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    “I don’t know any project I did that had nothing really organic with me, my own life, my engagement, my political engagement,” said I Am Not Your Negro director Raoul Peck. “And Baldwin is somebody who has been with me my whole life.”

    During a round-table discussion with UPTOWN and five other writers, Peck explained why he made the Oscar-nominated documentary based on author, activist, orator James Baldwin. In his opinion (and I agree), no Black person should go through life without ever reading Baldwin. In addition, he put forth the film as a mirror to the inequality and injustice the U.S. continues to refuse to address. Baldwin himself challenged white America to see him and the rest of Black America and to look them in the eye, and to ask themselves why they created the word “nigger” and that myth.

    “When you are on the ‘good side,’ the ‘right side,’ you don’t need to question yourself,” said Peck. “That’s what people call white privilege today. It’s your everyday life.”

    Contrary to popular belief, Peck didn’t use Baldwin’s 30 pages of notes that were entitled, Remember This House, for the majority of I Am Not Your Negro. In actuality, he used the notes when presenting the friendship between Baldwin and Medgar Evers, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X. Baldwin’s sister Gloria Karefa-Smart gave Peck access to everything Baldwin ever wrote — published and unpublished — for 10 years, which is rare in the filmmaking industry.

    It’s also unusual that no talking heads appear in the documentary. Samuel L. Jackson lent his voice to present James Baldwin in his own words, and it’s quite a powerful technique. “There are no talking heads in the movie, nobody explaining anything for you. It’s really the man talking to us. Blunt. Raw. And direct,” explained Peck during our discussion.

    I Am Not Your Negro was released on Friday, Feb. 3rd, and made $709,000 its opening weekend, which puts the Magnolia Pictures documentary on track to becoming one of the highest-grossing non-fiction films of 2017, according to Deadline.

    Like Baldwin, Peck is best understood in his own words. Here is the filmmaker speaking about the process of making I Am Not Your Negro and why, his thoughts on racism today, and an assessment of Hollywood’s impact on racism.

    Did you attempt to primarily make this a continuation of Baldwins 30 pages of notes that was entitled, Remember this House? Or was it something you wanted to involve contemporary issues, elaborating on today’s racial tension?
    Raoul Peck: Well it’s totally the contrary. I don’t know any project I did that had nothing really organic with me, my own life, my engagement, my political engagement. And Baldwin is somebody who has been with me my whole life. I read him very early on; I was probably 16, 17. And he never left me. I always go back to Baldwin. There are very few authors who are that important in your life, and Baldwin is one. You know, when I meet a lot of young people, we start talking, I ask did you read Baldwin. If they say, “no,” I say, “Well, read him first and then let’s have a conversation.” Because you cannot not have read Baldwin if you’re a Black person or if you are someone who is trying to understand what this country is, and by the way, what the rest of the world is. So it’s key. It’s like a classic, a certain thing you need to know. So for me it was always about when do I find a way to bring it back. I was a young man towards the end of the Civil Rights Movement, and I saw how most of our leaders have been killed, imprisoned, or went into exile, or bought through different ways, you know. And then we lost the tradition of engaging. We lost the tradition of organizing. We thought that when we had Black History Month that we made it. You know, we don’t need to do anything; we just consume our own history year after year. So I felt it was time for Baldwin to just come back and help us. In the film there was a sentence that we cut out, where Baldwin was just saying, “We really need a Malcolm now” and I use it like we really need a Baldwin now. Once that idea was there, the question was first of all to get the rights. I didn’t have a particular book where I could say, “I want to use that book for a film.” I knew I wanted BALDWIN for the film. It was how to break his words in the forefront, in a way that was direct, raw, and how he would himself do. Artistically that was already a very complicated thing to imagine. I wrote to the estate, and everybody told me, “Forget it, they will never answer. They are known for being very closed up.” And they answered me within like three days. They told me, “Come to Washington,” and meet with us. I did and I met Gloria Karefa-Smart, James Baldwin’s youngest sister, who had been working for him since she was 21. She went with him to Africa for the first time as a young girl. And then I knew because she told me, “I saw your film, in particular Lumumba. For her, that was an incredible film, something that was dear to her because it’s her own history as well. She knew a lot of those young African leaders, and it was the story of her generation. And she opened the door for me. She just gave me access to everything. It’s something that never happens in our industry. Never. It’s always about money. It’s always about, you know, you get an option for one year, you pay money for that option, and after a year you have to renew the option. With them, it was never about that. I had access to everything published, unpublished, screenplays, theater plays, everything for ten years.

    Did Karefa-Smart see the final product? What was her reaction?
    Peck: She was the first person to see it. Well, she didn’t have to say much. We sat after the screening. There were three people in the room — her, my brother, and myself. She sat in the middle of the two of us and we just sat 15 minutes crying in the dark room. There were no words necessary. You know, it was a huge risk because when you say you make a film not only about a man but about his thinking, and you try to make it from the inside of his head. There are no talking heads in the movie, nobody explaining anything for you. It’s really the man talking to us. Blunt. Raw. And direct. So taking that risk I had to make sure that I am not talking as a filmmaker. We are great manipulators. We can do a lot of things: how you do an edit, how you do a cut, or you tone down the music. Everyone of your choice is a great manipulation. I had to modestly put myself, my ego in the background and make sure that every single decision is Baldwin. You can do that not only by knowing his work, but by having some sort of complicity, I can call it that, because I learn of him very early on, so my own life experience. Also being abroad at the time and looking back at this country from the outside but also being on the inside. I grew up in Brooklyn, you know public school, so I learned. You know how young people can be tough, so I went through that, the whole drill. I woke up to Soul Train and all those things, so I felt it very organically. At the same time, when I’m outside I can look here with a distance. I say sometimes that while the film project was 10 years, but in fact it was longer than that because it’s my own biography. It’s my own confrontation with the images of Hollywood, you know, Tarzan. Before I went to Congo as an 8-year-old boy, I was already infested with those images of this white man in a cloth, and Black Africans with their pigs. That’s how when I arrived at the airport, I thought I was going to be welcomed with a lot of savages dancing on the tarmac. So very early on I started deconstructing whatever I was seeing. Hollywood is great for that because as a young boy, you don’t want to be the Indian when you’re playing, you want to be the cowboy. You have the technology, you have the shots, you don’t have the very heavy thing to arch. And so reading Baldwin was like wow. Discovering well-thought analysis on what you have organically felt, you know these contradictions, these absurdities. You know, Hollywood invented the Negro basically. And when Baldwin writes about Sidney Poitier, what they made him do and the pressure they put on us; when you watch Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, basically they are telling you that you have to be a handsome Black man, well-dressed, educated, not just educated — you can’t be a taxi driver — you have to be a doctor, working with an international organization to get the white girl. You can hold hands with the white girl, but you can’t kiss. So imagine a young person watching that, you get all those subliminal messages. You might not be able to interpret, to understand, but layers, after layers that’s what you get. You are mystified by stuff that is not you, that you believe are you at some point. Commercials. Stepin Fetchit and all that. So reading Baldwin is like rediscovering your own history. And that’s why the film is a confrontation with each one of us because you don’t just watch the film, you unroll your whole existence, your whole belief, your whole. You say, “Oh, wow, I remember that. That’s what I thought at the time.” And now today, I’m older and I say, “Wow, that’s the trip.” That’s the confrontation. By the way, white and Black can have the same confrontation.

