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Friday, July 19, 2013

President Obama Addresses Outcome of Trayvon Martin/Zimmerman Trial (Full Transcript)

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On July 19, 2013 from the White House press room President Obama addressed the outcome of the Trial of George Zimmerman, a racially charge case in which a neighborhood watchman killed Trayvon Martin, an  unarmed
 Black teen, in self defense.


January 19, 2013

Six days after reactions to the ruling on the George Zimmerman Trial took root across the nation, as President Obama spoke about the racial implications and he reality of the social impact the verdict has on race relations. Speaking from personal experience, the President brought an emotional connection to the issue that no other president in American history could.  The 20 minute address was unexpected and may indeed be historically significant as presidents do not traditional insert their leadership in legal cases.

The response to Obama's remarks are polarized, sparking both outrage and applause.

Today's comments were a striking departure from President Obama's usual race neutral disposition.

In a line that powerfully reverberates the truth of his role, the president said, "When this first happened I said 'Trayvon Martin could have been my son.' Another way of saying that is that Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago."

Obama has generally avoided conversations about race, but previously spoke of the pervading history of race in this country in 2008 after fallout from association with Pastor Rev Jeremiah Wright, (who was said to have "Black Nationalist" ideals).

Today, he called for empathy toward the historical context by which African American view the verdict as unjust.

He ended optimistically saying "things are getting" better and  giving 5 points of reconciliation on how to move forward from the issue, not the least of which was "soul searching."

A full transcript of President Barack Obama speaking out about the ruling in the George Zimmerman case:

I wanted to come out here, first of all, to tell you that Jay is prepared for all your questions and is very much looking forward to the session. The second thing is I want to let you know that over the next couple of weeks, there's going to obviously be a whole range of issues — immigration, economics, et cetera — we'll try to arrange a fuller press conference to address your questions.

"The reason I actually wanted to come out today is not to take questions, but to speak to an issue that obviously has gotten a lot of attention over the course of the last week — the issue of the Trayvon Martin ruling. I gave a preliminary statement right after the ruling on Sunday. But watching the debate over the course of the last week, I thought it might be useful for me to expand on my thoughts a little bit."

"First of all, I want to make sure that, once again, I send my thoughts and prayers, as well as Michelle's, to the family of Trayvon Martin, and to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they've dealt with the entire situation. I can only imagine what they're going through, and it's remarkable how they've handled it."

The second thing I want to say is to reiterate what I said on Sunday, which is there's going to be a lot of arguments about the legal issues in the case — I'll let all the legal analysts and talking heads address those issues. The judge conducted the trial in a professional manner. The prosecution and the defense made their arguments. The juries were properly instructed that in a case such as this reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict. And once the jury has spoken, that's how our system works. But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling.

You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African American community at least, there's a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it's important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn't go away.

There are very few African American men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me. There are very few African American men who haven't had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me — at least before I was a senator. There are very few African Americans who haven't had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.

And I don't want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it's inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear. The African American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws— everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.

Now, this isn't to say that the African American community is naïve about the fact that African American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system; that they're disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence. It's not to make excuses for that fact — although black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context. They understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history.

And so the fact that sometimes that's unacknowledged adds to the frustration. And the fact that a lot of African American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African American boys are more violent — using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain.

I think the African American community is also not naïve in understanding that, statistically, somebody like Trayvon Martin was statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else. So folks understand the challenges that exist for African American boys. But they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there's no context for it and that context is being denied. And that all contributes I think to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.

Now, the question for me at least, and I think for a lot of folks, is where do we take this? How do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction? I think it's understandable that there have been demonstrations and vigils and protests, and some of that stuff is just going to have to work its way through, as long as it remains nonviolent. If I see any violence, then I will remind folks that that dishonors what happened to Trayvon Martin and his family. But beyond protests or vigils, the question is, are there some concrete things that we might be able to do.

I know that Eric Holder is reviewing what happened down there, but I think it's important for people to have some clear expectations here. Traditionally, these are issues of state and local government, the criminal code. And law enforcement is traditionally done at the state and local levels, not at the federal levels.

That doesn't mean, though, that as a nation we can't do some things that I think would be productive. So let me just give a couple of specifics that I'm still bouncing around with my staff, so we're not rolling out some five-point plan, but some areas where I think all of us could potentially focus.
Number one, precisely because law enforcement is often determined at the state and local level, I think it would be productive for the Justice Department, governors, mayors to work with law enforcement about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists.

