Spike Lee: ‘BlacKKKlansman Should Be Shown in the White House’ [Video]

If it was up to legendary filmmaker Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman, his latest film to date, would be screened in Donald Trump’s executive mansion.

The new film takes place in the 1970s and is based on the real-life experiences of Ron Stallworth, the first African American detective to join the Colorado Springs police force. In addition to facing a number of racial barriers, Stallworth managed to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan as an undercover and befriend former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke through a series of phone conversations. To complete the operation, Stallworth worked with his partner, a Jewish cop played by Adam Driver in the movie, who pretends to be him at KKK meetings.

Like many Spike Lee joints, the overarching theme of BlacKkKlansman underscores the prevalence of racism and the ongoing fight for racial equality. It opens with scenes from Birth of A Nation, a notorious silent picture released in 1915 that glorified the Klan and demonized black men. The controversial drama has been deemed a classic American film and was even screened for then-President Woodrow Wilson along with members of Congress and the Supreme Court.

Birth of a Nation was shown in the White House. Woodrow Wilson saw it and he said it was like ‘writing history with lightning,’” Lee told Black Enterprise. “I think BlacKkKlansman should be shown in the White House—and make sure you put Jeff Sessions in the front row because there are certain things that people are wearing [in the film] that he might be in possession of!” Lee joked, apparently making a reference to the robes worn by Klansmen.

Blackkklansman John David Washington

(Courtesy of Focus)

Telling A Part of History

The context of the movie is so surreal that Lee admitted that he had a hard time believing it was true, himself. In fact, when BlacKkKlansman producer Jordan Peele told him about the story, Lee initially thought about Dave Chappelle’s popular black KKK member sketch. Nonetheless, he pounced on the opportunity to create a film about a remarkable piece of American history that few Americans know about.

To tell the story, Lee cast John David Washington, the son of Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington, for the lead role as Stallworth. “I just knew he could do it. I just offered him the part. He didn’t have to do a read for it. He didn’t have to do a tape [or] audition,” said the movie director. “I know talent when I see it. Many people have got their first roles in my films over the last 30 years,” he said, noting Halle Berry and Rosie Perez.

Washington, who graduated from an HBCU, says that he, too, was surprised when Lee told him about Stallworth’s story. “I went to Morehouse, class of ’06, so I learned a lot about my culture and our history [but] this one kind of slipped through the cracks,” he said.

The 32-year-old actor added that working on the film changed his perspective about police, especially those of color, and he hopes it will change how they are viewed by society as well. “I had no idea what it was like to be an African American cop and I’m hoping people will get the chance to see what it’s like with this film,” said the star of HBO’s Ballers. “We need to start celebrating more men and women that look like us that are police and are doing their job correctly. It’s a thankless job.” When asked if he felt anxious or excited for his father to see the movie, he cooly responded, “I hope he likes it.”

“Wake Up!”

BlacKkKlansman takes several jabs at President Trump and ends with a powerful scene that suggests that race relations in the U.S. are getting worse. It also includes a handful of scenes with the words “wake up,” a signature expression in Lee’s work.

“My most famous phrase for all my films is ‘wake up.’ School Days—that film came out in 1988—ends with Laurence Fishburne saying ‘wake up.’  Do the Right Thing (1989) begins with Samuel L. Jackson saying ‘wake up,’” he proclaimed. The term “woke—that’s that new sh-t. We were saying ‘wake up’ in ’88!”

 

BlacKkKlansman will be released in theaters Aug. 10, 2018.

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NBC’s Lester Holt Is All About the Low Notes

Award-winning journalist Lester Holt speaks with AARP about his other passion in life in addition to news; playing the bass guitar. Here are quotes by Holt in an excerpt from the article on AARP’s website.

I love all kinds of music – right now I’m in a rock band with some coworkers – but jazz is my favorite style.  There’s a freedom of expression in jazz; it’s improvisational.  I never play a tune the same way twice.

I worked weekends for many years before I became a weeknight anchor.  As I’ve become more known as an anchorman, I’ve always told myself Do not let this job define you.  Obviously I have a passion for the news and enjoy what I do, but I’m not “Lester Holt, Anchorman.”  I’m just me, and I’ve always believed you should have something in your life that you are just as passionate about as you are about your work.  For me, it’s the bass.

