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Saturday, April 23, 2016

WATCH: First Lady Michelle Obama addresses racist past at Jackson State commencement

buzzz worthy. . .

Admittedly somewhat jet-lagged from her recent trip to London, First Lady Michelle Obama mustered up all the energy she had to address the 2016 graduates of Jackson State University today.  Mrs. Obama reminded the audience that "the shadows of the past have not completely disappeared" while inspiring hope for the future of race relations in America. Obama referred to the Mississippi school's history of unity during the Civil Rights era by citing a beautiful story about sportmanship between the football teams at Jackson State and Grambling State University.  Below is an excerpt from the powerful speech.

"Back in 1962, during an Ole Miss football game, this stadium became the site of what was essentially a pro-Jim Crow rally, with fans waving Confederate flags and singing a song called “Never No Never” to protest the admission of an African American student to their university.  By halftime, they’d convinced the governor to even speak.  He said just three sentences.  He said, “I love Mississippi.  I love her people, our customs.  I love and respect our heritage.”  And the crowd went wild, because they knew exactly what he meant.

That game was just one small moment in a struggle of civil rights that enflamed this entire country, but often burned hottest right here in Mississippi, the state where a 14-year-old boy named Emmett Till was beaten and murdered.  Where NAACP leader Medgar Evers was assassinated.  Where Freedom Riders overflowed the jails.  Where gunshots would ring out here on your campus, killing young people and littering one of your dorms with bullet holes still seen today. 

It was against that backdrop that one day in October of 1967, something truly extraordinary happened in this stadium.  For years, legal and political pressure had been mounting for the state to desegregate.  And that fall, the state finally announced that for the first time, two black teams would get to play in this stadium.  Those teams were Grambling State and, of course, your own Jackson State Tigers.  (Applause.)   

Now, just think for a moment.  You can only imagine the pressure those teams and their fans were feeling.  For so long, this field had been the pride of white –- and white only -– Mississippi, and now, black fans would fill these stands.  Black coaches would patrol these sidelines.  Black players would sweat and bleed on this field.  How would the world respond?  Would those forces of segregation rise up in protest, or worse?  As one of the players at the time said –- this is a quote -- he said, “There was certainly potential for it to become a very ugly situation.” 

So the Jackson State coach at the time, Coach Paige, thought hard about how to prepare his team.  He sat his players down and told them to stay focused on two goals.  The first:  Beat Grambling State, of course, one of the best teams in the country. The second:  He said, rise above the fray and set a good example, he said, because the whole state, the whole country would be watching. 

So the players made sure their shoes were shined, their laces tied.  They took special pains not to accidentally break anything in the locker room or walk out with a towel.  Because as that player said -- and these are his words -- he said, “We all wanted to be representatives of our families, our hometowns, our communities.”  “We wanted to take care of that stadium as much as we could so it would be there for the next black team.”

And then they went out and they played their hearts out.  And Jackson State won that game, giving Grambling its only loss of the season.  But more importantly, the world saw what would happen when black folks came into this stadium.  What did they see?  They saw people enjoying a football game.  They saw the same kind of skill and sportsmanship and strategy as any other game this stadium had hosted before.

So by simply showing and displaying sportsmanship, those players and coaches and fans joined the long line of heroes who made history in this country -- in our schoolhouses, our department stores, our lunch counters and everywhere else -- all of them using that same time-tested approach that has always moved this country forward.  They didn’t stoop to the level of those who sought to oppress them.  Just the opposite:  They rose up; they combated small-mindedness with dignity, integrity, and excellence." 

Bringing the speech into focus to modern day Obama said the graduation represented a chance to make historic change and motivate voter participation in the 2016 election.  

She asked,  "Are you ready to step up and use your power and your privilege to make change?  Will you honor the legacy of those who came before you who fought so hard, sacrificed so much so that you could be here in this stadium wearing those beautiful caps and gowns today?" This poignant line of reasoning put accountability on the graduates to be the change they want to see, echoing a familiar tag line from President Obama's campaign, "Change you can believe in."

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BET new 2016 programming across all properties

buzzz worthy. . .

BET Networks has released the list of new movies and scripted and non-scripted programs that will be added to their robust platform of 2016 programming line-up for BET and Centric with a robust.  Comedian Gary Owens has landed a reality show featuring his blended inter-racial family, "The Gary Owens Family" and the void in inspirational programming left vacant by the cancellation of "Bobby Jones Gospel" will be filled with a similarly formatted show called "Joyful Noise." The network will also deliver two intriguing movies: "Madiba" (Lawrence Fishburne will star in the life of the late Nelson Mandela) and the highly anticipated biopic on the life of boy group New Edition.

