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buzzz worthy. . . By Mona Austin President Obama and Donald Trump met for the first time on Thursday to begin talks about the official...


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Friday, March 29, 2013

Women' History Month Feature: Jasmine Guy, Speaking the language of art

buzzz worthy. . .



By Mona Austin




Peel back all of Jasmine Guy's layers and at her core you will find an artiste. During our interview, I deciphered Guy meant it when she stated, "I am art" on the spoken word recording of “My Language” (from the album “Medicine” by the Black Academy of Arts and Letters).  She has not begun to get the credit she deserves for contributions in music, dance, and theater. This Women's History Month we salute Ms. Guy for evolving an eclectic collage  of work into a legacy of which we can all be proud.

Guy is most "unsung" as a dancer.  Dancing, which she continues to teach, was her first love. Her career as a professional dancer started when she prodigiously arabesqued her way into the renowned Alvin Ailey Dance Theater at 15.   At forty something, the divorcee and mother of 12-year-old Imani was still doing cart wheels and splits as Thelma Kelly in the Broadway production of “Chicago.”   

Although the multi-hyphenate achieved acclaim in the  comedic acting role of  Whitley Gilbert (“A Different World”), this Georgia Peach has blazed the small screen in Alex Haley' s epic mini-series "Queen" and a role in "Stompin' at the Savoy."  The artist has appeared in over 17 films including, "Dead Like Me: Life After Death."  

One of the most creatively flexible in the business  (dancer, actress, writer, choreographer and director), Guy  always believed she could do it all, emulating her mentor-turned-friend Debbie Allen. Hollywood has not always agreed.

After over 20 years of performing on stage and in film she decided to pour all of her gifts into a reservoir of talent called the True Colors Theatre in Atlanta where she serves as a director. 

Guy talked to me about her passionate marriage to the arts and how she feels about the trend of non-actresses becoming instant celebrities and in a “sidebar” moment defends Tyler Perry’s decision to cast Kim Kardashian in an upcoming movie.

Mona Austin: What was your motivation for joining the Alliance Theater?

Jasmine Guy: I said what can I do that will combine me in one package and serve a purpose and serve something that I'm passionate about.  Other than being at the receiving end of so many benefits where people call me to do things. What do I want? I’d kind of lost that. As a young person I definitely had that. . .I was very present, very clear about my goal and how to achieve it. I really want to help the art community here in Atlanta.  The community has been very giving to me and very embracing. . .even things I didn’t know I could do like direct, teach, write a play, perform in dramatic roles.  All of the things that I had sort of been denied in L.A. I received here in Atlanta.

MA: What kept you motivated to do anything when you felt yourself get in a quandary about what to do?

JG: Debbie Allen is one of my mentors. I felt as I changed from dancer to musical theater to I want to be an actor I was always told “no” by somebody.

In the back of my mind I would go well Debbie did it.  Well Debbie did became my mantra for many things because she was doing the same thing I was trying to do and
She was always ahead of me doing it, doing it alone and maybe with no positive feedback other than her self esteem or her family.  So I knew it could be done.  Then I looked at the people who I thought were weird.  I always considered myself weird like Shirley McClain or Bette Midler.  Those were the singer, dancer actor people that I knew I was.   I think it’s important for young people to know they are not alone even in their uniqueness.. . .I always looked to [them] even if they were fictitious friends.  Then in my household I had the mantra of ‘jack of all trades master of none.’  My parents made me choose along the way. . .Now academics were first.  If I hadn’t kept up my grades none of this would be possible.  


Striving for greatness was always one of my goals, but. . .I had to settle for being great at being good at many things.

MA: Would your expectations of yourself be as high if your parents hadn’t raised the bar so high?

JG: Absolutely. My parents raised me and to this day greatly influence me. I thank God for that. Your parents are hard on you, but they know you the best. That’s why when I’m writing I call my mom.  When I open a play I’m directing my parents have to see it. I need my notes from them. My real notes.. . To this day my parents are supportive, but they are not supportive of mediocrity.  Whatever it is you claim, you gotta come with it.

MA: What is your benchmark for success?

