Darius Rucker to Receive to Receive Humanitarian Award at Music Biz 2019

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Darius Rucker

The Music Business Association (Music Biz) will present three-time GRAMMY Award-winning artist Darius Rucker with its Harry Chapin Memorial Humanitarian Award during the Music Biz 2019 Awards & Hall of Fame Dinner on Tuesday, May 7.

Rucker is being celebrated for his lifelong philanthropic efforts that include exemplary and heartfelt work on behalf of children at the JW Marriott Nashville Hotel at 7:30 PM.

“Through his tireless efforts to support the youth community of Charleston, not to mention the millions of dollars he has helped raise for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Darius has beautifully honored the legacy of our Humanitarian Award’s namesake, Harry Chapin,” said Music Biz President James Donio. “We truly feel that Harry would be proud to see how Darius has used his platform and resources to benefit those among us in need. We are delighted to recognize him for all he has contributed.”

For years, Rucker has been a continuous supporter of the MUSC Children’s Hospital in his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. Since 2010, his annual Darius & Friends benefit concert and golf tournament has raised millions of dollars for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Through the Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation, Rucker and his bandmates have raised funds for over 200 charitable causes that support public education and junior golf programs in South Carolina.

At the annual Darius & Friends benefit concert and golf tournament, Rucker performs and plays alongside some of his famous friends in order to raise money for children who are battling cancer. Previous years have seen participation from stars such as Luke Bryan, Luke Combs, Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum, Brad Paisley, and Kenny Rogers.

The annual “Monday After the Masters” (MAM) golf tournament brings together golf pros, celebrities, and their friends to raise money for the Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation and the South Carolina Junior Golf Foundation, among others. One of the top-rated junior golf organizations in the country, the mission of the SC Junior Golf Foundation is to teach kids honor, sportsmanship, and character through the game of golf.

Every fall, the Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation hosts Hootie’s Homegrown Roundup, an event designed to assist underprivileged children in the Charleston County School District. Through the Roundup, kids receive free annual eye exams, dental exams, new shoes, haircuts, and a backpack full of school supplies to help them prepare for the school year.

Rucker first rose to stardom as the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of Hootie & the Blowfish, the GRAMMY Award-winning band behind chart-topping hits such as “Hold My Hand” and “Let Her Cry.” The band’s debut album, Cracked Rear View, went platinum 21 times, and the band has charted 16 singles to date. The group is set to return to full-time touring in 2019 as they embark on the 44-city Group Therapy Tour, which will be accompanied by the release of their first studio album since 2005.

During that time, Rucker embarked on a wildly successful solo Country music career that has sparked five albums and nine number one singles on Country radio. His cover of Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel,” released in 2013 on his third solo Country album, True Believers, earned Rucker his third GRAMMY Award. In 2018, Rucker won the Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award from the Academy of Country Music, celebrating his devotion to improving lives through the power of music.

Since its inception in 1981, the Harry Chapin Memorial Humanitarian Award has celebrated the legacy of Folk-Rock singer-songwriter Harry Chapin, whose philanthropic work to end world hunger earned him the Congressional Gold Medal. In 1977, Chapin helped create the Presidential Commission on World Hunger. He also co-founded the charitable organization World Hunger Year to which he donated all of the proceeds from merchandise sales at his concerts. The writer of the #1 hit “Cat’s in the Cradle,” top 40 singles “Taxi,” “W*O*L*D,” and “Sequel,” Chapin scored a gold album with 1974’s Verities & Balderdash. Previous recipients of the Harry Chapin Memorial Humanitarian Award have included Martina McBride, Dee Snider, Melissa Etheridge, Annie Lennox, Jackson Browne, Norman Lear, and Bonnie Raitt, as well as Rock The Vote, Hands Across America and the T.J. Martell Foundation.

Music Biz 2019 will return to Nashville May 5-8 at the elegant JW Marriott in the heart of downtown Nashville. The music industry’s premier event, Music Biz offers a platform for the commerce, content, and creative sectors to network, get on the cutting edge of the latest trends, and meet with trading partners. Announced thus far, Bebe Rexha and Kane Brown will receive Breakthrough Artist Awards, Sony Music Nashville Chairman and CEO Randy Goodman will receive the Presidential Award for Outstanding Executive Achievement, Record Archive owners Richard Storms and Alayna Alderman will accept the Independent Spirit Award, and The Orchard Co-Founder Richard Gottehrer will receive the Outstanding Achievement Award. The Awards & Hall of Fame Dinner event is sponsored by BuzzAngle Music, City National Bank, Cracker Barrel, Jammber, and TiVo. Attendees can also look forward to keynote presentations from influential industry trailblazers including Apple Music’s Zane Lowe, RIAA Chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier, and CEO of Def Jam Recordings Paul Rosenberg.

