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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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Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief” Video highlights

Thanks to everyone who joined us for a night of great music and a show of support for the people of Haiti

Posted by: Audiegrl

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President Obama Signs Legislation

President Obama Signs Legislation Providing Immediate Tax Deductions for Haiti Charitable Contributions January 22, 2010.

President Obama Is Making It Easier for Americans to Support Haiti
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In the days since the earthquake in Haiti, Americans have shown their generosity with millions of dollars in donations. Tonight, President Obama signed a bill into law that makes it easier to give. This legislation will allow taxpayers to receive the tax benefit from donations made to the Haiti effort in this tax season, rather than having to wait until they file their 2010 tax returns next year. Specifically, cash donations to charities for the Haitian relief effort given after January 11 and before March 1 of this year may be treated as if the contribution was made on December 31 of last year so that the contribution can be deducted from 2009 income. This measure applies to monetary donations, not goods or services.


Clinton Bush Haiti Relief FundUNICEFAmerican Red Cross

WFP:  World Food ProgrammePartners In Health Oxfam America
Yéle Haiti

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Justice Served: Joyner Wins Great Uncles Posthumous Pardons

Posted by Audiegrl

Tom Joyner’s Falsely Executed Relatives Cleared – 94 Years Later

Syndicated Radio Host Tom Joyner

Syndicated Radio Host Tom Joyner

BlackAmericaWeb.com/Jackie Jones—The South Carolina Parole and Pardons Board has unanimously granted Tom Joyner a posthumous pardon for his great-uncles, Thomas and Meeks Griffin, who were executed in 1915 for a crime they didn’t commit.

Officials believe the men are the first in the state to be posthumously pardoned in a capital murder case.

Joyner, his brother, Albert, and two sons, Thomas and Oscar, were joined by Harvard scholar Henry Louis “Skip” Gates and his legal team in presenting their case. The host of “The Tom Joyner Morning Show” called in to the program right after the decision came down shortly after 9:30 a.m. to inform co-hosts Sybil Wilkes and J. Anthony Brown, along with his nationwide listening audience, who’d been texting their well-wishes for the family all morning.

Tom Joyner and Henry Louis Gates (at left) embrace after being granted posthumous pardons for Joyner's great-uncles.

Tom Joyner and Henry Louis Gates (at left) embrace after being granted posthumous pardons for Joyner's great-uncles.

They did give my uncles a posthumous pardon,” Joyner said. “We’re getting ready to go now for the signing of the pardon letter.”

Joyner had been on a quest to clear his uncles’ names after learning of their story when Gates announced the results of genealogy research conducted on Joyner’s family as part of the 2008 PBS special, “African American Lives II.”

Joyner, with help from Gates and South Carolina attorney Stephen K. Benjamin, put together the case petitioning the state to exonerate his maternal great-uncles.

Joyner holds up the signed pardon

Joyner holds up the signed pardon

The brothers were executed with two other black men for the April 1913 shooting death of John Lewis, 73, a wealthy Confederate veteran living in a town 40 miles north of Columbia.

The Griffin brothers were indicted in July 1913 and given just two days to prepare the case. The family was forced to sell 130 acres of land to finance the defense. Their lawyer sought a delay but the request was denied, leaving just one day to get ready. Later, the state Supreme Court said the denial was insignificant to the outcome of the case.

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African-American Lives 2 – Tom Joyner

africanamericanlivesIIdvdThe video clip below is poignant moment from the documentary where Dr. Gates stuns Joyner by telling him that his great-uncles were electrocuted by the State of South Carolina, for a murder they didn’t commit. Historically, of the 47 people who were put to death in South Carolina between 1912 and 1920, 44 were Black.

Albany Law School professor Dr. Paul Finkelman, who helped with the research on the case, says he’s never seen a case in which so many white public officials and sentences came forward to try to help black men who had been convicted.

The Griffin brothers stand for the thousands of people who are unjustly accused, unjustly convicted,“ he said after the pardon was granted. “It’s not just Tom Joyner’s family. This is a much bigger story and there are other stories that need to be told.”

