January 31, 2008

Black History Month Programming on PBS

PBS broadcasts programming created by and about African Americans year-round, from public affairs to history to independent film to kids programming. In celebration of Black History Month, February 2008, PBS will broadcast a lineup of new and encore presentations honoring and exploring African American history.


  • SLAVERY AND THE MAKING OF AMERICA (Repeat programming on Fridays, January 11-February 1, 2008, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET) - This groundbreaking series chronicles the institution of American slavery from its origins in 1619 — when English settlers in Virginia purchased 20 Africans from Dutch traders — through the arrival of the first 11 slaves in the northern colonies (in Dutch New Amsterdam), the American Revolution, the Civil War, the adoption of the 13th Amendment and Reconstruction. Morgan Freeman narrates.

  • AFRICAN AMERICAN LIVES (February 2008 *check local listings) - Renowned scholar Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. takes Alex Haley's Roots saga to a whole new level. Using genealogy and DNA science, Dr. Gates tells the personal stories of eight accomplished African Americans.

  • AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: EYES ON THE PRIZE (February 2008 *check local listings) - The groundbreaking documentary series examining America's civil rights years returns to public television as part of AMERICAN EXPERIENCE. Covering the period from the murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in Money, Mississippi, and the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott through school desegregation, the march from Selma to Montgomery and the Voting Rights Act, EYES ON THE PRIZE is considered the definitive history of this formative time in the nation's life.

  • AN EVENING WITH QUINCY JONES (February 2008 *check local listings) - A rare look into the life of music mogul Quincy Jones, this one-hour interview was taped in Washington, DC, in front of an audience. Gwen Ifill interviews and hosts the star-studded evening, which features live performances by Lesley Gore, BeBe Winans, James Ingram, Bobby McFerrin and Herbie Hancock.

  • EYES ON THE PRIZE II, A SPECIAL PRESENTATION OF AMERICAN EXPERIENCE (February 2008 * check local listings) - Nearly two decades after its 1990 premiere, the groundbreaking second season of EYES ON THE PRIZE returns to PBS as a special presentation of AMERICAN EXPERIENCE in February 2008 in honor of Black History Month. The series documents the journey of black Americans seeking justice, power and identity, from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s, and shows the profound effect this movement had on all Americans.

  • FANNIE LOU HAMER: COURAGE AND FAITH (February 2008 *check local listings) - Using archival footage and interviews with those who knew her well and were affected by her actions, this program chronicles the extraordinary life of Fannie Lou Hamer and introduces her to a new, younger generation. Mrs. Hamer attended the 1964 Democratic National Convention as a member of the Mississippi Democratic Freedom Party and challenged the all-white Mississippi delegation.

  • INDEPENDENT LENS "Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes" (February 2008 *check local listings) - This film takes an in-depth look at machismo in rap music and hip-hop culture — where creative genius, poetic beauty and mad beats collide with misogyny, violence and homophobia.

  • LEGACY: BEING BLACK IN AMERICA (February 2008 * check local listings) - In January 2007, a special tribute dinner was held in Washington, DC, to honor the Civil Rights generation. Attended by 18 celebrated African Americans from business, politics, academia, media and the arts, the dinner proved to be an intriguing discussion of race consciousness, integration and equity in the U.S. today.

  • RED TAIL REBORN (February 2008 * check local listings) - RED TAIL REBORN is the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American fighter pilots of World War II, and of those who sacrificed to tell the Airmen's forgotten tale.

  • SHARED HISTORY (February 2008 * check local listings) - SHARED HISTORY is the intimate story of the relationship between two families whose connection was forged in slavery and has endured to the present. The filmmaker, the great-great-granddaughter of a slave owner, and Rhonda Kearse, a descendant of one of the enslaved families, seek to understand and reconcile the reality of slavery with the shared lives and affections between the families.

  • SISTERS OF SELMA: BEARING WITNESS FOR CHANGE (February 2008 * check local listings) - This program is an unabashedly spiritual take on the Selma, Alabama, voting rights marches of 1965 from some of its unsung foot soldiers – Catholic nuns. Following the violence of "Bloody Sunday," sisters from around the country answered Dr. Martin Luther King's call to join the protests in Selma.

  • THE STORY OF OSCAR BROWN JR. (February 2008 * check local listings) - This documentary focuses on Chicago native Oscar Brown Jr.'s work as a writer and performer for more than half a century.

  • PRINCE AMONG SLAVES (Monday, February 4, 2008, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET) -- This special tells the forgotten true story of an African prince who was enslaved in Mississippi for 40 years before finally achieving freedom and becoming one of the most famous men in America. Mos Def narrates. In HD where available.

  • AFRICAN AMERICAN LIVES 2 (Wednesdays, February 6-13, 2008, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET) -- AFRICAN AMERICAN LIVES again journeys deep into the African-American experience to unearth the triumphs and tragedies within the family histories of an all-new group of renowned participants. Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. returns as series host. In HD where available.

  • AUSTIN CITY LIMITS "Etta James" (Saturday, February 9, 2008, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET) The Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award winner continues to be one of the most respected R&B singers in America. Highlights include "All the Way Down" and "At Last."

  • INDEPENDENT LENS "Banished" (Tuesday, February 19, 2008, 10:00-11:30 p.m. ET) - This is the story of three counties that forcefully banished African American families from their towns 100 years ago — and the descendents who return to learn a shocking history. Co-production of ITVS in association with NBPC.

