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April 28, 2009

“TRUTH” Comes To Washington, DC!

sojourner-truth-abe-lincoln  Today, First Lady Michelle Obama will help unveil a bronze bust of Sojourner Truth, a former slave and women’s rights activist.  This will be the first sculpture of a black woman in the U.S. Capitol. The ceremony will take place in Emancipation Hall at the newly opened Capitol Visitor Center at 11am EST.

Makayla Gray McLiechey, a 10-year-old from Grand Rapids, Michigan is a descendant of Sojourner Truth. When interviewed she said, “When anyone comes to me and says, ‘Aren’t you Sojourner Truth’s eighth-generation grandchild?’ That just tickles me,” McLiechey said. “… I feel so happy inside that I am a part of history and the making of Sojourner Truth history.”

McLiechey is one of eight Truth descendants from Battle Creek and Grand Rapids who left for Washington D.C. on Saturday night where they will take part in an unveiling ceremony of a bust of Truth at Emancipation Hall in the U.S. Capitol building today.

“This is something we probably never dreamed would happen. We couldn’t be any prouder,” said Burl McLiechey, a sixth-generation Truth descendant.

The $3.2 million bust will make history as the first memorial bust of a black woman to be placed in the Capitol. The project was spearheaded by the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. and took nearly 10 years to complete.

Dorothy Height helped raise $4,000 to contribute to the bust through the Dollars for Truth Campaign, which began two years ago.

Height also arranged for the local descendants of Truth to attend the ceremony. In a tribute to history, they are bringing a Bible signed by themselves and more than 300 Battle Creek residents to present to President Barack Obama. Thomas McLiechey said the gesture is reminiscent of when Truth presented Abraham Lincoln with a bible during his Presidency.

The campaign to memorialize Truth in the nation’s Capitol began more than a decade ago. A self-educated abolitionist who changed her name from Isabella Baumfree, Truth played a large role in the women’s suffrage movement and in 1851 delivered the famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech at a women’s rights convention in Ohio.

Truth, who died in 1883, encompassed all aspects of a truly free woman. She personified women’s rights, equal rights, struggling and understanding.

E. Faye Williams, chairwoman of the nonprofit National Congress of Black Women, which commissioned the work, said many believed that Truth should stand alongside women’s rights figures Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott in a portrait monument that was placed in the Capitol Rotunda in 1997. 

However Congressional legislation to include Truth in that group failed but Congress approved a bill in 2006 to memorialize the black suffragist in a stand-alone sculpture.

E. Faye Williams said that Artis Lane was the first choice to produce the work.

Frank Sinatra’s family purchased her portrait of President Kennedy, Rosa Parks asked her to design her congressional Gold Medal, President Clinton bought her painting of Hillary and Artis Lane’s sculptures and paintings are in the private collections of Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou and Nelson Mandela. She has also created works for Michael Jordan, Quincy Jones and Armand Hammer. (more…)

February 27, 2009

Entertainment: Wonderful Wednesdays At The White House

president-obama-stevie-wonder  Obama is proving that he can ‘walk and chew gum’ at the same time.  President Obama and his team are truly working hard and finding time for entertaining without compromising their work on behalf of the American people.  Balance – what a great thing to have in the White House.

The White House is the place to be on Wednesdays!

Since the presidency changed political hands less than six weeks ago, a burst of entertaining has taken hold of the iconic, white-columned home of America’s head of state. Much of it comes on Wednesdays.

The stately East Room, where portraits of George and Martha Washington adorn the walls, was transformed into a concert hall as President Barack Obama presented Stevie Wonder with the nation’s highest award for pop music on Wednesday.

A week before that, it was the foot-stomping sounds of Sweet Honey in the Rock, a female a cappella group, that filled the East Room for a Black History Month program that first lady Michelle Obama held for nearly 200 sixth- and seventh-graders from around the District of Columbia.

Cocktails were sipped during at least three such receptions to date, all held on Wednesdays.

