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The President and First Lady Host: In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement

Posted by: Audiegrl

February 9, 2010 marked the beginning of the 2010 White House music series with “In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement” – a concert celebrating Black History month.

Earlier that day, the White House also hosted a “Music that Inspired the Movement” workshop. High school students from across the country participate in a workshop to learn about how music influenced the Civil Rights Movement.

Robert Santelli, the executive director of The GRAMMY Museum, and Smokey Robinson, the legendary Motown singer, will facilitate the workshop with performances by Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, one of the original Freedom Singers in the 1960s who traveled around the country carrying stories in song of local Civil Rights Movement campaigns to national audiences. Other artists participated as well, including: John Legend, John Mellencamp, and Toshi Reagon.

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In the evening, the President and First Lady hosted the “In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement” concert, featuring songs from the Civil Rights Movement as well as readings from famous Civil Rights speeches and writings with participants including Yolanda Adams, Joan Baez, Natalie Cole, Bob Dylan, Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, John Mellencamp, Smokey Robinson, Seal, the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Howard University Choir and The Freedom Singers, featuring Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, Rutha Harris, Charles Neblett, Toshi Reagon and more. Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Queen Latifah and Joanne Woodward will be guest speakers.

“The civil rights movement was a movement sustained by music,” Obama said as he welcomed his audience.

He said activists from coast to coast were inspired by spirituals, felt their will sharpened by protest songs and base broadened by artists of hope. He said their work paved the way toward a more just America that allowed him to make history in 2008 with his election.

“Tonight, we celebrate the music of the movement,” Obama said.

Singer Yolanda Adams’ moving rendition of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” was an early highlight of a night filled with amazing performances.

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The celebration was supposed to come on Wednesday, but faced with another major winter storm the White House decided to move the concert ahead by a day to beat what could be a second crippling snowfall in a week. As guests packed the first floor of the executive mansion, heavy snow landed on the South Lawn and blanketed the rest of Washington.

Morgan Freeman

Actor and activist Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman, who read excerpts from historical works throughout the night, harkened back to the song lyrics Obama invoked during his election-night victory speech in Chicago’s Grant Park.

“A long time coming,” Freeman said.

He later deadpanned: “I wish I could sing.”

Obama said the music helped the movement’s faith as their leaders were jailed and their churches bombed.

“It’s hard to sing when times are rough,” Obama said. “The hymns helped … advance the cause of the nation.”

The concert was to be televised at 8 p.m. Thursday on public broadcasting stations nationwide as part of the “In Performance at the White House” series. National Public Radio also planned a one-hour concert special from the event to be broadcast nationwide on NPR stations beginning Friday.

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TRMS Explores Literacy Tests in Our Nations Voting History

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Rachel Maddow ShowMSNBC’s Rachel Maddow reviews the history of how “literacy tests” were used to prevent Black people from voting in America and why Tom Tancredo’s opening speech to the Tea Party convention calling for the return of those tests is so abhorrent. Harvard Law School professor Charles Ogletree shares his insights on racism in the United States.

This clip caught my attention, because as Rachel pointed out, this is not ancient history, the Voting Rights bill was passed in 1965, when I was three years old. The topic also reminded me of a story my parents told me. But a little background first. Although, they came to Northern Illinois in 1942, the first election they were ‘allowed’ to vote in, was for President John F. Kennedy. Seriously… They were not in the Southern states that Rachel mentioned, but in the North. I’m not sure all the literacy tests they were given, except for one. My mother was given the task to name all of Shakespere’s sonnets. She didn’t pass that test, so she was not allowed to vote.

When they voted for President Kennedy, they went as a group from the American Legion, because my father served honorably in World War II. My Great-Uncle also went with him that day, he served honorably in World War I. Amazingly although both were veterans, this was the first vote for both of them, and they sure were proud. 🙂

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Award Winning Actor Robert DeNiro to Play Governor George Wallace in ‘Selma’

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Alabama Gov. George Wallace stands at the entrance of Foster Auditorium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., 1963

Deadline Hollywood is reporting that Robert DeNiro has been cast as Alabama Governor George Wallace in director Lee Daniels’ (Precious) upcoming civil rights film, “Selma“, which is about the 1965 march in Alabama that was “the political and emotional peak of the civil rights movement.”

Robert Deniro

Award-winning Actor Robert DeNiro

Wallace was the controversial political figure known for his Southern populist pro-segregation attitudes. He famously said in his 1963 inauguration speech, “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

To stop desegregation by the enrollment of African-American students Vivian Malone and James Hood at the University of Alabama, Wallace stood in front of Foster Auditorium on June 11, 1963, until federal marshals, Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, and the Alabama National Guard forced him to step aside. (see clip below)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led marches between Selma and Montgomery, Alabama to protest Wallace’s unwillingness to give African-Americans their rights. The violence against peaceful marchers led to a famous statement by President Lyndon B. Johnson that ultimately led to the signing of the Civil Rights Act.