Telecasting for more than 35 years, and currently available in over 85 million US households, and over 35 million homes across the globe, BET Networks prevails as the #1 cable network for African American viewers.  Adding to the brand environment with Centric, BET Jams and BET Soul, BET Networks delivers more channels and premium original content to drive authentic viewer engagement and amplify brand love.  With more platforms and authentic content energizing viewers, not only does BET reach more African American viewers than any other cable network, but its viewers also tune in longer than its competitive set.  This fierce brand loyalty has already translated into the networks’ year over year growth outpacing all of cable, with BET ranking as the #1 Cable Growth Network in Q1 2016 among ALL Adults P18-49.     
“We have developed a deep and authentic relationship with our audience over the last 36 years, and it is that genuine connection that has allowed BET to expand into a global multiplatform brand.  This year, we are committed to reaching far beyond the television screen and continuing to deliver more of the premium content that our audiences have come to expect,” said Debra Lee, Chairman and CEO, BET Networks. “With BET being more accessible across more platforms, we are creating a powerful 360 degree experience for our audience to interact with the BET brand like never before.”
BET Networks is transcending the television screen and dominating digital, as the #1 ad-supported multiplatform destination for African American viewers.  With a massive number of hyper-engaged fans powering the brand, and numerous monthly unique visitors across our websites and the BET NOW app, BET Networks captivates consumers wherever they choose to consume content.  Where other networks court African American viewers some of the time, BET Networks reflects and energizes the African American viewer with images that absorb and inspire all of the time, across all platforms.
On Wednesday, April 27 BET Digital is set to relaunch its entire digital ecosystem giving readers a reimagined experience across desktop computers, mobile and tablet platforms. BET’s digital platforms, BET.com and the BET Now App will introduce a completely relaunched, and industry best-in-class digital ecosystem with several new components unique to the digital space including dynamic content feeds, simplified content discovery, cutting-edge designs that incorporate peek-through advertising and messaging opportunities on all electronic devices. Additionally, the BET Digital refresh presents advertisers with unparalleled access to the coveted BET community and expanded reach with added premium integrations and inventory.

“Our brand has always been a trendsetter, shaping the culture and leading the conversation.  Not only is our content more authentic, powerful, and relevant, but now it’s more accessible across more channels and platforms than ever before – and it gives our audience more ways to interact with the BET brand than ever before,” said Louis Carr, President of Media Sales, BET Networks.  “Our most recent partnerships with Snapchat and WhoSay, will allow our partners to tap into the power of the largest, most socially engaged fans in the multimedia space. BET delivers more impressions, more platforms, more engagement, more experiences and more influence.”
Each year BET Digital magnifies the buzz surrounding its live events, with its biggest weekend being The “BET Awards” and BET Experience.  BET.com’s huge audience and social reach will now extend even further with the announcement of its new enhanced partnership with Snapchat, the premiere platform to experience live and ephemeral global content.  Capitalizing on last year’s “BET Awards” Snapchat Live story, which resulted in one of Snapchat’s biggest live stories of the year, BET ushers in a new 2-day “BET Awards” and BET Experience Snapchat Live Story to make the entire weekend the prime destination for audiences to get a firsthand look at the celebrity-filled action, and offer advertisers unparalleled access to BET’s massive social community.

BET.com’s impressive digital footprint will expand even further in the marketplace and allow advertisers to connect with BET’s coveted audience in a more meaningful way with the launch of “BET AA-Fluencers” powered by WhoSay.   BET will feature constant unfiltered content shared by more than 2,000 of the world's most captivating urban personalities - including actors, athletes, chefs, and millennial influencers.  BET’s innovative partnership with WhoSay will allow brands to leverage African American influencers with high-impact opportunities that will build authentic brand narratives, and bridge the gap between celebrities and the BET audience.  Whether generating social buzz, site traffic or sales, BET’s in-house “AA-Fluencers” will create buzzworthy content that will evoke an emotional resonance with brands.

From amplified premium original programming to best-in-class tentpole specials to dynamic movie events, BET Networks is delivering more powerful moments in 2016-17 across more platforms than ever before.

