Connect with us

#NNPA BlackPress

FILM REVIEW: New Wave of Black Films Crests at 2019 Toronto International Film Festival

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Black artists, filmmakers and films were a key part of the mix at the 2019 Toronto Film Festival. Big budget movies, small indie films, documentaries and shorts filled out the innovative programming. Check out the best of the best and the most noteworthy.



By Dwight Brown NNPA News Wire Film Critic

Nearly 500,000 film lovers flocked to the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, screening hundreds of films from all over the world. Artistry and diversity, the hallmarks of TIFF, were on view.

Black artists, filmmakers and films were a key part of the mix. Big budget movies, small indie films, documentaries and shorts filled out the innovative programming. Check out the best of the best and the most noteworthy.


Atlantics (***)

An ill-fated romance in Senegal takes center stage in this visually stunning ode to passion and yearning. French actress-turned-filmmaker Mati Diop won the Cannes’ Grand Prix for co-writing this love triangle between a young woman (Mama Sané), an out-of-work construction worker (Ibrahima Traoré) she loves, and a wealthy fiancé (Babacar Sylla) she disdains. With Claire Mathon behind the camera, Dakar looks picturesque and the composition of each scene is as perfect as the lighting. Diop tells her story using lots of imagery and long scenes that test patience. The beautiful cast looks like they stepped out of Essence Magazine. Themes of class divide, spirits from beyond and girlfriends who like to party often crowd what could have been a simple love story. Still, the romance in this film prevails.

Clemency (***).

The debate over the death penalty gets a new spark with this very personal look at a humanistic warden (Alfre Woodard) who makes end-of-life experiences as compassionate as possible for those on death row. It’s as if Warden Bernadine Williams goes on cruise-control as she and her staff strap in inmates for that lethal injection. She thinks she’s fully prepared for everything. Then there’s an inevitable catastrophe that magnifies the toll her job takes on her psyche and husband (Wendell Pierce) and sobriety. Writer/director Chinonye Chukwu’s message is that executing criminals is inhumane. Slow steady drama builds and builds. Woodard creates a protagonist who is equally likeable and unapproachable. Her steely performance is complemented by supporting cast members: Aldis Hodge as the cop-killer next in line for death; Richard Schiff as the convict’s hopeful lawyer; Danielle Brooks as a person from the prisoner’s past.

Dolemite Is My Name (****)

When you need encouragement, comedian Rudy Ray Moore (Eddie Murphy) commands, “Put your weight on it.” It’s a mantra he takes to heart as he shifts his talent from struggling comic and spoken-word pioneer to novice DIY indie filmmaker. Moore’s alter-ego is Dolemite, a feisty, martial-arts-loving character he pushes to the front of his first movie. Under the guidance of director Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow), with a hilarious bio/script by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, Eddie Murphy makes a splashing film comeback as the outrageously bold and determined artist who became an integral part of the 1970s Blaxploitation era. Never one to take no for an answer, the brash Moore gives Murphy a great opportunity to work his comic genius. And he does, along with a hilarious dream team who milks laughs: Keegan-Michael Key, Craig Robinson, Tituss Burgess, Wesley Snipes, Mike Epps, and the shameless scene stealer Luenell (I Got the Hook Up 2). Add in cameos by T.I. and Snoop Dogg and a plotline that leads to euphoria and this bit of hilarity becomes an amazing crowd-pleaser and an inspiring movie.

