November 21, 2013

LAWT News Service


(Durham, NC) — Grammy-Award winning artist and activist John Legend launched a partnership with the NAACP to promote voting rights efforts across the country and help register eligible concert goers to vote. The partnership kicked off at John’s concert in Durham, North Carolina, where he asked his fans to join him in taking a stand for voting rights by texting “LEGEND” to 62227.  He will continue to raise awareness about the issue at several additional tour stops throughout the South. 

“It is maddening to know that there are some who would enact legislation that limits the ability of some Americans to exercise their right to vote,” said Legend “Generations have fought hard and even died for this right, and now is not the time for our country to move backwards.  All of our leaders should seek to have inclusive elections that reflect the true will of the people, no matter who they intend to vote for.  The politics of exclusion are unacceptable.  It's time for all of us who believe in democracy and equal rights to take a stand.”

Interim NAACP President Lorraine C. Miller expressed her enthusiasm about the partnership: “We are excited that John Legend has joined with the NAACP in the fight to defend the right to vote. His influence as a world-renowned artist and activist will be a catalyst to spread the word that it is not enough just to exercise your right to vote. We must also protect our right to vote for future generations.”

In July 2013, the Supreme Court invalidated a portion of Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act that defines which states with a history of voter discrimination must receive federal approval before changing election laws.

Due to national and state level work, the NAACP was able to fight several laws in 2012 and mobilized 1.2 million people to the polls on or before Election Day.

“The Supreme Court ruling this summer opened up the floodgates for states to pass more discriminatory laws,” Jotaka Eaddy, Senior Director, Voting Rights and Senior Advisor to the President and CEO. “Our goal is to empower voters to urge their members of Congress to restore Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. This partnership takes us one step closer towards reaching that goal.”

On the North Carolina launch, Reverend William Barber, President, NAACP North Carolina State Conference, stated, “Launching in North Carolina, a state feeling the brunt of new restrictive and discriminatory election laws, will set the tone for concert goers across the country in states where some of the most egregious law changes have been introduced or implemented. As in the past once again we need the melodies of freedom and justice to inspire movement.”

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

November 21, 2013

Associated Press


A judge ordered Chris Brown on Wednesday to spend three months in rehab after reading a report that said a facility discharged the R&B singer because he threw a rock through his mother’s car window.

Superior Court Judge James Brandlin also added additional rules for Brown in the coming months, requiring him to perform at least 24 hours of community labor a week and to submit to drug testing as he deals with anger management issues.

Brown and his attorney agreed to the terms, which were suggested by probation officials who are overseeing Brown’s sentence for his 2009 beating of then-girlfriend Rihanna.

The Grammy winner threw a rock through his mother’s car window Nov. 10 after a joint counseling session in which she suggested the singer remain in treatment, according to a letter submitted by the rehab facility. The facility’s name was not included in court filings.

“Mr. Brown proceeded to walk outside and pick up a rock and threw it through his mother’s car window and it shattered,” the letter states. Brown was discharged because he had signed a contract agreeing to refrain from violence while in treatment.

The singer voluntarily checked into rehab for anger management treatment Oct. 29, just days after he was arrested in Washington, D.C., after a man accused Brown of punching him after he tried to get in a photo with the singer.

The incident and the resulting misdemeanor assault charge could still trigger a probation violation that could lead to more sanctions against Brown.

Brandlin ordered probation officials to collect more details on the Washington arrest and report back to him before a Dec. 16 hearing. A prosecutor did not seek any revocation of Brown’s probation at Wednesday’s hearing but said she was awaiting more details.

Brown is due to appear in a Washington, D.C., court Monday. Brandlin allowed the singer to travel for the hearing, but his ruling makes clear that the expectation for the singer for the next few months is to receive treatment and perform community labor such as graffiti removal or roadside cleanup.

Brown’s probation report states the singer has said he wants treatment for his anger management issues. He reported being depressed after being ordered to re-do 1,000 hours of community service earlier this year after a hit-and-run incident. Prosecutors had raised questions about whether he performed his sentence as instructed.

Brown has performed 20 hours so far, according to the report. An officer expressed concern that the singer wouldn’t complete his assignment if Brown was not required to perform at least 25 hours of work per week.

The singer appeared in court Wednesday with his girlfriend Karrueche Tran and only spoke once to acknowledge he agreed to the terms imposed by the judge. His mother, who has attended many of her son’s court hearings, did not attend Wednesday’s proceedings.

At the request of Brown’s attorney, Mark Geragos, Brown was also ordered to take any medications his doctor prescribed.

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Category: Arts & Culture

November 21, 2013

LAWT News Service


ESSENCE wants to know: Are you ready to be the next top filmmaker? The #1 media brand for African-American women has chronicled Black women’s stories for more than 40 years with a strong legacy of showcasing inspiring images reflecting the truths and triumphs of Black women’s lives.  Now, ESSENCE continues this rich tradition with the launch of The Essence Black Women in Holly­wood Short Film Contest: Spotlight On Our Journeys.

