A Forte for Fashion: Matt Forte and Danielle Forte’s 828 Clothing Offers Comfy Styles for Moms and Kids

Danielle Forte had a mission: She wanted women to feel beautiful in all stages of motherhood. But the clothing she saw in stores didn’t allow for pregnant or nursing women or those in the throes of motherhood to feel both confident and comfortable, nor did the pieces fit her personal style. That’s when, with the encouragement of her husband, former NFL running back, Matt Forte, she decided to shake up the maternity wear scene by creating a collection aimed to redefine maternity fashion by showing that personal style doesn’t have to be compromised.

It started out in 2015 as Danielle Forte Collections but soon transitioned into 828 Clothing, inspired by the Romans 8:28 Bible verse, and carrying versatile styles, designed by Danielle with the modern mother in mind.

“The premise of the brand is to have moms feel confident. As a mom, most days you’re tired or don’t feel cute but this brand was made to make the whole thing easier,” she said. “I’ve lived through all these stages of motherhood, from maternity to nursing, and I wanted to take my experiences and set them into my clothes.”

For Matt, watching Danielle go through all the different stages of motherhood with their two children, Nahla and Matt, he said he wanted a brand that “encourages and enables mothers to retain their style identity during and following their pregnancy.” And he stressed that this is the foundation of 828 Clothing.

“What women wear post-baby can be a touchy subject; they don’t feel like themselves in clothes, but these clothes empower and build that confidence post-baby, and you can get back to yourself and how you felt before,” he said.

The DeDe Dress from the 828 Clothing collection. (Image: Danielle and Matt Forte)

Some of the fabrics used include modal, French-terry cotton, and spandex, materials that Danielle says are not just comfortable, but easy to clean and move around in.

In addition to lightweight maternity dresses, the collection offers unique maternity wear with design details such as hidden zippers along the breast line on a range of tops, and dresses that are “feed friendly.” The collection also includes tank tops, T-shirts, pants, jackets, and cardigans as well as rompers that can transition from day to night.

The Dolo Jumper from the 828 Clothing collection. (Image: Danielle and Matt Forte) 

In November, the brand expanded to 828 Baby, offering children’s clothing with artistic designs and witty sayings. As the duo created concepts and finalized designs for the women’s line, Matt had the idea to create clothing for babies and kids.

The introductory collection, titled “Galaxy Journeys,” was inspired by the Hidden Figures film. It showcases functional and stylish baby clothes in celestial prints, including cosmic clouds, galaxies, and constellations, and signature onesies featuring tongue-in-cheek quotes created by Matt.

The duo described the kids clothing launch as a natural progression for their brand. They are currently working on another collection, “Safari Jungle” due out in spring 2018.

Galaxy-print leggings for kids from the 828 Kids collection. (Image: Danielle and Matt Forte)

Right now the line is in e-commerce with heavy social media branding, something Danielle said was the biggest key they had to figure out while launching the collection. In the near future she is considering shopping the collection to boutiques and to major retailers down the line.

The Nicole top from 828 Clothing. (Image: Danielle and Matt Forte)

One lesson Danielle has learned throughout the process of conceptualizing and launching a business is that you get what you put into it.

“Do your due diligence,” she advises budding entrepreneurs. “Make sure you go through your business plan and make it very detailed. Know your customer because if you don’t know them, you won’t know the right decisions to make with your product.”

She also stressed having a good team. “Doing it by yourself is stressful enough. Have people around you that are invested.”

Matt advised that entrepreneurs should not be afraid to fail, a transferable skill he applied from the field to the drawing board.

“On the field, you fail daily but the thing is how you respond. There’s a lot of life lessons from football, mainly if it doesn’t work out the first time keep going back to it,” he said. “Through the failure process you learn what not to do and how to perfect your craft. Don’t let it discourage you.”

