Saturday, August 31, 2013

50 Years Later Following the March On Washington

This past week was a big anniversary when it came to the fight for justice here in the United States. For it was 50 years ago on August 28, 1963, that the Civil Rights March on Washington took place.

 Photo from Hulton Archive
The March on Washington represented a crescendo in the movement for racial equality in America. It wasn't just that people were marching either. They were voicing their opinions, participating in sit-ins and boycotts, being beaten and even killed for challenging the law of the land in which they were not merely seen as unequal, but forever subjugated to a second class existence.

Martin Luther King typically gets most of the credit and acclaim when we look back on the March on Washington, but there were a bevy of people who also made the moment so special. People such as: Fannie Lou Hamer, Medgar Evers, Bayard Rustin, Dorothy Height, Rosa Parks, and countless other young people as well who took part in the movement. Their sacrifices are ultimately what lead the groundwork for the U.S. finally beginning to live up to its creed nearly 200 years after the signing of the Constitution. As great and symbolic as the March on Washington was in 1963, we can't stop there. We must keep moving forward everyday.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Remembering Lee Thompson Young

It was very sad to hear about the passing of former Disney star Lee Thompson Young earlier this week.

According to multiple news sources, Young took his own life this past Monday. Some have speculated that he may have been suffering from depression.

Most will probably remember Lee Thompson Young from his time as the star of the Disney Channel show, "The Famous Jett Jackson." The show aired from 1998-2001 and was actually a show-within-a-show. The concept was framed around Jett Jackson playing the action hero 'Silvertone,' while also adjusting to growing up as a teenager in the fictional town of Wilstead, North Carolina.

I remember watching "The Famous Jett Jackson" more than a decade ago and generally enjoyed it. We saw things from Jett Jackson's perspective and the interactions he had with his friends, family, and the crew for the 'Silverstone' show. I thought Lee Thompson Young did a very good job as the lead, considering the fact he was actually playing two characters each episode.

Following the end of "The Famous Jett Jackson," Young went on to play roles in 2004 film "Friday Night Lights," and "Akeelah and the B" in 2006. At the time of his death, he was working on the TNT drama "Rizzoli and Isles."

R.I.P. Lee Thompson Young.

If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Thoughts on Fruitvale Station

After a month delay and several months of being intrigued by the premise of the film, I finally saw "Fruitvale Station" last week. It left me feeling a number of emotions upon exiting the theater.

"Fruitvale Station" is the story of Oscar Grant and the 24 hours leading up to his death at the Fruitvale subway stop in Oakland, California, on New Year's Day 2009. But it's really so much more than that. It's a story that truly does explore the human condition through Oscar's eyes and makes the viewer see a troubled man who was trying to turn his life around.

What makes "Fruitvale Station" different than most movies is that you have some idea going in how the story will end. Anyone who has heard about the film or done any research on the case, knows ultimately that Oscar Grant will be killed. Similar much in the same way as a movie like "Titanic," where (spoiler alert) the ship sinks, with a film like "Fruitvale Station" character development becomes all the more crucial when the audience knows the final result.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Ebony Commemorates Trayvon Martin

With the Trayvon Martin verdict still fresh in the minds of many, Ebony Magazine released four covers showing the unity and concern expressed in the We Are Trayvon movement. The covers feature well known black celebrities like Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat, Boris Kodjoe and Spike Lee from the entertainment world, and Trayvon's parents along with his surviving brother. Ebony Magazine Editor-In-Chief, Amy DuBois Barnett, recently spoke to the HuffingtonPost on why Ebony chose the covers they did.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Cheryl Boone Isaacs Makes History

Last month Cheryl Boone Isaacs made history by becoming the first black president of the The Academy. Yes, the same Academy who votes on Oscar winners every year.

Considering the dearth of diversity in Hollywood and the lack of recognition black actors and actresses have received in regards to Oscar recognition, this news is significant indeed. Boone Isaacs has been working in the entertainment industry for a number of years now and has certainly paid her dues. Kudos to her. For more info about Cheryl Boone Isaacs you can check out this Entertianment Weekly article.

Friday, August 9, 2013

He's Gotta Have It: Spike Lee, Kickstarter and An Emerging New Trend

It seems Kickstarter is quickly becoming the SOS of many a filmmaker in 2013.

A few weeks ago Spike Lee was the latest filmmaker to enter the fray as he announced he was raising money to fund his current project, a vampire themed flick that he so far has been hesitant to go into much detail about. Spike isn't the first well known member of the film community to make his pitch for funds on Kickstarter, but the latest in what is an interesting trend.

Earlier this year it came out that Kristen Bell had made a pitch on Kickstarter for a Veronica Mars movie. She ended up raising $5 million. What was most interesting to me at least is that the Veronica Mars movie is being backed by Warner Brothers, who are one of the major players in Hollywood. Ultimately this begs the question of why go to a site like Kickstarter for funding if a major studio is going to be backing the project anyway? Zach Braff (from NBC "Scrubs" fame) also took to Kickstarter and raised more than $3 million for his own project.

I'm assuming Spike Lee heard about the success of these two projects and decided that it was time to throw his hat in the ring. Spike Lee is a very decorated director and his work has often made me think about cinema, specifically as it relates to people of color. "Do The Right Thing" is a classic in my book. "School Daze" was informative and "Malcolm X" was not only educational, but illuminating. "He Got Game" and "25th Hour" with Ed Norton, are also among my favorites.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

So A Panhandler Walks Onto The Subway...

If you live or work in New York City, you know the deal. Without fail, as soon as you walk through the subway doors to take your seat, you'll inevitably hear a plea from somebody who needs your money. Just in my own experiences, I've seen people get rather creative in asking for your cash. Occasionally a group of kids will dance, some will sing, and there will always be somebody who needs money for their basketball team. Well, here we have a guy who looks as if he may be asking for money initially, but instead it's the passengers who are caught off guard.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Remembering a Literary Giant

James Baldwin is remembered not only as a literary giant, but a man whose words helped advance the cause for social justice within the United States. Baldwin -- who would've been 89 this past Friday -- was remembered by a number of people for being one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. His literature continues to live on however, and his life, memory, and influence, will not soon be forgotten.