Launching on November 1st on, the aim of ESSENCE’s Short Film contest is to create images of Black women that are multidimensional and refreshing – in contrast to the narrow depictions that are commonly presented in media. In fact, respondents in ESSENCE’s recent, ground-breaking study, Understanding Images of African-American Women in Society, shared that the majority of images of Black women in media are not reflective of how they see themselves.

The deadline for submissions is December 5, 2013. A field of finalists will be selected by a team of ESSENCE editors. From there one winner will be chosen by the Black Women in Hollywood Academy, which includes top industry tastemakers. Judges include: Shonda Rhimes, creator and executive producer of hit shows Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal; actress Regina King and more. The winner will later be honored in the company of A-listers during the 7th annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon held on February 27, 2014.

“At ESSENCE, we understand how a powerful story, whether in print or in film, can impact lives and even impact an entire generation. This is especially true when there is a diversity of voices sharing their own unique stories about the human journey,” said Vanessa K. Bush, Editor-in-Chief, ESSENCE. “That is why we are excited about the ESSENCE Short Film Contest. Not only will it provide a platform to discover a fresh, new voice and vision, but showcasing the winner during our annual Black Women in Hollywood luncheon will allow us to put a spotlight on burgeoning creative talent.”

The contest plays out as follows:

Aspiring filmmakers are challenged to write and direct an original short film, no longer than 20 minutes that presents an image of a Black woman in a unique, refreshing way.

One winner, selected by a panel of ESSENCE editors and The ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Academy of industry tastemakers, will be honored in the company of A-listers at the 7th annual Black Women in Hollywood luncheon on February 27, 2014. Past honorees at this Oscar-week event have included Oprah Winfrey, Viola Davis, Kerry Washington, Halle Berry, Shonda Rhimes, Suzanne de Passe, Cicely Tyson, Gabrielle Union and many others.

The winning film will also be featured on, with a portion played at the Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon.

For more information and rules, please visit­Contest.

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Category: Arts & Culture

November 21, 2013


Associated Press


One of two copies of the oldest known recording of a black vocal group in the U.S. is up for auction — a recording so rare and delicate that the auctioneer doesn’t dare try to play it.

The 1893 recording of “Mama’s Black Baby Boy” by the Unique Quartet pre-dates vinyl recordings. The song was recorded on a wax-covered cylinder using technology invented by Thomas Edison. It can only be played on a special cylinder player that was a predecessor to phonographs, which played flat, vinyl discs, said Troy Thibodeau, manager of Saco River Auction Co.

The 120-year-old recording, along with a second Unique Quartet song, “Who Broke the Lock (on the Henhouse Door)?” from 1896, came from a Portland collector who amassed 3,000 of the old cylinder recordings.

“They’re in fantastic shape,” Thibodeau said Wednesday, carefully showing off the smooth cylinder covered in brown wax on which the music resides in etched grooves. “All it takes is a little bit of heat or a little bit of cold, and these things are junk. So, for more than 100 years, someone really took care of these things and treasured them.”

Both cylinders are up for auction on Saturday, along with hundreds of other items, including a shirt belonging to George Custer, the cavalry captain who died in 1876 while fighting Indians at Little Bighorn in Montana.

Cylinder recordings are becoming rare, and recordings of black artists even more rare.

There are so few cylinders that have the historical significance of the Unique Quarter recordings that it's hard to know how much they might sell for. An appraiser believes they’ll go for $25,000 or more — apiece.

The cylinders rotate on a machine that looks like an early Victrola-style player. A needle fits in the wax grooves as the cylinder spins. Such players still exist, but the wax degrades with each playing. Later phonographs featured flat platters and vinyl recordings that lasted far longer than wax.

Another black group, the Standard Quartet, is credited with making earlier cylinder recordings than the Unique Quartet, but none of those recordings exist today, said Bob Marovich, a gospel music historian in Chicago.

Marovich said he holds out hope that more of the old music could turn up. “Finding this one serves as a well of hope that maybe some more of them are out there,” he said in a telephone interview.

It’s startling how soon music can be lost.

Robert Darden, who’s working to save the music by digitizing existing vinyl recordings through the Black Music Restoration Project, estimates that 75 percent of gospel music recorded on vinyl from 1940 to 1970 has disappeared.

“All pre-digital black sacred music is at risk. The cylinders are made from pressed, hardened wax and grow brittle and chipped with age. Vinyl 78s, 45s, and LPs were melted down and recycled as part of the war effort during World War II,” said Darden, who’s a professor at Baylor University in Texas.

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Category: Arts & Culture

November 21, 2013

By James Harper

Special to the NNPA from the Florida Courier


ORLANDO, Fla. –  For years during the 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. time slot, Michael Baisden’s syndicated radio talk show was the program to listen to for many Blacks around the country. His show came to a halt last March but that hasn’t stopped him from reaching out and making a difference.