Bookending the midweek activity were a Super Bowl watch party for select Democratic and Republican lawmakers and a dinner for governors, the new administration’s first black-tie affair. It was capped with a performance by the 1970’s pop group Earth, Wind & Fire, and a conga line.

The flurry of entertaining is in keeping with the promise by the Obamas to make the White House a more open place for everyone.

The governors’ dinner was “a great kickoff of what we hope will be an atmosphere here in the White House that is welcoming and that reminds everybody that this is the people’s house,” Obama told the state chief executives after they had dined on Maryland crab, Wagyu beef, Nantucket scallops and citrus salad.

“We are just temporary occupants. This is a place that belongs to the American people and we want to make sure that everybody understands it’s open,” he said.

At the dinner in the State Dining Room, the Obamas looked comfortable, chatting and smiling with their guests. Afterward, they escorted the governors down the hall to the East Room, which had been arranged with few tables and chairs to encourage dancing to “September,” “Boogie Wonderland” and other hits from a musical group Obama listened to growing up.

The conga line formed after the media were escorted out and, apparently, after Obama had called it a night.

“Thank you also for waiting until I had left before you started the conga line,” the president told the governors the next morning. “I hear it was quite a spectacle.”

Some Obama guests say he immediately puts them at ease. He indulges them and serves cookies, too.

“People like me felt comfortable in his presence,” said Rep. Mike Honda, D-Campbell, a self-described “poor country boy” who said he felt like a “freshman going to the senior prom” when he attended a White House reception for leaders of the congressional caucuses.

“Sometimes when you’re in the presence of the most powerful person in the world, in the most powerful democracy in the world … I was in awe that I was comfortable,” said Honda, chairman of the Asian Pacific American Caucus. “I think that’s his style and how he grew up, who he is.

“He’s down to earth and engaging,” Honda said.

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., was among those invited for the Super Bowl. He said Obama, an avid sports fan, joined his guests for most of the game between the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers.

“It wasn’t a circumstance where he came in and said ‘Hi’ and then left,” Franks said. “He actually stayed and watched the game.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn, said Obama was very cordial, and he and the first lady made everyone feel comfortable. The president talked to everyone before the game started, she said, including a 12-year-old boy who asked Obama where the bathroom was.

“My favorite part was when he personally served us cookies — oatmeal raisin — when we were watching the game,” she said.

The gathering over hot dogs and hamburgers was one of several get-to-know-the-members-of Congress events Obama held as he lobbied lawmakers to support the nearly $800 billion tax-and-spend economic package he recently signed into law. His efforts produced no Republican votes in the House and just three in the Senate, but Franks said he still appreciated the Democratic president’s efforts to reach out to the opposing party.

“I think the value of social interaction like this is not so much that it co-opts anyone in any way. It certainly didn’t in my case,” said Franks, who said he had a substantive conversation with Obama at the party, “I think it humanizes and personalizes opponents. We can diminish politics and try to work together for what’s right for the country.”

Obama played the role of “first fan” at the Wonder tribute, where he opened up about his and his wife’s common enjoyment of Wonder’s music.

“As Stevie knows, I’m a huge fan. And he has been a great supporter,” Obama said before presenting the award-winning, singer-songwriter with the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song from the Library of Congress.

He said Wonder’s songs “became the soundtrack of my youth” and that in them he “found peace and inspiration, especially in difficult times.”

Obama presented the medal to Wonder, and then wrapped the singer in a bear hug. As the media were led out of the room, Wonder struck up “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours,” which was a staple of Obama’s campaign rallies.

Original post at: http://www.mercurynews.com/politics/ci_11796961

 

 

 

 

August 22, 2008

Olympics: GOLD for Jamaica Men 400m Relay Team. Yet Another World Record!

 In yet another mind-boggling display of speed, Usain Bolt set another world record and won another Olympic gold medal, and this time got to share the glory with his Jamaican teammates.