More program and awards announcements will be made in the coming weeks. For the most up-to-date conference information, visit musicbiz2019.com.

To register for the 2019 event, go to musicbiz2019.eventbrite.com. Early bird rates are available through March 22, 2019.

For press registration for Music Biz 2019, please go to music-biz-2019-editorial-press-registration/.

About Darius Rucker

Darius Rucker first attained multi-Platinum status in the music industry as the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of GRAMMY Award-winning Hootie & the Blowfish. Since releasing his first country album in 2008, he has celebrated four summits to the top the Billboard Country albums chart and earned a whole new legion of fans. In 2014, Rucker won his third career GRAMMY Award for Best Solo Country Performance for his 4x Platinum-selling cover of Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel,” the No. 1 single off his album True Believers.

Rucker’s first two Country albums, Learn To Live and Charleston, SC 1966, produced five No. 1 singles including “Come Back Song,” “This,” “Alright,” “It Won’t Be Like This For Long” and “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It.” Southern Style, his fourth studio Country album, features his seventh No. 1 single, “Homegrown Honey.”

Rucker’s latest album on Capitol Records Nashville, When Was The Last Time, features “If I Told You” and “For the First Time,” his eighth and ninth No. 1s on Country radio, as well as his latest single “Straight To Hell,” a reimagining of the Drivin’ N Cryin’ classic featuring Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley.

Rucker recently wrapped the co-headlining Summer Plays On Tour with Lady Antebellum as well as a sold-out headlining U.K. run and will hit the road with his Hootie & the Blowfish bandmates for the Group Therapy Tour in 2019 as they celebrate the 25th anniversary of mega-hit Cracked Rear View as well as a forthcoming new album. For more information, visit www.dariusrucker.com and follow on social media @DariusRucker.

About the Music Business Association

The Music Business Association (Music Biz) is a membership organization that advances and promotes music commerce – a community committed to the full spectrum of monetization models in the industry. It provides common ground by offering thought leadership, resources, and unparalleled networking opportunities, all geared to the specific needs of its membership. Music Biz brings a unique perspective and valuable insight into the trends and changes that innovation brings. Today, we put our collective experience to work across all delivery models: physical, digital, mobile, and more. Music Biz and its members are committed to building the future of music commerce – together.

African American Fashion at the Academy Awards

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By: Darralynn Hutson

Leading the trend of African American fashion firsts at the Academy Awards was Billy Porter. The star of the new FX series Pose, has made a name for himself as a carpet stunner this season.

At this year’s Academy Awards Porter wore a custom Christian Siriano creation of a black velvet Couture dress masterpiece.

African American fashion at this year’s Academy Awards was a win all the way to the Oscars podium.

Best Supporting Actress winner, Regina King channeled classic Hollywood glamor in her Oscar de la Renta gown.

Mahershala Ali walked the red carpet as a nominee and left an Oscar Winner! The best supporting actor worked with his longtime stylist Van Van Alonso, ahead of the award show for a standout look.

Oscar winner Spike Lee stood out in a purple Ozwald Boateng suit. The “BlacKkKlansman” director dawned a pair of custom gold Air Jordans. He mentioned his outfit was a tribute to African American fashion icon Prince.

Velvet was the fabric of choice for many actors this awards season. It came in all shades ranging from blood red, pale pink, and several other bold colors in between.

Stephen James, lead actor in “If Beale Street Could Talk,” wore an eye-catching blood red velvet Etro suit with a red silk bow tie.

Black Panther star Michael B. Jordan, was a royal revelation in his deep blue velvet jacket.

Congratulations to all of this years African American Fashion trendsetters!

Prada Enlists Ava DuVernay To Help Take Steps Toward Correcting Diversity Issues

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With Katy Perry’s shoe brand becoming the latest fashion company to make a racially insensitive design misstep, it’s been announced that Prada is taking the initiative to combat such issues.

