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Black Entertainment, Money, Style and Beauty Blogs - Black Voices

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    Makeover Your Nursery

    Having a baby changes everything. Most people don't realize that this age-old adage applies to their home décor aesthetic as well as their sleep schedule.

    Between playtimes, bedtime stories, bouts with colic and 3 a.m. feedings, you are going to be spending a lot of quality time in your baby's nursery ... so you might as well like the newfound hub of your household.

    According to our sister site, ParentDish, the first thing to take in to consideration is whether you want to go gender neutral or specific. Pink and blue standards have been replaced by pale yellows, silver greens and gray lavenders and is the perfect way to blend the nursery in to the palate of the rest of the house.

    To add some personality to more muted hues, add stick-on art. Wall Pops are a popular brand that adds fun designs to the wall ... but is easy to peel off.

    ShelterPop has some helpful hints for when it comes time to decorate a stylish nursery.

    Nursery Makeovers

    Who said a baby room couldn't be sophisticated? Cartoon aesthetics don't quite cut it anymore.

    Get creative with a pop art pacifier. A Warhol-esque piece of art by the crib could provide the perfect amount of stimulation for you and the baby.

    Nursery Makeovers

    Make a statement with your nursery without going too over the top. The nature-inspired room above plays with different textures, fabrics and patterns. A mix of wicker, rattan, cotton and flokati keeps the aesthetics of the room interesting. You can appreciate the woody quality of the room without getting lost in its dark walls.

    Nursery Makeovers

    The picture above mixes time periods rather than textures. The Tord Boontje chandelier illuminates the retro feel of the room. What contrasts better with new life than vintage hand-me-downs? An overall color scheme (in this case, blue and white) is usually necessary to pull together a mish-mosh of flea market gems.


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    From the Huffington Post:

    A 38-year-old TV sports anchor from Chicago was found dead Thursday morning in his Atlanta hotel room, where he was staying while covering the Chicago Bulls-Atlanta Hawks NBA playoff series.

    Daryl Hawks worked for WMAQ-TV since 2008. Atlanta police spokesman Carlos Campos said Hawks was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead and police do not suspect anything criminal.

    Hawks had been staying in the Omni Hotel at CNN Center, which is next to Philips Arena where the Bulls and Hawks play Game 6 Thursday night.

    Read more here.


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    From the New York Times:

    Almost two years after outlining a broad strategy intended to strengthen the security of the nation's computers and networks, the Obama administration said Thursday that it was sending proposed legislation to Congress that would strengthen penalties for any invasion of private computer systems.

    But the White House, in a briefing for reporters, said it had elected not to seek authority for stringent top-down regulations that would require companies to erect specific barriers to computer intrusions - which corporations feared would be enormously costly and soon be outdated.

    Instead, the administration is hoping to offer incentives that will persuade private industry to improve computer security voluntarily and have those standards reviewed by the Department of Homeland Security.

    Read more here.


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    From the San Francisco Chronicle:

    Elliott Spillard always wondered about his family history.

    Aside from the names of his parents and grandparents, the only thing the 18-year-old knew was that his skin was very light for an African American.

    And he wanted to know why.

    The Berkeley Technical High School teen started his search for answers Thursday with several classmates, taking a seat at a computer in the Family History Center of the Oakland Mormon Temple. He carefully typed his father's name into an ancestry search Internet site.

    Read more here.


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  • 05/13/11--05:06: Going Back to Rock Hill

  • ROCK HILL, S.C. -- Every now and then Clarence Graham makes his way back to that old lunch counter in Rock Hill.

    He walks through the doors and past the space where shelves of t-shirts and socks, school supplies and toiletries were once sold.

    Mothers and aunties would send young boys there for a missing ingredient, or young girls for barrettes and bobby pins. Sweethearts sipped their ice cream floats and Coca-Colas at the counter, and giggled and laughed away lazy summer afternoons. It was a sweet spot in a rough mill town called Rock Hill.

    At least it was for some of Rock Hill's residents.

    Once upon a time this was McCrory's Five and Dime Variety Store, and what happened here on January 31, 1961 not only marked a defining moment in Graham's life, but it was a defining moment in the Civil Rights Movement.

