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Octavia E. Butler, And the Power of Determination

In the business world, there is a strategy called the “Self Fulfilling Prophecy”. Ergo, you can’t get that promotion to the executive suite – until you act like you already have it. One of the key steps to that is developing “presence” a self belief in yourself that projects to others. That same “presence” is what defined the Civil Rights Movement of the 50’s and 60’s that a long suffering people had dignity, the right to be treated fairly, and moral clarity.

Octavia E. Butler is best known for her Science Fiction novels, which incorporate aspects of African American spiritualism to create stories woven in deep characters, whose change in response to hardship and rejection chart humanism and the effort to mold the world around us. Her best known work is “Kindred”

Embrace diversity
Unite–
or be divided,
robbed,
ruled,
killed
By those who see you as prey.
Embrace diversity
Or be destroyed.

From “Earthseed: The Books of the Living,”Parable of the Sower.

Octavia E. Butler Wrote The Story Of Her Success Years Before It Happened

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the death of Octavia E. Butler, the Hugo-award winning science fiction writer best known for the novels “Kindred” and “Parable of the Talents.” As an African-American female author in the predominantly white, predominantly male sci-fi landscape, Butler achieved extraordinary success over her decades-spanning career, even winning the MacArthur Fellowship “Genius Grant”.

And now, the release of personal journals from the late novelist has revealed one more extraordinary thing about her success: She wrote it down before it happened.

On Wednesday, the Huntington Library in California published a collection of notes and journal entries written by Butler throughout her lifetime. On one notebook from 1988, pictured below, Butler writes: “I shall be a bestselling writer… each of my books will be on the bestseller lists of LAT, NYT, PW, WP, etc. My novels will go onto above lists whether publishers push them hard or not.”

In addition to writing down affirmations of success, Butler also wrote her plans to “help poor black youngsters go to college” and “help poor black youngsters broaden their horizons.”

Amazingly, Butler would soon find the kind of success she wrote about not long after writing down these affirmations. Many of her novels, including “Clay’s Clark” and “Kindred,” were at the tops of bestseller lists around the world, and earned her honors and accolades including an induction into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. In 2006, in memory of her death, the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship was founded, providing Clarion Writers’ Workshop scholarships for young writers of color. This year, Butler will be honored in a year-long series of events and exhibitions in Los Angeles celebrating her life and her work. Talk about inspiring.

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2016 in Giant Negros

 

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DeLoreans Back in Production

In another situation of those fiction over reality things – a company in Texas is again building DeLorean cars made famous by the movie “Back to the Future”.

Why…I have no idea. The original car had only a 2500cc engine producing 130 HP with manual fuel injection at 5500 RPM. This gave the car 0-60 times in the 8.5 to 9 second range, 1/4 mile times in 17.5 seconds and a advertised top speed of 130 MPH. As a comparison the Datsun (NIssan) ’83 350Zx car was capable of 0-60 times in 7 seconds and 15 seconds in the quarter, about the same as the bulked down ’83-85 L88 Corvette, which was a full 2-3 seconds slower than the 60’s models Corvettes. Which doesn’t mention the Jaguar XKE v12, the semi custom TVRs (which, due to a light fiberglass body were quick at the track), Toyota’s excellent Supra, and Mazda’s high revving RX7 which all competed in the same space. All of these cars were designed for the general market, instead of the decidedly better heeled market for Porsche, Maserati, and the other high end sports car manufacturers.

Ergo – you didn’t buy a DeLorean for performance.

Another very similar small car manufacturer which failed of the period was the Bricklin

Delorean top, Bricklin on bottom

Look similar?

DeLoreans to go back to the future and into production

The DeLorean is going back to the future and into production.

We first saw the time machine three decades ago in the movie, “Back to the Future.” But the last time a DeLorean was built was about 35 years ago. Soon that will change at the DeLorean Motor Company in Humble.

“It’s fantastic. It is a game-changer for us. We’ve been wanting this to happen,” DeLorean CEO Stephen Wynne said. “That was a green light to go back into production. That was prohibited. It was against the law to do it.”

Wynne brought the DeLorean Motor Company to the Houston area in 1987. For the first time, the DeLorean will be manufactured on American soil.