The former running back, who played for the Chicago Bears and New York Jets, announced his retirement from football on Feb. 28, 2018, after 10 years. He noted that 828 Clothing will be one of his main focuses moving forward. He plans to remain involved as a consultant and creative alongside his wife, while also focusing heavily on his charity, What’s Your Forte Foundation.

828 Clothing and 828 Baby are both available online at www.828Clothing.com.

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A Growing Epidemic: Black Women Face Major Disparity in Maternal Mortality

It’s Women’s History Month, and black women have especially enjoyed a stellar 2018 in the spotlight for their strength and tenacity (Black Panther, anyone?), clever business savvy, CEO boss moves, and buying power.

But when it comes to one of the most important jobs in the world, there’s a major challenge that impacts the world’s future. Giving birth to the next generation of great black leaders has become a life-threatening experience for many.

According to research, African American women are 3 to 4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women. The reasons include disparities in access to healthcare, discrimination in poor or rural communities, and budget restrictions on free or low-income clinics that service women. Also, risk factors that lead to complications such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity affect black women at higher rates than their white counterparts. This issue even has public faces in that of Erica Garner and Kyira Adele Dixon. Erica, the daughter of Eric Garner, died after a heart attack just three months into welcoming the birth of her son, and Dixon, the daughter-in-law of Judge Glenda Hatchett, died hours after having a C-section birth.

“One black woman dying after childbirth is one too many,” says Monica Raye Simpson, executive director of SisterSong: The National Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective. Simpson is a certified doula and co-chair of the March for Black Women, and she has made it her life mission to raise awareness, gather resources, and advocate for changing stigmas and saving lives.

Black Enterprise talked with the activist about how black women can tackle the challenge head-on and beat the issue of maternal mortality:

Black Enterprise: What led to a focus on this issue and what challenges are specifically affecting black women?

Monica Raye Simpson: In 2014, we started to get information from researchers—those in the public health field—about the fact that maternal mortality was on the rise in this country and that it was impacting black women more than any other population. We started to dig in as a national organization based in the South, we really wanted to understand what was happening [specifically] in our Southern regions where there’s the largest populations of black women. That’s where we saw the shocking statistics, that black women were dying at a rate four times higher than white women. As the most industrialized country in the world, with all this wealth, you’re kidding me.

We didn’t want to just look at this from just a stats perspective. We wanted to understand the stories of black women to get to the root cause. We held focus groups in two of the states at that time that had two of the highest rates of maternity mortality: Georgia and Mississippi. We sat and talked with women about their [life experiences related to reproduction], from what [information they learned about] sex education…to post-partum, asking them about their stories. What we got from this was that it didn’t matter if the woman had the most education, if her social economic status was more upper-middle class or working class—what mattered was that she was a black woman and [the stories were similar] in the way they were treated when they went in for care. So many talked about how they were not given access to all information and because they had not, necessarily had the access, they were dealing with immense amounts of pain, infections, and near-death experiences. It was simply due to being treated differently because of the color of their skin.

How can black women empower themselves as patients and expectant mothers when they go for doctor’s visits?
We need to start sooner with comprehensive sex education and [change] how our girls are learning about their bodies and what happens to their bodies in pregnancy. If we cut that off and only start at the current problem in adult women, we’re not going to see numbers decrease—we’ll see the next generation dealing with the current problem again.

Also, we need to demand access to information. Demand it from our medical professionals. Be a patient advocate for ourselves. Ask questions of the system. Be prepared for that when you come in the room. We get such a short amount of time with our physicians, so we have to maximize that time and come in strategic. Let them know different scenarios of what’s happening—that’s important.

And let’s create a community among black women for us to be in constant communication with each other. On social media, there are awesome groups, [such as] Black Mamas Matter, an alliance of black women researchers, activists, and doctors. We have to be more connected to one another—in organizations and those working on the ground—and share our stories. I wrote a post on Facebook for example… I’m 38, I want to have a baby, I’m a professional, I’m single, I’m also queer, so there are a lot of different factors that come to play for me in terms of starting a family. So many questions come up; it’s about me being vulnerable enough and brave enough to share my experience. [That post] created an online community [of support and sharing information].