Check out all of the new shows that were higlighted at BET's annual upfront meeting. . .

TALES  – From executive producer Irv Gotti Lorenzo comes “TALES,” a 60-minute scripted anthology series of “song stories” weaving classic hip-hop songs into visually stunning 3-act narratives. Far beyond the music video or the live event, “TALES” brings hip-hop alive in a completely new way for television. With “TALES,” each song’s lyrics are imagined as cinematic adventures with a different director and screenwriter per song story. The series is a multi-platform cross-collaboration with TIDAL, the global music and entertainment platform, where the director’s cut versions of each episode will live exclusively after premiering on BET. Subscribers will be able to stream the series on their web browser or through the TIDAL mobile app. “TALES” is produced and created by Irv Gotti and his Visionary Ideas production company.
THE YARD (previously announced) – Starring Tony Award winners Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls, The Princess and The Frog) and Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Billions, American Gangster) along with actors Jazz Raycole (The Soul Man, My Wife and Kids) and newcomer Peyton Alex Smith, “THE YARD” is a dynamic scripted dramatic show that takes viewers inside the unique, culture-filled world of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). “THE YARD” follows ambitious yet troubled Dr. Eva Fletcher (Rose), the newly-elected President of the fictional Georgia A&M University. Upon arriving, Eva is charged with saving the prestigious HBCU from bankruptcy and her twenty-year marriage from crumbling while managing a tumultuous relationship with her rebellious only daughter. A diverse group of freshman also promises to keep Eva’s hands full. The multi-talented cast also includes TV icon Jasmine Guy and Sean Blakemore (“General Hospital”) as well as exciting emerging talents—Zoe Renee, Michelle DeFraites, Erica Michelle, Jake Allyn, Larry Rhem, and E. Roger Mitchell. The emotionally-charged series is created by Felicia D. Henderson (Gossip Girl, Soul Food) and Charles Holland (CSI: Miami, NY Undercover), based on a concept created by Rob Hardy (How To Get Away With Murder, Power). The show is executive produced by Henderson and Hardy, who will also direct. Hardy executive produced Stomp The Yard. Co-executive producers on the project include Holland, Will Packer and Mitzi Miller. “THE YARD” is production of Rainforest Entertainment and WaterWalk Productions in conjunction with BET Networks.
BENCHED – “BENCHED” is a one-hour original scripted dramedy about a reluctant, recently appointed judge who is not quite ready to give up his life as bachelor to begin a new life as a public servant. Each week, he confronts the underbelly of the criminal justice system that has derailed a generation of African Americans, including those close to him – as he upholds the tenets of the same system. “BENCHED” is created by Scott Brown.
REBEL – “REBEL” is an extraordinary take on the seminal police drama that examines the unique and conflicted relationship officers of color have with their jobs – at a time when police forces are rife with brutality and misconduct. Oakland police officer, Rebecca “Rebel” Cole, has always excelled by playing by the rules. She has always known that she must be better and smarter on the job because she is both black and female. After her brother is slain by police, Rebel soon becomes disillusioned with the system and is forced to take matters into her own hands and become a private investigator and a champion for her community. Caught between family loyalty and the fraternity in blue, Rebel’s actions set in motion a cause-and-effect crisis that can’t be undone. “REBEL” is produced by Mar Vista Entertainment for BET and co-written, executive produced and directed by visionary filmmaker John Singleton. Kate Lanier is also a writer on the project. Dallas Jackson also serves as Executive Producer.
COMEDY GETDOWN – “COMEDY GET DOWN” is the first scripted comedy series about what really happens behind the scenes of a massive stand-up comedy tour featuring five legendary comics – George Lopez, DL Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer, Eddie Griffin and Charlie Murphy. They’re hilarious, insane and unapologetic on stage, but the second they step off is when the real show begins. The storylines are based on actual events that have taken place not only on their wildly successful Comedy Get Down arena tour, but throughout the 25 plus years each has been a nationally headlining comedian. A workplace comedy at its core, the 30 minute, single-camera series explores the personal and professional relationships of these five comic titans as they navigate the challenges of life on the road: seedy venues, racist road managers, pushy wives, angry baby mamas, obsessive fans, demanding celebrities, shady politicians and more. Free 90 Media’s Tom Brunelle and Brad Wollack serve as Executive Producers along with 3 Arts’ Michael Rotenberg, Greg Walter and Kimberly Carver. Eric C. Rhone from A Bird and A Bear Entertainment also serves as an Executive Producer.
MUSIC MOGULS – Birdman. Dame Dash. Jermaine Dupri. Snoop Dogg. They’ve spent the last 20 years making hits, stars and headlines, as well as laying the foundation for some of today’s biggest acts. Although they’ve sold millions of records and taken the risks to live the life of a mogul, not every calculation yields the desired return. Over eight 60-minute episodes, this hard-hitting docu-series takes you into their lives as each entrepreneur navigates both familiar and new territory – from grooming new talent and building new empires to raising their college-bound children. Being a music mogul is grown man business; learn what it takes to stay at the top of the game. Music Moguls is produced by L. Plummer Media (The Westbrooks, Preachers of LA, Living with Funny) with Lemuel Plummer, Bryan “Birdman” Williams, Snoop Dogg and Chad Greulach serving as Executive Producers.
