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Civil Rights, Poetry on PBS NewsHour's "Where Poetry Lives"

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Report is the latest in PBS NewsHour’s “Where Poetry Lives” series featuring US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey

The Civil Rights movement was about brave deeds and bold words. Both are explored by US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey and PBS NewsHour Correspondent Jeffrey Brown in the latest of their reports on “Where Poetry Lives”. Their story airs Friday, April 11, 2014.

To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act, Trethewey and Brown join Rep. John Lewis, Myrlie Evers, Rev. Edwin King and a bipartisan group of politicians and activists participating in the annual Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage. The visit was a homecoming of sorts for Trethewey, who grew up in Mississippi, the daughter of a black mother and white father. Her family was targeted by the Ku Klux Klan, and as a young girl, she watched as they burned a cross in her front yard. The experience inspires her poetry and her commitment to social justice, “it is the scaffolding that holds up all the things that I’m concerned about as a poet” and underscored for Trethewey the necessity of American poetry as “a kind of recording of our cultural moment and to record the history of a people.”

Online

Natasha Trethewey reads her poems “Incident,” which recounts the cross burning she witnessed as a child, and “Miscegenation” inspired by her parents' marriage.

Previous reports in the “Where Poetry Lives” series include:

Seattle’s Pongo Teen Writing Project helps homeless and incarcerated teens overcome trauma in their lives by writing from the heart about difficult experiences.

Detroit’s InsideOut Literary Arts Project places professional writers and poets in inner city schools to help children give voice to their often turbulent lives through poetry and writing. Alzheimer’s Poetry Project, uses poems commonly memorized and recited in youth, to bring joy and to trigger long term memories in dementia patients, not just of the poems, but of family members and their own identity.

Dr. Rafael Campo uses poetry to help medical students hone the art of medicine.

PBS NewsHour’s coverage of poetry is funded by the Poetry Foundation. The “Where Poetry Lives” series is a partnership with the Library of Congress’ Poetry and Literature Center. PBS NEWSHOUR is seen by over four million weekly viewers and is also available online, via public radio in select markets and via podcast. The program is produced with WETA Washington, D.C., and in association WNET in New York. Major corporate funding for PBS NewsHour is provided by BAE Systems, BNSF and Charles Schwab with additional support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the J. Paul Getty Trust, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, National Science Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Friends of the NewsHour and others.

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5th Annual "Is Hip Hop History?" to be Held Feb. 27 through Feb. 28

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The City College of New York’s Division of Interdisciplinary Studies will host the fifth annual “Is Hip-Hop History?” Conference Feb. 27 through Feb. 28, at the Center for Worker Education (CWE).

This year’s event pays homage to the iconic 1984 hip hop film “Beat Street,” which is celebrating its 30th anniversary. The conference is also part of City College’s Black History Month festivities. Themed the “Return to Beat Street,” this year’s event is using the film for thoughtful reflection, in particular on the historical place of the female emcee.

“Thirty years ago, “Beat Street” made one of the first attempts to dramatize New York City hip hop culture,” said Warren Orange, an academic advisor in the division and conference co-founder. “Part of the movie was at filmed City College, which became one of the crossroads where academia was first introduced to hip hop. We thought it appropriate that “Beat Street” return to City College and a contemporary audience of scholars and hip hop enthusiasts.”

The conference will officially kick off with a screening of “Beat Street” at Aaron Davis Hall on City College’s main campus at W. 135th Street and Convent Avenue, 12 noon – 2 p.m. Thursday, February 27. Mr. Orange, who teaches a class on the History, Culture and Politics of Hip Hop, will host a Q&A session immediately following. The film screening is sponsored by Aaron Davis Hall and is free to students.

Then, the conference will head downtown to CWE, where MC Sha-Rock, the first female emcee and former member of the legendary rap group The Funky 4 +1 More, will deliver the keynote address. A reception will follow the keynote address, and a second screening of “Beat Street,” sponsored by the CWE Office of Student Affairs, will conclude the first day’s events.

On day two, Hip Hop USA, a collective of New York City Subway graffiti legends, street artists and fine urban artist, will produce “From Caves to Subway Cars,” an art exhibition and panel discussion.

To register for the event, visit at http://ishiphophistory5.eventbrite.com/.

Entertainment Portrayals of Mental Health, Substance Abuse to be Recognized at PRISM Awards

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As the national dialogue surrounding mental health continues to evolve, Entertainment Industries Council (EIC) spotlights the power of entertainment and media to influence attitudes and behaviors through authentic portrayals.

 

The PRISM Awards, honoring the portrayal of mental health and substance abuse, including drug, alcohol, tobacco use and addiction, in TV shows, movies, music, DVD, and comic book entertainment, are presented annually by the Entertainment Industries Council, Inc. (EIC). The Nomination Review Committee (NRC), which consists of over 80 representatives of the entertainment industry and health fields, will meet at the end of this month to determine the nominees, according to President and CEO Brian Dyak.

“Based on the submissions received, entertainment creators produced more than 300 hours of national television, film, comic book and other media addressing all aspects of mental health and substance use, from prevention to treatment and recovery,” said Dyak.

The 18th annual PRISM Awards aims to strengthen the positive relationship between the entertainment industry and public interest sector.

“The portrayals reached a new level this year. Productions further expanded into multiple-episode storylines rather than these issues existing within only a single episode of a show, providing more in-depth exploration. These advancements are testimony to the increasing awareness of prevalent social and health issues and will make for a vibrant 18th Annual PRISM Awards program,” commented Larry Deutchman, Executive Vice President, Marketing and Industry Relations, EIC.