President Lyndon B. Johnson meets with Civil Rights leaders Martin Luther King, Jr., Whitney Young and James Farmer on January 18, 1964

Some of the other key roles that need to be cast in Daniels’ film include President Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther King, Jr.

ComingSoon.net did an brief interview with Daniel’s last October, and discussing the film, he said, “It’s a moment in time in Martin Luther King and LBJ’s (life) around the signing of the Civil Rights.

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In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement

Posted by: Audiegrl

A concert celebrating Black History month

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Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah

So On February 10th, President Obama and First Lady Michelle will host In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement. The concert will be held in the State Dining Room, and is timed to celebrate Black History Month.

So far participants include Natalie Cole, Bob Dylan, Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, John Mellencamp, Smokey Robinson, Seal, the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Howard University Choir and others. It will be hosted by Morgan Freeman and Queen Latifah, and will feature songs associated with the civil rights movement as well as readings from famous civil rights speeches.

The President will make opening remarks and the concert will be streamed live on www.whitehouse.gov starting at 5:15 p.m. ET. The concert will be televised on Feb. 11 at 8:00 p.m. ET on PBS stations. In addition, NPR will produce a one-hour special from the event to air on its stations throughout February.

Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman

As part of this special event, Mrs. Obama will host “Music that Inspired the Movement,” a workshop that several of the event’s performers will lead for 120 high school students from across the country on Wednesday, February 10th from 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. ET. The students will come to learn about the continuing relevance of music from the Civil Rights Movement to today’s generation and its original impact in the 1960s. This event will be streamed live on www.whitehouse.gov and students all over the country will be invited to watch and engage in the workshop.

First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off the White House Music Series last year with a Jazz Studio, and since then has hosted a celebration of Country Music, a Fiesta Latina and a celebration of Classical Music. Many of these events included evening performances as well as daytime educational workshops designed to educate and inspire talented young people to use their gifts to develop a future for themselves in the arts community whether as a hobby or as a profession.

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Miami Serves on Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend

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Town Park Village, a residential complex in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami, will welcome seven hundred volunteers to landscape and green the community as a way of honoring the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr.

This January 16th event is only the latest in a series of projects that Hands On Miami has coordinated in Overtown, one of Miami’s most underserved communities. Last year, Hands On Miami helped to create and furnish two community centers for the seniors and young people of Town Park Village, and two kindergarten classrooms at the neighboring charter school, among several other projects.

In honor of MLK Day, the volunteers at Town Park Village will tackle a variety of projects, including landscaping and “greening” the complex. Volunteers will landscape the areas between buildings and create community gardens, revitalize the buildings by adding fresh coats of paint to the numbers on the homes and buildings and add murals to the local school. In an effort to help make the community more environmentally friendly, the volunteers will work to add trashcans between every building, include rain barrels in the gardens, and change every porch light to an energy efficient light bulb.

In addition to revitalizing the housing complex, the volunteers will also help the community’s residents by providing each household in Town Park Village with first aid kits. Every elementary school age child in the Overtown community will also receive a school care kit to replenish the school supplies they received in August.

This is just an example of the many service projects taking place across the country in honor of the Jan. 18 MLK Day of Service – to find other volunteer opportunities like this one and have an impact in your community, visit serve.gov/MLKDay.

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White House Plans To Push For Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal

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DADT Repeal: Democrats Move Forward With Plans

Huffington Post/Sam Stein~Congressional negotiators and White House officials are moving forward with plans to add the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell to the upcoming defense authorization bill, Democratic sources tell the Huffington Post.

In Congress, members are being whipped to ensure that the votes will be there for passage, should the legislation be placed in the bill. At this juncture, aides say, the prospects look good. Meanwhile, a source close to the White House says the president has instructed the Defense Department that he believes the repeal of DADT should be placed in the authorization bill.

However, disagreements could emerge when it comes to crafting the actual legislative language, over which Defense Secretary Robert Gates will wield his influence. And at this juncture, few of the offices working on the issue said they were willing to take passage as a fait accompli.

People have said publicly and privately that this is a good place for repeal to be placed,” said one Democratic aide on the Hill. “It would be reasonable to expect that repeal might be in this year’s defense authorization… But we aren’t assuming anything yet.”