 Both Bolt and Asafa Powell blew away the field over the last two legs of the 400-meter relay leading Jamaica around the track in 37.10 seconds to break the 16-year-old world record by 0.3 seconds.

Bolt is now 3-for-3 in these Olympic sprints — as in three gold medals and three world records.

The bonus is that he got to bring Powell along for the ride. Powell held the world record in the 100-meter dash for about three years before Bolt broke it in May, but he is also well known for his history of poor performances in the biggest meets.

 In this one, Powell got to do the honors, running the anchor leg, taking a clean handoff from Bolt and crossing the line almost a full second ahead of Trinidad and Tobago‘s Richard Thompson to secure his first Olympic medal.

The Jamaican quartet, which also included Nesta Carter and Michael Frater, eclipsed the old 400 relay mark of 37.40 set by the United States at the Barcelona Olympics in the 1992 and tied by the U.S. at the world championships a year later.

Bolt added that to the records he set in winning the 100 meters (9.69) and 200 meters (19.30) in Beijing.

The Jamaicans were nearly a full second faster than relay silver medalists Trinidad and Tobago, which finished in 38.06. Japan took the bronze in 38.15.

The Jamaica women’s relay team failed to hand off the baton in the third leg of the relay and did not complete the race. We are VERY PROUD of the women team!!!

Jamaica is 4 out of 5 in their sprint events.

  Team Jamaica now has a total of 10 medals: 6 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze.

   

Congratulations Team Jamaica!!!

August 10, 2008

Isaac Hayes Dies At 65

 Isaac Hayes, the pioneering singer, songwriter and musician whose relentless “Theme From Shaft” won Academy and Grammy awards, died Sunday, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said. He was 65.

A family member found Hayes unresponsive near a treadmill and he was pronounced dead about an hour later at Baptist East Hospital in Memphis, according to the sheriff’s office. The cause of death was not immediately known.

In the early 1970s, Hayes laid the groundwork for disco, for what became known as urban-contemporary music and for romantic crooners like Barry White. And he was rapping before there was rap.

 His career hit another high in 1997 when he became the voice of Chef, the sensible school cook and devoted ladies man on the animated TV show “South Park.”

The album “Hot Buttered Soul” made Hayes a star in 1969. His shaven head, gold chains and sunglasses gave him a compelling visual image.

“Hot Buttered Soul” was groundbreaking in several ways: He sang in a “cool” style unlike the usual histrionics of big-time soul singers. He prefaced the song with “raps,” and the numbers ran longer than three minutes with lush arrangements.

“Jocks would play it at night,” Hayes recalled in a 1999 Associated Press interview. “They could go to the bathroom, they could get a sandwich, or whatever.”

Next came “Theme From Shaft,” a No. 1 hit in 1971 from the film “Shaft” starring Richard Roundtree.

“That was like the shot heard round the world,” Hayes said in the 1999 interview.

At the Oscar ceremony in 1972, Hayes performed the song wearing an eye-popping amount of gold and received a standing ovation. TV Guide later chose it as No. 18 in its list of television’s 25 most memorable moments. He won an Academy Award for the song and was nominated for another one for the score. The song and score also won him two Grammys.

“The rappers have gone in and created a lot of hit music based upon my influence,” he said. “And they’ll tell you if you ask.”

Hayes was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

“I knew nothing about the business, or trends and things like that,” he said. “I think it was a matter of timing. I didn’t know what was unfolding.”

(more…)

August 9, 2008

Olympics: Let The Games Begin!!! (See Times and Schedules)

Let the games begin!!!

I am no fan of the Chinese government – no way, nee, nu, bus hi, daong, na, nyet! (No in several languages).

But I am a lover of sports.  Yes I am!  But as a form of my own silent protest, because of the inhumanity of the Chinese government and in empathy for the Chinese citizens, I will not watch the Olympics.