    How do you think Baldwin would receive your film if he were around today?
    Peck: I hoped this would not be a question because I felt that I did something that he already did, you know. I can’t separate that. That’s why when people ask me, I’m just the messenger. This is all Baldwin. There’s nothing of me where I sat down and wrote. The whole takes you here. This is all Baldwin. We went out of our way to make sure that every single sentence, everything single word is Baldwin. The only correction I made sometimes for purpose of comprehension is in the writing it said Bill Miller, but he said Bill. He didn’t say Bill Miller, but I made sure that people know it’s his former teacher Bill Miller. In the paragraph before, he explained who’s Bill Miller, but the phrase I took did not have the word, so I would add that kind of thing. Besides that, it’s untouched; it’s edited. The more I edited the more I felt free to build a more complex story. It was really about this is Baldwin. This is the big puzzle of Baldwin’s words. How do I put it together in a dramatic structure with a beginning, a middle, and an end, and tell the story?

    Did you create the film with a particular audience in mind, and if so, which?
    Peck: For one thing for sure, I wanted this film to be generic American, generic Black, generic Baldwin so that it could go in the rest of the world with its legitimacy. That’s for sure. Other than that, I find the film is for everybody, white and Black, and probably more important for white than Black because most Black people know a lot of this already by their own experience … I saw white audiences being shocked, really like, “Oh, my god. I never saw it that way.” When you are on the “good side,” the “right side,” you don’t need to question yourself. That’s what people call white privilege today. It’s your everyday life. So if you’re on the right side, there’s no need to ask whatever good is happening to you. It’s just normal. It’s how you grew up. And so for some people, and even I watch that colleague filmmakers like me or people in the industry and people who love classic cinema, and something they see Picnic in the Park and Pajama Game, and they see all those white people picnicking and there’s not one single dark face. And it’s a film about workers, unions, and all that, and at some point you see something else, you see the reality. But you can go your whole life living in Manhattan and see it as normal. So the film does promote this shock and Baldwin looks you straight in your eyes in the film. He addresses the camera. Those are choices, of course, I make to make sure what I take is really a direct conversation or direct address to you. I use a lot of photos where people are looking at the camera all the time. It’s also to play with that idea that you never look at me. I have to look at you. And nothing can be solved without you facing it first. So it’s the whole idea. There’s nothing in this film that just has no reason. It’s all connected on many different levels. It’s like a big puzzle that you put together. And I play a lot with those images in color and the black and white and the video and the 35 mm images. All of these were part of interpreting those words and giving them life and giving them reality.

    So many contemporary documentaries have all these talking heads explaining what’s going on and the context. Was there ever a concern that people wouldn’t be able to keep up or did you have that much faith in Baldwin’s skills as a communicator to say all of these things in a way that the viewer would understand?
    Peck: I think it’s a political choice. All my life, I’ve made films I want to make. I never did one single film for money. My motivation was always how do I make the world better or how do I make it more understandable, how do I bring all of our voice to the forefront and also to us. How do I learn from our own history? How do I make sure that we know where we come from? And from that thing is, of course, I have to learn to be didactic. When I make a film like this, I want to make sure that the film will survive. We can see it in 30 years and go into a story. Because the danger is when you are direct. You know if I were a journalist, it would be different. I would have a network behind me. They might say, “Raoul, people are not going to understand this or this,” and I would have to address that. For this film, my concern is that you may not see this by the first viewing, but you’ll come back and you’ll find the other layer at some point. If you watch the film 30 years from now, it will still have the same strength because you’re watching a story. You’re not watching a piece of news. You’re not watching a didactic thing. A didactic film, you see it once and you don’t have to go back. It’s going to be boring. It’s too much information; you’re bothered. This film is about something else. It talks on so many different levels. So it’s you who connects it or not to those levels. But I make sure, of course, that you get at least a few of them, so that whatever the level of what you bring into the story, because you bring something too, that you get one level. And then you watch it a second time, you see almost a completely different movie because you start paying attention to other stuff that as you say might look concentrated. Then, by the third time, you’re relieved from all the other stuff and then you can concentrate on that particular part. So that’s how you make a film more richer and that film can resist time. So that’s how I make movies.

    You mentioned the structuring and layers. One chapter had to do with heroes. Did you think about elaborating on some of the other heroes because he had a kinship with Richard Wright? Did you consider putting any emphasis on the people he gained influence from?
    Peck: The thing with Richard Wright was the typical father-son relationship. You’re a young writer. Richard Wright was the king at the time. He had to “scratch” the father to become a man himself, so I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on that. In the film, heroes means much more than that. In one of the interviews, [Baldwin tells Dick Cavett,] “You are the one telling the story. That’s why Malcolm X or Nat Turner is not a hero to you, but he’s a hero for me.” That’s it. Who owns the narrative? So in that sense, the same thing: John Wayne killing the Indians; John Wayne is the hero. And that’s the magic of cinema. When I was young, of course, I’m with John Wayne. There’s no way I want to be dead by the end of this movie. And that’s ideology working with your head. What it means is that you forgot that the Indians are real people being killed and that this American dream is built on a genocide … How can we have a dream if the very soil we are on have been not only the Blacks and slavery and the millions of people who died, but also the people who were there before us? That means we don’t know our history. That’s the thing about heroes: Who gets to write the story?

    Did you find it difficult to expand on Baldwin’s opus since it was only 30 pages?
    Peck: No because the work on the film, for me, is much more than those 10 years. It’s all the 30 years prior. So all the books that I underlined, the ideas that I underlined that I put aside, all this came back on my table. I knew what I needed from those 30 pages was just a trick to go inside to tell the story. That was the organic reason that I needed. Once you’re in front of this incredible amount of work and gems, you better find a good way to tell the story. And not just didactic, I’m going to tell you the story of whatever James Baldwin wrote. No, you go into his own methodology and you find the story in the story to tell it. I wanted this to be original, and for filming, what else is more original that to say, “Well, there’s a book that was supposed to be written. It was never wrote”? When I got it, automatically everything came to piece together. Wow, he never wrote it, but knowing Baldwin, he had to have been taking notes. I got part of those notes and I got where he wanted to go, but then I know most of his work. I can’t see what else he could write. So the idea was he wrote it, he just didn’t put it together. So I had the whole [of his] work to go through and piece it together. That’s an idea that motivated me. I had a red line to follow. That’s what I was looking for. That’s what the letters did, those notes. As an artist, or as a musician, or as a composer, you need that little thing that you can look for a long time. You can find it in a month or you can find it in five years. And when you have the luxury, that’s what I had, to be able to wait. I didn’t have an estate calling me every year saying, “Raoul, you’ve had the option for one year. Are you renewing it?” Or after three years, “Raoul, it’s been three years now, where’s the film?” After five years, “C’mon, we don’t believe anymore in this film.” So when you have the luxury I had, I was producing it myself so I was my own master. So it’s a luxury we have in our industry. The film is the very result of that. Otherwise, it’s an impossible film. Nobody will give you the money for that. No one will wait for your that long. So when I had that, I better make sure that when I come up with something it has to be original, it has to strong, it has to make sense in the whole body of work.

