Thursday, June 28, 2007

The All American Presidential Forums

Today is the day! Tavis Smiley will moderate the first All American Presidental Forum on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. Journalists of color, including Michel Martin of National Public Radio and Dwayne Wickham of Gannett News will pose questions to the democratic presidential candidates on issues such as healthcare, housing, Katrina relief, the economy and the environment, among others, as outlined in the #1 the New York Times best-seller, Covenant With Black America.

This forum will provide the first major opportunity for the candidates to present a detailed discourse and dialogue on their social agendas. The forum will air on PBS from 9:00 to 10:30 pm EST and will also be simultaneously webcast on pbs.org.

The following Democratic presidential candidates have been confirmed to participate: Senator Joe Biden, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Christopher Dodd, Senator John Edwards, Senator Mike Gravel, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Senator Barack Obama and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

Smiley says: "We are encouraged by the enthusiasm of all parties for this historic event, from the title to the format...the 'All American Presidental Forums' was created to provide fresh perspectives and an unprecendented level of inclusion for all Americans in general, and people of color in particular, in these critical discussions about our country's future."

A second forum will be held for Republican presidential candidates on September 27, 2007 on the campus of Morgan State University in Baltimore.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

::Event: Make It Happen Foundation & ING Power Brunch::

Warner Records executive Kevin Liles hosted the Make It Happen Foundation's power brunch in Hollywood on Sunday. The brunch honored Rodney and Holly Robinson Peete's charitable efforts with their HollyRod Foundation.

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Rodney Peete, Rhonda Mims, Holly Robinson Peete, Kevin Liles, Tamsin Smith
 
The HollyRod Foundation was established in 1997 by actress Holly Robinson Peete and her husband, former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete in honor of Holly's father, Matthew Robinson, Jr. who was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease at the young age of 46. Prior to his diagnosis, he was a successful television writer and producer for such shows as the Cosby show and was the original Gordon on Sesame Street. He succumbed to the disease in 2002.
 
While caring for Holly's father, Holly and Rodney encountered many patients that did not have access to expensive medications, services and treatments. Inspired by these patients and Holly's father, the HollyRod Foundation was created to help Parkinson's Disease patients around the country.
In 2002, HollyRod partnered with the Center for Parkinson's Research and Movement Disorders at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California and established the HollyRod Compassionate Care Program. Through this program, HollyRod is able to provide patients with financial and medical assistance.
 
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HollyRod holds various fundraisers, such as the DesignCure, a night of music and fashion as well as an annual pre-Super Bowl party.
 
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Shawn Robinson, Kevin Liles, Debra Lee, Sandye Lomax
 
Kevin Liles began his career in 1991 as an unpaid intern at Def Jam records and rose to his current position as Executive Vice President of the Warner Music Group. A native of Baltimore, he released his first book, Make It Happen: The Hip Hop Guide to Success, and in 2004, launched the Kevin Liles Foundation, a trust that invests in youth through sports, education and community organizations. He was recently recognized as an "Urban Hero" for his philanthropic work throughout the country.
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Nick Cannon and BET CEO Debra Lee
 
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Bad Boy Records Harve Pierre with Mike Kyser
 
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Donda West (Kanye's mom)
 
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BJ Coleman, Brandy, Adir Curtis
 
Photos by Johnny Nunez/Wireimage

Monday, June 25, 2007

1 in a Million Campaign: Stars Get Tested to Raise HIV Awareness

In honor of HIV Testing Day this Wednesday, June 27th, the Screen Actors Guild, the Black AIDS Institute, Artists for a New South Africa, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Beverly Hills/Hollywood branch of the NAACP is spearheading the "1 in a Million Campaign" today in Los Angeles .

The campaign will launch with a press conference and A-list Black celebrities being tested for HIV in front of the cameras. Celebrities expected to participate are Regina King, Hill Harper, Vanessa Williams and Tatyana Ali, among others.

The goal of the campaign is to get 1 million black Americans tested for HIV by December 1, 2008. According to the statement announcing the campaign, AIDS is the leading cause of death for black women between the ages of 25 and 34, and up to 46 percent of black gay men are estimated to be HIV-positive.