We should not have to lose our lives to bring life in this world, especially when the [risk factors] are rooted in systems of oppression and lack of access [to information] that can actually be eliminated.

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Ava DuVernay Partners With Netflix, HBO, OWN to Send Underprivileged Youth to Hollywood

Award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay is teaming up with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Issa Rae Productions, Netflix, HBO, OWN, Warner Bros., and other organizations to help underprivileged youth in Los Angeles realize their dreams of working in Hollywood.

Last week, DuVernay and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the launch of the Evolve Entertainment Fund (EEF), which aims to provide historically underserved communities with access and opportunities in the entertainment industry. The EEF has already secured 150 paid summer internships for students participating in the Hire L.A.’s Youth program at companies like DreamWorks Animation and Kobe Bryant’s Granity Studios. The long list of high-profile partner organizations will work to raise over $5 million to fund EEF’s programs for the next few years.

“As we radically reimagine Hollywood, it is critically important that young people are included in our vision,” said DuVernay on Feb. 19 at the unveiling of the EEF in L.A., according to Deadline. “What is one thing that people can do to instigate inclusion on film sets? Hire a woman,” added DuVernay, who serves as the EEF’s co-chair. “Films directed by women have 76% more inclusion across people of color and women.”

The new fund comes as an extension to Mayor Garcetti’s Hire L.A. Youth program, which provided 15,000 black and Latino youth with jobs in 2017. However, less than 20 of those jobs were in the entertainment industry. Hence, the Fund was created to fill that gap.

“Real change happens when we take tangible action, and that means giving young women and people of color opportunities in the industry early on so they have the chance to shape its future,” said DuVernay, the director of the upcoming film A Wrinkle in Time.

Along with internship opportunities, the EEF will offer students mentorships, workshops, and panels, as well as funding to cover production costs for independent projects. Participants will also get help to create projects from  DuVernay’s distribution label ARRAY, Film Independent, and the National Association of Latino Independent Producers.

“When ‘Oscars So White’ and ‘Time’s Up’ put a spotlight on inequality in Hollywood, they captured the frustrations of people shut out of opportunity in what the world knows as L.A.’s signature industry,” said Garcetti at the press conference. “We created the Evolve Entertainment Fund to give people in underserved communities a new opportunity to chase their dreams in Hollywood—whether they want to be the next award-winning director or screenwriter, or are looking to secure a future in below-the-line jobs that are the bedrock of this city’s middle class.”

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50 Cent Admits He Never Owned or Invested In Bitcoin

50 Cent does not, in fact, own or has ever owned any bitcoin.The Queens rapper admitted in court documents that he did not make $8 million in bitcoin by accepting the cryptocurrency as a form of payment for his 2014 album, Animal Ambition.

In a court document filed in bankruptcy court, first obtained by The Blast last Friday, rapper Curtis Jackson admitted that he “never owned, does not own, a bitcoin account or any bitcoins and to the best of his knowledge, none of his companies had a bitcoin account from 2014 to the present.”

A third party, Central Nervous, however, did manage the website of G-Unit Records, 50 Cent’s record label from which all his albums and merchandises were sold among other things, bitcoin, the court documents said. Although Central Nervous processed the online sales and accepted bitcoins as payment, the bitcoins accepted were converted to U.S. dollars through Bitpay, and that it was the converted U.S. dollars, not bitcoins, that G-Unit received.

To the best of my knowledge, at no time were any foreign or domestic accounts maintained by me or my business entities to keep either foreign currencies or bitcoin,” Jackson said in the court statement.

The 42-year-old rapper said as long as the publicity he got from the news that he made millions in bitcoin didn’t damage his image or brand, “I usually do not feel the need to publicly deny the reporting” even when the reports are based on “misunderstanding of facts or outright falsehoods.”