I told my wife that when I retire from this job, one thing I would consider doing is being in a wedding band.  If you think about it, most people don’t go out dancing very often.  So when do they dance?  At the wedding receptions!  I was at a wedding last summer, and the band was playing all the great songs, and people were up and dancing and having a wonderful time.  And I thought, Man, what a cool job that would be – to delight people like that.  The only problem, of course, is that it would mean working weekends again.

–  As told to Jennifer E. Mabry.

Read the full article here at AARP’s website

 

 

 

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‘Black-ish’ Star Anthony Anderson, Celebrities, and Athletes Celebrate African Americans in Golf

Golf is more than a game, it’s a business tool played by executives, an overwhelming majority of Fortune 500 CEOs, and almost every single U.S. president since the 1900s. But while it’s known as the playground for forging business deals and professional relationships, it’s also a notorious good ol’ boys club that has historically excluded African American men and women. However, Wendell Haskins, the founder of Original Tee Inc., and PGA of America’s former senior director of Diversity & Inclusion, Sports & Entertainment, is changing the game.

Haskins, like many African American boys, did not grow up playing golf. In fact, he wasn’t exposed to the sport until he was in his 20s when a friend invited him to a golfing event in New Mexico back in the ’90s. To prepare for the trip, he took lessons, practiced his stroke, and read about the rich history of the game. That’s when he discovered that a black dentist was responsible for creating the modernized wooden golf tee.

“The golf tee was invented and patented in 1899 by a Harvard dental school graduate and black man named George F. Grant,” Haskins told Black Enterprise. But Dr. Grant, who is also known for being the first African American professor at Harvard University, did not receive the recognition he deserved. Instead, “a white man was largely credited for the invention of the golf tee—a guy named William Lowell—but he didn’t have the original patent,” Haskins explained.

The eye-opening discovery inspired Haskins to carry Grant’s legacy into the 21st century. “After discovering that the original tee was patented by a black man…I wanted to create something that brings the black community together [and] celebrates our history in the game.” Thus, in 1999, he founded the Original Tee, a golf lifestyle brand that promotes inclusion by preserving the history of the game’s diverse pioneers and celebrates iconic golf enthusiasts. The ultimate goal of the company is to increase the presence of African Americans in golf and combat the game’s racist history. “We were purposefully excluded from the game of golf for a long period of time,” said Haskins. “It was very deliberate to keep black folks out of the game.” People of color were also excluded from country clubs, he added.

Original Tee, however, has been a vehicle to introduce and popularize the game with communities of color for the past two decades. “Since I’ve started the Original Tee, the game has become tremendously more popular, particularly with the sports and entertainment community and the business community,” he said. “People within the African American community playing golf have become more robust.”

Black Golfers

Melvin Roane, Louis Kelly, Kevin Hall, Anthony Anderson, Wendell Haskins, Wyatt Worthington II, Christian Heavens (Photo Credit: Margot Jordan courtesy of OTGC)

To pay homage to past and present African Americans in golf, each year Haskins hosts the Original Tee Golf Classic (OTGC) presented by BMW. During the annual ceremony, which was held July 22 at The Wild Turkey Golf Club in Hamburg, New Jersey, dozens of black golfers spent a day on the greens in a charity tournament competing for a 20K purse supported by the likes of Anthony Spikes of Sapphire Hill Global, David Jones of CastleOak Securities, and Jeff Champ, the father of Cameron Champ, who recently made it to the PGA Tour. Some of the celebrity competitors included actors Malik Yoba and Hisham Tawfiq, veteran music label executive Kevin Liles, NBA President Danny Meiseles, and NY Knicks Herb Williams and John Starks. They competed with several black golf pros like Troy Mullins, Wyatt Worthington II, Kevin Hall, Christian Heavens, Louis Kelly, Miko Page, Earl Cooper (PGA), Anthony Stepney (PGA), and Randy Taylor (PGA).

The day ended with an awards dinner where Black-ish star Anthony Anderson was presented with the Original Tee Golf Classic’s “True Original Award.” Anderson, who’s been a member of OTGC since 2008, was honored for his career accomplishments, commitment to his community, and for being an ambassador for the game of golf.