JG: My benchmark is different from the public’s.  I have to say my first bench mark was getting into “Westside Story” at Northside School of Performing Arts. (Billy Densmore, the teacher helped her recognize she had potential for Broadway). I went in as a chorus girl and ended up with the part of Anita.  . .The second was when I auditioned for the Alvin Ailey Company at 15 and they gave me a scholarship to their school.  I went there right after high school, two weeks after I graduated and that changed my life.  I always wanted to dance with Alvin Ailey.  . .it changed everything for me. I t was goal oriented then I was alble to work ack from there, so when I got that in high school there was no doubt in my mind where I would go.  It was from there that got Fame, met Debbie, auditioned for Debbie and that led to other things. But those were the crucial moments, I feel.  You know everybody’s gonna say ‘A Different World,’ and I don’t discount it but a ‘Different World’ wouldn’t have happened with those things not in place.


MA: Are you still dancing?

JG: I choreograph.  I can dance for about a minute, then I need an oxygen tank.  (Laughter.) I can still do everything, but my stamina’s gone.  I will still challenge my students when they’re looking at me like I’m some big fat woman with a cane, so I’m not asking you to do something I can’t do.

MA: What was your motivation for joining the Alliance Theater?

JG: I said what can I do that will combine me in one package and serve a purpose and serve something that I'm passionate about.  Other than being at the receiving end of so many benefits where people call me to do things. What do I want? I’d kind of lost that. As a young person I definitely had that. . .I was very present, very clear about my goal and how to achieve it. I really want to help the art community here in Atlanta.  The community has been very giving to me and very embracing. . .even things I didn’t know I could do like direct, teach, write a play, perform in dramatic roles.  All of the things that I had sort of been denied in L.A. I received here in Atlanta.

MA: The opportunities for actors have changed so much.  Would you be open to acting in a internet-based show?

JG: I’m open to it but cautious because you don’t know what’s making it beautiful. If you know what’s making it beautiful then stay off of it. Otherwise we’ll have the same manufactured bull**** we already have on sitcoms.  Sitcoms are the worse.

MA: How do you feel about sitcoms being replaced by reality TV? That seems to be the way television is going potentially.

JG: I can’t watch reality because I know it’s scripted. . .I’m really upset with the climate in America that anybody with a big a** can be a celebrity.

Guy's perspective on Kim Kardashian being cast in a Tyler Perry film, "Temptation"
MA : Tyler Perry came under scrutiny for casting Kim Kardashian in a movie. . .  What are your thoughts?

JG: . . .I understand it. I always understand Tyler.  He brings product they don’t have to touch. He has a built-in audience. That he hired Kim doesn’t bother me.  Ya'll watched Kim for 3 years, doing nothing, buying shoes.  That bothers me so what Tyler did doesn’t bother me.  . . .[Y'all] made her famous. He didn't make her famous.  Nobody questions why she’s famous until he put her in a movie? He put her in the movie because she has a built in audience.  I would have done the same thing....


MA:  Since you’ve had your fair share of both acting and dancing, what’s your preference?


JG: I don’t have a preference but I’ll tell you what really fills me up. When I’m directing or talking to younger actors and the find their gold, they find where they live in my presence I love that.

Guy is currently writing a stage play based on a book she wrote five years ago, “Evolution of a Revolutionary,” the story of Tupac Shakur’s mother, Afeni Shakur.  In January 2012 at the Alliance Theater, she will  star in Yasmina Reza’s “God of Carnage,” the 2009 Tony Award winner for Best Play.

 (This interviews was conducted in the Fall of 2011.)

In recent news, Ms. Guy is at the forefront of the fight against child trafficking as the spokesperson for the "I Am Not Yours" campaign.

Please take a moment this view Guy discussing this important matter on HLN.
Read more ...

Reid Flair, son of Ric Flair has died

buzzz worthy. . .

Richard Fliehr, the 25-year-old son of wrestling legend "The Nature Boy"  Ric Flair has died.  Police were called to a hotel in Charlotte, NC this morning where his non-responsive body was discovered in a room. They determined the deceased was the WWE Hall of Famer's son, who is also known by the ring name Reid Flair.

 Legacy Talent and Entertainment, LLC  released the following message on Facebook:

We are heartbroken to confirm that Ric's son, Reid Fliehr, has passed away today March 29, 2013 in Charlotte, NC. The investigation into the cause of death is ongoing. Reid was 25 and an incredible son, brother, friend, and professional wrestler. No words can describe the grief that Ric and his family are experiencing and they do request privacy during this devastating time.