  • AUSTIN CITY LIMITS "Tribute to Bluesman Jimmy Reed" (Saturday, February 23, 2008, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET) - Joined by blues luminaries James Cotton, Delbert McClinton, Lou Ann Barton and others, guitarist Jimmie Vaughan pays tribute to Jimmy Reed, composer of blues classics "Ain't That Lovin' You Baby," "Big Boss Man" and "Baby What You Want Me to Do." In HD where available.

PBS has a great legacy of providing first-rate programs with depth and breadth. The programs planned for February document and examine the rich heritage and cultural contributions of African Americans. I plan to watch many of these shows. How about you?

January 30, 2008

Found: Latisha Rutledge and Two Children

Drumbeats from Black and Missing But Not Forgotten give us the good news that Latisha Rutledge and her children were located safe and sound. Kudos to all Villagers that prayed for this outcome.

New York Post Endorses Barack Obama

It must be embarrassing when a major newspaper in your home state endorses the other guy. That is what happened today. The New York Post made it clear that they did not want Team Clinton in the national headlines for another 4-8 years.

The presidential campaigns are moving forward at warp speed. What say u? How will Super Tuesday turn out for the remaining presidential candidates? Will there be a knockout winner?

Al Gore Has 100 Million Reasons to Stay Out of Politics

I don't see Al Gore throwing his hat into the ring as a presidential candidate this year. His television company, Current Media, filed papers for an initial public offering worth as much as $100 million. The San Francisco company, led by CEO Joel Hyatt, shows programs created by its subscribers, and also buys some programming.

Gore, a former U.S. vice president and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, and his family own 3.7 million shares of Current Media. In addition, Gore was paid $1.05 million by the company last year. Current Media sez, "Our success is critically dependent on the expertise and continued service of our founders, Al Gore and Joel Hyatt."

What say u? Will Al Gore ever get back into politics?

John Edwards Gives Up On His Presidential Ambitions

We knew that Rudy was pulling out of the election today. We didn't have any warning that John Edwards was pulling out as well. Do you have any thoughts on how this decision by Edwards to leave the race will impact on Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama?

Wordless Wednesday: Virgin Galactic

Worlds's First Spaceline!

January 29, 2008

Noose Jerks Get Fired

I am pleased to see that employers are doing the right thing whenever someone in the workplace plays around with nooses. Did you see where two jerks got fired in Washington DC for playing around with a noose?

Click here for the full story.

Don't these fools know the history of nooses and lynchings here in America?

Rudy Giuliani Failure in Florida is Karma for Louima and Diallo

I figure that the political career of Rudy Giuliani political career is about to end tonight in Florida. My hope is that Rudy will drop out of the presidential race and head back home with his tail between his legs.

I thought it was poor taste that Rudy Giuliani used the September 11th tragedy in his city as a tool to prop up his failing administration as New York City mayor. He used it to make money on a speaking tour. Then he used it again to become a POTUS candidate. For most of last year he was the leading candidate in the Republican Party for the presidential nomination.

Giuliani's rise in national prominence was hard to take for many NY residents. Every poll showing Giuliani ahead in the polls last year added to the simmering anger of many people of African descent who had an entirely different view of the man. Many of us remember that Giuliani fueled racial tensions in New York City with his endorsement of police brutality. His "quality-of-life" campaigns against hot dog vendors, jaywalkers, publicly-funded art and cab drivers showed his disdain for civil rights.

Villagers, do you recall how Giuliani's Police Department came under fire in 1997, when Abner Louima, who is Black, was sodomized with a broomstick in the 70th Precinct station house? Two white police officers were convicted of carrying out the attack and four others were found guilty of lying about what happened.

Do you recall an incident that occurred two years into Giuliani's second term where an African immigrant named Amadou Diallo was shot 19 times in the vestibule of his Bronx home by four white police officers? The officers said they thought he was reaching for a gun. It turned out to be a wallet. Thousands protested at police headquarters, but Giuliani stood behind his officers, who were acquitted in February 2000.

It appears that Florida republicans will put a stake into the heart of the Giuliani presidential campaign. I'll be surprised if he stays in the race beyond this week. And, in my view, that is a good thing. It could just be me ... but, I think that there are many people of African descent who will have a large smile when we hear that Giuliani turns out to be one of the biggest failures in this national election cycle.

Rudy Giuliani failing as presidential candidate is karma for Louima and Diallo. Do you agree?

January 28, 2008

Did You Watch State of the Union Speech?

"The President shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." - Article II, Sec. 3, U.S. Constitution

There is actually a proud history of these annual messages that began with President George Washington in 1790. President Bush delivered his State of the Union address tonight. The President's annual address gives the President an opportunity to reflect on the past while presenting his hopes for the future to Congress, the American people and the world. One of the more interesting aspects of the evening is the roster of folks invited to sit with the First Lady in the upper balcony.

Bush talked for a little over 50 minutes and shared about a dozen or so initiatives on things such as the budget, compassion, economy, education, energy, free trade, health care, immigration, Iraq war and our veterans.

Here is full text of his speech given tonight. Did you watch it? If so, what did you find the most memorable point of the evening?

Ted Kennedy Sez Obama 'Is Ready to be President on Day-One'

Bill Clinton once tried to take the torch of leadership from JFK by showing us this photo. Team Clinton have worked tirelessly to get Ted Kennedy to endorse their campaign for the presidency in 2008. They blew it.

