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Volume 1 Number 2 September 2017

Racist Symbol or...

Cultural Icon?...4


MESSAGE FROM THE EDITOR

Volume 1 Number 2

September 2017

PUBLISHER Rosalind J. Harris

GENERAL MANAGER Lawrence A. James MANAGING EDITOR Gordon Jackson

CONTRIBUTING COPY EDITOR Laurence C. Washington FILM CRITIC BlackFlix.Com

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Gordon Jackson ART DIRECTOR Bee Harris

GRAPHIC DESIGNER Jody Gilbert Kolor Graphix

PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Melovy Melvin

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Gordon Jackson

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 2017 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 Baltimore 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 www.gulfcoasturbanspectrum.com or www.denverurbanspectrum.com.

Let’s “Fall” Forward, After a Red-Hot Summer

As we go into September, I’m compelled to look back and say, “Wow! What a Summer!” At a time of the year where we usually prefer to focus on taking a break away from the stresses of life, our news headlines were filled with intense and hard-hitting developments dealing with delicate and controversial matters at its core. In the ongoing sagas in criminal justice, corrupt and violent police officers continued to get a pass as “bad cops” in Tulsa, Oklahoma, St. Paul, Minnesota and Cincinnati, Ohio are freed, in spite of glaring videos showing unnecessary and excessive force in the killings of young black men Terrence Crutcher, Philando Castile and Sam Dubose. At the White House, President Trump – the “Mad Tweeter,” – constantly pushed the envelope and took serious policy measures to show strong disrespect to Latinos, African Americans, Muslims, LGBT’s, immigrants and climate change advocates, while – in the opinion of many – empathized and supported white supremacists and male chauvinists, further indicated by his pardoning of a controversial and oppressing antiimmigrant Arizona sheriff. Additionally, 45’s trash-talking with the leader of North Korea and the leader’s “toys,” – his missiles and bombs – has put much of our country in cringing anticipation of a possible nuclear war. In sports, resentment continues to build from the Black community about the unsigning of quarterback/activist Colin Kaepernick, with many threatening to completely boycott the NFL. In response to several cities deciding to remove statues and monuments that promoted the Confederate mindset, with its hard-core past of practicing slavery, oppressing and discriminating of Blacks, violence breaks out at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, revealing a “merger” of white supremacists, Neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members and resulting in the death of a young female counter-protestor. The arrival of Hurricane Harvey, on one hand, possibly exposed the uncaring of a mega-church pastor, but revealed the patriotic courage of at least two Latinos who died while trying to save lives, although their own lives would have been in jeopardy

with President Trump’s repealing of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). On a local parallel, South Mississippians have drawn battle lines in the quest to have the Confederate emblem removed from the official state flag. In this issue, we take a look at those fighting that battle on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We’ll also look at how our civil rights history is being preserved for the young to learn and the older to never forget, with a board display of the Wade-In. We also celebrate a definite positive of our community – our rich talent pool of local gospel artists who were honored at the Gospel Music Awards. Now, I know many of us do not like to think so much about such “heavy” topics and like to keep things light-hearted and merry. We cannot afford to do that in this case. Almost all of these news accounts are challenging our levels of conscious and moral compass like never before.

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Granted, we’re all busy with our everyday lifestyles, but we have been enjoying such lifestyles because of a foundation of values and principles practiced by most Americans, a foundation that now appears to be eroding. At the risk of sounding preachy or getting deep, let’s wake up and smell the burning cross. It’s implored that we take a keen look at what’s happening in our country and determine what action items we each can take in our own personal lives that will reverse the erosion and rebuild America’s foundation of standards and values before we lose them altogether. Our quality of life depends on it.

Gordon Jackson GCUS Editor


Collision Course , Black, Red and Blue

Mississippians Draw Battle Lines Over Confederate Flag Emblem By Gordon Jackson - Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum

I

t’s by far the most confrontational,

yet also the most embraced; the most controversial, yet also the most

beloved, design in American culture. The Confederate emblem on the upper left corner of the Mississippi State Flag has put many Mississippians into a state of extreme polarity and division. Disagreement between the two opposite sides on its role in American history has fluctuated between a moderate simmer to a

full-scale boiling point and may reach a hostile fever pitch. It’s a battle that has refueled feelings and attitudes of racial resentment to the highest scale since the liberating yet volatile Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. And it may go to highest court in the land. In the latest episode, the U.S. Supreme Court has asked attorneys for Mississippi’s governor Phil Bryant to file arguments defending the Confederate battle emblem on the

state flag. They need to file by Sept. 28. Carlos Moore, an African-American attorney in Mississippi, filed suit in 2016 seeking to have the flag declared an unconstitutional relic of slavery. The fight over the state flag has not been able to stand alone, but has been entangled in a series of other raciallycharged happenings throughout the country. The City of Biloxi has also been included, with clashes that have brought even more tension locally. This past April 22 (Saturday), The

Curley Clark, President of the Jackson County-Moss Point NAACP, speaks before protestors at the Southern Legislative Conference opening reception in Gulfport, calling for the organization to take the lead in removing the Confederate emblem off of the Mississippi State Flag. Photo by Gordon Jackson

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Mississippi State Representative Sonya Williams Barnes is calling for the entire Mississippi State Legislative to vote for taking down the State Flag with the Confederate emblem inserted.


