Several weeks before the April 9th grand re-opening of the historic Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C., Marshall Moya Design privileged me with an intimate behind-the-scenes tour of the legendary landmark. Marshall Moya Design, the talented minority
firm, was responsible for the interior design of the "new" Howard Theatre.
The Howard, located in the area of Washington once known as "Black Broadway," played a major role in the development of Black entertainment. All the big names of the last century performed there, and many launched their careers on its stage. Closed since 1980, its restoration, in a word, is stunning. Marshall Moya, working in tandem with Martinez+Johnson Architecture, which handled the exterior re-design, managed to update this long dormant theatre and bring it into the 21st century while enhancing its old-school elegance and grandeur.
While touring the arts hall I felt compelled to sit in various seats and go on a mental journey back in time, imagining that the greats of yesteryear were back at the Howard once again: the likes of Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye, Pearl Bailey, the Supremes, the Jewel Box Review, Booker T. Washington, Miller and Lyles, the proverbial who's who connected to Howard University, out of town dignitaries, - just to name a few. For a moment, I was one of them, as I stood on the stage and thanked the imaginary audience for coming out!
Gazing around the theatre and absorbing the spirit of the past I knew that the ancestors were proud of what has been done with their former home. The beautiful marble, flooring, seating layout, electronic gadgetry, bar areas, hydraulic lift that turns the stage into a dance area, state of the art acoustics, video technology and enlarged images of music icons, the cleverly designed gourmet restaurant, and the attention to detail throughout simply leaves the visitor in awe.
Four years after the Howard's original opening in 1910, a young fifteen year old African American girl named Alice Woodford documented her experiences. The following comments were incorporated into her family's scrapbook (which is part of the archives of Nanny Jack & Co.):
Black Conservatives Speak Against ObamaCare Black conservatives with the Project 21 leadership network are disappointed with the Supreme Court’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) decision. Project 21 spokeswoman Dr. Elaina George, a board-certified otolaryngologist, said "By upholding ObamaCare, the Supreme Court ignored the Constitution. It placed corporate interests and profits, along with government control, above the needs of doctors and patients. This decision virtually guarantees the destruction of the doctor-patient relationship, and -- along with it -- individualized health care, innovation and access while it perpetuates the worst aspects of our medical system."
RomneyCare = ObamCare Says
the Washington Post The health-care system that Mitt Romney put into place as Massachusetts governor — which was a model for the federal law — included a mandate with a similar penalty for noncompliance. While governor of Massachusetts, Romney denied that it was a tax, preferring instead to refer to it as a “fee” or an “incentive.”
Remember Rick Santorum on RomneyCare
When on the campaign trail, former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum said that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney could not credibly campaign against the president’s signature legislative accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act. “Governor Romney actually advocated for the Massachusetts model that President Obama adopted,” Santorum said in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” (Now we see what he means as Romney tries to explain why in Massachusetts he called the individual mandate a penalty, while calling the federal mandate a tax.)
Lewis Sponsors Voter Empowerment Act
H.R. 5799, the Voter Empowerment Act, introduced by Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) focuses on guaranteeing early voting, allowing same-day registration, outlawing “voter caging,” counting provisional ballots and penalizing voter intimidation. If the bill becomes law, the bill would also expand eligibility to allow all former offenders who have paid their debt to society and been released from prison, including those who may still be on probation or parole, to register and vote in federal elections.
Currently, 49 states have felony disenfranchisement laws, prohibiting an additional 5.3 million Americans from voting. Iowa, Florida, Kentucky and Virginia permanently disenfranchise all people with felony convictions, unless the government restores individual rights. In those four states, alone, nearly 32 percent of the population affected by voter disenfranchisement is African-American.
Vice President Joe Biden will address the NAACP Annual Convention in Houston, Texas, Thursday, July 12.
President Obama Speaks at the Urban League Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, Wednesday, Jul 25.
1 Millionaire = 700 Minimum Wage Workers
Consumer advocate Ralph Nader seeks a rise in the federal minimum wage saying that one Wall Street executive’s compensation of $15 million would pay the annual wages of 700 minimum wage workers at $10 per hour. The current minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.
AME Comes Out Praying and Swinging
The African Methodist Episcopal Church, the country’s oldest Black religious denomination, blasted Congress’s recent vote holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt as similar to the “evil strategies employed following the Reconstruction era,” when the recently freed enslaved saw their rights slip away.
In a new report of The Sentencing Project, researchers at the University of Minnesota and New York University document a record 5.85 million Americans who will not be able to vote in November because of a felony conviction. The figure represents a dramatic increase from the 1.1 million persons disenfranchised in 1976. In three states -- Florida, Kentucky, Virginia - - 1 in 5 African Americans is ineligible to vote.
Rep. Frank Becomes First Congressperson in Legal Same-Sex Marriage
Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) married his long-time partner, Jim Ready, in a ceremony presided by Massachusetts governor and Obama surrogate, Patrick Deval. Frank is the first sitting member of Congress to be in a legal same-sex marriage. Frank said he got married so other members of Congress could get some practice interacting with a married gay person. Congressional Black Caucus member Al Green (D-TX) added, “It was no different than any other wedding I’ve attended when you have two people who are in love with each other.”
Native Washingtonian Vernard Gray celebrated his 71st birthday in Baltimore last Saturday. Many know Gray as the owner of the now defunct Miya Gallery, considered Washington’s first afro-centric store, advocate for Black business, world African culture, and technology.
His most recent project has been the promotion of jazz through mini-concerts in Washington, D.C. through East River Jazz and in Baltimore, MD through BEMOJazz. Guests included family and friends from the East Coast and with an iPad in his palm, Gray connected his daughter living in Georgia with the well-wishers.
America the Beautiful:
Putting Diversity and Inclusion
In 1845, American southerners split with northerners to create the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) over the issue of forbidding churches in slaveholding southern states from sending missionaries to spread the gospel. After the American Civil War, when the enslaved became freedmen, another split occurred: most freedmen Baptists in the South separated from their former masters to set up independent congregations such as the National Baptist Convention.
Last month, the SBC elected its first Black leader, Fred Luter Jr. Pastor Derrick E. Young of Unity Baptist Church in Jacksonville is hopeful that the SBC will continue to change. “I believe the results of the election was a breakthrough for the SBC. Being a church planter in the SBC and a long time member, I have seen many changes and resistance. I hope that Pastor Luter is able to maintain his character and be true to who he is; a good leader,” he said.
Social norms have affected SBC beliefs over the years. They were once on the forefront of advocating for Black rights. Even the great (Rev.) Nat Turner slave rebellion of 1831 affected how they manifested their beliefs - after the rebellion, Whites worked to exert more control over Black congregations and passed laws requiring White ministers to lead or be present at religious meetings. In 1995, the SBC voted to adopt a resolution renouncing its racist roots and apologizing for its past defense of slavery, segregation, and White supremacism.
However, the SBC still struggles with issues surrounding diversity and inclusion. One famous son, former President Jimmy Carter, split with the SBC over its position on the role of women in the church. "I personally feel that women should play an absolutely equal role in service of Christ in the church,” Carter told the Atlanta Constitution, explaining the decision he made in October, 2000. His views on the subject were outlined in a July 15, 2009 posting on, "Losing My Religion for Equality." And one day after electing Luter as its first Black president, the SBC passed a resolution denying that gay marriage was a civil right.
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