After reeling from its own design debacle last year—having to remove blackface iterations of ‘monkeyesque’ handbag accessories—the Italian luxury design label helmed by Miuccia Prada has announced that it’s enlisting ESSENCE cover girl and award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay and renowned artist and activist Theaster Gates to lead its charge toward global inclusivity and diversity, aimed particularly at the Black community.

In a statement via its Twitter page, the brand says:

“Prada announces artist and activist, Theaster Gates, and film director and producer Ava DuVernay, will co-chair the Prada Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council to elevate voices of color within the company and the fashion industry at-large.”

“In addition to amplifying voices of color within the industry, we will help ensure that the fashion world is reflective of the world in which we live, and we are thrilled to be working with longtime collaborators Ava DuVernay and Theaster Gates on this important initiative,” said Miuccia Prada.

For the complete article, continue on to Essence.

10 Amazing Places to Shop for Black Owned, Black Love for Valentine’s Day

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With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I am sure you are searching for the perfect gift to give the one you love. I love buying presents, but Valentine’s Day is one holiday that often leaves me feeling stumped.

Searching for the perfect gift that says “I love me some you” can be tough. I never know what to get my husband, and I think he struggles with figuring out what I want as well.

Well, worry no more. We are here to help. And not only do we have a list of great gift ideas, but all of the gifts are from black-owned businesses. Talk about a win-win. And this list doesn’t just include great gifts for the ladies. I have a couple of great options for the men as well. I want everyone to go to bed feeling happy on the 14th.

So think about your Boo, take a look at these gifts, and make this the year that you knock it out of the park with the gift you get your special someone.

For the complete article, continue on to Black and Married with Kids.

The Atlanta Hawks And Prostate Cancer Foundation Team Up To Fight Prostate Cancer

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Atlanta Hawks Assist Challenge

Sports Legends and Father-Son Duo Calvin and Grant Hill will lead The Black History Month Assist Challenge to Raise Money and Awareness about prostate cancer, the disease  that affects over four million men in the U.S.

The Atlanta Hawks and Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) have joined together to launch a first-of-its-kind multi-pronged program with the goal of slamming prostate cancer. Led by Hawks Vice Chair of the Board and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Grant Hill and his father, NFL Legend Calvin Hill, the Hawks are the first team in the NBA to partner with PCF to educate and bring awareness to the disease that affects more than four million men in the U.S., with one in nine men being diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. Those numbers skyrocket when factoring men of African descent. African-American men are 76 percent more likely to be diagnosed with the disease and more than twice as likely to die than men of other ethnicities.

In recognition of Black History Month and to bring greater awareness to the African-American community of the disease, the team and Foundation have kicked off the Black History Month Assist Challenge in February. For every assist registered by the Hawks throughout the month, $250 will be donated by the Hawks Foundation to the Prostate Cancer Foundation. The Hills filmed a special public service announcement announcing the partnership (link) and its importance. Census Bureau data from 2018 cites the Black or African-American population in the city of Atlanta at 52.3 percent.

“We couldn’t be prouder or more excited to be partnering with the Atlanta Hawks organization as they make history as the first National Basketball Association (NBA) team in the league to take on prostate cancer as an issue,” said Jonathan W. Simons, MD, PCF’s president and CEO. “It is befitting that during Black History Month, we all work to change the outcomes of the men who are most severely impacted by this disease.  Raising awareness of the risks, leading conversations that shift attitudes and making the facts about prostate cancer easily accessible will literally save lives. The Hawks are changing history by altering the course of this disease and its impact on African-American men.”

Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in America and the fourth-most common tumor diagnosed worldwide. Despite its frequency, if the cancer is caught at its earliest stages, most men will not experience any symptoms and 99 percent of patients live five years or longer after diagnosis, which makes education so critically important.

On Saturday, Feb. 23rd when the Hawks play the Phoenix Suns at State Farm Arena, the Hawks and PCF partnership will be celebrated throughout the game with special videos, stories and educational pieces. The night will also serve as the team’s HBCU Night, recognizing historically black colleges and universities alumni and current students.

“As a member of the Atlanta Hawks ownership team and a black male, I am extremely proud of our partnership with PCF as I believe our work can truly make a difference in the city of Atlanta,” said Grant Hill. “With the platform we are afforded, we have a responsibility to be a community leader and this is a great opportunity to educate in a way that could potentially save lives.”