“I didn’t grow up with a golf club nearby. Matter of fact, if you saw a dude with a golf club in my neighborhood, you went the other way,” said the Emmy-nominated actor and comedian while accepting his award. “I’m honored to be the honoree this year, but more importantly, I love what Wendell is doing in the community [by] merging the culture with the game of golf and helping minority players bring diversity to this game,” he told Black Enterprise after the ceremony. “The African American pros that we had today rarely get a chance, it any [at all], to play in front of a gallery that looks like them.”

Golf

Anthony Anderson, Earl Cooper, and children (Photo Credit: Margot Jordan courtesy of OTGC)

In addition to celebrating the history and contributions of African Americans in golf, OTGC raised funds for The Bridge Golf Foundation in Harlem, a nonprofit committed to using golf to improve the lives of young men of color in Harlem, New York.

“There are not enough children of color playing in the sport of golf; there is so much opportunity to shine a light on this amazing game,” said Randy Taylor, Teaching Professional at The Bridge Golf Foundation & Learning Center, in a statement. “This is my second year attending this tournament. This year, we brought 30 young men from the Bridge Golf Foundation in Harlem. We bring our students to the tournament to teach them the game of golf, meet relatable role models and expose them to a variety of opportunities that are available through the golf industry.”

 

If you’re looking to spend some quality time on the green this Labor Day weekend, then join Black Enterprise at the 2018 Black Men XCEL Summit at the PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. 

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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Beyoncé

Fans, stans, and members of the Beyhive have been obsessively following Beyoncé Knowles-Carter’s illustrious career for the last 21 years, watching and documenting her every move. Yet in still, the notoriously private superstar has managed to keep much of her personal life guarded and protected.

In Vogues‘ September issue, Knowles-Carter, however, revealed intimate details about her last pregnancy, raising her children, and her family lineage. She also explained why she intentionally choose Tyler Mitchell, a 23-year-old photographer, to shoot her portraits for the issue, making him the first black photographer in Vogue’s 126-year history to shoot a cover. Here are five eye-opening revelations from her cover story titled Beyoncé in Her Own Words: Her Life, Her Body, Her Heritage.

She had An Emergency C-Section

In the essay, which was narrated by Knowles-Carter and written by Clover Hope, the pop icon opened up about having a scary pregnancy and suffering from toxemia, a pregnancy complication that can become life-threatening to both the mother and fetus.

I was 218 pounds the day I gave birth to Rumi and Sir. I was swollen from toxemia and had been on bed rest for over a month. My health and my babies’ health were in danger, so I had an emergency C-section. We spent many weeks in the NICU. 

She’s In No Rush to Lose Her Baby Weight

Knowles-Carter admitted that she’s not letting society’s standards pressure her into losing the weight she gained after giving birth to twins in June 2017.

To this day my arms, shoulders, breasts, and thighs are fuller. I have a little mommy pouch, and I’m in no rush to get rid of it. I think it’s real. Whenever I’m ready to get a six-pack, I will go into beast zone and work my ass off until I have it. But right now, my little FUPA and I feel like we are meant to be.

Her Ancestor Was a Slave Owner Who Married His Slave

In a revealing detail about her lineage, she reflected on her ancestry and how it has empowered her to be a better mother.

I researched my ancestry recently and learned that I come from a slave owner who fell in love with and married a slave. I had to process that revelation over time. I questioned what it meant and tried to put it into perspective. I now believe it’s why God blessed me with my twins. Male and female energy was able to coexist and grow in my blood for the first time. I pray that I am able to break the generational curses in my family and that my children will have less complicated lives.

Why She Sang The Black National Anthem At Coachella

Back in April, the renowned entertainer affectionately known as Queen Bey delivered an unapologetically black performance at the 2018 Coachella Festival, where she paid tribute to Malcolm X, HBCUs, and black Greek college culture. She intentionally opened the epic performance singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which is also known as “the black national anthem,” well aware that the largely upper-middle-class white audience would be unfamiliar with the song.

I know that most of the young people on the stage and in the audience did not know the history of the black national anthem before Coachella. But they understood the feeling it gave them.