Harriet (***)

The responsibility for getting Harriet Tubman’s legacy as an abolitionist and the history of the Underground Railroad told right is a weight few filmmakers could carry. Director Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou) is up to the task and has a vision. Her efforts are helped by Terence Blanchard’s emotionally charged musical score, John Toll’s evocative cinematography (he makes everyone’s complexion incandescent) and Paul Tazewell’s costumes. The script, by Lemmons and Gregory Allen Howard, pulls the characters into one epic tale of inhumanity, humanity and legendary acts of bravery. Cynthia Erivo (Tony winner The Color Purple; film Widows) plays “Minty” (Tubman’s nickname) with conviction. The evildoers (Joe Alwyn, Jennifer Nettles) and saviors (Leslie Odom Jr., Janelle Monáe) are perfectly portrayed. Lemmons can be heavy on the flashbacks (black and white clips of a family breakup seem redundant), and the footage looks like a cross between an art/indie film and a Lifetime network movie. But overall, she has accomplished a difficult mission that brings the life of an extraordinary liberator into full view. Finally the film medium has produced a public record of Harriet Tubman’s heroism. Now it’s time for Tubman’s image to be on the $20 bill.

Just Mercy (***)

Jamie Foxx and MIchael B. Jordan in Just Mercy

Jamie Foxx and MIchael B. Jordan in Just Mercy

A young Harvard educated lawyer, Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan), could have his pick of law firms, instead he heads to rural Alabama to set up a small law practice that seeks to reverse death row sentences for wrongfully convicted prisoners. There are many in need, but one of his primary clients is Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), who was convicted of killing a white woman. The film is set in 1989 and stars Jordan, but if you close your eyes and imagine a young Sidney Poitier in the lead role, you’ll get a feel for the tone of this well-intentioned but typical crime drama. Director Destin Daniel Cretton’s approach to the genre is formulaic, but gets the job done. Cretton and co-writer Andrew Lanham use the real lawyer Stevenson’s award-winning non-fiction book Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption as source material to depict poor black men being railroaded into death sentences in the south—well into the late ‘80s. Foxx gives his best performance since Ray. Jordan breaks out of his normal hero-ish mold to play a goodwill attorney, and that’s refreshing. Supporting cast of Brie Larson, Rob Morgan, Tim Blake Nelson, Rafe Spall, O’Shea Jackson Jr., and Karan Kendrick are particularly interesting to watch. A very northern and stiff lawyer learns how to acclimate to a friendlier rural southern black community and it’s a startling juxtaposition that adds depth to the proceedings

Waves (**1/2)

The Cast of Waves

The Cast of Waves

Filmmaker Trey Edward Shults made an impressive directorial debut with the ultra-realistic family drama Krisha. This return to familial themes focuses on a wealthy black household. A dad (Sterling K. Brown) and stepmom (Renée Elise Goldsberry)—helicopter parents—pressure their teenage son (Kelvin Harrison Jr, Assassination Nation), a high-school wrestling champion, to succeed. He, however, is clandestinely living large, beset with injuries and having major girlfriend problems. His younger sister (Taylor Russel) waits in the wings for the attention she deserves. Shults’ script and direction jump-start start this teen saga with a kinetic verve reminiscent of filmmaker Harmony Korine’s wild and debauched Spring Breakers. Quick, flashy MTV-like edits (editors Isaac Hagy and Shults), a heavy-bass musical score (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross) and an envious playlist of hip artists set the tone. The look of the film is perfect: production design by Elliott Hostetter; set decoration by Adam Willis; cinematography by Drew Daniels; and costume design by Rachel Dainer-Best. The plotline in Acts I and II leads to a clichéd stereotypical interpretation of a young black man’s life, which would be suspect coming from a black filmmaker, and is almost insulting coming from a white one. Act III takes the film in a completely different direction, which is fraught with heavy emotion that doesn’t always ring true. Something like TV’s overly touchy-feely This Is Us. In fact, watching Sterling K. Brown shed tears on screen, like he does incessantly on the TV show, is like watching a rainstorm on a tropical island. It’s an event, but it’s no surprise.


