Black History Month: Katherine Johnson

Mathematician Extraordinaire Katherine Johnson suddenly passed away at the age of 101 today. With it being Black History Month, it’s only right to recognize her accomplishments.

In 1953, Katherine began working at NASA, starting off doing computing work in the research lab then moved up the career ladder. In 1961, she helped with analysis work on Alan Shepard’s Freedom 7 Spaceflight.  For the 1962 Friendship 7 flight, which was the first to orbit earth, Katherine ran calculations by hand in order for the flight to be a success, and it was!

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artsttechnica.com

One of Ms. Katherine’s biggest accomplishments was helping with the Apollo 11 spacecraft, in which men landed on the moon in 1969. Her work with NASA was told in the 2017 movie Hidden Figures, starring Taraji P. Henson as Ms. Katherine Johnson, Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughan and Janelle Monae as Mary Jackson.

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In 1986, Katherine retired from NASA and in 2015, President Obama honored her the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contributions to NASA. 

wikipedia.com

Ms. Katherine Johnson, along with Dorothy Vaughan and  Mary Jackson broke racial and gender barriers during their time at NASA. Katherine Johnson will be remembered as a genius, role model and one of the many faces of black excellence.

RIP to her and may her memory live on. 

 

 

sources:
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/katherine-johnson-nasa-mathematician-depicted-hidden-figures-dead-101-n1141566
https://www.npr.org/2020/02/24/517784975/katherine-johnson-nasa-mathematician-and-an-inspiration-for-hidden-figures-dies

Black History Month: Chuck Berry

St. Louis’ own Chuck Berry is known as the Father of Rock and Roll. Chuck started performing in the early 1940’s and not only was he a performer but he also graduated with a cosmetology degree; was a freelance photographer and worked at a car plant. HE DID IT ALL!

His first single was “Maybellene” and was considered to be the first rock n’ roll song. Then followed “Roll Over Beethoven” in 1956, “Rock And Roll Music” in 1957, “Johnny B Goode” in 1958, and more to follow. He created his signature dance “The Duck Walk” in 1956.

See the source image
pinterest.com

During his time, Chuck broke racial barriers by being a black man performing country songs in front of a white audiences and even getting black people hip to his country songs. Chuck expanded the music style to both races and was well-known across the world…even NASA recognized his music.

Chuck was a dedicated performer and will always be known as the FATHER of Rock and Roll.

See the source image
slate.com

 

 

sources:

https://www.biography.com/musician/chuck-berry

https://www.clashmusic.com/features/10-things-you-never-knew-about-chuck-berry

https://www.everythingzoomer.com/arts-entertainment/2018/03/18/chuck-berry-fascinating-facts/

Black History Month: Dorothy Dandridge

Dorothy Dandridge was a singer, dancer and actress from the 1930s through the 50s . She got into the show business alongside her sister Vivian. In the 50’s she scored the leading role in Carmen, in which she was nominated for Best Actress at the Academy Award (The Oscars). Yes, Hattie McDaniel was the first black woman EVER to be nominated for an Academy Award for her supporting role in Gone with the Wind, and the first black woman to WIN that award; but Dorothy Dandridge was the first black woman to be nominated for a leading role. (Not knocking Ms. Hattie McDaniel)

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Even though Dorothy didn’t win, she did set the standard that African American women can be nominated for a leading role. She even turned down a few roles that portrayed black people in a bad light. She declined roles such as slaves, savages and servants that were only offered to black people. 

In 1954, Dorothy was featured on Life magazine AND she was the first BLACK woman to be on the cover.

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Ms. Dandridge definitely set the bar when it came to roles during that time and she should be remembered as a trailblazer.

 

Black History Month: Happy Birthday Huey Newton

Huey Newton was one of the founders of the Black Panther Party, alongside Bobby Seale, in 1966. The purpose of starting the organization was in response to police brutality against black people. The Black Panther Party wanted to demonstrate the need for black self-reliance. Read more about it here –> Black Panther Party Facts

Huey did live a life of crime but his accomplishments within the Black Panther Party overshadowed his wrongdoings, such providing social services to the community like health clinics and free meals for children.

 

Huey P. Newton | Zinn Education Project
zinnedproject.org

 

Huey even went back to school to obtain his Ph.D in social philosophy. His life was cut short when in 1989 he was killed in Oakland, California. His teachings will be remembered and the Black Panther Party is forever part of history.

 

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Black History Month

‘Tis the month that black people get the most recognition of their greatness. When you’re black, you celebrate the success of other black people all the time but when you aren’t, you mainly celebrate US in the month of February (and award shows sometimes ).

