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Recent Articles

Maya Angelou April 4, 1928 — May 28, 2014

How does one pay adequate tribute to the legacy of Maya Angelou, the beloved historic icon and cultural treasure who passed away on May 28? Her enduring presence as an enlightening, empowering beacon to which the hearts and minds of Black women faithfully were drawn, after all, marked her as an individual of inestimable consequence whose like we quite probably will never see again. Dr. Angelou, nee Marguerite Annie Johnson, advanced from an auspicious literary debut, publishing her first autobiography I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings with the aid of James Baldwin, who would become a lifelong friend, to a titanic career that spanned more than a half century. Her accomplishments included, in far from a complete listing, a film rendition of the book starring Diahann Carroll and Ruby Dee; six more autobiographies; acting turns in The Richard Pryor Special?, Poetic Justice with Janet Jackson, and Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion; as well as stints directing (Down In The Delta, starring Alfre Woodward, featuring Al Freeman, Jr), producing (Sister, Sister with Rosalind Cash, Diahann Carroll and Paul Winfield), and scoring film soundtracks (For Love of Ivy, starring Sidney Poitier). She is best known for her vast volume of poetry, most notably “On the Pulse of Morning,” which she recited at President Bill Clinton’s 1994 inauguration. Continue Reading →

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‘Ordinary African American woman’ LisaGay Hamilton has an impressive acting resume



By Charles Hallman
Staff writer

Second in a multi-part series

Despite her impressive filmography, LisaGay Hamilton humbly points out that her name isn’t a household one. “I’m an ordinary African American woman,” she told the MSR in a recent phone interview. “Personally I am not exotic looking. I’m not curvaceous… I just have to be really great — really, really good.”

Hamilton nonetheless pointed out that she tries not to take acting jobs “just to make money. Continue Reading →

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Hip hop classes nurture creative expression


By Dwight Hobbes
Contributing Writer


Arriving at renowned Watershed High School in South Minneapolis and walking to the “Hip Hop, History and the Arts” classroom to speak with curriculum founder-instructor Chadwick “Niles” Phillips is, to say the least, an interesting experience. The students have wrapped up rehearsal for the day, and he’s prepping them for the following evening’s premier of their artistic outing, “The Youth Performance Series (Act 4).”

This is, it’s clear, not simply a gathering reminiscent of Fame. These “at-risk” adolescents of color are taking advantage of the vital opportunity to pursue an alternative to the street life that more and more often sees minority youth ending up either victims or perpetrators of violent crime. The class is a viable alternative to having idle time on their hands and unwittingly following a dead-end path to a trouble-laden future. It’s a chance to begin realizing an ambition to do something positive with themselves and enjoy having their dreams nurtured to the fullest extent possible. Continue Reading →

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