EIC continues to encourage the entertainment industry to raise awareness through detail and honesty.

“[EIC] is always there as a resource to the entertainment community and the reason that portrayals in film and television are becoming more accurate and more useful to the general public is because of organizations like EIC,” said Dr. Drew Pinsky, TV host and longtime PRISM Awards supporter.

Learn more about PRISM Awards and get updates ahead of nominee announcements at www.prismawards.com.

It's That Time of Year: The 85th Academy Awards

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By Lea Michelle Cash

Thousands of people from around the globe watched the Academy Awards each year to witness a legendary golden statue with a name titled Oscar to fall into the hands of a fortunate winner. This is the night of all nights when Hollywood brings out all its glory and richness dedicated to making movies.

Hopes were high that the brilliant young actress, Quvenshane Wallis, nominated for her performance in a leading actress role in Beast of the Southern Wild would clinch the golden statue, however fate had a different plan. An up and coming starlet by the name of Jennifer Lawrence won the prize for her leading role in the highly celebrated film Silver Linings Playbook.

Denzel Washington was nominated for his leading role in the movie Flight. The Oscar went to an emotional Daniel Day-Lewis, for his leading role and brilliant performance in the historical account of Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln. He received an immediate standing ovation.

The winners were emotional on stage and backstage in the pressroom. Ang Lee, best director, for Life of Pi; Christoph Waltz for best supporting actor in Django Unchained and Quentin Tarantino for best original screenplay Django Unchained; Ann Hathaway for best supporting actress in Les Miserables. The biggest winner of the evening was Ben Affleck, George Clooney and Grant Heslov, producers of the movie Argo, winning best motion picture of the year.

The Academy’s Hollywood film industry has long dreamed of creating a museum that will serve as a destination for movie lovers. This dream is coming true making this Los Angeles’ most significant new cultural project, a major global tourist attraction, and a home for education and workforce development towards movie making.

Stars Shine Brightly at the 44th Annual NAACP Image Awards

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By Natasha Simone Ferguson

The red carpet lit up with a star-studded lineup of Hollywood celebs and other distinguished guests at the recent 44th Annual NAACP Image Awards. Held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, the awards ceremony honored achievements of people of color in entertainment, literature and promoting social justice.

Host Steve Harvey noted the significance of this year’s Image Awards being held on the first day of Black History month, as well as being a historic day marking the 105th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Actress Kerry Washington won a trio of awards, most notably the President’s Award for her humanitarian efforts presented to her by NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous along with the elegant and graceful Diahann Carroll. Washington was appointed to serve on President Barack Obama’s President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. She also won for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series for “Scandal” and Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for “Django Unchained”.

LL Cool J won Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series for his role on CBS’ NCIS: Los Angeles and humbly accepted the award dedicating it to the late Michael Clark Duncan who was a nominee in the same category.

Lance Gross received Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for Tyler Perry’s “House of Payne” and addressed the media backstage, saying that he would like to get more rugged and raw action roles in the future.

Onlookers held a gleam of pride in their eyes and gave a long heartfelt standing ovation as they welcomed U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Michelle Howard on stage to receive the prestigious Chairman’s Award, presented by NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock and Image Awards Announcer Dennis Haysbert. Vice Admiral Howard was choked up and through teary eyes gave a memorable speech. She candidly shared the challenges she faced as being the first African American woman to command a U.S. Navy ship and the first African American woman promoted to three-star rank in the U.S. Armed Forces. She is also actively involved in humanitarian efforts through the Habitat for Humanity organization. Vice Admiral Howard ended her acceptance speech with a quote from freedom fighter Harriet Tubman.

“Harriet Tubman said ‘every great dream begins with a dreamer. You have within you the strength, the patience and passion to reach for the stars,’ and for all of you who have written, composed, directed, produced or acted, you let us believe that we could reach the stars…”

Grammy Award winning vocalist Gladys Knight sang a soul-stirring performance of ‘The Way We Were’ during the memoriam portion of the broadcast, which paid tribute to icons who have recently passed away including: Michael Clark Duncan, Whitney Houston, Donna Summers, Al Freeman Jr., Don Cornelius, Chris Lighty and many more distinguished notables.

The most memorable moment of the evening was when two living legends graced the stage. Sidney Poitier, acclaimed multi award-winning actor, filmmaker, diplomat and first Black to win an Academy Award in 1963 for 'Best Actor' — also known as an outstanding orator — captivated the audience when he presented Harry Belafonte with the Spingarn Award honoring outstanding achievement by an African American. At 85-years old, singer, songwriter, actor and social activist Belafonte is still strikingly debonair, and his handsomely statuesque appearance commands attention by all. The auditorium was deafly silent hanging on every eloquently spoken word of Belfonte’s enlightening speech about critical social issues facing people of color today.

“The group most devastated by America’s obsession with the gun is African-Americans. Although making comparisons can be dangerous, there are times when they must be noted. America has the largest prison population in the world. Of the over two million men, women and children who make up the incarcerated, the overwhelming majority is Black. They are the most unemployed, the most caught in the unjust systems of justice, and in the gun game, we are the most hunted. The river of blood that washes the streets of your nation flows mostly from the bodies of our Black children. Yet as the great debate emerges on the question of the gun, White America discusses the constitutional issue of ownership, while no one speaks of the consequences of our racial carnage. The question is ‘where is the raised voice of Black America? Why are we mute? Where are our leaders, our legislators? Where is the Church?”

"Django Unchained" star and Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx closed out the show singing a powerful rendition of Gospel recording artist Fred Hammond's "No Weapon" while accepting his award for “Entertainer of the Year.”

Founded in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is the oldest and largest civil rights organizations in the United States.

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