Biloxi NAACP held a candidates forum for the mayor’s seat and two city council seats for the May municipal elections. When the moderator (this reporter) raised the question about removing the current state flag, incumbent and candidate Andrew “FoFo” Gilich firmly committed to making sure that the flag would be removed from all city facilities. Two days later on Monday, he executed that motion, through executive order.

back up. But Mayor Gilich also has the right to veto the ruling. “My position is unchanged,” Gilich told the Sun Herald. “I stand by the action that was taken on this issue.” Meanwhile, a downpour of other racially-explosive altercations has occurred, including: In May, New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu ordered the removal of statues and monuments depicting Civil War Confederate General Robert E.

Barnes. “What we’re really wanting is a flag that charts a different future for our state, that charts a different future for our children and that is about a vision that unites people in the state with each other as well as unites Mississippi with other states in the nation.” On Aug. 11 and 12, violence erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia, involving the protest of the city council’s decision to remove a Robert E. Lee

Several Mississippi cities and towns, along with all eight of the state’s public universities have stopped flying the state flag amid concerns that it is offensive in a state where 38 percent of the population is black. It’s not guaranteed that the Supreme Court will take Moore’s case, but he and his attorneys feel very encouraged. Voters decided to keep the flag in a 2001 election and

Opposing views are displayed at the Biloxi City Council meeting. A standing citizen brandishes the Confederate Flag, while a sitting Lea Campbell of Mississippi Rising Coalition holds a sign calling for "1 Flag For All." Sitting next to Campbell is James Crowell, Biloxi NAACP President. Photo by Gordon Jackson

Once the executive order became public, however, several dozen supporters of the flag staged a protest across the street from City Hall and helped fill the City Council Chambers the next day to voice their strong displeasure at the City Council meeting. That was followed by Councilman Robert Deming proposing to issue a resolution that would have the city council order the Mayor to put the flag back up at all city buildings. The council voted however, to table the resolution until they get a formal opinion from the Mississippi Attorney General’s office. On Aug. 15, Attorney General Jim Hood ruled that the city council does have the right to pass the resolution and force the mayor to put the flags

Lee and other Confederate leaders, a move that drew both strong praise and outcry. In late July, 38 of the 51 Mississippi Black state representatives and state senators boycotted the Southern Legislative Conference, which was held in Biloxi. A protest crowd, led by Mississippi Rising Coalition, was held near the conference’s opening reception at the Jones Park pavilion in Gulfport. “The Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus (MLBC) refuses to turn its back on the millions of people who are forced to live and function under the oppressive symbol of our state flag,” said Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus Chairwoman and Gulfport State Representative Sonya Williams-

statue, a rally which featured a collective uprising of white supremacists, Neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan agitators and tragically included the death of counter protestor Heather Heyer, when motorist James Fields ran his car into a crowd. President Donald Trump’s initial passive public response to the violence was met with much repugnance, with many feeling that he defended the existence of the white supremacy groups. Throughout the week after Charlottesville, several cities around the country had many of their Confederate-themed statues and monuments removed in a distinct, yet perhaps desperate display of racial harmony.

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Governor Bryant strongly feels that if the flag design is to be changed, it should be done in another statewide election. Mississippi has the last state flag featuring the Confederate battle emblem. Critics say the symbol is racist, and supporters say it represents history. While observing how all the drama will unfold, Mississippi Rising Coalition and the League of Women Voters will hold a forum that will feature a presentation on the history of the Mississippi state flag of 1894, followed by panel discussion. It will be held Sept. 12, 6-8 pm, at the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center in Ocean Springs..


The Wade-In, In Full View:

Remember, Reflect and Pass It On Alongside the usual books, com-

puters and audio/visual materials, the Biloxi Library added something extra this past summer: a portal to another time. Specifically, it was a trip to recognize the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s greatest Civil Rights achievement, known as the Wade-In.

This story was told through a lifesized 7 ft. x 15 ft. display board that stood along the front corridor of the library, for all visitors to observe. Designed by the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, it consisted of a blend of text newspaper clippings, photos and an ariel map of the beach which chronicled the timeline of the Wade-In events from 1959 to 1968. Many of those who eyed the display board found it stunning to learn that the 26-mile government manmade beach line along the Mississippi coast was once strictly segregated. Blacks were prohibited from setting foot on the sand, let alone take a dip into the water. Those who tried were escorted off by local police and not all the time in a nice manner. Dr. Gilbert Mason, Sr. led a group of nine adults and children to the first wade-in on May 14, 1959 and was turned away by Biloxi police. The largest of the wade-ins took place April 24, 1960 with 125 demonstrators. Dubbed “Bloody Sunday,” violence with the police led to dozens of beat-

ings, injuries, shootings and two deaths. Also that year NAACP Mississippi Field Director Medgar Evers gathered 72 sworn affidavits on the beatings at the beach that was forwarded to the U.S. Justice Department Civil Rights Division. Another wade-in in 1963 was mostly peaceful, but still 71 people were

By Gordon Jackson

year period, Federal District Judge Sidney Mize finally presided over the beginning of the trial, which ended in Feb. 1965. Judge Harold Cox ruled in upholding the segregation of the beach in 1967, but the decision was immediately appealed. Finally, on August 15, 1968, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Judge Harold Cox’s decision,

arrested. Dr. Felix Dunn of Gulfport was also an instrumental leader, braving death threats and the fire-bombing of his business office. After over 200 delays over a four-

led by an opinion by Appeals Court Judge and former Mississippi Governor J.P. Coleman and the beaches were open to the entire public. Dr. Mason would go on to form the