    "We had no idea back in 1961 that what we did would blossom into what it is," said Graham, sitting in the reception hall of the Old Town Bistro, formerly McCrory's.

    In 1961, Graham was a college student at Friendship Junior College in Rock Hill, a town in a region known for its fierce opposition to integration. McCrory's was a variety store where blacks could purchase everyday items but were barred from ordering food or sitting at the lunch counter.

    Graham and more than a dozen black demonstrators, all but one students at the college, walked a mile or so from the Friendship campus to McCrory's, singing 'We Shall Overcome' and carrying protest signs demanding equal treatment. After marching up and down the block for awhile, a group of them splintered off and entered the store, heading directly to the lunch counter.

    Before they had a chance to order and of course, be denied, police stormed in and dragged the men from their seats to a police station across the street.

    Many of them had been arrested before for similar demonstrations.

    A little more than a year earlier, on February 12, 1960 (Abraham Lincoln's birthday), about 100 college students from Friendship College converged on lunch counters all across Rock Hill. They descended upon Woolworth's Department Store, the Good Drug Company, J.L. Phillips Drug Company and McCrory's, too. They sat at counters and did the unthinkable: ordered lunch. And they were denied. But they refused to leave their seats, compelling some of the stores to not just close for the day, but to remove the counter stools altogether.

    These were some of the first sit-ins, then known as sit-downs, in South Carolina.

    In 1961, Graham and eight others accepted 30 days of hard labor at the York County Prison Farm instead of posting bail, thereby shifting the financial burden to the system rather than helping to fill the coffers of the jailers.

    The tactic became known as "jail, no bail," and was adopted by Civil Rights organizations across the country, many who had seen their finances deplete as more protest action meant more arrests and more bail money.

    It was a pivotal moment in the movement, and one that Graham said he fears has been largely forgotten.

    The youth today have grown selfish, he said, too wrapped up in Facebook and video games, and "how many followers they have" to study their history.

    "We've lost a lot of ground because the young people just don't believe, because it hasn't really been documented or taught to them in class," Graham said this week, during a reception held at the Old Town Bistro on behalf of the Freedom Riders and students retracing their 1961 journey. Graham and three of the eight surviving Friendship Nine gathered with Rock Hill officials to break bread and trade war stories.

    Before the sit-in at McCrory's and "jail, no bail," Graham said that black residents of Rock Hill "couldn't get within ten miles of the place, let alone eat there."

    After the sit-in, and 30 days of hard labor on the prison farm, life beyond the lunch counter didn't change much. In the days and months that followed, crosses were burned in his family's front yard. The police would roll slowly down their street in the middle of the night and shine a spotlight into their windows as they slept, he said. His father, who worked the presses at a local newspaper, was threatened. If Graham didn't leave town and stop causing "trouble" his father was told, he would lose his job.

    Graham had eight siblings and the family couldn't afford to lose any income.

    Eventually he did leave, though. He graduated college in 1962 and joined the Air Force, shipping off to Vietnam in 1965.

    A week before he was sent to Vietnam, then stationed in Colorado, he decided to take his new bride back to Rock Hill to honeymoon.

    It was a rude return.

    He said he pulled up to a local Holiday Inn where a bright and blinking sign read, 'Vacant.' As he approached the front desk, however, the receptionist grimaced and told him, despite his reservation, that there were no rooms available.

    "I was in my military uniform and everything," he said. "We were nonviolent when we were in school, but after being trained for combat and coming back to that, it was very difficult to stay in a nonviolent mode at the time. It was a bad feeling."

    In the decades after the Civil Rights Movement and after Vietnam, Graham, now a great-grandrather, moved to Columbia, South Carolina, where he worked as a caseworker and supervisor for the county child services department. In 2007 he retired and moved back home to Rock Hill.

    Forty-Seven years after the sit-in, Graham said he was invited back to the old site of the five and dime to commemorate that moment with all eight of the surviving members of the Friendship Nine. The new owners purchased the property with the commitment of leaving the lunch counter intact and open for tours, he said.

    It was Graham's first time back in all those years.

    "It was bittersweet," he said. "Why did it take so long?"


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  • 05/13/11--05:21: It's Been a Great Ride!

  • Hello Black Voices!