 It’s painful – I very much want to watch the US basketball teams (men and women), gymnastics, volleyball, swimming and of course track and field.  In particular the 100m and 200m (go King and Lightening!!!). 

I will however follow the results on-line and in the news. If you plan on watching and aren’t sure of ‘the hot events’, try to watch Lopez Lamont (USA) 800m – he’s one of the lost boys of Sudan and his story is inpirational and shows that if we how we love each other and leave the fears behind we will make the world a better place.

Those of you who will watch to honor and support the brilliant athletes of the world who have trained and sacrificed for years and years and have the opportunity to represent themselves and their countries, another must watch event is the Men’s 100m and 200m where America and Jamaica will go head-to-head.  Both races promises to be spectacular. And if you can, don’t miss any of the men’s basketball games.

Just in case you’re wondering what the time difference is between Beijing and your local time:

 

Beijing

 

7 hours ahead of London

8:00pm

1:00pm BST London

12 hours ahead of New York

8:00pm

8:00am EST NY

13 hours ahead of Texas

8:00pm

7:00am CST TX

15 hours ahead of LA

8:00pm

5:00am PST CA

To find out what time it is in Beijing, check out the World Clock.

(more…)

Bernie Mac Dies At 50

 Comedian/actor and all round talented guy Bernie Mac dies from complications caused by pneumonia early Saturday morning at the age of 50.

Sources say that his pneumonia isn’t related to the inflammatory lung disease that Mac also has. That condition has been in remission since 2005. No other details are immediately available.

Bernie Mac (Mac Man) was born in Chicago in 1957.  6 foot 3 inch Bernard Jeffrey McCollough grew up in Chicago, in a rougher neighborhood than most others, with a large family living under one roof. This situation provided him with a great insight into his comedy, as his family, and the situations surrounding them would be what dominated his comedy. Mac worked in the Regal Theater, and performed in Chicago parks in his younger days. He became a professional comedian in 1977, at the age of 19. He refused to change his image for television and films, and therefore was not very well known for most of the eighties. In 1992 he made his film debut with a small part with Mo’ Money (1992). This started a string of small parts in a string of movies, mostly comedies, including Who’s the Man? (1993), House Party 3 (1994) and The Walking Dead (1995). 1995 proved to be a turning point in his career. He did an HBO Special called “Midnight Mac” (1995), and took a part as Pastor Clever in the Chris Tucker comedy Friday (1995). Bernie Mac developed a cult following due to the movie and had many small parts since. In 1996 he starred in the memorable Spike Lee movie Get on the Bus (1996), and was very funny in Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood (1996).

About this time he had a recurring role in the TV series “Moesha” (1996). Bernie Mac’s star was slowly rising from this point. His next couple of movie parts were more substantial, including How to Be a Player (1997) and The Players Club (1998). In 1999 Bernie Mac got his most high profile part up to that point in the film Life (1999/I) starring Eddie Murphy.

(more…)

August 8, 2008

The Obama Family Heads to Hawaii For A Week’s Vacation; Hillary Clinton Will Campaign For Obama While He’s Away

  Barack Obama, his wife Michelle and their two beautiful young daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7 left Chicago for Hawaii earlier today – the state where Obama grew up and where his grandmother, who helped raise him, still lives. The Obamas will spend a week in a house they rented. 

I think this is a great idea – Obama needs some rest.  He must be burned-out, physically and emotionally.  He needs to regroup and come back strong.

Obama acknowledged some concern about taking time off but said that was offset by the need for some family time and a desire to visit his grandmother, who does not travel.

His campaign in conjunction with his family who lives in Hawaii have organized a welcome rally at a local park as well as a round of interviews. He is also expected to attend a fundraiser next week. Obama’s vacation will include mostly downtime, though. Other than enjoying the beach and watching the Olympics, he will spend some time with his grandmother, who helped raise him in Honolulu in the 1970s.
“I want to make sure that I’m spending time with her and I want to make sure she gets to spend time with her great grandchildren,” he said yesterday.

(more…)

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