When I was in Illinois, I passed racial profiling legislation, and it actually did just two simple things. One, it collected data on traffic stops and the race of the person who was stopped. But the other thing was it resourced us training police departments across the state on how to think about potential racial bias and ways to further professionalize what they were doing.

And initially, the police departments across the state were resistant, but actually they came to recognize that if it was done in a fair, straightforward way that it would allow them to do their jobs better and communities would have more confidence in them and, in turn, be more helpful in applying the law. And obviously, law enforcement has got a very tough job.

So that's one area where I think there are a lot of resources and best practices that could be brought to bear if state and local governments are receptive. And I think a lot of them would be. And let's figure out are there ways for us to push out that kind of training.

Along the same lines, I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if it — if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations.
I know that there's been commentary about the fact that the "stand your ground" laws in Florida were not used as a defense in the case. On the other hand, if we're sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms even if there's a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we'd like to see?

And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these "stand your ground" laws, I'd just ask people to consider, if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman who had followed him in a car because he felt threatened? And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.
Number three — and this is a long-term project — we need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African American boys. And this is something that Michelle and I talk a lot about. There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement. And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them?

I'm not naïve about the prospects of some grand, new federal program. I'm not sure that that's what we're talking about here. But I do recognize that as President, I've got some convening power, and there are a lot of good programs that are being done across the country on this front. And for us to be able to gather together business leaders and local elected officials and clergy and celebrities and athletes, and figure out how are we doing a better job helping young African American men feel that they're a full part of this society and that they've got pathways and avenues to succeed — I think that would be a pretty good outcome from what was obviously a tragic situation. And we're going to spend some time working on that and thinking about that.

And then, finally, I think it's going to be important for all of us to do some soul-searching. There has been talk about should we convene a conversation on race. I haven't seen that be particularly productive when politicians try to organize conversations. They end up being stilted and politicized, and folks are locked into the positions they already have. On the other hand, in families and churches and workplaces, there's the possibility that people are a little bit more honest, and at least you ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can? Am I judging people as much as I can, based on not the color of their skin, but the content of their character? That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy.

And let me just leave you with a final thought that, as difficult and challenging as this whole episode has been for a lot of people, I don't want us to lose sight that things are getting better. Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race. It doesn't mean we're in a post-racial society. It doesn't mean that racism is eliminated. But when I talk to Malia and Sasha, and I listen to their friends and I seem them interact, they're better than we are — they're better than we were — on these issues. And that's true in every community that I've visited all across the country.

And so we have to be vigilant and we have to work on these issues. And those of us in authority should be doing everything we can to encourage the better angels of our nature, as opposed to using these episodes to heighten divisions. But we should also have confidence that kids these days, I think, have more sense than we did back then, and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did; and that along this long, difficult journey, we're becoming a more perfect union — not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.

Thank you, guys.
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Thursday, July 18, 2013

2013 Primetime Emmy nominees announced

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65th PRIMETIME EMMY® AWARDS NOMINATIONS
For Programs airing June 1, 2012 – May 31, 2013

Neil Patrick Harris will host the 2013 Emmys.  He received a nominations for hosting 
the Tony Awards this year.


Wondering how the voting works for the Emmys? There were 54 entries in 101 categories which were voted on by the 16,000 members of the Academy. It's a peer group voting process (i.e., voters vote for writers).

Thursday, July 18 – Nominations for the 65th Primetime Emmy® Awards, covering the eligibility period of June 1, 2012 through May 31, 2013, were announced today by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences from the Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre in the NoHo Arts District, California. Television Academy Chairman and CEO Bruce Rosenblum presided over the nominations along with Aaron Paul from the AMC drama Breaking Bad, and a surprise appearance by Primetime Emmy host Neil Patrick Harris.

This year featured the first ever Emmy nominations in the series and performer categories for programs delivered to television viewers online with the nomination for House of Cards in the Outstanding Drama Series category and performer nominations for both House of Cards and Arrested Development. Emmy rules were amended in 2007 to allow qualified broadband programming to submit along with cable and broadcast programming in all categories, but this is the first year that online programming has been recognized in such highly visible categories.

Programs receiving ten or more nominations are American Horror Story: Asylum (17), Game Of Thrones (16), Behind The Candelabra (15), Saturday Night Live (15), Breaking Bad (13), 30 Rock (13), Downton Abbey (12), Mad Men (12), Modern Family (12), Homeland (11), Phil Spector (11) and Boardwalk Empire (10).