 

It was a celebration of all the people who sacrificed more than we could ever imagine, who moved the world forward so that it could welcome a woman of color to headline such a festival.

She Was a People-Pleaser

The 36-year-old singer also talked about her struggle with self-esteem during her younger years.

I look at the woman I was in my 20s and I see a young lady growing into confidence but intent on pleasing everyone around her. I now feel so much more beautiful, so much sexier, so much more interesting. And so much more powerful.

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This Author’s Advice for Black Men and Depression: Turn Your Pain into Purpose

Tsanonda Edwards is the author of a book that deals with black men and depression, The extraORDINARY Mr. Nobody: A Beginner’s Guide to Self-Healing, and co-founder of Above It All, a mental-health organization that offers personal, professional and psychiatric rehabilitation programs for children and parents. Although Edwards has a Masters in Human Services, it’s his personal story of battling depression and anxiety that has enabled him to connect authentically with youth and create a blueprint for personal and professional success. Edwards explains why black men face greater mental health challenges and the few steps they can take to turn pain into purpose.

Black Enterprise: Your father committed suicide at a young age and you battled anxiety and depression. When did you realize you could turn this pain into purpose? What are the first steps you took to share your story?

Edwards: I started realizing I could make the pain to purpose transition in college at Morgan State University. I not only found my voice as a writer, but I was also able to hone my abilities as a listener. By listening to my friends in a non-judgmental and empathetic way and then being unafraid to offer my opinion to those who would ask allowed me to see the power in empathy and how that led to healing. The journal entries, years, and numerous stop-and-starts later, my book was born.

If I had to say one event or moment that served as a next-level catalyst for me to share my story, I would have to say my therapy sessions (my therapist Akiami McCoy is incredible!). She did three things that made the book happen: She told me that I wasn’t crazy, she told me that my testimony had power, and then she told me how to publish my book. The biggest power in that is that I actually spoke to a therapist, which is not the most common route for black people, especially black men. It was a 10-year process and I’m thrilled to have it completed.

What holds black men back from sharing their story and seeking treatment?

The first is constantly being told “get over it,” “bounce back,” “no days off,” “stop acting like a woman,” etc. While it’s important to be resilient as our people are known for it (men and women both!), we have to find ways to allow people to come to terms with mental obstacles and embrace ways to cope with them without being told they don’t exist and/or forget about them.

The second thing is fear. Black men have trouble simply going to the doctor. While I do believe we’re actually getting better at identifying issues and seeking help for physical conditions, the stigma surrounding mental health is a real one and it will definitely take time and effort to loosen its stranglehold on the minds of my brothers.

When it comes to supporting men who are battling depression and anxiety, what do you believe is the most underestimated tactic?

Building a true support system. Friends, family, members of your spiritual community, therapists, etc. Again, as men, we’re still expected to be stalwarts and leaders at home, at work, and in the community and rightly so, but depression, anxiety and the like are seen as weaknesses as opposed to mental health barriers that can be embraced and overcome. This often leads men to become “pseudo-actors,” never letting anyone see them sweat. So when you have a true support system that understands the issues you face and are ready to reinforce the efforts we take personally to be our best selves, it speeds up progress.  Yes, it starts with you, but a true support system is priceless.

What is your favorite chapter of your book? 

Chapter 3, ‘A Product of Divorce and Depression.’ I talk about my father’s suicide and his battle with bipolar disorder/manic depression. This chapter pushed me to be open and honest about my own battles with depression. One of my ultimate goals with the book is to let others know that you can lead a happy, successful life despite the mental health issues you face and despite those who are uncomfortable with others having or talking about these issues. Yes, any struggle is a part of you, but it doesn’t define you.

What are three key messages you want people to take away from the book?

  • You are not alone.
  • Your story is valuable. Allow it to be heard and potentially save someone’s life.
  • You’re your own advocate when it comes to personal healing, so be your absolute best you and don’t let others dictate what that looks like.

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Why This Founder Created A Digital Mental Health Platform For Black Men

When Public Health advocate Kevin Dedner was looking for a therapist to treat his depression, he found the process to be exhausting. “I almost gave up, but a friend recommended a therapist who helped me get my life back on track,” said Dedner. This experience was one of several occurrences that inspired him to add mental health and wellness for black men to his life’s mission.

