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Black News Channel Network Launch Fulfills Lifelong Dream of JC Watts

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The Tallahassee, Florida-based BNC counts as the brainchild of J.C. Watts, Jr., who is described by Tommy Ross, the network’s director of communications, as “a father, husband, grandfather, business owner, entrepreneur, author, elected official at the state and federal level, a pastor, and a rancher who grew up in a small town in Oklahoma.”

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The historic launch of the BNC will fulfill the business dream and vision of a nationally known entrepreneur and former Oklahoma Representative to the United States Congress, J.C. Watts, Jr.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Washington, DC — On February 10, 2020, the Black News Channel (BNC) will become the nation’s only 24-hour news and information television network focused primarily on African Americans. The historic launch of the BNC will fulfill the business dream and vision of J.C. Watts, Jr., a nationally known entrepreneur and former U.S. Congressman, Representing Oklahoma’s Fourth District.

Programming will include special news features on topics that most affect the quality of life of communities of color – like Sickle Cell Disease and hypertension – that generally aren’t given much attention to by other news outlets. The BNC has also established a news-content alliance with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), representing the Black Press of America, via 225 African American-owned newspapers and digital companies throughout the United States.

The Tallahassee, Florida-based BNC counts as the brainchild of J.C. Watts, Jr., who is described by Tommy Ross, the network’s director of communications, as “a father, husband, grandfather, business owner, entrepreneur, author, elected official at the state and federal level, a pastor, and a rancher who grew up in a small town in Oklahoma.”

In reality, Watts appears as much more, and those who know him, understand that he’s a Republican conservative whose accomplishments crosses party lines. Watts is also a former All-Star quarterback who played college football in Oklahoma and pro ball in Canada.

His congressional accomplishments and living legacy are noteworthy, including:

  • Helped Black farmers get some justice on a discrimination suit against the United States Department of Agriculture.
  • Helped push through legislation for the African American Museum of History and Culture.
  • Sponsored HBCU summits to establish relationships and better understanding between students and Republican policymakers.
  • Sponsored anti-poverty legislation (community renewal/new markets tax credits).
  • Led Congress in highlighting minority health care disparities.
  • Led on the Republican side against sentencing disparities between crack/powder cocaine.
  • Led in getting funding to fight malaria in West Africa.
  • Sponsored Africa growth and opportunity legislation.

“We’ve done a lot as African Americans,” Watts stated before referencing a recent statue unveiling that took place in Richmond, Virginia, earlier this month. “Rumors of War,” a statue by artist Kehinde Wiley, was unveiled on December 10 during a ceremony at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The figure depicts an African American man dressed in contemporary clothing riding a horse, echoing the equestrian sculptures of Confederate soldiers.

“Rumors of War” was reportedly Wiley’s response to the Confederate monuments that pepper the U.S. and the South in particular. The new memorial arrived amid an ongoing debate across the country about what do with Confederate imagery. “This was history,” Watts said of the statue. “Because, if we talk about the slave owner, how can we ignore the slave? African Americans contributed mightily to the United States, and you don’t see enough statues of African Americans.”

“Think about what Rosa Parks contributed, Harriet Tubman’s sacrifice, Martin Luther King’s sacrifice, and Frederick Douglass. Their contribution was to raise the conscious level of America to say that you know, we are all human and, and all created by the same God,” Watts emphasized.

He said the BNC would highlight the contributions of African Americans. And, to successfully accomplish that mission, Watts said it was essential to partner with NNPA.

“NNPA already has people in the trenches that report on African American life, whether it’s Chicago, Atlanta, Birmingham, Detroit or Oklahoma City, they report on African American life every day,” Watts stated. “I don’t know if I can put into words how important that partnership will be, and that’s just in terms of content. When I was in politics, we used a strategy where you’ve got people knocking on doors and leaving literature, and that’s your ground game,” Watts continued.

“But you also need an air attack to augment that ground game, so with NNPA being on the ground and giving us information and data, and us being able to launch an air attack, it’s critical,” he stated.

Watts believes that a significant component of the BNC is providing knowledge to a community that’s starved for information.

“Our viewers will be able to find out more about Sickle Cell and Black men and Black women’s health,” Watts stated. “They will also be reminded that Black history isn’t just about Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement, which was extremely important, but it isn’t the only part of our history. We are going to take a deeper dive and have a deeper relationship with our community.”

