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Heart - Barracuda (1977)
Category: What's N.E.W.
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A Moment in History - Olaudah Equiano
Category: Black Men Rock!
Tags: olaudah equiano biography black

Olaudah Equiano (1745 – 1797) was an 18th century African writer and anti-slavery campaigner. From an early age, Olaudah Equiano experienced the horrors of slavery first hand. But, after gaining his freedom, he gained British citizenship and wrote about his experiences. His autobiography ‘The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano‘ played a pivotal role in turning public opinion in Britain against slavery. His accounts of slavery and its human suffering were a factor in the enactment of the Slave Trade Act of 1807.

Early life and experience as slave

Equiano writes that he was born in Nigeria in the year 1745 – a member of the Igbo tribe. Aged 11, he was kidnapped, along with sisters, by native slave-holders; after being sold to European slave traders, he was then packed into a slave ship and transferred across the Atlantic to Barbados. Equiano eventually ended up the British colony of Virginia. As a slave he was given different names, including Gustavus Vassa.

Equiano later wrote about the mistreatment of slaves on the Virginia plantations. His vivid descriptions of the various punishments and humiliations that slaves had to endure were the first published account of an autobiography of a slave. Speaking of the Virginia overseers.

These overseers are indeed for the most part persons of the worst character of any denomination of men in the West Indies. Unfortunately, many humane gentlemen, by not residing on their estates, are obliged to leave the management of them in the hands of these human butchers, who cut and mangle the slaves in a shocking manner on the most trifling occasions, and altogether treat them in every respect like brutes. – p.105 ‘The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano‘

Equiano wrote that he was so shocked by his experience that he tried to wash the colour out of his face in an attempt to escape his position as a slave.

Equiano was bought by Michael Pascal a sailor in the Royal Navy; therefore Equiano was taught the art of seamanship and had to follow his master into battle during Britain’s Seven Years War with France. Equiano served during battles bringing gunpowder into position.

Equiano gained a certain respect from his master and after travelling extensively, he was sent to England where he gained a basic education. Pascal later wrote that Equiano was ‘a very deserving boy’. During this time, in 1759, he also converted to Christianity. His Christian beliefs were increasingly important in his life. He used the Christian message of the Golden Rule ‘do unto others, as you would have done to you’ as a way to shape attitudes on slavery. However, he was still denied the freedom that Pascal had once promised. Instead, he was sold on to Captain James Doran in the Caribbean and then onto Robert King, a Quaker merchant from Philadelphia.

A Free man

Doran furthered the education of Equiano and taught Equiano to assist him in trading. In his early 20s, Doran helped Equiano to purchase his freedom. Writing of the moment he gained his freedom, Equaiano wrote:

Accordingly he signed the manumission that day; so that, before night, I who had been a slave in the morning, trembling at the will of another, was became [sic] my own master, and completely free. I thought this was the happiest day I had ever experienced… p.177

Initially he stayed in America to assist Doran as a business partner. But, shortly after buying his freedom, slaveholders attempted to kidnapp Equaino and return him to slavery. He only escaped by being able to prove his education. Equiano later pointed out the position of free slaves was little better than slaves because of the dreadful treatment, black men received.

Hitherto I had thought only slavery dreadful; but the state of a free negro appeared to me now equally so at least, and in some respects even worse, for they live in constant alarm for their liberty; and even this is but nominal, for they are universally insulted and plundered without the possibility of redress; for such is the equity of the West Indian laws, that no free negro’s evidence will be admitted in their courts of justice. p.122

Feeling unsafe in the Caribbean, he returned to Britain.

Anti – Slavery movement

Back in England, he was befriended by many who supported the abolition of the slave trade. Many abolitionists were Quakers, but in the late Eighteenth Century, the movement was spreading to other denominations. Equiano was able to give first hand testament about life as a slave. This information was useful for those who were hoping to change the law and outlaw slavery. His friends encouraged him to write down a book about his experiences. First published in 1789, the account was eagerly received by many people in Britain. It sold well, and went through many editions. Many people who read about the suffering of slaves were more inclined to support the abolitionist cause. The book received good reviews, and many were surprised and moved at the quality of writing and his ability to depict life as a slave.

The book made Equiano a prominent figure in literary circles. In 1788, Equiano was able to personally petition the king for the end of slavery. The book also helped to demystify many of the current misconceptions about African people – this personal account and personality of Equiano was very influential in displaying the obvious humanity of black Africans.

The revenue from book sales enabled Equiano to live independently of philanthropic backers and he could devote more time to campaigning against slavery. He also served as a leader for the poor black community of London. These were often freed slaves and descendants, but struggled to survive economically. Equiano also campaigned for the extension of the vote to working men. He was an active member of the Corresponding Society. He also supported the London Missionary society – a Christian organization committed to spreading education and Christianity overseas.