The Goldfinch (*1/2) The novel of the same name by author Donna Tartt won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. This weakly developed screen adaptation will likely win a Razzie. Can’t blame the premise: A kid, Theo (Oakes Fegley), and his mom enter the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A bomb ignites.  She dies. He is taken in by a friend’s wealthy mother (Nicole Kidman). Theo’s worthless father (Luke Wilson) wrestles him away, eyeing the kid’s money. A missing painting of a goldfinch—worth millions—is lost in the explosion. Who has it? Years later Theo (Ansel Elgort) can’t shake his tragic past. Director John Crowley endeared himself to audiences with his sweet, simple period film Brooklyn. In this muddled and overly complicated interpretation of the book (Peter Straughan screenwriter), a series of preposterous circumstances and an overabundance of characters stymies any plausibility. Fegley’s performance fails to make a lasting impression. The photogenic Elgort is handcuffed by a poorly written character. Veteran actor Jeffrey Wright gives the only spot-on performance, but even he can’t save a silly storyline from itself. And why cast a Canadian actor (Finn Wolfhard) and a Welsh actor (Aneurin Barnard) in a pivotal role as Theo’s “Russian” friend Boris (young and old) if they can’t master the accent? Tech credits are solid. Little else is.

Honey Boy (**) His public meltdowns were documented in the news. And now, it’s as if actor/writer Shia LaBeouf wants the masses to know that his erratic behavior is the result of an irregular childhood. Otis (Noah Jupe as the 12-year-old; Lucas Hedges at the 22-year-old), is a child actor being bullied by his ill-tempered father (LaBeouf). Life ain’t easy. Though first-time feature filmmaker Alma Ha’rel directs what’s on the page pretty well, the story, lead characters and their conflicts never gel. LaBeouf lays the bad dad persona on thick, making him appear cartoonish. Bryon Bowers (TV’s “The Chi)” plays an AA friend. Musical artist FKA Twigs portrays a neighbor in a rundown motel. Cast also includes veteran actors Clifton Collins Jr. and Laura San Giacomo. Well-intentioned project. Iffy results at best.

Hustlers (***) A group of industrious strippers bilk Wall Street men out of thousands of dollars during the money-raining days leading up to the great recession. Writer/director Lorene Scafaria (The Meddler) bases her script on a New York Magazine article that chronicles the con games run by Samantha Barbash, a scheming hostess at New York’s strip club Scores. The women swipe credit cards, charge up clothes, buy houses and set up an enterprise that is quite profitable. Sets (production design by Jane Musky), costumes (Mitchell Travers) and cinematography (Todd Banhazi) provide plenty of eye-candy. The pacing (editor Kayla Emter) is tight too. Your eyeballs will pop out of your head when 50-year-old J. Lo, as ringleader Ramona, shimmies down a stripper pole displaying the abs of a twentysomething. As she leads her robber posse on an excursion filled with peril, joy, riches and life lessons, you will be thoroughly entertained. Constance Wu, Mette Towley, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart and a cameo by ex-stripper Cardi B add magic as the women go from self-help, to self-employment, to self-infliction. Enjoy, and don’t forget to tip!

Knives Out (**) Who did it in this whodunit? And, who cares? Writer/director Rian Johnson (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) tries his hand at mystery writing, to little avail, and he must be an ardent Agatha Christee (Murder on the Orient Express) fan. A wealthy, elderly novelist (Christopher Plummer) dies. Suicide? Homicide? A southern sleuth (Daniel Craig) investigates. Johnson’s script is dull until the reading of the will, when family members’ greed and rivalries rage. The ensemble cast is impressive: Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette and Lakeith Stanfield as Lieutenant Elliott. There are plot twists aplenty, but none add up to much. Craig’s Alabama accent is atrocious. Does Johnson get anything right? The novelist’s grandson (Evans) drives a sleek 1960/70s silver BMW that is a work of art.