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A plaque telling the story of the Wade-In is planted near the beach line, close to where most of the violence occurred. Biloxi branch of the NAACP, where he was president for 34 years. He died in 2006 at the age of 77. The timeline board was first showcased in April, during a program honoring those who took part in the Wade-Ins. Ward 2 City Councilman Felix Gines and attorney Kiara Taite conducted the “Roll Call,” calling out the names of the close to 160 citizens – many of them now deceased – who risked their own lives participating in the protest activities. Dr. Mason’s son, Dr. Gilbert R. Mason, Jr., coordinated having the display built and has been a critical source in making sure that the WadeIn will always be remembered. The board remained on display through the Labor Day weekend.. Photo Left: The timeline display board of the Wade-In. introduced at an event in April, is observed by Felecia Dunn-Burkes, daughter of the late Dr. Felix Dunn, who worked closely with Dr. Gilbert Mason Sr. in organizing the marches that led to the integration of the Mississippi Coast beaches. Photo Below: Two young adults gaze in amazement at the Wade-In display board that was on exhibit at the Biloxi Public Library. Neither of them were aware of the Wade-In story until viewing the board. Photos by Gordon Jackson


Diverse Community Coverage Comes to the Gulf Coast and Baltimore Areas By Tanya Ishikawa

In age of shrinking media options,

diversity is celebrated with launch of Urban Spectrum monthly news magazines in two metro areas. Communities of color in southern Mississippi and Maryland gained new voices this month with the launch of two monthly online news magazines, the Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum and Baltimore Urban Spectrum. The two inaugural publications featured African American mayors in unification with the Denver Urban Spectrum’s annual State of the City Address by Mayor Michael B. Hancock. The sister publications are all assessable from each respective website (www.denverurbanspectrum.com, www.gulfcoasturbanspectrum.com, www.baltimoreurbanspectrum.com). Published by Denver Urban Spectrum (DUS) Publisher Rosalind “Bee” Harris, the two new publications with local editors and contributors will continue the 30-year Spectrum tradition of informing, entertaining and inspiring with stories highlighting the issues, personalities and milestones of people of color. DUS is recognized and sought after for its coverage about community events and multi-generational human interest stories around the Denver metro area, as well as its stories of national importance, such as politics, the plight of Black young men, and health epidemics – in America and abroad. Winning multiple journalism awards annually for the quality work of its contributors, the high value placed on the print and online publi-

longtime, dedicated advocate for people’s rights. The former managing editor of The Afro-American Newspapers, the “mothership of Black media” in Baltimore, described how her diverse community involvement will inform her editorial decisions. “As a former Baltimore City Public School student, a former secondary English teacher, a mother, an adoptive parent, youth advocate, and fellow alum, who knows Baltimore’s story so intimately, I speak from the place of someone who has vicariously experienced the trauma of gang violence, drug addiction, illiteracy, mass incarceration, and poverty in an overcrowded classrooms,” Ginyard wrote in her inaugural issue, which featured stories about Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, the “Baltimore Ceasefire: Nobody Kill Anybody” campaign, playwright Ursula V. Battle, and more. Reflecting on the successful launch of the two new Urban Spectrums, Publisher Harris concluded, “This opportunity to share a tried-and-true media source in other metropolitan areas is a dream comes true for many. Sharing this method of exposing mostly untold but valuable news with communities that have been craving such an outlet for years is truly a blessing.”.

cation by the whole community is proven year after year as the publisher is honored by local civic organizations for having long-term, positive impacts. The two new Urban Spectrum publications plan to share the same significant service with their local areas. Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum Editor Gordon M. Jackson Jr. promises to bring a unique prism to life on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and surrounding areas, with a motto of “South Mississippi’s Dynamic Diversity.” Primarily covering the three Mississippi coastal counties of Hancock, Harrison and Jackson, the news magazine’s coverage will also include upper southern Mississippi counties and cities, the Jackson metropolitan area and the northern part of the state, as well as New Orleans, Louisiana and Mobile, Alabama. “We will especially be focusing on that ‘Dynamic Diversity’: the Coast’s people of color community, which consists mostly of a highly visible and progressive African American community, a diligent and industrious Asian community and a rapidly-growing Hispanic community,” Jackson explained in the inaugural issue, featuring stories about NAACP Interim President/CEO Derrick Johnson, Moss Point Mayor Mario King in Jackson County, the Girls and Boys Club Youth of the Year, and America’s first all-Black community of St. Augustine. Baltimore Urban Spectrum Editor Tiffany C. Ginyard is excited about approaching her community’s stories from a fresh perspective – one of a

  



   



   



   



   



    



   



      



   



    



  





  



   



   



  



 

 



   



   



   



   



 



   

 

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By Gordon Jackson Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum

DR. KENNETH HAYNES SR. WORD AWARD Pastors John and Shenee Jones

T resounding joyful noise was

SPECIAL RECOGNITION Joyce Battle

made by a multitude of South Mississippi gospel artists at the First Annual Gulf Coast Gospel Music Awards (GCGMA). The Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center in Ocean Springs was filled to near capacity of those who witnessed and honored the top winning gospel entertainers and personalities in over 20 categories. GCGMA is the brainchild of noted recording gospel artist and Minister Lekeisha Taylor Cotton to “recognize the accomplishments of local gospel artists, writers and industry professionals” and to help build a platform that could take their works to national and international levels. Cotton formed the GCGMA Academy/Guild that selected and screened the nominees and worked with the public in choosing the winners. Tabari Daniels of WJZD 94.5 and Jaimee Dorris of Ms. Congeniality Show and Web Designs Studio served as the event host and hostess.