“AIDS in America today is a black disease,” said Phil Wilson, founder of the Black AIDS Institute. “Nobody wants to talk about that, and nobody wants to own that. That silence is killing us.”

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Carmelo Anthony Hosts Third Annual H.O.O.D. Movement

Allhiphop.com reports that Denver Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony will host his third annual H.O.O.D. Movement 3 on 3 Challenge this Saturday in Baltimore (June 23).

Celebs expected to appear are Carmelo's teammates Allen Iverson and JR Smith, Ray Lewis, television and radio personality Big Tigga and Rosci of BET's 106 & Park.

The H.O.O.D. (Holding Our Own Destiny)Movement will feature a 3 on 3 basketball tournament for youth ages 10-18, carnival games, music, food and contests.

In 2006, Anthony opened the Carmelo Anthony Youth Development Center, which provides academic support, career development, life skills instruction, sports and recreation, mentoring, and motivational learning experiences as part of an after-school program.

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Last month, the Giving Back Fund ranked 30 celebrities who made the largest personal public contributions in 2006. Carmelo ranked at #8, with a total of over 4 million.

Hip Hop Town Hall Meeting

Today on the Oprah show, an encore presentation of A Hip Hop Town Hall Meeting Pt. II will air with guests Russell Simmons, Grammy winning rapper Common, record exec Kevin Liles and Dr. Benjamin Chavis, former CEO of the NAACP and now CEO of the Hip Hop Summit Action Network, which he co-founded with Simmons.

The town hall meetings were in response to radio shock jock Don Imus' controversial remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team. During an interview on NBC's the Today show, he stated:

"I know that that phrase [nappy-headed hos] didn't originate in the white community. That phrase originated in the black community. And I'm not stupid. I may be a white man, but I know that these young women and young black women all through that society are demeaned and disparaged and disrespected by their own black men and that they are called that name. And I know that, and that doesn't give me, obviously, any right to say it, but it doesn't give them any right to say it."
Imus' remarks has begun a dialogue that Oprah says she wanted to have for years. The guests discussed the hip hop culture and the sexual exploitation of women.

Some comments from the show:

Dr. Chavis: "Hip-hop artists are not responsible for what Don Imus did. Don Imus was a racist. Don Imus was a sexist, and there's no way that Don Imus can blame hip-hop for what he did .... that is not to excuse hip-hop. Hip hop is not perfect. We've got to make it better. But we make hip-hop better by making society better, because hip-hop reflects the contradictions of society. There's too much poverty, there's too much injustice, and there's too much bad treatment of women in our society."
Common: "Hip-hop has been this child that we had. Our elders kind of abandoned the child at a young age and said, 'Okay, we don't really understand this. We don't relate to this ... and now as hip-hop has evolved and grown up, our parents are expecting hip-hop to be perfect and to be right."

On Part I of the show, Dr. Robin Smith, a regular Oprah show contributor, says the Imus controversy exposed "a hole in the soul of this country":

"Don Imus—he's a symbol. He's a symbol of how sick we are. He's a symbol of the self-hatred, not just in African-Americans, but in white America."

She says that racism and sexism is like having garbage for dinner everyday: "At first it tastes awful, it stinks, it makes you sick .... but when you have it long enough, and I serve it to you well enough and sometimes even dress it up with pretty plates and fine linen, it begins to trick your mind and your spirit and make you think that, that which is toxic and poison actually starts to taste okay."

In April, the Hip Hop Summit Action network offered recommendations to the recording and broacast industries. Among them were that the industries voluntarily remove/delete/bleep the words "bitch", "ho" and "n*gger"; the formation of a music industry coalition on broadcast standards that would recommend lyrical and visual standards; and that the recording industry establish a mentoring program and forums to begin dialogue among hip hop fans, artists and industry leaders to promote better understanding and change.
Picture: Oprah.com

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Conscious Jewelry

Want to look fashionable while supporting a good cause? Try charity bracelets which have become popular in recent years. Hip hop entrepreneur Russell Simmons and the jewelry house of Cartier have created bracelets that support charity.

A fact-finding trip to Botswana and South Africa inspired Russell Simmons to create the Green Initiative Jewelry collection along with the Diamond Empowerment Fund. The Green Initiative collection (pictured at left) of the Simmons Jewelry Company, features hip hop inspired jewelry in stainless steel, rubber and conflict free diamonds.