    I must say that I am a bit sad to be writing this letter to you. Today is my last day on the team, and I will genuinely miss reading your comments and bringing you the latest news.I first came on the team about two years ago. When I joined, the news and sports sections (Black Spin and BV Sports, respectively) weren't the most popular sites on - both readership and engagement were low for the sites. But then I started beefing up the offerings with writers, such as Dr. Boyce Watkins, Ruth Manuel-Logan, Jeff Mays, Paul Shepard, Madison J. Gray, Jam Donaldson, Quibian Salazar-Moreno and Kirsten Savali.

    My goal was to serve up the most relevant news in a timely way and make a dependable destination for all that's relevant.

    And boy, how you responded! Comments, week by week, stayed in the hundreds and traffic soared as you discussed and argued about all we had to offer.

    I thank you for keeping me on my toes and teaching me a lot about what stories you care about. is indeed a special place and it promises to get even better in the coming months and years.

    Please feel free to keep in touch with me on Facebook (as some of you already do!) or on Twitter at @nalima.

    If you google me, you'll be sure to see that I'm still chasing the news!


    Abena Agyeman-Fisher


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  • 05/13/11--06:00: Beautiful Black Athletes
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    black female athletes

    We thought we'd take a moment to show some love and admiration for some women who are disciplined, strong, black and beautiful. Just because.


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    Alvin Ailey, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Robert Battle, Judith Jamison

    When Robert Battle moved to New York City from his hometown of Miami, Florida in 1990, his mother gave him a piece of advice: Don't look up at the tall buildings. Today, with sunshine pouring through floor-to-ceiling windows, Battle stood in the center of a dance studio on the fifth floor of New York City's largest, if not tallest, structure dedicated solely to dance, The Joan Weill Center For Dance, where he formally announced new works for his debut season as artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

    The occasion marks a historic transitional moment in the history of the Ailey company. When he takes the reins officially on July 1, Battle will be only the third artistic director since the company was founded in 1958. Judith Jamison (pictured below), the company's second artistic director chosen by Alvin Ailey himself in 1989, will assume the role as artistic director emerita, a role which will allow her to be behind the scenes, but not as intimately involved as she is now. Before she introduced Battle, Jamison told the studio full of press, board members and dancers: "You will not see me hanging around, believe me. That is not why I asked this man to do this."

    Battle's relationship with the Ailey Dance Theater began in 1999, when he was brought to Jamison's attention by Sylvia Waters, who currently directs the junior company, Ailey II. He has been a frequent choreographer and artist-in-residence at Ailey, choreographing 11 works for both companies and the Ailey School. But nothing he has done with the company is comparable to the responsibilities of his new role.

    More than 20 different works will be presented during Battle's inaugural season, which begins on November 30 at New York City Center. At the press conference, Battle discussed six of those works, and featured a performance of 'Takedeme,' an engrossing, kinetic burst of choreography set to the a cappella prattle and scat of the English pop singer Sheila Chandra. The piece is a reprisal of the work that many say put him on the map. "I thought, what a great opportunity to show that work," said Battle, who created the piece in the tight confines of a living room in a Queens apartment. "It has something to do with little to nothing and now having a lot, but not forgetting where you come from."

    Another sentimental work being presented will be the world premier of a piece by hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris. Harris and Battle worked together (along with Jamison) in 2004 for the work, 'Love Stories.' This time, the still-untitled piece choreographed by Harris, is inspired by poems, stories, and images about people living with or affected by HIV. The piece will premier on December 1, World AIDS Day, a day which has added significance because the company's founder died from AIDS-related illness on December 1, 1989. "This is a way of remembering, but also a way of saying we're moving forward," Battle said.

    For the Ailey company, Jamison, and Battle, moving forward and continuing the company's rich tradition of being the torch-bearer for modern dance is especially important. As Jamison said in her opening remarks, one of the reasons Battle was chosen was because he is a young talent, a couple years shy of turning 40-years-old. "I emphasize young, because I want to see the company go on for another 50 years," Jamison said.

    Battle has the same plan as he pursues his mission to preserve the legacy of Ailey. With an ear-to-ear grin, and the happy energy of a dancer eager to show off his best moves, Battle closed his speech by saying, "The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, over 50 years old? Yes, here we are. Another 50 years more? Yes, absolutely."