Ted Kennedy started out neutral in the 2008 presidential elections. However, he watched Team Clinton use their hardball race-baiting politics over the past few weeks ... and he watched Barack Obama share his story and his vision. Today, the brother of John F. Kennedy (Ted) joined with the JFK's daughter (Caroline) and Bobby Kennedy's son (Patrick) to endorse Barack Obama as the best choice for America in this year's election.

"I know that he's ready to be president on day-one," said Sen. Kennedy. The statement was a clear shot at Hillary Clinton, who has argued that her experience makes her better prepared for the Oval Office. Click here for full text of the endorsement from Ted Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy.

Ted Kennedy begins active campaigning for Obama in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Arizona and California. Can this Kennedy endorsement make a difference in the results of the Super Tuesday primaries on February 5th?

Toni Morrison Endorses Barack Obama

I had to smile today when I heard that Toni Morrison endorsed Barack Obama. I imagine that Sis. Morrison, who won the Nobel Prize in 1993, regretted the fact that she is the source of the rumor that Bill Clinton was America's first Black president.

In a 1998 New Yorker piece, Morrison wrote of Bill Clinton: "White skin notwithstanding, this is our first Black president. Blacker than any actual Black person who could ever be elected in our children's lifetime. After all, Clinton displays almost every trope of Blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald's-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas."

Today, she took steps to get that monkey off her back as she noted in her letter to Obama that she was backing him because "this is one of those singular moments that nations ignore at their peril. There have been a few prescient leaders in our past, but you are the man for this time."

Here is the full text of her letter:

Dear Senator Obama,

This letter represents a first for me--a public endorsement of a Presidential candidate. I feel driven to let you know why I am writing it. One reason is it may help gather other supporters; another is that this is one of those singular moments that nations ignore at their peril. I will not rehearse the multiple crises facing us, but of one thing I am certain: this opportunity for a national evolution (even revolution) will not come again soon, and I am convinced you are the person to capture it.

May I describe to you my thoughts?

I have admired Senator Clinton for years. Her knowledge always seemed to me exhaustive; her negotiation of politics expert. However I am more compelled by the quality of mind (as far as I can measure it) of a candidate. I cared little for her gender as a source of my admiration, and the little I did care was based on the fact that no liberal woman has ever ruled in America. Only conservative or "new-centrist" ones are allowed into that realm. Nor do I care very much for your race[s]. I would not support you if that was all you had to offer or because it might make me "proud."

In thinking carefully about the strengths of the candidates, I stunned myself when I came to the following conclusion: that in addition to keen intelligence, integrity and a rare authenticity, you exhibit something that has nothing to do with age, experience, race or gender and something I don't see in other candidates. That something is a creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom. It is too bad if we associate it only with gray hair and old age. Or if we call searing vision naivete. Or if we believe cunning is insight. Or if we settle for finessing cures tailored for each ravaged tree in the forest while ignoring the poisonous landscape that feeds and surrounds it. Wisdom is a gift; you can't train for it, inherit it, learn it in a class, or earn it in the workplace--that access can foster the acquisition of knowledge, but not wisdom.

When, I wondered, was the last time this country was guided by such a leader? Someone whose moral center was un-embargoed? Someone with courage instead of mere ambition? Someone who truly thinks of his country's citizens as "we," not "they"? Someone who understands what it will take to help America realize the virtues it fancies about itself, what it desperately needs to become in the world?

Our future is ripe, outrageously rich in its possibilities. Yet unleashing the glory of that future will require a difficult labor, and some may be so frightened of its birth they will refuse to abandon their nostalgia for the womb.

There have been a few prescient leaders in our past, but you are the man for this time.

Good luck to you and to us.
Toni Morrison

In a statement, Obama thanked Morrison for her endorsement, saying she "has touched a nation with the grace and beauty of her words, and I was deeply moved and honored by the letter she wrote and the support she is giving our campaign."

What do you think about this endorsement from Toni Morrison?

Manic Monday: Wish

I Wish

Looking back on when I
Was a little nappy headed boy
Then my only worry
Was for christmas what would be my toy
Even though we sometimes
Would not get a thing
We were happy with the
Joy the day would bring

Sneaking out the back door
To hang out with those hoodlum friends of mine
Greeted at the back door
With boy thought I told you not to go outside,
Tryin’ your best to bring the
Water to your eyes
Thinkin’ it might stop her
From woopin’ your behind

I wish those days could come back once more
Why did those days ev-er have to go
I wish those days could come back once more
Why did those days ev-er have to go
Cause I love them so

Click here for to see the lyrics of 'I Wish' in writing. Stevie Wonder was the man back in the day. For that matter I recall times when Prince and Michael Jackson were at the top of the charts every week. I'm getting old (sigh)... however maybe some of y'all can help me out. What do you recall about your youth? What do you wish you could listen to or visit or do again in 2008 that simply ain't available to listen to or do any longer?

January 27, 2008

Barack Obama Spanks Team Clinton in South Carolina

1/28/08 Update - Jesse Jackson gave interview to AfroSpear member Gina McCauley on the South Carolina results.

South Carolina is giving a landslide victory to Barack Obama in the Democratic primary tonight. Not just Black voters ... but, young voters, women voters, rural voters and everyone else that could reach the ballot box voted in favor of Barack Obama. The racially divisive politics that Bill & Hillary Clinton brought to the campaign in South Carolina failed. There is no other way to look at it ... Barack Obama regained his footing as the transformative candidate for the 21st century.