The Diamond Empowerment Fund (D.E.F.) is an international, non-profit organization, with a mission to raise money for educational programs to uplift the people and communities of Africa. The Green Initiative’s mission is to raise funds for this fund. Twenty-five percent of the net profits of the Green Initiative jewelry collection will go to the D.E.F.

The Green bracelet is the Green Initiative's first piece to be sold at retailers nationwide. The bracelet is made from native African materials - genuine green malachite beads and a rough African conflict free diamond. The bracelet embodies the natural beauty of Africa and celebrates the resources this rich continent has to offer.

With the purchase of the Green Bracelet, which will sell at retail for $125, fifty percent of the net profits go back into Africa to support educational programs where diamonds are a natural resource.

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Venus Williams, Russell Simmons and Eva Marcelle

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Rosario Dawson

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Russell and Beyonce
 
Another company that is using jewelry for a good cause is Cartier. Last year, the company donated more than 1.2 million to various global charities from sales of its Love Charity bracelet.

The bracelet is a knotted silk cord with a small 18k white gold miniature love bracelet at its front. The bracelet comes in various colors, each color representing a different cause sponsored by a celebrity. The bracelet costs $475 with $100 from each sale donated to the celebrity's charity of choice.

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Usher's Love Charity bracelet supports his New Look Foundation

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Rihanna's mint-green bracelet supports her charity, Believe

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Spike Lee's charity of choice is the Kanbar Institute of Film & Television/Tisch School of the Arts/NYU

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Actor Djimon Honsou's brown bracelet supports the SOS Children's Villages

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Rosario Dawson with Frederic de Narp of Cartier. Rosario's red bracelet supports Youth AIDS


The Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation has created the Band Together to Build the Dream wristband, which can be yours with a minimum donation of $5.00. Allow 6 to 8 weeks for delivery.
Donate today.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Event: African Union Summit

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Left to right: Judge Greg Mathis, Jamie Foxx, Chris Tucker, Herbie Hancock, Isaiah Washington, Ozwald Boateng and Mos Def

On June 15th in Beverly Hills, the African Union Summit held a panel and discussion on promoting African American interest in Africa.

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Chris Tucker with men's designer Oswald Boateng

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Oswald, Chris & Isaiah



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Mos Def & Jamie Foxx

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Herbie Hancock, Mos Def & Jamie Foxx

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Photos:  WireImage

Russell Simmons and Kimora Lee Simmons Set to Host 8th Annual "Art for Life" Gala

Russell Simmons and Kimora Lee Simmons will host Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation's 8th Annual Art for Life gala to be held July 28th at the Simmons' estate in East Hampton, NY.

Art for Life East Hampton is Rush Philanthropic’s primary annual fundraising effort to help thousands of under served New York City children. The honorary co-chairs are Ivanka Trump and Antonio “L.A.” Reid. The event co-chairs are Damon Dash and fashion designer wife Rachel Roy. Honorees this year are Judith Jamison of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Each year, three youth groups are selected as the event’s featured beneficiaries. This year’s groups are Friends of Island Academy, The POINT and Working Playground. Proceeds from ART FOR LIFE will also support Rush Philanthropic’s own signature education programs; as well as provide support for Rush Arts Gallery exhibitions featuring the works of emerging artists of color; and help launch Rush East New York, an arts oasis the foundation will open in Brooklyn this fall.

Last year the gala raised almost $1.4 million to provide disadvantaged New York City youth with invaluable arts experiences. Here are some pix from last year's event:


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Friday, June 15, 2007

Urban News: Black Males & Fatherhood

A Washington Post article, Regrets of A High School Dropout, tells the story of 19 year old Larue Campbell, who dropped out of high school last spring. Now living with his aunt in Prince George's County, Maryland, most of his days consists of sleeping late, watching TV or searching the want ads. He's currently studying for the GED exam. The article cites that in D.C., 51 percent of black males dropped out of school in 2003-04 school year, compared with 5 percent of white males.

Larue shared that his troubles began in his sophomore year around the time he moved with his aunt and began skipping school. He says about skipping school: "It was like it wasn't a big deal to anybody, so it wasn't a big deal to me .... because there were no consequences, quitting was easy."