When TMZ, a gossip website broke the news in January, the rapper wrote a post on Instagram saying, “I forgot I did that” because he said he had forgotten that he was, in fact, one of the first rappers to accept bitcoin as payments for online transactions.

To prove that he is indeed bankrupt, he had to come clean about the nature of his involvement with the cryptocurrency. View the official court document below: 

50CENT Bankruptcy Document by TheVerge104 on Scribd


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Esteemed Center for Disease Control Scientist and Morehouse Graduate Goes Missing

It has now been two weeks since Timothy Cunningham went missing from his Atlanta home.

Cunningham, 35, an epidemiologist with 16 years under his belt, was working on understanding health differences across demographics at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Standing at 5 feet 11 inches and 230 pounds with black hair and brown eyes, his friends and family say he is a smart, caring man with a methodical mindset and an outgoing personality. All of which makes his disappearance strange.

On Feb. 12, feeling ill, Cunningham left early to finish his work from home, authorities said. He has since been missing.

“Tim had been in communication with us extensively on Sunday [Feb. 11], and I pinpoint Sunday because there were some exchanges via phone as well as text that alerted me to be concerned about our son,” his father, Terrell Cunningham, told NBC News.

“We, as a family, were aware of some personal issues that were going on with Tim, and they were to be expected and they were joys as well as some lows when we share they were personal,” said Cunningham’s father.

Cunningham’s parents, however, do not believe that their son was behind his own disappearance.

“Having worked, having obtained an education, having had the commitment to his profession if one was to need a time out there’s a way to take a timeout without just disappearing,” the elder Cunningham said. “So I’ve said before, none of this is normal and none of this is natural for us as a family and I think leaving like this, leaving Bo and leaving his mother in this state of despair would not be something Tim would do intentionally.”

Cunningham had texted his mother at 5:21 a.m. on the day he disappeared.

“Are you awake?” he asked.

Her phone was on silent.

“As a parent, you have indicators when things are just not right with your child, and that was the case,” she said. “I wish I had that opportunity to answer that text.”

His parents drove through the night from their home in Maryland on the 14th to find his phone, keys, wallet, car and his dog, nicknamed Mr. Bojangles Cunningham at his house.

“Tim never leaves Bo unattended,” Terrell said. “He just doesn’t do it.”

(Cunningham in a Facebook photo)

Cunningham’s family told 11Alive that he always kept in constant contact with them and talked to his sister nearly every day. She last heard from him around 7 a.m. on the day he vanished.

His disappearance has prompted a high-profile police search for Cunningham, who is highly regarded among his peers and in the community. He was supposed to take on one of Leadership Atlanta’s highest-level volunteer positions and had interviewed with Pat Upshaw-Monteith, CEO of the community leadership program.

“Everything seemed to be going very, very well for him—and then for him to disappear, it just doesn’t add up,” Upshaw-Monteith told CNN.

Cunningham is a commander working out of CDC’s Chamblee campus where he’s the team lead of the State Chronic Disease Epidemiology Assignee Program in the agency’s Division of Population Health. He graduated from Morehouse College and holds two degrees from Harvard University’s School of Public Health. He has been deployed to work on public health emergencies including Superstorm Sandy, the Ebola outbreak, and the Zika virus and has co-authored 28 publications on sleep deprivation, pulmonary disease with a special focus on how health issues affect minorities. He was named to the Atlanta Business Chronicles’ “40 under 40” list in 2017.

Joe Carlos, a college friend and neighbor of Cunningham, told NBC that they had bought tickets to attend a gala celebrating Morehouse College’s anniversary.

“Our last communication the week prior was about hanging out before and going down to the VIP reception and enjoying ourselves,” Carlos told NBC. “I can speak for myself and so many classmates that this is very, very shocking.”

Crime Stoppers of Greater Atlanta is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest or indictment in the case, and the family said they’ve raised more than $20,000 as a reward for info that can help locate him. 

