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Rapper, Singer Nate Dogg dead at 41

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(Reuters) - Rap artist Nate Dogg, known for his collaborations with such hip-hop stars as Dr. Dre, Warren G and longtime friend Snoop Dog, has died at age 41.

The cause of death was not immediately known, but Nate Dogg, born Nathaniel D. Hale, had suffered from recurrent health problems, including strokes in 2007 and 2008, The Hollywood Reporter said.

News of his death on Tuesday was first reported in the Long Beach Press-Telegram, his hometown newspaper, and Snoop Dogg send out a Twitter message on his friend's passing a short time later.

"We lost a true legend n hip hop n rnb. One of my best friends n a brother to me since 1986 ... I am so sad but so happy I got to grow up wit u and I will c u again n heaven cuz u know d slogan all doggs go to heaven," he tweeted.

Other entertainers posting tweets included comedian Dave Chappelle and singer Erykah Badu.

A contemporary of Snoop and the late Tupac Shakur (aka 2Pac), Nate Dogg made his recording debut with the single "Deeez Nuuuts" on Dr. Dre's landmark 1992 album "The Chronic," and appeared on 2Pac's seminal double-disc set "All Eyes on Me."

Other collaborators included Eminem, 50 Cent and Ludacris.

Described by AllMusic.com as "the soul man of G-funk," Nate also teamed up with Warren G for one of the biggest hip-hop hits of the 1990s, "Regulate," which reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in 1994.

He and Warren G later parted company, but Nate Dogg hit the charts again in 1996 with "Never Leave Me Alone," featuring Snoop, and released his own debut album, "G-Funk Classics, Vols. 1 & 2," early the following year on Interscope Records.

He followed that with two more solo collections, the latest, titled "Nate Dogg," was released in 2008.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Jill Serjeant)

The 19th Annual Pan African Film Festival's 'Gang Girl'

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By Lea Michelle Cash –

The ultimate cinematic experience in Black films was recently celebrated at the 19th Annual Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) at the Culver Plaza Theatre. In his opening welcome letter, Ayuko Babu, the film festival’s executive director reminds attendees that Black cultural institutions are in dismay and imperil.

He writes: “The African Market Place is gone, the Watts Summer Festival/Watts Stax is a shadow of its glorious self, the Black Expo has faded and Leimert Park staggers on. If we do not maintain our cultural institutions, we as a people will be spiritually, economically and culturally poor. Only with a strong, viable and dynamic culture controlled by us can we create the energy, develop the mental clarity and vitality that will continue to produce generations that will advance our interest within the context of the world. This is absolutely important because the nature of life is that we go forward, develop and die.”

I was unable to view many of the films presented at the festival this year, however, I did attend one screening, directed by a very special friend, I have had the pleasure of standing on red carpets with for nearly a decade. Her name is Valerie Goodloe. She is an award winning photojournalist and a very private person, which is why I know what to expect from this film.

Valerie along with her husband Lemonde produced and directed “Gang Girl: A Mother’s Journey to Save her Daughter”.

At the San Diego Black Film Festival, the film took top honors. The 86 minute, personal documentary about Goodloe’s touching journey to save her youngest daughter Nafeesa Toney from gang life is absolutely beautiful.

Nafessa is a splendor in the grass. The film is a straightup, heartfelt tearjerker. It explores the subculture of Black female street gangs, uniquely rendered from the perspective of a mother and her family—a very touching tribute to a mother’s love with the compelling theme of parental domination.

Nefeesa whose name in Arabic means “precious” is a member of the infamous LA Bloods Gang. Nafeesa went to a private school and was raised as a Muslim in a middle class family. Her parents divorced when she was young and from time to time, Nafeesa lived with her father.

Valerie remarried and both families struggled with coming to terms with their daughter’s gang affiliation. The film digs deep and majestically has you glued to the screen, as truth unfolds and both families insightfully and painfully displays their family dynamics, and how that dynamic can contribute to a life of violence and crime. “After watching this film I want people to walk away feeling uncomfortable. We are not focused on girls enough. There are many programs working on gangs, but they are for boys and we water it down to include girls,” said Goodloe who is also an antigang activist.

Over a period of three years, the project evolved to include Congresswoman, Maxine Waters who is Goodloe’s personal friend.

One time when Nafeesa had run away from home, and no one could find her, after shooting pictures at a black-tie event for Waters, the congresswoman asked: “Valerie how is the family and kids? “

Valerie tells Waters that Nafeesa is missing and has run away. The following day, the congresswoman loads up a truck with food and turkeys. She and Valerie go into gang infested LA areas, doing a food giveaway and knocked on doors to find information on Nafeesa’s whereabouts.

