Thursday

Dr. King to Obama - Dream of Setting the Melting Pot On Fire


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr delivered his famous speech, I Have a Dream, 45 years ago today -- a day when that will go down in history made by Senator Barack Obama
On August 28, 1963, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his resounding "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial, inspiring the nation to think about and act on racial inequality. Tonight at the Democratic National Convention, a young man sired by an African named Obama will officially accept his party's nomination for President of the United States of America.

The timing of Obama's ascent, culminating with his acceptance speech tonight, seems beyond uncanny. But something more uncanny than the timing exists. Underlying Dr. King's now famous words was the intent of shining a spotlight on the poor treatment of African Americans. But within his message, Dr. King also said this:

"...many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom."
In other words, Dr. King predicted the disconcerting circumstances in which many non-black Americans are surprised to find themselves today.

The American middle class feels increasingly threatened by the dissipation of jobs that pay a decent wage, a highly discriminating health care system, a shrinkage of what the U.S. dollar affords, a dazzling domino-style collapse of homeownership due to foreclosures, and other forces that are crippling the American psyche...

Three years ago, almost to the day, too, Hurricane Katrina blew into New Orleans, causing mass devastation unlike anything we've witnessed in America. What a startling eye-opener that was, that an entire major city could go under -- dead bodies floating everywhere -- and the governments who've promised us protections in return for tax dollars would skip beat after beat to help people survive.

The sea of panicked faces we watched struggle through Katrina overwhelmingly were black. But those being sucked down by a Katrina-like economy and war today are not. They are white, Hispanic -- you name it. And still, there seems to be no "life preserver" available to toss.

Dr. King warned 45 years ago today that Americans would sink or swim together. Well, look at where so many of us are today: drowning in anxiety. Many minorities have waded these treacherous waters for a very long time - historically, in fact. Sadly, too many others are getting to know this lonely, overwhelming feeling, too.

As has been repeated at the Democratic National Convention, America cannot afford four more years of the same. Yes, it is awesome that an African American will accept the nomination tonight. This is a wonderful aspect of Dr. King's dream come true.

But let's not miss the message beyond the symbolizm: Poor treatment for one is evidence that it can happen to all. That poor treatment is manifesting in every area, from how our veterans are treated to how affairs to how people's paychecks are being pilfered as oil profits.

Today marks the beginning of the fight - the fight to protect the American quality of life. God bless America: Let our great melting pot catch afire tonight.







Links:

Witnesses to Dr. King's Dream See a New Hope (New York Times)

I Have A Dream (full text of speech by Martin Luther King Jr.)

Dr. King - Key Resources and Links (Arlington Library)

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Friday

Obama: Biden His Time?


Excellent news: Senator Joe Biden of Delaware has been chosen as vice presidential running mate of Barack Obama.

Major news trackers suspect that Senator Barack Obama in the next hours will announce Delaware Senator Joe Biden as his running mate. Like the rest of Obama's supporters, I await his big veep announcement email (predicted to drop on Saturday morning), so I can only hope the rumors are true.

I've been a huge Joe Biden fan for many years. In fact, I hoped long ago -- well before he even ran unsuccessfully -- that Biden would run for president. In the absence of that, the possibility of his serving as Obama's vice president sounds like a winning strategy for national restoration. A restoration of faith in our government, the perception of caring, and more appropriate kinds of international involvement.

Joe Biden is one politically astute dude, and to be sure, he is about changing the status quo. I've known of his leadership since my days in college in Philadelphia, a city that borders parts of Delaware. But Biden really began to stand out as a man I respected when I watched his interviews on the old Imus In the Morning Show, before its controversial demise on MSNBC.

Joe Biden was a frequent guest on the Imus show. He could always be counted on not to mince words about his concerns and suspicions pertaining to goings-on in the White House, Iraq, and Afghanistan. When Biden had ill-feelings about how our troops and their families were being dealt with or Halliburton's favor, he spoke up. I don't know of a more stand-up politician in America today.

When Joe Biden was a contender for the presidential nomination that apparently is Obama's, there was too much made about a comment he made about Obama. Biden basically was saying What's not to love about Obama? He's (sic) articulate, clean and good-looking.

Oh, those were real fighting words!

If it's true that Senator Obama has chosen Senator Biden as his running mate, I feel more hopeful than ever that America will get back on a healthy track. Because with these two together, I foresee a lot of Good Cop, Bad Cop in our future. As far as I can tell, Biden is about the best attack dog in American politics and his foreign policy credentials probably are unrivaled.

Biden's extremely well-informed and knows where the bones are buried. If any high crimes have been committed, it may well all come out if Joe Biden's given half a chance. Let us hope he doesn't go Pelosi on us.

Way to go, Joe. I hope major congratulations are in order for you. Hey, you're articulate, clean, and good-looking, too!