Watts’s background as a Republican and a conservative has often been a topic of both his supporters and detractors. However, Watts refuses to allow stereotypes and presumptions to define him.

“Conservative means many things to different people. To me, it means living the way my grandmama taught me,” Watts stated. “She taught me to treat people the way that I want to be treated. In a Black home, you rarely saw people leaving their lights on at night because grandmama taught that it was a waste of electricity. If the lights were on, you knew that something pretty serious was happening.”

Watts continued: “The bottom line about being a conservative is that you treat people with respect, and you don’t believe in wasting things. That’s important. And, another primary place that I get my conservative values is the Bible. I was thought that I shouldn’t just be concerned about Oklahoma University, my alma mater, but I should also be concerned about Morehouse. That’s why I sponsored anti-poverty legislation because sometimes you have to put extra resources into different communities to give them the infrastructure to attract industry and jobs.”

“My biblical principles drove me much more than the Republican party. Look, the National Football League recognized that having successful teams in every market would benefit everyone, and that’s why the team with the worst record gets the top pick in the draft. They know that if the Cincinnati Bengals perform better, everybody wins because you would have more advertising and a better television contract for everyone. So, I feel the same way about underserved communities. If we can help them to be stronger and create more opportunities within those communities, then that’s good for all communities.”

Conservative values also sparked Watts’s desire for criminal justice reform, he stated.

“When I talk about conservative principles, you know you don’t waste money,” Watts stated. “So, why should we spend $28,000 a year to incarcerate someone for a low-level, nonviolent drug offense?

“You can spend significantly less on community service. And, when you look at the facts, the sentencing disparities were big. People on Wall Street were using powder cocaine just like people on Main Street, or people in poor communities, but the sentencing disparities were off the charts. I voted my conscience when on this when I was in Congress,” Watts stated.

With the launch of the BNC just only weeks away, Watts hopes that viewers will get a similar feeling to what he experienced after recently taking his daughter to dinner to celebrate her birthday.

“My daughter recommended the restaurant, I’d never been there before,” Watts stated, “After dinner, she asked me what did I think of the restaurant? I said, ‘I’d come back to tomorrow. And I think that’s our mission with the BNC, not just to grab the imagination and the attention of the nation, but especially our demographic and to have them come back. I think it’ll be a mission accomplished.”

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr, a progressive Democrat and President and CEO of the NNPA without any reservations asserted, “The launch of the Black News Channel (BNC) is very timely at the beginning of 2020. This is good news for all in Black America. The BNC transcends the current partisan divide in the United States. The interests of African Americans, as well as all other people of color and all of humanity who cry out for freedom, justice and equality will be more effectively addressed as direct result of the daily 24/7 diverse and news-packed broadcasts of BNC in the U.S. and throughout the world.”

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FILM: Top 10 Must-See Black documentaries

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Below you will find a list of documentaries, based on the roots of African American culture, compiled by Word in Black partner, The Houston Defender. From “I Am Not Your Negro” to “High on the Hog,” each film offers up the origin stories of our most important activists, artists, athletes and traditions.
The post FILM: Top 10 Must-See Black documentaries first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By The Houston Defender | Word in Black

The AFRO’s October Special Edition is all about the roots of our culture, our family lineage and the return to old ways and traditions. Below you will find a list of documentaries, based on the roots of African American culture, compiled by our Word in Black partner, The Houston Defender. From I Am Not Your Negro to High on the Hog, each film offers up the origin stories of our most important activists, artists, athletes and traditions.

#10: Attica (2021) 

In September 1971, Attica Prison became the location of one of the largest prison riots in US history, taking place just weeks after revolutionary activist George Jackson was murdered by prison guards at Rikers Island, an act that initiated the birth of Black August and the prison reform movement. The constant abject cruelty and inhumane treatment doled out to the incarcerated (who were overwhelmingly Black and Latinx) by Attica guards (all White) created the context. The riot itself, and its aftermath, are something all human beings should be required to reckon with.

