Watch J. Cole Perform ‘Be Free’ on Letterman

J. Cole, fresh off of the release of his third album “2014 Forest Hills Drive,” paid a visit to “The Late Show With David Letterman” last night. He treated the audience to a live performance of his song “Be Free,” the track he recorded and dedicated to Mike Brown. The song doesn’t appear on the new album, but it was timely nonetheless given all the recent protests for Brown and Eric Garner. Watch.

(h/t Okayplayer)

A Visual Guide to Global Outrage Over Mike Brown and Eric Garner

Twitter recently released this geotagged map that showed the where, and how often, people across the globe tweeted #BlackLivesMatter, #ICantBreathe and #HandsUpDontShoot. Those phrases became the rallying cries for millions of people who went online — and took to the streets — in anger after the failures to indict police officers in the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner.

See more at HuffPo.

First Black Woman Nominated for Best Director Golden Globe: Ava DuVernay

The accolades just keep coming in for Ava DuVernay and the cast of “Selma.” The director was just nominated for a best director Golden Globe. “We’re very, very thrilled that the film was recognized,” she told ABC in an interview after learning of the nod. “What a morning!”

And, as Tambay Obensen pointed out at Shadow and Act, she’s making history:

I should note that, with her nomination, Ava DuVernay makes history, becoming the first black woman director to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Director in the Motion Picture category. She’s on her way to doing the same, when the Oscar nominees are announced next month. Previous nominees of African descent in this category include Steve McQueen for “12 Years a Slave,” and Spike Lee for “Do the Right Thing.” It’s painfully incredible that between the years of 1990 to 2014 (24 looooongyears), there wasn’t a single black director (male or female) nominated for Best Director in the Motion Picture category! 

“Selma” also earned a nomination in the best motion picture drama category. See a full list of all the nominations here.

Shonda Rhimes: ‘I Haven’t Broken Through Any Glass Ceilings’

Shonda Rhimes: 'I Haven't Broken Through Any Glass Ceilings'

Shonda Rhimes spoke at The Hollywood Reporter Women in Hollywood Breakfast on Wednesday about being black and female in Hollywood. Her comments were later published on Medium and, in her speech, she declared that she hasn’t broken through any glass ceilings to get to where she is:

If I’d broken the glass ceiling, that would mean I would have made it through to the other side. Where the air is rare. I would feel the wind on my face. The view from here — way up here where the glass ceiling is broken — would be incredible. Right? So how come I don’t remember the moment? When me with my woman-ness and my brown skin went running full speed, gravity be damned, into that thick layer of glass and smashed right through it? How come I don’t remember that happening?


How many women had to hit that glass before the first crack appeared? How many cuts did they get, how many bruises? How hard did they have to hit the ceiling? How many women had to hit that glass to ripple it, to send out a thousand hairline fractures? How many women had to hit that glass before the pressure of their effort caused it to evolve from a thick pane of glass into just a thin sheet of splintered ice?

So that when it was my turn to run, it didn’t even look like a ceiling anymore. I mean, the wind was already whistling through — I could always feel it on my face. And there were all these holes giving me a perfect view to other side. I didn’t even notice the gravity, I think it had worn itself away. So I didn’t have to fight as hard, I had time to study the cracks. I had time to decide where the air felt the rarest, where the wind was the coolest, where the view was the most soaring. I picked my spot in the glass and called it my target. And I ran. And when I hit finally that ceiling, it just exploded into dust.

Read more


Watch the Only Live Recording of John Coltrane Playing ‘A Love Supreme’

Watch the Only Live Recording of John Coltrane Playing 'A Love Supreme' Play

From Esquire:

John Coltrane recorded A Love Supreme 50 years ago, December 9, 1964, with Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, and Jimmy Garrison. The album, a four-part suite widely considered to be one of the greatest in jazz history, was released in 1965. As NPR notes, Coltrane presented this record as “a spiritual declaration that his musical devotion was now intertwined with his faith in God.” Coltrane performed the album in its entirety but a single time, in Antibes, France, on July 26, 1965. Watch the first 14 minutes of that performance below.

Sikh Cartoonist Stars in Facebook Video, Racists Go Wild

Cartoonist Vishavjit Singh, known to many as Captain Sikh America, was recently featured in a Facebook Tips video.

But in just 28 seconds, his brown skin seems to have infuriated some users, who spewed plenty of hate in the comments.


