Tag Archives: History

First Lady Michelle Obama Meets With 11 Black History Month Essay Winners from England

Posted by: Audiegrl

First Lady Michelle Obama talks with students from London February 18, 2010 at the White House in Washington, DC. Students from schools in the borough of Islington were rewarded with a trip to the United States sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in London. In April 2009, Mrs. Obama visited the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in Islington. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

AP~First Lady Michelle Obama has given a pep talk to visiting students from England, saying they have shown they aren’t afraid of hard work that will take them somewhere in life.

Mrs. Obama met with the group of 11 students at the White House on Thursday. They are from schools across the London borough of Islington and were rewarded with the trip to the U.S. for winning a Black History Month essay competition.

She urged them to make the most of this time. She called it “practice for the rest of your life.”

First Lady Michelle Obama hugs Sahar Abdulrahman as she greets students

One girl is a student at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in Islington. Mrs. Obama spoke at the school during a visit to London last.

From the pool report: First Lady Michelle Obama hosted 11 school students – six girls, five boys – from schools across the London borough of Islington, in the Old Family Dining Room on Thursday morning.

The kids won an Islington Black History Month essay competition and were rewarded with the trip, sponsored by the US Embassy in London.

They sat around an oval-shaped wooden table, decorated with two glass bowls of shiny apples), nervously waiting for Flotus to arrive. Four teachers/adults sat on the side and one asked your pool to desist from asking questions, saying the kids were very excited and wanted to compose themselves.

Flotus entered at 11:03 and said “Hi everybody!” Then proceeded to go around the table and hug all the kids. How are you all doing? “Tell me about your trip. When did you get here?” she asked as she sat at the table.

She welcomed the kids and told them about the room they were in, saying the president hosted the king of Spain here the previous day. Oohs and aahs.

Flotus visited the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in Islington in April 2009. One of the girls visiting today – Nanah Davies – is from that school and Flotus patted her on the back as she described that that visit was one of the highlights of her first year.

We’re living in a wonderful time where if you work hard… The opportunities are endless. That was true for me. Never did I realize that everything I did before would prepare me for being First Lady, but it did,” she said, stressing the importance of working hard at school.

Said that you don’t just wake up and be someone, says you have to work to become someone. Said her husband didn’t just wake up one day as president.

You’re going to trip and fall and slip along the way – he (the president) certainly did, I slipped a little less – don’t be afraid to be wrong, to get a few things wrong, but you’re learning, it’s all practice.”

Flotus encouraged them all to help other people, act as mentors.

Curtly Meijas talked about his essay, about his grandmother who emigrated from Trinidad to the UK.

The students were going on a tour of the White House afterwards.

The students attending were:

  • Abdul Hakim Abdullahi
  • Malcolm Atrobah
  • Degol Tesfai
  • Curtly Mejias
  • Care Ceven
  • Shenece Liburd
  • Ann Kirabo
  • Layla Mohamud
  • Sahar Adbulrahman
  • Nanah Colly Davies
  • Boji Alexandre Weirsangera

Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our brand new section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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Filed under Black History Month, Change, Culture, Education, First Lady Michelle Obama, History, Holidays, Media and Entertainment, Students, Teachers, Uncategorized, Young Men, Young Women

Little-Known Black History Fact: Clarence Otis Jr.

Posted by BuellBoy

Clarence Otis Jr.

Clarence Otis Jr.

Clarence Otis Jr. has become a household name in America. Well, families at least talk about and visit his chain of restaurants every day of the week.

Since 2004, Otis, 53, has served as the chief executive officer of Darden Restaurants – which includes Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Longhorn Steakhouse, The Capitol Grille and Bahama Breeze restaurants – and he is Black. It is the world’s largest company that owns and operates its own restaurants.

Business leaders have called Otis “the Barack Obama of the business world.”

Though they use them in his restaurants, Otis wasn’t raised with a silver spoon in his mouth. He grew up in Watts in the 1960’s, born to a father who dropped out of school and worked as a janitor, and a mother who was a homemaker. Otis was nine years old when the riots broke out in his neighborhood, killing 34 and injuring 1,000 residents. He watched friends turn to gangs for comfort, and a few perished. Fighting was inevitable for Otis, but he was tough. His father once said that his son would occasionally get into fights at school, but would never come home beat up.

Otis found his peace and strength at the library. His father would often drive the family through Beverly Hills to show them what was obtainable to them if they worked and studied hard. He gained a philosophy of appreciating people with passion and allowing others to be leaders around him.

As a result, Otis ranks high among the few African-American CEOs of Fortune 500 companies in America. He earned his bachelors from Williams College, then a law degree from Stanford. After hitting Wall Street, he got on board with several large companies, eventually landing at Darden Restaurants. Now, instead of serving customers as a waiter in an LAX airport restaurant, he’s serving 400 million meals worldwide through his 180,000 employees.