Dozens of DeLoreans are at the Humble facility. Some are owned by the company but many are shipped there from around the world to be refurbished.

Wynne said the company will build replica 1982 DeLoreans under a low-volume manufacturing bill approved by the federal government. He estimates he has enough supplies in stock to build about 300 cars. He hopes to go from building one a month to one a week.

“It’s huge for us. It means we’re back as a car company again,” Wynne said.

You can buy a refurbished model for $45,000 to $55,000. Wynne hoped to sell the new ones for less than $100,000. The price will depend what modern engine he chooses.

“There’s no reason to change the appearance of the car. As we go into the program, we’ll decide what areas need to be freshened up,” Wynne said.

Wynne hoped to have the first car completed in early 2017.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2016 in Nawwwwww!, News

 

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Nat Turner…”Birth of a Nation”.

Quite frankly, I would hold off on any “Winning the Oscar” predictions for this dramatization of the Nat Turner Rebellion. As any student of American History should know, the Nat Turner Rebellion was one of many acts of defiance and outright rebellion by slaves being held in bondage. Making the Southern Myth of “happy darkies down on the Plantation” utterly bankrupt.

The film has been a major hit at the Sundance Film Festival, whether that will carry through to larger commercial success dealing with this decidedly uncomfortable chapter in American History for the confederate flag waivers…Is yo be seen.

‘Birth of a Nation’: Sundance’s Record-Breaking Remedy to #OscarsSoWhite

Acquired for a Sundance Film Festival record $17.5 million, Nate Parker’s dramatization of Nat Turner’s slave rebellion will be a major Oscar contender in 2017.

Actor-director-producer Nate Parker made history by inking a landmark $17.5 million Sundance deal to sell his slavery drama The Birth of A Nation to Fox Searchlight, starting his 2017 Oscar campaign a full year early. The vibrant and lyrical portrait of the divisive African American hero is an incendiary inquiry into themes of racism and faith that still echo today.

A perfect storm of elements converged to make Parker’s pre-Civil War slavery biopic the most electrifying debut of this year. It began, of course, with the provocative true story of Turner, a slave and preacher turned rebel leader whose violent uprising left 60 white slave-owning men, women, and children slaughtered and has long occupied a morally ambiguous place in American history books.

Then, from Nat to Nate: Parker’s own seven-year quest to bring Turner’s story to the screen—boldly co-opting its title from D.W. Griffiths’s 1915 film, one of American cinema’s most famously racist “classics”—saw him quit acting for a year to finally make it happen after being discouraged time and again. In the end it took a village, as evidenced by end credits naming four production companies, over a dozen exec producers, and special thanks to folks like George Lucas and, curiously enough, Mel Gibson.

And third, the fortuitous confluence of timing that aligned The Birth of a Nation’s world premiere with peak industry fury over racial homogeny at next month’s Academy Awards. This year’s Oscars will be so white, but 2017 now already has its first Best Picture contender of color since 12 Years A Slave—not coincidentally, also about the ugly stain slavery left on America’s past.

As journalists scrambled to ask every marginally famous celebrity about the lack of black Oscar nominees this year in the snowy white-blanketed and predominantly white ski resort town of Park City, Utah, The Birth of a Nation felt all the more urgent and relevant. “If it doesn’t get nominated next year,” I heard a (Caucasian) man joke, cluelessly reaching for the zeitgeist while waiting for a shuttle at Sundance, “there could be an uprising!”

Some might dismiss the film’s hot buzz as merely a byproduct of the diversity crisis in Hollywood—particularly serendipitous timing for a movie directed, co-written, produced by, and starring an African American filmmaker, about the most despicable era for racial injustice in our country’s history. But it’s not so much the series of documented events depicted in The Birth of a Nation that earn it its resonance, as it is the stirring, soulful, and incendiary spirit that courses through its veins, anchored by an utterly extraordinary performance by Parker himself.