GARY OWEN FAMILY – Gary Owen is arguably Black America’s most beloved non-Black comic. He became part of the family as the first Caucasian man to host BET’s ComicView, and confirmed he was here to stay with his star turns in the Think Like A Man films, Ride Along and Meet The Blacks. He also starred in his own hit stand-up comedy specials including I Agree With Myself, True Story and the upcoming I Got My Associates. Now, he brings his own interracial and blended family to BET in a 30-minute unscripted series that is colorful, truthful and hysterical. Gary Owen loves his wife so much, he wants to marry her again – and the path down the aisle is paved with non-stop laughter as he balances planning a wedding with raising his three rambunctious children and growing his white-hot career. “GARY OWEN FAMILY” is produced by Bunim/Murray Productions. Bunim/Murray’s Gil Goldschein and Jeff Jenkins serve as Executive Producers along with Gary Owen, Stella Bulochnikov, Brian Sher and TIP “T.I.” Harris.
JOYFUL NOISE – “JOYFUL NOISE” is the gospel music hour that delivers the perfect blend of performances from today’s gospel super stars, rising new artists, powerful personal testimonies and insightful man-on-the-street interviews with the inspirational Willie Moore Jr. Hosted by one of gospel music’s most gifted artists, two-time GRAMMY®, Soul Train, Dove and Stellar Award winner Tye Tribbett, this series is sure to strengthen the genre’s appeal with younger audiences, while honoring the core values of its rich traditions. The radical singer, songwriter, and preacher who’s known for his edgy and energetic live performances and hosting abilities, continues to shatter the mold of what is traditionally known as Gospel music. A true innovator, with one of the most relevant voices of this generation, Tribbett is set to create a dynamic new caliber of hosting. In addition to a variety of musical performances, each show will also feature a power-filled sermonette by one of the nation’s leading pastors, setting the tone for a more compelling worship experience. Finally, “JOYFUL NOISE” will showcase amazing local churches from around the nation, giving viewers the opportunity to get their hometown church featured on the show. “JOYFUL NOISE” is guaranteed to deliver the kind of entertainment that feeds the spirit and uplifts the soul.
ONE SHOT – “ONE SHOT” is a high-octane hip hop lyrical competition series hosted by Sway Calloway, iconic hip hop personality and radio host. Sway leads a panel of hip hop legends in a nationwide quest for the next explosive hip hop star with mass appeal, on-the-fly musicianship and command of the stage. Neither battle show nor glossy newcomer search, “ONE SHOT” provides the first and only dynamic platform for America’s best rising hip hop talent. Each contestant’s main competition can be found in the mirror. Sway serves as Executive Producer along with Mike Smith, Dominick Wickliffe p/k/a “Kxng Crooked”, Rod Sepand p/k/a “King Tech”, Nancy Nayor and Dean Hadaegh. Zach Hermann and Erika Smith serve as Co-Executive Producers. Julie Insogna Jarrett and Seth Jarrett will also serve as Executive Producers for production company, Jarrett Creative.
NEW EDITION: THE MOVIE (previously announced)- New Edition laid the foundation for how modern-day boy bands look, feel, and sound. Boyz II Men, N’SYNC, The Backstreet Boys, and New Kids On The Block all took their cues from Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike, Ralph and Johnny. After 30 years of breaking hearts on the record and from the stage, New Edition finally gets the biopic that their stellar tenure in entertainment so richly deserves. This 3-part miniseries follows the group from their humble beginnings as kids in Boston to global megastardom – weathering the highs and lows of controversy, personnel changes, and the ultimate cost of fame. Bryshere Gray (Empire), Elijah Kelley (The Butler, The Wiz Live!), Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Luke James, Keith Powers (Straight Outta Compton), Algee Smith (Let It Shine) and Woody McClain(Autographs) have joined the cast to bring the iconic music group’s legend to life. Written by Abdul Williams (Lottery Ticket), “NEW EDITION: THE MOVIE” is executive produced by Jesse Collins Entertainment (Real Husbands of Hollywood) and directed by Chris Robinson (ATL).
MADIBA – BET partners with executive producers Lance Samuels, Kweku Mandela and Daniel Iron for an original production that focuses on the story of Nelson Mandela, the globally beloved humanitarian, as well as the many other leaders of the African National Congress — Oliver Tambo (Orlando Jones) and Walter Sisulu (David Harewood) — who fought alongside Mandela in the multi-racial, multi-national movement that led to the end of South African apartheid. Academy Award® nominee Laurence Fishburne completely transforms in the lead role, under the direction of Kevin Hooks (Passenger 57, Prison Break), who also serves as Executive Producer.
QUEEN BEE – Entrepreneurs are an enormous force in American business and culture, and African American women are among the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurs in the nation. They have the ideas, the creativity, and the drive, but too often they fly under the radar and don’t get the mentoring and capital they need to launch their product or take their company to the next level. Developed by Jon Housman, Ora TV, and SWSI, this ground-breaking reality competition series discovers amazing entrepreneurs building real-life companies, and then challenges them to take their skills to the next level. Mentored – and put to the test – by a panel of celebrities and successful entrepreneurs, our contestants will go through a series of intense challenges in an effort to win the competition – and a potentially life-changing opportunity to become Queen Bee. Jon Housman and Jamie Schutz serve as Executive Producers.
MONICA MORTON – On Centric, real women are stars. This year, we meet the real-life investigator and crisis manager that scandal-plagued celebrities and athletes already rely upon: MONICA MORTON, P.I. With her pistol in one hand and lipstick in the other, Monica uses her quick wit and sharp tongue to solve cases in this unscripted series. Mike Sinclair is Executive Producer.