For more information, please visit Hawks.com/PCF, a custom website where life-saving information and resources can be found along with instructions on how to join the Hawks and PCF in their mission.

# TrueToAtlanta #

ABOUT THE ATLANTA HAWKS

With a bold identity and strong new ownership, the Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club and State Farm Arena remain committed to making Atlantans proud on the court and off. The 2014-15 Southeast Division Champions, the Hawks made the postseason in 10 consecutive seasons and reached the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history in 2015. Off the court, the organization has built a culture of inclusion, diversity and innovation, all with a touch of Southern Hospitality. It continues into the community where the organization builds bridges through basketball, whether by constructing and refurbishing courts in Atlanta neighborhoods, providing scholarships to our basketball camps, or surprising and delighting our fans with unique Atlanta Hawks experiences. Atlanta Hawks Membership, which includes your seat for every home game for the 2018-19 regular season, is on sale now at www.hawks.com/membership or by calling 866-715-1500! For more information on the Hawks, log on to www.hawks.com today or follow us on twitter and Instagram @ATLHawks.

Tyra Banks Will Open Supermodel-Themed Amusement Park, ‘ModelLand’

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Get ready to “smize”…

OG supermodel Tyra Banks recently announced that later this year she will be expanding her modeling brand with a new project called ModelLand — and it’s not at all what you think. Unless you thought it was a theme park, in that case, you were right on the money!

“I’ve always been insanely inspired by attractions like Disneyland and Universal Studios and have wanted to bring that spirit of adventure and storytelling to the world of modeling,” Tyra shared with Variety. “But not the exclusive modeling industry. I’m talking about modeling for the masses.”

The 45-year-old recently announced on Instagram that she has been working on a fantasy version of the modeling world for the past 10 years and that she’s extremely excited to share it with the world.

“My dream for you will soon be a reality. #ModelLand. A place where everyone can be a model,” she posted on Instagram. “A place where all beauty is celebrated. I can’t wait for you to Step Into Your Light. Head over to Model-Land.com to sign up for more information. Link in bio. #ModelLand @modelland.”

The first-of-its-kind experiential attraction is set to be open late 2019 housed in Macerich’s Santa Monica Place, the iconic multi-level 21,000 sq. ft. open-air shopping, dining and entertainment destination just blocks from the beach in Santa Monica.

For the complete article, continue on to BET.

Brian Flores Ready To Join Dolphins’ All-Black Leadership Team

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Not sure if the NFL has ever had a minority head coach from Brownsville, Brooklyn, but New England Patriots defensive play-caller Brian Flores will fit that mold when he assumes the head coaching position with the Miami Dolphins.

Flores is a living example that the American Dream is still very much alive.

Once highly-touted defensive coordinator Matt Patricia left to become head coach of the Detroit Lions after the Patriots lost to Philadelphia in the Super Bowl, Flores was awarded the defensive play-calling responsibilities in addition to his job as linebackers coach. He had huge shoes to fill.

On Sunday, Flores, the son of immigrant parents from Honduras, had the kind of slam dunk final interview that a hunch could never satisfy.

“You don’t get to be defensive signal caller under Bill Belichick unless you know your stuff,” NFL sideline announcer Tracy Wolfson said in a flattering appraisal of Flores’ efforts during the Patriots’ 41-28 thrashing of the LA Chargers in Sunday’s AFC Divisional Playoff game.

The Patriots defense stifled the No. 6 scoring offense in the league behind a variety of blitz packages and defensive alignments. Now Flores and the Patriots will look to suppress the Chiefs offense, who finished No. 1 in the league in 2018.

Dolphins owner Steve Ross and general manager Chris Grier have seen enough. They intend to offer their vacant head coaching position to Brooklyn native.

Despite the owners’ whitewashing of the NFL head coaching ranks, the Dolphins seem to be on a progressive plane of their own. Miami would be the only NFL team to have a black/Hispanic coach, black general manager and assistant GM. Grier will remain the GM next season and Miami just hired former Buffalo Bills scout Marvin Allen to assist him.

For the complete article, continue on to The Shadow League.

Highlighting African-Americans with Disabilities in Honor of Black History Month

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black-history-month-disabilities

As we celebrate Black History Month, which takes place every February, RespectAbility recognizes the contributions made and the important presence of African-Americans to the United States. It is important to note this includes more than 5.6 million African-Americans living with a disability in the U.S., 3.4 million of which are working-age African-Americans with disabilities.