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    The fifth annual Delta Civil Rights Game will take place on Sunday, May 15 in Atlanta, pairing the Phillies and the Braves, two teams with superstar African American players, to face each other in a city with a rich heritage of highlighting and celebrating black folks -- in joy and struggle.

    Find out more.


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    black celebrities

    This week's best dressed celebrities dolled up for promotional events, theater debuts and film screenings. See if any of your favorite celebs made the cut.


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    (05-13) 13:32 PDT PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP)

    -- The musician Michel Martelly will be sworn in as Haiti's new president Saturday in front of the collapsed National Palace and a shantytown filled with thousands of people displaced by last year's earthquake - two stark reminders of the challenges faced by the neophyte politician.

    The performer known to Haitians as "Sweet Micky" is not expected to have much of a honeymoon amid deep frustration with a political leadership that has made little progress toward earthquake reconstruction or addressed many other problems, from a deeply dysfunctional judicial system to almost universal unemployment.

    The 50-year-old leader, who during the campaign provided few specifics of how he would fulfill his promises, is expected to lay out some of his vision during an inaugural speech. Whatever they are, his goals won't be easy to achieve given the country's entrenched problems - and the fact that the Senate and Chamber of Deputies will be controlled by political opponents from the party of outgoing President Rene Preval.

    "All eyes are on Martelly, and he has an opportunity to show what he can do," said Mark Schuller, a professor of African-American studies and anthropology at York College, City University of New York.

    The inauguration marks the first time that a president of Haiti will turn over power to a member of the opposition in a country marred by a long history of dictatorship, coups and political turmoil.

    Read more at SFGate.


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    In an episode of the defunct reality side show, 'The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency,' the late Mia Amber Davis, an editor at large of 'Plus Model Magazine,' and an actress best known for her role in the college boy flick, 'Road Trip,' seeks the agency's assistance in finding new faces for a photo shoot.

    The ever-abrasive Ms Dickinson is appalled, and snaps, "High fashion is a size zero." At that moment, zero seemed like what it truly is -- nothing. When Janice grudgingly agrees to participate in the casting, she is compared to Martin Luther King (by a plus-sized model cast for the episode) leading the way in the civil rights movement. Freeing us to do what? Receive the respect due to any mother's daughter walking the earth? To be our "naturally" curvy, sassy black selves?

    Ms. Davis died on May 12th from a blood clot after routine knee surgery. Her untimely passing led us to reflect on what, if anything, has changed since we were both plus-size models in the early 1980's. The answer -- not much.

    While body image issues are a pandemic in our society, the stats are about the same as they were in our day. The average American woman is still 5'4", wears size 14 and weighs a little under 165 lbs. Yes, there was tons of press around Full Figured Fashion Week last year, and the inclusion of a plus size event during "real" Fashion Week -- both of which were (mis)lauded as "firsts" (Yvonne Dazay produced the first show in 1979, and Givenchy debuted a plus size line, Givenchy en Plus, at the Carlyle Hotel during Fashion Week in 1984).

    The occasional "fat fashion" article runs in a major newspaper. The naked size 14 posing in 'Glamour' was called brave, and the Dove Real Women campaign was seen as groundbreaking, but we still live in a size-ist ghetto, where achieving the coveted "zero" is the goal. That is a change. The ideal size used to be 6 or 8.

    Do black women wrestle with size-ism like everybody else? Yes, but if we're big, we are generally seen as one of two types -- the larger-than-life, curvaceous, insatiable, loud, flamboyant temptress who cannot control any of her appetites; or the comforting, non-threatening, desexualized "Mammy" whose arms are always open and who bakes a mean pound cake.

    Are black women "supposed" to be curvier than our less melanin-endowed sisters? Does being the fat black woman effectively remove us from cultural, fashionable or romantic consideration -- unless we're talking to fetishists? Or do we just become "other"?

    Mia was, in so many ways, another kind of "other" -- she was the antithesis of the media's image of the big black woman, both in real life and in the roles she played. Her character in 'Road Trip,' and most recently her stint on Ms. Dickinson's 'Model Agency,' reflected a sweet kindness often absent in the portrayals of young women of any age, race or size. She was beautiful, not in spite of her size, but because she seemed comfortable with all of herself and she championed respect for women regardless of size.