In 1792, Equiano married Susan Cullen, a local girl from Soham in Cambridgeshire. They had two daughters. He died in 1797 in London.

Legacy of Equiano

Although there is some controversy about the exact birth place of Equiano – some historians believe he may have been born in North America rather than Africa, there is no doubt that Equiano played a pivotal figure in the anti-slavery movement. His writing and speeches helped show people that there was a strong sense of shared humanity. He made a passionate appeal to the higher ideals of British lawmakers – hoping this would affect change.

I hope to have the satisfaction of seeing the renovation of liberty and justice resting on the British government, to vindicate the honour of our common nature.

After reading about the suffering of fellow humans, there was a growing support for the abolitionist cause. Equiano’s biography became an important instrument of abolitionist propaganda.

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. (G+) “Olaudah Equiano Biography”, Oxford, www.biographyonline.net, 11/08/2013 Biography Online

Cypress Hill - The Golden Era and Beyond
Category: The Golden Era
Tags: cypress hill golden.era beyond word life production new quality entertainment

Cypress Hill were notable for being the first Latino hip-hop superstars, but they became notorious for their endorsement of marijuana, which actually isn’t a trivial thing. Not only did the group campaign for its legalization, but their slow, rolling bass-and-drum loops pioneered a new, stoned funk that became extraordinary influential in ’90s hip-hop — it could be heard in everything from Dr. Dre’s G-funk to the chilly layers of English trip-hop. DJ Muggs crafted the sound, and B Real, with his pinched, nasal voice, was responsible for the rhetoric that made them famous. The pro-pot position became a little ridiculous over time, but there was no denying that the actual music had a strange, eerie power, particularly on the band’s first two albums. Although B Real remained an effective lyricist and Muggs’ musical skills did not diminish, the group’s third album, Temples of Boom, was perceived by many critics as self-parodic, and the group appeared to disintegrate shortly afterward, though Muggs and B Real regrouped toward the end of the ’90s to issue more material.

DVX, the original incarnation of Cypress Hill, formed in 1986 when Cuban-born brothers Sen Dog (born Senen Reyes, November 20, 1965) and Mellow Man Ace hooked up with fellow Los Angeles residents Muggs (born Lawrence Muggerud, January 28, 1968)  and B Real (born Louis Freese, June 2, 1970). The group began pioneering a fusion of Latin and hip-hop slang, developing their own style by the time Mellow Man Ace left the group in 1988. Renaming themselves Cypress Hill after a local street, the group continued to perform around L.A., eventually signing with Ruffhouse/Columbia in 1991.

With its stoned beats, B Real’s exaggerated nasal whine, and cartoonish violence, the group’s eponymous debut became a sensation in early 1992, several months after its initial release. The singles “How I Could Just Kill a Man” and “The Phuncky Feel One” became underground hits, and the group’s public pro-marijuana stance earned them many fans among the alternative rock community. Cypress Hill followed the album with Black Sunday in the summer of 1993, and while it sounded remarkably similar to the debut, it nevertheless became a hit, entering the album charts at number one and spawning the crossover hit “Insane in the Brain.” With Black Sunday, Cypress Hill’s audience became predominantly white, collegiate suburbanites, which caused them to lose some support in the hip-hop community. The group didn’t help matters much in 1995, when they added a new member, drummer Bobo, and toured with the fifth Lollapalooza prior to the release of their third album, Temples of Boom. A darker, gloomier affair than their first two records, Temples of Boom was greeted with mixed reviews upon its fall 1995 release, and while it initially sold well, it failed to generate a genuine hit single. However, it did perform better on the R&B charts than it did on the pop charts.

Instead of capitalizing on their regained hip-hop credibility, Cypress Hill slowly fell apart. Sen Dog left in early 1996 and Muggs spent most of the year working on his solo album. Muggs Presents the Soul Assassins was released to overwhelmingly positive reviews in early 1997, leaving Cypress Hill’s future in much doubt until the release of IV in 1998. Sen Dog had come back for the record. He had left because he felt he did not get enough mike time, but after a few years with a rock band he was more than happy to return. Two years later, the group released the double-disc set Skull & Bones, which featured a disc of hip-hop and a disc of their more rock-inspired material. Appropriately, the album also included rock and rap versions of the single “Superstar,” bringing Cypress Hill’s quest for credibility and crossover hits full circle. The ensuing videos for both versions featured many famous rap and rock musicians talking about their profession, and the song was a smash on MTV because of it. In the winter of 2001, the group came back with Stoned Raiders, another album to heavily incorporate rock music. Three years later, the band issued Till Death Do Us Part, which incorporated several styles of Jamaican music. In 2010 they announced their signing to Priority Records thanks to the label’s creative director, Snoop Dogg. The label released their eighth studio album, Rise Up, that same year.