Therefore, we would like to reflect on the realities and challenges that continue to shape the lives of African-Americans with disabilities.

Only 28.7 percent of working-age African-Americans with disabilities are employed in the U.S. compared to 72 percent of working-age African-Americans without disabilities. This is in line with the rest of the country, with fully one-in-five Americans having a disability and just 30 percent of those who are working-age being employed, despite polls showing that most of them want to work. This leads to approximately 40 percent of African-Americans with disabilities living in poverty compared to 22 percent of African-Americans without disabilities.

Deafblind lawyer Haben Girma advocates for inclusion in both education and Hollywood.

For many of the 1,199,743 black students (K-12) with disabilities in America today, the deck is stacked against them. Frequently “invisible disabilities” such as ADHD are not diagnosed and students do not get the supports they need to achieve. Frustrated, they can act out and become suspended. African-American students with disabilities are disproportionately impacted by suspension in schools, with more than one in four boys of color with disabilities — and nearly one in five girls of color with disabilities — receiving an out-of-school suspension.

Studies show that when students miss too many days, either for being truant or just being absent, they get so far behind in class that it can lead to them dropping out of school. As documented in Disability & Criminal Justice Reform: Keys to Success, this can lead to the school-to-prison pipeline. Today there are more than 750,000 people with disabilities behind bars in America. Many of them do not have high school diplomas, are functionally illiterate and are people of color.

Harriet Tubman did not let her epileptic seizures stop her from risking her life to free slaves through the underground railroad.

Overall, only 65 percent of students with disabilities graduate high school compared to 84 percent of students without disabilities. However, only 57 percent of black students with disabilities graduate high school compared to 74.6 percent of black students without disabilities.

Some celebrities and business leaders are using their voice to share their stories, educating people about both visible and invisible disabilities. They are defying the statistics and have remained highly successful with their disabilities. These role models make a big difference in setting high expectations for youth with disabilities. People with disabilities of all backgrounds can be amongst the highest achievers on earth. Harriet Tubman had Epilepsy, actress Halle Berry lives with diabetes, business leader and Shark Tank superstar Daymond John is dyslexic and Stevie Wonder is blind. Each of them is a positive role model for success. They are perfect candidates for RespectAbility’s #RespectTheAbility campaign, which is shining a light on individuals with disabilities who are succeeding in their chosen careers.

Continue on to Respectability.org to read the complete article.

Celebrating Black Excellence During Black History Month

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BLack-History-Month-2019

February marks Black History Month, an annual observance to remember and honor African-Americans and events in history.

Leaders, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, Harriet Tubman, and many others, have left a mark on American history that has changed the course for many social justice revolutions across the nation. To commemorate their work, we take the time to recognize and celebrate their fight for equality and justice. African-American role models have charted new courses in black excellence, helping to create history!

1991-First African-American woman to serve as mayor for a major U.S. city: Sharon Pratt

1991-First African-American driver to qualify for the Indy 500: Willy T. Ribbs

1992-First African-American woman in space: Dr. Mae Jemison

1993-First African-American appointed surgeon general of the United States: Dr. Joycelyn Elders

1993-First African-American named U.S. poet laureate: Rita Dove

1994-First African-American to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature: Toni Morrison

1994-First African-American to host the Academy Awards: Whoopi Goldberg

1997-First African-American to win the Masters golf tournament: Tiger Woods

1999-First African-American chess international grandmaster: Maurice Ashley

2001-First African-American president of an Ivy League institution: Dr. Ruth Simmons

2001-First African-American billionaire: Robert Johnson. Johnson is an entrepreneur and founder of BET

2001-First African-American named secretary of state: Gen. Colin Powell

2002-First African-American woman to win the Academy Award for Best Actress: Halle Berry

2002-First African-American to earn a gold medal at the Winter Games: Vonetta Flowers. Vonetta Flowers is awarded gold medal in the women’s bobsled competition during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.

2005-First African-American woman named secretary of state: Dr. Condoleezza Rice

2006-First African-American to reach the peak of Mount Everest: Sophia Danenberg

2006-First African-American to earn an individual gold medal at the Winter Games: Shani Davis

2007-First African-American pilot to fly solo around the world: Barrington Irving Jr.