IMPACT AWARD Tenishia Toussaint

FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR Dr. Aimee Clute SONG OF THE YEAR Donald Godbolt

SINGER/SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR Bailey Hinton

OUTSTANDING MUSICAL GROUP The Smith Family Singers AMAZING CHOIR AWARD Pentecostals of the Gulf Coast Ensemble

PHENOMENAL WORSHIP LEADER Tawinika McKoy UNSUNG ARTIST Tarissa Brown

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RISING LYRICIST Chalmer “Chapter Rhyme” Brown

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT Mrs. Bobbie Haynes (In Memory of Dr. Kenneth Haynes Sr.)

RADIO PERSONALITY Tabari Daniels

YOUNG FEMALE MUSICIAN Jordyn Leigh Cook

NOTABLE GOSPEL RAP ARTIST Sonny “Boy” Boose

LAKEISHA COTTEN AWARD Whitney Nichols

INSTRUMENTALIST Nathaniel “Tank” Smith

ASPIRING GOSPEL ARTIST Karl Anthony Jackson Jr. MUSIC MASTER AWARD Pastor Kenyatta Braxton

YOUNG FEMALE VOCALIST Aavriel Smith

YOUNG OUTSTANDING MUSICIAN Johnathan Haynes TRADITIONAL FEMALE ARTIST Angela White-Carter MULTI-TALENTED ARTIST April Smith-Parkman

DUS 30th Anniversary Theme Song Available on CD Baby

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TRAILBLAZER AWARD Stan Jones


Black Entrepreneur Teaching a Fun and Easy Way to Learn How to Buy and Sell Stocks

Every day people hear about the stock market, however, few people really understand how it works and how to actively buy and sell stocks and make money, thus choosing not to participant in the stock market. FLip That Stock (www.FLipThatStock.com) and Hold That Stock (www.HoldThatStock.com) are changing that. These two educational and technology companies specialize in teaching beginners a fun and easy way to learn how to buy and sell stocks. FLip That Stock focuses on trading stocks and generating income over a very short period of time, while Hold That Stocks focuses on buying and holding stocks to build a stock portfolio that increases in value of time. “Millions of people want to know how the stock market works and how they can begin to make money and we are teaching them,” says J.R. Fenwick, founder and CEO of FLip That Stock and Hold That Stock. “Our unique, fun and easy teaching approach is spreading across the country like crazy, Fenwick continues.” Fenwick has been buying and selling stocks for over 15 years, and started the company when friends and even strangers began repeatedly asking him to teach them how the stock market works and how to make money buying and selling stocks. Our mission is simple: teach everyone how the stock market works and how to actively buy and sell stocks

using our fun and easy system and the latest technology to make money and build wealth. The first part of teaching people is debunking the myths and misconceptions that many people have about the stock market, such as, you have to have millions of dollars, or an MBA from Harvard, and spend all day looking at complicated stock charts or doing hours of research to start buying and selling stocks. Or, that it is just too risky and you will lose all your money. With the proper education, people will understand they can make money annually, quarterly, monthly, weekly, daily and even within minutes and seconds from buying and selling stocks, while minimizing risks. Learning to buy and sell stocks is a valuable skill people can use for the rest of their lives,” Fenwick says. FLip That Stock (www.FLipThatStock.com) and Hold That Stock (www.HoldThatStock.com) offer excellent educational programs through their online memberships, live seminars, conference calls, webinars and private and group coaching programs that teach people step-bystep how to start buying and selling stocks using the latest technology. “The response has been overwhelming since we launched. People have been flooding our websites to learn how to get started. Learning how to buy and sell stocks is a valuable skillset that is one of the keys to taking control of your financial future outside of a job and the fact that you can do it from your laptop, tablet or even smartphone from anywhere in the world makes it even more appealing to people,” Fenwick adds. . Editor’s note: J. R. Fenwick is currently touring the country doing LIVE seminars to educate people on the stock market. Details about the tour schedule can be found at www.LiveSeminar Registration.com. For more information on interviews and seminars, email FLipThatStock@gmail.com or visit www.BookJRFenwick.com

The Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum is looking for

Community & Event News and Freelance Writers Email your events and story ideas to

Gulf Coast Editor, Gordon Jackson GCeditor@urbanspectrum.net

Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum — www.gulfcoasturbanspectrum.com – September 2017

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Ground Rules

REEL ACTION - WWW.BLACKFLIX.COM

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 Blackflix.com’s Senior Critic-at-Large. Khaleel Herbert is a journalism student at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Laurence Washington is the creator of BlackFlix.com. Like Blackflix.com on Facebook, follow Blackflix.com on Twitter

