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COMMENTARY: First Lady of Writing — Camille Tucker Talks Clark Sisters Biopic

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Tucker has been in and around Hollywood since college (UCLA). A chance meeting at a barbeque produced the opportunity to co-write a script (Golddiggaz) with legendary director, John Singleton. Her screenwriting success continued with the sale of seven screenplays and a TV pilot to several major studios – Sony, Universal, New Line, Fox TV and Disney Studios.

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Camille Tucker, co-writer of The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel (Photo: Camille Tucker)

By Michele Brown, author of Adventures of Gideon: Kingdom Principles and Life Lessons My Dog Taught Me

What do you get when you mix the daughter of a Baptist pastor, an educator mother with acting aspirations, the 4H Club, a Guatemalan caregiver and the rural-meets-urban multicultural landscape of the Richland Farms neighborhood in Compton, CA? You get the rich, bilingual personal history of screenwriter/director, Camille Tucker.

“People from Compton take great pride in their hometown given all the negative stereotypes associated with it,” says the screenwriter. As a member of one of the first families of Compton, she knows first-hand how negative perceptions can shape a community. Her father was the former mayor of the city. She grew up in a home that hosted Harry Belafonte, Jesse Jackson, Sr. and Sidney Poitier. Camille knows a little bit about being from a high-profile family and the dynamics that accompany it.

Photo: A&E Networks

Photo: A&E Networks

On the eve of the premiere of the Lifetime TV biopic, The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of GospelThe Burton Wire caught up with the co-writer of the film to talk perseverance, music, family and representation. Like the rest of us, Camille is working from home – fielding calls from well-wishers excited about the production of her first script.

The Journey to the Screen

While this may look like an overnight success, it is not. Tucker has been in and around Hollywood since college (UCLA). A chance meeting at a barbeque produced the opportunity to co-write a script (Golddiggaz) with legendary director, John Singleton. Her screenwriting success continued with the sale of seven screenplays and a TV pilot to several major studios – Sony, Universal, New Line, Fox TV and Disney Studios.

All this in preparation for the 15-year journey to the screen of her first produced script. Talent and opportunity were bathed in faith for this ordained Christian minister and Biola University Associate Professor of screenwriting. “In 2005, when we started pitching this (she was working with Moesha Show Runner Sara Finney-Johnson), these kinds of stories were not considered without A-list Black woman star power like Halle Berry or Angela Bassett attached,” said Tucker. Fast forward to 2017. Sara is committed elsewhere, and Camille is on her own. The cultural landscape has radically changed, and Hollywood is finally ready to tell the story of a legendary family of black women whose sound has shaped R&B, Pop, and gospel music for generations.

The film’s original producer, Holly Carter (Preachers of L.A.), partnered with Queen Latifah and Tucker was hired to develop the story. She expertly navigated several decades and the development of an ensemble cast whose nexus was the family matriarch, Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, brilliantly played by Aunjanue Ellis. Tucker successfully developed the script and it was sold to Lifetime TV. They brought on Sylvia L. Jones – the two black women screenwriters share writing credit on the film.

The beauty of this story’s journey has facets. This is a story about Black women – written, directed and produced by Black women. “You’ll see this story through an authentically Black lens. Young Black women will see this and know they can do it too,” says Tucker. The film showcases the most uplifting of music genres, gospel music. The Clark Sisters brought it outside of the four walls of the church into the mainstream. Tucker’s story of persistence and patience showcases the power of an idea in its journey to the screen – much like the story of this family – excellence over easy always.

The film highlights the influence of a matriarch who was a trailblazer in her own right – a five-time gold record recording artist and the International Director of Music for the Church of God in Christ. Each of these achievements almost unheard of for a Black woman at that time. Dr. Mattie Moss Clark did this and so much more. She endured great pain at the hand of the two things she loved the most, her husband and her church. Yet she held fast to her vision and taught her daughters to do the same.

Now the world will get to see the story of a great family that faced the same issues we face and through it all, they managed to use their gift of music to offer hope to the world. The world could use some of that right now.

The Clark Sisters is a love letter to Black women and we graciously receive it. The Clark Sisters:  The First Ladies of Gospel airs on Lifetime and can probably be streamed on your local cable network.