Exit polls show that Barack Obama won a majority of white voters under 30, white men, and white college-educated voters. Hillary Clinton had many endorsements from Black preachers and congressmen in South Carolina. However, Hillary only received 17% of the Black vote in South Carolina. I bet those Black preachers and congressmen are feeling pretty lonely out there tonight.

The question now is whether Team Clinton will learn a lesson ... or does Team Clinton feel that race-baiting will help them with white and Hispanic voters on Super Tuesday. When asked about the Obama victory in South Carolina, Bill Clinton reminded the reporter that "...Jesse Jackson won here in 1984 and 1988.". That sounds like racial code words for white voters around the country that they should discount the South Carolina vote. After all, what comparision is there between Obama and Jesse other than the fact both candidates are Black. Bill Clinton could have noted that he won the SC primary in 1992 or that John Edwards won the SC primary in 2004 ... but, he went directly to the white boogeyman (Jesse Jackson). Is Team Clinton truly that cynical about the Democratic electorate?

Time will tell. My view is simple. Team Clinton feels entitled to the presidency as if they are royalty. In my view Team Clinton is 1990s .... yesterday ... fights and tactics that worked well last century. This year we have an opportunity to elect a leader for the 21st century ... a leader that can transform America and bring us together in ways that Hillary Clinton can never do.

The policy differences between the two (or three if you count Bill) aren't that different. Therefore, the message of change and the image of Obama as a unifying person should make the difference.

What are your thoughts on the South Carolina results?

Barack Obama Victory Speech in South Carolina

JFK's daughter sez she has found a president like her father. Villagers, what say u?

2008 Electoral Compass USA

Hat-tip to plezWorld for pointing us to the 2008 Electoral Compass USA. This site asks voters a series of questions and then determines your position in the political landscape for the 2008 Presidential Election against all of the candidates. Where do you stand politically?

January 26, 2008

Without A Trace: Latisha Rutledge and Two Children

Drumbeats from Deidra Robey alerted us to the story of a pregnant woman with two children missing for two weeks without a peep from the mainstream media (MSM) or law enforcement.
Latisha Rutledge, 22, is 8 months pregnant and has two children ages 4 and 2 are gone without a trace. She had been living with her uncle in Florida for a few months trying to start her life over, but things didn’t work out. Two weeks ago, the uncle dropped her and her children off at a Greyhound bus station so that they could take a two day trip from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. to downtown Detroit. It’s the last time they have been seen.

Rutledge’s mother Marsella Satchel said that Latisha has no money and she has not been able to file a missing persons police report yet, because police told her she must contact every hospital in Fort Lauderdale and Detroit before it can be filed. Latisha’s baby was due any day. Greyhound does not require photo identification at all its terminals so there is no way to know if Rutledge even boarded the bus and they will not release passenger information unless law enforcement requests it.

Villagers, why can a woman and two children be missing for over two weeks without the law enforcement officers in Ft. Lauderdale and Detroit getting active? Has anyone questioned the uncle on his knowledge about the missing family?

January 25, 2008

Is Hillary Clinton Desperate?

Hillary Clinton was the presumptive Democratic nominee for over a year. She went through dozens of debates floating above the fray as the inevitable nominee from the Democratic party. Then she phuqued up on that debate question about giving driver licenses to illegal aliens. Her aura of invincability tumbled away when the results of the Iowa caucus were announced earlier this month. She came in 3rd place. Hard to be invincible when two other people get more votes.

Hillary and her husband made a decision at this point. They watched Barack Obama's victory speech in Iowa and determined that they would need to put the Clinton attack machine in motion early and often. Bill Clinton began wagging that famous finger (...can you say, 'I did not have sex with that woman'...) talking about America 'rolling the dice' for the 'fairy tale' that is Barack Obama.

The good people of New Hampshire watched Hillary shed a tear at the possibility that her lifetime ambition would be denied ... and they switched their votes to support her in the final 48 hours of the primary. Can you say 'Bradley Effect'?

Bill Clinton then went to Nevada and served as a precinct captain ... going hotel-to-hotel to campaign for his wife. Doesn't seem like the role of a former president. But Hillary is desperate ... so Bill is getting down and dirty on her behalf. Hillary tossed out a grenade about a bad guy in Chicago named Resko at the South Carolina debate. A few days later we discover that Bill and Hillary knew Resko enough to take a picture with him during their White House years.

Now, we learn that Hillary is willing to renege on the commitment she made with the other Democratics to forgo delegates in the Michigan and Florida primary. Is it just me? Or do you sense that Hillary Clinton is desperate?

Pro-Choice Leader Switches from Clinton to Obama

It looks as if Hillary Clinton will say anything to get elected. But, there are consequences. Lorna Brett Howard is past president of the Chicago chapter of National Organization for Women. She is fed up with the slimy Clinton campaign tactics. Check out the reasons that she gives for switching her support from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama.

Do you think that she had good reason to switch?

January 24, 2008

Afrosphere Proves Potent Force in Story of Race in the New South

Howard Witt is a civil rights correspondent and Southwest bureau chief for the Chicago Tribune. He recently completed an interview about Jena, Black bloggers and claims that distorted stories on race in the South for Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.

Click here to read the interview.

My observation is that Howard Witt has been consistent in his approach to these stories ... and he has been willing to engage in a flow of information with The AfroSpear and other Black bloggers.
The American Journalism Review also published a remarkable article this week on the way that the media handled the Jena story.

Villagers, what did you think about the these articles and the way that the mainstream media handled Jena 6 case?