    Then there is the most visible large black woman in the world, Oprah. It's OK for Oprah to be fat. It's even OK for her to be black, because she is the undisputed Queen of Otherness. She is every one of us (female/male/black/white/fat/skinny/wounded/enlightened) and none of us, and we like that about her. But it is also clear that she has continued to struggle with what her size means in her own life, just like the rest of us.

    Does "otherness" like that of Oprah and Mia affect the way we see ourselves and move through the world? Does it force us to defend, excuse, deny or ignore the relevance of our plus-sizedness (and/or our blackness) to every single life issue we face? Every time we are forced to do that, do we lose a little bit of ourselves?

    This is not a battle we expected to still be fighting thirty years after we entered the full-figured fray, but like so many others, it goes on. After decades of women fighting for equality and the claim of our fair share, we're now fighting to achieve nothingness -- that's what zero is right?

    Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant are former professional plus-size models that have turned a friendship into one of the most successful collaborations in women's fiction. These 'The New York Times,' 'USA Today' and 'Essence' bestselling authors have coauthored seven novels and were recently ranked #9 on the list of 25 Most Influential Black Fiction Writers on twitter by The Best Damn Creative Writing Blog. Buy their books and read their blog on Red Room.


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    Etta JamesFrom The LA Times: Blues legend Etta James was hospitalized in Riverside earlier this week with infections of the blood and the urinary tract, one of her sons said Friday.

    "It was a really bad infection," Sametto James said. "Right now she's doing a lot better."

    The 73-year-old singer, who is also battling dementia and leukemia, was also hospitalized in January 2010 for sepsis and a UTI. She's expected to stay hospitalized until her infections are cleared, Sametto told the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

    Read More at The LA Times


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    Wyatt Cenac, Comedy Central, Wyatt Cenac: Comedy Person, The Daily Show

    Comedian Wyatt Cenac is black. People who watch him on 'The Daily Show' know this. Those who have seen him in the movie 'Medicine For Melancholy' know this. And anyone who tunes in to watch his one-hour stand-up special 'Wyatt Cenac: Comedy Person' on Comedy Central tonight at 11 p.m. EST will certainly notice as well. But when he presents his work, whether as a stand-up or an on-air correspondent, Cenac tries to be simultaneously conscious and transcendent about race.

    We talked with him about his views on the segregated world of stand-up comedy, 'The Daily Show' sketch that almost didn't air, and why he won't watch his stand-up special with friends.Jozen Cummings: Do you get a lot of people who come up to you and say, "Hey, you're the black guy on 'The Daily Show'"?
    Wyatt Cenac: It's always a little weird for me, because when they hired me they said, "Oh, we're not hiring you to play that role. We just want you to be a correspondent, so you can do stories that don't necessarily have anything to do with race." So when people say I'm the black correspondent, there's a part of me that's like, 'Nah, I'm just a regular correspondent. Open your minds, people! This is Dr. King's dream! He talked about 'The Daily Show' -- how one day there would be black correspondents and Muslim correspondents and white correspondents, all living together.'

    JC: Is there any obligation to be that "black voice" -- as with your 2009 'Daily Show' bit about rappers who have been affected by the recession with real-life rapper Slim Thug (see below)? What's the voice you try to have among the other correspondents?
    WC: That is part of my voice -- that's the stuff I find interesting. I don't know if I feel any pressure to pitch that [sort of material] as much as it just reflects my sense of humor. The way I see things is through that prism. I think the mistake a lot of people make is that they put it through a race prism, when it's not about that at all. I grew up as a kid in Dallas, Texas, where my friends listened to a lot of hip-hop, and I listened to a lot of hip-hop. That's as much my generation as it is a racial thing.

    JC: In your stand-up and in the things you write, are you conscious of when your work is being put through that race prism or do you try to present work that transcends race?
    WC: It definitely crosses my mind, because my race is a part of who I am. In one sense, it's very easy to get mired in that. At the same time, the reality is if you look at me, you see a black person, so in that way race will always be there no matter what. It's like, "Oh it's the black correspondent." Well, no, I'm just a correspondent, but regardless of how I present it, people will always attach a racial element to it. But this is my story: A kid who's black, who grew up in Texas, who is of West Indian descent. There are very specific aspects of my experience that are not the "black experience" and to me, that's what transcendent is.