D

Detroit

lll1/2 By Khaleel Herbert

etroit is not for the faint of heart. Based on events from 1967, Detroit is a warzone between African-Americans and the police. The film begins with a hearty welcome-home party for returning soldier Carl Greene (Anthony Mackie) at the Economy Printing club. But the police immediately disrupt the festivities and evacuate the partygoers to the streets for not having a liquor license. Bystanders, who see the incident, start riots–smashing store windows with rocks and chucking Molotov cocktails in all directions. While patrolling the streets, Officer Krauss (Will Poulter) spots Leon (Tyler James Williams) with groceries. Krauss thinks he robbed the grocery store and pursues him on foot. He shoots Leon twice. After barely jumping a fence, Leon rolls under a car whimpering for his wife as he loses a stream of blood a minute. The riots get so bad that the National Guard arrives to patrol the streets too. Krauss is scolded for shooting Leon by a detective, but walks out without facing his homicide charges. Dismukes (John Boyega) is a security guard for a local grocery store. He tries to save AfricanAmericans from getting punished by white officers, but is seen by them as an Uncle Tom. It isn’t long before things escalate at the Algiers Motel after the National Guard believes a sniper shot at them from the above. Krauss and his police unit arrive and conduct an interrogation from hell on Black men and two white women. The “suspects” have nothing but fear and prayer in their hearts as the interrogation persists. As I said, Detroit is not for the faint of heart. It exceeds the intensity of other Black historical movies like Hidden Figures, Red Tails, and Malcolm X. This film reaches the intensity of 1977’s Roots. Like Roots, AfricanAmericans in Detroit are pounded to a

bloody pulp by white supremacy. Instead of sheets, this white supremacy wears a gold badge, tarnishing the reputation of a service trained to serve and protect all people. Instead of lashing Blacks with whips and chopping off their feet with axes, these officers are beating Blacks with their clubs and fists. Then the officers cleverly plant weapons on Blacks to make it look like the officers had probable cause. As tragic as the events in this movie are, it’s history. And history has a way of repeating itself. Look at the cases of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and many more young Black men in America. Detroit magnified the terrible events of 1967 and today’s tragedies. Detroit was a film that moved and frustrated me. The interrogation was a situation that shouldn’t have happened. After watching and pondering this film, I truly understood the sacri-

fices Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Rosa Parks and all of our other Black ancestors made so future generations could have a chance to succeed and thrive in this world. If it wasn’t for them, where would our people be? Although, it’ll be a while before I see Detroit again, it’s a treasure. It’s a powerful film for people of all colors to watch and discuss with each other.

T

The Dark Tower ll By Khaleel Herbert

he Dark Tower is Nikolaj Arcel’s lovechild of Man on Fire and Harry Potter. Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) has recurring visions and dreams of a dark tower that sits in the middle of the universe under attack. He watches as children, one by one, are strapped to a chair against their will. Their

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heads are hooked to a machine that taps into their minds that send dangerous beams across the sky. Each beam strikes the tower and slowly chips its away. Although these shenanigans are happening on a planet far away, Earth gets backlash from it with massive earthquakes. Jake also dreams of Roland (Idris Elba), the last gunslinger. The gunslingers were sworn to protect the tower from all darkness. But after seeing his fellow men and his own father (Dennis Haysbert) die by the hand of evil sorcerer the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), he’s only fighting for vengeance. While escaping “doctors” who want to escort him to a therapeutic clinic (the Man in Black’s child prison), Jake finds an abandoned house with a portal. The portal whisks him off to another planet where he meets Roland. Together, Jake and Roland travel the land to find an ancient tribe that can find the meaning behind Jake’s visions. The Dark Tower is based on Stephen King’s book series. But this film is said to take place after the books. The film has a Harry Potter-feel to it because of Jake being the chosen one. He gets teased at school for drawing pictures of the tower, Roland and the Man in Black. He lost his father, and to top it all off, his mother (Katheryn Winnick) and her rotten boyfriend find him crazy for having these dreams. It’s an almost-perfect resemblance to the Boy Who Lived. Roland is so much like Denzel Washington’s John Creasy in 2004’s Man on Fire, they could be twins. After serving as an assassin for many years, Creasy is assigned to bodyguard a family in Mexico. He vows not to get


REEL ACTION - WWW.BLACKFLIX.COM

close with the people he serves and is on the brink of self-destruction. But with Lupita’s (Dakota Fanning) childish charm, Creasy becomes fond of the girl and he starts feeling human again. Roland, like Creasy, knows the ins and outs of his gun like a musician knows his instrument. Roland becomes fond of Jake, as if he were his son. He does everything in his power to rescue him countless times from the Man in Black’s goons. McConaughey is funny and diabolical as the Man in Black. He’s as sinister as Lord Voldemort with his simple commandeering spells from “stop breathing” to “kill each other.” People do whatever he says. The Dark Tower is great for its fans. But they should have kept the Man on Fire side of this movie going. After Lupita’s kidnapping, we were focused and captivated by all that Washington was doing. The first half of the film could have been dedicated to showing Jake finding Roland. Then the second half should have shown Roland using his wits and skills to find Jake. This would allow us to know and understand Roland better. Besides wanting vengeance and his love for his father, we don’t know much about Roland. Sony should’ve started with a prequel film. We could see all the other gunslingers and the war they all fought in against the Man in Black. It should end with Roland being the last known gunslinger. Then this movie can step in. I also wish there was more violence. Sure there was the scene in the previews where Roland fired his gun and the bullet flew so far that it pinpointed that monster in the head. But that was the only sweet scene of violence. If it was rated-R, people could lose limbs, have exploding heads and blood spilling everywhere.

This movie could be the start of something – whether it is where this film leaves off or prequels with the different gunslingers from other ages. Who knows? But do us all a favor and give us more violence, for Pete’s sake!