The real Turner was a slave and homegrown Baptist preacher famed for spreading the gospel in sermons to other slaves. He reported having religious visions and took a solar anomaly in the skies in August of 1831 as a sign from God to commence his bloody insurrection…Read The Rest Here

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2016 in Black History

 

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The Old Guard

One of the places in the DC Region, that I believe is a must see for visitors is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers located in Arlington Cemetery. Nearby is also the grave of assassinated President JFK.  There is a Military guard at the Tomb 24 x 7, regardless of the weather or outdoor conditions. “The Old Guard” as the soldiers who perform this duty, along with Military Ceremonies at funerals is know are a group of dedicated professionals.

There is 2 feet of snow at my house, and it is still snowing with occasional 40-50 MPH gusts, not that far away from the Cemetery. But the lone soldier who marches guard is still out there in the middle of a blizzard. The only accommodation to weather these guys make is they will shorten the shifts marched by the lone guard for the men who march this lonely vigil.

 

Old Guard maintains vigil at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery

It makes no difference to The Old Guard what the weather might be, they continue to stand guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) maintain their constant vigil at the Tomb at Arlington National Cemetery.

 
Government Organization · 165,758 Likes· 17 hrs ·

As a record breaking snow storm hits the Washington DC area Sentinels from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) continue to stand guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, Va. The Tomb Guards maintain a constant vigil at the Tomb no matter the weather conditions.
(U.S. Army photos by Cpl. Cody W. Torkelson)

1st Lt. Lauran Glover, the first woman drill commander of the U.S. Army Drill Team [USADT], 4th Battalion, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) at a drill performance.

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2016 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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Book About George Washington’s Slaves Pulled

Some apparently well-meaning authors have gotten into hot water relative their depiction of two of First President George Washington’s slaves.

Scholastic Pulls Children’s Book About George Washington And His Slaves After Outcry

The picture book was strongly criticized for its upbeat images and story of Washington’s cook, the slave Hercules and his daughter, Delia.

Scholastic is pulling a new picture book about George Washington and his slaves amid objections it sentimentalizes a brutal part of American history.

“A Birthday Cake for George Washington” was released Jan. 5 and had been strongly criticized for its upbeat images and story of Washington’s cook, the slave Hercules and his daughter, Delia. Its withdrawal was announced Sunday.

“While we have great respect for the integrity and scholarship of the author, illustrator and editor, we believe that, without more historical background on the evils of slavery than this book for younger children can provide, the book may give a false impression of the reality of the lives of slaves and therefore should be withdrawn,” the children’s publisher said in a statement released to the AP.

The book, which depicts Hercules and Delia preparing a cake for Washington, has received more than 100 one-star reviews on Amazon.com. As of Sunday evening, only 12 reviews were positive. The book also set off discussions on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere on social media.

While notes in “A Birthday Cake for George Washington” from author Ramin Ganeshram and illustrator Vanessa Brantley-Newton had pointed out the historical context of the 18th century story and that Hercules eventually escaped, some critics faulted Ganeshram and Brantley-Newton for leaving out those details from the main narrative.

“Oh, how George Washington loves his cake!” reads the publisher’s description of the story. “And, oh, how he depends on Hercules, his head chef, to make it for him. Hercules, a slave, takes great pride in baking the president’s cake. But this year there is one problem — they are out of sugar.”

The trade publication School Library Journal had called it “highly problematic” and recommended against its purchase. Another trade journal, Kirkus Reviews, had labeled the book “an incomplete, even dishonest treatment of slavery.”

In a Scholastic blog post from last week, Ganeshram wrote that the story was based on historical research and meant to honor the slaves’ skill and resourcefulness…

Sunday’s announcement comes amid an ongoing debate about the lack of diversity in publishing, although the collaborators on “A Birthday Cake” come from a variety of backgrounds. Ganeshram is an award-winning journalist and author born to a Trinidadian father and Iranian mother and has a long history of food writing. Her previous works include the novel “Stir It Up” and the nonfiction “FutureChefs.”

Brantley-Newton, who has described herself as coming from a “blended background — African American, Asian, European, and Jewish,” has illustrated the children’s series “Ruby and the Booker Boys” among other books. The editor was Andrea Davis Pinkney, also an author who in 2013 won a Coretta Scott King prize for African-American children’s literature….Read More Here

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2016 in Black History

 

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Travelling During Jim Crow

As a kid growing up during Segregation, I attended a segregated elementary school. My parents were both teachers, and every summer meant an adventure travelling somewhere by car or train to one or the other location across the US. I got to see the Tetons, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and many of the great sights around the country as part of these trips. I recall my parents planning such trips, including stopovers at cities or towns along the way. We often stayed with relatives, if any were located in a town or city along the way, in a reciprocal agreement among family members.