    JC: Anything behind the straight-to-the-point title of your stand-up special, "Wyatt Cenac: Comedy Person"?
    WC: Yeah, I'm not great at titles -- they tend to be the most basic thing I can think of. Also, in stand-up it's really easy to categorize people. I remember going to clubs in L.A. where there might be a woman comedian doing the show, and a lot of times the host would introduce her like this: "Who's ready for a lady?" And, you know, to put that qualifier there, there's something very strange about that. Also, at that time, if you wanted diversity at the club level, it was Monday nights at the Improv -- that was black night. At the Laugh Factory it was 'Chocolate Sunday' and 'Refried Fridays' and 'Stir Fried Thursdays.' So I think [my decision surrounding the title] might have played into that a little bit.

    JC: So you understand race is always going to be a part of the way people describe you, but you hate when people use it to describe you?
    WC: I'm just somebody doing comedy like the next person. If you think it's funny, great. That was the point. But putting a qualifier on it -- that this is a black person doing comedy or this is a lady doing comedy, that always used to skiv me out. For a while, when I would do a club, a lot of times I would have the host intro me with "Who's ready for a lady?" just to call out how stupid it was.

    JC: But in the 1990's black comedians kind of embraced that whole black comedian/comedy thing. There was BET's 'Comic View' and 'Def Comedy Jam.' Do you see having those stages as an advantage?
    WC: I think it's great that those platforms were there, but there's an aspect that seems like Hollywood either doesn't look at a show like 'Comic View' or if they just think, "They're over there, they're taken care of." I don't know what that mindset is, but it seems [they think] they don't need to worry about booking black comedians on 'The Tonight Show' or whatever bigger shows there might be, because [we're] taken care of. That's a question worth asking Hollywood at large.

    JC: How did you avoid being put in that 'black comedy' category? You're more associated with 'The Daily Show' and your stand-up televised debut is on Comedy Central, not BET.
    WC: Well, there's also the alternative [comedy] world, and I very quickly got put into that world. There aren't a lot of minorities who get put in that world. Me, Craig Robinson, W. Kamau Bell -- there are comedians who got placed on that track, and it's a weird thing, because I remember in L.A. there were black shows that were like The Big Black show and it was always a struggle for me to get into that world, because I'd already been put on this other track. And on this other track I'm at X level, but then if I wanted to do the 'Mo Betta' Mondays" at the Improv, it didn't matter what level I was at in the alternative world. I had to start from ground zero and earn their trust and pay dues in that world.

    JC: What has being on 'The Daily Show' done for you personally and professionally?
    WC: Well, the first thing it did was allow me to pay my rent [laughs]. I wasn't really doing that before I got the gig. Right before I got the job, I had to move out of my apartment because I couldn't pay for it and my car got repossessed. But beyond that, it's definitely helped me with opportunities to do stand-up around the country.

    JC: What about opportunities from your role in 'Medicine For Melancholy,' in which you played the male lead in a story about two people who hang out the day after a one night stand?
    WC: There are people who know me solely from that movie who have no idea I work for 'The Daily Show,' and there are people who know me from 'The Daily Show' who have no idea about that movie. It's been very interesting trying to bridge those worlds a little bit more.

    JC: Is having both projects on your resume an advantage?
    WC: Right now, I use it to my advantage to meet ladies [laughs].

    JC: That's what most men would do.

    WC: No, sadly it doesn't help me. It helps producers and writers on 'The Daily Show' -- they're able to get dates, but being on-air talent on 'The Daily Show' seems to have the opposite effect.

    JC: What's your relationship like with Jon Stewart, host of 'The Daily Show'?
    WC: Pretty professional. Our job is one where we're constantly on the move, working on the next thing and outside of work he's a father of two and he's hanging out with his kids. I've avoided hanging out with my children [Ed note: Cenac doesn't have children.] I don't acknowledge their existence [laughs]. Outside of work, we don't hang out that often because if we did he'd say, "Shouldn't you be more responsible with your kids?" And I'd be like, 'Shut up, old man! You don't know me!'

