Queen Latifah To Receive 2018 Marian Anderson Award

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Queen Latifah will be honored this coming November with an award named after a pioneering opera singer. The Marian Anderson Award, given in Philadelphia, honors artists whose leadership benefits humanity. It celebrates critically acclaimed artists who have impacted society in a positive way, through their work and their support for an important cause. A few of the awards’ past recipients include Quincy Jones, Oprah Winfrey, Danny Glover, and many more.

Queen Latifah, a true renaissance woman, is a musician, television and film actress, label president, author and entrepreneur. She has won a Grammy Award, an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, two NAACP Image Awards, an Academy Award nomination and accumulated sales of over two million records. Queen Latifah’s artistic talent is matched by her commitment to philanthropic causes making her a perfect choice for the Marian Anderson Award.

Mayor Jim Kenney says Queen Latifah is “an excellent role model and clearly well-deserving of this prestigious honor.”

Queen Latifah will receive her award on November 20th during the 20th Anniversary Marian Anderson Award Gala and Concert at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.

Mary J. Blige, Naomi Campbell, Tarana Burke & More To Be Honored At 2018 ‘Black Girls Rock’ Awards

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It was recently announced that Queen Latifah will be hosting this year’s Black Girls Rock awards ceremony, which takes place at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s Prudential Hall in Newark.

Honorees of the night include legendary R&B singer Mary J. Blige, who will be receiving the Star Power Award, supermodel Naomi Campbell, who will receive the Black Girl Magic Award, iconic dancer and choreographer Judith Jamison, who will be receiving the Living Legend Award, and actress and screenwriter Lena Waithe, who will receive the Shot Caller Award. Other honorees of the night include Tarana Burke, who will take home the well-deserved Community Change Agent Award for her work in creating the #MeToo movement.

Involved in music at an early age, Mary J. Blige started out singing in the church; and like most songbirds, it later blossomed into a love for entertaining. The Bronx native became the first and youngest female recording artist to sign with Uptown Records at the age of 18. Her debut album, What’s the 411, which spawned hit records such as “Real Love,” “Reminisce, and “You Remind Me, went multi-platinum. It was also produced by her longtime friend and music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs.

1994 saw the release of Mary’s second album, My Life, which quickly shot to the top of the charts, reaching #1 on the Top R&B/ Hip-Hop Albums chart and #2 on Billboard 200. It was no doubt that Mary J. Blige solidified her spot in music.

Fast-forwarding to now with a track record of eight multi-platinum albums, nine Grammy Awards (plus 32 nominations), a 2012 Golden Globe nomination, and five American Music Awards, there is no denying that Blige is most deserving of the 2018 Black Girls Rock Star Power Award.

Naomi Campbell has been working on her talents since the age of three. Born in South London, she attended stage school and begin training as a ballerina. According to Vogue, Naomi’s mother Valerie was a dancer, so it came as no surprise to see Campbell gravitate towards the spotlight. She says when she was about 12 or 13 years of age, her mother appeared in a fashion show and used the hallway of their home to show Naomi how to runway walk to the beat of the music.

Naomi Campbell’s modeling career kicked off shortly after being scouted by Beth Boldt, the head of the London-based Synchro modeling agency. “On my first visit, she parted my hair in the middle, did my makeup and took me up on the roof in my school uniform to take a few black-and-white pictures,” Naomi said.

Former editor-at-large of Vogue magazine André Leon Talley says Campbell’s unique presence on the runway is what truly elevated her.

“It was an extraordinary lineup of models in the 1990s,” he says. “But for Naomi, it was her unique presence on the runway that elevated her. I mean, we shot her all the time for Vogue, she was fantastic on camera. But the walk; she has that incredible walk, and she lifts any look that she’s wearing. You have to remember, she was a dancer. She brings that energy to the runway. For me, there’s never been anything like Naomi tap-dancing in that Alaïa show. That’s my image of her, always—full of joy, tap-dancing down the runway.”

Although Naomi Campbell has been dominating the fashion industry for years, she admits that getting to this point was no easy task.

“When I started out, I wasn’t being booked for certain shows because of the colour of my skin,” Naomi says. “I didn’t let it rattle me. From attending auditions and performing at an early age, I understood what it meant to be black. You had to put in the extra effort. You had to be twice as good.”

Congratulations to Naomi Campbell on being the recipient of the 2018 Black Girls Rock Black Girl Magic Award.

Tarana J. Burke is an African American civil rights activist who has dedicated more than 25 years to bringing awareness to sexual harassment, abuse, and assault as well as social injustices. Burke started a campaign known to us all as the #MeToo movement in 2006, which catapulted into a global phenomenon in 2017. The #MeToo movement supports the survivors of sexual abuse and aims to take the focus off aggressors and perpetrators in order to transmute victims into survivors.