The Report (****) Tracking down the truth regarding the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program and the department’s use of torture is a sobering task for Senate staffer Daniel J. Jones, (Adam Driver). Yet, under the guidance of his boss Senator Dianne Feinstein (Annette Bening), he perseveres. Years of Jones’ research unearth wrongdoing, cover-ups and lies that may never come to light. Writer/director Scott Z. Burns (The Informant!) slowly turns a very wonky, fact-based political story into a thrilling drama that pits reality against deceit and the Senate versus the United States Intelligence Community. It’s a battle of wills. Driver’s very intense performances holds viewer’s attention as a barrage of facts, figures and names rain on them in a way that only CNN could decipher. What will stay with audiences forever is that a few people fought to have the CIA’s machinations exposed. An exceptional cast also includes: Jon Hamm, Corey Stoll, Evander Duck Jr., Maura Tierney and Linda Powell (House of Cards).

Uncut Gems (****) “They say you can see the whole universe in an opal.” That makes perfect sense to Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler), a gregarious, Jewish NYC jeweler who is deep in debt to the wrong kind of people and hoping his next scheme will get him out of trouble. This time, his plan includes selling a massive opal—the size of a baseball. Brothers Benny and Josh Safdie (Good Time), New York City-based writer/directors, have an urban, guerilla style of filmmaking that mirrors Martin Scorsese’s early works. Now, with a big budget in hand, they get to use all the crayons in the box. Sandler strips away his sunny facade and plays an addicted gambler who chums it up with hip black clients (basketball player Kevin Garnett), holds it down at home with his wife (Idina Menzel), and juggles a hush-hush life with a secret lover (Julia Fox). Player! The film aptly captures the mayhem and noisy din of the Diamond District. Rarely do movies chronicle any synergy between Blacks and Jews who are both living on the same edge. Brilliant filmmaking. Sandler deserves an Oscar nod and an apology from past naysayers. Every dog has its day


A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (**1/2)

Tom Hanks stars as Mister Rogers in TriStar Pictures' A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD. Photo by: Lacey Terrell

Tom Hanks stars as Mister Rogers in TriStar Pictures’ A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD. Photo by: Lacey Terrell

Mr. Rogers was loved. Like that uncle who came over for Christmas every year and brought the best presents. Ones you didn’t know you needed ‘til you had them. If you’re expecting a charming biofilm, don’t. If you want to witness how one kind person can positively affect other people’s lives, welcome. The script by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster takes its cue from a true-life story about an emotionally tarnished Esquire journalist assigned to interview Rogers. IInstead, he becomes the recipient of the cardigan-wearing TV host’s healing powers. Director Marielle Heller (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) sensitively guides the cast through this loving fable. Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Chris Cooper and Wendy Makkena (TV’s Judging Amy) handle their duties well. It’s easy to get caught up in the journalist’s redemption. Not all audiences will be thrilled that they’re getting a “life-coach” movie for the holiday season (release date 11/22/19), instead of the real skinny about the TV icon’s personal life. Some may say, “Where’s the beef?”

Bad Education (****)

Hugh Jackman in Bad Education

Hugh Jackman in Bad Education

Thou shalt not steal. It’s a commandment that the characters in this true-life tale of debauchery and excess don’t heed. All is going well in Long Island’s Roslyn School District, until a high school newspaper journalist (Geraldine Viswanathan) starts investigating line items on the school district budget that seem, well, fake. Contractors and companies are ghosts. Certainly Pam Gluckin (Allison Janney), who handles the budgets doesn’t see anything wrong. Nor does the easy-going school district superintendent (Hugh Jackman). As the undeterred student continues to dig, the improprieties mount. The plotline (screenwriter Mike Makowsky) unravels in bits and pieces, causing increasing astonishment. Jackman is as wicked as he can be. Janney as the lady with more relatives on the payroll than Trumps in the White House, plays her sociopathic character to a T. Director Cory Finley (Thoroughbreds) doesn’t point fingers, doesn’t pass judgement. Instead he weaves extramarital affairs, weak school boards and betrayals into a web of insanity that is as outrageous as Janney’s other mayhem vehicle, “I, Tonya.” What’s the alternate spelling of embezzlement? P-R-I-S-O-N.  A total delight in the most devious way.