Anyone with information on this case is asked to call 911.



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NPS Opens the Home of Carter G. Woodson, ‘Father of Black History,’ to the Public

In honor of Black History Month, the National Park Service (NPS) will grant the public access to the home of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, an African American writer and historian known as the “Father of Black History.”

Born the son of freed slaves in 1875, Woodson made a lifelong commitment to researching and preserving black history. In 1912, the sharecropper-turned-scholar became the second African American to receive a doctorate from Harvard University. He created “Negro History Week” in 1926, which was later adapted into Black History Month in 1976. The renowned scholar and author also penned over a dozen books, including the notable The Mis-Education of the Negro.

Now, for the month of February, the public can tour the Washington, D.C., home where he lived from 1922 up until his death in 1950. The 140-year-old house is where Woodson conceptualized the idea of “Negro History Week” and spent a substantial amount of time researching and documenting African American history. Before Woodson, there was little to no accurate recordings of black contributions in American history. The house is also where the Omega Psi Phi member founded and operated the Associated Publishers Press starting in 1921. “It was one of the first publishing companies to publish historical works of African American history,” said Vince Vaise, chief of visitor services at the National Park Service, reports WTOP.

The home was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976 before becoming vacant in the ’90s. The property was then acquired by the NPS in 2005 and reopened last year following years of renovations.

The Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site, located in the D.C. neighborhood of Shaw, is currently open to the public Thursdays through Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


The Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

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Remember When We Were Sidekicks? – BLACK PANTHER and COMIC BOOK POLITICS

Minor spoilers ahead

This isn’t so much a review as a reflection. It’s well documented how I feel about Black Panther. I pushed for Black Panther’s inclusion in the Avengers years ago. In April 2013, I wrote “It’s Time For Black Panther On The Big Screen.” If you’re just tuning in, you can look back through my archives for my previous Panther posts. Here’s Cary Darling’s Houston Chronicle article I was featured in “Houston fans are pumped for ‘Black Panther’ superhero movie with virtually all-African-American cast”

Well, I saw it.

Black Panther was one of the best movie experiences of my life.

First, this film isn’t “homework.” Typically, movies featuring a black cast feel as if they need to instruct audiences about the ills of society past and present. Black creatives know we may never have the media mic again, so we don’t waste any moments. In my humble opinion, you’re grown, and it’s unrealistic to burden a mainstream movie with responsibility to make you a better person. That cake is baked. The only hope for a better tomorrow lies within the children. Which is why the stories they see and hear about heroic people that look like them, and don’t, are vital. Blissfully, there are no sermons in Black Panther. White colonizers never even knew the technocratic marvel of Wakanda existed, so Wakandan society flourished atop a mountain of the most precious metal on earth, unmolested.

But, to director Ryan Coogler’s and Marvel Studios’ credit, Black Panther doesn’t shy away one iota from speaking truth to power about the broader consequences of isolationism, classism or societal injustice. Thematically, the tone of the film is a tasty gumbo of an Aesop fable and James Bond political pot-boiler with a side of Game of Thrones court intrigue and a dash of hot sauce. The strongest nations throughout history learn the greatest threats are not from without but within; Wakanda is no different. No one can escape the consequences of the choices they’ve made, whomever you are, from a lowly orphan to a mighty King, to a nation of millions, as Malcom X said famously, “Your chickens will always come home to roost.”

There has been some buzz by angry white fanboys with absurd notions regarding Black Panther. They’ve declared comic book characters or stories must somehow be “apolitical”. And that the political agenda surrounding this film makes them “uncomfortable.”  (Aw, pobrecito!)

However, black folks continue to celebrate the creative, cultural and financial success of the only big budget comic book movie featuring a black cast and crew undeterred.