According to Ring Digest, the younger Flair had a history of drug and alcohol abuse.  At press time the cause of death is unknown.

This case is under investigation.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/03/29/3948251/ric-flairs-son-found-dead-in-southpark.html#storylink=cpy
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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

First woman chosen to lead the Secret Service

buzzz worthy. . .


At a swearing in ceremony Wednesday Julia Pierson became the first woman to lead the Secret Service.  Pierson is the former Chief of Staff of the agency.  The appointment by President Obama comes as Women's History Month nears its end.

President Obama described Pierson as someone who was highly qualified and had paid her dues, saying she had worked just about every job in the agency. Prior to her current role, from 2006 to 2008, she served as USSS Assistant Director of the Office of Human Resources and Training.  Ms. Pierson’s previous leadership roles within the USSS include:  Deputy Assistant Director of the Office of Protective Operations (2005-2006), Deputy Assistant Director of the Office of Administration (2001-2005), and Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Protective Operations (2000-2001).  Ms. Pierson joined the USSS in 1983 as a Special Agent in Miami, Florida.  Prior to joining the USSS, Ms. Pierson was a police officer in the Orlando Police Department from 1980 to 1983.  Pierson received a B.A. from the University of Central Florida. "I couldn't be putting our lives in better hands than Julia's," he said of the newly appointed Director of Secret Service, Homeland Security.
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NABJ name Roland Martin "2013 Journalist of the Year"

buzzz worthy. . .

WASHINGTON (March 27, 2013) -- The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) announced today that Roland S. Martin, nationally syndicated columnist, television host, and radio and television commentator, is to receive the organization's Journalist of the Year award. It is one of NABJ's most coveted honors celebrating the accomplishments of black journalists and those who support blacks in the media. Martin was selected for the award by NABJ's Board of Directors.

Martin currently is host and managing editor of TV One's Washington Watch with Roland Martin, and a senior analyst for The Tom Joyner Morning Show. He is also a nationally syndicated columnist with Creators Syndicate and a contributor to CNN.

"Roland Martin has had an enviable career as a multimedia journalist, becoming a respected and trusted voice in print, on air and online," said NABJ President Gregory Lee, Jr. "He is unapologetic about his quest to provide well-rounded coverage of the African-American community, and to provide unique insights to diverse audiences across the many platforms on which he is asked to contribute on a regular basis."  

Martin will be honored with others at the association's Salute to Excellence Gala on August 3, 2013, during NABJ's 38th Annual Convention and Career Fair in Orlando.

"I am enormously thankful and humbled that NABJ has bestowed this amazing honor on me for my work as a fearless voice in advocating the critical issues facing voters in the 2012 election, but especially as they relate to African Americans," said Martin. "I hope this honor serves as a lesson to any young or veteran journalist that Black media platforms are just as essential and important to us today as they have always been. Before CNN, TV One offered me a TV platform for my commentaries, as well my own show. After CNN, TV One and Tom Joyner, are still there. It pleases me greatly to be at a place where our voices and images are the norm, and not the exception. I'm enormously thankful for the opportunity."

PRESS RELEASE COURTESY OF NABJ. TO SEE FULL VERSION CLICK HERE

TV ONE ANNOUNCES AMAZING GRACE: DRAMA IN THE BLACK CHURCH - 
A WASHINGTON WATCH SPECIAL WITH ROLAND MARTIN, 
SATURDAY MARCH 30, 7:00 PM/ET

-- Topics include: the battle over leadership at Jericho City of Praise in Landover, Maryland; the rise, fall and redemption of Pastor Jamal Bryant and the controversial beginnings of The Church Without Walls --

-- Special prime time edition to precede network's television premiere of Russ Parr's 'The Undershepherd' which fictitiously examines controversial issues in the 
Black church --

Roland S. Martin
   
TV One's Washington Watch with Roland Martin will tackle the themes of power, corruption and redemption in the Black church when it's primetime speciaAmazing Grace: Drama In the Black Church - A Washington Watch Special with Roland Martin airs Saturday, March 30, 7:00 PM/ET, leading into the world television premiere of Russ Parr's "The Undershepherd," and during Washington Watch's regularly scheduled time slot, Sunday March 31, 11AM ETThe special includes a one-on-one interview between Martin and Bishop T.D. Jakes exploring the depiction of the Black church in secular and pop culture media.

