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Current NBA stars honor their Black Fives predecessors

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we approach the wind-down days of Black History Month 2014, it’s refreshing to see other Black contributors besides the usual few names often presented — such as overlooked Black athletes who labored in virtual obscurity during the Jim Crow era. Thanks to the nonprofit Black Fives Foundation in New York for “tell[ing] the story of the pre-1950 history of African Americans in basketball.” The “Black Fives” name comes from the all-Black basketball teams that played in Brooklyn, Harlem, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Pittsburgh, Newark and Los Angeles. These teams “ushered in the Harlem Renaissance period, smashed the color barrier in pro basketball and helped pave the way for the Civil Rights Movement,” wrote founder Claude Johnson on the foundation’s website (www.blackfives.org). Johnson and director Loren Mendell teamed up with Fox Sports Net, which broadcasts NBA games for 13 teams including the Minnesota Timberwolves, to create a series of 30-second TV vignettes honoring Black Fives era pioneers during Black History Month. They are aired during halftime of the telecasts. Continue Reading →

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Reflections on a magical year for Gopher women’s hoops

 

 

 

 

 

Only one time in Gopher women’s basketball history has the team been among the final four teams standing after a long season. A reunion of those players at a recent Gopher’s game provided an opportunity for some pleasant reminiscing. The MSR is the only Twin Cities weekly to consistently cover the Gopher women for at least four decades, beginning with the late Kwame McDonald in the 1970s; then this reporter joined him in the late 1980s. While other local media have totally ignored the program, we always were there. Then came 2004. Continue Reading →

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My Country ‘Tis of Thee: My Faith, My Family, Our Future

Ellison’s bio a cutting-edge tale of resisting bias religious and racial
 
By Dwight Hobbes

Contributing Writer

 

Unequivocally a singular success, Congressional Rep. Keith Ellison is one of the more fascinating figures in contemporary politics — indeed, an unprecedented, historic presence. Anyone who doesn’t believe he’s capable of becoming the second Black president of these United States needs merely consider this: How likely was it that with the country still rankling from 9/11, he accomplished a virtually unthinkable feat — becoming the first Muslim elected to Congress? My Country ‘Tis of Thee: My Faith, My Family, Our Future (Gallery Books/Karen Hunter Publishing, $25) is a newly published memoir cum biography and, whether you admire or abhor his consistently controversial stands on hot-button issues — for instance, the proposed mosque at ground zero, downtown Manhattan site of Al-Kaida’s 2001 terrorist attack on America — the book is a significant, definitively informing work that belongs in the library of every American — Black, White, Brown, Muslim, Protestant, Catholic, whatever — who wishes to know what he or she is talking about when they discuss the consequence of Keith Ellison. It should surprise no one that a significant amount of the material here concerns itself with Ellison’s devotion to his religion. Along with being the first Muslim to hold his office, he historically is strongly vocal about Muslim Americans getting a fair shake in society. Continue Reading →

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Former professional takes “a massive leap of faith” into music career

 

 

By Charles Hallman
Staff writer

 

A Michael Jackson cover makes the United Kingdom top ten hits charts.  A music video of the song was aired on a cable music channel.  The song helped the artist that did the cover earn Grammy best artist consideration. Kenya McGuire Johnson left her career several years ago as an educator, clinical instructor and higher education administrator and took “a massive leap of faith.”  Now Kenya, the jazz/R&B singer — who uses only her first name professionally — is now working on her third CD. The young musician recently spoke with the MSR by phone from her Chicago home. “I did a lot of music growing up” in Denver, Colorado, including being active in choirs, and jazz bands, recalls Kenya, who has been singing since the age of eight. While in college, she was a member of the Howard University Gospel Choir. Continue Reading →

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One Black coach, a few Black players reach NCAA women’s volleyball playoffs

 

 

 

Each of the four teams that played in the NCAA first- and second-round volleyball matches hosted last weekend by the University of Minnesota had at least one player of color: Cheyanne James (Radford), Alexis Austin (Colorado), Victoria Hurtt and Erin Taylor (Iowa State), and two Puerto Rico-born players: Iowa State’s Neira Ortiz Ruiz and the Gophers’ Daly Santana. James was second on her squad in kills — one of a school-record five players receiving all-conference honors. Hurtt thrice led Iowa State with 20-plus kills. Colorado Coach Liz Kritza called the sophomore Austin “team-oriented.”