  • BET AWARDS ‘16 – In its sixteenth year, The “BET AWARDS” franchise is the #1 program in cable television history among African American viewers, and a top 10 awards show on television among total viewers.  The BET AWARDS ’15 was a worldwide trending topic as the live telecast was the #1 most social cable special of 2015.  Featuring the biggest stars in music, sports, Hollywood, and philanthropy on one stage for one incredible night, the “BET AWARDS ’16” promises to be a star-studded night packed with unforgettable buzzworthy moments.
  • BET EXPERIENCE – Returning for its fourth year, BET Experience at L.A. LIVE presented by Coca-Cola® is four-day event showcasing the best in music, comedy, and entertainment. The immersive experience has grown exponentially over the last three years, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors to the downtown Los Angeles area.  The BET Experience at L.A. LIVE presented by Coca-Cola® includes a series of interactive events such as a free Fan Fest, live music, Sprite Celebrity Basketball Game, and Genius Talks with A-list talent.  BET Networks and AEG have also recently announced the star-studded lineup of electrifying concerts including Fetty Wap, A$AP Ferg, Tory Lanez, Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, Usher, Bryson Tiller, Katt Williams and Mike Epps.
  • BET HIP HOP AWARDS  – The “BET HIP HOP AWARDS” returns for its tenth year to highlight the best in hip hop music, with dynamic performances and breakthrough freestyle cyphers that set social media on fire. The only show of its kind, the “BET HIP HOP AWARDS” celebrates legendary hip hop icons, today’s hottest rap artists and emerging hip hop stars of tomorrow - all on one stage.  This show serves millions of people who love hip hop culture, a culture which continues to define a generation and defy convention.
  • BLACK GIRLS ROCK! ™ – Created by executive producer Beverly Bond, “BLACK GIRLS ROCK!” is an award show celebrating the nexus of achievements made by brilliant and visionary Black women. The two time NAACP Image Award-winning special is both timely and timeless, saluting dynamic women leaders and trailblazers in the arts, entertainment, business, philanthropy and more. Past celebrants include Ruby Dee, Marian Wright Edelman, Shonda Rhimes, Angela Davis, Rihanna, Kerry Washington, Janelle Monáe, and Taraji P. Henson amongst many others. From Living Legends to Young Gifted and Black celebrants – “BLACK GIRLS ROCK!” ™ highlights the wide spectrum of talent and contributions of women of color who are shaping our world.
  • CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL – The biggest night that celebrates gospel music, America’s truly original and internationally loved art form, only happens on BET.  “CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL” is a star-studded evening of spirited performances and moving renditions by today’s hottest and most talented artists from the worlds of Gospel and R&B.
  • THE BET HONORS – Returning for a 10th year, “THE BET HONORS” shows the world “what extraordinary looks like” by shining the spotlight on the achievements of distinguished leaders in the fields of music, education, entertainment, technology and business. Airing during Black History Month, “THE BET HONORS” is a shimmering night of dynamic performances and tributes that cross genres and generations. Previous honorees include Lee Daniels, Eric Holder, Kanye West, Patti Labelle and Phylicia Rashad.

