Page 1

Volume 1

Number 5

PLAY BALL! South Mississippi! The Biloxi Shuckers Bring Professional Baseball Back for Another Season...4

April 2018


April 2018

PUBLISHER Rosalind J. Harris




GRAPHIC DESIGNER Jody Gilbert Kolor Graphix




The operative word for this message is “Fight.” Definition: A violent confrontation or struggle. Fighting does not have to be literally physical, such as counter-attacking with fists, knives or guns. You can fight with words; you can even fight with non-action. People of color citizens in South Mississippi are fighting in different ways for different causes. There’s at least three different “fights” going on: As you will read in this issue of the Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum, there is a fight on hand in Ocean Springs. Citizens, primarily led by the advocacy group Mississippi Rising Coalition, are fighting against the officials of the City of Ocean Springs in an effort to have them remove the state flag which contains the highly volatile Confederate Flag symbol within its design, an emblem that serves as a historic symbol for hate and oppression. Their weapons are protests signs, marches and press conferences, but most of all, its information derived from true historical accounts. There’s a fight going on in the multi-ethnic community of East Biloxi. Over 55 total miles of streets there were completely stripped in what was supposed to be an improvement of the community’s infrastructure. Instead, the dirt roads have been unleashing harmful clouds of dust and dirt, damaging automobiles and homes, producing flooded potholes after rain and causing illnesses such as asthma. Organizations like the East Biloxi Community Collaborative are leading in the fight with weapons such as community action meetings, extensive dialogue with the City of Biloxi and strong comments at c ity council meetings to get construction company Oscar Renda to finish the job ASAP. There’s a fight going on with South Mississippi’s hip-hop and millennial community. Black Bike Week, the annual spring break social gathering of tens of thousands of mostly African American college students, pumps millions of dollars to the area’s economy. Yet a high percentage of residents and authorities insist on perceiving the group as a nuisance. The weapons are well-managed events by the organizers and good behavior from the attendees, so that the image can be reversed. The whole point is: we all will have to fight at times when someone is trying to mistreat, disrespect, ignore or even oppress us. Non-action is rarely the answer. But it’s how we fight and how wisely we choose our “weapons.” Also, it’s more e ffective to fight collectively, as opposed to fighting in silos. Fight wisely. Fight hard. Fight to win.

As the famous Tuskegee Airmen chanted as demonstrated in the film, Red Tails:

The Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum is a monthly online publication dedicated to spreading the news about people of color along the coastline states of the United States including Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Contents of the Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum are copyright 2018 by Bizzy Bee Enterprise. No portion may be reproduced without written permission of the publisher. The Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum welcomes all letters, but reserves the right to edit for space, libelous material, grammar, and length. All letters must include name, address, and phone number. We will withhold author’s name on request. Unsolicited articles are accepted without guarantee of publication or payment. Write to the Gulf Goast Urban Spectrum c/o Denver Urban Spectrum at P.O. Box 31001, Aurora, CO 80041. For advertising, subscriptions, or other information, call 303-292-6446 or fax 303-292-6543 or visit the Web site at or

“Nothing’s difficult Everything’s a challenge Through adversity, to the stars To the last plane To the last bullet To the last minute To the last man WE FIGHT (WE FIGHT)! WE FIGHT (WE FIGHT)! WE FIGHT!”

Gordon M. Jackson Jr. Editor Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum

Pastors and citizens voicing their displeasure about the deplorable road con- Mississippi Rising Coalition fighting to take down the Confederate flag. Photos by Gordon Jackson ditions in their neighborhood at a Biloxi city council meeting. Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum — – April 2018


Aw Shucks! Baseball is Back! Biloxi Shuckers begin 2018 Season with Championship Hopes By Gordon Jackson

Biloxi Shuckers


s they become more and more

ingrained into the athletic and enter-

tainment culture of South Mississippi, the Biloxi Shuckers have returned for a fourth season, bringing premium

minor league baseball to the region.

They’ll once again play 70 of their full 140-game season at Biloxi’s MGM Park, located downtown with the

Beau Rivage Casino serving as a visu-

al backdrop. For moderate baseball fans, the team has provided a positive additional element to the Gulf Coast’s active lifestyle between April and September, playing in the competitive Southern League. For the hardcore baseball lover, they pro-

vide a glimpse of some of the future major league stars moving up the minor league ladder, being a Double-A (AA) team under the Milwaukee Brewers franchise. “There’s a lot of ability in this group. Our ball club is set is at a level where if you are able to play like you were in the big leagues, then you have an opportunity to play in the big leagues and perform well,” said Biloxi Shuckers manager Mike Guerrero, managing the team for the third straight season. The initial Biloxi Shuckers roster for the 2018 season includes 11 of the Top 30 prospects in the Brewers system according to MLB Pipeline, and six of the top 15. “We’ve got a lot of veterans here in our lineup and I think it will be a lot

of fun,” said outfielder Corey Ray, one of those top prospects. Ray (7), Trent Grisham (8) and Troy Stokes Jr. (22) make up the outfield, while Lucas Erceg (4) and Jake Gatewood (19) will play the corner infield positions. On the pitching staff, RHP Luis Ortiz (5), RHP Adrian Houser (13), RHP Cody Ponce (14), LHP Kodi Medeiros (20) and RHP Zack Brown (25) are all slated to be part of the starting rotation. Several members of the 2017 pitching staff return, including LHP Nick Ramirez , RHP Josh Uhen, LHP Quintin Torres-Costa, RHP Angel Ventura , RHP Tristan Archer and RHP Wuilder Rodriguez. Rounding out the pitching staff is RHP Thomas Jankins , LHP Brad Kuntz and RHP Nate Griep. In total,

Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum — – April 2018


the Shuckers have 14 pitchers on their staff, 10 right-handers and four lefties. In the field, Blake Allemand and Wendell Rijo return from the 2017 squad, while former Montgomery Biscuits infielder Jake Hager joins the Shuckers after signing with the Brewers this offseason. Behind the plate, the Shuckers will have Dustin Houle, Tyler Heineman and Nick Franklin, who is transitioning from infielder to catcher. “When you have two first-round picks, it’s really impressive for your organization,” said Guerrero. “I think they’re all prepared, so let’s see who takes the bull by the horn. You’ve got to get the most out of every player so that we know what they’re capable of doing. Hopefully we can bring a championship to Biloxi.”

Left: Shuckers outfielder Corey Ray looks to hit doubles and use his speed to help the team win. Center: Trent Grisham is expected to be part of a highly productive outfield for the Biloxi Shuckers. Right: Biloxi Shuckers manager Mike Guerrero talks to reporters during the team's Media Day. Photos by Gordon Jackson

With a chance to one day play in the major leagues, you’ll see every player give their best effort every day.

Cody Pounce “Every pitch I throw, I’m going to throw with conviction; I trust my catchers to call a good game, I trust them all,” said pitcher Cody Pounce, who said he worked hard on improving his curve ball during the off season. With an added personal convic-

tion, Pounce said he will be pitching for his mother, who died last December. “She was one of my biggest supporters, so I just do everything because of her now and I know that she’s looking from above,” Pounce said. Ray looks to use a combination of his hitting and speed to be highly productive for the Shuckers. “I think I’ll be a doubles guy with a chance to give you a few extra bases,”

he told reporters during the team’s Media Day. He stole 45 bases last year. “I specialize in hitting the ball in the gap and using my legs to the best of my ability. I’m not going to try and change anything. Last year, I would try to tweak everything. This year I’m sticking with my routine and whatever happens, happens.” Like Pounce, Ray also has a personal motivation to play his best in his new daughter born last November.