G

Girls Trip

llll By Khaleel Herbert

irls Trip is the comedy 2017 has been waiting for. Ryan Pierce (Regina Hall) is living the dream with husband Stewart (Mike Colter). After reaching the #1 spot on the New York Times’ Bestseller List with their book, You Can Have It All, they’ve been on dozens of talk shows showing the world their perfect love life. They’re the hottest American couple since Kimye. When Ryan is asked to be the keynote speaker at the Essence Festival in New Orleans, she calls her FAMU besties, a.k.a. the Flossy Posse, to join her. They haven’t seen each other in five years. Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith) is the single mother of two who can’t bear to leave her kids. The girls are willing to help her find a man to get some action in the sack. Sasha (Queen Latifah) is a journalist who writes juicy gossip stories about celebrities for her website, but has some financial problems. Dina (Tiffany Haddish) is the fun-loving loudmouth of the group who is up for anything, but has anger issues. It’s all fun and games until the girls suspect risqué behavior from Stewart. Ryan’s judgment and bond with the Flossy Posse is put to the ultimate test. This film has a constant flow of laughs mixed with heartwarming scenes. Haddish made this film with

her irresistible cracks and bad-girl behavior from fighting women in clubs to zip lining above the people of New Orleans and flashing her chest at Diddy (himself) during his concert. Hall, Latifah and Pinkett Smith have their funny moments that steer the movie smoothly along. The girls’ loyalty and bond is similar to the 1996 film, Set if Off. Girls Trip is not your average chickflick. It’s a flick that both women and men can enjoy and chuckle at.

E

Kidnap ll

By Samantha Ofole-Prince

veryone loves a good kidnapping flick. A parent’s fear that their kid could mysteriously disappear off the playground, coupled with the emotional trauma suffered with the search, always proves relatable with

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audiences. It’s that adrenaline, which usually keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. Sadly, Kidnap delivers nothing more but an over the top and unrealistic fable. In the Luis Prieto directed film, Academy Award winning actress, Halle Berry, plays a desperate single mother who tackles the kidnappers when her young son is abducted. It’s a typical afternoon in the park, when Karla Dyson (Berry) takes a disturbing call from her lawyer. Her cheating exspouse is fighting for custody of their beloved son and while on the heated phone call with her back conveniently turned, Frankie (Sage Correa) suddenly disappears. Without a cell phone (it’s dropped in the panic that ensues) and realizing she has no time to wait for law enforcement, Karla jumps in her car and takes off in pursuit of her prized child down the interstate freeway for several hours. It’s a wildly, astonishingly unbelievable, predictable thriller, which takes place in Louisiana and takes audiences on a white-knuckle, high-speed chase across New Orleans’ urban highways and rural back roads. It’s fun for about 20 minutes seeing Berry, who also doubles as producer, on a rescue mission tracking down the bad guys and causing mayhem all over the freeway on a relentless fight for the life of her child, but the excitement wears off pretty quickly. The action is engaging but rarely exciting; the drama sturdy, but still far from convincing. Berry, herself a mother of two, describes her character as an average mom who has to do something extraordinary to save her child. “I Continued on page 12


Continued from page 11 think every parent around the world will relate to the superhuman strength she is capable of when her child is in jeopardy. The action is so testosteronedriven and so male, but Karla is reacting as a mother.” “You’ve kidnapped the wrong kid!” She yells through clenched teeth in the film, eyes wide like saucers once she delivers her brand of justice. If you’ve seen the trailer, you know the plot. If you haven’t, it boils down to this; it’s about a mother who will rip out your eyeballs if you take her son. Enjoy this one with some popcorn and don’t worry Karla gets her kid at the end.

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the connotations behind it and was it the title from the onset? Sabaah: It was always called Whose Streets? It begs the question; who has the right to public property; who has the right to the benefits of our government administration; who is this country made for and where we stand. Samantha: Racial inequality have long plagued the city, Damon, you are from St. Louis, three years on has anything changed? Damon: Not so much has changed. The citizens have been radicalized on a level I have never seen in my life. People are tired of waiting on this system that was not built to receive them as human beings and are doing a lot

Directors Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis

Whose Streets? Filmmakers Deliver a Gritty Portrait of the Ferguson Unrest

By Samantha Ofole-Prince/Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

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t’s been three years since Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, St. Louis. A shooting, which prompted protests, weeks of demonstrations and confrontations between protesters and law enforcement officers, it pitted a predominantly black community against a nearly all-white police force. Filmmakers Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis have spent two years collecting footage from the protests for a documentary focused on the Ferguson uprising. The film shows how a community galvanized to fight injustice. Samantha OfolePrince caught up with the duo to talk Whose Streets? Samantha: Sabaah, the title Whose Streets? is a powerful one. What are

of grass-roots localized organizations. You also have very young people who have taken office, but the mayor is still the mayor of Ferguson. Samantha: It’s certainly a brilliantly documented piece showing a generation fighting, not for their civil rights, but for the right to live. Damon, if you had to do it all over again what would you do differently? Damon: We did the best with the tools that we had. There are a lot of things I wish I could have been there to catch on camera, but there were only four of us out there. We did what we could do with the tools we had and I am proud of what we have.am proud of what we have. Samantha: Sabaah, you are both new filmmakers, and as co-directors, what was your working relationship like and how did you distribute the duties in creating the film? Sabaah: It was a case who was available and who had certain skills. My background in pre-med and social work really helped me when it came to interviewing and just getting people to open up. I was able to interact with