  • SOUL TRAIN AWARDS – With BET Networks’ recent acquisition of the iconic Soul Train franchise, this year’s “SOUL TRAIN AWARDS” promises more love, peace and soul than ever before.  Featuring one-of-a-kind musical collaborations and powerful tributes from world-class performers, the “SOUL TRAIN AWARDS” brings you the most celebrated and rising voices in soul and R&B. The “SOUL TRAIN AWARDS” is simulcast on Centric and BET.
  • CENTRIC SOUL WEEKEND – “Centric Soul Weekend” will be an amazing on the ground experience shared by viewers, artists and clients alike, as Las Vegas comes alive with a celebration and showcase of the best of African-American culture.
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buzzz worthy. . .

Large crowd of 55,000 expected at today's Jackson State University commencement ceremony where First Lady Michele Obama will speak.

As part of her Reach Higher initiative, Mrs. Obama will deliver the commencement addresses at Jackson State University in Jackson, MS ; Santa Fe Indian School in Santa Fe, NM and City College of New York in New York, NY. These mark the final commencement addresses Mrs. Obama will deliver as First Lady.

Saturday, April 23rd

Jackson, Mississippi – The First Lady will deliver the address at Jackson State University’s 139th Spring Commencement Ceremony. Mrs. Obama will address more than 1,000 graduates as well as their friends, family and members of the university community.

Jackson State University was founded in 1877 as a four-year public university; it is one of the largest institutions of higher learning in Mississippi and a Historically Black University originally established to educate newly freed African Americans to become ministers and teachers. Mrs. Obama has delivered remarks on an HBCU campus each year she has served as First Lady.

Echoing the call of the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative, Jackson State University and the Jackson Public School District collaborated to form the first laboratory school in the Jackson area. Since 2013, Blackburn Laboratory Middle School has partnered with JSU in an effort to transform Blackburn into a highly successful middle school for replication and study of successful practices in the district, state, and nation.

Thursday, May 26th 

Santa Fe, New Mexico – As part of the White House Generation Indigenous (Gen-I) Initiative, the First Lady will deliver the high school commencement address to the Class of 2016 at Santa Fe Indian School. Gen-I works to improve the lives of Native youth by promoting a national dialogue and programs to cultivate the next generation of Native leaders. Last year, the First Lady addressed the White House Tribal Youth Gathering in Washington, DC.

Originally founded in 1890, as a Federal off-reservation boarding school, the Santa Fe Indian School is currently owned and operated by the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico. Recently honored as a National Association Secondary School Breaking the Ranks Showcase School, SFIS is a leader in Native American education and proud of its history to educate the next generation of tribal leadership. Graduates of SFIS participate in the culture of their communities and will have the skills to pursue the education and careers that will benefit them, their families, and their people. For the past five years, SFIS has had an average graduation rate of 98%, and over 90% of this year's graduating class plan to pursue a post-secondary degree.

Friday, June 3rd

New York, New York – The First Lady will deliver the commencement address during the 170th Commencement Ceremony at The City College of New York on the CCNY campus in historic Harlem, where more than 3,000 students make up the Class of 2016.

The City College of New York was the first public higher education institution in New York City and has one of the most diverse student bodies in the nation with over 40% first-generation college students, almost 40% non-native English speakers, and half from low-income households. Established as a free institution dedicated to overcoming barriers to advancement, CCNY continues its mission of access to excellence and keeping tuition affordable.
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buzzz worthy. . .