Her name is on my glove and I wear a chain with her name on it,” he said. “Every day, I realize I’m playing for something bigger than myself.” On his coaching staff, Guerrero will have Al LeBoeuf serving as the hitting coach, while Dave Chavarria takes over as the pitching coach. Bench coach Chuckie Caufield, Strength and Conditioning Specialist Nate Dine and Athletic Trainer Kevan Creighton all return after working on the 2017 Shuckers staff. The Shuckers defeated William Carey University Crusaders 8-0 in an exhibition game before opening their 2018 campaign on the road against the Montgomery Biscuits. They won 4 of that 5-game series, giving them an excellent start at 4-1. They have opened up their home campaign, playing the Mississippi Braves on April 11. On April 14, they will honor the former Biloxi Dodgers Negro League baseball team by wearing replicas of their old jerseys. They also will give homage to trailblazer Jackie Robinson that weekend; Robinson’s retired jersey #42 is placed near the right field foul pole at MGM Stadium.. Editor’s note: For more information visit and follow us on Twitter @biloxishuckers and at facebook. com/

Biloxi Shuckers Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum — – April 2018


“…For Which It Stands…”

The Mississippi State Flag hangs below the United States flag outside Ocean Springs City Hall and other city buildings.


Mississippi State Flag Battleground Lines Intensifies on Gulf Coast

n a city where many people once looked at as a quiet and friendly multicultural town with an exotic small business and arts community and considered a jewel of South Mississippi, it has found itself inadvertently branded as one of the last bastions of racial intolerance and white supremacy, all in a course of just over nine months. It’s an example of what can happen when racial scars are suddenly torn off perhaps irresponsibly and bodes the question: which side bears more of the truth? April 4, while much of the nation observed the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther

By Gordon Jackson

King Jr., the advocacy group Mississippi Rising Coalition filed a District Court lawsuit against the City of Oceans Springs for its open brandishing of the Mississippi State Flag, which includes the emblem of the controversial Confederate Rebel Flag. It has become the latest of several recent developments of citizens attempting to remove a consensus symbol of hate and oppression from the region’s and state’s deep racial history and culture, developments which have included threats by a local Ku Klux Klan group and an NAACP president being shouted down by the Mayor. “When Mayor Dobson put the Mississippi State flag up in Ocean Springs on Day One of his administra-

tion, a welcome mat for hate was placed on our city,” said Lea Campbell, founder and President of Mississippi Rising Coalition and the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit. “By displaying the State Flag at City Hall and other municipal properties, Ocean Springs officials have demonstrated to people of color and others who have objected to the symbols of white supremacy that we are not welcome or safe in this city. We feel unsafe, unwelcome and like second class citizens.” Curley Clark, president of the Moss Point/Jackson County NAACP and another one of the plaintiffs, stated: “We feel like everyone should have the same rights in Ocean Springs, not

Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum — – April 2018


just the majority.” In a March Board of Alderman meeting, Ocean Springs Mayor Shea Dobson pounded his gavel several times and shouted to Clark that his time was up 10 seconds after Clark went over his 3-minute limit on his citizen comment remarks. Other previous speakers had been allowed to speak longer over the limit during their comments. The lawsuit filed by the Mississippi Rising Coalition comes after – not one but two – threatening YouTube videos distributed by The United Dixie White Knights of the KKK. The first video directly warned Campbell and MRC that “The boys are back.” A voice in the video identified as “Reverend Smith” further stated: “And the war is

Lea Campbell of Mississippi Rising Coalition announces to the press their filing of a lawsuit against the City of Ocean Springs in an effort to bring down the state flag. Campbell is backed by attorneys Carlos Moore and Michael Scott, along with Moss Point/Jackson County NAACP President Curley Clark. Photo by Gordon Jackson on for our very way of life and possibly the soil under our feet. It will be stained red with blood before we ever surrender or retreat.” The State Flag was not an issue for at least the past 10 years in Ocean Springs, pulled and kept down by the previous administration and former Mayor Connie Moran. But in July 2017, mostly due to an apathetic voting turnout of only 13 percent, Dobson upset Moran for the Mayor’s seat and on the very next day, re-erected the flag to be hung at official city buildings. A rash of protests and highly spirited town hall meetings caused Dobson to temporarily

bring the flag down three month later. But last November, the all-white male Board of Aldermen voted 6-1 to put it back up. “I still feel like the purpose of flying the flag is solely to respect the state and to show that we are a part of the state and my views on that haven’t changed,” said Mayor Dobson, who also accused the media of not reporting both sides of the story. “As a political activist, I have spent the past ten years walking hundreds of miles for causes I believe in. Why can’t they? Their ultimate goal is to change the flag and the city of Ocean Springs has

taken action in making a new vote possible. This alt-left radical group seems more interested in identity politics and playing the race card than they are with actually working to get a new vote.” Attorneys Carlos Moore and Michael Scott filed the lawsuit as a violation to both The Fair Housing Act and the 14th Amendment, arguing that, “By preventing AfricanAmerican residents of Ocean Springs from living in a more integrated community and by actively discouraging other African-Americans from visiting or residing in Ocean Springs, the city

is engaging in discriminatory treatment of plaintiffs and other AfricanAmericans.” “It’s a way of directing people to go somewhere else, go live somewhere else,” said Scott. “We think that is a pretty clear violation of the Fair Housing Act and we’ll prosecute the case to the extent necessary to get the result we’re entitled to. “This is never the preferred way to dissolve things, but I know here that our clients and plaintiffs in this case have given the City of Ocean Springs every opportunity to do the right thing short of litigation. The NAACP’s national office released an Emergency Resolution in February, calling for the removal of the Confederate Flag emblem from the Mississippi Official State Flag. It partly states: “…the State of Mississippi now remains the sole state in our country to embrace a symbol of war, hate and a failed attempt to perpetuate its right to slavery, into its flag while regarding it as ‘heritage’ despite inflicting degradation upon its citizen of slaves.” The resolution further says: “The NAACP urge Mississippi leaders to follow the State of South Carolina as it did in secession – this time however in an effort to heal the wounds of centuries old conflict and insistence on clinging to a heritage of hate…” Moore said: We hope the court takes this case seriously. What is it going to take for Mississippi to get our act together? We’re here fighting while everyone is alive and breathing.” In reflection of Dr. King’s assassination anniversary, Moore concluded: “I imagine that he is turning over in his grave to see that 50 years later, we’re still fighting the same fights that he fought.”.

Mayor Shea Dobson (center) poses with the Ocean Springs Board of Aldermen, who voted 6-1 to put the State Flag back. up.

Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum — – April 2018


consumers of media. According to Nielsen, we watch more television than any other group, and our smartphone penetration is over 80 percent and we still listen to the radio and read print magazines. Each month they spend 56 hours a month using apps or mobile internet browsers on their smartphones. This media consumption is perhaps reflective of a thirst for entertainment or better yet knowledge. Nielsen and Pew Research provide these studies so that media and marketers can reach certain demographics. The Denver Urban Spectrum (DUS) launched an app three years ago. It makes the publication accessible from everywhere. If the next

Digital Mentoring, Another App For Your Smartphone By Charles Emmons

Summer is on the horizon and

with it comes summer vacations with young people involved in numerous activities, from family reunions to summer employment. Or perhaps it will be spent on idle time, which most think can be bad, but alternatively it can be good. Summertime is a great time to reflect and recharge. Why not use idle time at home or riding in the car or train to learn something and begin making changes in your life? This is in part the idea behind the Youth With a Future App (YWAF), developed in conjunction with app developer Subsplash. Apps on our smartphones are of course not new. But isn’t it time we ask ourselves whether all the time spent on these apps is beneficial. Ironically a number of us seem to be disconnected. During my last trip to the barbershop, all eight young men waiting in the chairs had eyes trained on their phones. Last weekend when my wife and I dropped in for breakfast at a Village Inn we observed an intimate table of four, a mix of men and women, all with their heads in their phones, seemingly not involved in any conversation. Youth with a Future Executive Director Dr. Robert Fomer sees an opportunity to leverage the pervasive nature of smartphone use, and has developed an app to teach leadership skills based on the successful summer program. Fomer is broadening the reach of Youth With a Future, which he has been facilitating for urban youth for several years. His eye is on the next generation and its development, and the app is available for free in the Apple Store and on Google Play. Initially, users are introduced to Youth With a Future and its spiritual foundations in the eight Core Values previously discussed in the Spectrum. But there are also sections challenging and encouraging further exploration like, 1) leadership and character development, 2) social issues and 3) remembering known and less well-known historical figures, like Carter G. Woodson, Maggie Lena Walker and Louis David Armstrong. This generation, following

Millennials, born between 1995 and 2017 and designated as ‘Generation Z’, will be better prepared to handle the issues of the day in their lives if they know about those who have gone before them, in the distant past as well as today. Fomer’s aim is to pique their interest and encourage them to position themselves to face the issues of the day, namely 1) violence, 2) discrimination, 3) education, 4) bullying, 5) clean drinking water, 6) immigration, 7) healthcare, 8) trafficking, 9) incarceration, and 10) substance abuse. Fomer challenges the young users of the app to become transformational leaders. “Transformational leaders are those young men and women who see the issues of the day and seek to make a difference. Are you seeking to make a difference? Look at the issues facing our world today,” Fomer said. Now more than ever it is possible to engage with the world, broaden the community on these issues, and do something to resolve them. Congressman John Lewis was barely an adult when he began his activism, and he only had a telephone and telegraphs. He had to craft his own playbook to make a difference. The YWAF app is a guide to making a difference, and the tools available for engagement are far beyond the telephone. There is a blog, discussions about finding purpose and a leadership workbook and videos. Research has shown African Americans are avid

generation is to be reached, it is prudent to leverage African American media usage for a greater purpose. If we don’t know where we have been we don’t know where we are going. The odds of making a career in athletics or entertainment are probably in the single digits. Our capabilities are much more than that, yet we are a society obsessed with celebrity and its visible trappings, whether that is physical possessions or the latest meme. What matters is what we can contribute to make our lives, our families’ lives and the lives of those in our communities better. Leaders are needed not only in

Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum — – April 2018


8 Core Values featured in the YWAF App

1. Choice of a Mentor 2. Passion for Purpose and People 3. Visionary Leadership 4. Culturally Relevant Communication 5. Multiplication of Leaders 6. Family as a Priority 7. Good Stewardship 8. Integrity

STEM or STEAM fields but also in law and other professions, and the path must start at a young age. But young people must know that it is possible for them, and the YWAF app aims to do that by challenging them to explore their purpose and other alternatives. There is a marketplace of ideas out there, and the YWAF app facilitates and allows those better concepts of ourselves to come to fruition. Young people often need assistance in forging their own path. Questionable situations and bad decisions have consequences. Black people in general are searching for answers to their issues, and Pew’s research bears this out. In an analysis of a November 2016 study published in November 2017, 77 percent of Blacks believed an unlimited data plan for their cell phone would help them with important decisions, and 81 percent thought that more reliable home internet service would be helpful. The study further found that some sort of training is highly desirable. Seventy seven percent of African Americans wanted training on using online resources to find trustworthy information and 66 percent believed training to build confidence in using, computers, smartphones, and the internet would be helpful. African Americans are heavy users of social media, and more than 40 percent aged 18 to 39 are on Twitter. The impact of Black Twitter in addressing the death of Michael Brown is wellknown. This builds community, and social media is valuable for more than the latest rant or trolling someone you don’t agree with. Technology use and sharing insights can be constructive as well. The YWAF app aims to stay ahead of this as it is crafted for Generation Z and a new group of young leaders.

Apps for your Smartphone

YWAF (Youth With a Future)

DUS (Denver Urban Spectrum)

B2B Mag (Back to Basics Magazine) Recent Black Achievements Black History Facts

Generation Z is the first totally digital generation, and it is Fomer’s opinion that for them, smartphones have become an extension of themselves. In a 2017 survey conducted by LivePerson, encompassing 18-34 year olds in the US, UK, Australia, Germany, France and Japan, it was found that 65 percent of the 4013 consumers surveyed, interacted with each other more online than in the real world. They preferred texting to calling and conversation. In the US the percentages were even higher at 73 percent. “Technology is transforming the life of Generation Z but at the same time it is deteriorating the real life interactions. Smartphones were meant to be consumed by the younger generation but unfortunately, in a way, they are consuming the younger generation,” said Fomer. With the YWAF app he is looking to turn this around. “Our vision at TLF/Youth With A Future is driven by the belief that Generation Z can be nurtured and developed into future and potential leaders through goal oriented and customized use of the technology. Something YWAF has labeled as digital mentoring, which also provides opportunities for character and faith development utilizing blogs, social media, and leadership activities.” The Youth With a Future leadership programs have impacted small numbers, usually no more than 20 inner city youth in a summer. This app will reach so many more. A significant characteristic of Generation Z is that they are self-learners through technology like YouTube and Google. They multi-task digitally, but they also don’t let media overwhelm them, and will quickly leave it if it is not of interest. They gain their knowledge of the world and pertinent issues through social media like Facebook and Twitter. The strategy for the app focuses in these areas: •Blending information and entertainment •Incentivize youth •Empowering youth •Career oriented mentoring •Diversified discussion topics •Closing generation gaps

Fomer believes that mentorship is a key component of leadership development, but he is aware that this is a generation that wants to find their answers rather than be dictated to. “We believe that a friendly environment can be produced by closing generation gaps. When Generation Z is mentored by Generation Y, Generation Z will feel more comfortable and will be more likely to join and participate actively in the leadership and character development apps. Unlike dictating terms, the opinion of Generation Z should be heard in a friendly environment where the mentor and mentee interact in a knowledgeable productive and friendly environment,” said Fomer. Mentorship can occur through many mediums, particularly online and through technology. Messages are everywhere, and media and film is not just for entertainment. Lately there is excitement about the success of Black Panther, and Fomer has long seen the value in films such as the Queen of Katwe and Hidden Figures in facilitating discussions about leadership. The intent behind the YWAF app is to spark these discussions online to begin developing knowledge and empathy and other soft skills of leadership so that Generation Z can feel more comfortable in offline discussions with mentors in finding purpose and direction for their energies. This next generation has tremendous potential. It is the most ethnically diverse, and characteristically believes in gender and racial equality. New tools are needed to support gaining self-knowledge and preparation for the future. Info graphics and videos are the new language of this generation. These are carefully curated throughout the app. They will also have a chance to see themselves in the app through the publication of successes within their peer group. “Today’s youth does not want to be a part of any unyielding activity. They should be provided with the news about the success of individuals who have been schooled and nurtured through the leadership Apps. When youth comes to know about the success of individuals who actively participated in the leadership apps, they will follow their footsteps and will join and actively participate in Youth Leadership Apps,” said Fomer. Time is free, but of the essence. How will the young person near and dear to you spend their summer vacation? For a new look at what is possible, download the Youth With a Future App, available in the Apple Store and Google Play, and follow them on Facebook for future events involving youth and technology. .