Related Articles

Put Tom Joyner’s life and ancestry in historical context with the PBS Interactive Historical Timeline

Tom Joyner’s Falsely Executed Relatives Cleared – 94 Years Too Late

SC Board Pardons 2 Black Men Executed 94 Years Ago

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PBS’ Frontline To Premiere ‘Obama’s War’ About Afghanistan War

Warning: This video contains graphic language and imagery and NSFW

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TV Review: ‘The National Parks: America’s Best Idea’ Ken Burns Goes Camping, and Has Photos

Posted by Buellboy and Audiegrl

Horace Albright, then Yellowstone’s superintendent, dining with friends in 1922 in an image from Ken Burns’s series, “The National Parks,” which begins on Sunday on PBS.

Horace Albright, then Yellowstone’s superintendent, dining with friends in 1922 in an image from Ken Burns’s series, “The National Parks,” which begins on Sunday on PBS.


New York Times/Mike Hale—Ken Burns’s new opus for public television, a six-night history of America’s national parks, contains quite a bit of contemporary footage — more than we’re accustomed to from the maker of “The Civil War” and “Jazz.” Along with the usual archival photographs and blurry home movies, there are frequent high-definition color views of the majestic scenery in parks like Yellowstone, Yosemite, Acadia and Denali.

An interesting thing about those images, though: there are no people in them. Also no roads, parking lots, metal railings or refreshment stands. Bears gambol, clouds rush by, but it’s not until the last 10 minutes of this 12-hour documentary that we see contemporary people in the parks (though there are people in the archival images). And then they’re in fast motion, like Keystone Kops capering down the paths, or like those clouds scudding over the Grand Canyon.

There could be thematic reasons for this. One of the central conflicts traced in the film is between the notions of preserving wilderness untouched and preserving it for the recreation and education of as many people as possible. Mr. Burns may be casting a silent vote with his lonely vistas.

But they also reflect a central feature of the Ken Burns aesthetic. Not that he doesn’t like people, exactly. He just doesn’t like mess. Visually and intellectually, he likes order: clear compositions, clear stories, clear heroes and villains. He doesn’t like clutter, and he doesn’t like surprises. (He never met a twist of history that he couldn’t heavily foreshadow a half-hour earlier.)

More @ New York Times

Watch the Video Excerpt: The National Parks, Americas Best Idea Coming
Ken Burns’s latest documentary begins on PBS on Sept. 27.

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Tavis Smiley Named In Racial Wells Fargo Loan Scheme

Posted by Audiegrl

Tavis Smiley @ State Of The Black Union.  Check out the logos behind Tavis.

Tavis Smiley @ State Of The Black Union. Check out the logos behind Tavis.

The Root/The Buzz—Uh oh.

A suit filed by the attorney general of Illinois claims Tavis Smiley and others were used to okey doke folks into high-risk Wells Fargo loans. From the Washington Independent:

As the housing market began booming in mid-2000, Wells Fargo & Co. teamed up with prominent African American commentator and PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley and financial author Kelvin Boston, the host of “Moneywise,” a multicultural financial affairs show, to host something called “Wealth Building” seminars in black neighborhoods.

Smiley was the keynote speaker, and the big draw, according to Boston and Keith Corbett, executive vice president of the Center for Responsible Lending, who attended two of the seminars. Smiley would charge up the audience — and rattle the Wells Fargo executives in attendance — by launching into a story about how he hated banks, and how they used to refuse to lend him money for his real estate projects in Compton, Calif., and elsewhere. After Hurricane Katrina, Smiley also emphasized the importance of building assets and wealth, saying those who had done so were able to leave New Orleans, while people with nothing had to stay behind, Boston said.

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You can also read a piece @ Jack and Jill Politics by The Christian Progressive Liberal entitled The “Outing” of Tavis Smiley

***Update: Prominent author, commentator and PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley has announced that he’s cutting all business ties to Wells Fargo & Co. The move comes in the wake of a TWI story last week about Wells Fargo “Wealth Building” seminars held in black neighborhoods starting in 2005, headlined by Smiley, which a recent lawsuit filed by the Illinois attorney general charged were nothing more than sales pitches for high-rate subprime loans.

Richard Prince reported Friday in his “Journal-isms” column that Smiley said he would sever all ties with Wells Fargo until charges that the company steered minorities into higher-rate loans are resolved.

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