On Saturday, May 14, Dr. Jill Biden will deliver the commencement address to graduates of Northern Virginia Community College. Dr. Biden, an educator for more than 30 years, has continued to teach as a full-time English professor at Northern Virginia Community College since 2009 while serving as Second Lady of the United States. Northern Virginia Community College is the largest public institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and one of America’s largest community colleges, with more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through its Extended Learning Institute.
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buzzz worthy. . .

Attorney General Lynch and Secretary Castro to Kickoff National Reentry Week in Philadelphia

Justice Department to Announce New Efforts to Improve Outcomes for Justice-Involved Individuals Including Youth

WASHINGTON –As part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to strengthening the criminal justice system, the Department of Justice designated the week of April 24-30, 2016, as National Reentry Week.  Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro will travel to Philadelphia on MONDAY, APRIL 25, 2016, to hold events as part of National Reentry Week with public housing advocates, legal services providers and community leaders where they will announce new efforts to improve outcomes for justice-involved individuals including youth. 

Later in the week, the Attorney General will visit a Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facility in Talladega, Alabama, to highlight reentry programs in prison.  Similarly, Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates will visit a federal women’s prison in Texas and will later hold a media availability at Santa Maria Hostel, a specialized residential substance abuse, mental health and trauma facility.  Acting Director Thomas Kane of the Bureau of Prisons will accompany both Attorney General Lynch and Deputy Attorney General Yates on their visits.

“Too often, justice-involved individuals who have paid their debt to society confront daunting obstacles to good jobs, decent housing, adequate health care, quality education, and even the right to vote,” said Attorney General Lynch.  “National Reentry Week highlights the many ways that the Department of Justice – and the entire Obama Administration – is working to tear down the barriers that stand between returning citizens and a meaningful second chance – leading to brighter futures, stronger communities, and a more just and equal nation for all.”

The Obama Administration has taken major steps to make our criminal justice system fairer, more efficient and more effective at reducing recidivism and helping formerly incarcerated individuals contribute to their communities. Removing barriers to successful reentry helps formerly incarcerated individuals compete for jobs, attain stable housing, and support their families. An important part of that commitment is preparing those who have paid their debt to society for substantive opportunities beyond the prison gates, and addressing collateral consequences to successful reentry that too many returning citizens encounter.  

Leadership from across the Administration are traveling during National Reentry Week in support of these many events and are encouraging federal partners and grantees to work closely with stakeholders like federal defenders, legal aid providers and other partners across the country to increase the impact of this effort.  National Reentry Week events are being planned in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.  U.S. Attorney’s Offices alone are hosting over 200 events and BOP facilities are holding over 370 events.

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Friday, April 22, 2016


buzzz worthy. . .

Album Available for Pre-Order Now, featuring 11 Tracks including Hit Single “It’s Alright, It’s Ok” (feat. Anthony Hamilton)

NASHVILLE, TN (April 22, 2016) – The Reigning Queen of Gospel, pioneering music legend Shirley Caesar reveals a bold new album with FILL THIS HOUSE, available for pre-order  now via iTunes and Amazon.  Unveiling the album cover and track listing, FILL THIS HOUSE is scheduled to be released on Friday June 3, 2016, and continues a thrilling 2016 in store for Caesar.  

Launching her new album with the lead single “It’s Alright, It’s Ok” (feat. Anthony Hamilton), the 11-time GRAMMY®-winning icon kicked off the top of 2016 delivering a live performance on BET’s “Celebration of Gospel” joined by Hamilton, with the hit single continuing to rise at Gospel radio.  Executive produced by Caesar, Stanley Brown, and Phil Thornton, Caesar’s rich powerhouse voice fills the album’s 11 tracks, inspiring spiritual rejuvenation and strength to survive through tough times on songs such as title track “Fill This House,” “Mother Emanuel,” “Survive This” (feat. Hezekiah Walker), “He Won’t Fail You,” and more. 

The Gospel sensation remains an enduring musical influence, beloved by artists, world leaders and fans everywhere in her far-reaching ministry, and 2016 shows no signs of slowing down as she celebrates her 50th anniversary as a solo artist this year and hits the road performing worldwide.  Pastor Caesar’s upcoming performances include the McDonald’s® Gospelfest® 2016 “Honor Thy Mother” Mother’s Day Weekend in Newark, NJ on Saturday May 7th, and the 2016 Allstate Gospel Superfest in Baltimore, MD on Saturday May 14th, among other dates.