Blackbird (***) People deal with their last moments on earth in their own ways. Few, however, decide to throw a weekend party so family members can watch them commit suicide. That’s the premise of director Roger Michell’s (Notting Hill, My Cousin Rachel) warmhearted look at a clan who wrestles with cancer, mortality and conflict. Christian Torpe’s screenplay creates viable characters and sets their actions and reactions in motion. Mom (Susan Sarandon) is the weed-smoking matriarch, dad (Sam Neill) her life partner. Two daughters (Kate Winslet, Mia Wasikowaska) show up with their extended families along with mom’s best friend Liz (Lindsay Duncan). Jealousies, rivalries and inner turmoil brim to the surface as they confront mortality: ‘You’re here now. But tomorrow you’ll be dead,” says one daughter. Some moviegoers may wish the family was more down to earth blue-collar than whiny and rich. The wonderful ensemble acting comes under the guidance of Michell. Poignant life-affirming words by Torpe’s perceptive script endure: “The day’s go by so slowly. The years go by so fast.” Considering the gravity of the subject matter, what’s on view is surprisingly touching and disarming in the best ways.

Coming Home Again (***) The bond between a mother and her son is tested in this warm-hearted story about a young Korean American man (Justin Chon, Gook) who leaves his job and girlfriend behind to take care of his terminally ill mom (Jackie Chung, Grey’s Anatomy) in San Francisco. They connect through food and the recipes she passes on to him. Based on his own experience, director/writer Wayne Wang (Joy Luck Club) creates a very humbling and humanizing story in a low-budget, small-cast movie that is powerful. Chon’s sensitive acting plays well against Chung’s spirited portrayal. Their experience and culture are specifically Asian, but the lifecycle event is universal. Wayne’s illuminating script and restrained direction give a sense of authenticity and clarity to everything. When the camera focuses on Chon trying to putty up a crack in an old wall, it becomes a metaphor for the film’s very rich and gripping premise.

A Hidden Life (****) In this age of neo-fascism, writer/director Terence Malick (Days of Heaven) astutely reminds viewers that they can counteract evil in their own way. Austrian farmer Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl) becomes a conscientious objector during World War II. His neighbors and town officials in his small village ostracize him, his wife Franziska (Valeri Pachner) and their three young daughters. The Nazis have a plan for him, and its bleak. Malick sets the location perfectly with wondrous shots of the Alps. Scenes of Hitler’s brutal officers committing atrocities reflect the era. The music (James Newton Howard), cinematography (Jôrg Widmer) and production design (Sebastian T. Krawinkel) are exquisite. Eerie parallels to modern times, echo again and again, as vicious leaders pray on the weak and instill fear in the masses. Franz to his spouse: “Oh my wife. What happened to our country, the land we love?” He adds: “If God gives us free will, we’re responsible for what we do.” A masterpiece of storytelling becomes a fitting tribute to those who remain principled and defiant.

Joker (**1/2) Why would a film company give a stand-alone origin project about the comic book villain The Joker to the writer/director of The Hangover series, Todd Phillips? Casting Joaquin Phoenix in the lead role, whose acting is ingeniously mercurial in the villain, is brilliant. Phillips? That’s a question mark. Arthur Fleck (Phoenix), a rent-a-clown loser who lives with his mom, is tormented by a defect that makes him laugh inappropriately and uncontrollably and is bullied by adults—and kids too. It’s no wonder the dude is angry at the world. Phoenix creates a snake of a man with few to no redeeming qualities and along the way he turns in a blistering performance that should get him a front row seat on Oscar night. Strong visuals and imaginative action scenes are absent in this crime thriller. Blame director of photography Lawrence Sher (Hangover) for the lapse in striking images. And Phillips gets no love for a dearth of cool fights and heated battles.