Former police chief Bernard Parks, whose own granddaughter was killed by gang violence in 2000, is also involved in the film. There are thousands and thousands of street gangs in California with hundreds of members.

Many female gang members were interviewed in the film and present for questions after the documentary screening. Several had tears in their eyes as their lives unfolded on the big screen. However, what was particularly very compelling in the film is Nafeesa herself, and the conflict that she has towards being loyal to her birth family and gang family as well. She loves them both. She also has conflicts about her sense of self, being strictly raised Muslim, and her sexual orientation.

Her mother would not let her go, and was determined to get answers on how her daughter ended up on a path of gang life.

The drama unveils up-close and the impact of gang activities and its negative societal impacts. I could not stop crying.

The documentary is really moving on multiple levels.

“I did not come to make this film as a film maker, producer, executive producer, or anything like that. Those things just all of a sudden kind of happened. And finding funding and loyal people who believed in this project was difficult,” said Goodloe.

“I hope that this film will help all parents understand how the gang life is taking our loving and promising children, and we can come to terms with ways to address it and take our children back.”

The 42nd NAACP Image Awards: 'Affirming America's Promise'

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By Lea Michelle Cash –

This promise was embedded in the hearts of freed slaves as they endeavored for opportunities to provide America to live up to its promise. We all have our heroes and sheroes. As a people of color, our remembrance of them can take different forms and celebrations.

Just as in 1965 when Bill Cosby broke the color barrier in television and became the first Black in a non-traditional role when he costarred in the network television series “I Spy” to 1968 when Diahann Carroll became the first Black woman to have her own television series in a non-stereotypical role in the weekly NBC series “Julia,” we have honored early achievements and cried at their remarkable success. In doing so, we have honored our ancestors and their challenge to hold America to its promise. As their children, we will never forget.

That is why on the extraordinary evening that the NAACP holds its annual event celebrating the outstanding achievement and performance of people of color in the arts, as well as those individuals or groups who promote social justice in Film, Television, Music and Literature, Black Hollywood sparkles with radiance and glory as keepers of America’s Promise.

This year’s theme spoke volumes as the hosts Holly Robinson Peete and Wayne Brady greeted performers, presenters and honorees from LL Cool J to Phylicia Rashad to Halle Berry and Prince. The United States 18th Surgeon General, Regina M. Benjamin, a Black woman who provides the best scientific information available on how to improve the health of our nation, and oversees the operational command of 6,500 uniformed health officers around the world to promote, protect and advance the health of the American people received the “NAACP Chairman Award”. Dr. Benjamin has a BS in chemistry; a MD degree; a MBA and eleven honorary doctorates. She is a keeper of America’s promise.

However, the night belonged to another keeper of America’s promise—General Colin L. Powell who received the NAACP highest honor the “President’s Award”. Along with General Powell’s countless awards and honors, he is the founder and Chairman Emeritus of the America’s Promise Alliance, dedicated to forging a strong and effective partnership alliance committed to seeing that children have the fundamental resource they need to succeed.

In between the main honors, paraded the colorful, wide variety of nominees for literature, television, movies and music. Their extraordinary achievement was played out boldly in a live telecast shown to millions around the world. Nominees that were fortunate to win the golden statute were humbled, emotional and graceful. A choked up Halle Berry backstage told the press, “I am a Black woman, and I now know that for the rest of my life, I will be looking for ways to celebrate and promote other Black women through producing.”

Tatyana Ali got emotional on stage and back stage. “It’s all too much” she said. “When I looked out in that audience and saw my mother, my sister, and Phylicia Rashad from my really early days on the Cosby show, I had a moment.” Tatyana won an Image Award for the best Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Series—“The Young and the Restless.”

Other winners were Tyler Perry, Kimberly Elise, Willow, Samuel L. Jackson, Regina King, S. Epatha Merkerson, Denzel Washington, Vanessa Williams, Jill Scott and Terrance Howard to name a few. Best Outstanding News/Information went to TV’s “Unsung” and Best Outstanding Talk Series went to ABC’s “The View”.

Celebrities To Light Up NAACP Image Awards

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Wayne Brady, Holly Robinson Peete to Host, Surgeon General and General Colin Powell to Receive NAACP Honors

By Ben Wrobel & Christopher Fleming –

On Friday, March 4, a diverse group of celebrities including Halle Berry, LL Cool J and Vanessa Williams will light up Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium for the 42nd NAACP Image Awards, the pre-eminent multicultural awards show. Talk show host, actress and author Holly Robinson Peete and actor and comedian Wayne Brady will host the show, which will feature performances by Mary Mary and Michael Franti & Spearhead.