The tone-deaf reaction of some can be expected. Wonder Woman debuted to similar trolling about sexism (against men) and uproars about Alamo Drafthouse Theaters’ woman-only screeings. Racism, sexism and pop culture fandom aren’t mutually exclusive, in fact, any female, non-gender specific person, Bleek, cosplayer, collector, or actor of color can relay incidences of racism, sexisim or homophobia they’ve encountered. This harassment both online; like John Boyega for the crime of being a black stormtrooper in “The Force Awakens” or at cons where “Cosplay is not Consent” has to be repeatedly drummed into grabby Comic Con attendees.

I’ve been trolled by white men I don’t know from Adam with the caucasity to tell me I had “no right to speak about Black Panther because I’m not a real comic book fan.”  Now, not liking or even hating Black Panther doesn’t make you a racist. Telling me I can’t love it does. And using the fig leaf of “political agendas have no place in Comic Book Movies” to hide your bigotry only exposes your own political agenda.

As hard as it may be for you to believe, Jimothy, this movie isn’t about you…

White Supremacy is a Hell of a Drug

In his Forbes’ article chronicling Black Panther’s unprecedented success, Scott Mendelson (a white guy so you can trust him, Jimothy) titled “Box Office: ‘Black Panther’ Crushes Conventional Wisdom With Record $218M Debut” had this to say regarding Black Panther:

This isn’t just a blow to conventional wisdom about minority-led blockbusters, it’s a blow to conventional wisdom concerning the MCU. One of their more outside-the-box offerings, one of their most director-driven films and one of their most overtly political pictures yet, one that plays more like a drama than an action spectacular, is now on pace to be one of their very biggest movies. Like Pixar, I hope the MCU is realizing that its (stereotypically) riskiest bets turn out to be their biggest wins. Playing it safe is no longer the safe choice.”

Let’s talk a little about “politics in comics” before we move forward. Because this will come up more often as women, blacks, Asians, non-binary folks and others underserved in the pop media landscape take the lead on both sides of the camera and all phases of production in Hollywood. Let’s look at an example of how political thought not only has always been a part of comics, it grounds the greatest heroes and drives the best stories.

Captain America was created by cartoonists Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, his first appearance was Captain America Comics #1 published in 1941 by Timely Comics, a predecessor of Marvel Comics. Captain America was designed as a patriotic supersoldier who fought the Axis powers of World War II and was Timely Comics’ most popular character during the wartime period. Steve Rogers, “the skinny kid from Brooklyn” that became America’s enduring champion and the “First Avenger” in Marvels MCU, was 4F but wanted desperately to serve his country like his only childhood friend Sgt. Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes. Steve endured bullying with courage and tenacity, he knew what it meant to be powerless, which is why Dr. Erskine, the lead scientist of the super soldier program, believed Rogers was the ideal candidate.

Dr. Abraham Erskine: The serum amplifies everything that is inside. So, good becomes great. Bad becomes worse. This is why you were chosen. Because a strong man, who has known power all his life, will lose respect for that power. But a weak man knows the value of strength, and knows compassion.
Steve Rogers: Thanks. I think.
Dr. Abraham Erskine: [he pours two drinks] Whatever happens tomorrow, you must promise me one thing. That you will stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier, but a good man.”

Rogers, now a super soldier, dressed in red white & blue named Captain America quit touring with the USO selling war bonds, went to the front lines and punched Nazis in the face on a daily basis.

That’s a political statement.

It’s endemic to who he is. Rogers believes in, if not America as it is, the aspirational ideal of what America SHOULD be for all her people. He’s such a patriot, once he leaned the truth about what the American government was doing in our name? He helped take down SHIELD, fought Iron Man, and became a fugitive from justice. Can you separate Captain America’s political views or core beliefs about freedom and justice from his character?

Of course not. Nor should you. That’s WHY we love Captain America. It’s what makes him a hero.