Throughout Dedner’s career in public health, he’s spearheaded policy and system changes in areas such as HIV/AIDS, childhood obesity, and tobacco control. Now, with the launch of Henry Health, Dedner, along with a diverse group of black leaders are on a mission to improve access to mental health for black men and increase the life expectancy of black men by 10 years within the next 25 years. Recently, Henry Health was accepted into the Startup Health accelerator program. Dedner discusses his latest initiative in an interview.

Black Enterprise: Why do you think black men need an exclusive space?

Kevin Dedner: I believe black men are having a unique experience in this country. And, while I don’t believe that you have to be black to treat black people, I do believe you have to be culturally sensitive and competent. It’s naive to think that the experiences that black men have just on a normal day are good for our emotional and mental health. From being accused of plagiarism in college because the professor couldn’t imagine that I could write to being pulled over by the police multiple times as a teenager and an adult, these are examples of what every black man experiences in daily life. These experiences can be traumatic and can have a negative impact on our emotional well-being, physical health, and ultimately—in some cases—our life expectancy once compiled.

How does Henry Health work?  

We have plans to launch the app this September in the Washington, DC metro area. Men will be able to download our app or sign-in on our platform. From there, they will take an assessment. Paying subscribers will be paired with a therapist post-assessment. Our digital app and platform will not only offer culturally sensitive teletherapy to black men, but we also recognize that health outcomes are influenced by many factors including diet, physical activity, setting reasonable goals, and managing stress. All users—subscribers and non-subscribers—will have access to self-care support, tools that support them in taking better care of themselves. We have not finalized our pricing. We feel confident that investors will respond in a way that will enable us to scale very quickly.

black men

(Henry Health)

Can you share three specific ways you hope Henry Health will change the face of mental health and wellness for African American men?

  • Increase the life expectancy of black men by 10 years within the next 25 years. Our approach to care includes a focus on self-care support and mental health services. We look at this through the lens of five stressors for black men: money and finances, race and racism, jobs and career, relationships and family, and health and illness. Helping them make better decisions in these areas and helping them to develop coping skills will have a great impact.
  • Lead the culture shift conversation around accessing mental health services in the African American community. We are beginning to see celebrities speak publicly about their struggles with mental health issues. For example, Jay-Z has talked about how therapy had helped him. Dwayne the Rock Johnson has talked about his challenges with depression. The next step is an offering of culturally-sensitive services for the community. Our digital campaign, #ReclaimOurStrength in partnership with Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. is an example of how we can take a leadership role in facilitating the conversation.
  • Make culturally-sensitive services accessible. Less than 3% of the therapists in the country are people of color so we can’t possibly produce African American therapists fast enough to fill the void. Our intention is to make sure therapists regardless of their color are culturally-sensitive and competent to meet the needs of black men. It doesn’t matter where the men or the therapists live.

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New York City Completely Bans Smoking in Public Housing

The New York City Housing Authority issued a ban on smoking in all New York City public housing (including smoking inside apartments) as of July 30.

The policy “prohibits the use of cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and hookah pipes in indoor common areas, within public housing units, in administrative offices, and in outdoor areas within 25 feet of NYCHA buildings,” according to NYCHA’s website.

NYCHA issued the ban after the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) mandated that all public housing had to be smoke-free.

In a statement from the New York City Mayor’s Office, “the final smoke-free rule was announced at the end of the Obama Administration, under HUD Secretary Julian Castro. It was published in December 2016, but did not take effect until February 2017.”

“Every child deserves to grow up in a safe, healthy home free from harmful second-hand cigarette smoke,” said then-Secretary Castro in a press release. “HUD’s smoke-free rule is a reflection of our commitment to using housing as a platform to create healthy communities. By working collaboratively with public housing agencies, HUD’s rule will create healthier homes for all of our families and prevent devastating and costly smoking-related fires.”

“My office has long warned the public about the dangers of smoking, including second-hand smoke,” said then-U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy. “For children who are exposed to second-hand smoke, it can mean everything from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and ear infections to asthma. Protecting our children and families from the devastation caused by secondhand smoke must be a priority for all sectors of our society, including public housing.”