Source: Official Website

Evander Holyfield - One of the greatest boxers of all time! Tags: evander holyfield greatest boxer all time word life production new quality sports entertainment

Evander Holyfield was born in 1962 in the small town of Atmore, Alabama. He was the youngest of nine children and raised by Annie Laura, a single mother who worked for hours cooking meals at a local restaurant. At the age of 12, Holyfield and his family relocated to Atlanta, Georgia, where he grew up.

Holyfield’s Amateur Career

In the early 1980s, Holyfield participated in the Golden Gloves competitions as an amateur and won. After winning the competition, he qualified to compete in the Junior Olympics in Los Angeles. During the match, Holyfield experienced a huge setback in the ring. The match officials disqualified him during a semi-final match against his opponent – New Zealand-born Kevin Barry – for hitting him after the break. Despite this disappointment, he managed to take home a bronze medal.

Boxing as a Professional

Soon after the 1984 Junior Olympics, Evander Holyfield became a professional boxer. He made his first appearance as a professional fighter when he fought against Lionel Byram in the televised match in November of 1984. From 1986, he went on to beat big names in boxing such as Jessy Shelby, Chisanda Mutti, Mike Brothers, Terry Mims to name a few.

He won the world champion title from the WBA Cruiserweight Champion Dwight Muhammad Qawi. In 1988, Holyfield expressed his desire to compete at the heavyweight level so as to take the title from legendary boxer Mike Tyson. He trained hard to become strong enough to compete as a heavyweight boxer.

Fighting as a Heavyweight

As a heavyweight fighter, he fought against and defeated boxing champions like Michael Dokes, James Tillis, Adilson Rodrigues, Alex Stewart and Pinklon Thomas. Ultimately, Holyfield successfully won the heavyweight title, but not from Tyson.

Mike Tyson lost the title to James Douglas in Tokyo, leaving Holyfield with no choice but to fight against Douglas, whom he beat after seven minutes. Prior to the defeat, James Douglas was the WBA, IBF, and WBC champion. During Holyfield’s attempt to defend the crown, he faced legends such as Bert Cooper, Foreman George, Riddick Bowe and Larry Holmes.

Rivalries

Holyfield began a rivalry with Riddick Bowe that started in the early 1990s. He was defeated by Riddick Bowe in 1992, which resulted in Holyfield losing his title. It was his very first loss in 29 fights. In 1993, he was back in action and ready to reclaim his championship title. Holyfield did exactly that when he got his rematch with Riddick Bowe, winning the match by decision.

However, he did not hold on to the title for long. In 1994, he was defeated by challenger Michael Moorer. After going to the hospital following the match to have his shoulder examined, it was discovered that he had a heart condition that required him to retire from boxing.

Making a Comeback

HolyfieldAt first, Holyfield planned to hang up his gloves and retire, but televangelist Benny Hinn convinced him otherwise. After passing a health test, Holyfield was back in action. His first match was against Olympic gold medalist Ray Mercer, whom Holyfield knocked out. In 1996, Holyfield ultimately got the chance to face a legendary and controversial fighter – Mike Tyson – and their first encounter ended in favor of Evander Holyfield.

Holyfield granted Tyson a rematch and the second bout became the most talked about boxing match in history. Tyson was disqualified after biting off a chunk of Evander Holyfield’s ear. It was an image which was seen across the world and it essentially ruined Tyson’s reputation. The incident led to a public outcry around the world.

Holyfield’s Greatest Achievement

Evander Holyfield is renowned for his heavyweight fights. Despite the challenges in his career, he has been able to solidify himself as one of the world’s best boxers of the last three decades. Holyfield’s record stands at 38 wins, including 25 knockouts, eight losses, and two draws.

Personal life

Away from the boxing world, Evander Holyfield is a pastor whose heroes are Martin Luther King, Jr. and South Africa’s Nelson Mandela. Aside from contributing financially to evangelical causes, he began a college fund for students who come from poor families. In 1996, he published his autobiography entitled Holyfield: The Humble Warrior. In 2003, he married for the third time.

Source: Totally History

Review: ‘Roots’ for a Black Lives Matter Era Tags: roots black lives matter era word life production new quality entertainment

The original mini-series “Roots” was about history, and it was history itself. Airing on ABC in January 1977, this generational saga of slavery was a kind of answer song to the 1976 Bicentennial celebration of the (white, often slave-owning) founding fathers. It reopened the books and wrote slaves and their descendants into the national narrative.

But as an event, it was also a chapter in that story. It shaped and was shaped by the racial consciousness of its era. It was a prime-time national reckoning for more than 100 million viewers. As a television drama, it was excellent. But as a television broadcast, it was epochal.

The four-night, eight-hour remake of “Roots,” beginning Memorial Day on History, A&E and Lifetime, is largely the same story, compressed in some places and expanded in others, with a lavish production and strong performances. It is every bit as worthy of attention and conversation. But it is also landing, inevitably, in a very different time.

