Langston Hughes Legacy Revived Through Arts Collective

So, I’m killing two birds with one stone on this post, actually three because I love doing the most.

Giving much deserved props to my fave poet–Langston Hughes–during National Poetry Month (check).

And featuring an arts collective org launched by Coretta Scott King Award winner. Introducing our other #WCW…Renee Watson.

The New York Times Bestselling author of “Piecing Me Together” was so inspired by Langston Hughes’ work she created “I, Too, Arts Collective” org (a nod to the iconic poem) in the scribe’s own Harlem brownstone.

Yes Ma’am!! The same parlor Langston used his famous typewriter, is now being occupied by kids taking part in African drumming and adult poetry readings.

It’s among the many creative programs offered by the non-profit, whose goal is to foster creativity within Harlem and sustain Langston’s legacy.

“This was a person that didn’t just write about Harlem, but loved Harlem,” Watson told CBS News.

What better way to repay that love affair than preserving the last creative space Langston Hughes worked in.

Through crowd sourcing and using hashtag #LangstonLegacy to get support, Watson was able to lease the brownstone in 2016.

The new goal is getting the collective to buy the building, which should’ve been a museum, anyway.

“There’s stories about Langston sitting in the parlor room with friends, and just talking politics, and talking about art, and we do that here. And so I hope that, yeah, if he knew it was going on, I think he would be proud. I feel like he’s cheering us on,” Watson said.

I am too.

In My DNA: First Black Woman to Grace Canadian Money

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I got, I got, I got, I got/ Loyalty, got royalty inside my DNA/ Cocaine quarter piece, got war and peace inside my DNA/ I got power, poison, pain and joy inside my DNA/ I got hustle though, ambition, flow, inside my DNA

Sorry y’all, I can’t stop singing this Kendrick Lamar joint ever since I heard my cousin is the first Black woman to grace Canada’s $10 banknote.

Naturally, Viola Desmond is our WCW. For not only refusing to leave a white’s only section of a movie theater in the late ‘40s, but more importantly her defiance was the jump off to the civil rights movement, which led to the end of segregation in Nova Scotia.

For not only refusing to leave a white’s only section of a movie theater in the late ‘40s, but more importantly her defiance was the jump off to the civil rights movement, which led to the end of segregation in Nova Scotia.

No wonder out of more than 26,000 submissions, cousin Vi was selected as the Canadian woman reppin the new banknote.

Fair warning this post will be bias as a mofo, but I’m hoping you guys will indulge me in this proud moment.

Viola Desmond did for Canada what Rosa Parks did for us. Only she did it a decade before Rosa. My cuz Vi stumbled upon her role as a civil rights pioneer. Much like Rosa, she was sick and tired of being sick and tired. 

So this is how she landed in textbooks:

In 1946, Vi’s car broke down while traveling and had to stop in New Glasgow to get it fixed. To kill time, she went to the movies.

It was obvi segregated because it’s 1946—whites took the floor seats and Blacks were forced in the balcony section.

There was no way cousin Vi was getting a floor seat, so she paid for the balcony. Yet still sat in the white’s only section. My cousin.

She refused to leave and had to be dragged out of the theater by police. She spent 12 hours in the clink.

Cousin Vi was convicted and ordered to pay what amounted to $26 in fines. She fought the charges up until her death in 1965.

It wasn’t until 2010 the charges were dismissed by Nova Scotia’s first African Lieutenant general. “Here I am, 64 years later – a black woman giving freedom to another black woman,” Mayann Francis told Maclean’s magazine.

Yup that’s called black girl magic. Now get out and spend those Desmond’s.

 

Want to get Read by Viola Davis, Wanda Sykes and Rashida Jones?

These three ladies have enough class and sass to be doling out their own library cards, amirite?

But, when I mean read to, my blinkers, I mean literally read to…with actual books.

Wanda Sykes, Viola Davis and Rashida Jones are the latest celebs to join StoryLine Online, a site chock full of actors (like James Earl Jones, Dule Hill and Betty White) reading–and of course performing–childrens’ books aloud, while the illustrations fill the screen.

There is no cost to see Rashida Jones act like a bee or fear a pop up ad will wreck the flow of Wanda Sykes’ nasally owl impersonation because the SAG-AFTRA Foundation covers the cost to stream more than 40 videos, according to Look to the Stars site.

StoryLine Online, whose aim is to boost literacy, gets over six million views a month from kids, teachers and parents.

The site just introduced a free app for iPhone and Android for access to the full book collection.

There’s nothing like ̶N̶e̶t̶f̶l̶i̶x̶ StoryLine & Chill with your babies, especially if it’s playing detective with Wanda Sykes in “The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake” by Robin Newman.

…Or venturing down South with Viola Davis to see how a family uses music to pull through a crisis in “Rent Party Jazz” by William Miller.

Rashida Jones tells the tale of two unlikely animals (the bear and bee) treating each other fairly in “Please Please the Bees” by Gerald Kelly

Best part? Library cards aren’t required.