    What do you Baldwin would’ve thought about what’s going on today? There’s not been that much of a change regarding people of color. We’re still the underdog.
    Peck: Again, whatever the question could be about this country, the response is in the film. That’s exactly what the film is; it’s a response to what you are saying. He would say, “Well, you need to face it. As long as you don’t face it, nothing will change.” Fundamentally, you can change the colors, you can change the style, you can invent a Black middle class, but now what we need is to have the same access as the white rich people. But that’s not the issue. The issue is inequality. The issue is justice. The Black middle class can have wealth, but does it change fundamentally what the country is? Does it change the balance of power? Can a Black Hollywood mogul decide I want to make a big $100 million movie on James Baldwin, or Nat Turner, or Samuel Jackson, or whatever? We can’t. So that means nothing has changed. Cosmetically, yes, there are rights, there are laws. But are those laws respected? So whatever the question is, that’s what Baldwin is dealing with in the film. That’s what he’s telling us about the Black President. He’s basically saying it’s not about who will be the next Black President, but what country he will be the President of. That’s the real question.

    It seems with Black movies there’s not that same sincerity that something has been done wrong and let’s try and fix it, like you have with films like Schindler’s List. And we glamorize our plight, but are there results?
    Peck: Well, I’m not sure the industry allows you to do exactly the movie you’re talking about. A movie that would say the whole truth, where you would come out and enrage and start burning cars, that’s a movie that would never be made. The very people who control your writing and your decision, they wouldn’t let you. Or you wouldn’t have the right amount of money to do it properly. That’s the system and the system knows how to protect itself.

    But whenever there’s a crisis, we burn our own neighborhoods?
    Peck: That’s why in my film I don’t say, “Go and burn the neighborhood.” I say first of all intellectually, historically, politically, first learn who you are. First, know your history. And in the film you can also see it means also working. When Baldwin says, “I did not participate in marches. I didn’t participate in fundraising,” he’s telling you all the same things you need to know in terms of a movement. That’s the story of the movement as well. That’s what he’s telling you. “I’m not confronting the sheriff everyday. I am a witness.” But the witness is telling you what you need to do in order to have that fight. He’s telling not only to you, the fighter, but also telling to the other side, “You need to do your own work as well. You need to look to me in the eyes. You need to wake up in your world of everything is OK in your Hollywood mythology. In you calling me a nigger, you need to ask yourself why you needed to invent that word or to invent that story.” He addressed everybody in that movie. And that’s the way it can be, it will be, because there’s no way that everybody can be on his own side making a battle. He’s addressing exactly the write issue and hoping that it will not be a continual going in circles. And that’s why this film is for me is like Baldwin says it and I also paraphrase it. If you don’t see that today 2017, seeing this film, hearing those words, reading those words again and again, if you don’t get it then you are just a monster and you’re their accomplices because you cannot be innocent today. After all those things, you can’t say, “Oh, I didn’t know.” Baldwin says it in a way that if you don’t react to that, you know what, that’s your own problem, but I’m not going to wait for you. And for me, that’s an active stance that you’re taking and it’s about time.

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    By Bageot Dia

    Last night, Americans were collectively glued to their TV screens in order to watch the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots compete on the gridiron for Super Bowl LI. There was camaraderie, pizza, booze, excitement, tears, football, and we can’t forget the expensive and epic advertisements. Whether your team won or loss, there’s no denying these corporations scored big in the ad game last night, presenting messages supporting some of today’s most controversial topics — immigration, equal pay for equal work, acceptance, and more.

    Here are our top 10 Super Bowl LI commercials

    AirBnB’s #WeAccept commercial reminds us all that love trumps hate.

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    As you know, this month we’re challenging ourselves to learn something new about our history every day of Black History Month, and we’re hoping to share our findings with you, the UPTOWN readers.

    Today In Black History: Feb. 6th

    • 1820: Eighty-eight freed slaves embarked on a journey to return to Africa. They left New York harbor in a ship named Mayflower of Liberia with their sights set on Freetown, Sierra Leone. This was the first organized immigration of American freed slaves to the continent.
    • 1867: The Peabody Fund was established by George Peabody to promote education in the most destitute ares of the South following the Civil War.
    • 1882: Poet Anne Spencer was born Annie Bethel Bannister in Henry County, Virginia. She was also a teacher, civil rights activist, librarian, and gardener.
    • 1898: American Modernist poet, educator, columnist, and politician Melvin Beaunorus Tolson was born in Moberly, Missouri.
    • 1933: Walter E. Fauntroy was born. He would become a civil rights activist and member of the House of Representatives, representing Washington, D.C. In 2016, Fauntroy was arrested for passing a bad check in Maryland.
    • 1945: Reggae legend, Rastafarian, and activist Robert Nesta Marley was born.
    • 1972: Founder and coach of the New York Renaissance basketball team Robert Lewis Douglas was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
    • 1993: Tennis great Arthur Ashe, the only Black-American man to win Wimbledon and the U.S. and Australian Opens, died from complications of AIDS, at age 49 in New York City. It was believed he contracted HIV from a tainted blood transfusion following a 1983 heart operation. Ashe’s body laid in state at the governor’s mansion in Richmond, Virginia, where thousands of people paid their respect.

    Did we leave a notable person or event off this list? Well, each one teach one. Let us know in the comments.

    RELATED: Today In Black History: Feb. 5th

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    With all that’s happening in the world, it’s easy to understand why you may have put Valentine’s Day at the bottom of your list this year. However, spreading love is the best way to combat the evils of the world. If you’ve put V-Day on the back burner, we have you covered with ideas for imbibing, getting sexy, and getting kinky. But remember, you only have a week of Valentine’s Day preparation.

    Drunk in Love


    2013 H3 Les Chevaux Red Wine 750 ml, $15

    Named for the wild horses that once roamed Horse Heaven Hills in Washington, this red blend presents rose petal aromas and dark fruit cherry flavors. It pairs well with winter meats of beef and lamb, as well as bleu cheese.


    Moët & Chandon Love The Now Emoji Imperial Rosé 750 ml, $49.99

    No celebration is complete without a bit of bubbly. For Valentine’s Day, Moët & Chandon has released the super-cute, super-festive eMoëticon bottle containing the brand’s popular rosé. Don’t drag your feet ordering this one, it’s a limited-edition.


    Tipsy Scoop Booze X Love Valentines Gift, $48

    If you prefer to lick your spirits (no judgement), then Tipsy Scoop’s boozy ice cream offerings are for you and your love. With flavors like Strawberry Chocolate Kiss Martini; Raspberry Limoncello Sorbet; Cake Batter Vodka; and Red Velvet Martini, you simply can’t go wrong.

