Selma Revisited: from Violent Racism to Reflective Compassion (part 1)

3 Producers of the film
Left to right, Producers of the Golen Globe Award-nominated film Selma:
Dede Gardner, Oprah Winfrey, and director Ava DuVernay. (photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for AFI)

 The movie Selma, directed and executive produced by Ava DuVernay, opened on Christmas Day 2014 and rang in the New Year 2015 with domestic sales estimated at $1, 204,000 according to Box Office Mojo. Whereas there have been any number of films about the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. produced for television, Selma is the first major feature film on the great civil rights leader made for theatrical release.

The movie’s box office performance at the beginning of the year placed it at number 23 on Fandango’s list of “Top Box Office Movies,” and it currently stands at number 22. Both positions place it far behind “The Hobbit: the Battle of the Five Armies” ruling at the time at number 1, and “Unbroken” at number 2.

However, Selma played during the first week of its release in only 19 select theaters. It is set to screen nation-wide on January 9, just in time for the 86th anniversary of Dr. King’s birth on January 15. In honor of the fact that the movie would not have been made without the definitive role played by the people of Selma, Alabama, in the past as well as in the present, Paramount Studios announced that residents will be allowed to view it for free until the end of January.

DuVernay has already won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association New Generation Award for the film and it has earned 4 African-American Film Critics Association Awards. It has also received 4 Golden Globe Award Nominations. In addition to DuVernay, the line-up of producers includes Hollywood heavyweights Brad Pitt and Oprah Winfrey, who also performs in a supporting role as Annie Lee Cooper. Paul Webb provided the screenplay and among the exceptional cast that brings it to life are David Oyelowo (as Martin Luther King Jr.), Carmen Ejogo (as Coretta Scott King), Cuba Gooding Jr., Giovanni Ribisi, Common, Tim Roth, and Allesandro Nivola.

Technology and the Struggle for Human Rights

The story of the historic march from Selma to Montgomery is now a well-known one for many important reasons. It is obviously vital for the place it holds in the story of African-Americans’ ongoing struggle for social and political equality in the United States, as it is for the place it occupies in America’s attempts in general to refine its practice of the concept of democracy. In addition, it dramatically demonstrates the role which the evolution of technology has played in struggles for human rights in the modern era.

For the full article by Aberjhani please click this link:
Selma revisited: from violent racism to reflective compassion (part 1 of 5) – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.

Citizens of Newark Honor City and Historian Clement Alexander Price

Newark's late great official city historian Dr. Clement A. Price standing in the Newark Public Library.
                      Clement Alexander Price (photo by Nick Romanenko and Rutgers Magazine)

The celebration held at Bethany Baptist Church in Newark, NJ, on November 14, 2014, honored the city itself as much as it did the life of historian Clement Alexander Price, who passed on November 5.

“Everything he touched he made better,” said fellow historian Lonnie Bunch.

Political leaders such as Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker (D–N.J.) expressed similar observations about the great educator following his death. So did members of the community at Rutgers University where he taught, fellow associates on President Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, administrators at the Smithsonian Institute, and those at the National Endowment for the Humanities.

A Prodigiously Productive Life

Dr. Price’s exhaustive list of accomplishments includes co-founding (with the late Giles R. Wright) the Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series in 1981, taking on the directorship of the Rutgers Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience, chairing the New Jersey State Council on the Arts from 1980 to 1983, and authoring some four books on different aspects of American and African-culture, including Freedom Not Far Distant: A Documentary History of Afro-Americans in New Jersey (1980).

Despite his own demanding schedule and prodigious output, as various speakers at his funeral service attested, Price somehow made time to accommodate requests from those who needed some fragment of his genius to lend weightier substance and dignity to their specific projects. Along those lines, he contributed a foreword to Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance (Facts on File), and an essay to the book Small Towns, Black Lives: African American Communities in Southern New Jersey (Noyes Museum of Art), both published in 2003. On behalf of the citizens of his beloved Newark, he accepted the title of City Historian near the beginning of 2014.

In an official entry into the U.S. Senate record, Sen. Booker noted Price’s capacity for giving to others as well as his dedication to Newark:

“…He served not only as our leading historian, but as a powerful spiritual force in our state’s largest city. He was invested in Newark, and – ever generous with his time – was known to arrange tours for visitors that highlighted not only the city’s rich history, but its considerable promise. Clem always recognized the vital truth that charting a brighter course for the future requires a comprehensive understanding of the past.”

NEXT: Citizens of Newark honor city and historian Clement Alexander Price part 2

by Aberjhani
author of ELEMENTAL The Power of Illuminated Love
Founder of Creative Thinkers International

New Orleans’ Bayou Maharajah arrives in Savannah (part 2 of 2)

Musical genius James Carroll Booker III at the piano. (photo Wikepedia Creative Commons Share License)
Piano virtuoso James Carroll Booker III. (photo: Wikipedia Creative Commons)

“With my ninth mind I resurrect my first and dance slow to the music of my soul made new.” ––from Visions of a Skylark Dressed in Black

While he lived, James Booker was apparently known by many titles. The tradition in African American music of taking on grand and sometimes outlandish designations stretches at least as far back as the Harlem Renaissance when Bessie Smith became known as “The Empress of the Blues” and Edward Kennedy Ellington gained fame as “The Duke.”

In addition to the name used in the title of the film, Booker has been alternately referred to as: The Piano Prince of New Orleans, The Black Liberace, The Ivory Emperor, The Black Chopin, and Little Booker. He was also known as an off-again on-again drug addict, a non-closeted gay man, and a psychologically complex individual for whom no single definition or description could ever suffice.

Interpretation of a Life

Lily Keber appears, at this point in time, to be one ideal interpreter of who and what Mr. Booker was as a son of New Orleans and as a thoroughly hidden American treasure. Like New Orleans, Keber’s hometown of Savannah in one of the American cities in which the music of jazz has its deepest roots. Her move to New Orleans in 2006 and her labors to pay homage to “The Ivory Emperor” have further extended the jazz kinship between the city and Savannah. She has, in short, added something much more than a footnote to the history of jazz in America. As the director herself put it, “It took growing up in Savannah to prepare me for moving to a city like New Orleans.”

To read the full story by Aberjhani please click the link:
New Orleans’ Bayou Maharajah arrives in Savannah (part 2 of 2) – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.