“People know my brand, my reputation, they know my work,” Baisden recently said in an interview with the Florida Courier. “I am a person that doesn’t dwell on the past.”

Baisden squelched the rumor that he walked away from the negotiating table on his radio show because the company wouldn’t agree to his terms.

“It didn’t work out.  You have to move on.  The lesson is don’t put yourself in a position where someone can fire you. The lesson has been learned. It’s time to start working on the next chapter,” Baisden remarked.

That next chapter, eight months later, is working to get back on the radio again, a television pilot and scripts for movies based on novels he has written.

Another project dear to Baisden at this time is his new non-fiction book, Raise Your Hands If You Have Issues: If You Didn’t Raise Your Hand You’re Lying and That’s An Issue! It was released as an ebook on Oct. 22 and the hardcover book will be in stores Nov. 19.

Along with those projects, Baisden is mentoring young Black boys.

Baisden moved to Orlando in June and has made a two-year commitment to mentor a classroom of 28 boys at Evans High School. Baisden meets with the students every Tuesday at the school and says he is committed to do so until they graduate. At that time, he will help raise money to pay their college tuition.

Baisden launched the “One Dream One Team” mentoring initiative in a nationwide effort to help recruit mentors for the 12,000 Black boys on the Big Brothers Big Sisters waiting lists.

‘City chose me’

He chose Orlando as his new home after visiting the city last year for a mentoring summit.

“I said, Wow! There are thousands of men up at 10 o’clock in the morning for the sole purpose of talking about being responsible as mentors and fatherhood,” he said coming to the conclusion Orlando is where he needed to be, “where my passion is. The city chose me.”

Baisden said he was initially asked to speak to the boys at Evans High School for a one-time guest appearance.

“After the class was over, I said we cannot have impact on these kids after one day. I want to really make a difference – don’t want to just toot horn and be quiet,” he continued.

Baisden said he not only talks to the kids but brings others into the classroom from a wish list of people the youth said they wanted to meet, including a homicide detective from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

“We got to start pulling together for these kids. We talk a good game. We are not stepping up enough for the brothers.  The people who are least mentoring Black boys are Black men,” he said. “We are losing them. It doesn’t take a lot of money. … We all don’t have a silver spoon in our mouths. There are men who have been abused, have a story to tell.

There are men who have been locked up who have a story to tell. Men who walked away from their kids have a story to tell. The guy who started a small business has a story to tell,” Baisden elaborated.

Baisden said it is time to teach children how to think and not what to think.

“That’s why we are being taken advantage of by other cultures. They come in and make money off of us, be it through religion, that’s a game if it’s not the right kind of pastor,” he said, adding that Black people also are being taken advantage of economically and politically.

Baisden said the turning point in his life began when he started reading books, turning off the TV and stopped playing games with  women.

Investing in others

Baisden, who was in the Air Force for a short while, also went to college.

“I would have completed it had my business not necessitated me leaving college. I tell my young men I will pay your way to college, but if you invent the next Apple computer, I’ll invest in that and you can leave school and make that money. But until you master that, your butt is going to finish school,” he remarked.

Baisden said his latest book, Raise Your Hands If You Have Issues, was written because he also has issues.

“I’m not standing on the stage and looking down on people.  I have been a father who did not take care of his child. Been a man who cheated on women. I’ve been the guy afraid to step out on faith and living my dream. I understand decisions people make,” Baisden related.

Issues he face today include trying to make a difference and problems with people who are “dream killers.”

He said, “I have issues with negative people.  I’ve got issues [with people] who think you have to be in a relationship. There is a chapter called ‘Being single is not a disease.’ We are not born married, in a relationship. Being in a relationship is not mandatory for happiness,” he said.

Baisden said too many girls and women are out there compromising their principals – not setting boundaries and ending up in abusive relationships.

Originally, Baisden said the name of his book was to be called  Whatever Works.

“Experience life for yourself and find out what works for you. I’m not disagreeing with your objective; it may not be mine,” he said.

Philosophy on success

Baisden said he wrote the book to engage people in conversation.

“I don’t want to tell people what to do. I give you my perspective and give you the perspective of people I’ve encountered all of my life. Don’t take anybody’s word as absolute,” he declared.

“There are closed minds because we live in a box. We don’t get outside of our communities. We don’t read books that take us outside of our country. We are easily manipulated when people tell us they got the answer,” he said.

Baisden said the only person that was in his way of being successful was himself. And his advice to others who may have thought like him is to open their minds.

“You have more control than you think. A lot of people are afraid to make the right choices. Afraid to be alone. You’ve got to be okay with upsetting people. People want to be approved by everybody. You have to be willing to make people hate you. People are going to hate you when you are successful. Name me a successful person that is not hated on.”

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