    Sweets for a Sweetie


    Sugarfina Vice Collection 8pc Bento Box, $65


    Sugarfina XOXO 8pc Bento Box, $65

    OK, I know what you’re thinking, “Candy on Valentine’s Day is so cliché.” But hear me out. Sugarfina is known for offering candies and chocolates infused with spirits, like bourbon and Champagne. These bento boxes also feature other treats, including Chocolate Bacon Pretzels (Vice Collection) and rosette-shaped gummies made with Whispering Angel Rosé (XOXO). These are the gifts you give your significant other on V-Day, but the gift on the following page will help you prolong the desire.

    Get in Gear


    Thomas Pink Howe Texture Slim Fit Button Cuff Shirt, $195


    Karl Lagerfeld Paris Georgette Shift Dress with Lace Yoke, $138

    Your lover doesn’t want to see you in the same old thing. Treat yourself and them to something new.

    Fire and Desire


    Desire Riviera Maya Pearl Resort “50 Shades of Desire” Fantasy Experience, $500 + resort accommodation

    Now this is a gift that will impress. Original Group’s adults-only, clothing optional Desire Riviera Maya Pearl Resort is offering a role playing package in which you and your lover can recreate scenes from the bestselling Fifty Shades Trilogy. “The package includes delicious strawberries dipped in chocolate, Chantilly cream, champagne, a stripper show and the 50 Shades of Desire kit stacked with stimulating props such as two sets of cuffs, flogger, ball gag and more,” according to a press release.

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    Carter G. Woodson and Chris Rock

    As you know, this month we’re challenging ourselves to learn something new about our history every day of Black History Month, and we’re hoping to share our findings with you, the UPTOWN readers.

    Today In Black History: Feb. 7th

    • 1887: Composer, lyricist, and pianist James Hubert Blake, better known as Eubie Blake, was born. He would go on to write Shuffle Along, one of the first Broadway musicals to be written and directed by Black Americans, with longtime collaborator Noble Sissle.
    • 1926: Negro History Week was observed for the first time. Carter G. Woodson chose the second week in February because it falls between Frederick Douglass’s and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays. In 1976, Negro History Week grew into Black History Month.
    • 1950: Southern senators killed the Fair Employment Practice Committee bill by filibustering. The bill had been spearheaded by A. Philip Randolph.
    • 1965: Chris Rock was born in Andrews, South Carolina.

    Did we leave a notable person or event off this list? Well, each one teach one. Let us know in the comments.

    RELATED: Today In Black History: Feb. 6th

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    Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher, Good Times poster, Marcus Garvey

    As you know, this month we’re challenging ourselves to learn something new about our history every day of Black History Month, and we’re hoping to share our findings with you, the UPTOWN readers.

    Today in Black History: Feb. 8th

    • 1894: Congress repealed the Enforcement Acts, making it easier for states to disenfranchise Black voters and for the Ku Klux Klan to continue their intimidation efforts.
    • 1924:Civil rights activist and attorney Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher was born in Chickasha, Oklahoma. She would go on to challenge the University of Oklahoma’s segregation policy in Sipuel v. Board of Regents of Univ. of Okla.. In 1948, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the state of Oklahoma must provide instruction for Black students equal to that of whites. After another legal battle, Sipuel became the first Black woman to attend a previously segregated, public law school in Oklahoma, when she was admitted to the University of Oklahoma College of Law on June 18, 1949.
    • 1925: Marcus Garvey began serving his five-year sentence for mail fraud in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary. Two days later, he wrote his well-known essay “First Message to the Negroes of the World From Atlanta Prison.”
    • 1944: Harry S. McAlpin, a former Navy war correspondent and reporter for the National Negro Press Association and the Atlanta Daily World, became the first Black reporter to gain credentials to attend a White House press conference.
    • 1968: During the Orangeburg Massacre, South Carolina Highway Patrol officers fatally shot three Black men who were protesting on the South Carolina State University campus against a racially-segregated bowling alley in Orangeburg, South Carolina. The officers killed Samuel Ephesians Hammond Jr., 18; Delano Herman Middleton, 17; and Henry Ezekial Smith, 19, and injured 27 other demonstrators.
    • 1968: Gary Coleman was born.
    • 1974: Good Times premiered on CBS as a spin-off of Maude, which itself was a spin-off of All in the Family.
    • 1986: Debi Thomas became the first Black figure skater to win the senior women’s title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

    Did we leave a notable person or event off this list? Well, each one teach one. Let us know in the comments.

    RELATED: Today in Black History: Feb. 7th

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    Tom Williamson as Debrickshaw Smithson in Running Wild, which opens in theaters and On Demand Feb. 10th.

    By Khalil Waldron

    Tom Williamson is a man of many tastes, such as his affection for magic and chocolate covered gummy bears, but when Williamson isn’t enjoying his favorite pastimes he’s a damn good actor. The Washington, D.C. native moved to Los Angeles almost a decade ago and has been acting for the past five years, but if you haven’t caught The Fosters actor on the hit Freeform series make sure to see him alongside the stellar cast of the upcoming film Running Wild. He took some time to talk to us about the film, which stars Sharon Stone as a young widow trying to save her horse ranch after her husband dies in a vehicle collision, and some of his experiences on set.

    UPTOWN: What was the experience like working with the horses? Was there any type of special training you received?
    Tom Williamson: We had like 30 minutes to ride a horse, and get familiar with it. But these were — and I’m not going to claim to be a natural with horses — these were pretty, pretty docile horses. They weren’t really interested in being there. They were just there for the paycheck. And they didn’t really give anyone, you know, a hard time. They were cool. They were very easy, working with them.

    I would say the hardest part — I’ll say two things — one is that working with animals is great because it forces me to tell the truth, ’cause they can tell when you’re lying, when you’re acting. So that’s a good thing. And two, there were just some things, you know, where certain emotions, were supposed to be elicited from the actors, in response to the horses, but the horses were doing something that completely had the opposite effect on the actors, so then we have to dive into our tool chest, and figure out ways to make it look believable and all that.

    U: Your character seemed very complex, I wish the film expanded on him more. What was your approach to portraying Debrickshaw Smithson? Was there anything you did to put yourself in the right creative space before going onto set?
    TW: Yeah, I think this role actually stretched quite a lot. Because he’s a prisoner, I spoke to two guys who were formerly incarcerated and really got to the depth of their experience. I’ve never experienced being thrown behind bars, thank God, or even seen a night in the drunk tank. I don’t know what I would do.

    So, I locked myself in my bathroom. I wanted it be 16 hours, I lasted eight. I was losing my mind in there, and so doing that alone gave me that sense of when Debrickshaw was out there with the horses how much that shot meant to him. Because he was going to go back and get thrown into a box. And just, seeing him in nature and having space and freedom — at least more than being in an eight by ten enclosed space — you need it to survive, you know? You become kind of desperate for it.