This month I’ll be highlighting some black history facts to educate you all, as well as others so be on the look out. ✊🏽

“Just Mercy” Movie Will Bring You to Tears

Over the weekend, the story of Walter “Johnny D” McMillian was told in theaters starring Jamie Foxx and Michael B Jordan. Based on a true story, Johnny D was wrongfully accused and charged with killing an 18 year old white woman in 1986 in Monroeville, Alabama. The judge urged the death penalty on Johnny before a jury of white people urged a life sentence. A judge overrode the jury’s sentence and sentenced Johnny to the death penalty.

Johnny’s lawyer, the incredible Bryan Stevenson, was determined to not only prove that Johnny was innocent but other inmates as well. With Bryan being a fresh Harvard graduate, he had a lot of knowledge and determination. He quickly learned that the south was nothing to play with. They threatened him and tried to scare him away but he was bent on proving Johnny’s innocence, as well as Herbert Richardson.

Herbert was a Vietnam veteran who fought for his country but he was discharged due to psychological issues. He was from Brooklyn but eventually moved to Alabama and was still suffering trauma from the war. Due to his trauma and mental issues, he placed a bomb on a front porch that killed a young girl. He was charged with capital murder. Bryan tried to stop Herbert’s execution due to the fact that his previous lawyer did not attempt to appeal his case due to his psychological issues during and after the war. The jury failed to acknowledge that, not only was he an army vet but he suffered a mental illness and that should’ve been considered when they gave him the death penalty. He should’ve been placed in a mental ward for life versus getting the death penalty. One of the saddest scenes is the moments leading up to his execution. Herbert stated that more people had asked him if he needed any help in his last 14 hours of living, than they did his entire years that he battled with his mental illness and trauma. A tearful moment is when Johnny and the other inmates said goodbye to Herbert, told him that he wasn’t alone and that they were all there with him in spirit. They rattled their pans as the execution was going on, so Herbert could hear them and know that they were present with him.

Image result for just mercy herbert richardson
USAToday.com

 

Bryan took initiative to meet Johnny’s family to learn more about him and the day the young woman was murdered. Johnny was at home that day cooking fish for a fish fry that his family was hosting at his house. So, how was he miles away at a murder scene if he was truly at home? I’ll tell you how…bribery. The sheriff bribed a white felon named Ralph Myers to say that he was with Johnny when he committed the crime. The sheriff had bribed him by taking him off death row. As time went on and after further investigation, Bryan not only got the truth out of Myers but he found recordings of his initial statement saying he didn’t want to lie on an innocent man.

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fastcompany.com

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Ralph Myers, played by Tim Blake Nelson- icantunseenthatmovie.com

 

The case was told on 60 minutes and they even took the case to the supreme court to overturn Johnny’s conviction and exonerate him. The district attorney, who initially wasn’t for Johnny getting released, went in favor of getting his charges being dismissed. It was definitely a cheerful moment for the Johnny, his family and Bryan. Walter Johnny D McMillian went from being on death row for 6 years to being one of the first people in the state of Alabama to be released from death row.

Walter “Johnny D” McMillian—eji.org

This was definitely a miracle story but it still brings sadness due to the fact that…this happened in the late 1980’s to early 90’s. Racial injustice should have never been a thing in the first place but it was and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr fought for equality and much more in the 60’s so there shouldn’t have been any reason that this unjustness was still happening. A few takeaways from this film:

  • Shit like this still happens…as of 2020
  • We should reconsider giving army vets who have trauma psychological help instead of the death penalty
  • I hope white people really dissect the film and see that black people aren’t making this shit up when we say that we are wrongfully accused for crimes.
  • Bryan Stevenson did all this work for pro bono
  • GO SEE IT!!

IF you’ve seen the film already. What are your thoughts?

Walter Johnny D McMillian & Bryan Stevenson–eji.org

 

Surviving R.Kelly II Review

Part two of Surviving R. Kelly started it’s 3-night premiere on Thursday and ended Saturday. It’s title “The Reckoning”, which is defined as judgment, or even estimation. There were new women who told their story and even previous women who had more to say about their time with R. Kelly.

Night 1

During night one’s premiere, Kelly’s brother Bruce and Carey talked about their childhood and how they were sexually abused. R. Kelly had a specific encounter with the neighborhood uncle, Mr. Henry. When the police was called and Kelly’s mother wanted to press charges. Mr. Henry offered them $5,000. His mother accepted but that also started the domino effect of Kelly and him paying off his accusers. His mother did not protect him, and although they struggled growing up and needed money, his mother let him down. That incident probably left an opening to Kelly’s sister abusing him. Carey elaborated on the incident briefly. Even though they never said her name, it’s been brought to life in past interviews that their sister sexually abused them. The first part of night 1 made you want to feel sorry for Kelly, BUT we all know that regardless of his childhood, he could’ve gotten the proper help for his traumatic childhood.