Lt. Dan Choi is an Iraq war veteran, Arabic speaker and West Point graduate who is fighting his dismissal from the Army National Guard for violating the military's DADT policy


If repeal of DADT is added to the defense authorization bill, critics of the program will view it as a long-overdue move. The initial law, in which members of the military weren’t asked about their sexuality nor allowed to serve openly, was passed as part of the defense authorization for FY1994. Since then, a delicate balance — which no particular side of the debate appreciated — has been the law of the land. As a result, thousands of military personnel have hidden their sexuality from their superiors and even more have been dismissed for making their sexuality public.

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44-D’s Impact Diaries: How Will You Answer Dr. King’s Question?

Posted by: Audiegrl



The Corporation for National and Community Service shares a wonderful story of how Miami residents are coming together to green and beautify their community to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Miami project is just one example of how people are coming together to serve their communities as part of January 18th’s MLK Day of Service. To find service projects in your community, visit serve.gov/MLKDay.

How will you answer Dr. King’s question?

On January, 18, 2010, people of all ages and backgrounds will come together to improve lives, bridge social barriers, and to move our nation closer to the “Beloved Community” that Dr. King envisioned. Dr. Martin Luther King devoted his life’s work to causes of equality and social justice. He taught that through nonviolence and service to one another, problems such as hunger and homelessness, prejudice and discrimination can be overcome. Dr. King’s teachings can continue to guide us in addressing our nation’s most pressing needs—poverty, economic insecurity, job loss and education.

Please volunteer with Americans across the nation on the 2010 King Day of Service and make a real in difference in your community. Fueled by President Obama’s call to service, the 2009 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service experienced a historic level of participation, as Americans across the country honored Dr. King by serving their communities on the January 19 King Holiday. In total, more than 13,000 projects took place — the largest ever in the 14 years since Congress encouraged Americans to observe the King Holiday as a national day of service and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service with leading this national effort.

Thousands volunteered to prepare care packages for troops stationed in Iraq during Serve DC's Operation Gratitude project for the 2009 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service in Washington, DC.

How to You Can Serve

2010 MLK Day Technology Challenge

We are calling on educators and web professionals to join our new effort – the 2010 MLK Day Technology Challenge. The idea is simple: to connect schools with technology needs to IT and web professionals, developers, graphic designers and new media professionals who are willing to volunteer their skills for good, take on these technology projects and give back to a school in need. Learn more.

MLK Day Resources

Everything you need to plan a King Day project – including tips on getting started, building partnerships, organizing the day, and fundraising. You’ll also find a service-learning guide for schools and organizations, project examples, and marketing tools to help promote your project.

For more information…

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Houston Swears In First Openly Gay Mayor Annise Parker

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Houston Mayor-elect Annise Parker, center, celebrates with her partner Kathy Hubbard, left, Parker's runoff election victory at a campaign party on December 13, 2009 in Houston.


Annise Parker leads supporters at a campaign event

Annise Parker (born May 17, 1956, Houston, Texas) is a Houston-area politician, the Mayor-elect of Houston, and the current Controller of the City of Houston, which is a position second only to that of Mayor. Previously, she served as an at-large member of the Houston City Council since 1997. Parker was victorious in her run for controller in 2003. She ran unopposed in 2005 and 2007; as of December 2009, she is into her final term.

Parker placed first in the November 2009 mayoral election, but failed to capture a majority of the vote. She decisively defeated attorney Gene Locke, the second-place candidate, in the December runoff. Upon taking office as mayor in January, Parker will be the highest-ranking municipal official in the LGBT community of the United States. (from Wikipedia)

Annise Parker sworn in as Mayor of the city of Houston – January 4, 2010. Houston becomes the largest American city with an openly-Gay Mayor

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Houston Is Largest City to Elect Openly Gay Mayor

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Houston Mayor-elect Annise Parker, center, celebrates with her partner Kathy Hubbard, left, Parker's runoff election victory at a campaign party on December 13, 2009 in Houston.


New York Times/James C. McKinley Jr.—Houston became the largest city in the United States to elect an openly gay mayor on December 13, 2009, as voters gave a solid victory to the city controller, Annise Parker.

Cheers and dancing erupted at Ms. Parker’s campaign party as her opponent, Gene Locke, a former city attorney, conceded defeat just after 10 p.m. when it became clear he could not overcome her lead.

Twenty minutes later, Ms. Parker appeared before ecstatic supporters at the city’s convention center and then joked that she was the first graduate of Rice University to be elected mayor. (She is, by the way.) Then she grew serious.

Tonight the voters of Houston have opened the door to history,” she said, standing by her partner of 19 years, Kathy Hubbard, and their three adopted children. “I acknowledge that. I embrace that. I know what this win means to many of us who never thought we could achieve high office.”

With all precincts reporting, Ms. Parker, the city controller, had defeated Mr. Locke 53 percent to 47 percent.

Annise Parker, the city controller, arriving at her election night party.