    And that’s why, I don’t know if you saw the movie, or the trailer for it, but there’s a scene where there’s a fire at the stable. And it gets pretty intense for the prisoners. And all I was thinking about there was if these horses die, one, that’s my heart, that’s my lifeline right now. So two, that means we’re never gonna get to come back out here. We’re gonna be stuck back in that gray, mundane box again, until I finish my sentence. And that in itself is just torture.

    U: Running Wild tells a powerful story about horses and the preservation of their lives and beauty. How did that message personally touch you?
    TW: Well, it was educational to me, because, I’m from D.C. and you don’t see horses unless you’re at a parade or something or you see a police officer. So I didn’t really think there were wild horses still around. I was just interested by the fact that there’s this big debate about how to handle wild horses, and what to make of their natural resources, as a result they’re dying. And just talking to people from different sides of the spectrum was pretty interesting as well. And I guess for me, I think it’s a case-by-case basis. I don’t think that there’s anything particularly wrong with some of the viewpoints of people who feel we should slaughter horses for meat because [the horses are] gonna die [because] they don’t have enough resources.

    But at the same time, if they were to walk onto a ranch-like setting, then they can be rehabilitated and given a second chance at life. I think that that’s honestly a better option. I think everything should live to its fullest potential and experience a harmonious life with nature. But that’s not always the case. So I’d say it was educational for me.


    U: The cast is packed with some big names, like yourself. I can imagine it was a lot of fun behind-the-scenes. Were there any moments during filming that stood out to you? Or that were especially memorable to you?
    TW: Yeah. You know, just being around Tommy Flanagan. He is such a character and he’s just a jolly guy. I didn’t know who was gonna be in the movie until the night before they shot, so they gave me the call sheet, I saw Sharon Stone, Tommy Flanagan, Jason Lewis. Just, what? What? You know? But Tommy — it was just all laughs with Tommy.

    I think the thing I enjoyed most was production would take us out to dinner a few times during the shoot and this production team, they’ve been making a bunch of movies together in a very short amount of time, with the same crew. They came into it, already, as a family. And to be incorporated just so easily into that vibe, made the experience that much more enjoyable. They gave me some lifelong memories.

    U: Were there any specific challenges for you with this film?
    Tom Williamson: Challenges I mean, I think for me, there’s always a challenge of … I would say not wanting to appear stereotypical in a role like this, telling the truth of the story and staying truthful. It’s a challenge just at the beginning, but then talking to people and really getting to the root of it, that kind of type of thing. Outside of that, it was a very cool experience. Came in prepared. I think the most challenging part was just spending [eight] hours in that bathroom to be honest and then existing in that throughout the process of shooting, because that will take a toll on you mentally.

    U: What else can we expect next from you? Any upcoming projects, aside from Running Wild?
    TW: Yeah, well I’ve been on this TV show called The Fosters, that’s on Freeform, for about two years now. The newest season just premiered, so we’ve got about nine more episodes of that. Outside of that, right now I get some little guest spots here and there on a few TV shows. A couple of TV shows. But no, no movies to be released in the pipeline. No, like big lead on a TV series type of things coming out, but in due time.

    Running Wild will hit theaters and On Demand tomorrow, Feb. 10th.

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    Charles D. King, Founder & CEO, MACRO
    February 8, 2017 (New York NY) – Uptown Ventures Group, the parent company of UPTOWN Magazine, today announced that they will honor MACRO Founder & CEO, Charles D. King at its annual exclusive, invitation-only “Uptown Honors Hollywood” pre-Oscar gala on Wednesday, February 22, 2017.

    The dinner and celebratory tribute will recognize and celebrate the outstanding achievements of King who launched MACRO, a disruptive entertainment company, that sits at the intersection of content, technology and brand curation with a focus on creating premium film, television and digital content for African American, Latino and multicultural (ALM) audiences, in 2015. Prior to launching MACRO, King was Partner/Agent in the Motion Picture Department at William Morris Endeavor (WME). He was the first and only African American to rise from the mailroom to partner in the 119 year history of the company. His career as an agent spanned over 15 years, during which he was known for his innovative deal making and his strategic planning in developing brands for and around his clients.

    Most recently, King was Executive Producer of the multi-award winning Fences, directed by and starring Denzel Washington. Based on August Wilson’s Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning play, the film, that also stars Viola Davis, is nominated for several 2017 Academy Awards. The company’s next film, Mudbound, directed by Dee Rees, recently premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival to high critical acclaim and secured the highest sale of all films at the festival. King will produce the film which will debut in theaters in late 2017. MACRO’s digital series “Gente-fied” featuring America Ferrera, was selected to be featured at Sundance as well as it was the first year that the festival featured a short-form episodic showcase. King’s company will also produce Harriet, an epic adventure of American icon, Harriet Tubman.

    The event will bring together the entertainment industry’s brightest executives and true celebrities both in front of and behind the camera for a seated dinner followed by a private reception. This year’s event is presented by Lexus. Other sponsors include Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and Tanqueray Ten. Past honorees have included Nia Long, Malcolm D. Lee, Lee Daniels, Will Packer and Ava DuVernay as well as Reggie and Warrington Hudlin.

    “We are extremely excited to honor the accomplishments of our friend, Charles D. King. Over his 20 year career he has become a major force in Hollywood. His disruptive new media company, MACRO, provides a much needed funding pipeline for content that entertains and engages underserved multicultural audiences. This evening will salute him and many contributions to the entertainment industry,” said Len Burnett, Co-CEO and Chief Revenue Officer, UPTOWN Ventures Group.

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    As you know, this month we’re challenging ourselves to learn something new about our history every day of Black History Month, and we’re hoping to share our findings with you, the UPTOWN readers.

    Today In Black History: Feb. 9th

    • 1906: Paul Laurence Dunbar, one of the first Black poets to gain national recognition, passed away from tuberculosis. He was a friend of Frederick Douglass, who said Dunbar was “the most promising young colored man in America.”
    • 1943: Singer-songwriter Barbara Lewis was born in Salem, Michigan.
    • 1944: Alice Walker was born in Putnam County, Georgia. She would gain acclaim as a novelist, poet, short-story writer, and activist. She won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her critically-acclaimed novel The Color Purple, which was adapted into a film by Steven Spielberg.
    • 1953: Ralph Ellison‘s Invisible Man won the National Book Award for Fiction.
    • 1965: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. met with Lyndon Johnson to discuss voting rights.
    • 1971: Leroy “Satchel” Paige was nominated to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was the first Negro League veteran to bestowed with the honor.
    • 1992: Ervin “Magic” Johnson returned to the NBA to play in the 42nd NBA All-Star game in Orlando. Three months prior, he had announced that he had contracted HIV and was retiring immediately from the Los Angeles Lakers.
    • 1995: Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. became the first Black astronaut to take a spacewalk.

    Did we leave a notable person or event off this list? Well, each one teach one. Let us know in the comments.

    RELATED: Today in Black History: Feb. 8th

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    By Dr. Odinaka Anyanwu

    “I won’t get skin cancer – I don’t sunburn!”

    “What do I need sunscreen for? The melanin in my skin is enough protection.”