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Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum — – April 2018



Alcorn President Presiden t Takes Historic Position in Higher Education Educatio n A highly-heralded HBCU presi-

dent will soon historically hold one of Mississippi’s top ranking higher education positions where all major public universities – black and white – will be put under his watchful eye.

The Mississippi Board of Trustees of the State’s Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) appointed Alfred Rankins Jr. as the incoming new commissioner of higher learning on March 23. Rankins becomes the first-ever African-American named by IHL to oversee Mississippi’s eight public universities. He officially takes over the position on July 1, replacing Glenn Boyce who announced his retirement in February. Rankins is currently the muchrespected president of Alcorn State University, appointed in March 2014. “Dr. Rankins has experience at both the system level and as a university president,” IHL Board President C.D. Smith said in a press release. “In addition, he understands the important role higher education plays in our state and the lives of our students and their families. He also understands the challenges our universities face in today’s higher-education landscape. He will provide excellent leadership to the university system.” Rankins previously served as deputy commissioner for Academic and Student Affairs for the IHL Board as well as acting president of Mississippi Valley State University. He was also a faculty member at Mississippi State University previously, where he was a tenured associate professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and extension specialist with the MSU Extension Service and also where he received his master’s and doctoral degrees. “My experiences at Alcorn will inform my decisions as commissioner, which will help me to serve all eight public universities in Mississippi as we work together to advance the system and the state,” Rankins said in the press release.

Dr. Rankins with wife Juandalyn and children Aftyn and Alfred. Rankins has advised the Board of Trustees and the previous Commissioners of Higher Education on all matters pertaining to academic programs, policy and planning; student access, readiness and success; and faculty affairs. He has also been credited with providing leadership and direction to the chief academic officers and chief student affairs officers at the universities. He has administrative oversight for the Academic Affairs, America Reads Mississippi, College Knowledge, Gear Up Mississippi, Nursing Education, P-20 Initiatives, Strategic Data Management, and Student Affairs units. Rankins served as Acting President for Mississippi Valley State University for one year, beginning in November 2012. In this role, Dr. Rankins was responsible for serving students, man-

aging the university’s operational budget, leading more than 500 employees, managing 114 buildings totaling 2,110,320 square feet, with a total asset value of $186 million. He focused on student recruitment and retention, which resulted in a 30 percent increase in first-time freshman over the previous year, and streamlined processes in many facets of the university, including student support services, business operations, alumni engagement and planned giving. A native of Greenville, Miss., Dr. Rankins holds an undergraduate degree in agricultural economics from Alcorn State University and a master’s degree in weed science and his doctorate in weed science, both from Mississippi State University. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Mississippi Authority for Educational Television and University

Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum — – April 2018


Press of Mississippi. He also serves on the Mississippi Commission for College Accreditation and as Secretary-Treasurer for the Mississippi Association of Colleges. Rankins also holds distinguished memberships in a number of other professional and honorary societies, including Weed Science Society of America, Gamma Sigma Delta Honor Society of Agriculture, and the Southern Weed Science Society. He is also a member of the Metro-Jackson Alcorn State University Alumni Association, the Alcorn State University National Alumni Association and the Mississippi State University Central Mississippi Alumni Association. Dr. Rankins and his wife, Juandalyn, have two children, Aftyn and Alfred. .

Daudreanna Baker wins Tom Joyner Foundation® ‘Full Ride’ Scholarship to Historically Black University


Dallas, TX ( audreanna Baker of

Hazlehurst, Miss. is the winner of the 2018 Tom Joyner Foundation® “Full

Ride Scholarship” that will cover full tuition, room and board (on campus only) and books up to 10 semesters.

Baker, who is the oldest of four raised

by a single mom at her home about 30 minutes south of Jackson, Miss., plans to attend Howard University in

Washington, D.C., where she plans to

become a Chemistry/Pre-Med major. Tom Joyner, the Foundation’s chairman and founder, announced his scholarship today during the Tom Joyner Morning Show, which airs on 100 stations and reaches a broadcast and digital audience with more than 10 million listeners every week. Baker, who is graduating from Hazlehurst High School, was selected from hundreds of applicants from around the country for the scholarship. “I want to help somebody, help them,” Baker says. “My mom is a nurse and I always watched her help people and I always appreciated that. I just feel that’s my calling. I want to be extraordinary.” Baker says she wants to become an orthopedic surgeon. She has been class president; editor of the school’s newspaper, the Indian Inquirer, serves on the Mayor’s Youth Council and has been a mentor at the Boys and Girls Club. In her essay, she talked about one of her classmates who was expelled and is now an inmate at Mississippi State Penitentiary. “I need to go to school so I can show my community that you can do other things,” she said during her scholarship interview. “I want to show my community that you can do better.” You can see her full interview by visiting Tom Joyner, host of the nationally syndicated morning radio show, said, “Daudreanna, I love your passion to help people.” In his recommendation for the scholarship, Burnell Ramsey said, “She is one of the most brilliant minds

Tom Joyner, nationally syndicated radio show host and founder and chairman of the Tom Joyner Foundation standing next to Full Ride scholarship winner Daudreanna Baker of Hazlehurst, Miss., her mom, Lillian Tillman, and the scholarship banquet keynote speaker Dr. Walter Kimbrough, president, Dilliard University. Photo credit: Jesse Hornbuckle

I have ever encountered. She is one student who I am sure will go on to do great things in life.” Robin Brumfield of Hazlehurst High School wrote, “I have great respect for her as a professional... Daudreanna is driven, engaging and dependable... she is always learning and growing, an impressive strength that will continue to serve her well in college and beyond. Baker is our eighth Tom Joyner Foundation Full Ride Scholar. Previous winners include Z’Kijah Fleming, who is attending Howard University, where she is majoring in business. Morgan Brown, who is attending Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga., pursuing a career in psychiatry; JoAnn Jones who is attending Winston Salem State University in Winston Salem, N.C., pursuing a career in nursing; Titus Ziegler Jr. of Atlanta’s Inman Middle School who served as a commander of the elite Junior ROTC Color Guard and Cheyenne Boyce of Detroit’s Cass Technical High School,

graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Spelman College in Atlanta was a Fulbright Scholar in Malaysia and now works at the Confucius Institute in Washington, D.C. Blaine Robertson of Reserve, La. graduated from Howard University in Washington, D.C. with a B.S. in mathematics and a B.A. in history with a minor in secondary education. The first winner, Britney Wilson of Brooklyn, N.Y., recently passed the New York Bar. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Howard University. Ms. Wilson has worked in the New York offices of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and is now a Bertha Justice Institute Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights. To retain the scholarship, students had to meet the required academic standards each semester. Graduating high school seniors applied for the scholarship by going to

Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum — – April 2018

11 To be eligible, students had to meet the following criteria: 1) Be a United States citizen; 2) Be a current high school senior attending school in the United States. Each applicant must complete high school in the spring of 2018; 3) Have a minimum high school grade point average of 3.5 (on a 4.0 grade scale, excluding home school studies) and minimum SAT score of 1400 (combined math essay and verbal score) or ACT score of 30; 4) Applicants had to apply and be accepted to an HBCU by July 1, 2018; 5.) Applicants had to demonstrate leadership abilities through participation in community service and extracurricular activities. . Editor’s note: Founded in 1998, the Tom Joyner Foundation has raised in excess of $65 million to help keep students enrolled in black colleges. It has assisted more than 29,000 students and worked with more than 100 HBCUs. To learn more about the Foundation, go to

Republican Jews Run Black Democrats?