-Amnestic fanboys must have forgotten political stances made in The Avengers and all three Captain America Movies. SHIELD/HYDRA. Steve Rogers RAFT breakout after Civil War. The Sakovia Accords; UN oversight of “enhanced” individuals that split the Avengers. The political asylum granted by Wakanda. The entire X-Men comic run since Mutants were allegories of blacks during the Civil Rights Era of the 1960’s. MUTANT REGISTRATION ACT. TRASK Sentinel Program. The Legacy Virus that decimated fictional mutants concurrently during President Reagan’s silence on the spread of HIV in the 90’s that cost millions of real people their lives. Or, the second episode of Superfriends that spoke out against man-made climate change and promoted ocean conservation in the 1970’s.

I could go on.

Decades of the politics of the day driving comic book stories that no one cared about, that is, when blacks were sidekicks. This changed last Thursday.

Black Panther is a movie about the heir to the throne of a fictional African nation who wears the hereditary mantle of both monarch and protector of his realm “The Black Panther.” Is it possible to ignore or separate his blackness and his unique Afrocentric culture or world view from this character? Should every narrative he’s a part of ignore the plight of black people that do not enjoy the privilege of Wakandan citizenship?

Of course not.

One of the most powerful Black Panther comic book stories was the Jungle Action series of the seventies featuring Black Panther vs. The Ku Klux Klan. How do you de-politicize a black king taking on the the Klan? Why should we even want to? Like Cap’s political stance and core beliefs, Black Panther’s ethnicity & culture are central to his narrative and endemic to the character.

Black Panther is a powerful, resonant, self-reflective exercise that pays homage to both the source material and the African diaspora. It represents with unconditional love, deep respect, unique style, and an effortless flourish, yet still remembers to be a hell of a good time at the movies!

Black Panther was more than I could possibly ask for and one of the best examples of what a comic book movie can be. Period.


Editor’s Note: This article is excerpted from a longer piece. Read the article in its entirety at The Good Men Project 



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Logic to Bring Mental Health Awareness to Students in Michigan

Logic, a biracial rapper born Sir Robert Bryson “Bobby” Hall II, is redefining what it means to be a hip-hop artist. He’s a die-hard Star Wars fan, video gamer, and comic geek who regularly performs on stage while solving a Rubik’s Cube. But besides helping to bridge the gap between hip-hop heads and the nerd community, he’s saving lives—literally.

Last April, Logic released “1-800-273-8255,” a song titled after the hotline for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The song became his breakout hit, rising to No. 3 on the Hot 100s and earning two Grammy nods. He told Rolling Stone that he was inspired to write the song by his fans, who frequently told him “’your music saved my life.’” In response, he thought, “What the f–k? What if I tried to save a life with a song?”

He did. On the day the song was released, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline received the second-highest call volume in its history. And “it’s remained high ever since,” Dr. John Draper, the director, told Variety last August.

Although he has yet to win a Grammy, the 28-year-old artist delivered a gut-wrenching performance at the 60th annual music awards show that featured a multicultural and -generational army of suicide survivors. Once again, calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline tripled after his powerful set on Jan. 28.

Now, the chart-topping rapper is taking his advocacy for suicide prevention one step further. Logic teamed up with Glenn Close, a legendary stage and screen star, and Brandon Marshall, an NFL player and the co-founder of Project 375, to host a mental health awareness event for students at the University of Michigan. Titled after a lyric from his hit song, “Who Can Relate?” the week will include mental health training, wellness, and a variety of educational events related to mental health stigma reduction

Logic will also participate in discussions about topics surrounding mental health issues and headline at a concert at the school’s campus on March 30.

In addition to this project, Logic aspires to open a suicide prevention hotline office. “I want the place to look like Comic-Con,” he told Rolling Stone.


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Black History Month: The Divine Nine

Editor’s Note: This article originally published on February 16, 2016

Black Greek-letter sororities and fraternities have been a pivotal part of African American history and culture since the early 20th century. Launched on the campuses of historically black colleges, these organizations have been a central resource for support and service in the educational advancement and strengthening of social bonds among black students, entrepreneurs and professionals, especially when the organizations expanded to majority white institutions of higher learning. Also, they were a way to combat racism, as many campus organization memberships were exclusionary to students and professionals of color.