    As an African-American woman and a doctor, I hear misconceptions like these repeated over and over by friends and patients alike. Despite all of the literature to the contrary, I’ve found that the biggest skin cancer myth among African Americans is that we’re immune to the disease.

    Research suggests that minorities usually end up with a later skin cancer diagnosis and often a more aggressive form. People of darker skin are also more likely to acquire acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM), a type of melanoma that typically affects the palms, nail beds, and the soles of the feet. In fact, reggae legend Bob Marley died from ALM at only 36 years old.


    Dr. Odinaka Anyanwu

    While my interest in skin health began during medical school, my involvement with the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) turned me into a passionate advocate. In volunteering with the MRF, I learned that melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, claims the life of one American every hour of every day — that’s almost 10,000 Americans per year — and it does not discriminate. While the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with melanoma is higher for other racial groups, the risk for African Americans is still one in 1,000 — which is not a small chance.

    Through the MRF, I worked side-by-side with patients and family members affected by melanoma, who never expected to be touched by this disease. This experience stimulated a drive in me to become a certified melanoma educator, and in this capacity I have been able to teach my patients, family, and community members about using sunscreen, decreasing tanning and sun exposure, and noticing changes in the skin associated with melanoma.

    Although the research indicates melanoma is usually diagnosed later in African Americans, we don’t have to become statistics. With education and common sense there are steps we can take to prevent skin cancer. Skin cancers, including melanoma, are often associated with excessive exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight and tanning beds. No matter the shade of your skin, sunscreen is ALWAYS a necessity! It is true that darker skinned people have skin naturally richer in melanin, which provides some protection against the sun’s harmful rays, but this protection alone is not enough. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using sunscreen that offers protection against UVA and UVB rays, contains an SPF of 30 or higher, and provides water resistance. And sunscreen should be used year-round, not just in the hottest months of the year.

    Prevention is important, but detection is essential as well. Performing skin checks on yourself every month, and visiting your dermatologist annually can help detect melanoma in its earliest stages. Be on the lookout for any poor healing sores or moles that have changed in appearance over time. A helpful mnemonic device when assessing your moles is the ABCDEs of melanoma. If you have noticed any of the changes below, it is imperative to notify your primary care provider or dermatologist right away:

    • Asymmetry: If you draw a line down the middle of the mole, one half of the mole should match the other side.
    • Border: Blurred, jagged, or irregular borders are a sign that the mole could be cancerous.
    • Color: If your mole consists of multiple shades, it’s time to get it checked out.
    • Diameter: Moles greater than 6mm — about the size of a pencil eraser — are cause for concern.
    • Evolving: Benign moles typically do not change over time. If you’ve noticed any changes in your moles, you should consult your dermatologist.

    If you or your healthcare provider see anything suspicious on your skin, don’t ignore it because early detection is key to a better outcome!

    As an MRF advocate and melanoma educator, I continually try to raise awareness about skin protection, the importance of increased funding for melanoma research, and the need to limit access to tanning beds for minors. It is imperative that African Americans and all people of color learn they, too, can be affected by melanoma.

    Dr. Odinaka Anyanwu is a recent graduate of Ross University School of Medicine. She regularly volunteers with the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) and serves as a certified melanoma educator. The MRF aims to support medical research for finding effective treatments and eventually a cure for melanoma, to educate patients and physicians about the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of melanoma, and to act as an advocate for the melanoma community to raise awareness of this disease and the need for a cure. For more information go to the Melanoma Research Foundation’s website or consider participating in one of their Miles for Melanoma 5Ks.

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    As you know, this month we’re challenging ourselves to learn something new about our history every day of Black History Month, and we’re hoping to share our findings with you, the UPTOWN readers.

    Today In Black History: Feb. 9th

    • 1854: Educator, orator, and civil rights leader Joseph Charles Price was born in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. His mother Emily Pailin was a free woman. His father Charles Dozier was a slave and a ship’s carpenter. When he was sold, Pailin married David Price, and Jospeh took his surname. Joseph went on to become the founder and first president of Livingstone College.
    • 1868: Republican conservatives redrafted the Florida Constitution to concentrate political power in the hands of the governor, limit the Black vote, and to control the Reconstruction process in the state.
    • 1907: Grace Towns Hamilton was born in Atlanta. She would go on to become the first Black woman elected to the Georgia General Assembly.
    • Soprano Mary Violet Leontyne Price was born in Laurel, Mississippi. She is regarded as the first Black singer to gain international acclaim in opera. She is known for her roles in Il Trovatore, Antony and Cleopatra, and Aida.
    • 1937: Singer Roberta Flack was born in North Carolina. She has won several Grammy Awards and had hits from the 1970s to the ’90s, including “Killing Me Softly With His Song,” “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” and “Where Is the Love.”
    • 1946: Jackie Robinson and Rachel Isum were married at the Independent Church in Los Angeles.
    • 1966: Andrew Brimmer became the first Black governor of the Federal Reserve Board.
    • 1981: Actress Uzo Aduba was born in Boston. She would go on to win an Emmy for her portrayal of Crazy Eyes in the Netflix series Orange is the New Black.
    • 1992: American biographer, screenwriter, and author Alex Haley died in Seattle.
    • 2007: Then-Senator Barack Obama announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States in Springfield, Illinois.

    Did we leave a notable person or event off this list? Well, each one teach one. Let us know in the comments.

    RELATED: Today In Black History: Feb. 9th

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    Will Packer and Malcolm D. Lee‘s Girls Trip is the female answer to The Hangover.

    In this comedy, four lifelong friends (Queen Latifah, Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Tiffany Haddish) head to New Orleans for a music festival, and “sisterhoods are rekindled, wild sides are rediscovered, and there’s enough dancing, drinking, brawling, and romancing to make the Big Easy blush.” The ladies also seem intent on getting Pinkett-Smith’s matronly character laid after two years of celibacy.

    Larenz Tate, Kofi Siriboe, and Mike Colter are the sexy gents who tickle their fancy.

    Girls Trip hits theaters on July 21st.

    Keep clicking for images from Girls Trip.

    [Image: Universal Pictures]




    [Images: Universal Pictures]




    [Images: Universal Pictures]

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    As you know, this month we’re challenging ourselves to learn something new about our history every day of Black History Month, and we’re hoping to share our findings with you, the UPTOWN readers.

    Today In Black History: Feb. 11th

    • 1644: Eleven Black slaves protested for their freedom against the Dutch West India Company in New Netherlands, which became New York. The Council of New Netherlands freed the slaves because they had served the Company as farmers, fur traders, and builders for 17 or 18 years. The Company later freed more slaves, creating a free Black nucleus.
    • 1783: Jarena Lee was born to former slaves. She became the first female preacher in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1819. She wrote two autobiographical memoirs: The Life and Religious Experience of Jarena Lee and the expanded version Religious Experience and Journal of Mrs. Jarena Lee.
    • 1861: President-elect Abraham Lincoln left his home in Springfield, Illinois to travel to Washington, D.C.
    • Singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor, and civil rights activist Josh White was born in Greenville, South Carolina. In the 1930s he performed under the names Pinewood Tom and Tippy Barton.
    • 1960: The Payola scandal reached a fevered pitch when Pres. Eisenhower called it a public morality issue, and the FCC proposed a bill making Payola a criminal act.
    • 1961: Pres. John F. Kennedy appointed Dr. Robert Weaver as administrator of the Housing and Home Finance Agency. In 1966, Weaver became the first Black person to become a cabinet member, as head of Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
    • 1977: Clifford Alexander, Jr. became the first Black Secretary of the Army.
    • 1990: Political activist Nelson Mandela was released from prison after being imprisoned for 27 years.
    • 2012: Singer Whitney Houston was found dead in a bathtub at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills at age 48.