January 23, 2008

NAACP Legislative Report Card for 110th Congress

Drumbeats from NAACP Wichita Branch led us to NAACP Legislative Report Card for the 110th Congress.

I've questioned the relevance of the NAACP in the past. Well, I admit that publishing this comprehensive 28-page annual report is a very relevant action.

Today, I encourage all Villagers to take time to download and review this report. It is time for us to make educated choices about the incumbents that we need to re-elect and those that we need to boot out of office.

In any case, I would be interested your observations on the contents of this annual report. What surprised you? What encouraged you?

Wordless Wednesday: Ruby Dee

Ruby Dee is the only African American nominated for a major Oscar this year. Her nomination as best actress in a supporting role came as a result of appearance in the American Gangster.

Ruby was a young woman when she played opposite Sidney Poitier in Raisin in the Sun on both Broadway and big screen.

Of course she was married for over 56 years to Ossie Davis. I hope that she wins the Oscar! Good luck Ruby!

January 22, 2008

Can Barack Obama Unify America?

Politics is not for the weak. One of best political moments that I've experienced in my life occured earlier this month when Barack Obama gave a remarkable victory speech after winning the Iowa Caucus. One of the worst political moments occurred this past week as I watched former president Bill Clinton support the candidacy of his wife by engaging in a persistent campaign of subtle and not-so-subtle racial attacks on Obama.

Yesterday, Obama was a guest at the Atlanta, GA church home of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Obama's prepared remarks show me again why he is the right person to become our next US President. Obama speaks to the concept of unity. The concept of unity (or umoja) is one of the principles that many Villagers support. It is difficult for me to see our nation being unified under Hillary Clinton. Too many people have too many negative feelings about her ... and her husband. On the other hand, I sense that our nation can become unified under Barack Obama.

Take a moment to check out his speech in honor of MLK Day.

What say u? Do you think that this is a person that could unify our nation ... that can help us move closer to MLK's dream? Can Barack Obama unify our nation?

January 21, 2008

Top Ten Black Blogger Interview * Gina McCauley

One of the fastest-growing blogs in the afrosphere is What About Our Daughters created by Gina McCauley. Gina's blog moved from 19th place in our Sep 2007 Black Blog Rankings (BBR) to BBR #10 in Jan 2008. It helped that a major national magazine named Gina as one of the 25 most influential African Americans in the country. Gina shares some insights into herself and her blog in an interview recently shared on Mirror On America (BBR #57).

Take a moment to read the blog interview with Gina McCauley. Then come back and share your village voice on what you found most enlightening about Gina's answers.

January 20, 2008

TaylorMade Forces Golfweek to Fire Noose Editor

The fall-out continues from Kelly Tilghman's poorly chosen words. Her ignorant comments resulted in a cover story for the January 19 issue of Golfweek magazine. Editor Dave Seanor made the decision to put a picture of a noose on the cover of the weekly magazine.

Even more remarkable is the revelation that Seanor considered adding photo of Tilghman's head inside of the noose!

Drumbeats from Ballers, Gamers and Scoundrels provide the inside story. Seanor was fired from his job on Goldweek magazine after TaylorMade, the giant golf manufacturer and one of Golfweek’s biggest advertisers, told magazine executives it would yank its $1.5 million advertising from the publication.

Villagers, this is an example of working through corporate sponsors to influence the editorial decision-making of media outlets. Golfweek caved to their sponsor/advertiser. Don't we think that BET and others that push nonsense into our homes would cave in as well?

January 19, 2008

War On Greed: Fight For the Dream

I notice in the recent debates and stump speeches from the political candidates that there is much greater focus on the economy as an election issue. Barack Obama and billionaire Warren Buffet have each noted that most CEOs pay less taxes than their secretaries. Today, we have powerful people and institutions that stand in the way of working Americans realizing their dreams. Among them are leveraged buyout firms like KKR, and multibillionaire Wall Street tycoons like Henry Kravis.

Drumbeats came to our village from the folks at Brave New World about a premiere screening of Robert Greenwald's new short documentary on the leveraged buyout industry taking place on January 20 in Atlanta, GA. They shared the following info:

The buyout industry is bigger than ever, and growing. The top 20 buyout firms today control companies that employ nearly 4 million workers. Last year, buyout firms in the U.S. controlled a $400 billion war chest -- and that’s just cash-on-hand, not even counting the amount that private equity funds are able to leverage. That influence is only rising. Nine of the ten biggest private equity deals of all time took place since 2005. According to CFO.com, 2008 could become the one of the biggest years yet in terms of total deal volume.

Likewise, ever since Accuride was bought (and then sold) by KKR, its workers have faced layoffs, wage freezes, reduced hours, diminished benefits, tightened managerial control, and a complete lack of dignity on the job. Meanwhile, Henry Kravis and other buyout moguls enjoy tax breaks that the average American does not. At least according to his own interpretation of the tax code, the law currently allows Kravis to pay the lower capital gains tax rate of 15% on a majority of his $450,000,000 income rather than the regular income tax rate. Percentage-wise, that means that Kravis pays less tax than teachers, firefighters, police officers, and the majority of Americans.

This is precisely the kind of inequality Dr. King stood against, as "The War on Greed: Fight for the Dream" illustrates. Scheduled to premiere during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, "Fight for the Dream" makes the case against the buyout industry in a documentary film format that is broadly accessible to a lay audience. The video tells the story of the workers at Accuride’s Rockford, Illinois plant, and contrasts the exploitation they face with Dr. King’s message of equality and dignity. The video ends by asking viewers to sign a petition urging the presidential candidates to pledge to close the tax loophole for leveraged buyout tycoons.