2008-Senator Barack Obama becomes the first African-American to be nominated as a major party nominee for president. He subsequently becomes the first African- American to be elected president of the United States.

2008-First African-American to launch his own film and television studio: Tyler Perry

2008-First African-American to referee a Super Bowl: Mike Carey

2009-Barack Obama becomes the first African American president and the country’s 44th president.

2009-First African-American U.S. attorney general: Eric Holder

2009-First African-American to lead the Environmental Protection Agency: Lisa Perez Jackson

2012-Barack Obama is reelected to the presidency.

2013-First African-American president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences: Cheryl Boone Isaacs

2015-First African-American woman named U.S. attorney general: Loretta Lynch

2015-First African-American promoted to principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre: Misty Copeland

The Institute for Educational Leadership Launches Rise Up for Equity Campaign to Eliminate Barriers to Equity in Education and Workforce Development

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education campaign for African-Americans

The Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) announced  the launch of Rise Up for Equity, a digital and grassroots campaign  to prepare, support, and mobilize leaders to eliminate systemic barriers to equity in education and workforce development.
This so everyone – especially transition-age youth and families in communities with inequitable opportunities across the United States – has the opportunity to succeed and lead independent lives.

“IEL incentivizes communities to innovate and prepares and supports local and state leaders to improve opportunity and outcomes, and close gaps in access and achievement in education and workforce development in under-resourced communities,” said Johan Uvin, President of IEL. “To us, equity is about creating more opportunities for success in education and workforce development for children, youth, adults and families, particularly in communities where that opportunity is lacking due to systemic and structural reasons.”

IEL’s strategy intends to help alleviate poverty and its impact and to contribute to creating new gateways to prosperity. Today 15 million children, or 21 percent of all children live in families with incomes below the federal poverty threshold, and 51 percent of students across U.S. public schools are low income.[1] Childhood poverty is associated with negative outcomes in adulthood, such as lower academic achievement, employment rates, and poorer health.

For more information about how you can Rise Up for Equity to support leaders so all children, young adults, and communities can succeed, visit www.riseupforequity.com or join the conversation on social media using #RiseUpforEquity.

[1] According to the 2016 fact sheet of the  National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP)

The Breakthrough: How Jackie Robinson Proved He Belonged

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Fifty years ago, over fourteen games in May, Jackie Robinson erased any doubt that he belonged in the majors, clearing the path for other black players.

In the middle of the cool, drizzly afternoon of Sunday, May 25, 1947, as the Brooklyn Dodgers led the Philadelphia Phillies 4–3 in the eighth inning, Jackie Robinson ground his spikes into the rain-softened dirt of the batter’s box at Ebbets Field, turned to face Phillies reliever Tommy Hughes and waited for Hughes’s 3-and-1 cripple.

Forty days had passed since Robinson donned a Dodgers uniform and became the first black man in this century to play in the majors, going 0 for 3 in his debut at Ebbets on April 15. In recent games the 28-year-old rookie had begun to evince signs of settling down and playing the crisp, commanding brand of ball that Branch Rickey, the Dodgers’ president, had predicted of him. “You haven’t seen the real Robinson yet,” Rickey had been telling writers all spring. “Just wait.”

Through his first 30 big league games, played in six National League cities, the rookie had alternately struggled and soared, at times performing brilliantly at first base (a position new to him that year) but often pressing at the plate. Of course, Robinson had also been the target of racial epithets and flying cleats, of hate letters and death threats, of pitchers throwing at his head and legs, and catchers spitting on his shoes. In the midst of all this bristling animus, there was a circuslike quality to Dodgers games, with Robinson on display like a freak; with large crowds, including many blacks, lustily cheering even his dinkiest pop-ups; and with the daily papers singling him out as the “black meteor,” the “sepia speedster,” the “stellar Negro,” the “muscular Negro,” the “lithe Negro” and “dusky Robbie.”

“More eyes were on Jackie than on any rookie who ever played,” recalls Rex Barney, a Brooklyn reliever that year. It was a wonder, as he endured the mounting pressure of his first weeks in the bigs, that Robinson could perform at all. Yet perform he did, putting together a 14-game hitting streak in the first 2 1/2 weeks of May. By May 25, with the first extended road trip behind him and the novelty of his presence on the wane, Robinson was sensing what he later called a “new confidence” in his game. As he took the field that day against the Phillies—who, led by their Southern-born manager, Ben Chapman, had lacerated him with taunts of “nigger” and “black boy” from the dugout during their first series in April—Robinson had begun to feel, as he would put it, “some of the old power returning.”