Cruise Boat at Tappahannock Dock

The day of the trip, I remember my Mother always packing a cooler with drinks and food. In Virginia, along the old Rt 1, and a number of other Highways such as Rt 29 heading towards Charlottesville there were frequent pullovers with picnic tables and grills. Since the Restaurants were segregated, these provided places for black families to stop and picnic along the way, such as to avoid unknown towns where there may or may not have been facilities where they were allowed to eat. Travelling out of state, to except the big cities was an exercise in planning to find the “black community area” where there would be Motels and eateries for black folks. There were guides published by several enterprising outfits which listed black owned (and therefore safe) businesses in the various towns and cities. Headed south to my mother’s home, we always stopped in a certain town for gas or food. That town was Taphannock, Virginia – which at one point enjoyed a bustling black owned business environment supported in part by Casino Boats which plied the river.

So there were places to eat, stay, and the local gas station would sell you gas (for the most part).

I never saw a Green Book, but I saw several similar publications during that time. We never traveled South – so I have no idea how conditions were in the Southeast.

 

 

The forgotten way African Americans stayed safe in a racist America

For African American travelers, much of the U.S. could be a hateful and dangerous place, even into the 1960’s.

Jim Crow laws across the South mandated that restaurants, hotels, pool halls and parks strictly separate whites and blacks. Lynchings kept blacks in fear of mob violence. And there were  thousands of so-called “sundown towns,”including in northern states like Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan, which barred blacks after dark, an unofficial rule reinforced by the threat of violence.

So in 1936, a postal worker named Victor Green began publishing a guide to help African American travelers find friendly restaurants, auto shops and accommodations in far-off places. Green dubbed the guide after himself – the “Green Book” – and published it for decades. Green says he was inspired by the Jewish press, which had long published information on restricted places.

The images below come from the New York Public Library, which recently digitized 21 volumes of the Green Book, from 1937 to 1964.

Jim Crow laws across the South mandated that restaurants, hotels, pool halls and parks strictly separate whites and blacks. Lynchings kept blacks in fear of mob violence. And there were thousands of so-called “sundown towns,” including in northern states like Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan, which barred blacks after dark, an unofficial rule reinforced by the threat of violence.

So in 1936, a postal worker named Victor Green began publishing a guide to help African American travelers find friendly restaurants, auto shops and accommodations in far-off places. Green dubbed the guide after himself – the “Green Book” – and published it for decades. Green says he was inspired by the Jewish press, which had long published information on restricted places.

The images above come from the New York Public Library, which recently digitized 21 volumes of the Green Book, from 1937 to 1964.
The Green Book included listings for hotels, restaurants, gas stations, bars and beauty salons across the U.S., as well as travel articles, paid advertisements, and stories about local attractions. The guide first focused on New York, but was gradually expanded to cover the whole U.S. The first edition said on its cover, “Let’s all get together and make motoring better,” while the 1949 edition featured a quote from Mark Twain – “Travel is fatal to prejudice.”

While poverty and discrimination kept many African Americans from owning cars, a new black middle class rose up in the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s, and many of them were eager to escape poor treatment on public transportation.

Yet car ownership came with its own challenges. Many African Americans would pack meals, blankets and gasoline in their cars on trips in case they ended up somewhere where they wouldn’t be served or didn’t want to ask.

Green Books were sold at Esso service stations, one of the few gas station chains that served African Americans. The first edition retailed for a quarter, and Green soon upped the price to 75 cents.

Though the Green Book was a life-saving tool at the time, it’s also a vivid reminder of just how discrimination and prejudice made — and still make — the world much smaller and less free.

Though Green’s list was far from comprehensive, many states have only a handful of listings, and the guesthouses and motels featured in the photos look small and somewhat shabby today.

In the introduction to the 1949 edition, Green writes: “There will be a day sometime in the near future when this guide will not have to be published.”

“That is when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges in the United States. It will be a great day for us to suspend this publication for then we can go wherever we please, and without embarrassment. But until that time comes we shall continue to publish this information for your convenience each year.”

