congressional Leadership Award, I am humble. The work that we have done together over the last few years have been so important to us as a nation, but also to me personally,” Representative Bass stated. “I will take this award and continue to work on behalf of Black America.”

Before concluding the night with a special recorded music mix by DJ D-Nice, hip-hop legend, actor, and entrepreneur Ice Cube received the Artist of the 21st Century Award.

“It’s an amazing honor and would like to thank everyone responsible for getting me this award,” Ice Cube stated. “This is a very cool honor from the Black Press of America. I’ve learned from some of the artist who’ve come before me that just being an artist and not trying to move the social landscape forward in some way, shape, or form is a waste of opportunity.”

‘If Loving You Is Wrong’ Actress Edwina Findley Talks Tyler Perry, Passion and Protest

Like many Americans of late, Washington DC native and actress Edwina Findley has become more politically active recently The actress who is fresh off of closing out her role on Tyler Perry’s series “If Loving You Is Wrong” has also appeared on Shots Fired starring Sanaa Lathan, Ava DuVernay’s Middle of Nowhere, and Red Tails about the Tuskegee Airmen.

Findley, driven by the recent incidents of police brutality and of course, the death of George Floyd has taken to the streets with thousands of others to make her voice be heard. The actress explained to The Baltimore Times that though she has always been an activist in other ways such as her public speaking, or acting in projects like Shots Fired, “This time, I really felt like, in addition to those things, protesting was important. Being out there, being seen was important. It was another method of joining in this fight for justice.”

Courtesy Photo

“If Loving You Is Wrong”

Findley studied theatre and classical music at storied high school Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC. It was a place she knew she wanted to go since she was a little girl. “When I was eight, I begged my mom to let me go to Duke Ellington,” she recalls. It was a bit too early for eight year-old Edwina but there were plenty of other opportunities in the area for Edwina to start training in the performing arts. “There were all these different programs around town specifically for young predominantly African American artists to help us find our voice and cultivate our talents. For that I am honestly grateful. Growing up in DC is something that I will always treasure.”

After graduating NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Findley cut her TV acting teeth playing Tosha Mitchell in HBO’s classic drama “The Wire.” She says, “It was wonderful. I was working at the Shakespeare Theater in DC when I got the role of Tosha so I was in Baltimore during the day robbing drug dealers and then running back to DC in the evening to do Shakespeare!”

Findley also feels fortunate to have worked on the Tyler Perry created, written, and directed soapy drama, “If Loving You is Wrong,” for five years as “Bright-eyed, somewhat naive, dream-filled” Kelly Isaacs. It was her first time working in that genre and the loyalty and passion of soap fans was one of the best parts of the whole experience for her. “When I go somewhere and I see them, they tell me all the ways in which they wanted to defend me from these crazy lovers. I love how invested the African-American demo that watches the show have been in the plotlines and the characters. They love the drama, the twists and turns, and they love us!”

She also feels fortunate that the show allowed her to get to know Perry and Oprah Winfrey, on whose network the show aired. “Humility is personified in him in the most beautiful way. My experience of Tyler has been that it’s been as important for him to bring other people up as it has been for him to be successful himself. He takes great pride in sharing that success with others. When you’re in his presence you never feel like he’s doing all the things he’s doing. He’s right there with you. And I feel the same about Oprah.”

Though Black Lives Matter felt intensely personal for many of us, it truly hit Findley close to home. Her cousin and his friends, who all attend Morehouse and Spelman, were recently targeted by police. “They were absolutely brutalized by police with no provocation at all. You can be as upstanding as you want, that doesn’t protect you from police brutality or racism.”

Though her cousin is physically okay, she shares that he battles with the after effects. “The level of fear now imposed on him is not fair. He wasn’t walking around the world like that before.”

Edwina and the family have stepped in to help her cousin cope with the trauma. “We’ve been trying to assure him he’s surrounded by people who are here to protect him and care for him.”

Even with the misfortune, Findley is optimistic about the impact the protests have had. “I think we all feel it. This time something is different. This movement is both public and behind the scenes. We’re seeing people who have not historically paid attention, pay attention and I’m encouraged seeing the changes.”

Biracial educator pens anti-racism book

A new book hitting shelves this month is designed to help guide children, teens and adults in their discussion about racism. Tiffany Jewell has penned, “This Book is Anti-Racist,” in which she notes that some have given the impression that individuals are wrong and even stirring trouble when they discuss racism.

“Racism is a problem, a very serious problem, and it needs to be talked about because it isn’t going away if we do nothing,” said Jewell, who describes herself as a “biracial writer, parent and Montessori educator who has been doing the work of dismantling white supremacy for 12 years.”

The co-founder of #AntiRacistBookClub, Jewell, says the book’s importance is underscored by the demonstrations and protests that are taking place globally in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis.

She ys while the philosophy of anti-racism has been growing in awareness in the last few years, “This Book is Anti-Racist,” is the first about anti-racism for teenagers, and aims to empower young people to disrupt racist systems that previous generations have put in place.

“Anti-racism has helped me to have a clearer understanding of the world around me, how we got here, and it has helped me to shape a clear vision of what an anti-racist, just society could and will be like,” Jewell said. “These questions do not only arise when injustice is being discussed in the news; bias and racism are not only new today. They are foundational in this country. They are issues of our past, our present, and our tomorrow.” Jewell added that she wrote the book for everyone.

“This is the book I wish I had when I was nine years old, sitting in a classroom with a racist teacher. I wrote this for all my former students who always want to know more and want to know that, even though they’re young, they do have the agency to make impactful change,” she said. “And, this is the book I want my children to read. I wrote this book for parents and families for educators and administrators. I wrote it for all the students and children who live in our racialized society— which is everywhere.” Jewell insists— “this book is for our ancestors. It’s for our futures. It’s for all the young black, indigenous and people of color, like Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Tamir Rice, who [were] murdered by the hands of those we are supposed to go to for help. Our young ancestors should not be simply memorialized in our hashtags— they deserve more than that.”

Jewell says many white adults are just now coming to terms that racism harms everyone. She noted that they’re dealing with the fact that, to undo a system that strips us of our humanity, they’ll have to relearn who they can be and redistribute

resources, privilege and wealth children of color may live in a more equitable and just world.

“Because the adults are scared and uncomfortable, it is immediately assumed that the children will be too— and they cannot handle the truth,” Jewell said. “They can. Talking with children about race, their identities, and sharing truths with them is very developmentally appropriate. Keeping children innocent reinforces white supremacy culture. Children [of color] are not afforded the same innocence white children are allowed to have.

“Not speaking the truth reinforces racism. It allows us to believe it’s normal. If we don’t talk with our children about injustice and systemic oppression, they’ll still have their questions and form their answers, which can be inaccurate and confusing.”

To purchase “This Book is Anti-Racist,” visit: www.amazon.com.