Tag Archives: rights

Celebrating International Women’s Day: From Kabul to Washington, DC

Posted by: Audiegrl

Written by Mozhdah Jamalzadah

Mozhdah Jamalzadah

Mozhdah Jamalzadah

In August 2009, I performed at the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, DC in celebration of Afghan Independence Day. At that event, I met Mr. Tim Nusraty, an Afghan-American who now works at the National Security Council at the White House. Many months later, Mr. Nusraty recommended me to perform at the White House on March 8, 2010 for International Women’s Day. When I learned that I was selected to perform, it was the second happiest day of my life. The first was the day I met President Barack Obama and his beautiful wife First Lady Michelle Obama. I have to say that meeting the President, the First Lady, and performing at the White House was surreal. I never thought in a million years that this dream would come true.

As an Afghan girl born in Kabul, Afghanistan and raised in Vancouver, Canada, I have made it my duty to fight for women’s rights and to promote education in Afghanistan. I decided that more than anything else, music would be the best way to do this. It was a long-term goal, and it involved a lot of time, dedication, and hard work, not to mention the many obstacles I would have to face to get there. I had never sung professionally in my life, and decided to start from scratch at the BC Conservatory of Music. Today, my lyrics are heard by millions of people throughout Afghanistan and the region.

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The song that I sang at the White House on March 8th was composed by my father and me to remember the young Afghan girls who were doused with acid in Kandahar City last year for going to school. The lyrics to the song are very powerful. Below is the translation to the lyrics of the Afghan song:

Afghan Girl

I’m a girl, I am an Afghan girl
I’m the daughter of the land of braves
Don’t break my wings, let me fly
Don’t break my crown, let me think
I want to be as free as a gazelle
I love my homeland just as Malali did
Sing my songs just like a nightingale in the gardens
Express myself the same as Zainab, Nazo, and Mehri in poetry
Don’t break my wings, let me fly
Don’t break my crown, let me think
I’ve a smile on my face like a flower
And live in open green fields
My heart is filled with love for my homeland
I’ll sing songs and poems for my land

Words can’t describe what I felt when I was standing in the East Room performing at the White House. I was so grateful. I now believe that dreams can come true and goals can be reached. My mother was with me during the performance and was more than lucky to sit next to the First Lady. Halfway through my performance I noticed Mrs. Obama holding my mother’s hand and I was so happy I almost forgot my lyrics. The First Lady is such an inspiration to women around the world, and I am thankful we have such an amazing role model.

Later that day after my performance, I was approached by Afghan media, and they all told me in great excitement that I had made history in Afghanistan and that never in the history of Afghanistan had there been a performance at the White House by an Afghan artist. Even the Afghan journalists who interviewed me became very emotional. I didn’t realize the impact my performance at the White House would have on my Afghan people. Recently I was offered to host my own show on 1TV in Kabul, Afghanistan. This show focuses on family matters, women’s issues, and the treatment of children. I jumped at the opportunity and moved back to Kabul. 1TV is the platform for me to spread awareness for the women of Afghanistan.

Thank you President Obama and Madame First Lady for this amazing opportunity. I would also like to thank Afghan Ambassador Jawad, Ms. Columbia Barrosse, and Mr. Nusraty.

Mozhdah Jamalzadah is an Afghan singer, entertainer and model from Kabul, Afghanistan

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Filed under Afghanistan, Music, Uncategorized, Video/YouTube, Women's Issues

Gordon Brown Calls On America To Repeal DADT, Calls UK LGBT Soldiers ‘The Pride Of Our Country

Posted by: Betsm

Gordon Brown speaks at reception at Downing Street to celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual History Month, 24 February 2010; Crown copyright

ThinkProgress/Amanda Turkel~As conservatives in the United States try to argue that repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) would lead to all sorts of horrors like an increase in “body art,” natural disasters, and a reinstatement of the draft, British citizens are serving comfortably alongside openly gay men and women. Yesterday at a reception at Number 10 Downing Street to celebrate February’s LGBT History Month, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown underscored the country’s more progressive position. Brown singled out the lesbians, gays and bisexuals from the Army, Navy and Air Force who attended the event in uniform. He told them: “You are the pride of our country and we thank you very much. We know this debate continues in America today. I would say to people who still favour ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’, look at our experience in Britain.”

Brown also hosted a reception for LGBT History Month last year, when he slammed California’s Prop. 8 as “unacceptable.”

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Gordon Brown hosts a reception at Downing Street to celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual History Month, 24 February 2010; Crown copyright

Gordon Brown hosts a reception at Downing Street to celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual History Month, 24 February 2010; Crown copyright

Gordon Brown promises gay people they ‘will not have to walk alone

Pink News/Jessica Green~Prime minister Gordon Brown paid tribute last night to gay and lesbian members of the armed forces at a reception to mark the contribution of the LGBT community for Britain.

He told guests at 10 Downing Street, including a number of gay servicemembers, that there was a “debt of gratitude we can never fully repay”.

He said that the pride they felt was “nothing compared to the pride we feel in them”.

Mr Brown cited the current struggle in the US to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which bans gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, saying he knew debate on the issue continued.

In 2009, for the first LGBT reception at Downing Street, Mr Brown said that the ban on gay marriage in California was “unacceptable”.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the British military allowing out gay soldiers.

Mr Brown said: “I promise you that no one need walk the road to equality alone again.”

He also listed the achievements made for gay equality in the last ten years, such as gay adoption and fertility rights for lesbians, saying people had warned these things could not be done.
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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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TRMS Explores Literacy Tests in Our Nations Voting History

Posted by: Audiegrl

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’

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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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

Posted by: Audiegrl

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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