Singh wrote a thoughtful response at Salon in which he “share[d] with [Facebook users] the brief arc of my life, which might help lay to rest our simplistic judgment of people at first sight.” Read more

(h/t Angry Asian Man)

TAGS: Facebook Sikhs

SAG Surprises? ‘Selma’ Shut Out of Nominations

SAG Surprises? 'Selma' Shut Out of Nominations

Amid all the praise for “Selma,” not one actor from the film was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award. The list of nominees was released on Wednesday, and while no one from Ava DuVernay’s latest film is up for a prize, there are several actors of color who’ve got a chance.

From Shadow and Act:

- Cicely Tyson picked up a nomination for her performance in the Lifetime movie, “The Trip to Bountiful,” which was adapted from the play - Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

- Viola Davis is nominated for her performance in “How to get Away With Murder” - Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series 

- Uzo Aduba picked up a nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series, for “Orange Is the New Black”

- And “Get on Up” is nominated in the Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture category

See the full list of nominees here

Watch Kendrick Lamar’s Personal Ode to Compton

Watch Kendrick Lamar's Personal Ode to Compton Play

Kendrick Lamar teamed up with Reebok for a commercial that looks at how the rapper’s hometown of Compton inspires his music. It’s directed by filmmaker Anthony Mandler.

(h/t Hypetrak)

Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers Wear ‘I Can’t Breathe’ T-Shirts

Kobe Bryant and members of the Los Angeles Lakers added their names to the growing list of pro athletes who’ve worn “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts during warm-ups in support of Eric Garner.

But in his post-game comments, Bryant said that the issue isn’t just about race. “I think it would be a serious disservice to limit this to a race issue,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s a justice issue.”

He continued: “You’re kind of seeing a tipping point right now, in terms of social issues. It’s become at the forefront right now as opposed to being a local issue,” he continued. “It’s really something that has carried over and spilled into the mainstream, so when you turn on the TV and you watch the news or you follow things on social media, you don’t just see African-Americans out there protesting.”

Bryant also put his demonstration in context with the actions taken by several other professional athletes in recent days. “I think it’s us supporting that movement and supporting each other,” said Bryant after the game. “The beauty of our country lies in its democracy. I think if we ever lose the courage to be able to speak up for the things that we believe in, I think we really lose the value that our country stands for.”

Read more.

Diego Luna to Star in TV Mini-Series About El Salvador’s Civil War

Diego Luna to Star in TV Mini-Series About El Salvador's Civil War

Diego Luna, who recently directed this year’s Cesar Chavez biopic, is now working on a television mini-series about The Salvadoran Civil War:

From Remezcla:

So far the word on the show, titled Cortando el Puenta (Cutting the Bridge), is that it will focus on the murder of sevreal high-profile Jesuit priests during the Salvadoren Civil War. It will follow a journalist who is covering the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero and later, the murder of Universidad Controamericana Scholars, including Ignacio Ellacuia. 

The Salvadoran Civil War lasted nearly 13 years. Somewhere between 70,000 and 80,000 people died, while another 8,000 were disappeared and hundreds of thousands more were displaced. 

The new series will begin filming in El Salvador early next year.

(h/t Remezcla)

Watch: A Quick Ferguson Make-Up Tutorial

Watch: A Quick Ferguson Make-Up Tutorial Play

Duke University comedian Lawrence Nemeh is showing audiences that beauty, like justice, is skin deep. Watch.

TAGS: Ferguson video

Critics Are Already Swooning Over Ava DuVernay’s ‘Selma’

Critics Are Already Swooning Over Ava DuVernay's 'Selma'

It doesn’t hit theaters until Christmas Day, but critics are already in love with “Selma,” the civil rights drama directed by Ava DuVernay. On Monday, the American Film Institute released its best-of-the-year list of filmslist and included “Selma” among its 11 choices.

The African-American Film Critics Association also lauded the film, placing it atop their list of the year’s best films. It also named DuVernay for its best director prize, while the best actor prize went to David Oyelowo (who plays King) and John Legend’s and Common’s song “Glory” won the their pick for best song.

“Our members found the output of cinema released this year to be a truly insightful mix of titles that reflect the world we live in. The members of AAFCA were especially pleased with this range of storytelling supported by the studios that gave voice to the many sides of the experience of black people in America and around the world,” AAFCA president Gil Robertson said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “We had a lot to pick from this year from BelleDear White PeopleTop FiveTimbuktu and Selma and hope the industry will continue to provide a platform for diversity on the big screen.”    

(h/t The Hollywood Reporter)

LeBron James, Brooklyn Nets Wear ‘I Can’t Breathe’ Shirts in Front of Royals

Prince William and Catherine, Dutchess of Cambridge visited Barclay’s on Monday night to watch LeBron James’s Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Brooklyn Nets. And they were treated to a lot more than just a basketball game.

