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Muhammad Ali

He converted to the National of Islam in 1963 but kept it a secret until after he won the heavyweight crown. He threw his Olympic Gold medal into a river after he was refused services at a soda fountain. He was banned from boxing and stripped of his title for 4 years after his conviction [...]

Reggie Forte Hashtag Black Panthers At 50

Born Reginald Westly Forte, sunrise 3/31/49, Birmingham, Alabama, suset, 2/18/97, San Jose, California. His maternal step-grandmother survived the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing. He and his older brother, Sherwin Forte, also a founding member of the B.P.P., met Bobby Seale and Huey Newton in high school. He attended Oakland Tech High School. In 1967 he [...]

Selma

Brad Pitt is an executive producer. I had no idea Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. smoked cigarettes. The actors playing Rev. Ralph Abernathy and Bayard Rustin were superb. Sammy Davis Jr. and Harry Belafonte were but two celebrities participating in the walk as seen in archival footage in the film. There was little difference in [...]

Bessie

Bessie Smith and her mentor, Ma Rainey were bisexuals. The director/writer/filmmaker was an intern at Frameline who produced the film in collaboration with HBO. Both Bessie and Ma Rainey were cross-dressers. The movie took 22 years to make. Benny Goodman recorded with Bessie. Queen Latifah portrayed Bessie and Mo’Nique portrayed Ma Rainey. Dee Rees’ mentor [...]

Zora Neale Hurston

Sunrise 1/7/1891 Nostasulga, Alabama, sunset 1/28/60 in Florida. She was a PK, preacher’s kid. She grew up in Eatonville, Florida, an all-black town. She worked as a maid and a singer. During her life she had 4 novels published, most notably Their Eyes Were Watching God, and 50 short stories, plays, and essays. She lied [...]

Nina Simone

She was born Eunice Waymon. She changed her name so her mother wouldn’t know she was playing non-church music a.k.a. the devil’s music a.k.a. jazz. She wanted to be the first black classical pianist to play Carnegie Hall. She wrote Mississippi Goddam after the deaths of Medgar Evans and the girls in the church in [...]

Straight Outta Compton

The Straight Outta Your Hometown meme has 6 million downloads to date. Learned the birth names of some of the N.W.A. members: Eric Wright a.k.a. Eazy E, Andre Young, a.k.a. Dr. Dre, O’Shea Jackson, a.k.a. Ice Cube. There was no extra security at the Grand Lake Theatre in Oakland, California where I saw the movie. [...]

Prince

He knows how to get high on music and take us all along for the ride. He went to a Warriors game and mentioned Steph Curry in a song. No one compares to him! No one struts and walks with a cane like The Purple One. No one is funkier than Prince. No one is [...]

Bill T. Jones

He was the recipient of a MacArthur Genius award. The work is based on oral history taken in 2003 by Jones with Dora Amelan, who was 95 years old, a French Jewish nurse/social worker, WWII survivor and his mother-in-law. The work is 85 minutes in length with no intermission. Dora’s son, Jones’ current husband, is [...]

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