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Black History Month…Re-Imagined

Thoughts by WillieBeyond

I know February is Black history month, but I feel during this month a lot of the focus is on the past, that is very distant from the present.  Not that this history isn’t important, but I feel as we talk about the past we forget some of the things we are doing in the present.  Everyone one will say the greatest thing to happen in Black history recently, would be the election of President Barack Obama. I have mixed feelings about that statement.  This post isn’t about recognizing what will be in a book fifty years from now, but more about realizing the important events that have happened that won’t be recorded.  I would like to have Black History Month changed to Black Culture Appreciation Month or something like that.  I feel a lot of the troubles people get into is because they can only think of the good times of the past, but not of the silver lining in the clouds of the present.  Remember, segregation was no joke, but now we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King because segregation isn’t legal now (kinda sorta, depends on who you ask).  So lets think of the things that are happening now.

One of the things I feel should be marked and mention this Black Awareness Month (yeah, I like the sound of that) is Dave Chappelle.  Now before anyone gets upset, I am not one of those people who looks to celebrities, as a guideline for how to be happy.  Chappelle just happens to be a really good person to remember for one major reason.  Now we can all Wikipedia the info on Dave Chappelle, but I want us all to think of his actions.  The one I am mostly referencing is his decision to not do a Season 3.  He had the number one show and it was rising, but he stepped away for ethical reasons. I think that should be something that is marked down in history.  Everyone presented his refusal to do Season 3 as either a smart business move to make more money, or as just stupid and an effect of his mind spiraling out of control.  No one said it could just be for him wanting a better place to work (in an “I can sleep a night kind of way”).  Here is someone who had the integrity to step back and go “I don’t want to work at a place where I can’t feel good.”)

I think this action speaks louder than anything else as far as personal standards in my lifetime.  And yes I know Jerry Seinfeld also quit when his show was on the top.  But the huge difference in my mind is Chappelle had a wider resume than Seinfeld and Seinfeld was starting to peak, while Chappelle was still rising (look at season 4 and 5 of Seinfeld and tell me season 9 was as good).  But what do I know, it is just my opinion.  Also, because it doesn’t really matter, I feel I should take this time to point out Chappelle is a Muslim.  That’s right all you people who say Islam and Muslim is bad and yell out I’m Rick James (you know it…don’t lie to yourself) you were laughing a Muslim’s man sense of humor.  Also I don’t want this to be a thing where we forget about the person.  Yes, Dave Chappelle is a Muslim, yes he made us all laugh in one way or the other, and yes he got paid, but most importantly he is a man with a family.  He never let that escape his thought process. He is a man who has to live with himself, and that is what makes him one of my role models.

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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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Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our brand new section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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Shoshana Johnson Pens Her Story In “I’m Still Standing”

Posted by guest contributor: Shanti

Shoshana Johnson poses for a picture in New York, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010

Shoshana Johnson poses for a picture in New York, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010 (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

“In March of 2003, when Operation Iraqi Freedom was only days old, world headlines were made when a U.S. army convoy was attacked in the city of An-Nasiriyah en route to Baghdad. Several soldiers were killed and others were taken prisoner.

Jessica Lynch became the face and name associated with this tragedy, but another female soldier, Shoshana Johnson, was also wounded and captured in the ambush. A video of Shoshana being interrogated by her captors was soon broadcast on Spanish-language television and then picked up by American media. Shoshana had become the first black female prisoner of war in United States history. She was held for twenty-two days.

When Shoshana returned to the United States, she received numerous awards for her valor, including the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Prisoner of War medals. She appeared on news networks and national television shows such as Oprah, Ellen, The Tonight Show, and Larry King Live, but she was bound by a military gag order. She was unable to discuss what really happened in Iraq — until now.

Shoshana holds nothing back in this harrowing account of an ordinary woman caught in an extraordinary circumstance. She reveals decisions made by higher-ups that may have led to the capture, describes the pain of post-traumatic stress disorder, and shares the surprising story of how a specialist in a maintenance company ended up on the front lines of war.

Divulging personal emotions and frustrations while raising fresh political issues, I’m Still Standing is the never-before-told and much anticipated story of the headline-making ambush, capture, and rescue described with the exceptional bravery and candor of a single mom and soldier who became an American hero. Source

CNN’s Larry King Live ~ Transcript of Interview with Shoshana Johnson aired February 2, 2010

KING: We welcome Shoshana Johnson back to LARRY KING LIVE. She is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. She and other members of the 507th Maintenance Company were taken captive March 23, 2003. She was held prisoner 22 days. Author of a terrific new book I’m Still Standing; From Captive US Soldier to Free Citizen, My Journey Home.”

Before we get into this, what do you make of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell controversy?

SHOSHANA JOHNSON, FORMER POW: Silly. If men and women want to serve in our military, I really don’t care who they want to sleep with. It’s all about serving your country.

KING: So you would repeal it?

JOHNSON: Yes, definitely.

KING: It’s been seven years since you were a POW. Do you think about it a lot?