When HUD first proposed the ban, the policy was criticized by homeless advocates who said it could increase the amount of homeless—addicted smokers who violate the ban could potentially be evicted.

ThinkProgress, a progressive news site, said that smoking bans in public housing was essentially, “nannying the poor.” From a blog post at ThinkProgress: “…people who are eligible for public services of various kinds still have to contend with a variety of other attempts to micromanage their lives and choices from afar.”

NYCHA has been under fire for providing sub-standard living conditions for public housing tenants. From reports of vermin infestation, rampant mold, to a recent report that more than 800 children living in NYCHA housing tested positive for elevated levels of lead.

 

 

 

 

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Exclusive Interview with Man Who Alleges Sean Spicer Called Him N-Word

A video went viral this week after a black man angrily confronted former White House press secretary Sean Spicer at a bookstore.

The video shows Spicer seated, signing copies of his new book at a bookstore in Middletown, Rhode Island. A black man standing a few feet away suddenly calls out to him and says, “Remember you tried to fight me?” Others in the store start chuckling—perhaps thinking the two were engaging in playful banter. Then the man says, “But you called me a nigger first” and the crowd’s mood instantly changes.



The black man in the video is Alex Lombard. He is accusing Sean Spicer of calling him the n-word and with trying to attack him when they both were high school students at Portsmouth Abbey, a boarding school in Rhode Island. In an interview with Black Enterprise, he goes into detail about his memory of Spicer, his subsequent conversation with the former press secretary after the incident, and why he felt the need for the confrontation.

“The first week I was [at Portsmouth Abbey] I was coming to chapel like we had to do every morning,” Lombard recalls. “I’m just walking and I hear somebody screaming ‘What is that f—–g nigger doing here?”

Lombard says he then looked to his left and saw someone running at him at full sprint, someone he insists was Sean Spicer. At the time, Lombard was a sophomore and Spicer, a junior.

“A couple of other students grabbed him and stopped him and he was screaming something else. That was really, basically it. I was frozen,” Lombard remembers. “I was scared; it frightened me. There were at least 20 to 30 other people out there—all of us walking. Everybody had on sports jackets, ties, shirts. I just made my way back to the dorm.”

Spicer, who is denying the incident took place, says he has plans to sue the Associated Press for reporting on the heated exchange at the bookstore.

“That’s a classic Trump move; suing the media,” says Lombard. His recollection is quite detailed about what took place at his school that day many years ago and his account comes across as credible. Lombard says Spicer even called him after the bookstore confrontation, and suspects he got his number from a mutual friend of theirs.

“He called me from a blocked number. The incident happened Friday…he called me Saturday evening.”

“When he called he was at the cusp of apologizing. He was right there at the threshold and he sounded extremely apologetic on the phone but he would not admit that was him,” Lombard says. “He said you are trying to hurt me because of your political [beliefs]—he said why are you waiting years later to do this, why now, am I over it, can I get over this?”

He says that the call ended on a peaceful note with Spicer somewhat bizarrely praising him with “you handled that situation better than a lot of people.”

Spicer, of course, is notorious for his combativeness during White House press briefings. Bullying in his youth seems to be in line with the behavior he exhibited during these briefings, including the time he “lambasted reporters with accusations of false reporting on the size of the crowds during the inauguration,” as per The Boston Globe.  His old boss has raised bullying to an art form. The president and those currently and formerly in his circle seem to adhere to the idea of strong-arming as a form of governing.

Even in his new memoir, The Briefing, critics observe that Spicer retains a pugnacious tone. “He rummages through the mistakes of major news outlets during the Trump era. The Washington Post, The New York Times, ABC News, CNN, and others are criticized for false reports or suspect claims, such as the time Spicer stood accused—falsely, he says—of expropriating a mini-refrigerator from junior staff members,” writes Erik Wemple for The Washington Post.

Still, Lombard, now married and a teacher and adviser at a community college, insists his action at the bookstore was not politically motivated and that accosting Spicer made him “absolutely” feel better  “I was just waiting to get [this] off my chest. I had been emailing [Spicer] on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and he never responded. This was nothing ever political, this was some townie stuff, you know what I mean? This was personal. We live in the same town and maybe it wasn’t the best forum I chose to confront him, but I was upset.”