This year’s Outstanding Drama Series performer categories (lead and supporting)feature a mix of first time nominees as well as several acclaimed performers in new roles, including: Morena Baccarin in Homeland, Jonathan Banks in Breaking Bad, Connie Britton in Nashville, Bobby Cannavale in Boardwalk Empire, Emilia Clarke in Game Of Thrones, Jeff Daniels in The Newsroom, Vera Farmiga in Bates Motel, Mandy Patinkin in Homeland, Kevin Spacey in House of Cards, Kerry Washington in Scandal and Robin Wright in House of Cards.

Similarly, the Outstanding Comedy Series performer categories (lead and supporting) have new nominees as well as several performers who are back in the Emmy race this year, including: Jason Bateman in Arrested Development, Anna Chlumsky in Veep, Laura Dern in Enlightened, Adam Driver in Girls, Tony Hale in Veep, Jane Krakowski in 30 Rock, Matt LeBlanc in Episodes and Jane Lynch in Glee.

Additionally, this year’s nominations recognize a significant amount of new writing and directing talent. This includes several top-tier writers and directors who are primarily known for their work in film. The increase of talent, both in front of and behind the camera, positions television as the ultimate medium for creative storytelling.

This year’s nominations feature several individuals who received numerous nominations for their work. This includes Louis C.K. with seven nominations for Louie, Louis C.K.: Oh My God and Saturday Night Live (Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series, Outstanding Directing For A Comedy Series, Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series, Outstanding Directing For A Variety Special, Outstanding Picture Editing For Short-Form Segments And Variety Specials, Outstanding Writing For A Variety Special and Outstanding Guest Actor In A Comedy Series.) This is in addition to program nominations for both Louie and Louis C.K.: Oh My God. Tina Fey is also a multiple nominee with six
nominations for 30 Rock, 30 Rock: The Final Season, 30 Rock: Webisodes and The 70th Annual Golden Globes(Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series, Outstanding Original Music And Lyrics, Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series, Outstanding Special Class – Short Format Nonfiction Programs, Outstanding Special Class – Short Format Live-Action Entertainment Programs and Outstanding Special Class Programs.) This is in addition to the program
nomination for 30 Rock.

A total of 537 separate nominations in categories and areas, compiled by the independent accounting firm of Ernst & Young LLP, were distributed as follows:

A&E – 1 IFC – 2
ABC – 45 JayLenosGarage.com – 1
AMC – 26 Lifetime – 12
AMCTV.com – 1 Machinima.com – 1
BBC America – 3 NatGeoTV.com – 1
Bravo – 3 NBC – 53
BravoTV.com – 2 NBC.com – 3
Cartoon Network – 8 Netflix – 14
CartoonNetwork.com – 1 NGC – 5
CBS – 53 Nickelodeon – 4
Cinemax – 1 OWN – 1
CNN – 4 PBS – 25
Comedy Central – 16 ReelzChannel – 2
ComedyCentral.com – 1 Science Channel – 1
Crackle.com – 1 SHO.com – 1
CW – 1 Showtime – 31
Discovery Channel – 6 Starz – 3
Disney Channel – 1 Sundance Channel – 10
Disney.com – 1 Syfy – 4
Food Network – 1 TBS – 1
FOX– 19 TeamCoco.com – 1
FunnyOrDie.com – 1 TheDailyShow.com – 1
FX Networks – 26 TNT – 3
HBO – 108 TV Land – 2
HBO.com – 1 USA – 5
HISTORY – 10 Yahoo.com – 1
History.com – 1 Commercials – 4 (no network affiliation)


Outstanding Drama Series
"Breaking Bad"
"Downton Abbey"
"Game of Thrones"
"Homeland"
"House of Cards"
"Mad Men"

Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Connie Britton, "Nashville"
Claire Danes, "Homeland"
Michelle Dockery, "Downton Abbey"
Vera Farmiga, "Bates Motel"
Elisabeth Moss, "Mad Men"
Kerry Washington, "Scandal"
Robin Wright, "House of Cards"

Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Hugh Bonneville,"Downton Abbey"
Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad"
Jeff Daniels, "The Newsroom"
Jon Hamm, "Mad Men"
Damian Lewis, "Homeland"
Kevin Spacey, "House of Cards"

Outstanding Comedy Series
"30 Rock"
"The Big Bang Theory"
"Girls"
"Louie"
"Modern Family"
"Veep"

Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Laura Dern, "Enlightened"
Lena Dunham, "Girls"
Edie Falco, "Nurse Jackie"
Tina Fey, "30 Rock"
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Veep"
Amy Poehler, "Parks and Recreation"

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock"
Jason Bateman, "Arrested Development"
Don Cheadle, "House of Lies"
Louis C.K., "Louie"
Matt LeBlanc, "Episodes"
Jim Parsons, "The Big Bang Theory"

Outstanding Made for TV Movie/Miniseries
"American Horror Story: Asylum"
"Behind the Candelabra"
"The Bible"
"Phil Spector"
"Political Animals"
"Top of the Lake"

Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series
"The Colbert Report"
"The Daily Show With Jon Stewart"
"Jimmy Kimmel Live!"
"Late Night With Jimmy Fallon"
"Real Time With Bill Maher"
"Saturday Night Live"

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program
"The Amazing Race"
"Dancing With the Stars"
"Project Runway"
"So You Think You Can Dance"
"Top Chef"
"The Voice"

Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program
Tom Bergeron, "Dancing With The Stars"
Anthony Bourdain, "The Taste"
Cat Deeley, "So You Think You Can Dance"
Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn, "Project Runway"
Ryan Seacrest, "American Idol"
Betty White, "Betty White's Off Their Rockers"

Lead Actress in a Made-for-TV Movie/Miniseries
Jessica Lange, "American Horror Story: Asylum"
Laura Linney, "The Big C: Hereafter"
Helen Mirren, "Phil Spector"
Elisabeth Moss, "Top of the Lake"
Sigourney Weaver, "Political Animals"

Leading Actor in a Made-for-TV Movie/Miniseries
Benedict Cumberbatch, "Parade's End"
Matt Damon, "Behind the Candelabra"
Michael Douglas, "Behind the Candelabra"
Toby Jones, "The Girl"
Al Pacino, "Phil Spector"

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Morena Baccarin, "Homeland"
Christine Baranski, "The Good Wife"
Emilia Clarke, "Game of Thrones"
Anna Gunn, "Breaking Bad"
Christina Hendricks, "Mad Men"
Maggie Smith, "Downton Abbey"

Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Jonathan Banks, "Breaking Bad"
Bobby Cannavale, "Boardwalk Empire"
Jim Carter, "Downton Abbey"
Peter Dinklage, "Game of Thrones"
Mandy Patinkin, "Homeland"
Aaron Paul, "Breaking Bad"

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Mayim Bialik, "The Big Bang Theory"
Julie Bowen, "Modern Family"
Anna Chlumsky, "Veep"
Jane Krakowski, "30 Rock"
Jane Lynch, "Glee"
Sofia Vergara, "Modern Family"
Merritt Wever, "Nurse Jackie"

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Ty Burrell, "Modern Family"
Adam Driver, "Girls"
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, "Modern Family"
Bill Hader, "Saturday Night Live"
Tony Hale, "Veep"
Ed O'Neill, "Modern Family"

Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Ellen Burstyn, "Political Animals"
Sarah Paulson, "American Horror Story: Asylum"
Charlotte Rampling, "Restless"
Imelda Staunton, "The Girl"
Alfre Woodard, "Steel Magnolias"

Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Scott Bakula, "Behind the Candelabra"
James Cromwell, "American Horror Story: Asylum"
John Benjamin Hickey, "The Big C: Hereafter"
Peter Mullan, "Top of the Lake"
Zachary Quinto, "American Horror Story: Asylum"

Outstanding Reality Program
"Antiques Roadshow"
"Deadliest Catch"
"Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" 
"MythBusters"
"Shark Tank"
"Undercover Boss"

Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series
"The Abolitionist"
"American Masters"
"The Men Who Built America"
"Through the Wormhole With Morgan Freeman"
"Vice"

Outstanding Informational Series or Special
"Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown"
"Brain Games"
"Inside the Actors Studio"
"Oprah's Master Class"
"Stand Up to Cancer"

Outstanding Variety Special
"The Kennedy Center Honors"
"Louis C.K.: Oh My God"
"Mel Brooks Strikes Back!"
"Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update Thrusday (Part One)"
"12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief"

Outstanding Animated Program
"Bob's Burgers"
"Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness: Enter the Dragon"
"Regular Show: The Christmas Special"
"The Simpsons"
"South Park"