‘Luke Cage’ Star Simone Missick Promotes S.T.E.M Education

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Luke Cage’s body may be dipped in the armor of a God (those bulletproof biceps are perfect for shielding a child from harm!) but he’s not the only life-saver.

Misty Knight is the real shero for teaching kids the gems of a S.T.E.M– Science, Technology, Engineering and Math–education at Paley Center’s ‘Stem to Screen’ Q & A event over the weekend.

 

Unlike Misty, whose free ride to college was basketball, Detroit-bred Simone Missick nabbed an engineering scholarship to Howard University.

 

It was the first step toward achieving her dreams.

Although, she was never one to cower from a challenge as she explained to Jet Blame it on growing up in 3-1-3.

“Detroit was where I first did theater, interestingly enough. Just really growing up with such a strong foundation in Black culture, Black history and Black pride made me the woman that I am. I was never ever anywhere in the world where I felt less than because I was Black. I feel like to know who we come from, knowing who my grandmother was, who my mother was as women growing up in Detroit  was so influential to me. And to be able to see my teachers, who were strong successful Black women with a  little sass, bit of humor and loved God.  I mean it’s Black Girl Magic all wrapped up in a Detroit woman.  Then you’ve got the history and soul of Motown wrapped all around that. So, that helps you go into any character.”

Simone emphasized to media students those same roads can be traveled to accomplish their goals.

Who knows maybe a new hero will rise from the ashes.

For now Simone is our WCW.

 

WCW | Rihanna Named Global Ambassador To Foster Education

 

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Hugh Evans, CEO of Global Citizen, with Rihanna and Global Partnership for Education (GPE) chair, Julia Gillard

This may be the cherry on top of Rihanna’s sweet year of accollades.

Someone grab the cake, cake, cake, cake, cake to celebrate. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

The navy’s idol was appointed Global Ambassador through a partnership with her Clara Lionel Foundation and Global Partnership for Education (GPE).

The blending of the two orgs is to advocate for the billions of children across the globe without an education. And the 330 million kids enrolled in a school, but still aren’t learning.

So, how will Rihanna and her crew combat this?

GPE operates in more than 60 developing countries, spreading their message that “every child receive a quality education.” By making children living in poor or ravished communities a priority.

As GPE’s Global Ambassador, Rih Rih will travel the globe to encourage world leaders and policy makers to get behind educating vulnerable children raised in communities in crisis.

The announcement comes on the heels of Rihanna headlining the Global Citizen Festival on Saturday. The festival’s goal is to end extreme poverity by 2030 by getting people to participate in charity acts.

Rihanna is indeed a rare diamond.

IFYouBlinked Woman Crush | Freida Pinto for Nepal Relief

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Freida Pinto lands on our #WCW list because she’s the first celeb–and one of color at that–to contribute to Nepal earthquake relief.

The “Slumdog Millionaire” actress has tapped into her Because I’m a Girl ambassador-ship (a non-profit org that empowers impoverished young girls around the globe to better themselves.) by putting her John Hancock on tennis shoes with proceeds going towards survivors of the Nepal earthquake.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (sorry, no pun intended) you’ve had to hear about the massive quake that hit the South Asian country, resulting in over 8,000 deaths. Because Mother Nature is extra cruel these days, another earthquake–measuring at 7.3–hit a few days ago. Killing 120 people and 2,500 were injured.

The earthquake also killed 78 people from India, where Freida hails from, a neighbor of Nepal.

This isn’t the first time Freida has used her star power to raise awareness about social issues. She’s posted several twitter messages about the “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign and violence against women in the Middle East.

IF YOU BLINKED Women Crush| A.J. Johnson Visits St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital

ajzoneLeading up to women’s month IF You Blinked is highlighting one woman each Wednesday. But not just any woman that’ll make your WCW slot. These ladies are using their wit, charm, intelligence and empathy to make the world a more understanding place.

It’s that sentiment Kayla Mueller left her hometown of Arizona to join the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Syria. Sadly, Kayla, killed while held hostage by ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant) was stripped of her mission for peace.

But it doesn’t mean we can’t finish what she started.

A.J. Johnson is. The Hollywood life coach, best known for consulting Lindsay Lohan on her short-lived reality show Lindsay. And if you really want to dig through the archives, A.J was also Tisha Campbell’s sidekick in the oldie, but goodie House Party.

A.J. is our inaugural Women Crush because she literally lent a hand to the neediest and most vulnerable among us: sick kids.

She visited St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for a “play day with her friends” today.

On Instagram she writes this about her Memphis visit:

“2-Day’s word-SELFLESS! It’s easy to want to do for yourself-like that guarantees your fulfillment? But it’s amazing to realize the REAL fulfillment YOU receive is when your focus is giving…”

And today the empowerment queen concentrated on cheering up toddlers Trip and McKenley.