The post Exclusive Interview with Man Who Alleges Sean Spicer Called Him N-Word appeared first on Black Enterprise.

NBC Names First ‘Female Forward’ Class in Effort to Empower Women Directors

There will be powerhouse women in the director’s chairs of your favorite NBC shows thanks to a new initiative. NBC Entertainment recently announced the inaugural class of a program called Female Forward, and the initiative is set to increase the presence of women calling the creative and production shots for top shows.

“We’ve proven time and again that our pipeline programs discover undeniable talent who bring a fresh point of view to their work, and our first Female Forward class is no exception,” said Karen Horne, NBC Entertainment’s VP of programming and talent development and inclusion, in a news release. “Diversity in the director’s chair encourages inclusion at every echelon of a production, and our hope is that these 10 women will join the ranks of other women directors who have exponentially affected change by opening doors for those who follow them not only in their field, but across our industry.”

The finalists will be working on series including Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Chicago Med, Good Girls, Superstore, The Blacklist, Chicago Fire, Blindspot, A.P. Bio, and Law & Order: SUV. They were chosen from more than 1,000 applicants and are composed of industry professionals who have led projects including films selected at the Tribeca Film Festival, Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and Toronto International Film Festival, among others.

“As executives who have consistently been working to get more female directors on our shows, it’s so meaningful that one of our first big acts as co-presidents is to officially welcome this inaugural class of talented directors to the NBC family,” said Lisa Katz and Tracey Pakosta, co-presidents of NBC Entertainment’s scripted programming, in the release.

To qualify for the program, which was launched last August, the Female Forward candidates had to have directing experience in their fields—in mediums that could include feature films, music videos, commercials, digital content and theater—and they could have no more than one credit for scripted TV under their belt.

“What makes this moment even more significant is the realization that by next season our colleagues across the industry will have a larger pool of experienced women to choose from as they are staffing their shows, and that number will multiply as the program culminates year after year,” Katz and Pakosta added. “Our goal is to completely eliminate the often-heard excuse—which we strongly believe simply isn’t true—that the reason there isn’t parity in the field is that there aren’t enough qualified women, and we feel confident that this program will begin to change that narrative.”

The post NBC Names First ‘Female Forward’ Class in Effort to Empower Women Directors appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Activists Launch Boycott to Demand the Renaming of Historic Boston Landmark Faneuil Hall

An advocacy group is demanding that an iconic public space in Boston be renamed due to its ties to slavery.

The New Democracy Coalition has been petitioning Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to rename Faneuil Hall, which was named after wealthy colonial merchant and slaveholder Peter Faneuil, for more than a year. Because nothing has been done, the organization launched a boycott last weekend, encouraging African Americans not to shop at Faneuil Hall and the Quincy Marketplace.

“At this point, we clergy members and community activists are deeply disappointed that Mayor Walsh has never responded to any of our efforts to discuss the matter of changing the name of Faneuil Hall,” said Kevin Peterson, the founder and executive director of the group, reports The Boston Globe.

Peter Faneuil

Peter Faneuil (Wikimedia)

Faneuil purchased property in Boston in the 1740s and constructed a central marketplace that he gifted to the city. Some of its funding, however, was accrued by profits he gained after selling a young enslaved boy. The hall was then named after Faneuil shortly after his death in 1743 at the age of 43.

“It is important for the citizens of Boston to know changing the name of Faneuil Hall is not about changing history,” Peterson told ABC local affiliate WCVB. “It’s really about ensuring there’s full inclusion of all citizens in Boston.” He launched the campaign for a name change to Faneuil Hall in the aftermath of the racially charged Charlottesville rally in 2017. Peterson has also suggested that the landmark be renamed after Crispus Attucks, a black man who was killed in the Boston Massacre and is widely considered as the first American to sacrifice their life in the American Revolution.

Mayor Walsh, who is not in favor of changing the name, says the boycott will actually hurt people of color who work in the area. “A lot of the people who work over there are people of color and by doing a boycott it’s going to hurt their livelihood.” He also released a statement saying Bostonians should learn from the city’s problematic history, not erase it. “We can’t erase history, but we can learn from it. If we were to change the name of Faneuil Hall today, 30 years from now, no one would know why we did it.”

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