    Did we leave a notable person or event off this list? Well, each one teach one. Let us know in the comments.

    RELATED: Today In Black History: Feb. 10th

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    As you know, this month we’re challenging ourselves to learn something new about our history every day of Black History Month, and we’re hoping to share our findings with you, the UPTOWN readers.

    Today In Black History: Feb. 12th

    • 1793: Congress enacted the first fugitive slave law, requiring all states, even those that forbade slavery, to return escaped slaves to their despicable owners.
    • 1809: Abraham Lincoln was born in Hodgenville, Kentucky.
    • 1865: Rev. Dr. Henry Highland Garnet became the first Black speaker to preach a sermon in the House of Representatives. His sermon commemorated the Union army’s victories and the abolition of slavery.
    • 1896: Famed horse jockey Isaac Burns Murphy died in Lexington, Kentucky. He won the Kentucky Derby in 1884, 1890, and 1891. He also was victorious at the American Derby in 1884.
    • 1900: James Weldon Johnson and his brother John wrote “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which would later become the official anthem of the NAACP and the Black National Anthem.
    • 1907: Gospel singer Roberta Martin was born.
    • 1909: The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded by Moorfield Storey, Mary White Ovington, and W. E. B. Du Bois. Its mission is “to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.”
    • 1930: The Rosenwald Fund gave grants to the Alabama State Board of Health to help fund a study of syphilis in Black men living in Alabama and Georgia. The “study” would become known as the Tuskegee Experiment.
    • 1934: Basketball legend Bill Russell was born in Monroe, Louisiana. He would gain notoriety as a center for the Boston Celtics during the 1960s. He helped the team to 11 NBA championships during his 13-year career.
    • 1939: Trinidadian Augustus Nathaniel Lushington passed away in Lynchburg, Virginia. He was the first Black student to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree when he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1897.
    • 1952: Sgt. Cornelius H. Charlton posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his service in South Korea.
    • 1956: America’s first Black late-night host Arsenio Hall was born.
    • 1962: William P. Randall initiates the bus boycott in Macon, Georgia to protest segregation.
    • 1987: Composer Eubie Blake died in Brooklyn, New York five days after his 96 birthday.

    Did we leave a notable person or event off this list? Well, each one teach one. Let us know in the comments.

    RELATED: Today In Black History: Feb. 11th

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    Instagram Photo

    Taraji P. Henson rocked last night’s Grammy Awards with a sleek bob that deserved its own trophy.

    Hairstylist Tymothe Wallace has dubbed the look the “Sleek Peek-a-Boo Bob,” and styled her hair using a variety of Dove Hair products. He says he drew inspiration from Taraji’s lavender Marc Jacobs mini dress.

    “Her lavender dress is playful and a bit futuristic, so I wanted to acknowledge that with her hairstyle and used bobby pins — something in every woman’s hair care arsenal — and a fresh undercut to create something unique, but still achievable for women at home,” Wallace explained in a press release.

    Instagram Photo

    Here’s how you can get Taraji P. Henson’s Grammys bob at home:

    Instagram Photo

    1. To create Taraji’s look tonight, I started by shampooing her hair with Dove DermaCare Scalp Dryness & Itch Relief Anti-Dandruff Shampoo and Conditioner ($4.99).
    2. Once hair was clean, I pumped a dime-size amount of Dove Absolute Curls Supreme Crème Serum ($5.99) into my hands and emulsified by rubbing them together, before evenly distributing it throughout her hair from root to tip.
    3. I then blew out her hair in sections, and flat-ironed it to ensure it was super smooth and straight.
    4. After the hair was completely straight, I cleaned up her undercut a bit, parted her hair down the middle, then applied more of the Dove Absolute Curls Supreme Crème Serum ($5.99) from root to tip to help slick the hair down and boost shine.
    5. Once her hair was smooth and straight, I added an excessive amount of black bobby pins to secure her hair on either side, stacking them and crossing them over one another to form a unique and playful design.
    6. Finally, I sprayed her entire head with Dove Style+Care Flexible Hold Hairspray ($3.99) to complete the look and ensure her style stayed all night long.

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    2017 claimed one of music’s most legendary artists yesterday, Feb. 12th.

    Jazz legend Al Jarreau passed away about 6 a.m. Sunday at a Los Angeles hospital. The 76 year old was surrounded by friends and family, reports the Los Angeles Times.

    The news of Jarreau’s death came two days after he announced his retirement from touring. The hospital had admitted him for exhaustion, but the cause of death hasn’t been revealed.

    The “Acrobat of Scat” made history as the only vocalist to win a Grammy Award in three different categories: R&B, jazz, and pop.

    Even though Jarreau wasn’t included in last night’s Grammys remembrance slideshow, Pentatonix acknowledged him during the broadcast. Stars Herb Alpert and Gregory Porter also paid tribute to Jarreau on the red carpet.

    [Image: AP Photo/Luca Bruno]

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    As you know, this month we’re challenging ourselves to learn something new about our history every day of Black History Month, and we’re hoping to share our findings with you, the UPTOWN readers.

    Today In Black History: Feb. 13th

    • 1818: Rev. Absalom Jones, the first Black Episcopal priest ordained in the U.S., died in Philadelphia. He helped found the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1787. He founded a Black congregation in 1794 and was ordained in 1804.
    • 1882: Rev. Henry Highland Garnet, the first Black speaker to address the House of Representatives, passed away in Monrovia, Liberia.
    • 1893: The World’s Fair Colored Opera and Concert Company performed at Carnegie Hall in New York.
    • 1905: After winning his second reelection, Pres. Teddy Roosevelt delivered a speech to the New York City Republican Club about the country’s race relations and his plans to improve racial equality.
    • 1907: Editor Wendell P. Dabney founded The Union newspaper in Cincinnati. He used the paper to protest the treatment of Black community.
    • 1970: Joseph L. Searles III became the first Black floor member and floor broker of the New York Stock Exchange.
    • 1973: Inventors Gertrude E. Downing and William Desjardin patented the corner cleaner attachment.

    Did we leave a notable person or event off this list? Well, each one teach one. Let us know in the comments.

    RELATED: Today In Black History: Feb. 12th

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    As you know, this month we’re challenging ourselves to learn something new about our history every day of Black History Month, and we’re hoping to share our findings with you, the UPTOWN readers.