James and several members of the Nets wore T-shirts that read “I Can’t Breathe” in support of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man who was choked to death by the NYPD in July. A grand jury’s decision not to criminally charge the officer involved in Garner’s death has sparked days of protests in cities across the country.

Black athletes have been taking their protests to the playing fields in the weeks since grand juries declined to bring charges against officers in both Mike Brown and Eric Garner’s deaths.

Watch the SNL Ferguson Skit That Never Aired

“Saturday Night Live” tried to tackle Ferguson in this skit, which didn’t air because of time. Check it out.

There’s a New Nina Simone Film Coming to Netflix

There's a New Nina Simone Film Coming to Netflix

Academy Award nominated filmmaker Liz Garbus is at the helm of a new look at Nina Simone called, “What Happened, Miss Simone?” RadicalMedia, the company that’s producing the film, is teaming up with Netflix to make the film available for streaming in 2015, according to Shadow and Act.

“I’m thrilled that Netflix has embraced the incredible story of Nina Simone and partnered with RadicalMedia on this film,” said director Garbus. “For each of her millions of fans, Nina feels like a treasured secret. With ‘What Happened, Miss Simone?,’ I’m excited to help bring her passion, her music and her story to the world.”

The film appears to be a documentary that, in addition to looking at Simone’s singing career and social activism, will also feature never-before-heard recordings. It will also include interviews with Simone’s close friends and musical collaborators, in addition to her daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, who’s gone public about her sometimes-tumultuous relationship with her late mother, who died in 2003.

Remembering Nina Simone on film has been a continuously difficult endeavor. Zoe Saldana, who’s noticeably lighter skinned than Simone, was cast to play a lead in a narrative film whose director later sued the studio that was due to release it. Simone’s daughter later criticized the film for relying on a love story that never happened.

Lisa Simone Kelly is listed as an executive producer of this latest project, so it’s unlikely to have those same problems. 


John Legend Hires Food Truck to Feed NYC Protesters

John Legend Hires Food Truck to Feed NYC Protesters

Looks like John Legend has thrown himself into the political moment. Last week, he released a protest song with Common called “Glory.” And now, there’s news that he and wife Chrissy Teigen hired a food truck over the weekend to feed New York City protesters rallying around the non-indictment of an NYPD officer is Eric Garner’s videotaped death:

From Okayplayer via Vanity Fair:

Employing the power of social media to get the word out, John Legend tweeted the locations of the trucks and the link for fans to listen to his new collaborative song “Glory” featuring Common for the upcoming film Selma - a picture from director Ava DuVernay that brings the movement behind the 1965 Voting Rights Act to the silver screen.

Read more.

Black Athletes Show Game-Day Solidarity With Eric Garner

On the first weekend of sports action since a Staten Island grand jury declined to bring criminal charges against the officer whose chokehold killed Eric Garner this past summer, several professional athletes decided to use the platforms provided by their sports to speak out against the extrajudicial killings of black men by police officers. 

Chicago Bulls point guard Derek Rose wore a T-shirt that read Garner’s infamous last words, “I can’t breathe,” during warm-ups against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night.

The move earned him the ire of at least one sports columnist, who called the all-star player “inarticulate” and questioned whether he understood his actions. But Rose did earn the praise of LeBron James, who called Rose’s action “spectacular” and mentioned that he’s shopping around for a shirt of his own.

On Sunday, Detroit Lions running black Reggie Bush made a similar statement, scrawling “I Can’t Breathe” in black Sharpie across his blue warm-up shirt before a game against the the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In an interview with last month, Bush, who’s mother was a police officer for 20 years, described his anger about a Ferguson grand jury’s decision not to indict former police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Mike Brown in August. “Just something seemed flawed about the system and about the way that situation was handled,” Bush said. “I don’t know all the facts of what happened during when Michael Brown was killed, but I just know that a young man lost his life. Was shot how many times? Six? Ten times? Ten times. That’s a little excessive.”

Lions coach Jim Caldwell supported Bush’s action. “I grew up in the ’60s, where everybody was socially conscious,” Caldwell told reporters. “I believe in it. I’d be a hypocrite if I stood up here and told you any differently, because more than likely, some of those protests that Dr. [Martin Luther] King and some of the others that took a part in non-violent protests, is the reason why I’m standing here in front of you today.”