This YouTube video in the "War on Greed" series was first shown on the sidewalk in front of Kravis’ Park Avenue mansion. In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday, Brave New Films will escalate their campaign against the buyout industry with a premiere screening of "Fight for the Dream" at a Baptist church in Dr. King's hometown on January 20th. Reverend Timothy McDonald, Reverend Lennox Yearwood and Dr. Charles Steele of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference will speak about Dr. King's message and the dangers that the Wall Street buyout industry poses to working families.

Villagers in the greater Atlanta area are encouraged to attend on Sunday, January 20, 2008 @ 2pm.

The First Iconium Baptist Church
542 Moreland Ave. SE, Fellowship Hall
Atlanta, GA 30316
Pastor: Rev. Tim McDonald

In addition, Brave New Films seeks partnerships with influential Black bloggers and opinion-leaders in an attempt to invite presidential hopefuls to the premiere and pressure candidates into pledging to address the tax loop-holes that so many wealthy corporate CEOs like Henry Kravis enjoy.

Well, Villagers, what say u? Is this an issue that resonates with Black workers and voters?

January 18, 2008

Michele Hoskins' Honey Creme Syrup

We remain committed to improving the use of our substantial Black spending power through information sharing on this blog. Drumbeats came to us recently about Michelle Foods Pancake Syrup. I encourage you to seek out this syrup in your Costco, BJ's, Sam's Club or other local stores (Giant, Super Target, Wal-Mart and Safeway). Please support this African American Vendor at one of these stores. Villagers, let's buy some pancake syrup!

Michele Hoskins, CEO/founder of Michele Foods recently became the FIRST African American vendor with Costco! She was on the Oprah Show and told her story, rising from welfare to faring well. She is asking ALL people, regardless of color, to support her by going to Costco and purchasing a bottle of her pancake syrup @ the cost of $3.25. If your local Costco doesn't have the product, please ask for it as we need to open the doors for all African American vendors to gain entry on the shelves of Costco.

Ain't it time to replace Aunt Jemima with Michele Foods Pancake syrup. Let's show the sista some love!

January 17, 2008

OJ Simpson Coloring Book

I see that OJ Simpson is back in the news. We're a couple of weeks from the Super Bowl and the naming of the 2008 NFL Hall of Fame class. However, OJ Simpson is not welcome at either venue. OJ is in the news for the criminal charges against him in Las Vegas, NV.

Ordinarily, OJ is a brother that we don't talk about here in our village. Today is a little different as we received drumbeats from Textile Arts Resource Guide about the OJ Simpson Coloring & Activity Book.

It turns out that Colin Quashie created the OJ Simpson Coloring Book to (a) skewer social inconsistencies in the most cynical of terms and (b) look at these situations from a child's perspective.

Download the OJ Simpson Coloring Book and share it with a friend!

January 16, 2008

Three Largest Black-Owned Bookstores Join Forces

One of the Ngoza Saba principles that I strongly support is Ujamaa (cooperative economics). I've blogged before about the need for each of us to be more focused with our Black spending power. We can correct many of the ills in our community if we simply support Black-owned businesses whenever possible. As such, it is great news to see that AALBC.com, Cushcity.com and MosaicBooks.com, the three largest and most established web sites focusing on African American literature joined forces to offer comprehensive online book promotion options to self-published authors and small publishing firms.

Together, the three web sites have over 30 years of combined online presence and over 4 million page views per month. Each site brings different strengths to the venture.

AALBC.com, founded by Troy Johnson of Harlem, N.Y. in 1998, is now the largest website dedicated to promoting books by and about African Americans.

Cushcity.com, co-founded by Willie and Gwen Richardson of Houston, Tex. in 1998, is the world’s largest African American Internet retailer with over 20,000 products online, including books, DVDs, Greek products, calendars and art.

MosaicBooks.com, founded by Ron Kavanaugh of the Bronx, NY, in 1996, was the first site created to showcase African American literature. It recently celebrated its 10th anniversary online.

“This effort brings unprecedented exposure to millions of African American book readers worldwide,” says Johnson. “I am pleased to work with Cushcity and MosaicBooks to bring African American authors and consumers together.”

The three sites will initially offer self-published authors and small presses simultaneous, prominent placement on each of the three sites’ home pages. There are also plans to expand these coordinated services in the future to include e-blasts and other marketing opportunities for authors.

The announcement comes on the heels of recent news reports highlighting the growth in the number of African American titles published annually and the resultant increase in book sales revenue. Based upon book sales figures for 2006 released by the American Association of Publishers, African Americans spend about $1 billion of the estimated $24 billion spent in the U.S. annually on books.

Villagers, how many of you have purchased books from any of these three online Black bookstores in the past year? Can we make a commitment to support these three Black businesses over the coming weeks and months? What say u?

January 15, 2008

Blackman Killed by Police Taser Gun in Florida

Drumbeats from Vanessa Unplugged and Tasered While Black blogs inform us that another Black citizen has been killed by police using taser gun. Since when does disorderly conduct behavior at a Friday night party warrant the death penalty from police officers that decide to be judge, jury and executioner? Take a moment to check out the video reports here and here then let me know what you think.

January 14, 2008

Enough Is Enough Protest of BET Honors Award

Drumbeats from WAOD pointed us to the video clip of the Enough Is Enough protest held outside the BET Honors Award show in Washington DC. We shared information on the protest earlier this month. Take a moment to hear directly from Pastor Delmon Coates on the reason for the protest.