In the fourth inning, with the Dodgers down 2–0 and their shortstop, Pee Wee Reese, on first, Robinson lashed a single to right center off Phillies starter Dick Mauney. Moments later Reese and Robinson raced home when Dodgers centerfielder Pistol Pete Reiser crashed a double off the left-centerfield wall. Two innings after that, with Reese again on first and Hughes now pitching, Robinson reached for a fastball and lined a single to left. Reese later scored when Hughes balked him home from third.

Having been at the center of the rallies that gave Brooklyn that tenuous one-run lead in the eighth, Robinson now dug in against Hughes and worked the count to 3 and 1. Hughes delivered a fastball high in the strike zone, fat as a melon, and Robinson turned all his 195 pounds into it, striking the ball harder than he had struck one all spring. Dick Young, the Dodgers’ beat reporter for the New York Daily News, mixed jazz with golf in search of a simile to describe the blast, rhapsodizing that the ball left home plate “like something out of Louis Armstrong’s trumpet. It started on a low line, took off suddenly like a golf drive and zoomed far back into the lower leftfield deck.”

The Dodgers won 5–3, and contemporary accounts viewed the game as Robinson’s breakthrough in that young season, fulfilling Rickey’s prophesy that when the real Robinson at last arrived, he would be worth all the waiting. No one on that afternoon in May appeared more relieved than Burt Shotton, the Dodgers’ manager. “He has finally become relaxed and is playing the kind of ball that earned him his major league chance,” Shotton said. “Until today we just couldn’t get him to take a normal cut at the cripples they were getting him out on. Time after time we gave him signals to hit the 3-and-1 pitch, but very often he didn’t even swing. Guess he had too much on his mind.”

Despite all he had on his mind, despite all he had endured during the early days of that long season, it had grown clear by mid-May that Robinson, even a struggling Robinson, was in the Brooklyn lineup to stay. “The guy just had too much talent,” says Reese, “and too much guts.” Indeed, Robinson had won over teammates and opponents alike during his 14-game hitting streak, which was all the more impressive because it was a direct response to a horrible slump that would have finished lesser men in his situation.

Continue onto Sports Illustrated to read the complete article.

Gladys Knight will sing the national anthem at Super Bowl LIII

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Gladys Knight, the “Empress of Soul” and an Atlanta native, will sing the national anthem preceding Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3 in the city’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“I am proud to use my voice to unite and represent our country in my hometown of Atlanta,” Knight said in a statement released by the NFL. “The NFL recently announced their new social justice platform ‘Inspire Change,’ and I am honored to be a part of its inaugural year.”

Inspire Change, according to the league, is designed to showcase the community work being done by players, owners and the league.

Knight has won seven Grammy awards and is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with No. 1 singles “Midnight Train to Georgia” and “That’s What Friends Are For,” and her 11 No. 1 R&B singles, including “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.”

Continue on to Washington Post to read the complete article.

Taraji P. Henson to be honoured with star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame

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Taraji P. Henson will be honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.

The Oscar-nominated American actress and singer, 48, is known for starring in films including The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Date Night and the 2010 remake of The Karate Kid.

Henson, who also has an extensive career in television, will be honoured in the category of motion pictures with a star on Hollywood Boulevard.

Ana Martinez, producer of the Walk Of Fame, said: “Taraji P Henson is a powerful woman and a powerful actress.  She is an entertainer that fans cannot take their eyes off of due to her great acting ability.

“We welcome her bright star on our Walk Of Fame.”

Boyz In The Hood director John Singleton and rapper Mary J Blige will speak at the ceremony, which is due to take place on January 28.

Washington DC-born Henson began her Hollywood career working as an extra in television shows before getting her big break in the 2001 comedy-drama film Baby Boy, starring alongside Tyrese Gibson.

In 2008 she starred opposite Brad Pitt in David Fincher’s The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, playing the mother of a disabled child.

Henson was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actress for the role. Last year she voiced a character in Disney’s animated film Ralph Breaks The Internet and will appear in comedy What Men Want in February.

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