Topics explored during the hour include: the battle between Pastor Joel Peebles, son of the late Bishop Dr. James R. PeeblesSr. and Apostle Betty Peebles, and the members of Landover's Jericho City of Praise for control over church leadership.; the rise, fall and eventual redemption of Pastor Jamal Bryant and the rejection of Pastor Ralph DouglasWest by his church leading to the successful creation of The Church Without Walls.

Panelists during the hour include: Founder and Senior Pastor of Community of Hope AME, Rev. Tony Lee; Senior Pastor of Third Street Church of God and Professor of Christian Ethics at Howard University School of Divinity, Rev. Dr. Cheryl Sanders and Senior Pastor of Nineteenth Street Baptist Church, Rev. Dr. Derrick Harkins.

"The multi-faceted role of the Black church in America provides a constant source of community, conversation and controversy as reflected by the varied offerings of films, books and plays on the subject," remarked host, political editor and analyst Roland Martin. "With our special, we hope to enlarge and continue the conversation in a respectful yet informative manner with a personalization of some of the larger issues routinely appearing in headlines.  We want to de-mystify the stories and the people behind church issues making news."

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ATTORNEY: Porsha Stewart could come out on top of 16 million dollar divorce battle

buzzz worthy. . .

Yesterday, when the news spread that Kordell Stewart filed for  divorce, his wife Porsha heard about those plans in the media too.  We have since learned  from various reports that the former Pittsburg Steeler had no intention of paying spousal support to Porsha and the couple did not sign a pre-nup. All of these details blind-sighted the RHOA star, but in an interview with CocoaFab  Attorney Randall Kessler implies his client should not be worried.

Read an excerpt for the interview below:


Despite being shocked and caught off guard upon hearing that her husband of two years had filed for divorce, Porsha Stewart has to put on her big girl panties and get ready to fight. And it looks like she's doing just that.

CocoaFab spoke exclusively this morning with Georgia's leading family attorney Randall Kessler, who also represented NeNe Leakes in her divorce. While Mr. Kessler said that he will be issuing a statement with Porsha later today, he did allude to the fact that he and Porsha would be sitting down with Kordell and his attorneys in a preliminary meeting soon to discuss a resolution to the matter.

Without divulging his client's strategy, Mr. Kessler said, "The short answer is that evidence is evidence. If you're on a security camera and we get it, or if you're on reality television and that's taped, that's evidence as well."

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Sheards to star in reality series

buzzz worthy. . .

This is the faith-based reality show I have been waiting for. . .one that openly applies the spirituality and Christian principles to the life challenges that families face. . . presenting THE SHEARDS, airing  on BET on April 7.

Take a look at the trailer by clicking the graphic below!





THE SHEARDS is a weekly docu-drama following the lives of the Sheard family as they navigate family, friends, and faith in a modern world. Meet Kierra “KiKi” Sheard (24) and her brother, J. Drew (22). As the kids of First Lady Karen Clark Sheard, one of gospel’s most powerful women and Bishop J. Drew Sheard, a mega-church pastor in Detroit, these kids face a responsibility unlike any other. And as they continue to grow and face the ups and downs of becoming an adult, they’ll show us the choices they make as they learn life’s lessons, in many cases the hard way. THE SHEARDS will examine a family’s dynamic on a multigenerational level.



Meet the Cast
KiKi SheardAt only 24, KiKi has experienced amazing commercial success in the gospel world releasing her own albums and appearing on tracks with her mother and other gospel music superstars. After recently releasing her fifth album, Free, Kiki is ready to break out of her family’s shadow as she looks to find her own, unique voice.

J. DrewJ. Drew (22) is on a mission all his own as he wades through his own transition period. Growing up in the church, his great grandfather, grandfather and father all became bishops. Now, Bishop Sheard is pushing his son towards the direction of the church.

Karen Clark Sheard: For Karen, it can be difficult being a first lady (a preacher’s wife), gospel superstar and doting mother. She loves her family, but sometimes KiKi thinks she is over-protective. A “daddy’s girl,” KiKi still lives at home with her parents with Karen calling her “their little princess.”

J. Drew Sheard: After rising through the church and becoming a Bishop, J. Drew Sr. feels the weight of the congregation on his shoulders as well as that of his family and their own life vicissitudes. He’s preparing to run for a higher office within his international COGIC denomination, a character unto itself. Bishop is unsure of how his family will be received – J. Drew II has a child out of wedlock, a big no-no in the church world period, especially for the son of a Bishop.