The pioneer black Greek-letter organizations have become known as the Divine Nine, and among their ranks have been some of the most influential leaders of color in healthcare, fashion, business, global affairs, politics and more.

Among the ranks of black fraternities are leaders from W.E.B. DuBois; Martin Luther King Jr. and Al Sharpton to Hill Harper, Al Roker, Emmitt Smith, Robert Johnson, and hundreds of thousands more. And the sororities boast an impressive roster of sorors as well, from First Lady Michelle Obama, Shirley Chisholm, and Loretta Lynch to Nikki Giovanni, Soledad O’Brien, MC Lyte, and many more.

The National Pan-Hellenic Council Inc. (NPHC), formed on the campus of Howard University on May 10, 1930, is a collective of the nine pioneering black Greek-letter organizations: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

Since these nine were started and incorporated, membership has spread globally, with chapters in Asia, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa. Their impact is also widespread professionally and financially, as they have contributed millions to uplift communities, send students to college via scholarships and support professionals in both corporate America and entrepreneurship via mentorship and sponsorship.

Alpha Phi Alpha is the oldest fraternity, founded in 1906, followed by Kappa Alpha Psi  and Omega Psi Phi in 1911, Phi Beta Sigma in 1914 and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity in 1963. Among the sororities, Alpha Kappa Alpha is the oldest, founded in 1908, followed by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority in 1913, Zeta Phi Beta in 1920 and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. in 1922.

Since the Divine Nine have been founded and incorporated, other black Greek-letter organizations have followed, and though they are not part of the Pan-Hellic Council, they have been vital in their impact of promoting service, scholarship, and fellowship among students and professionals of color around the world as well. These organizations include sororities such as the National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, Inc., founded in 1923 for educators; Gamma Phi Delta Sorority, Inc., an affiliate organization of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) founded in 1942; Zeta Delta Phi founded 1962 at Bronx Community College, and fraternities such as Sigma Phi Rho, chartered at Wagner College; Delta Psi Chi, founded in 1985 at University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee; and Nu Gamma Alpha, which was founded on Howard University’s campus in 1962.

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Oprah Pledges $500,000 To Support Florida Students’ Call for Gun Control

Oprah Winfrey tweeted Tuesday that she is “joining forces” with George and Amal Clooney in support of the upcoming “March for Our Lives” demonstration by donating half a million dollars to the pro-gun control effort.

The march, which will take place in Washington, D.C., on March 24, was organized in wake of the mass shooting at a Florida high school on Valentine’s Day that left 17 dead. News reports revealed that the alleged gunman, Nikolas Cruz, 19, is a white nationalist and Trump supporter. A motive, however, has not been confirmed.

In the aftermath of the horrific shooting, survivors at the school are advocating for stricter gun laws that would prevent teenagers like Cruz, who has a history of mental illness, from accessing semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15 used in the massacre.

On Tuesday, a Twitter account controlled by the student survivors thanked the Clooneys for donating $500,000 to their cause.

Hours later, Winfrey pledged to match the Clooney’s donation. The 64-year-old media mogul also compared the #NeverAgain movement to Freedom Riders who took bold actions to combat racism during the Civil Rights era while the government remained inactive in enforcing desegregation in the South.

Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw have also made sizable donations to March For Our Lives, which will be led by students in honor of the lives that were lost. The mission of the march “is to demand that a comprehensive and effective bill be brought before Congress to address these gun issues. No special interest group, no political agenda is more critical than the timely passage of legislation to effectively address the gun violence issues that are rampant in our country,” reads the website.

Despite pleas for stricter gun control, Florida legislators voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday not to ban assault rifles. Instead, they approved a bill designed “to protect Floridians, especially teenagers, from pornography.”

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