Throughout the campaign, Ms. Parker tried to avoid making an issue of her sexual orientation and emphasized her experience in overseeing the city’s finances. But she began her career as an advocate for gay rights in the 1980s, and it was lost on no one in Houston, a city of 2.2 million people, that her election marked a milestone for gay men and lesbians around the country.

Several smaller cities in other regions have chosen openly gay mayors, among them Providence, R.I., Portland, Ore., and Cambridge, Mass. But Ms. Parker’s success came in a conservative state where voters have outlawed gay marriage and a city where a referendum on granting benefits to same-sex partners of city employees was soundly defeated.

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Statement by Mayor-Elect Parker:

To my Friends, Supporters and all Houstonians,

In this campaign, I met many Houstonians.

I met fathers worried about finding a good job. I met mothers worried about crime. I met young men and women who only want a chance for a good education. Families worried about taxes. Homeowners who just want to protect the neighborhood they love. Hear me: the city is on your side.

I learned about the problems and the needs and the hopes of our city at the neighborhood level, where families work and live. This election has changed the world for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, just as this election is about transforming Houstonians’ lives for the better.

Let us begin from this moment to join as one community, united in the goal of making Houston the city it could be, should be, can be and will be. That’s what this city will be about under my administration.

Houston is a city that invites entrepreneurs – and shelters evacuees. A diverse city. A city built on dreams powered by hard work, creativity, common sense and cooperation.

Public service is a noble calling, and I appreciate that Gene Locke was willing to answer this call. He is a man who has been deeply involved in our community for many years and I hope he will continue to serve Houston. I wish for him and his family the very best.

Let me close by saying that while this is an exciting night, it is also a humbling experience. Our citizens deserve our best effort and I pledge to give them an administration that values honesty, integrity and transparency above all else. My administration will be concerned with only one interest: the public good.

Thank you so much. Together, we will make a difference.

Annise Parker leads supporters at a campaign event

Annise Parker (born May 17, 1956, Houston, Texas) is a Houston-area politician, the Mayor-elect of Houston, and the current Controller of the City of Houston, which is a position second only to that of Mayor. Previously, she served as an at-large member of the Houston City Council since 1997. Parker was victorious in her run for controller in 2003. She ran unopposed in 2005 and 2007; as of December 2009, she is into her final term.

Parker placed first in the November 2009 mayoral election, but failed to capture a majority of the vote. She decisively defeated attorney Gene Locke, the second-place candidate, in the December runoff. Upon taking office as mayor in January, Parker will be the highest-ranking municipal official in the LGBT community of the United States. (from Wikipedia)

Note: Though the race for Houston mayor is strictly non-partisan, she identifies as a Democrat, as did her opponent, Gene Locke.

Annise Parker sworn in as Mayor of the city of Houston – January 4, 2010. Houston becomes the largest American city with an openly-Gay Mayor

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It’s a Helluva State by Cynthia Nixon

Op-ed by Cynthia Nixon

Cynthia Nixon and her girlfriend, Christine Marinoni

HP/Cynthia Nixon—My girlfriend and I want to get married. Only thing is: it’s not legal in NY State, where we live. So we started doing everything we could think of to reverse that. Including going up to Albany this past spring with two of our politico friends to speak to some Senators — Democratic and Republican — who were on the fence on the issue.

Wednesday’s No vote on same sex marriage was supremely disappointing on a personal as well as a political level. Guess Christine and I can kiss that Waldorf Astoria wedding… Brooklyn Botanical Gardens wedding… Montauk Beach wedding — you fill in the blank — goodbye. But we have two things today we didn’t have yesterday.

The first thing we have is clarity about who’s with us and who’s against us. And we’ll remember those yays and nays for next November and for Novembers to come. And there will be consequences.

The second thing is a new ally. Her name is Ruth Hassell-Thompson. She is a Senator from the Bronx and Mt Vernon and she is fierce.

State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D-Bronx/Westchester)

State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D-NY)

Our gang of four met with her last spring and she explained to us in depth, over a long and respectful meeting why she thought she was going to vote no on gay marriage. Senator Hassell-Thompson is deeply religious. She felt strongly that marriage always has been and always should be the union between a man and a woman.

But she is a careful, thoughtful person and you could see her weighing the issue again and again in her mind. And in her considering she stumbled across something in her personal experience that began to change her perspective.

She spoke about how her mother had been a deacon in their church at a time when previously only men had been deacons. And how controversial that had been. And how vehemently many people opposed her mother’s appointment. And how none of those opposed could give any explanation for why her mother becoming a deacon was wrong, just that it was. Because it was new. Because it was shocking. Because it was an idea that took people a little time to get used to.

On Wednesday Ruth Hassell-Thompson voted yes.

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