Outstanding Children's Program
"Good Luck Charlie"
"iCarly"
"Nick News With Linda Ellerbee"
"The Weight of the Nation for Kids: Quiz Ed!"
"A Young Arts Masterclass"

Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Linda Cardellini, "Mad Men"
Joan Cusack, "Shameless"
Jane Fonda, "The Newsroom"
Margo Martindale, "The Americans"
Carrie Preston, "The Good Wife"
Diana Rigg, "Game of Thrones"

Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Michael J. Fox, "The Good Wife"
Rupert Friend, "Homeland"
Robert Morse, "Mad Men"
Harry Hamlin, "Mad Men"
Dan Bucatinsky, "Scandal"
Nathan Lane, "The Good Wife"

Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Dot-Marie Jones, "Glee"
Melissa Leo, "Louie"
Melissa McCarthy, "Saturday Night Live"
Molly Shannon, "Enlightened"
Elaine Stritch, "30 Rock"
Kristen Wiig, "Saturday Night Live"

Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
Will Forte, "30 Rock"
Nathan Lane, "Modern Family"
Bobby Cannavale, "Nurse Jackie"
Louis C.K., "Saturday Night Live"
Bob Newhart, "The Big Bang Theory"
Justin Timberlake, "Saturday Night Live"

The 65th Primetime Emmy Awards will air live from the NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE on Sunday, September 22nd at 8pm EDT/5pm PDT on the CBS Network. This year’s telecast will be executive produced by Ken Ehrlich and will be hosted by Neil Patrick Harris who also serves as the telecast’s producer. The Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards will take place on Sunday, September 15th
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Laila Ali to Host the 20 Year Anniversary Little Miss African American Scholarship Pageant

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Laila Ali, Chandra Wilson, James Pickens, Jr., Kym Whitley and Arjay Smith
Join Pageant Producer Lisa Ruffin for 
 20 Year Little Miss African American Scholarship Pageant


Los Angeles - The beautiful athlete and television personality Laila Ali will inspire the hearts of many when she hosts the 20 year anniversary of the Little Miss African American Scholarship Pageant (LMAA) on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 4:00 p.m. at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. Pageant producer Lisa Ruffin has planned a luminous affair for her participants and attendees this year with a host of celebrity judges that include ABC-TV's "Grey's Anatomy" stars Chandra Wilson and James Pickens, Jr., OWN TV star Kym Whitley from "Raising Whitley," Nicklelodean's Arjay Smith and "Girlfriends" Golden Brooks.  The Wilshire Ebell is located at 743 S. Lucerne Blvd. in Los Angeles, south of Wilshire Blvd.  Tickets are available at www. Littlemissafricanamericaninc. org  and at the Wilshire Ebell box office. 
LMAA Judges top to bottom, left to right:  Chandra Wilson; James Pickens, Jr.; Kym Whitley and Arjay Smith

The Little Miss African American Scholarship Pageant has served as one of the nation's most astute educational programs dedicated to empowering young African American women between the ages of 6 and 12 with the concepts of CAP - Confidence, Awareness and Pride.  Lisa Ruffin, an actress and choreographer, has successfully utilized the pageant format to introduce girls from around the country to the arts, introduce them to public speaking and engage them in individual creativity.  
The full curriculum encompasses a summer program of coaching, guest lectures and demonstrations on the heritage of the African America experience.  The young ladies are tutored in voice projection, poise, body movement and memory technique by instructors from the worlds of art, entertainment and education.   

The pageant has seen a host of celebrity participation over the years including LL Cool J, Jamie Foxxand Taraji P. Henson .  Jay Leno even paid a holiday visit to Ruffin and the pageant participants last Christmas, acknowledging the wonderful work Ruffin has done over the years with a surprise visit from China Ann McClain, the star of the Disney Channel's "A.N.T. Farm" and Tyler Perry's "House of Payne." and

This year's host, Laila Ali is especially fitting for the vision of LMAA.  The mother of two, Ali is a world-class athlete, fitness and wellness expert, cooking enthusiast and the founder of the Laila Ali Lifestyle Brand.  The daughter of the legendary Muhammad Ali, Laila is also a four-time undefeated world boxing champion. In addition to her work as a cast member of NBC's highly touted reality program "Stars Earn Stripes" where she competed to raise money for a charity that supports veterans and their children, Laila hosts ABC-TV's "Everyday Health." 