Burke was born and raised in the Bronx and became involved in her community as a teen rallying for those who had been abused or were disadvantaged and underserved. According to BET, Tarana has worked at, with and founded various nonprofits supporting social justice and equality. Her interests in furthering Black arts and culture eventually led her to be a consultant to Ava DuVernay on SELMA.

Tarana, thank you for your contribution and congratulations on receiving the 2018 Black Girls Rock Community Change Agent Award.

The televised edition of BLACK GIRLS ROCK! airs Sept. 9 at 8 p.m. EST on BET.

Kerry Washington To Star In & Executive Produce Hulu Drama ‘Old City Blues’

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Kerry Washington has signed on to star in and produce an upcoming Hulu series titled ‘Old City Blues.’

Published in 2011 and written by Giannis Milonogiannis, ‘Old City Blues’ sets in the year 2048 and takes place in New Athens, on the ruins that once was known as Greece, but is now crawling with high-tech criminals including smugglers, drug dealers and corrupt politicians and powerful corporations. The potential series revolves around Solano, Thermidor and the rest of the New Athens Special Police, who endeavor to keep the city in check after the cyborg founder of a tech company is found dead.

Although it is unclear what role Kerry Washington will play, the ‘Scandal’ actress will executive produce alongside Pilar Savone. Chris Black is set to serve as showrunner and executive produce alongside Amel, while Allison Davis will pen the script, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Gore Verbinski will also executive produce via his Blink Wink Productions. Boom! Studios president of development Stephen Christy and CEO Ross Richie will oversee for the company.

‘Old City Blues’ is an extension of Washington’s relationship with Hulu as she is also starring in and executive producing ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ with Reese Witherspoon.

Queen Latifah To Host This Year’s ‘Black Girls Rock’ Ceremony In Hometown Of Newark

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One of the most inspirational awards ceremonies of our culture will be taking place in Newark, New Jersey on Sunday (August 26). BLACK GIRLS ROCK! is a ceremony that highlights the accomplishments of women of color who have made outstanding contributions in their careers and stand as inspirational and positive role models in the community.

This year’s host is none other than Newark-native and legendary musician and actress Queen Latifah. In 2013, Latifah was honored alongside Patti LaBelle and Venus Williams at the BLACK GIRLS ROCK! event, so it only makes sense that she would be asked to come back as the 2018 host.


CEO and founder Beverly Bond says:

“Queen Latifah is the epitome of black excellence, hip-hop royalty, and black girl magic! She has been a longtime supporter of BLACK GIRLS ROCK! and has been honored at both our televised and pre-televised shows. I’m so thrilled to welcome her back to the BLACK GIRLS ROCK! stage as host.”

The televised edition of BLACK GIRLS ROCK! airs Sept. 9 at 8 p.m. EST on BET.

Issa Rae To Host Rihanna’s 2018 Diamond Ball

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Rihanna dropped some amazing news today as if the season 3 premiere of Insecure HBO wasn’t enough for all of Issa Rae’s stans! Today, Rihanna announced that her sis Issa Rae will be hosting this years #DiamondBall. Donald Glover will also be closing out the night with a special performance. The Diamond Ball will be held on September 13th in New York City and we are sure it is going to be a night to remember.

The Diamond Ball benefits Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation which was named after her grandparents Clara and Lionel Braithwaite. The foundation supports underprivileged communities in health, education, and art.

It’s amazing to see dope women working together for a great cause!

Yara Shahidi To Be Honored For Social Activism At 2018 GLSEN Respect Awards

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Yara Shahidi will be recognized as a recipient of the Game Changer Award at the GLSEN Respect Awards for her advocacy for girls’ education later this year.

GLSEN is an education organization with a mission to create inclusive, safe spaces for young members of the LGBTQ community who are in grades K-12. In a statement, GLSEN’s Executive Director Eliza Byard wrote,

“We are thrilled to announce these incredible honorees at this important moment in GLSEN’s history. They represent a diverse group of changemakers supporting GLSEN’s mission to create safe and inclusive schools for all, and they are shaping the conversation on LGBTQ equality, gender issues, and a host of social movements. We look forward to celebrating their work and that of students and educators from across the country.”

The 18-year-old ‘Grown-ish’ and ‘Black-ish’ actress will also be recognized for her work with the Young Women’s Leadership Network and Let Girls Learn, initiatives that ensure teen girls have access to education. “Giving back is not just something you do as an adult,” Yara says.

Amongst several others honorees, the group will also honor ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ star Ellen Pompeo for her advocacy for LGBTQ causes and pay equity in Hollywood.

Say Hello To Georgia’s First Black-Owned Craft Brewery Company ‘Down Home Brewing’

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For me, it’s always a proud moment when I’m able to report on the rise and success of black-owned businesses, especially in industries not known for its ethnic diversity.