In one of the more bizarre cases of

By Richard B. Muhammad

American politics, a Jewish Republican group called on seven Black Democrats in Congress to step down in repudiation of Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan over false charges of anti-Semitism. Several of the Black congressional leaders obeyed and denounced Min. Farrakhan. The Republican Jewish Coalition, which seeks “to foster and enhance ties between the American Jewish community and Republican decision makers,” made the demand. “We work to sensitize Republican leadership in govern-

ment and the Party to the concerns and issues of the Jewish community, while articulating and advocating Republican ideas and policies within the Jewish community,” the RJC added. Nowhere in the RJC mission is there a commitment to bi-partisanship, nor recognition of any interests except the interests of Jewish people and Israel.

Yet the group devoted to Jewish and Republican interests saw fit to order Black Caucus members to repudiate meeting with a man who has worked on behalf of Black people for over 62 years? Clearly the only thing that matters is the Jewish part of any so-called

Black-Jewish relationship. Blacks don’t have a right to forge their own agendas or to even meet among themselves-which are apparently rights reserved for Zionist Jews. And, apparently, Jewish concerns even outrank party loyalties and naked attempts to hurt Blacks inside the Democratic Party. So powerful are the Jewish Republicans that not only do they keep Republicans in line, they also have enough juice to force Blacks who are Democrats to toe the line too. You find no common interests between these groups as the RJC was virulently anti-Barack Obama, the first Black president, and literally spent millions trying to defeat him. If the RJC had its way, you would

have never had that Black man in the White House. But wait, there’s more. There’s the RJC’s sacred defend-Israel-at-all-costs commitment without a commitment to justice for all. And, when it comes to racist-in-chief Donald Trump, the RJC even refused to criticize the president for a 2017 statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day that failed to mention Jews. Others took the Donald to task, but not the RJC. This is the same Donald Trump that called African nations and Haiti shithole countries, urged a crowd to beat a Black Lives Matter protester (a Black man who was actually assaulted and then arrested) at a pro-Trump campaign event, and who had to figure out White supremacists and the killing of a young White women at a protest in Charlottesville, Va., was wrong. Mr. Trump fed into the hysteria that led to five young Black and Latino men going to jail in the 1989 Central Park jogger case in New York, though they were innocent. Mr. Trump claimed the young men were still guilty after they were released. That the men were paid a $41 million settlement in 2014 meant nothing. In 2016, presidential candidate Trump declared the men were still guilty. At the height of trial hysteria, Mr. Trump took out a full-page ad saying New York should bring back the death penalty. Then there were those Trump lawsuits for housing discrimination and charges because he didn’t want to rent to Blacks in the 1970s. So clearly there is no affinity between these lawmakers and the

Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum — – April 2018


RJC’s love fest with Mr. Trump, who is essentially reviled by the Congressional Black Caucus. Maybe it’s the RJC protect-Israel-atall-costs mantra that fits with the politics of these Black congressmen? Not really. Rep. Andre Carson of Indiana, who was called out by the RJC, conducted a TV interview on FOX 59 in his home state. During the March 9 broadcast, Rep. Carson admitted to meeting with the Minister to discuss important issues. What about the RJC demand he step down? “That organization doesn’t have any credibility with me. I know they have a political agenda,” said Rep. Carson. “The Congressional Black Caucus is asking that organization to condemn (Israeli Prime Minister) Benjamin Netanyahu and the (Israeli) government for discriminating against Africans who are migrating, who are fleeing dictatorships, who are fleeing oppression. There’s a great deal of bigotry and racism happening right now they fail to condemn.” So African migrants in Israel are suffering, threatened with deportation and jail, the Black Caucus asked the RJC for help and heard crickets? What kind of fake Black-Jewish relationship is this? And, while Israel is kicking Black Africans out of Israel, she is blocking Ethiopian Jews from reuniting with family members living in the so-called Jewish state, which seems to welcome White Jews Only. Yet these Jewish Republicans had the gall to demand that congressional representatives Carson, Maxine Waters of California, Keith Ellison of Minnesota, Danny Davis of Illinois, Al Green of Texas, Barbara Lee of California and Gregory Meeks of New York condemn Min. Farrakhan. Sadly lawmakers Ellison, Davis, Lee and Meeks had done just that by Final Call press time. It’s enough to be on the Democratic plantation, but when your masters come over from the Republican plantation that should be more than any self-respecting Black man and woman should stand. So the only bi-partisan thing for a Negro politician to do is join with Jewish Republicans to denounce Min. Farrakhan? Sad. Shameful. But proof once again that the Negro has no political interests or political power that the White Man, the Jewish Man, is bound to respect. Or do we have no political power at all? Editor’s note: Richard B. Muhammad is editor-in-chief of The Final Call newspaper. He can be reached through and at Find him on Facebook at Richard B. Muhammad and on Twitter: @RMfinalcall. His website is

Authorpreneur and Publisher Launches

“Black Authors Rock” to Equip, Empower and Edify Writers

Black Authors Rock (BAR)

Selma, AL (

launches at an upcoming Write Your Way To Healing Masterclass. BAR is focused on enhancing professional development through mentorship,

networking, and customized support

to Black authors, and those who identify with, support and/or encourage

black literary contributions. It is the mission of BAR to equip, empower and edify authors who aspire to inspire, influence and make a global impact. Selma, Alabama was selected as the launch location because of its historical significance to the black community. The 1965 crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, forever cemented the small southern city in the foundation of the framework documenting the ongoing struggle for equity and equality for blacks and other minority groups.

Writing is one of the best ways to release everything that is within. What are you holding on to? Write Your Way to Healing is designed to heighten awareness, purge and deliver. Wherever you are along life’s continuum, Write Your Way to Healing serves as an affordable, customized option guaranteed to put you in touch with your inner author, help channel your emotions, empower and restore. Limited spaces are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Register today online at Publishing packages will be made available at a reduced cost to attendees. The workshop takes place at on Saturday, April 21 at Greater Kingdom Citadel 2902 North Broad St., in Selma from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The impact of healing through sharing one’s unique story or vision is critical. “Authorprenuers often write for the benefit of others, but they lack being delivered from the areas in which they write about,” says MasterClass creator LaTracey Copeland Hughes. Writing to heal

was vital to Copeland Hughes after being masked for ministry and recently diagnosed with a second polynomial brain tumor. She is currently undergoing treatment, while active in ministry, and running her business. I never thought I would experience a public resurrection after a private fall. I had to make available to others what redeemed me!” says Hughes. To register for the event, visit The early bird special is only $25 and is running now! For more information, feel free to email us at or call us at 530-205-3482. Write Your Way To Healing Masterclass is presented by Black Authors Rock, Purposeful Publishing and Consulting, Greater Kingdom Citadel, and This event is the beginning to the 15 city tour for Black Author Rock. If your business, ministry or organization would like to partner with Black Authors Rock, making money as well as impact, then this is an amazing opportunity for you.

Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum — – April 2018


About the company:

Operating since 2013, Purposeful Publishing and Consulting, provides a full service spectrum of publishing services to clients, ranging from writing coaching, publishing through marketing of their products. First started as a one-woman operation run from a dining room table, Purposeful Publishing and Consulting; now has a host of contract workers and this expansion will allow for full time employees to be hired. We continue to focus on filling our clients’ needs completely and fully; our company motto is “Your success is OUR purpose!” Black Authors Rock is a subsidiary of Purposeful Publishing and Consulting. .

Editor’s note: Follow Black Authors Rock on Instagram: @BlackAuthorsRock, on, and on Twitter: @BlackAuthorRock. For more information, visit

Ground Rules

Must See............llll It’s Worth A Look.....lll See At Your Own Risk.ll Don’t Bother.....................l

Editor’s note: Samantha Ofole-Prince is an award-winning writer and contributor to many national publications and is’s Senior Critic-at-Large. Khaleel Herbert is a journalism student at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Laurence Washington is the creator of Like on Facebook, follow on Twitter

Tomb Raider (2018) lll By Jon Rutledge

Tomb Rider

Laura Croft (Alicia Vikander) is a

young girl trying to live her life after her father goes missing on an expedition. She has refused to admit that her father, Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West), who has been missing for seven years is most likely dead. She gets a puzzle box from her father as his last wish. Inside is a clue that she starts following up on. She sets out after the same mystery that took her father from her. This new reboot to the Tomb Raider franchise takes a lot of flavor from the successful video game reboot in 2013. It doesn’t follow the game directly but all the same elements are there. She hires a ship and lands an unforgiving island with hostile inhabitants trying to survive and unravel the mystery of the island. An action film with just the right touches of a story. Looking to possibly launch the franchise again they slyly blend in some story elements from the second game in a way that gives them a logical launch of a sequel. Fans of the game series will see all the nods for setting up Laura to be the hero she is destined to be. We see her firing a bow and pick up a climbing axe as well as pick up two pistols. She now has all the tools she will need to continue the adventure in the next film… if they have one. (I hope they do). This movie almost feels like the first X-men movie; it seemed like a test run for


something much bigger. I’m invested in seeing more if they do them. There is a rumor of them trying to do a shared universe vis-a-vis Marvel. I hope they don’t try and pare this up with some of the lesser impressive video games. I shudder at the thought of a Hitman/Tomb Raider cross over. You can’t look at this film and not compare it to the 2001 version of this same franchise. I don’t think it’s a fair comparison. The 2001 film was only tangentially related to the game. They cast a mega star, Angelina Jolie, and run her through some archeological sets with shooting and a love interests. This one seems more realistic in that

they have a person who takes on the look of Laura Croft way better than Jolie’s incarnation. Alicia Vikander looks like she walked off the video game. She brings a more realistic physicality to the action scenes. Video game films in the hands of studios who don’t understand or respect the source material can be detrimental to the game title. Look at some of the horrible video game moves in the past years. The pitfall filmmakers stumble into is assuming that the fans will flock to the theater regardless of content. This one takes time in getting us invested in the character. It was an action film but it did an excellent job of making us feel for the characters. As a reviewer I get to screen the film for free. You can tell a movie is good when I am willing to spend my own money on seeing it again. I am, and I am going to bring friends.


Winner’s 1974 landmark action drama that spawned several sequels. To its credit, this millennial version does stick with the same storyline. It builds the backstory of portraying Dr. Paul Kersey (Willis) as a successful mild-mannered surgeon who has it all: a beautiful family and a lovely home, but things go horribly wrong one day after a home invasion in which his wife (Elisabeth Shue) is killed and his daughter (Camila Morrone) ends up in a coma. He initially leans on his brother Frank (Vincent D’Onofrio) for help, and Detectives Raines and Jackson (Dean Norris and Kimberly Elise who are underutilized in their roles). Once he realizes the perpetrators will never be found, his inner fury is suddenly blown into vengeance against crime in general and he turns into a vigilante. New York is swapped for Chicago, which makes sense given the city’s crime stats and social media and digital technology provide an added layer to this modern version. Beyond that, there’s little else to offer other than social commentary on ‘right versus wrong’ in this remake directed by Eli Roth (Hostel). Coined the Grim Reaper after a video of Kersey stalling a carjacking goes viral, Black radio hosts do their best to inject a little humor and social commentary by highlighting the racial aspect of a hooded white guy with a gun imposing his own brand of justice. “Is he right for taking the law into his own hands?” asks radio host Sway in one scene. “He’s become a folk hero,” remarks another commentator in the footage. Much like the original, Willis poses as a middle-aged citizen who seeks and murders criminals. We’ve seen the actor play a tough guy in the Die Hard franchise so this isn’t a stretch for Willis and the role would have

Over the last 20 years, countless studios have sought to cash in on our love for nostalgic classics by churning out remakes and Death Wish is a remake I wish the studios could have left well alone, but then again, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Gringo Provides Great Opportunity for David Oyelowo By Samantha Ofole-Prince

Photos by Gunther Campine Courtesy of Amazon Studios


rom a Botswanian Prince, a civil rights icon to a Tuskegee airman, David Oyelowo has tackled an incredible variety of serious roles. In his latest project, the classically trained Afro-British actor is tackling comedy and is sure to garner a few laughs in Gringo where he plays a Yoruba immigrant who finds himself stuck in Mexico after a disastrous work trip.

Death Wish l1/2

By Samantha Ofole-Prince

pointless reboot, which sees Bruce Willis reviving a role, made famous by Charles Bronson in the 1974 original, the film follows a citizen who turns vigilante after thugs kill his wife.Arguably, one of Bronson’s best films, the story was first told in Brian Garfield’s 1972 novel of the same name, and then in director Michael

been best served with a lesser-known and more enigmatic actor. Also missing is the raw music score by Jazz legend Herbie Hancock, which helped establish the mood and would have been a nod to the original.

Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum — – April 2018


“I’ve played all these roles that are fairly quote-unquote important,” shares the Golden Globe nominated actor, “and before Gringo came along, I’d never really done a dark comedy before so for me this film was a great

opportunity to express that part of my personality.” Incredibly funny and heartfelt, Gringo offers moviegoers a fresh take on the action comedy genre as it follows Oyelowo’s character Harold Soyinka, a hard-working peon at a pharmaceutical company, whose high maintenance wife Bonnie (Thandie Newton) is not only bleeding their bank account dry, but is also cheating on him with his boss Richard (Joel Edgerton) who is plotting to fire him. Add to that, Richard is also screwing the vice president of his company Elaine (Charlize Theron) and both are selling drugs to a Mexican cartel. Cash-poor and concerned that’s he’s about to lose his job after hearing rumors of a corporate merger, Harold decides to stage his own kidnapping once in Mexico with plans to pocket the ransom money. Unfortunately for him, his unscrupulous boss has not only let the company’s kidnapping insurance lapse, but has also cut ties with the drug cartels, much to their chagrin, which rapidly sets off an escalating chain of violent events as Harold crosses the delicate line from law-abiding citizen to wanted criminal. A dark comedy drizzled with action and dramatic intrigue, the film which is directed by Nash Edgerton, is hilarious and socially poignant at the same time as it explores work ethics and riddles existing stereotypes.