This article was written by Michele Brown, author of Adventures of Gideon: Kingdom Principles and Life Lessons My Dog Taught Me. Check her out at michelespen.com. 

Follow The Burton Wire on Twitter @TheBurtonWire. 

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Brittney Griner Sentenced to More than 9 years in Russian Prison

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The lawyers of WNBA star Brittney Griner, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, said in a written statement following the verdict announcement that the court ignored all the evidence they presented and that they will appeal the decision. “We are very disappointed by the verdict. As legal professionals, we believe that the court should be fair to everyone regardless of nationality,” Attorneys Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov said in a statement.

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

WNBA Superstar Brittney Griner has been sentenced to more than 9 years in a Russian prison following her conviction on drug charges.

Her lawyers called the verdict a disappointment and vowed to appeal.

The lawyers of WNBA star Brittney Griner, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, said in a written statement following the verdict announcement that the court ignored all the evidence they presented and that they will appeal the decision.

“We are very disappointed by the verdict. As legal professionals, we believe that the court should be fair to everyone regardless of nationality,” Attorneys Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov said in a statement.

“The court completely ignored all the evidence of the defense, and most importantly, the guilty plea. This contradicts the existing legal practice.

“Taking into account the amount of the substance (not to mention the defects of the expertise) and the plea, the verdict is absolutely unreasonable. We will certainly file an appeal,” they added.

Russian officials contended that Griner committed the crime on purpose. They also levied a fine totaling about $16,400 American dollars on the basketball star.

Authorities arrested Griner on Feb. 17 at an airport in Moscow after finding less than a gram of cannabis oil in her luggage.

She has been detained since then.

Recently, American officials revealed that the Biden-Harris administration had offered notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for the release of Griner and Paul Whelan.

“Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney,” President Biden said.

“It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates. My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.”

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Report: Human Rights Violations in Prisons Throughout Southern United States Cause Disparate and Lasting Harm in Black Communities  

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “The U.S. has long failed to live up to its international human rights treaty obligations on eliminating racial discrimination, perhaps more so in the area of mass incarceration and prison conditions than in any other context,” said Lisa Borden, Senior Policy Counsel, International Advocacy at the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

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NNPA Newswire

NEW YORK – The Southern Prisons Coalition, a group of civil and human rights organizations, submitted a new report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination on the devastating consequences of incarceration on Black people throughout the southern United States.

With the long-term goal of eliminating all forms of racial discrimination in the criminal legal system, including the carceral system, the report describes the widespread, disparate harms resulting from the arrests, harsh prison sentences, and incarceration on Black communities.

The report also cites the devastating impacts of solitary confinement, prison labor, the school to prison pipeline, and incarceration of parents on Black families.

On August 8, 2022, the UN will review the United States’ compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination for the first time since 2014.

Among the ongoing stark racial disparities throughout prisons in the southern United States, Black people are five times more likely to be incarcerated in state prisons.

In states like Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas, where Black communities comprise 38% of the total population, Black individuals account for as much as 67% of the total incarcerated population.

While incarcerated, Black people are more than eight times more likely to be placed in solitary confinement, and they are 10 times more likely to be held there for exceedingly long periods of time.

By submitting the report to the United Nations, the Southern Prisons Coalition hopes to solicit concrete recommendations from the UN Committee as well as commitments from the United States delegation about their plans to address systemic issues in the United States prison system, particularly in the South.

According to the report, several states in the United States have also failed to meet several of the UN’s Standard Minimum Rules for the treatment of incarcerated people, including:

  • Work should help to prepare incarcerated people for their release from prison, including life and job skills;
  • Safety measures and labor protections for incarcerated workers should be the same as those that cover workers who are not incarcerated;
  • Incarcerated workers should receive equitable pay, be able to send money home to their families, and have a portion of their wages set aside to be given to them upon release.

“The U.S. has long failed to live up to its international human rights treaty obligations on eliminating racial discrimination, perhaps more so in the area of mass incarceration and prison conditions than in any other context,” said Lisa Borden, Senior Policy Counsel, International Advocacy at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“We hope the Committee will help to shine a light on these very dark truths and prompt the U.S. to take its obligation to make significant improvements more seriously.”