    JC: Has there ever been a bit you had trouble selling the 'Daily Show' team?
    WC: The Slim Thug thing actually, that was something I had to push. It was a world where I felt there were a lot of jokes, but I remember we pitched it a couple of times and there were three different producers that had been on it at some point. I think around the third time, there was more to the story but it was one of those things initially they thought, 'Do people really want to see something about rappers dealing with the recession?' But eventually, it got through.

    JC: Tomorrow night, when your special airs and you're on television as a stand-up comedian for the first time ever, where are you watching the show? Party at Wyatt's?
    WC: I think I'm going to crawl under my bed. I've watched it so many times because I've been editing of it and honestly, what I think I'm going to wind up doing is going to see Donald Glover, who is a very funny comedian, he's on the show 'Community,' and he's taping his special tomorrow night at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. I don't know if I could do a party. If I did a party, I'd just be sitting there watching people watching me and saying, "You didn't laugh as loud as I thought you should!"


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    BIRMINGHAM - In a church where four little girls lost their lives, angels still seem to be singing. Their songs are not of the pain left behind, but of freedom.

    The choir rose to its feet and sang:

    Before I'll be a slave
    I'll be buried in my grave
    I'll go home to my Lord
    And I'll be free

    As if a wave swept through the pews nearly everyone in the audience rose, swayed and clapped. The energy was palpable, the way Sunday at a Southern Baptist church can be. But this wasn't Sunday service, it was a special performance at the 16th Street Baptist Church (pictured below) by the Carlton Reese Memorial Choir for an audience of very special guests - the Freedom Riders.

    In a city synonymous with the strife of segregation and the forces that fought so fiercely to end it, this church is a sacred place in the Civil Rights Movement legacy. Birmingham is also a place where the Freedom Riders suffered a particularly brutal beating by the Ku Klux Klan as they challenged the segregation of interstate buses there.

    The violence in Birmingham became so bloody then, that the city became known as "Bombingham."

    It was the latest stop along the 2011 Freedom Ride, which brought together a handful of original Freedom Riders and 40 college students from across the country and from different backgrounds to retrace the original journey through the Deep South. Each stop up until then had been wrought with emotions: guilt, sorrow, anger and hope.

    I sat about a dozen rows back from where those little girls lost their lives in 1963 when a klansmen's bomb was detonated outside the church, and couldn't help but glance over at the stained glass window that once rained down in shards on the congregation.

    To be in that room, in that city, was breathtaking.

    And then the choir sang - so sweet a sound.

    Ain't gonna let nobody turn me around
    I'm gonna keep on walking, keep on walking

    Again a wave of energy swept through the church. The Freedom Riders in attendance, now in their late 60s or 70s, swayed and a surge of difficult joy coursed through the students.

    Even I was starting to feel possessed by whatever it was the choir or that place was doing to us.

    I felt, for lack of a better word, empowered, and it became immediately clear how much this music meant to the movement.

    There were influential ministers who preached power from the pulpits, but it was the church choirs of the Civil Rights era that gave the people a soundtrack that stirred them into the streets to stand up for their rights. The movement was filled with music, freedom songs and old gospel standbys born from the souls and spirits of black folks and our struggles.

    So many of these songs also became the life-blood of the Freedom Riders, who braved heaps of brutality along interstate highways throughout the Deep South during the Freedom Rides of 1961.

    "Music was just as important as learning about nonviolence," said Ernest "Rip" Patton, one of the original Freedom Riders. "Music brought us together -- we can't all talk at the same time, but we can all sing at the same time. It gives you that spiritual feeling. It was like our glue."

    A couple days earlier, about five of the original Freedom Riders and the 40 students accompanying them were in Atlanta, sitting in the pews of the Ebenezer Baptist Church (pictured below), where Martin Luther King Sr. and his son, Martin Luther King Jr., once preached.

    We sat and listened to a sermon by the younger King that played over the speakers. And then a woman's voice, a beautiful voice, rose and unfurled from the speakers and filled every recess in the place. It was a haunting song called 'How Great Thou Art' - powerful and subdued.