Love, Simon Is An Important Story to Tell By Samantha Ofole-Prince Photo by Storm Santos(Facebook)

The gay coming-of-age story’s

been done, but Love, Simon has something fresh and funny to share about the tricky intricacies of love, and how they might keep someone in the closet. A heartfelt love story and the first film from a major studio with a gay lead at the center, it chronicles the life of Simon Spier (Nick Robinson), a 17year-old closeted gay high school student struggling to reveal his sexuality to his family and classmates. For 26 year-old Australian/ Nigerian actor Keiynan Lonsdale, who plays Bram Greenfeld, one of Simon’s classmates, it was the perfect project. “I’ve dealt with sexuality struggles my whole life. This was a great script and had awesome people attached to it. The fact that it had a gay director at the helm made sense for me to join the cast as I knew the subject would be handled with care.” Directed by Greg Berlanti, who brilliantly confronts aspects of the gay struggle that are often overlooked on


screen, Love, Simon was adapted from Becky Albertalli’s young adult novel Simon vs The Homo Sapien’s Agenda. A high school romantic comedy about a kid who is going through the process that every gay individual goes through of figuring out his or her identity, it’s a relatable drama for Lonsdale who just two years ago revealed his own sexuality on social media. Admitting to the world that he is bisexual. Love, Simon

an established musician and writes and records his own music. “I hope that people leave the film and feel that they can see themselves being heard.” An authentic film, which traverses familiar coming-of-age territory, Nick Robinson as Simon, brilliantly slips inside the skin of a sensitive young man who’s having trouble finding his place in the world. The film also stars Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel and Natasha Rothwell whose scenes as the no-nonsense drama teacher, Ms. Albright, are some of the funniest and most memorable.

Oscars So Diverse By Samantha Ofole-Prince


Photos courtesy of Royalty Image and A.M.P.A.S.

“It got to a point that I was concerned about everyone knowing my business, because I do have a presence on social media and I am in the public eye. That was the final step for me knowing that I wanted to put it out there so there is never a point where I am wondering if this person or that person knows,” explains the actor who was named GQ’s Breakthrough Actor Of The Year in 2016. It’s a tad more complicated in film for Simon Spier, a lovable, embraceable character, who, as he struggles whether to reveal his sexuality, starts a secret email flirtation with another closeted classmate, but ends up trying to appease a blackmailer when one of his emails falls into the wrong hands. “It’s an important story to tell and that was the first thing that drew me to it,” adds Lonsdale who starred on the international hit CW series The Flash, and can be seen in Divergent Series: Insurgent and The Finest Hours. “The fact that this is the first one of this nature from a major studio means that the representation is there for everyone who is afraid of coming out. The stronger this film performs, the better it is for the world. Everyone knows someone who is part of the LGBT community and hopefully everyone walks away with a little bit more love about this kind of acceptance,” continues Lonsdale who is also

n Asian, a Hispanic and two African-Americans all won Oscars at the 90th Academy Awards last month, which discarded old traditions for new ones. Gone was the Academy president’s customary speech with longer monologues padding out the biggest night in show business. Host Jimmy Kimmel wasted no time in addressing issues of the previous year when La La Land was initially announced as the best picture winner instead of Moonlight. “This year, when you hear your name called,” he told potential award winners, “don’t get up right away.” Kazuhiro Tsuji was the first winner of the evening nabbing an award for best makeup for Darkest Hour and making Tsuji, the first Japanese to receive the award for the film, which follows British wartime leader Winston Churchill. “I don’t want to think about the fact that I’m Asian. I’m just doing what I love to do,” Tsuji told reporters backstage. “So, I hope everyone feels that way because as soon as we start to think what race we are, it’s not good. It doesn’t work that well.” Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy romance The Shape of Water which had the most nominations picked up four honors — including the night’s big prize, best picture. Del Toro took home best director for his film, which also won for original score and production design. After ensuring he double-checked the envelope to ensure it wasn’t a gaffe, the Mexican director dedicated his award to every young filmmaker. “I was a kid enamored with movies, and growing up in Mexico I thought this could never happen. It

Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum — – April 2018


happens. This is a door, kick it open and come in.” Kobe Bryant won his first Oscar for the animated short Dear Basketball, based on a poem he wrote in 2015 announcing his impending retirement from basketball and Jordan Peele became the first African-American to take original screenplay for the horror film Get Out. Backstage, Peele addressed the question of whether there would be a sequel to the horror-comedy film that explores racism in America and has grossed a massive $252,434,250 worldwide. “I’ve often joked that if there is, it will take place at an awards show where, you know, it might look something like this.” There were extensive monologues from several presenters including Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph who made light of this year’s diversity and Lupita Nyong’o, Kumail Nanjiani who used the stage to show support for the Dreamers living in the United States. Frances McDormand received best actress for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Chile’s A Fantastic Woman was named best foreign-language film and the best supporting actor went to Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Gary Oldman won best actor for playing Winston Churchill in The Darkest Hour, and Allison Janney earned her first Academy Award for supporting actress for playing Tonya Harding’s mother in the biopic I, Tonya. Jordan Peele

The Oscars are still predominately white, but much has changed after the #OscarsSoWhite controversy of previous years and we are seeing more diversity on stage with minority actors, writers and directors being nominated and earning Oscars in multiple categories this year. .

Reality Star Momma Dee and Southern Soul Blues Artist Pokey Bear Star in New Movie: My Side Piece Hit the Lotto

Educational Theatre Institute (ETI) and BAMN Ensemble presents

in conjunction with

Vickilyn Reynolds in

“Hattie McDaniel…What I Need You to Know!”

Directed by Byron Nora Saturday, April 28th – 3 PM & 8 PM Sunday, April 29th – 3 PM & 8 PM

The Lounge Theatre

6201 Santa Monica Blvd •Los Angeles, CA 90038 Tickets: $25 For tickets and more information, call 562-381-0594 or email Facebook@richrey55 • Twitter@richrey55 • Instagram@richrey55

Esteemed African-American pro-

Baton Rouge, LA (

ducers Dewey Allen and Mando Allen, The Allen Brotherz bring together Momma Dee, a Georgia native and Pokey Bear for this hilarious southern comedy, My Side Piece Hit the Lotto. Momma Dee is currently starring in the reality show Love and Hip-Hop: Atlanta which has started its ninth season. Momma Dee is also a hip-hop recording artist with hits such as In That Order and I Deserve which are both on Apple Music. Pokey Bear has won The Southern Soul Artist of the Year Award for 2017. Pokey also recently released a new album titled Bear Season which is available on iTunes. Synopsis: Lotto winner Mrs. Weatherspoon (Momma Dee) shares her winnings with her unfaithful husband, Charles (Pokey Bear) while next door neighbors DeShawn (Messie Cee) and Ebony (Baddazz Cutie) scramble to repay borrowed bail money back to the neighborhood bully, Buster as Dillard (Mando Allen) and Charles enters into a shady business deal.

Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum — – April 2018


“I decided I wanted to film the entire movie in Louisiana,” said director Dewey Allen. “We need more movies from backwater areas like Baton Rouge which is new and fresh and has never been brought to a national audience. The characters are relatable and unforgettable. You’ll watch the film over and over again because it’s something people haven’t seen before.” “This is a project I wanted to do based on the fact that the entire world is fascinated by infidelity in relationships,” said Mando Allen. “The term side piece is good subject matter because you can show different perspectives from males and females on infidelity. I see this film as a tool that people can learn from to better our relationships.” My Side Piece Hit the Lotto premiered at AMC theaters March 29th during a red carpet event and will be available in April 2018 on Amazon for rent, purchase, and streaming on a fire stick, phone, laptop, computer or tablet. . Editor’s note: To watch the movie on Amazon, visit B07CDW49SS

Spring Into Fitness! By Kim Farmer


pring is here and most people are ready to shed any weight they may have gained through the winter. To get your body beach-ready, it is important to start spring fitness with a realistic approach. The first thing to remember is to find a healthy balance between your physical activity level and your food choices that work with your lifestyle. Your physical activity must include doing something you love so that you will be consistent and continue to do it for the long term. And when it comes to your food intake, remember to eat everything in moderation and choose a sensible diet that has enough substance that you will feel satisfied. Diets that are very low in calories (less than 1200 calories per day) are very hard to sustain for more than a few days. Here are a few tips to spring into fitness: Don’t become obsessed with the scale: It can be discouraging to see the scale go up a little or not move at all after you feel like you have made a lot of sacrifices. However, your weight will likely fluctuate over short periods of time due to water weight, muscle gain, or salty foods. Instead, weigh yourself once every week or so – this

way the scale will not control your emotions. Be realistic: Losing weight is not an overnight venture and hence you have to set realistic expectations. In most cases, the immediate weight loss is only due to waterthe real weight loss usually starts to occur after 14 days of consistent exercise and proper nutrition. Stay consistent: The road to successful spring fitness must include consistency. You will not lose weight if you just work out once a week and then take a break for a week. You will need to be consistent in your exercise regimen which means working out at least four to five days a week and at a minimum 20 minutes each day if possible. It is okay to miss a day or two once in a while and you should not feel guilty about it. If you need to break your daily exercise sessions up into shorter sessions in order to fit them in, go for it. Choose the right type and amount of exercise: You may think that you can only be successful you lift weights, include intense aerobic or use the latest exercise machines. There is no evidence that one type of exercise is better than another. If you are just starting out, walking is as good an exercise as any. But you should try to walk at least 30 minutes most days of the week. This can amount to a loss of a few hundred calories every day,

which could add up to a couple of thousand calories in one week. At the end of the month, you could lose 2 pounds and by the time spring is over, you could lose 8-10 pounds. The advantages of walking are that it is free, it allows you to enjoy nature, feel better, and the exercise is free of complications. Eat right: No matter what type of exercise you choose, you still need to make good food choices. There is no specific eating plan that works better than another, since we are all different – however, if you simply use a common sense approach, you can eat everything in moderation. A general rule of thumb is this: For males, the total calorie count should not be more than about 2500 a day and for females the calorie count should not be much more than 2000 calories and of course less if you would like to lose weight. Eat a diet that is rich in fruits, veggies, nuts, whole grains, lean protein, and try to limit the intake of red meat and saturated foods, caffeine, soda and alcohol Of course, the best beverage is water- it can quench your thirst, does not stain your teeth and has no calories. Join the club! If you are the type of person who is not able to exercise alone at home, then join an exercise club or gym. There are many gyms all over the country and they offer a range of exercises, machines, weight

Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum — – April 2018


lifting equipment, sauna, racquet ball games, and you will always find someone that shares your goals. Rest. Do not over train as this only leads to fatigue and a dislike for the exercise. Focus on the quality of exercise as well as the quantity. You should give the body enough time to rest and recover. Remember to always stretch for five to 10 minutes before and after starting any exercise. This will help prevent injuries. Find a friend: The majority of people who accomplish their goals do so when they undertake exercise with the company of others. Mutual friends can help motivate and support each other when you get bored with a certain exercise or become unmotivated. We can all improve on our level of fitness and spring is a great time to start something new. Start a new walking program, grab a friend or join a gym to help you stay motivated. And of course there is always an option to get help from a professional trainer if you just can’t seem to get started or keep going. Have a healthy week! Editor’s note: Kim Farmer of Mile High Fitness & Wellness offers in-home personal training and corporate wellness solutions. For more information, visit or email

Kem Closes Out the

By Melovy Melvin

Michael Schivo Presents, celebrat-

ing 52 years as Nevada’s premier pop, rock and jazz concert promoter, has again teamed up with old school 105.7 and power 88 in Las Vegas to co-sponsor the 26th annual Las Vegas City of Lights Jazz & R&B Festival. Held on Saturday, April 28 and Sunday April 29 and by popular demand, the festival will be remain at its new location at Government Amphitheater. According to festival producer Michael Schivo, Government amphitheater “has superior sightlines and a sound system that will deliver to the jazz attendees the great experience they deserve. In addition to free parking and easy access to the venue, two new restroom areas, increased space for the vendor village.” Government amphitheater is located close to downtown Las Vegas and closer to the Las Vegas strip – convenient for hotel guests. Lyfe Jennings

The new festival sight has a much more professional feeling with intimate synergy with many shady trees and a new air conditioned pavilion for VIP patrons. The two day jazz festival has Grammy Award winners and nominees written all over it.

As usual, the jazz festival has been booked with handpicked national and Grammy award recognized musicians to entertain throughout the day and night. Jazz and R&B artists performing on Saturday, April 28 will include the blockbuster jazz tour of 2018 West Coast Jam featuring award winning sax man Richard Elliot, guitarist Norman Brown and hot horn man and award winning Rick Braun, soulful R&B artists the Kindred Family Soul, Grammy award winner and vocalist Nneela Freelon, legendary sax man Ronnie Laws, the Sax Pack with Jeff Kashiwa, Steve Cole and Kim Waters and Greg Adams and East Bay Soul. Closing out the festival on Sunday, April 29 will be R&B award winning vocalist Kem, Eric Benet, Lyfe Jennings, vocalist Leela James and pop soul singer Goapele.

Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum — – April 2018


“These artists performing each day are the finest collection of acts we have ever had at the 26th year old festival,” states award winning event producer Michael Schivo. Past jazz stalwarts that have graced the festival include: Anthony Hamilton, the Jazz Crusaders, Chaka Khan, Norman Brown, Lee Ritenour, Kem, Ledisi, Lalah Hathaway, Hiroshima, Jonathon Butler, Nick Collione, Richard Elliot, Peter White, Rick Braun, Brian Culbertson, Joe Sample, Boney James, Will Downing, Gerald Albright, Fattburger, Larry Carlton, Poncho Sanchez, Flora Purim And Airto, Ronnie Laws, The Yellowjackets, Hugh Masakela, Chuck Mangione, George Duke, Stanley Clark, Wayman Tisdale, Down To The Bone, Ronnie Jordon, Paul Jackson Jr., Paul Taylor, Mike Phillips, Lenny Williams, Barkays, Dazz Band, Cameo, Ohio Players, Morris Day and the Time and many more. The jazz festival, established in 1994, has hosted capacity crowds in years past as people from all around the country attended. Last year 38 states were represented at the festival. “Last year’s festival was an extreme party filled with the fun and groove that it takes to be crowned ‘the biggest and liveliest jazz and R&B party festival in the west.’ Last year’s festival sold out so we strongly urge patrons to buy their selected ticket well in advance as tickets will be in high demand once again,” Schivo said. “The Las Vegas City of Lights Jazz and R&B Festival continues to spiral itself into a very special light, and as our festival continues to gain momentum, it now ranks with the likes of all first-rate European and big-city-USA spring and summer music festivals, perhaps more so because Las Vegas is truly a one-of-a-kind city.”. Editor’s note: For more information on festival ground rules or tickets, visit, go to tix logo and select VIP or General Admission and 2 Day Discount Tickets. Leela James

Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum April 2018  

Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum is an online publication based in Biloxi, Mississippi and also serving Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida. Vis...

Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum April 2018  

Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum is an online publication based in Biloxi, Mississippi and also serving Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida. Vis...