#9: Quincy (2018) 

If you’re Black, it literally doesn’t matter when you were born, what generation you’re a part of, or where you’re from. You’ve been impacted by the genius of Quincy Jones. We’ve all been influenced by the genius of Quincy Jones. The music he made, the albums he produced, the artists he developed, the movies he scored, and about a gazillion other things Jones did, means, as I’ve already said, if you’re Black, Quincy has had a hand in your life. Don’t believe me. What Black person do you know who isn’t a Michael Jackson fan, who hasn’t seen The Wiz, or who doesn’t have a family member who worships jazz music? Quincy Jones had his hand in all that and so much more. Directed by one of his daughters, actress Rashida Jones, this doc is most definitely a must see.

#8: Four Little Girls (1997) 

On Sept. 15, 1963, just 18 short days after the much-celebrated March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., was bombed by four members of a Ku Klux Klan-affiliated racist group. Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley, four African American girls between the ages of 11 and 14 who had been attending the church’s Sunday school, were killed in the blast, an act of White domestic terrorism that served as a horrific and sober reminder that Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was not enough to end the hold the myth of White supremacy had on so many. Director Spike Lee tells this powerfully compelling and important story as only he can.

#7: The Two Killings of Sam Cooke (2019) 

For generations that came after the Baby Boomers, it’s hard for us to fully fathom how big a star Sam Cooke was. Think of the biggest singer of any generation. That was Sam Cooke in his heyday. And not only was he hyper-talented, but not only did he call some of the biggest names in Black history his personal friends (Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X just to name a few), Cooke was a man of the people. And he was heavily invested in the Civil Rights Movement and an advocate for Black self-determination and Black ownership. Cooke even pulled a “Prince” long before Prince—gaining ownership of his own music, something that was as rare then as it is today. This documentary chronicles Cooke’s life, rise to fame, and eventual end, though his influence never died.

#6: Thunder Soul (2010) 

Here’s a hometown entry. Thunder Soul spotlights the extraordinary alumni from Houston’s storied Kashmere High School Stage Band which the iconic Conrad Johnson led. These alums return home after 35 years to play a tribute concert for the 92-year-old ‘Prof’, their beloved band leader who transformed the schools struggling jazz band into a world-class funk powerhouse in the early 1970s. This one will have you out of your seat and dancing in the streets. Check it out.

#5: Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America (2021)  

In this documentary, criminal defense/civil rights lawyer Jeffery Robinson “draws a stark timeline of anti-Black racism in the United States, from slavery to the modern myth of a post-racial America.” It’s that simple, and yet that complex. And it goes without saying; it’s a must see.

#4: Jeen-Yuhs (2022) 

No matter where you score on the Love Ye / Hate Ye scale, this 2022 documentary about his rise to superstardom is beyond compelling. I mean, who thinks to chronicle their every move from the moment they start pursuing their dream until they either give up on it or see it to fruition and beyond? Who does that? No one but this negro Kanye. He may be the only human being with an ego big enough to conceive of such a project. And believe me, the scope and scale of this documentary match that galaxy-sized self-obsession brahman has that make him both insanely talented and just plain insane at the same time.

#3: I Am Not Your Negro (2016) 

This documentary by Raoul Peck, director of Exterminate All the Brutes (2021) which made the first list of must-see documentaries, introduced the brilliance and unabashed Black of James Baldwin to a whole new generation. Described as a work that imagines the completion of Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript, Remember This House (about Baldwin’s personal reflections on and recollections of three of his personal friends who were killed during the Civil Rights and Black Power movements—Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.), I Am Not Your Negro is about so much more.

#2: The Last Dance (2020) 

You don’t have to be a basketball fan to get caught up in the chronicling of the last run at an NBA championship by the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls who had been told before the season began that the team would be broken up. The doc not only takes you on that 1996 Bulls’ championship ride, but it also digs deep into the past of players, coaches, and family members, spotlighting triumphs and tragedies that are part of the human story, not just the story of professional athletes.

#1: High on the Hog 

How African American Cuisine Transformed America (2021)

If you know me, you know I’m a sucker for anything that celebrates our history, especially those things that connect us to our African roots and our Pan-African family. This documentary does all that and more. Because the main character is food. Our food. The stuff we grew up on. The meals many of us are eating right now, and never stopped eating since our youth. This beautifully filmed, beautifully narrated piece of art is full of both the familiar and the foreign; or rather, things we’ve come to believe are foreign to us, but are really part of our story and our heritage. And the okra on top? High on the Hog has a powerful H-Town connection. A few, in fact.

This list of documentaries based on the roots of African American culture was compiled by Word In Black.

This article originally appeared in The Afro.