While seeing a low single-digit number of players of color at a volleyball match, even a post-season match, wasn’t that surprising, discovering that one of the schools was coached by a Black female was a surprise, especially since, unlike the other three schools, her photo was not included in her school’s pre-game notes. Marci Jenkins last weekend completed her sixth season at Radford (Va.) University, which won the Big South conference this year. Continue Reading →

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PBS commemorates television show that featured the best in gospel music

 

 

By Charles Hallman
Staff writer

 

Over the course of three decades, the late Sid Ordower brought the greats and some-to-be greats in gospel music each week on local Chicago television. The likes of Albertina Walker, Mahalia Jackson, Mavis Staples — along with her sisters and their father, James Cleveland, and Otis Clay routinely appeared on Jubilee Showcase, a half-hour long show that ran from 1963-1984. Beginning November 30 and throughout the month of December, PBS will air a 50th anniversary commemorative television special on Jubilee Showcase, said his son Steve Ordower in a recent MSR phone interview. “He was an owner-operator [of his shows], which was pretty rare back in those days,” he explains. “Unfortunately, the first 13 episodes were erased, and he was livid. Continue Reading →

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Big Ten Network head talks about covering women’s sports

During “Hockey Day in Minnesota” in October, announcing the first seasons of two new college hockey conferences, the MSR sat down with Big Ten Network (BTN) President Mark Silverman and talked about his network’s coverage of women’s sports. “You know what my answer is going to be,” began Silverman, “and I know you know the answer, but I appreciate you letting me answer. Our goal is to represent all of our 12 — soon to be 14 — schools, achieve gender equity…between all of our platforms between men and women, [and] generate profitability and growth. “As of now, the amount of an audience that we can generate for basketball and football, and “The Journey” [a season-long inside look at Big Ten men’s teams in the two sports] make it a financially successful endeavor.”

In case you are not paying close attention, Silverman was essentially saying that women’s sports aren’t a moneymaker for BTN. Men’s sports primarily make the cash register ring like the angel bell on It’s a Wonderful Life, while as far as women’s sports are concerned it’s Simon and Garfunkel — the sounds of silence. Continue Reading →

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Free Angela provides a brilliant, invaluable look into America’s history

 

Movie Review

By Dwight Hobbes

Contributing Writer

 

It is sad to see how complacent we Black people have grown since the 1960s. The bourgeoisie blithely transitioned from a populace who once vowed “We Will Overcome” to a generation whose abiding principle now is “I have overcome.” You’d scarcely believe there was a time when Black America was determined to revolt against entrenched, institutionalized racism by, as Malcolm X said, any means necessary. This country’s rulers realized back then that the bill had come due. Too many African Americans were longer shuffling along, head bowed, yassuhing and no ma’aming. Too many had their shoulders squared, braced to put their feet in the nation’s behind. Continue Reading →

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Women take charge at Twin Cities Black Film Festival

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Women ruled at this year’s Twin Cities Black Film Festival (TCBFF) as several female produced and directed films and shorts were screened in September. “Anyone who takes the time and the courage to do this, I’m all for that,” notes TCBFF Founder-Director Natalie Morrow. “I’m not a filmmaker, but I know that it’s a lot of work that goes into filmmaking — just trying to find your funding, your actors, your editing and all that.”

“I write a lot [but] I went to school to learn how to edit so I can do my own projects,” said writer-director Schonte Hamilton. “We’re looking at short after short… that’s just wonderful to see,” observed Deedra Miller, who wrote and also starred in her own film. Continue Reading →

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Forklift driver/cook says hard work — not welfare — saves families

“Black people,” says Anthony Zeigler, “have always been in a recession. We just deal with it.” When life got tough, you simply hitched up your britches and kept stepping. “When it gets harder to find work, well, you just have to look harder, that’s all. “In our culture, as African Americans, we learn how to handle things. Make do with what we have.” Zeigler says of his home life as a youngster, “It was never an issue of how much money we had. Continue Reading →

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