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monstersandcritics.com

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people.com

Part 2 of the series dived into a new victim, Tiffany Hawkins. She met Kelly when she was 15. She was an aspiring singer and even appeared in Aaliyah’s video “At Your Best ” and sung background vocals for her. She went on to say that her and Aaliyah were best friends. When Tiffany and Kelly got cool, he suggested her to bring around some of her friends. Mind you, these girls were 15 and 16. She says that he had sex with six of her friends. After he told her not to ring her friends around, he started having sex with her. Tiffany stated that she didn’t want to but she did it because she thought it was part of the process of pursing a career in music. 

Once Kelly married Aaliyah, Tiffany said she didn’t care because that meant she didn’t have to have sex with him anymore.  

NONE OF THIS IS NORMAL!!

She had gotten pregnant and at the time, she didn’t know if it was Kelly’s or another guy. When she told Kelly, he pretty much threatened her. She was scared but she didn’t to keep the baby and found out it wasn’t his. (Thank GOD). It’s safe to say, she was able to escape him!

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esquire.com

 

Night 2

R. Kelly’s former hair braider, Lanita Carter, spoke out about how her and Kelly’s relationship went from brother/sister to sexual. She explained that he was sweet to her in the beginning, just like he was with any other woman he took advantage of in the past. They both “connected” by telling each other about their childhood abuse. The one and only incident that happened between them was when Kelly tried to force her to give him oral sex. He spit in her face then ejaculated on her face. Lanita expressed that she was hysterical and hurt. She went to the police and at first, they wouldn’t take her serious because everyone who was close to Kelly denied knowing her. Once she proved that she knew him, everything was on the right track until the topic came up about her “settling” and just suing him and getting money out of him. She settled for that but was still traumatized by the incident.

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theatlantic.com

In the second part of the series during night 2, Dominique Gardner decides to speak out. If you don’t know, she was the young lady who was seen on TMZ with  Joycelyn Savage, then in the first Surviving R. Kelly, her mom came to the Trump towers to rescued her. As Dominique tells it, she was the rebellious one out of Kelly’s girls. She met him though Jerhonda Pace, another one of Kelly’s victims. She didn’t elaborate on a lot but  she did say that she felt bad for leaving Joycelyn at the hotel, the day her mother came to get her. Shortly after leaving Kelly, Dominique went back to him because she felt as if she left abruptly. Once she was back with him, she didn’t like how much control she had over him and while being back at home, she gained control of her life back. she’s currently pregnant and expecting a baby by her current boyfriend. (shruggs)

 

Executive producers Brie Miranda Bryant and Jesse Daniels speak to The Hollywood Reporter about the biggest reveals in Lifetime's follow-up on the embattled singer.
hollywoodreporter.com

 

Night 3

On the last night, the series dove into the lives of the women who are still under his control. Last year Azriel Clary and Joycelyn Savage did an interview with Gail King and when asked if they wanted to pursue singing careers, they both LIED and said that their parents wanted them to sing. After Lifetime did some digging and found old videos of them both singing and even interviewing Joycelyn’s songwriters and producer; they revealed that both women deeply enjoyed singing. Azriel has lied on her parents, allegedly, to protect Kelly. Her parents marriage has suffered due to her being away and under his control. Joycelyn’s parent are very adamant on bringing her home. They’ve been public about wanting her home, for about 3 years now.

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cbsnews.com

As of December, Azriel Clary has returned home but has chosen to live an independent life without being under her parents shadow. Since Kelly was arrested in July, she has been able to break free from him, but she still supports him. Joycelyn on the other hand, is still at the Trump Towers, which is where Kelly had been living. Not sure when she would return home but hopefully soon after seeing part 2 of series.

Last words:

R.Kelly has some serious past traumas that he never dealt with as a child. Just that  make his actions justifiable? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Hopefully him being in jail will make him seriously think about his actions. 

At this point, we have to stop blaming the parents for letting there children meet Kelly. It was a dumb ass decision and they are suffering from it now. The public AS A WHOLE. need to hold R. Kelly accountable for his actions, from not playing his music, to stop defending him. If the public would hold him accountable for his actions, then maybe more girls that have been recently involved with him, wouldn’t have been involved with him. Yes, he was on trial in the 2000’s, but there were people who outside the court building rooting for him.

QUIT TAKING UP FOR THESE SEXUAL ABUSERS. Wrong is wrong, even if he is your favorite RnB singer of the 90’s, even if you did sing one of his songs at your grandmother’s funeral or a graduation, even if you did dance to his songs at your wedding. Wrong is wrong, and his ass is wrong!