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Lawsuit Alleges U.S. Government Discriminated Against Black Veterans for Decades

NNPA NEWSWIRE — According to internal VA data obtained by the Washington Post, Black applicants seeking disability benefits were denied 30 percent of the time from 2002 to 2020. White applicants were denied 24 percent of the time.
The post Lawsuit Alleges U.S. Government Discriminated Against Black Veterans for Decades first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Black Information Network | Atlanta Daily World

A new lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) alleges that the U.S. government discriminated against Black veterans for decades.

On Monday (November 28), the suit was filed by Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic (VLSC) on behalf of Vietnam War veteran Conley Monk Jr, whose applications for education, housing, and disability benefits have been denied since he returned home from the war, per The Hill.

According to the suit, discrimination by the VA has left Black veterans without benefits more frequently than their white counterparts.

Yale’s VLSC said the lawsuit could “provide a legal pathway for Black veterans to seek reparations from the VA.”

“This lawsuit seeks to hold the VA accountable for years of discriminatory conduct,” Adam Henderson, a law student working with the VLSC on the case, said in a statement, per the Hill.

“VA leaders knew, or should have known, that they were administering benefits in a discriminatory manner, yet they failed to address this unlawful bias,” Henderson added. “Mr. Monk — and thousands of Black veterans like him — deserve redress for the harms caused by these negligently administered programs.”

According to internal VA data obtained by the Washington Post, Black applicants seeking disability benefits were denied 30 percent of the time from 2002 to 2020. White applicants were denied 24 percent of the time.

VA press secretary Terrence Hayes said the agency is working to combat “institutional racism.”

“Throughout history, there have been unacceptable disparities in both VA benefits decisions and military discharge status due to racism, which have wrongly left Black veterans without access to VA care and benefits,” Hayes said. “We are actively working to right these wrongs.”

The post U.S. Government Discriminated Against Black Veterans For Decades: Lawsuit appeared first on Atlanta Daily World.

The post Lawsuit Alleges U.S. Government Discriminated Against Black Veterans for Decades first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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BOOKS: Jerald LeVon Hoover Blends a Love of Sport & Friendship into New Children’s Book

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Through colorful pictures with vibrant imagery, young readers will easily get drawn into the exciting adventures of Bennett Mayco Wilson’s fictional yet exciting world and learn valuable childhood lessons together, when Bennet gets a basketball as a present from his father on his fourth birthday.
The post BOOKS: Jerald LeVon Hoover Blends a Love of Sport & Friendship into New Children’s Book first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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‘A Basketball Hero is Born’ is a part of The Hero Book Series by Jerald LeVon Hoover, which aims to inspire youth to make a positive change in their communities and the world in general

Widely celebrated African American author, Jerald LeVon Hoover, is once again inspiring young people to make a positive change in their communities with the launch of a new children’s book. Titled A Basketball Hero is Born, the new children’s reading book contains colorful pictures that warm the heart and keep young readers glued to its pages.

The plot follows the exciting adventures of Bennett Mayco Wilson who gets a basketball as a present from his father on his fourth birthday. Affectionately naming the new basketball “Lucky,” the story unfolds as young Bennett tries to take his new best friend everywhere, including the dinner table, to school, and to bed when it is time for sleep.

Jerald L. Hoover

Jerald L. Hoover

Through colorful pictures with vibrant imagery, young readers will easily get drawn into Bennett’s fictional yet exciting world and learn valuable childhood lessons together. Currently available for purchase on Amazon, A Basketball Hero is Born is a part of The Hero Book Series by Jerald LeVon Hoover, which emphasizes instilling a love of sports and friendship in young readers.

About The Author

Jerald L. Hoover is a multi-talented individual with countless accomplishments in the creative, literary, and entertainment worlds. After winning an award for “The Best New Male Writer of the Year” for his fictional novel, My Friend, My Hero Jerald went on to be listed from 1994 – 1996 as a best-selling author among young Black writers in various African American publications. In 1995, he was awarded the Writers Corp Award by then-President Bill Clinton. In 1998, Jerald was inducted into the Mount Vernon Boy’s and Girl’s Club Hall of Fame. Since then, Jerald has won several other awards and is also an in-demand motivational speaker who overcame a childhood speech impediment.

The post BOOKS: Jerald LeVon Hoover Blends a Love of Sport & Friendship into New Children’s Book first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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