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Happy birthday Diana!

buzzz worthy. . .
 Diana Ross turned 69 years old today ans she still looks like a boss!  Wonder if we'll get new music from her before this decade is over?


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NEW MUSIC: Connected 2 Calvary Vol 3

buzzz worthy. . .


The Independent Showcase presents
Connected 2 Calvary Vol 3
The Best Independent Gospel Artists All On One CD!

The Independent Showcase presents Connected 2 Calvary  Vol 3, an all-new CD sampler that features the latest tracks from some of the best independent artists and rising talents. The free music series is produced by Fred Stewart of Divine Music Productions and hosted by "Wanda P" Patterson who is the host of The Independent Showcase – a one hour radio show that features music from indie Gospel and Christian artists, interviews, music industry tips and more.
“I’m a fan of this amazing series.  Some of these artists I’ve heard before and some are new to me, but every CD is packed with some great music.”  Roderick Jemison, President – Jemison & Associates.
Connected 2 Calvary Vol 3 captures the essence of gospel music by collectively blending Praise and Worship, contemporary, traditional and urban inspirational genres all on one compilation.  And it’s free! Stewart, Patterson and Kelvin Chappell of Kelvin Chappell Designs created the series to offer indie artist a promotional platform for their music ministries and to assist them in reaching audiences they may be unable to reach via traditional promotional mediums.
“WOW! Is what I say first about the series overall.  I’m anticipating the day that I have the honor of interviewing this collaboration of indie artist on my radio show in order for the world to feel the power of this music.”  Earl Bynum, Jr., Host/Producer – On Stage With Earl Bynum – Rejoice Musical Soulfood Network.
There is something for every lover of gospel and Christian music on Connected 2 Calvary Vol 3 including spoken word performances.  

FREE Digital Download
Log on now and start enjoying your free C2C CD of Great Gospel Music!
Connected 2 Calvary Vol 3 CD Sampler Features:Darnell Davis & The Remnant
James Murphy
Joel Buckner
J Newry
The Singletons Family
Gavin Davis
Ms Ty Scott
Brittney Wright
Jamar Esaw and Triad:4 Christ
Kyla Jade
Titus Glenn
Eunice Wright
Maranda Curtis
Kevin Terry & Predestined
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FINANCES: What is our money personality?

buzzz worthy. . .



This year the IRS expects to receive more than 147 million tax returns. Of those filing returns, at least 75% will receive a refund. Bestselling authors and money relationship experts, The Money Couple® (Scott & Bethany Palmer), agree that most husband and wives agree that taxes are a pain, but that’s where their similar viewpoints usually end. As with most money matters, couples approach money differently, and with that comes relationship challenges. Knowing your Primary and Secondary Money Personalities™ helps you both understand those different viewpoints and how they work together when it comes to taxes.


The Money Couple has dedicated their lives to helping others strengthen their relationships. During their four combined decades as financial planners, they witnessed an increasing trend of marriages ending in divorce over money. So after years of research and work with a statistical scientist, they created The 5 Money Personalities™ to help couples everywhere reverse that trend and communicate positively and effectively about money. Their newest book The 5 Money Personalities™: Speaking the Same Love and Money Language explains the primary and secondary Money Personalities, opposite dynamics, financial infidelity, why we fight and ways to fight fair.

 The couple explains how The 5 Money Personalities™ play a role during tax time:

Risk Takers – Don’t sweat the details, so you may not want them at the helm during tax prep. However, they could be king of creative loopholes. When the refund arrives they’re ready to take it and make up for lost time. Often quick to make decisions, they may forget to discuss their ideas with their spouse leading to hurt feelings. Start talking now before the refund arrives.

Security Seekers – Are happy to have more money to invest in the future. With an average return of $3,000, they are ready to apply their refund to secure their future. They may worry over the details before filing, and even after the check arrives they may worry that the amount — which you’re thrilled about — means your exemptions aren’t right. Help them with the details and assure them it will all work out, plus they will have another chance next year to do it all again.

Flyers – Are happy to let someone else handle the taxes. Period. Henry & Richard Bloch were not Flyers. Enlist the help of professionals or if you’re a Security Seeker or Saver, volunteer to handle tax details, filing and refund allocation.