I'm Still Standing by Shoshana JohnsonJOHNSON: Still. Very much so. The conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq is still in the media, so it’s hard to forget.

KING: How were you caught?

JOHNSON: During an ambush, vehicles were disabled. Basically, it seemed like the whole city of Nazariyah came out and participated in the ambush. I was shot and — shot and caught, basically.

Read the entire transcript here
Read a sample chapter

Shoshana Johnson tells her side of the story to Matt Lauer of The Today Show

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Shoshana Johnson actually said she wanted to tell her story, because there were a lot of distortions and half truths about the details of her capture. She wanted to set the record straight. I appreciate Shoshana’s resolve and passion for not only surviving the trauma of being a POW, but her courage and drive to THRIVE.~Shanti

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A Star Is Born

Written by: BlueDog89


One of the brightest stars to appear on the Hollywood scene in 1929 was a golden knight gripping his mighty sword while standing atop a reel of film with five spokes. His greatest role has been to honor outstanding achievements in filmmaking. His name is Oscar®.

For one of the most recognized trophies the world over, the statuette’s dimensions are not nearly as imposing as the overwhelming emotions experienced by the individuals honored by a nomination or receiving the award itself. Oscar® is a mere 13 ½” and weighing 8 ½ lbs., standing regally atop a base of a film reel. The five spokes displayed on the black base represent the original branches of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences®: Actors, Writers, Directors, Producers, and Technicians.

Cedric Gibbons and Dolores del Rio

Cedric Gibbons and Dolores del Rio

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s chief art director Cedric Gibbons was responsible for the design of the trophy. Gibbons’ wife, actress Delores del Rio, introduced him to Mexican film director Emilio “El Indio” Fernandez to pose for the original sketches. Sculptor George Stanley, renowned for designing the Muse Fountain at the Hollywood Bowl, sculpted Gibbons’ sketches and Sachin Smith cast the statuette in 92.5% tin and 7.5% copper and then gold-plated it. The only addition to Oscar since its original design was a minor streamlining of the base.

The original award presented at early ceremonies was gold-plated solid bronze. The statuette’s material changed over the years, such as during World War II, when there was a metal shortage, and the Oscars® were made of painted plaster. Once the war was over, wartime recipients were allowed to redeem their plaster figurines for gold-plated metal figures. Today Oscar® is constructed of gold-plated britannium on a black metal base rendered in an Art Deco style.

The Academy® initially named the statuette the Academy Award of Merit®, however Oscar® is what it’s most known for. Many rumors surround how the nickname of Oscar came about. One of the most well known is that of Bette Davis saying that the award resembled her first husband, band leader Harmon Oscar Nelson. Davis supposedly mentioned the term Oscar® when she received her Best Actress award for Dangerous in 1935. Walt Disney was rumored to use the moniker in 1932, and Time magazine made mention of Oscar® in 1934. The Authorized Version from the Academy® is based on a popular story about an Academy® librarian who remarked that the statuette resembled her Uncle Oscar. The Academy® officially adopted the nickname in 1939. However the name came about, it stuck. And many people today often refer to the award ceremony as The Oscars®.

From left to right: Douglas Fairbanks Sr., D.W. Griffith, Mary Pickford, and Charles Chaplin, around the time they founded United Artists in 1919

From left to right: Douglas Fairbanks Sr., D.W. Griffith, Mary Pickford, and Charles Chaplin, around the time they founded United Artists in 1919

The first Academy Awards®, hosted by actor Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and screenwriter/director from the silent film era William C. DeMille, were presented on May 16, 1929, at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, and lasted a mere 15 minutes. This was the only Academy Award® ceremony not to be broadcast either on radio or television. This was also the first and only year that the Academy® recognized two best pictures and the only time that winners were recognized for more than one movie. It was also the only time a silent movie reached best picture status.

Wings, Best Picture winner 1927

Wings, Best Picture winner 1927

Films that had been released between August 1, 1927 and July 31, 1928 were eligible for awards. Unlike later ceremonies, awards could be granted to an actor or director for multiple works within a year. The movie Wings, which starred the popular silent film star Clara Bow, won Best Picture, while Emil Jannings won Best Actor for two separate roles and Janet Gaynor won Best Actress for three separate roles. There were two Best Director Awards, Lewis Milestone won for Best Comedy and Frank Borzage won for Best Dramatic Picture.

Two special awards were also presented that night. One to Warner Brothers for producing The Jazz Singer and one to Charlie Chaplin for writing, acting, directing and producing The Circus.

Yet today, no matter what you call the glam evening of a 1,000 stars or the gleaming knight holding a crusader’s sword, it all represents the best in Motion Picture achievement. Only now The Oscars® come complete with bright lights, designer dresses, and the all-important red carpet.

It may be a little different from what the early founders of the Academy® had in mind; but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

44-D’s Virtual Red Carpet to the Oscars® Main PageBack to 44-D’s Virtual Red Carpet to the Oscars® Main Page

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

Posted by: Audiegrl

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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