Links:

Field Narrows for Obama's Running Mate (New York Times)

Profile: Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (New York Times)

Hoping It's Biden (Columnist David Brooks, New York Times)




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Wednesday

Isaac Hayes Tribute in Memphis at Stax


Isaac Hayes masterfully redefined soul music. His work has been sampled by all manner of hip-hop producers and recorded by rap stars ranging from Biggie The Notorious B.I.G. 2Pac and beyond. R.I.P., Black Moses.

Like many authentic old school music fans, I am stunned by the recent death of Isaac Hayes. The loss of Isaac Hayes looms so large, it's difficult to express who he represented in the 1970s and 1980s soul music pantheon...

I don't mean from a commercial, number of copies-sold stand point, either. I'm talking about the REAL mark that Black Moses made, hot buttering our hearts and seducing our souls:

...That sensitive, all-true-man voice that hypnotized a people back in the day... The blue lights in the basesment slow jam moments where an Isaac Hayes jam taught us the joys and pain of romance. And informed us of how to express sweet puppy love.

And at the same time, legendarily introduced a fresh and lushly orchestrated sound in black music. And kept it real...

"By the Time I Get to Phoenix" (Glenn Campbell song that Isaac stunningly
reinvented)
"Never Can Say Good-bye" (Jackson Five song that Isaac knocked
to Mars)
"Love's So Doggone Good"
"Walk On By"
"Do Your Thang"
"Good Love 69969"
Even the well-sampled "Blind Alley" by The Emotions?!

Gotta love the many hip-hop producers who've sampled music by Isaac Hayes over the decades. But only those of us of a certain age probably feel this loss in our bones. If you were there, you don't need my mere words. You know...

Isaac Hayes. The gifted truth and soul of a nation. R.I.P. Black Moses. Hot Buttered Soul forever...

Links:
* Isaac Hayes Tribute in Memphis at Stax (New York Times)

* iReporters Remember Isaac Hayes as 'Electrifying' (CNN)

* 10 Classic Hip-hop Songs That Sampled Isaac Hayes (Rap.About.com)

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Rachelle Farrell, Fertile Ground, Lady of Rage at African Festival of The Arts


If you're in Chicago this Labor Day weekend, don't miss the African Festival of the Arts. Now the largest of all annual neighborhood summer festivals in Chicagoland, this year's African Festival boasts a music and concert lineup that's jam packed with top-shelf entertainment. The cultural arts, entertainment and ethnic cuisine action starts on Friday, August 29 and continues thru Monday, September 1, 2008.

First and foremost will be the impeccable vocal and piano phenomenon Rachelle Farrell. If you're a fan of Rachelle and have never seen her live, do not miss her concert at the African Festival. Rachelle Farrell hits the Dee Parmer stage on Sunday, August 31 at 7:45 p.m.


Rachelle's music style defies true genre labeling. I first learned of this brilliant musician back in Philadelphia, the area she's originally from. In her early days, Rachelle performed as a jazz vocalist at cozy venues like the old Khyber Pub on infamously exciting South Street. But Rachelle's soulful repertoire also ventures into R&B, gospel and even folk-twinged music.

I enjoyed meeting Rachelle and her brother, Russell, on the Tom Joyner Cruise some years ago, and hung out a while with them. They are the coolest. Amazingly, Russell has the same exceptional vocal gift as his sister. He joined her on-stage to sing Will Downing's part in the duet "Nothing Has Ever Felt" and seriously blew everyone away! Clearly, the gift is in the Farrell genes.

Also performing at the African Festival, leading up to Rachelle Farrell in concert will be jazz great Mulgrew Miller at 4:30 p.m.

Two popular neo-soul acts are part of this year's African Festival as well. Fertile Ground performs on the World Music stage on opening day, Friday, August 29. And on Saturday, August 30, the French neo-soul duo Les Nubians gets under way at 6:15 p.m.


If you're a hip-hop music lover, the African Festival offers an awesome lineup for you, too. Special Ed, Lady of Rage and Big Daddy Kane all perfom live throughout the day and evening of Saturday, August 30. Keith Murray and Nice and Smooth are gracing the Hip-Hop Stage on Sunday, August 31. And last but not least, Black Sheep, Rhymefest and Brand Nubian do their killer old school-inspired thing on Monday, September 1.

For more about the 2008 African Festival of the Arts, check these links:

African Festival of the Arts

Mulgrew Miller [Wiki]

Rachelle Farrell [Wiki]
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Saturday

Bernie Mac Memorial - K-lawwwd, We'll Always Love You


Bernie Mac photo as a student at Vocational High School on the South Side of Chicago

Today here on Chicago's South Side, thousands of people are expected to attend a public memorial for comedian, actor and Chicago favorite son Bernie Mac. Born Bernard Jeffrey McCullough 50 years ago, Bernie transitioned this world last Saturday. Today, his friends and fans everywhere celebrate his homegoing, appreciating the powerfully healing laughter he gave the world over the years.