Spenders – Can’t wait to. . .spend it. Big screen, big vacation, big party! Avoid spending your refund before you receive it. Help them avoid the temptation to spend it all, and encourage consideration of their entire money situation.

Savers – Calculate their estimated refund as early as possible, and have already mentally lowered their debt figure (and their blood pressure) by that amount. They may even opt to e-file so the money is deposited directly into their savings account. Talk with Savers about other ways to use the refund check. Maybe every penny doesn’t need to be saved


For more information about The Money Couple and to access the FREE Money Personality Quiz, please visit www.TheMoneyCouple.com

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Chocolate stamps anyone?

buzzz worthy. . .



Cadbury eggs are not the only chocolates making their rounds this Easter season.

Belgians may need to count calories when addressing their mail.  The Belgian Post office has  issued 538,000 Chocolate-flavored stamps.  The stamps smell and taste like chocolate.  They were created by a team of  smell and taste experts from Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands and work like a regular stamp -- just lick and stick. The candy stamps are being sold in sets of 5 for $8.00 (6.2 euros.)


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Oh no! RHOA stars Kordell and Porsha are headed for divorce

buzzz worthy. . .

The honeymoon phase and the marriage are over for the latest cast members on the Real Housewives of Atlanta.  Ex-NFL baller Kordell Stewart has filed for a divorce from his wife, Porsha according to AccessAtlanta.com.

Mr. Stewart filed a petition for divorce March 22 in Fulton County Court citing the marriage is "irretrievably broken."

Throughout the season, fellow cast members were somewhat critical of  Porsha's traditional role. She was the only "real housewife," opting to stay at home and cater to her  husband's every need.

On a girls trip to Vegas her older peers were upset that she refused to attend a strip club outing because her hubby would not approve. The ladies attempted to impart the importance of being independent to Porsha.  Porsha fought back saying that as a Christian she felt obligated to obey her husband and felt called to be a positive role model for other young women.  

In the eyes of many viewers, Porsha was viewed as a naive, ditsy, trophy wife who could not think for herself. Kordell was viewed as an extremely domineering and controlling Alpha male.

Putting a positive spin on the connotation of being held up as a commodity, Porsha recently told essence.com she had no probelm filling the shoes of a kept woman: "I think it's important for our little girls to know that they can be a princesses and they can have it all...So I feel proud to represent -- and I use the word lightly -- the Black trophy wife."

But she wanted more.

The couple was trying to have a child. During a counseling session in the last episode, there were signs of trouble in paradise.   Porsha admitted through tears that she had a miscarriage and was hurt because her husband was not being sensitive. She had also expressed a desire to have a career.Not only did he oppose her working outside of the home, Mr. Stewart wanted Mrs. Stewart to quit the show. Kordell did not understand why Porsha couldn't just be content with keeping their castle.

It was clear that Porsha had an internal conflict with her faith and desire to "have it all," especially because every on-camera conversation she had with Kordell about her aspirations ended with her being saddened, withdrawn, and wiping away tears.

Perhaps these difference are  why this fairytale has ended after less than 2 years.


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Monday, March 25, 2013

Maryland monument to be built in honor of Harriet Tubman

buzzz worthy. . .





President Obama issued official proclamations for the building of five national monuments including the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument, San Juan National Monument, Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, First State National Monument and the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument.

A protected area in Maryland's Eastern Shore will be home to the National Harriet Tubman Monument & Memorial Park.  The site is near land where the emancipation heroine escaped from slavery and returned to set others free via a covert communication network known as the "Underground Railroad." The document designating building of the memorial follows in its entirety:


ESTABLISHMENT OF THE
HARRIET TUBMAN -- UNDERGROUND RAILROAD NATIONAL MONUMENT
- - - - - - -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION

Harriet Tubman is an American hero. She was born enslaved, liberated herself, and returned to the area of her birth many times to lead family, friends, and other enslaved African Americans north to freedom. Harriet Tubman fought tirelessly for the Union cause, for the rights of enslaved people, for the rights of women, and for the rights of all. She was a leader in the struggle for civil rights who was forever motivated by her love of family and community and by her deep and abiding faith.