This year, Surgeon General Regina Benjamin and General Colin Powell will join the ranks of Aretha Franklin, Bono and Muhammad Ali as recipients of the Chairman and President’s awards.

The ceremony will be broadcast live (8:00-10:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed) on FOX.

“This year more than ever we need to celebrate the achievements of people of color in the arts,” said NAACP Hollywood Bureau Executive Director Vicangelo Bulluck, who serves as executive producer of the awards telecast. “Inclusive and multicultural, the NAACP Image Awards AWARDS is truly a diverse American awards show. It showcases the hottest names in television, film and music, and you couldn’t ask for better hosts than Wayne and Holly to lead us in this celebration.”

NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock will present Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin with the 2011 Chairman’s Award. This award recognizes special achievement and distinguished service in the public sphere. Past honorees include Tyler Perry, Former Vice President Al Gore and Dr. Wangari Muta Maathai, Aretha Franklin, Bono, President Barack Obama, The Dave Matthews Band, Danny Glover, Aaron McGruder and Janet Jackson.

“Dr. Benjamin’s community- oriented values, as displayed in her commitment to making health care accessible for minorities and rural patients, embody the Association’s belief in equal health care rights for all citizens. As ‘America’s Doctor,’ Benjamin provides information on improving individual health and the health of our nation. By way of her phenomenal community service and dedication, her efforts epitomize significant strides for women, racial minorities and the poor.”

General Colin L. Powell will join Condoleeza Rice and the ranks of President Bill Clinton, Ella Fitzgerald, Van Jones, Muhammad Ali, Ryan White, Bryant Gumbel, Venus and Serena Williams, Tavis Smiley, and Tom Joyner when he is presented the prestigious President’s Award.

"General Colin Powell has led an extraordinary life of public service" stated Jealous.

"As the first African American to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and later the first to serve as Secretary of State, General Powell holds a unique place in American history. He is a man of conscience and conviction, who uses his vast influence to promote education and self esteem to our country's youth.

Although his position on the Iraq War was controversial, he was often the voice of reason in the prosecution of that war.

He rose from humble roots as the son of Jamaican immigrants to become a distinguished military leader, a statesman, a humanitarian and a philanthropist. He is an inspiration to us all."

This year marked the forceful entrance of the talented Smith family on the entertainment scene with nominations for Willow (“Whip My Hair”), Jaden (The Karate Kid”) and Jada Pinkett Smith (“HawthoRNe”).

2011 Chairman’s Award recipient, filmmaker and television producer Tyler Perry’s was honored across multiple categories this year, receiving 19 nominations. His films “For Colored Girls” and “Why Did I Get Married Too?” swept the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture category – Anika Noni Rose, Kimberly Elise, Phylicia Rashad and Whoopi Goldberg were nominated for their work in “For Colored Girls” and Jill Scott was nominated for “Why Did I get Married Too?”

Notable nominations in the literature category include Alice Walker’s collection of poetry, “Hard Times Require Furious Dancing”; Jay-Z’s autobiography “Decoded”; and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s memoir “Extraordinary, Ordinary People”. Michelle Alexander’s acclaimed “The New Jim Crow”, which examines the state of the criminal justice system is one of the nominees for Outstanding Literary Work of Nonfiction.

The NAACP Image Awards celebrate the accomplishments of people of color working in the fields of literature, music, television and film. The ceremony also honors individuals or groups who promote social justice through creative endeavors.

The San Bernardino NAACP will be hosting a bus trip to the NAACP Image Awards. For information call Linda Hart at (909) 246-2078.

Macy's, Ebony, & Fashion Fair Cosmetics Honor Eunice W. Johnson

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This Black History Month, Macy’s Department Stores and Johnson Publishing Company celebrated the life and works of Eunice Walker Johnson, visionary and the creator of Ebony Fashion Fair—the World’s Largest Traveling Fashion Show.

Macy’s Beverly Center welcomed Johnson Publishing Company Chairwoman, Linda Johnson Rice and Chief Executive Officer, Desiree Rogers, as well as Ebony magazine, Editor-in- Chief, Amy Barnett as they unveiled the fashion retrospective and provided insight about Mrs. Johnson’s extraordinary life and her significant contributions to the beauty and fashion industries.

The exhibit showcased haute couture designs from Mrs. Johnson’s personal vault that were featured in the famed Ebony Fashion Fair runway shows.

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BVN National News Wire