    It was a change of pace for the students, who had by then passed the long bus rides by singing 'We Shall Overcome,' 'This Little Light of Mine' and 'The Buses Are A-Coming' over and over, even remixing some of the songs or making up raps with names of the Freedom Riders on the bus worked into their lyrics. But this was different. It had a bit more weight.

    "We sang that in church every Sunday," said Samantha Williams, 23, a student at the University of Arkansas, of the song that played inside the church. "To hear it sung in that context, you almost feel guilty for singing it."

    In Birmingham the choir sang, 'I Don't Feel No Way Tired' -- the kind of song that could keep you keeping on no matter what.

    "The music was the inspiration. It gave the people a lot of courage that they didn't think they had," said Eloise Gaffney, the choir director who joined the choir in 1962 and quickly "found a place in the movement."

    "When we were talking about we ain't gonna let nobody turn me around, it kind of just fired them up. And it was Martin King that was the one that said this choir can sing them out of their seats and into the streets."

    Annie B. Levison, another longtime choir member, said that people came to the church to hear the preaching and the teaching, but also the singing.

    "You know how when you start singing in your church, and you know how it just catch on fire, well everybody would catch on fire, and when they get on fire and the Lord is just dwelling inside of them -- they're ready," she said. "That's what you had to do. Get them on fire. And when the fire starts burning all over, they're going to run. So, where' you going to run to? You're going to run out to the people and say lets get free. Lets get free!"


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    From the New York Times:

    Don Lemon, the weekend prime-time anchor for CNN, was on the air on Sunday night this month when the news broke that President Obama would address the nation at the unusual hour of 10:30 p.m.

    By the time the news network was confirming the reports of the death of Osama bin Laden, however, Mr. Lemon had been replaced by CNN's chief anchor, Wolf Blitzer.

    "I kind of got big-footed," Mr. Lemon said, with a knowing laugh.

    Now 45, though he looks much younger, Mr. Lemon understands the television news business from long experience, gathered through jobs at such local stations as WCAU in Philadelphia, WMAQ in Chicago and WNYW in New York.

    Read more here.


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    From the New York Times:

    As she prepares for her commencement at the University of North Texas here on Saturday, Burlyce Sherrell Logan can still hear the words the institution's president spoke at her freshman welcoming ceremony.

    "'There are some people here - you know who you are - that we don't want here, but the state says can be here,' " she recalled the president telling the class of 2,155, clearly referring to her and the dozen other African-Americans among them. "He said we couldn't eat in the cafeteria, we couldn't live on campus. They set up a little area, with a little television, for us to be in when we weren't in class."

    That was in 1956. What followed were two brutal years in which, Ms. Logan said, people threw rocks at her, pushed her in front of a moving car and burned a cross on the lawn of the house where she and five others boarded.

    Read more here.


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    From the Huffington Post:

    Kenyan Olympic marathon champion Sammy Wanjiru died in a fall from a balcony after a domestic dispute involving his wife and another woman, police said Monday.

    One police official said Wanjiru committed suicide, while another said he jumped to stop his wife from leaving the house after she discovered him with another woman.

    The 24-year-old runner died late Sunday after jumping from a balcony at his home in the town of Nyahururu, in the Rift Valley, said John Mbijiwe, the police chief in Kenya's Central Province.

    "The fact of the matter is that Wanjiru committed suicide," national police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said.

    Read more here.


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    From the Huffington Post:

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants help with minority outreach from a former official in Georgia who was ousted in a racial flap and later received an apology from President Barack Obama, a department spokesman said Saturday.

    The administration has been in talks with Shirley Sherrod, who resigned last year as Georgia's director of rural development, said Justin DeJong, a spokesman for Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The USDA is discussing whether Sherrod and her nonprofit, The Southwest Georgia Project for Community Education Inc., are willing to conduct outreach on a contract basis, DeJong said. A final decision has not been reached.

    "She and her organization have been committed to breaking down barriers and promoting equal opportunity," DeJong said.

    Sherrod confirmed that she had spoken with federal officials but said she still needs more details about the work before making a decision.

    Read more here.


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    Black works year round, and at the CAA Party With Grey Goose At Soho House for the 64th Annual Cannes Film Festival on May 14, actress Rosario Dawson rocked an every-season black embellished gown, wavy hair and a bright smile.


    Full Length


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