Viewers who watched “Roots” four decades ago have since lived with racial narratives of moving forward and stepping back. They’ve seen America’s first black president elected and a presidential candidate hesitate to disavow the Ku Klux Klan.

So in timing and spirit, this is a Black Lives Matter “Roots,” optimistic in focusing on its characters’ strength, sober in recognizing that we may never stop needing reminders of whose lives matter.

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The first new episode, much of it shot in South Africa, looks stunning, another sign of the cultural times. Kunta Kinte (Malachi Kirby, in the role made famous by LeVar Burton) is now not a humble villager but the scion of an important clan, and his home — Juffure, in Gambia — a prosperous settlement. Kunta is captured by a rival family and sold into slavery to a Virginian (James Purefoy), by way of a harrowing Middle Passage.

Mr. Kirby’s Kunta is a more regal and immediately defiant character than Mr. Burton’s. But his tragedy is the same: He rebels but fails and is beaten into accepting his slave name, Toby. The name — the loss of identity — is as much a weapon as the whip. As the overseer who beats him puts it: “You can’t buy a slave. You have to make a slave.”

Kunta stops running, but he preserves his traditions, including the practice of presenting a newborn baby to the night sky with the words, “Behold, the only thing that is greater than you.”

That theme of belonging to something larger, of the ancestral family as a character in itself, is essential to “Roots.” Although Alex Haley fictionalized the events of his novel on which the mini-series is based, his story offered black Americans what slavery was machine-tooled to erase: places, dates, names, memories. And that focus keeps the ugliness — the racial slurs, the gruesome violence — from rendering this series without hope. A person may live and die in this system, but a people can survive it.

Still, the individual stories remain heartbreaking, even in small moments, as when the slave musician Fiddler (a soulful Forest Whitaker) recognizes a Mandinka tune he overhears Kunta singing. He’s moved — and, it seems, a little frightened by what the recognition stirs in him. As much as he’s worked to efface his heritage as a survival strategy, it lingers, a few notes haunting the outskirts of his memory.

Kunta’s daughter, Kizzy (E’myri Lee Crutchfield as a child, Anika Noni Rose as an adult), is teased with the possibility of a better life; she grows up friends with the master’s daughter and learns to read. But she’s sold to Tom Lea (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a struggling farmer who rapes and impregnates her. Rape — there are several assaults in this series — is another weapon against identity, another way you make a slave. Ms. Rose burns with Kizzy’s determination to hang on to her sense of self.

Kizzy and Tom Lea’s son, Chicken George (Regé-Jean Page, walking nimbly in Ben Vereen’s footsteps) makes his name raising fighting cocks for his master-father. The series has lighter moments, especially with the charismatic George, but those can quickly turn dark at an owner’s whim. Childhood friends grow up; promises get broken; there are no good masters.

At eight hours over four nights, each with a separate director, this “Roots” is about a third shorter than the original. It focuses less on white characters — gone is Ed Asner’s conscience-stricken slave-ship captain, a sop to white viewers — though there are insights about how class resentment feeds bigotry.

You feel the story’s compression most in the second half, especially the melodramatic, rushed final episode, which works in both the story of George’s son Tom (Sedale Threatt Jr.) — named, under duress, for his slave-master grandfather — and George’s service in the Civil War. This mini-series ends emotionally, but it emphasizes that there is no permanent happily-ever-after: “Every day,” the younger Tom says, “always going to be someone wants to take away your freedom.”

Overall, the remake, whose producers include Mr. Burton and Mark M. Wolper (whose father, David L. Wolper, produced the original “Roots”), ably polishes the story for a new audience that might find the old production dated and slow. What it can’t do, because nothing can now, is command that audience.

As homogeneous as the old-school, three-network TV system could be, as many faces as it left out, “Roots” was an example of what it could do at its best. I watched it when I was 8 years old because it was all anyone was talking about, including the kids in my mostly white small-town school. A generation of viewers — whatever we looked like, wherever we came from, wherever we ended up — carried the memory of Kunta having his name beaten out of him.

Viewers will have to seek out this “Roots,” like every program now. Today’s universe of channels and streaming outlets presents a much wider range of identity and experience. But we see it in smaller groups and take away different memories.

That’s not the fault of “Roots,” of course; it’s simply our media world. The legacy of representation now lives in a constellation of programs, among them dramas like “Underground,” which imagines its slave-escape story as an action thriller; comedies like “black-ish” and “The Carmichael Show,” with their complex ideas of black identity; and this “Roots,” still a necessary story, but now one story among many.

A version of this review appears in print on May 30, 2016, on page C1 of the New York edition with the headline: An Epochal Saga of Slavery, Remade for a Different Time. Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe

Source: New York Times

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