The last edition, published in 1963, was an international edition which described itself as a guide to “vacation without aggravation.” Green died in 1960, and the book gradually lost some relevance after the creation of a national highway system in 1956, which meant travelers no longer ventured as much into cities and towns, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination in hotels, restaurants and other public accommodations…See More including interactive maps here

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2016 in Black History

 

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Globetrotter Legend Meadowlark Lemon

The Harlem Globetrotter star, and favorite of millions of young fans has passed.

Meadowlark Lemon, Harlem Globetrotter Who Played Basketball and Pranks With Virtuosity, Dies at 83

Meadowlark Lemon, whose halfcourt hook shots, no-look behind-the-back passes and vivid clowning were marquee features of the feel-good traveling basketball show known as the Harlem Globetrotters for nearly a quarter-century, died on Sunday in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he lived. He was 83.

The death was confirmed by his wife, Cynthia Lemon.

A gifted athlete with an entertainer’s hunger for the spotlight, Lemon, who dreamed of playing for the Globetrotters as a boy in North Carolina, joined the team in 1954, not long after leaving the Army. Within a few years, he had assumed the central role of showman, taking over from Reece Tatum, whom everyone called Goose, the Trotters’ long-reigning clown prince. Tatum was a superb ballplayer whose on-court gags — or reams, as the players called them — had established the team’s reputation for laugh-inducing wizardry at a championship level.

This was a time, however, when the Trotters were known not merely for their comedy routines and basketball legerdemain; they were also a formidable competitive team. Their victory over the Minneapolis Lakers in 1948 was instrumental in integrating the National Basketball Association, and a decade later their owner, Abe Saperstein, signed a 7-footer out of the University of Kansas to a one-year contract before he was eligible for the N.B.A.: Wilt Chamberlain.

By then, Lemon, who was 6 feet 3 inches and slender, was the team’s leading light, such a star that he played center while Chamberlain played guard.

Lemon was a slick ballhandler and a virtuoso passer, and he specialized in the long-distance hook, a trick shot he made with remarkable regularity. But it was his charisma and comic bravado that made him perhaps the most famous Globetrotter. For 22 years, until he left the team in 1978, Lemon was the Trotters’ ringmaster, directing their basketball circus from the pivot. He imitated Tatum’s reams, like spying on the opposition’s huddle, and added his own.

He chased referees with a bucket and surprised them with a shower of confetti instead of water. He dribbled above his head and walked with exaggerated steps. He mimicked a hitter in the batter’s box and, with teammates, pantomimed a baseball game. And both to torment the opposing team — as time went on, it was often a hired squad of foils — and to amuse the appreciative spectators, he laughed and he teased and he chattered and he smiled; like Tatum, he talked most of the time he was on the court.

The Trotters played in mammoth arenas and on dirt courts in African villages. They played in Rome before the pope; they played in Moscow during the Cold War before the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. In the United States, they played in small towns and big cities, in Madison Square Garden, in high school gyms, in cleared-out auditoriums — even on the floor of a drained swimming pool. They performed their most entertaining ball-handling tricks, accompanied by their signature tune “Sweet Georgia Brown,” on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

Through it all, Lemon became “an American institution like the Washington Monument or the Statue of Liberty” whose “uniform will one day hang in the Smithsonian right next to Lindbergh’s airplane,” as the Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray once described him.

Significantly, Lemon’s time with the Globetrotters paralleled the rise of the N.B.A. When he joined the team, the Globetrotters were still better known than, and played for bigger crowds than, the Knicks and the Boston Celtics. When he left, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were about to enter the N.B.A. and propel it to worldwide popularity. In between, the league became thoroughly accommodating to black players, competing with the Globetrotters for their services and eventually usurping the Trotters as the most viable employer of top black basketball talent.

Partly as a result, the Globetrotters became less of a competitive basketball team and more of an entertainment troupe through the 1960s and ’70s. They became television stars, hosting variety specials and playing themselves on shows like “The White Shadow” and a made-for-TV “Gilligan’s Island” movie; they inspired a Saturday morning cartoon show…Read More Here

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2015 in Giant Negros

 

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