There is power in Coates' words at the end of the video. If the denigrating images about Jews, gays or lesbians were shown on public television it would be called a a hate crime ... however, when denigrating images about Blacks are shown on public television, it is called Entertainment. What's up with that?

Manic Monday Carnival

January 13, 2008

Happy First Anniversary Villager!

Happy Anniversary Villagers. Today is our 1-year anniversary as a blog. It has been a remarkable year in many respects. Our Electronic Village evolved in a number of ways over the past year. I didn't really have a purpose for the blog when I got started. My sister explained that I could start a blog for free. That was all the incentive that I needed to get it going on January 13, 2007. Later, I shared five reasons that I blog.

My overall goal with this blog is to provide information and discussion that is uplifting for people of African descent. Often this means sharing information through the blog that is not readily available in the mainstream media (MSM). We provided information about Blacks becoming princesses, setting world records, driving race cars and flying around the world.

We averaged more than a post per day ... 376 posts in the first year of our existence ... including a number of very popular posts judging from the comments! We noted the growth at our 100th and 200th post. However, for some reason we let the 300th post go by without any notice.

Over the course of the year we dabbled in politics on local and national level. Barack Obama is the national politician that we blog about the most since he made his Electronic Village debut in March 2007. Over the past few weeks we have blogged a bit more about presidential politics.

Our most common themes over the course of the year have been criminal justice and the Jena Six. We were one of the Black bloggers that shared information about the Jena Six well before the MSM got engaged. Jena Six caused many Black bloggers to realize that our power and influence would increase if we found ways to work together. Groups such as the Afrosphere Bloggers Association and The AfroSpear both evolved this year. My relationship with The AfroSpear led directly to invitations in November and January to participate in NPR Blogger Roundtable discussions.

Our blog has been recognized by others in a variety of ways ... some negative ... but, most have been positive. We received positive recognition here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Our metrics over the first year have been interesting to watch. We note the date (in parenthesis) when we set personal bests on the Electronic Village :

Finally, I would note that the most rewarding aspect of my first year as a blogger has been the creation of the Villager's Black Blog Rankings (BBR). We have been posting the Top Ten Black Blogs on a monthly basis since September 2007. Currently, there are over 660 Black blogs being tracked in the BBR. It should be interesting to see where this project takes us over the coming year.

Well, Villagers, I appreciate the encouragement and kind words that I receive from many of you. It is not easy to create posts for a blog on a regular basis. However, as more of you take time to share your village voice with COMMENTS and as more of you take advantage of the RSS option to subscribe to our blog ... we realize that our blog is read and appreciated by others in cyberspace!

What say u about our first year of blogging?

January 12, 2008

Barack Obama vs. Hillary Clinton on Starting War in Iraq

Did any of you see Hillary Clinton on the Meet the Press show this past weekend? I was struck by the stark contrast in judgement displayed by Hillary Clinton in October 2002 when she voted to give George Bush authorization to wage the war in Iraq. That same week Barack Obama gave a speech coming out against the war in Iraq.

Hillary voted in favor of the Iraq War. Barack Obama opposed the Iraq War. They both made their view publicly known in October 2002. That was judgment and experience in action. You be the judge ... which candidate got it right? Which candidate got it wrong? Which judgment do we need in the White House next year?

Here is transcript of Obama's speech in 2002.

"I stand before you as someone who is not opposed to war in all circumstances. The Civil War was one of the bloodiest in history, and yet it was only through the crucible of the sword, the sacrifice of multitudes, that we could begin to perfect this union and drive the scourge of slavery from our soil.

I Don't Oppose All Wars

I don't oppose all wars. My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, fought in Patton's army. He fought in the name of a larger freedom, part of that arsenal of democracy that triumphed over evil.

I don't oppose all wars. After September 11, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the dust and the tears, I supported this administration's pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such tragedy from happening again.

Opposed to Dumb, Rash Wars

I don't oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.

What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income, to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression.

That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.

On Saddam Hussein

Now let me be clear: I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power.... The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.

But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors...and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.

I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda.

I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars. So for those of us who seek a more just and secure world for our children, let us send a clear message to the president.

You Want a Fight, President Bush?

You want a fight, President Bush? Let's finish the fight with Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, through effective, coordinated intelligence, and a shutting down of the financial networks that support terrorism, and a homeland security program that involves more than color-coded warnings.

You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to make sure that...we vigorously enforce a nonproliferation treaty, and that former enemies and current allies like Russia safeguard and ultimately eliminate their stores of nuclear material, and that nations like Pakistan and India never use the terrible weapons already in their possession, and that the arms merchants in our own country stop feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe.

You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells.

You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil through an energy policy that doesn't simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil.

Those are the battles that we need to fight. Those are the battles that we willingly join. The battles against ignorance and intolerance. Corruption and greed. Poverty and despair."

What say u?

January 11, 2008

Afrosphere Encourages Black Voter Participation

The 2008 presidential election is a seminal historical point in determining the direction of the United States. Our country's leaders must deal with issues of health care, economics, foreign policy, immigration and others that directly affect every American’s life. The difference in 2008 is that we have two viable candidates for a major party presidential nomination who are not white males.

It is important that all Americans who are eligible to vote do so this year. Many of the issues on the national agenda have a disproportionate effect on the Black community. Yet, past voter turnout by eligible Blacks continues to lag behind.