    Today In Black History: Feb. 14th

    • 1760: Minister, educator, writer Richard Allen was born a slave on the Delaware property of his master. He would go on to co-found the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia.
    • 1818: Frederick Douglass may have been born a slave in on this date in Talbot County, Maryland.
    • 1867: Augusta Theological Institute was founded in Augusta, Georgia. The institution later moved to Atlanta and became Morehouse College.
    • 1936: National Negro Congress was organized.
    • 1946: Gregory Hines was born in New York City. He would become known as a dancer, choreographer, singer, and actor.
    • 1957: The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to combat segregation and promote civil rights. He also became its first president.
    • 1965: Malcolm X‘s home in East Elmhurst, Queens in New York City was firebombed with a Molotov cocktail. Seven days later, he was assassinated in the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights, New York.

    Did we leave a notable person or event off this list? Well, each one teach one. Let us know in the comments.

    RELATED: Today In Black History: Feb. 13th

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    By Dr. Crystal Moore

    On Valentine’s Day, people give gifts to acknowledge and celebrate loving relationships. Why not take time this February to help ensure that not only the gift, but also the gift-giver will be present for years to come?

    February is Heart Health Awareness Month.

    As a board-certified member of the College of American Pathologists, I know that of all the diagnoses I make, cancer is one of the most feared. However, heart disease claims more lives than all types of cancers combined. More importantly, with early awareness, intervention, and action, these deaths are largely preventable. With that in mind, while you are taking time to celebrate those closest to you, remember to prioritize heart health—yours and that of your loved ones.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Americans suffer more than 1.5 million heart attacks and strokes per year. Among African Americans, nearly 44 percent of men and 48 percent of women have some form of heart disease. And, contrary to popular belief, heart disease does not just affect men. It is the number one killer of women, causing one in three of their deaths.

    The good news is that decreasing our risk of heart disease is as simple as learning our ABCDS:

    • A is for Aspirin. If you have been identified as a person at risk for heart disease, low doses of aspirin “thin” the blood and help reduce clotting, which decreases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Take aspirin only as directed by your health care provider.
    • B is for Blood Pressure. The leading cause of heart attacks and stroke is high blood pressure. The prevalence of high blood pressure, or hypertension, in African Americans is the highest of any population in the world. Known as the “silent killer,” hypertension can quietly cause permanent heart damage without any symptoms. To prevent this, know your family history, have your blood pressure checked regularly, and, if diagnosed, take all medications as prescribed.
    • C is for Cholesterol. Although some cholesterol is required for normal cellular function, too much can cause hardening and narrowing of the arteries, known as atherosclerosis. This condition reduces blood flow to vital organs, such as the brain and the heart, potentially causing strokes and heart attacks. There are two types of cholesterol, HDL, known as “good cholesterol” and LDL, or “bad cholesterol.” Have your levels checked and take any medications to lower it as prescribed by your health care provider.
    • D is for Diabetes. Diabetes is a common condition that increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. African Americans are 77 percent more likely to suffer from this treatable, and often preventable, disease than Caucasians. Left unchecked, the complications of diabetes include blindness, amputations, renal failure, and heart disease. Have your fasting glucose checked, know your family history, and take all medications as prescribed to maintain your blood sugar at an acceptable level.
    • S is for Stop Smoking. People who smoke are two to four times more likely to develop heart disease, and approximately one out of five deaths from heart disease is directly attributable to smoking. Kicking the habit will decrease your chances of developing cancer, emphysema, and heart disease. Consult with your help care provider to develop a smoking cessation plan.

    This February and throughout the year, show your family, friends, and Valentine how much you really love them by investing in lifestyle modifications. Cook healthy meals together that are low in sodium and high in fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. Enjoy a brisk 30 minute walk, bike ride, or other physical activity together every day. Schedule visits with your health care providers to “learn your numbers” (blood pressure, cholesterol, fasting glucose, body mass index other important test results) and develop a plan to take control of your heart health. This Valentine’s Day, give the gift of your life for many years to come.

    Follow Crystal Moore, MD, PhD, FCAP at or on Twitter (@DrCrystalAMoore) for more health information and to receive a Prescription For Life (#RxForLife) to maximize your wellness in body, mind, soul, and spirit.

    Dr. Moore professed, even as a young child, that she wanted to be a physician. For her, medicine is not just a profession, but also a calling. Following that calling led her to pursue a dual doctorate, physician-scientist, MD/PhD degree at the Medical College of Virginia. Her PhD was awarded in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics. She completed her residency training in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology at Duke University and is a board-certified Fellow of the College of American Pathologists.

    Dr. Crystal A. Moore is a native of the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, where she resides with her two teenage sons.

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    Rosalee (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and Harriet Tubman (Aisha Hinds) in UNDERGROUND season 2

    By Bageot Dia

    From out of the cotton fields and the big house ran a grief-stricken yet determined set of seven slaves, who were like needles in the haystack their master called society. They existed but were not visible, until they grabbed their destiny.

    While escaping the brutality of slavery, their group now short a few martyrs asked: What is freedom? How can one achieve purpose in the face of social leprosy? More specifically, what can one do when society employs every measure of subjugation for the sole purpose of dehumanizing you?

    These questions — those of existential importance — are asked and answered by WGN America’s UNDERGROUND, which returns for a second season on March 8th.

    Headed by Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, UNDERGROUND exhibits the Black American as he once was, beaten down and stricken of humanity in the eyes of the Western world, but with unending courage and tenacity to survive.

    UNDERGROUND explores the 19th Century racial tension as the escapades of freedom fighters, slaves, abolitionists, and bounty hunters play out on screen.

    The skillful artifice of the series is potent. It speaks with people, with tragedy, with melancholic fervor that booms across the mind like a roaring lion. It’s a fantastic fictionalization of history, because the content is composed with such fluidity, that the ethos of slavery continues to reverberate, even in the 21st century.

    The series’ first season was met with critical acclaim, thanks to compelling writing and top-notch acting from Jurnee Smolett-Bell, Aldis Hodge, Jessica De Gouw, Alano Miller, Christopher Meloni, and Amirah Vann. Relishing in numerous NAACP Image Awards, and landing a “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it wasn’t hard to justify a season 2. Are you surprised?

    The story of the Black man in America is not often a happy one. Yet people continue to deny that he was once considered subhuman. Some choose to believe this because it is less painful than the truth and doesn’t acknowledge the debt American society owes to the Black man and woman. But the truth pervades everything. For as long as there exist people, there will exist those who thrill on silencing the hero. UNDERGROUND refuses to let slavery die a happy death. Rather, it will continue to seek and depict the truth.

    Season 2 of UNDERGROUND lands in March 8th at 10 p.m. on WGN America.

    Keep clicking for images from UNDERGROUND season 2 …

    [Image: WGN America]


    Alano Miller as Cato


    Aldis Hodge as Noah


    Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Rosalee

    [Images: WGN America]


    Aisha Hinds as Harriet Tubman


    Jessica De Gouw as Elizabeth, Jasika Nicole as Georgia


    Amirah Vann as Ernestine

    RELATED: ‘UNDERGROUND’ Reveals Harriet Tubman Actress

    [Images: WGN America]

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