“The abuses of forced labor are inextricably tied to racial discrimination in our nation,” said Jamila Johnson, Deputy Director at the Promise of Justice Initiative.

“In Louisiana, for instance, people are still sent into the fields to labor by hand in dangerously high heat indexes, for little to no compensation, and with brutal enforcement reminiscent of slavery and the era of ‘convict leasing’.”

“This report reveals the suffering of Black people in southern U.S. prisons, whose stories of marginalization and discrimination echo the racial subjugation of slavery and convict leasing during our country’s most shameful past,” said Antonio L. Ingram II, Assistant Counsel at the Legal Defense Fund.

“Despite widespread knowledge of the longstanding racial inequalities in the criminal legal and carceral systems, the United States continues to allow egregious human rights violations to persist for Black incarcerated people in violation of international law. This report serves as a sobering reminder of how far we need to go.”

Read the full report here.

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Celebrate your birthday with 10 free items

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Is your birthday coming up, and you’re not sure how to celebrate? Beat the summer heat by grabbing free ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery, or a daiquiri at WhoDaq Daquiris “The Daiquiri Shoppe.” Not in the mood for sweets? Head over to Jersey Mike’s or McDonald’s. Check out the rest of these Top 10 places giving out free items on your special day.

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By Angelina Liu, Entertainment Editor of The Trendsetter / Texas Metro News

Is your birthday coming up, and you’re not sure how to celebrate? Beat the summer heat by grabbing free ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery, or a daiquiri at WhoDaq Daquiris “The Daiquiri Shoppe.” Not in the mood for sweets? Head over to Jersey Mike’s or McDonald’s. Check out the rest of these Top 10 places giving out free items on your special day.

1. Chocolate Secrets

At Chocolate Secrets, located at 3926 Oak Lawn Ave, Dallas, TX 75219, you can celebrate your birthday by getting one free piece of candy under their candy cases.

2. WhoDaq Daquiris “The Daiquiri Shoppe”

Head to WhoDaq Daquiris “The Daiquiri Shoppe”, located at 684 W Pioneer Pkwy Suite 100, Grand Prairie, Texas 75051, to claim a free small personal daiquiri on your birthday. Quench your thirst with signature flavors such as “Strawberry Shortcake” or “Bahama Mama.”

3. Sephora

Sign up for a free, Beauty Insider account and receive your choice of 250 bonus points, Laura Mercier, Amika or Tatcha sets on your birthday. The choice of powders, lipsticks and skincare is bound to make you look fabulous for your special day.

4. Starbucks

Need a quick pick-me-up on your birthday? Starbucks has it covered! Join the Starbucks Rewards Program seven days prior to your birthday and make one purchase. Starbucks will then email you a coupon for a free food or beverage item two days before your birthday. The birthday reward qualifies for anything on the menu, including any size handcrafted drink or food item.

5. Jersey Mike’s

In the mood for a sub? Head over to Jersey Mike’s and receive a free sub and drink. Make sure to sign up for the Jersey Mike’s Subs Email Club prior to your birthday to receive this reward. Nothing tastes quite like melted cheese and meat in between a toasted baguette, along with an icy cold drink.

6. The Cheesecake Factory

Celebrating with friends? Tell your server it’s your birthday and receive a free treat as well as a song. It may be mildly embarrassing, but hey, it’s free!

7. Culver’s

Need something cold and sweet to beat the Texas heat? Head to Culver’s for a free sundae when you sign up for their rewards program. The sweet creaminess will surely not disappoint.

8. IHOP

Want to indulge in a sweet breakfast before birthday festivities? Join the International Bank of Pancakes rewards program to receive a free stack of pancakes on your birthday. Pair your pancakes with a choice of chocolate chips, syrup, fresh fruit or a dollop of whipped cream.

9. McDonald’s

Need a snack before embarking on your next birthday adventure? Download the McDonald’s app and join MyMcDonald’s Rewards to receive free large fries. Mmm, the taste and smell of fresh, perfectly salted french fries.

10. Smoothie King

Want to celebrate your birthday with a healthier option? Enjoy a birthday smoothie at Smoothie King. Download the Smoothie King app to receive this offer.

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