With those factors in mind, the Afrosphere Action Coalition has initiated a 'Proud Black Voter' movement to encourage people of African descent to vote in 2008. The 'Proud Black Voter' blog hopes to:

  • inform the public about the importance of the need to vote
  • facilitate people in getting registered
  • encourage greater voter registration and election participation within the Black community
Music mogul Sean "P. Diddy" Combs stressed the importance of voting in America when he said, "People have died to have that right. When the president is running your country, he is running you". Political commentator Armstrong Williams echoes that sentiment regarding Black people in specific saying, "we must go to the poll and pull that lever, not just for you, but what it has taken for you to be here".

LaTonya Johnson (aka Mrs. Grapevine) started the discussions leading to creation of this Proud Black Voter blog. She wrote, "I am an avid voter…hopefully we can get Black people moving so that we can vote in the Presidential Election in record numbers."

Wayne Hicks (aka Villager) is participating in the Proud Black Voter blog because he sees it as "...a tangible way to use the growing influence of Black bloggers to influence the actions of our readers for the greater good. It is a way to use cyberspace to uplift people of African descent by pointing out ways for them to get registered and vote no mater where they live ... or who they want to support."

The Afrosphere Action Coalition asks all blogs and websites operated by people of African descent to participate by prominently displaying one of the six Proud Black Voter buttons on their blog or website. The HTML widget reads 'Proud Black Voter...Join Me Now, Register to Vote' and can be placed on anyone's blog or webpage with a link back to the Proud Black Voter blog to obtain information on voter registration, voter rights, and other voting issues.

This is a nonpartisan effort to increase participation in the political process. If you have questions or wish to discuss further you can reach out to any member of the Afrosphere Action Coalition, including LaTonya Johnson (info@mrsgrapevine.com), Yobachi Boswell (615.478-5204) or Wayne Hicks (513.362-2703).

January 10, 2008

Enough Is Enough Campaign Protests BET Honor Awards

Jan 12th Update - The show goes on. Here is an article that summarizes the BET Honors Award show. The protest did take place, however, the show was still taped.

Jan 10th Update - Click here to read about WAOD call for action against the corporate sponsors that fund BET.com and their foolishness that exploits our Black women.

Since mid-September 2007, the Enough is Enough Campaign has demonstrated each Saturday outside the Washington, DC residence of Debra Lee and the New York City home of Viacom CEO, Philippe Dauman.

Drumbeats from WAOD informed us that hundreds have agreed to protest peacefully yet persuasively outside the Warner Theater where the BET Honors award show is scheduled to be taped on Saturday, January 12, 2008 @ 7:00 p.m. EDT. The protest rally starts at 6:00 p.m. with assemblies on the corners of 13th and E Street and 13th and F Street N.W.

Enough is Enough Campaign supporters regard the BET Honors as a red herring – an attempt to mask the offensive musical content that is being aired on BET Networks by spotlighting the achievements of prominent African Americans. In a December 17, 2007 Washington Post article entitled, "Positively Honored", BET Networks CEO, Debra Lee, said, "People are clamoring all the time for positive images."

In point of fact, what the Enough Is Enough Campaign and others have been clamoring for is for BET to address the negative music video images and messages that degrade women and glorify violence and criminal activity. In a September 12, 2007 letter to Rev. Coates, Ms. Lee stated that BET does not air programming or music videos that endorse or condone illegal drugs, gratuitous violence, or contain graphic or excessive sexual activity.

Despite these written guidelines, BET continues to air music video content that does not conform to these guidelines on video shows geared towards youth and teens. Enough is Enough Campaign Organizer, Rev. Delman L. Coates, said that BET can best honor Black History Month by removing those videos that do not conform to BET’s own programming guidelines.

Citizens, students, Villagers and activists are encouraged to come out and let their voices be heard at the Saturday, January 12th protest outside the Warner Theater. For more information you can reach by Enough Is Enough folks via their website or email.

January 9, 2008

Marion Jones was Good, But She Wasn't Flo-Jo

Jan 11 Update - Marion Jones sentenced to six months in prison!

If I had to name my all-time favorite Olympics athletes it is likely that Marion Jones would be high on the list. The #1 slot is reserved for Flo-Jo. Y'all young villagers don't know about Flo-Jo ... suffice to say that she is the most powerful and gorgeous athlete that I've ever seen in my life. Flo-Jo set 100m world record and 200m world record back in the day.

But I digress...

As a freshman in college Marion Jones wore #23 and took her North Carolina team to the NCAA championship. She was America's darling at the 2000 Olympics. At one point we thought she might win 5 gold medals. Marion Jones made some poor choices in men. She went with a big shot-put brother who eventually disgraced himself with steroids. Later she was coached by a guy that is currently on trial for doping. Earlier this year we learned that Marion had to sell her mama's house to pay the bills ... this millionaire had only $2,000 to her name at the time.

Today we learn that Marion wrote a letter to close family and friends, apologized to them and admitted using steroids before the 2000 Olympics. In the letter, Jones said that she took "the clear" for two years, beginning in 1999. "The clear" is a performance-enhancing drug linked to BALCO, the lab at the center of a federal steroids investigation. Until now, Jones has denied she ever took performance-enhancing drugs.

"I want to apologize for all of this," Jones wrote. "I am sorry for disappointing you all in so many ways."

In the letter Jones also said she planned to plead guilty in New York to two counts of lying to federal agents about her drug use and an unrelated financial matter. It is a sad day for people that supported Marion Jones during her career.

But, at least we still have Flo-Jo!