 
Pageant creator/producer Lisa Ruffin
"I get ecstatic and teary eyed when I think about all the young lives we have been able to touch over a span of 20 years," offers Ruffin. "There are grown women as well as young girls out there in the world who we have positively influenced and I am just extremely grateful."
 Tickets are available at  www. Littlemissafricanamericaninc. org and at the Wilshire Ebell box office.
For a visual overview of the pageant and its impact on contestants, go to 
http://vimeo.com/15018101.


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Happy 95th Birthday Mr. Mandela!

buzzz worthy. . .
Ailing statesman presses one year closer to the century mark.  He turned 95 on
July 18 in a S. African hospital.

JOHANNESBURG, July 17, 2013 (AFP) – Former South African president Nelson Mandela will spend his 95th birthday in hospital Thursday, but was said to be making “remarkable” progress.
As admirers around the world prepare to honour his legacy through a tidal wave of charitable acts, Mandela’s youngest daughter said her father was now able to communicate and watch television.
“He is making remarkable progress,” Zindzi told Britain’s Sky News adding that when she visited him on Tuesday he was “watching TV with his headphones”.
“He responds very well… with his eyes, and he nods and sometimes he lifts his hand like to shake your hand.”
After six often fraught weeks in hospital for South Africa’s national icon, that was welcome news to the many South Africans planning to mark his 95 years.
Children in schools around the country will kick off the day by singing “Happy Birthday” to the former statesman, who also marks 15 years since he married his third wife Graca Machel.
Meanwhile biker gangs will clean streets, volunteers will paint schools and politicians will spend 67 minutes on worthy projects — to mark Mandela’s 67 years of public service.
“Let us return Madiba’s sacrifices and contributions through our own efforts to build a better society,” said South African President Jacob Zuma using Mandela’s clan name.
Near Pretoria, Zuma himself will try to channel Mandela’s cross-community appeal by delivering government housing to poor whites.
The government will also host a ceremony for the symbolic handing over of Mandela’s new high-tech ID card, which will be received by Zindzi.
The event is laden with meaning in a country where apartheid was enforced by pass books, which black citizens were forced to carry and which limited movement to certain areas at certain times.
The United Nations declared the Nobel peace laureate’s birthday Mandela Day in 2010, but for many this year it takes on extra poignancy.
Mandela has spent the last 41 days in a Pretoria hospital in a critical but stable condition after being admitted for a recurring lung infection.
“There was a time that we were all extremely anxious and worried, and we were prepared for the worst,” said Zindzi. “But he continues to amaze us every day.”
Breathing with the help of a machine, family and friends have said he is now responding to treatment.
His successor as president, Thabo Mbeki, even suggested he might be discharged from hospital soon.
“I just hope that although he may not be able to enjoy his 95th birthday, that he will be well enough for his 96th,” friend and fellow anti-apartheid campaigner George Bizos told AFP.
Elsewhere global luminaries, pop stars and companies also plan to pledge their support for a man who has taken on near mythical status.
“I will also be giving my 67 minutes to make the world a better place, one small stepat a time,” British business magnate Richard Branson pledged in a recorded message.
In Manila, 50 abandoned street children will get a television studio tour and see performances by local artists.
On Saturday, Australian city Melbourne will hold a concert featuring local and African artists, while a music festival later this year in Norway will promote equality in schools.
Born July 18 in 1918, Mandela fought against white rule as a young lawyer and was convicted of treason in 1964.
He spent the next 27 years in jail.
But it was through his willingness to forgive his white jailers that Mandela made his indelible mark on history.
After negotiating an end to apartheid, he became South Africa’s first black president,drawing a line under centuries of colonial and racist suppression.
He then led reconciliation in the deeply divided country.
Mandela’s peace-making spirit has won him worldwide respect.
“Never before in history was one human being so universally acknowledged in his lifetime as the embodiment of magnanimity and reconciliation as Nelson Mandela,” said archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu, himself a Nobel peace laureate.
But the sunset of his life has been somewhat eclipsed by bitter infighting among his relatives.
A row over his final resting place has seen three of his children’s graves dug up and their remains moved, public brawling and legal action among his children and grandchildren.
In a televised address, his grandson Mandla accused a sibling of impregnating his wife and Mandela’s oldest daughter Makawize, of sowing divisions in South Africa’s most famous family.
Mandela’s oldest granddaughter Ndileka spoke of the pain caused by the rift in an interview published Wednesday.
“It was something that we did not want to take in the public space but because of who we are it was, it did spill over to the public space,” she told the BBC.
“There is no way that I can never forgive but it’s just that right now I’m still hurting.”
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