people and listen and allow them to share their stories. Samantha: Damon, going into this project to document the civil unrest in Ferguson, what were your expectations and what surprised you? Damon: We are intimately aware of how we are portrayed in the media and how this portrayal encourages both conscious and unconscious racial bias and we wanted to give black people some hope and pride. My expectation was to set the record straight for the black community in St. Louis and make sure the black community as a whole can be proud when they look and see themselves. We are uniquely suited to make this film because we ourselves are organizers, activists and deeply connected to the events of Aug. 9th. Samantha: How receptive has the documentary been and what has been the reaction from the community so far? Damon: Very positive so far. The internet is the breeding ground for hatred so we have had some negativity, but we have been getting a lot of love and the people I know from the community are proud of it. Samantha: Did either of you receive any threats while making the film, and were there any concerns for your safety?

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Photo Courtesy of Magnolia

Damon: We got threats directly and indirectly long before we decided to make the movie just by being out there and being active. I’ve had weird personal messages and direct threats. Some from the powers that be that are not so direct that sound friendly, but it’s been countless. Somebody had to do it and I am glad it was us. Sabaah: There were a lot of instances where our calls would get disconnected strangely and we would feel like somebody was following us. Just that kind of sense that we were being watched was very prevalent during our production. Samantha: This certainly opens doors to tackling stories of injustice. Are there other stories of injustice or civil unrest you are interested in? Damon: I am personally working on a documentary about a friend of mine who has been on Death Row for 25 years for something he didn’t do, but after that I want to move out of documentaries. The only way some people want to view black people is through their pain, so I really want to get into narrative. I want to tell Sci-Fi fantasies with black characters in control of their own destinies. .


Charlottesville is the GOP’s Frankenstein’s Monster

By Earl Ofari Hutchinson

I wasn’t mad at #45 Trump for his

initial mealy mouthed, say no name, whitewash of the white nationalist rampage in Charlottesville. I wasn’t mad at the Republican National Committee chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel‘s, equally mealy mouthed, say nothing, statement on the racist perpetrators of the violence. My anger only rose after watching and listening to the parade of GOP senators and congresspersons stumble over themselves with pious, self-righteous, hand wringing denunciations of the white nationalists, and of Trump, for not denouncing them. There are two standard explanations given for why Trump didn’t specifically finger point the Klan and the Nazis and Vanguard America by name. One was because they are his political cheer leaders and he will do nothing to offend them. The other is that given Trump’s well-documented history of race pandering and baiting, it is just simply a case of birds of a racist feather flocking together. Neither explanation hit the mark. Even for Trump, the crude, naked, crackpot, violence incitement of the white nationalist fringe groups is an embarrassment. He was right when he fired back that white nationalists didn’t put him in the Oval Office. GOP voters, and the very same GOP senators and congresspersons rushing to condemn him and the white nationalists, did. Take the very issue that brought the hate mongers to Charlottesville,

namely the removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee. Several formal and informal polls showed that the overwhelming majority of respondents were adamantly opposed to junking the Lee statue. The sentiment in these poll findings are pretty much the same as those in other polls taken throughout the South on knocking down the Confederate statues and monuments. The legions that back preserving the racist trappings of the past would never dream of joining a white nationalist rally, or throwing a fist in a demonstration, or publicly uttering a racist epithet. They roundly condemn those who do. But the same sentiments are there and in a refined, acceptable, political form they show up in the winning tabulations for GOP incumbents and candidates on every Election Day. These voters are Trump and the GOP’s much touted base. From the moment Trump flirted with a presidential candidacy, not in 2016 but in 2012, many in the GOP saw Trump’s mediagenic persona, brashness, and take-no-prisoners style as an asset. He could tap the basest instincts among a wide swatch of disconnected and alienated GOP hard-right faithful. They were the ones who stayed away from the polls in droves in 2008 and 2012. Their absence was the tipping factor that assured the election of former President Obama and his return to the White House. There were two keys to try and get them back. One was to pander hard to their fear and xenophobia of minorities, gays, immigrants and Muslims. The other was to have someone willing to spew as much verbal bile at Obama as possible. Trump fit the bill. The issue of choice in 2012 was the thoroughly phony and idiotic issue of Obama’s supposed foreign birth. This was not an insignificant point since polls repeatedly showed that a majority of Republicans believed that Obama was foreign born and even a closet radical Muslim fellow traveler. Trump’s slander of Latino immigrants as “criminals” and “rapists” got quiet nods among many, tons of media clips, and the crafting of him as a candidate not afraid to tell it like he saw it on an emotional issue no matter who it offended. It didn’t much matter

how much of a polarizing figure he was. He made stupendous copy, brought oceans of attention to the GOP, and suddenly made ultra conservatives cheer lustily for him. GOP presidential candidates handled him with the daintiest of kid gloves. The GOP’s good cop, bad cop ploy with Trump was not new. 2012 GOP presidential contender, Mitt Romney, and the entire GOP establishment publicly hammered Trump for dredging up the phony birther issue. And in a political self-righteous pique, they pretended to distance themselves from him claiming he did not represent what the GOP purportedly stood for. A few GOP contenders took an occasional swipe at Trump again during the 2016 campaign for his naked bigotry, but stopped way short of taking that same swipe at the virulent racist