One of the most recognized names and voices in Gospel music, Pastor Shirley Caesar has recorded over 40 albums to date, and garnered historic accolades including 11 GRAMMY® Awards, 14 Stellar Awards, 18 Dove Awards, and induction into the Gospel Hall of Fame.  Her most recent release is the 2013 album Good God, and she has been selected as a Hollywood Walk of Fame honoree for the class of 2016.             

Shirley Caesar’s new album FILL THIS HOUSE, is available for pre-order now:

iTunes: Get the single “It’s Alright, It’s Ok” (feat. Anthony Hamilton) as an instant grat track  

Amazon CD 

FILL THIS HOUSE Track Listing:

  1. “It’s Alright, It’s Ok” (feat. Anthony Hamilton)
  1. “He Won’t Fail You”
  1. “Survive This” (feat. Hezekiah Walker)
  1. “Fill This House”
  1. “Need Him Now”
  1. “Mother Emanuel”
  1. “Prayer Changes Things”
  1. “Be Happy (I Command U to Live)”
  1. “Sow Righteous Seeds (Hymn)”
  1. “Sow Righteous Seeds”
  1. “Prayer Works”

To connect with Pastor Shirley Caesar, visit:
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Thursday, April 21, 2016


buzzz worthy. . .

Mayor Baraka's 2016 State of the City Address
(NEWARK, NJ) - April 21, 2016 - Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka will host the inaugural "Power, Politics & Community Reinvestment Summit" on June 10-11, 2016 at the Robert Treat Hotel (50 Park Place, Newark NJ 07102).
This two-day, closed door, invitation-only event will feature a series of roundtable discussions with top political thought-leaders, activists, community organizers and social influencers who will produce solutions to various issues facing the African American community. The Summit will focus on the following topics:
  • Urban Marshall Plan - Setting an agenda for education reform and exploring avenues to combat five decades of poverty and unemployment.
  • Closing the Wealth Gap - Technology and new paradigms in economic innovation
  • Black Lives Matter - Combating criminalization, mass incarceration and the killing of black men and women.
  • Arts & Culture - Examining the perennial question: does art imitate life or does life imitate art?
  • Coming Together - How to achieve unity among different communities for a common objective.
Confirmed participants include author/scholar Jelani Cobb, Pastor Jamal Bryant (Empowerment Temple, Baltimore MD), Umi Selah (formerly Phillip Agnew, Dream Defenders), Dante Barry(Million Hoodies for Justice), Lennox Yearwood (president, Hip Hop Caucus), Khalil Muhammad(Schomburg Center), Charles Smith (Retired NBA Player & Entrepreneur), Angela Benton(NewMe Accelerator), Pastor Michael McBride (Director Urban Strategies And Lifelines To Healing) and Rahiel Tesfamariam (Founder, Urban Cusp).
"We live in severe times which calls for swift action," says Mayor Baraka. "I'm calling this meeting of the minds to leverage the genius from the experts, leaders and strategists within our community. I firmly believe that together we can bring about the necessary change to heal our nation."
Often referred to as "the people's mayor," Baraka has an extensive track record in advocating for citizen rights and addressing the needs of the community. He's fought for police reform in Newark, created a Department of Public Safety, supported a $15 an hour wage increase for airport workers and recently settled with UBER to allow them to operate in the city while protecting the business interests of the taxi and limousine industry.
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Fred Hammond to record live in Houston on May 1

buzzz worthy. . .


NEW YORK—April 15, 2016— In what will be his first live recording since 1999, gospel recording artist and music producer, Fred Hammond is ready to bring praise to life with the Fred Hammond  LIVE:  Night of Worship and Live Recording Concert.  The ticketed event will take place at The Fountain of Praise Church in Houston on Sunday, May 1st at 6:30 p.m. and will be the source of his forthcoming album on RCA Inspiration.  Following his chart-topping 2014 album, I WILL TRUST, the new project is scheduled for release later this year and will include 12 original songs. 

For more information about the live recording and to purchase tickets, please visit www.tfop.org. Ticket prices range from $30 for General Admission and $50 for VIP.

WHO:             Multiple award-winning singer and producer Fred Hammond

WHAT:          Fred Hammond LIVE: Night of Worship and Live Recording Concert

WHERE:       The Fountain of Praise
                        13950 Hillcroft Ave
                        Houston, TX 77085

WHEN:          Sunday, May 1, 2016
                        Press Call – 5:00 PM
                        Show Time – 6:30 PM
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