Down Home Brewing is Georgia’s first African American craft brewery, which is family-owned and operated. According to their official website, its founder Chris Reeves, has been testing his craft since 2010 and began canning beer in March 2018, alongside his business partner William Allen Moore.

“It was fun seeing people’s reactions to it, saying, ‘Oh OK, this is cool.’ Then you see the backstory behind it and we tell our story with our families and how this comes from a place of family,” said Moore, a Morehouse College School of Medicine graduate. “People get excited and can really relate to it.”

However, Reeves admits that starting the business wasn’t easy and he did go through a period of questioning himself. “During the whole time, I’m questioning myself, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ Yes,” he said.

According to 11 Alive, there are 66 breweries in Georgia, with Down Home Brewing being the only black-owned. The industry has seen a 20% spike since the new Georgia law was enacted last year, which enables craft beer and liquor manufacturers to sell directly to consumers. Brewers say there’s been $35 million in brewery investment since then – and 250 new workers in the industry.

Every couple of weeks, Chris and William brew and can their beer at Georgia’s smallest production brewery, BlueTarp, which is east of downtown Decatur.

Nancy Palmer of the Georgia Craft Beer Guild says the expansion of the industry naturally leads to more diversity and more opportunities. “I think Georgia has been long overdue to have African-Americans as leaders in this particular industry. Clearly, we could use more women in this industry as well,” she says.

Visit DownHomeBrewingCompany.com to read more about this company and take a look at their list of retailers!

Serena Williams Says Domestic Violence Abuse Education Should Be Taught To Young Boys

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According to the Associated Press, Serena Williams says that men should be more included in conversations about ending domestic violence abuse. The new mother believes that the conversation should surrounding domestic abuse education should start when boys are young. Do you guys agree?

“I think expanding the conversation to men and expanding the conversation to young boys, it’s so important,” Williams said on Wednesday. “This is a human rights issue. We should all be treated the same. We should be treated equal. With domestic abuse, it doesn’t care what color you are, what background you’re from.”

Williams is actively doing the work to stop domestic abuse. She currently serves as an ambassador for the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse initiative which helps put an end to domestic violence by starting the conversation with the new generation of kids.

Being a mother has made this issue even more prevalent and relatable to her and she plans to continue being an advocate for domestic abuse education.


What You Need To Know About Juneteenth

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July 4th represents the Declaration Of Independence and the birth of the United States, but there is also another day that represents freedom for African Americans that is often forgotten. That day is June 19th, also known as Juneteenth. On this day we celebrate the abolition of slavery in Texas and other Confederate states.

Unfortunately, a lot of people did not learn much about this life-changing day of freedom in social studies class. What is Juneteenth? Who Freed the slaves? How do we celebrate it properly? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here is everything you should know about Juneteenth:

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth or June 19, 1865, is considered the date when the last slaves in America were freed. On that day General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston with the news that the Emancipation Proclamation had freed slaves. Freed Texan slaves began an annual celebration of June 19 on the first anniversary of the day, and the holiday eventually began to be known as Juneteenth.

Did Abraham Lincoln free the slaves?

Yes, Abraham Lincoln did play a huge part in the slaves being freed. On September 2, 1962, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation declaring that as of January 1, 1963, all slaves in the Confederate states will be freed. The Proclamation freed 3.1 million slaves. However, this did not apply to apply to those slave-holding states that did not rebel against the Union. As a result, about 8000,000 slaves were unaffected by the provisions of the proclamation. In the end, it took a civil war to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to formally outlaw slavery in the United States.

Ways To celebrate Juneteenth?

There are many ways to celebrate Juneteenth. Some people have cookouts in the park, some organize local skits and others throw parades. If all else fails, you can take a trip to your local library to read some books about slavery.

Why We Celebrate Juneteenth?

Juneteenth represents the end of slavery. It serves as a reminder of the disfranchisement and inhumane treatment black people have had to suffer through in order to have the same rights and privileges that White Americans were given at birth.

Baltimore May Sell Homes For $1 To Revive Neglected Neighborhoods

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In order to revitalize distressed neighborhoods in Maryland, council members and local community advocates are pushing for a government program that would sell thousands of vacant buildings in Baltimore for $1 each. In turn, buyers would have to promise to refurbish and live in the properties for a certain period of time.In order to revitalize distressed neighborhoods in Maryland, councilmembers and local community advocates are pushing for a government program that would sell thousands of vacant buildings in Baltimore for $1 each. In turn, buyers would have to promise to refurbish and live in the properties for a certain period of time.