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supporters who screamed their lungs out and assaulted counter demonstrators at his rallies. Charlottesville is an exact repeat of that script again this time with GOP leaders publicly expressing indignation at Trump’s tap dance around the white nationalists. But Trump is not doing anything that he hasn’t always done, and that’s spout any foul mouthed, incendiary racial, Muslim, immigrant slur that came into his skull. This is the Trump the GOP turned loose hoping to provide fodder for media sensationalism, while stoking the frustration and rage of packs of unreconstructed bigots, America firsters, and ultra-conservatives. The white nationalists are only the latest and most extreme of this bunch. And when they got out of hand in Charlottesville, like Frankenstein’s monster, it didn’t change the brutal fact that the GOP, not Trump, created it. . Editor’s note: Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is an associate editor of New America Media. His forthcoming book, The Trump Challenge to Black America (Middle Passage Press) will be released in August. He is a weekly cohost of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.


My Charter School Saved My Life M

By Briana Gilchrist

y college education isn’t something I take for granted. Too many people – family, teachers, and mentors – jumped through too many hoops so that I can be where I am today. The old saying is true: “It takes a village...” And my village made it possible for me to intern with the Eastern Region Community Banking president at Wells Fargo, study abroad in South Africa, gain experience in organizational leadership, and ultimately graduate from Rutgers University with a double degree in Planning & Public Policy and Africana Studies. Coming from my village has also made me all too aware that not everybody has these same opportunities. I can’t recall my K-12 years in Newark, N.J., without including memories of a friend whose path often ran parallel to mine, and whose ultimate divergence weighs heavy on the hearts of everyone in our community. In the fourth grade, we transferred together from a local district elementary school to Marion P. Thomas

Charter School. I still remember how upset we were to leave our friends and transfer to this new charter school where we had to come to school earlier, stay later, and wear uniforms. We begged our parents to transfer us back so we could be with our friends. After months of trying to convince my mother, she was still completely against it. But my friend Taylor, whose name has been changed to respect the family’s privacy, had that wish granted and returned to our old school. In the seventh grade I began seeing how our paths began to deviate. After

eighth grade graduation I went on to the top magnet school in the city, while Taylor matriculated in a local high school. After high school I went off to college and Taylor went off to work. Fast-forward, six years later, and I am beginning my career in Washington, D.C. My childhood friend did not even make it to age 24 and from my understanding, Taylor passed away from a drug-related overdose. As I write this story I am not attributing my friend’s life-and-death circumstances to the fact that we made different educational choices. Rather, I hope I am illustrating how a school that is intentional in its approach to investing in its students can make all the difference. I cannot imagine where I would have been had I not had the support of MPTCS while I was in middle school. The people in my school became an integral part of my village: They did not let me fall through the cracks, they challenged me, they exposed me to new things, and they did not allow me to give up – no matter how difficult the road got. They valued me, saw the potential in me, and worked to invest in that potential. My school community supported me from the time I entered their doors, and the community stayed with me even after I left those doors. When I wanted to go to a boarding high school, the founding CEO and superintendent of MPTCS took her personal vehicle to drive me and my mother to Connecticut for the interview. When I was ready to apply for college, the staff at MPTCS was more instrumental in my success than my high school guidance counselors. When I expressed that I wanted to be a doctor, the CEO flew me out to New Orleans to visit Xavier University, because she knew this school helped get the highest number of students of color into medical school. I stayed there for the weekend, and

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she showed me what life would be like if I went to school there. Not only did my MPTCS CEO – whom I now consider my mentor – show me what college was going to be like, she showed me what life would be like outside of Newark. It was because of my school and my village that I could have these experiences, and these new expectations for myself. When I ultimately enrolled at Rutgers University for college, MPTCS still supported me: I was a recipient of the Marion P. Thomas Charter School Foundation Scholarship for every year of my undergraduate experience. This was a part of their Crayons to College initiative to help their scholars to and through college. The scholarship came with more than just monetary support: My alma mater held me accountable, monitored my grades and extracurricular activities, and helped me maximize my college experience. They coached me through picking my major and understanding the real-world implications of choosing a major. They showed me different ways to buy or rent books, or how to exchange books with upperclassmen who had already taken the course. They helped me complete my financial aid documents, a process that was really confusing to me as a firstgeneration college student. They showed me how to network and dress for interviews. They showed me that college was much more than just going to class. They helped me secure my very first internship under the Eastern Region Community Banking president at Wells Fargo & Co. And in 2016 when I graduated from Rutgers, they helped me find a job. It is because of my charter school that college became an expectation and a reality for me. Motivation is what helped me complete school, and motivation is what I hope to impart to the next generation. So after I earned my bachelor’s degree, I returned to MPTCS to give back to the village that gave so much to me, just like many of the other alumni. We volunteer at the school annually to keep encouraging the students to apply to college. We help prepare them for the MPTCS Foundation Scholarship interview process. And we work with them along the way to make sure they have support as they continue through college. It’s my small way of paying it forward in the village that has done so much to help me succeed. . Editor’s note: Briana Gilchrist is a graduate of Marion P. Thomas Charter School and Rutgers University. She is the press assistant at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.


Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum September 2017  

The Gulf Coast Urban Spectrum 2017 September issue looks at the controversial topic of the Confederate Flag emblem on the Mississippi State...