Born Araminta Ross in 1822 in Dorchester County, Maryland, on the plantation where her parents were enslaved, she took the name "Harriet" at the time she married John Tubman, a free black man, around 1844. Harriet Tubman lived and worked enslaved in this area from her childhood until she escaped to freedom at age 27 in 1849. She returned to Dorchester County approximately 13 times to free family, friends, and other enslaved African Americans, becoming one of the most prominent "conductors" on the Underground Railroad. In 1859, she purchased a farm in Auburn, New York, and established a home for her family and others, which anchored the remaining years of her life. In the Civil War she supported the Union forces as a scout, spy, and nurse to African-American soldiers on battlefields and later at Fort Monroe, Virginia. After the war, she established the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged, which institutionalized a pattern of her life -- caring for African Americans in need.

In 1868, the great civil rights leader Frederick Douglass wrote to Harriet Tubman:
I have had the applause of the crowd and the satisfaction that comes of being approved by the multitude, while the most that you have done has been witnessed by a few trembling, scarred, and foot-sore bondmen and women, whom you have led out of the house of bondage, and whose heartfelt "God bless you" has been your only reward. The midnight sky and the silent stars have been the witnesses of your devotion to freedom and of your heroism.

The "midnight sky and the silent stars" and the Dorchester County landscape of Harriet Tubman's homeland remain much as they were in her time there. If she were to return to this area today, Harriet Tubman would recognize it.

It was in the flat, open fields, marsh, and thick woodlands of Dorchester County that Tubman became physically and spiritually strong. Many of the places in which she grew up and worked still remain. Stewart's Canal at the western edge of this historic area was constructed over 20 years by enslaved and free African Americans. This 8-mile long waterway, completed in the 1830s, connected Parsons Creek and Blackwater River with Tobacco Stick Bay (known today as Madison Bay) and opened up some of Dorchester's more remote territory for timber and agricultural products to be shipped to Baltimore markets. Tubman lived near here while working for John T. Stewart. The canal, the waterways it opened to the Chesapeake Bay, and the Blackwater River were the means of conveying goods, lumber, and those seeking freedom. And the small ports were places for connecting the enslaved with the world outside the Eastern Shore, places on the path north to freedom.

Near the canal is the Jacob Jackson Home Site, 480 acres of flat farmland, woodland, and wetland that was the site of one of the first safe houses along the Underground Railroad. Jackson was a free black man to whom Tubman appealed for assistance in 1854 in attempting to retrieve her brothers and who, because he was literate, would have been an important link in the local communication network. The Jacob Jackson Home Site has been donated to the United States.

Further reinforcing the historical significance and integrity of these sites is their proximity to other important sites of Tubman's life and work. She was born in the heart of this area at Peter's Neck at the end of Harrisville Road, on the farm of Anthony Thompson. Nearby is the farm that belonged to Edward Brodess, enslaver of Tubman's mother and her children. The James Cook Home Site is where Tubman was hired out as a child. She remembered the harsh treatment she received here, long afterward recalling that even when ill, she was expected to wade into swamps throughout the cold winter to haul muskrat traps. A few miles from the James Cook Home Site is the Bucktown Crossroads, where a slave overseer hit the 13-year-old Tubman with a heavy iron as she attempted to protect a young fleeing slave, resulting in an injury that affected Tubman for the rest of her life. A quarter mile to the north are Scotts Chapel and the associated African-American graveyard. The church was founded in 1812 as a Methodist congregation. Later, in the mid-19th century, African Americans split off from the congregation and formed Bazel Church. Across from Scotts Chapel is an African-American graveyard with headstones dating to 1792.

Bazel Church is located nearby on a 1-acre clearing edged by the road and otherwise surrounded by cultivated fields and forest. According to tradition, this is where African Americans worshipped outdoors during Tubman's time.

The National Park Service has found this landscape in Dorchester County to be nationally significant because of its deep association with Tubman and the Underground Railroad. It is representative of the landscape of this region in the early and mid-19th century when enslavers and enslaved worked the farms and forests. This is the landscape where free African Americans and the enslaved led a clandestine movement of people out of slavery towards the North Star of freedom. These sites were places where enslaved and free African Americans intermingled. Moreover, these sites fostered an environment that enabled free individuals to provide aid and guidance to those enslaved who were seeking freedom. This landscape, including the towns, roads, and paths within it, and its
critical waterways, was the means for communication and the path to freedom. The Underground Railroad was everywhere within it.