Schedule for noon today, the memorial for Bernie Mac takes place at the 10,000-seat House of Hope church (752 East 114th Street). Fellow funnyman D. L. Hughley will speak at the service. Mac's TV family cast members from The Bernie Mac Show will attend and so apparently will many Hollywood friends from the big and small screens. Mayor Richard Daley also plans to attend.

Bernie's many acting successes included having his own Fox television series "The Bernie Mac Show," which taped from 2001 - 2006 and remains strong on the rerun circuit. He also had starring roles in blockbuster films such as "Ocean's Eleven," "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle," and "Transformers."

But Bernie forever emblazoned himself in my heart when he played that throwed-off reverend in the zany Ice Cube produced movie "Friday." K-lawwwd!!


While it was complications from pnemonia that Bernie could not surmount, he had suffered with sarcoidosis since 1983. A friend who also has suffered with the disease -- which she says "moves around" in the body -- wonders if the medications that Mac and so many others take to manage "sarcoid" left his body unable to fight the pnemonia when it emerged.

Among the many celebrities who're clearly shaken up by Bernie's demise is talk show giant Larry King. Last night's Larry King Live show was dedicated to Bernie Mac, with his fellow Kings of Comedy tour cohorts fondly remembering The Mac Man. Comedians Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer and D. L. Hughley were among's King's guests. Ashton Kutcher also was on the show and simply seemed stunned by the loss of his friend and movie co-star.

Larry King mentioned the family's request that condolences be sent as contributions to: The Bernie Mac Foundation for Sarcoidosis, 40 E. 9th St., Suite 601, Chicago, IL 60605.

R.I.P., Bernard McCullough. You fought the good fight. You sure done good!

Links:
My Student, Bernie Mac (Chicago Tribune)

Bernie Mac - The Final Hours (RushPRNews)

Sarcoidosis Signs and Symptoms (National Heart Lung & Blood Institute)
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Friday

Nancy Pelosi - Throwing the Book at Her


Know Your Power - A Message to America's Daughters is the title of book by Nancy Pelosi.

I happened to catch a little of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on "The View" recently, promoting her book, “Know Your Power: A Message to America’s Daughters.” I wasn't able to give the interview my full attention. Really, my interest started to wane fairly early in the chat, for some reason.

It took reading this New York Times article to realize why: The Why-Haven't-You-Impeached-the-President Tour.

Nancy Pelosi joins Senator Hillary Clinton on the heartbreak bandwagon. Just when they had real opportunities to take a stand -- to press for truth about how and why the U.S. landed in Iraq -- they folded. Lots of tough talk in the beginning. But when the rubber really hit the road, they stood down.

Neither powerful woman, of course, would risk going the way of former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. Her leadership in posing tough questions to the Bush Administration about the September 11 attacks led Republicans to gang-up on her and oust her; they "cross-voted" as Democrats against her in an election.

Many Democrat leaders clammed up and let McKinney take the bullet, to put it mildly. McKinney is now running for U.S. president as the candidate on the Green Party ticket. She's also involved in a plethora of leadership activities, among them prison reform and hip-hop activism.

Dr. Condi Rice or Condoleeza Rice as dominatrix in fierce bootsSomehow I suspect that when the dust settles, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice will be the only political power puff still standing in a way:

  • She's the only of these prominent lady politians who has not ruffled any friendly feathers.

  • Like her or not, Dr. Rice has been consistent. We had no special expectations of her to challenge the status quo. Sadly, Madame Secretary has not disappointed.
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Wednesday

From Vogue to Flickr, Black Models are Beautiful


Italian Vogue magazine's Black Model issue in July features Tocara in a trunk.

About once a month I talk to my highly-entertaining, fashion-guru friend, Cheryl, in Philadelphia. She's always got a hot link I need to look at. Today's link from Cheryl is awesome! It's the Italian Vogue - July issue, which is dedicated to fashion models of African descent.

Jezebel.com gives an excellent blow-by-blow photo essay of the stunning glamour photography and fashion shots. It's hot, sexy, edgy stuff, as only Italian fashion photography gives it.

Every top black model is spotlighted. From Alek Wek, Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks to Iman, Liya Kebede and Lily Taylor -- you name her, she's in there. This includes Toccara, who's captured magnificently in a car trunk!

The only black models photography that's possibly hotter is that on Flickr, in the Second Life groups. My, those Second Life virtual girls do get exotic.

But so does photographer extraordinairre Steven Meisel [wiki], who shot most of the girls for Italian Vogue's "black girls" issue. The photo essay at Jezebel.com does mention, however, that none of the advertisements surrounding the Meisel editorial feature black models.

Italian Vogue compiled this special, 100-page editorial in July as a "statement against discrimination in the fashion world." It's not news that plenty still exists, but it's kind of Vogue to acknowledged it in such an attention-grabbing way. Not much will likely change in the industry because it, but Italian Vogue has benefitted nicely from the controversy and publicity.

For a compelling perspective on the barriers faced by most black fashion models, don't miss this New York Times piece.
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"Urban Islands" Photo Gallery | Viqi French



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