Rose and Bush were just two of a handful of pro athletes who made the action. Here’s St. Louis Rams wide receiver Kenny Britt, who was one of several players who made the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture last week:

Britt also had several names, including Mike Brown’s and Trayvon Martin’s, written on his cleats during Sunday’s game.

Britt’s teammate, offensive lineman Davin Joseph tweeted this photo of his cleats against Washington, D.C.’s NFL team on Sunday:

Here’s Cleveland Brown’s cornerback Johnson Bademosi, who told reporters: “It’s not an us-against-them thing. It’s about us standing in solidarity with those of us who know what’s going on.”

And here’s San Diego Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram:

It’s not yet clear if any of these players will be fined for their on-field actions. Both the NFL and NBA adhere to strict dress codes both before and after games. For what it’s worth, the five Rams players, including Britt, who made the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture during pre-game introductions last week weren’t fined by the team or the league.

UC Berkeley’s Black Student Union Stages 4.5 Hour Campus Sit-in

Black students at UC Berkeley staged a four and a half hour sit-in on campus Thursday to protest the extrajudicial killings of black men. The duration of the protest was a symbolic nod to the amount of time Mike Brown’s lifeless body lay in a Ferguson street in August.

According to Eater:

Around noon [on Thursday], the group blockaded The Golden Bear, one of Cal’s more popular spots for breakfast and lunch, tweeting that “No one eats until we get justice!” Surrounded by a 300-person crowd of sympathetic fellow students and community members, the students spoke out against the verdicts and a larger culture of systematic discrimination and violence by the police against the black community.

The students have continued their protest throughout the afternoon, demanding demilitarization of law enforcement, a national “End Racial Profiling” act, and investigation of the criminalization of communities of color.

(h/t Eater)

Ryan Coogler Explains Why ‘Fruitvale Station’ Wasn’t Enough

Ryan Coogler Explains Why 'Fruitvale Station' Wasn't Enough

I spent the first part of this week talking with various members of Blackout for Human Rights, a self-described leaderless network of activists, artists and everyday people that’s come together to speak out against the extrajudicial killings of black men. Formed in the aftermath of Mike Brown’s killing last August, the network staged a nationwide boycott of Black Friday, America’s busiest shopping day of the year.

I also chatted with Ryan Coogler, one of the network’s founders. Coogler directed the critically-acclaimed film “Fruitvale Station,” which follows a doom-fated Oscar Grant on the last day of his life before he was shot and killed by former Bay Area transit cop Johannes Mehserle. Coogler made it clear that the network’s strength was its diversity, and while the big names of the bunch had gotten a lot of attention, its power comes from the range ideas it gets from its members, most of whom aren’t very famous. But the celebrity part of this still intrigued me, namely in light of recent debates about how politically active black celebrities could and should be in today’s world. Remember a couple years ago when Harry Belafonte called out Beyonce and Jay-Z for being selfish? Yeah, that’s what I’m talking.

In addition to the reporting I did for this morning’s story, something interesting that didn’t quite make it into the final piece was this: why Coogler didn’t think his artwork was enough.

You made a film about these very issues called “Fruitvale Station.” Why wasn’t that enough? Why were you compelled to do more in the community?

I made that film fresh out of graduate school. I actually started working on it before I’d graduated, so I was young when I made it. When I was making the film, there was a question that I had as to how a situation like this [Oscar Grant’s murder] could happen and how it could happen so often. I was exploring that through the art form that I like to engage with and I was doing it in a way to maybe find the answers for myself, maybe raise questions in audience members.

But at the end of the day, with a work of art — which is what filmmaking is — the most you can do is give people perspective on a situation, whether that’s a fiction situation or a non-fiction situation, and you can make people think. You can trigger dialogue, trigger discussion. What you can do in terms of real work networking is kind of the same thing, but just on a more grassroots level. And on a level where more people can contribute. When you’re working on a film, only those folks who are in the film industry can contribute to making that happen. But when you have a loose network like what Blackout is, with people from all different backgrounds, all different careers, all different demographics, you can share information and talk. I’ve found in a couple months we’ve been able to get a lot done and have conversations that nobody would be able to have when they’re operating in their own bubble.

Read the story at Colorlines.

John Legend, Common Add ‘Glory’ to SELMA Soundtrack

Ava DuVernay’s SELMA doesn’t hit theaters until Christmas day, but we’re already getting a peek at the upcoming soundtrack. This week John Legend and Common released their protest song “Glory,” which coincides nicely with the rallies that have swept the country since the decision in the Eric Garner case. Listen. 

(h/t Okayplayer)

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