Much of the landscape in Dorchester County that is Harriet Tubman's homeland, including a portion of Stewart's Canal, is now part of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge provides vital habitat for migratory birds, fish, and wildlife that are components of this historic landscape. Management of the Refuge by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has played an important role in the protection of much of the historic landscape that was formative to Harriet Tubman's life and experiences. The Refuge has helped to conserve the landscape since 1933 and will continue to conserve, manage, and restore this diverse assemblage of wetlands, uplands, and aquatic habitats that play such an important role in telling the story of the cultural history of the area. In the midst of this landscape, the State of Maryland is developing the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park on a 17-acre parcel. The State of Maryland and the Federal Government will work closely together in managing these special places within their respective jurisdictions to preserve this critically important era in American history.

Harriet Tubman is revered by many as a freedom seeker and leader of the Underground Railroad. Although Harriet Tubman is known widely, no Federal commemorative site has heretofore been established in her honor, despite the magnitude of her contributions and her national and international stature.

WHEREAS members of the Congress, the Governor of Maryland, the City of Cambridge, and other State, local, and private interests have expressed support for the timely establishment of a national monument in Dorchester County commemorating Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad to protect the integrity of the evocative landscape and preserve its historic features;
WHEREAS section 2 of the Act of June 8, 1906 (34 Stat. 225, 16 U.S.C. 431) (the "Antiquities Act"), authorizes the President, in his discretion, to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to be national monuments, and to reserve as a part thereof parcels of land, the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected;
WHEREAS it is in the public interest to preserve and protect the objects of historic and scientific interest associated with Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad in Dorchester County, Maryland;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by the authority vested in me by section 2 of the Antiquities Act, hereby proclaim, set apart, and reserve as the Harriet Tubman -- Underground Railroad National Monument (monument), the objects identified above and all lands and interests in lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States within the boundaries described on the accompanying map, which is attached to and forms a part of this proclamation, for the purpose of protecting those objects. These reserved Federal lands and interests in lands encompass approximately 11,750 acres, which is the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.

All Federal lands and interests in lands within the boundaries of this monument are hereby appropriated and withdrawn from all forms of entry, location, selection, sale, leasing, or other disposition under the public land laws, including withdrawal from location, entry, and patent under the mining laws, and from disposition under all laws relating to mineral and geothermal leasing.

The establishment of this monument is subject to valid existing rights. Lands and interests in lands within the boundaries of the monument that are not owned or controlled by the United States shall be reserved as part of the monument upon acquisition of ownership or control by the United States.
The Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) shall manage the monument through the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, pursuant to their respective applicable legal authorities, to implement the purposes of this proclamation. The National Park Service shall have the general responsibility for administration of the monument, including the Jacob Jackson Home Site, subject to the responsibility and jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to administer the portions of the national monument that are within the National Wildlife Refuge System. When any additional lands and interests in lands are hereafter acquired by the United States within the monument boundaries, the Secretary shall determine whether such lands will be administered as part of the National Park System or the National Wildlife Refuge System. Hunting and fishing within the National Wildlife Refuge System shall continue to be administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in accordance with the provisions of the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act and other applicable laws.

Consistent with applicable laws, the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shall enter into appropriate arrangements to share resources and services necessary to properly manage the monument. Consistent with applicable laws, the National Park Service shall offer to enter into appropriate arrangements with the State of Maryland for the efficient and effective cooperative management of the monument and the Harriet Tubman -- Underground Railroad State Park.

The Secretary shall prepare a management plan for the monument, with full public involvement, within 3 years of the date of this proclamation. The management plan shall ensure that the monument fulfills the following purposes for the benefit of present and future generations: (1) to preserve the historic and scientific resources identified above, (2) to commemorate the life and work of Harriet Tubman, and (3) to interpret the story of the Underground Railroad and its significance to the region and the Nation as a whole. The management plan shall set forth, among other provisions, the desired relationship of the monument to other related resources, programs, and organizations in the region and elsewhere.
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Nothing in this proclamation shall be deemed to revoke any existing withdrawal, reservation, or appropriation; however, the monument shall be the dominant reservation.

Warning is hereby given to all unauthorized persons not to appropriate, injure, destroy, or remove any feature of the monument and not to locate or settle upon any of the lands thereof.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fifth day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.
BARACK OBAMA
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