According to a bill adopted by the Baltimore City Council last month, the program would revitalize “marginal neighborhoods by matching construction ability at the grass roots of Baltimore to production of affordable housing for workers’ families and neighbors.” The idea is modeled after the 1973 “Dollar House” program, which sold rundown, city-owned houses for $1 and helped rebuild ravaged neighborhoods in the city throughout the 1980s. The original program also granted buyers low-interest loans to rehabilitate the properties as long as they lived in the homes for a certain amount of time.

Now, advocates want to restore the program to curb the city’s blight epidemic and prevent more homes from becoming vacant. The program would also create construction jobs, say advocates.

On the other hand, the housing commissioner argues that the program is outdated and that there is not enough government funding to address the estimated 16,000 to 46,000 vacant homes in Baltimore, reports The Baltimore Sun. That’s triple the amount in the ’80s. Plus, about 250,000 fewer people live in the city compared to when the program first started.

Nonetheless, real estate agent and affordable housing specialist Mable Ivory applauded the idea, arguing that city governments have implemented similar programs to revitalize distressed areas in Detroit and Harlem. “It has been proven that when home ownership increased among residents in neighborhoods like Harlem and Detroit, which were once plagued by urban blight and flight, crime declined and the communities became more beautiful as owners took pride in their neighborhoods and took better care of them,” she said in an email. “Baltimore seeks to mirror the success that has been experienced in Harlem and Detroit by creating a similar, discount homeownership program.”

Whether interested in buying a vacant property in Baltimore or purchasing an affordable home elsewhere, Ivory advises potential purchasers to “do their due diligence and research” before taking on the cost of homeownership. “If possible, before bidding on the properties, homeowners should do a property inspection with licensed professionals, such as contractors, architects, and engineers, to have a clear and full understanding of all the repairs needed to make the home inhabitable; the cost of the repairs; as well as the time it will take to complete the entire renovation. The good news is that there are mortgage loan programs available like the FHA 203(k) mortgage loan program, which provide financing for the total renovation of a home.”


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Saint Heron Partners Up With Ikea To Create Architectural & Design Objects With Multifunctional Use

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Who remembers when Virgil Abloh partnered up with Ikea to create some ‘fire’ furniture? Well, our good sis Solange Knowles and the Saint Heron team have just announced their upcoming creative collaboration with Ikea. The line will explore architectural and design objects with multifunctional use.

We couldn’t be more excited about this decor collaboration. Solange is known for her unique aesthetic and style, especially when it comes to her stage sets. The masterpieces that have been created through the Saint Heron team over the years have always been uniquely theirs and now we get a chance to have a little piece of the greatness in our homes and office spaces.

If you aren’t aware of the history behind Saint Heron, we’ve got you covered. The multidisciplinary cultural hub was founded in 2018 with a focus on  “building the community that we wish to see exist” through music, visual art, and performance art mediums.

“The hub has been centered on artist and artisan collaborations with previous works with Mickalene Thomas, Jacolby Satterwhite, Kenesha Sneed, and Phlemuns to name a few. Their founder, contemporary artist Solange Knowles and the company’s co-curator artist Armina Mussa have partnered to create original multimedia installations that creatively reflect on intersectional art and culture themes, foster thoughtful fellowship, and push the conversations of our communities to the forefront. With their help, Saint Heron immediately outgrew normalcy’s insular web of creative collaboration by hosting pop-up events in various cities, collaborating with popular festivals like FORM Arcosanti, AfroPunk Fest, and Pitchfork Music Festival – and even offering curatorial music contributions to The Met and The Whitney Museum’s annual member’s parties.” – via Saint Heron

They plan to further push their vision and boundaries further with the collaboration.

Who’s copping?

Barack & Michelle Obama Sign Multi-Year Netflix Deal

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Former President Barack and Michelle Obama are stepping into the film industry as Netflix has announced a multi-year deal with the Obamas, in which they will produce films and series for the streaming service.

“President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have entered into a multi-year agreement to produce films and series for Netflix, potentially including scripted series, unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries, and features,” the company stated in a tweet on Monday.

Although there are no immediate details available regarding the deal, a potential deal was first reported by The New York Times back in March. Obama Senior Adviser, Eric Schultz, told the paper, “President and Mrs. Obama have always believed in the power of storytelling to inspire.”

“Throughout their lives, they have lifted up stories of people whose efforts to make a difference are quietly changing the world for the better. As they consider their future personal plans, they continue to explore new ways to help others tell and share their stories,” he said.

While hosting a film festival at the White House during his last two years in office, President Obama expressed his appreciation for the film industry and how it connects the people to the story, according to The Hill.

“That’s a media that connects us with people and stories we might otherwise never know,” Obama said of filmmaking in 2016. “And it puts us in the shoes of people potentially on the other side of the world or the neighborhood very different than the one we grew up in.”