He also adds:

"Just because you drop out doesn't mean you don't have plans, it doesn't mean
you don't have a future."
Read the entire article here.

Larue's story highlights a troubling trend in the African American community, that 56 percent of black children live in single family households, often without a father present. Both of Larue's parents dropped out of high school and his father had spent time in jail.

Phillip Jackson, executive director of the Chicago-based Black Star Project, says that “father absence in the African American communities, across America, has hit those communities with the force of 100 hurricane Katrinas....it is literally decimating our communities and we have no adequate response to it.”

In 2006, the National Fatherhood Initiative in Gaithersburg, Maryland commissioned the University of Texas at Austin to conduct a survey of 701 fathers called “Pop’s Culture: A National Survey of Dads’ Attitudes on Fathering.” The survey found that 91 percent agreed there is a father-absence crisis in America.

Fathers who were not married that took the survey cited a lack of cooperation from mothers as the chief obstacle to being a good father, followed by work responsibilities, financial problems and treatment of fathers by the courts.

The survey also cited that media and popular culture were impediments to being a good father.
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In the media world, Burrell Communications, a leading multicultural communications agency is challenging the stereotype of the absent African American father by launching a national awareness campaign that honors African-American fathers who are active in their children’s lives. Entitled “A Celebration of Black Fathers,” the initiative showcases vibrant images of fathers and their children in television, radio, cinema and print media. The agency partnered with acclaimed photographer Carol Ross, author of “POP: A Celebration of Black Fatherhood,” and uses photography from her book for the print and television advertising.
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There are many fathers and father figures who define what it means to be a good father. In celebration of Father's Day this Sunday, here are some pix of celebrity fathers and their children:


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Jamie Foxx with his daughter Corrine
Jamie has said of his daughter, "to have someone who came from you keep enriching your life, is beautiful."

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Russell Simmons and his daughter, Ming Lee
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Quincy Jones and daughter Rashida

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Lenny Kravitz and daughter Zoe
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Forest Whitaker and his family
Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Jamie Foxx and Queen Latifah Team With NBA Cares to Promote HIV Testing

Jamie Foxx and Queen Latifah have partnered with NBA Cares to promote HIV testing in the U.S. and abroad to coincide with National HIV Testing Day on June 27.

Public service announcements (PSAs) on television and radio will begin airing on Game 5 of the NBA finals. Doug E. Fresh provided the original music for the ads.

The PSAs aim to raise awareness about the importance of HIV testing and direct U.S. viewers to http://www.testing411.org/, a comprehensive online resource developed especially for the campaign that includes basic information about HIV and testing options. The site also includes easy access to information about local HIV testing centers by zip code provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This unique campaign has been developed by the National Basketball Association (NBA), HBO, the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GBC), and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The PSAs will be shown in arenas during NBA games throughout the 2007-2008 regular season. MTV and BET have also committed to airing the PSAs in the U.S. as part of their longstanding public education partnerships, thinkHIV and Rap-It-Up respectively.
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This isn’t the first time that Jamie Foxx and Queen Latifah have worked together on a project that aims to increase awareness of HIV and AIDS. They co-produced the HBO movie Life Support, which depicted the true story of Ana, a former drug addict who turned her life around to help others living with HIV and AIDS. Queen Latifah played the role in Ana in the movie.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

::Event: Apollo Theater Foundation Spring Benefit::

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Dance Theater of Harlem

The 3rd annual Apollo Theater Foundation spring benefit was held on June 11 in New York. The Foundation, established in 1992, is dedicated to the preservation and development of the Apollo Theater which is a historic landmark. The theater provides activities in the Harlem community, such as health fairs, free monthly movies for kids and talent showcase competitions for children and seniors.

The benefit was hosted by comedian and actor Chris Tucker, with performances by hip hop artist Mos Def, Maceo Parker and the Dance Theater of Harlem.

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Rodney and Holly Robinson Peete

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Ruby Dee

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Terry McMillan

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Yolanda Ferrell Brown, Jonelle Procope & Alicia Bythewood

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Maurice & Andrea DuBois

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Chris Tucker

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Chris Tucker & Wyclef Jean

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Star Jones

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Board Member Dick Parsons, Chris Tucker & Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis Arts Humanitarian Award honorees Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick

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