Judy (***1/2) No feature film could capture the entire troubled life of Judy Garland, who went from child actress (The Wizard of Oz), to deceased drug and alcohol-impaired adult in just 47-years. Smartly, director Rupert Goold and screenwriter Tom Edge pull from the stage play End of the Rainbow by Peter Quilter, which recounts the last six months of the star’s increasingly unsteady life. Credit Renée Zellweger for doing her own singing. Does she sound like Garland? No. Does she evoke her spirit? Yes—like a champ! The director, writer and actress make Garland look sociable, self-involved and weary of her superstardom all at once. Judy, knowing the burden she can be on others during her drunken episodes, proudly proclaims to her elementary-school-age son, “It’s wonderful to have a son big enough to carry his mother to the car.” The film’s only questionable element is a parallel storyline about her childhood, when she was groomed to be a pill-popper and emotionally abused by adults. Dramatic scenes, where she argues with an ex-husband at lunch or comes out drunk on stage, will make you wince. This is a solid interpretation of a life everyone knew would be cut short, while garnering millions of fans along the way. Very sweet. Quite tragic. Garland: “I still believe in it. The love you have with an audience.”

Marriage Story (****) As writer/director Noah Baumbach has matured, so has the subject of his films. His 1995 movie Kicking and Screaming reflected his 26-year-old view of life. His 2019 film Marriage Story captures the angst of a 50-year-old who has weathered a divorce. He doesn’t have to say that this story is coming from a very organic place. It’s obvious by the characters on view and the raw emotion they display. Charlie (Adam Driver in his best performance ever) is the head of a Brooklyn theater group. Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) is his wife and the troupe’s star. She’s offered a TV pilot in L.A., and that decision leads the two and their son Henry (Azhy Robertson) on a twisted road through divorce land, which turns them into adversaries with lawyers (Laura Dern for her; Ray Liotta for him.) who bully. There are screaming matches in this marital breakup parable that are as primal as the ones in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” In 136 engaging minutes Baumbach relives every tortured moment and slight in the couple’s less than idyllic marriage. D-I-V-O-R-C-E!

The Personal History of David Copperfield (**1/2) No this is not about the magician. Think back further to 1850 and a book written by Charles Dickens: David (Dev Patel), is raised by his widowed mother and a loving housekeeper. Life changes when mom marries a wicked man. Soon after, the boy is kicked out of his house, into boarding schools, factory work and eventually to the loving home of his eccentric Aunt Betsey (Tilda Swinton). David’s refuge is his writing. Director Armando Iannucci (The Death of Stalin) uses Simon Blackwell’s script to form a storybook life that is as winsome and charming as it is boring and too British. Think British director Mike Leigh and his obscure movie Topsy Turvy, and you get the gist. Oscar nominee Patel is as magnetic as Swinton is eccentric. Iannucci’s decision to make 19th century London multicultural is very progressive. Rosalind Eleazar plays David’s love interest, and she and Patel are quite disarming in a film with little appeal other than its acting and tech credits.

The Two Popes (****) It’s surprising to watch a film about two heads of the Catholic Church, who have vehement disagreements and opposing viewpoints yet find common ground. It’s as if Anthony McCarten’s (Darkest Hour) insightful screenplay is trying to teach polarized factions how to bond. Anthony Hopkins plays Pope Benedict, the traditionalist monsignor who is stodgy and not hip to the times. Jonathan Pryce is Pope Francis, a sociable, humble innovator more concerned with the good of the people than the strict rules of the church. The film is strongest when the two actors are center stage giving their diametrically opposed opinions. It’s less interesting, but still good, when it depicts Francis’ backstory. Directed deftly by the brilliant Brazilian filmmaker Fernando Meirelles (City of God), the dignity, humanity and humor of the two characters is quite appealing. Francis: “How does an Argentinian kill himself? He climbs to the top of his ego and jumps off.” Jump Popes. Jump.

These movies and artists, fresh from Toronto, will be on a screen near you before you know it.

Visit NNPA News Wire Film Critic Dwight Brown at

#NNPA BlackPress

WATCH LIVE! — NNPA 2023 National Leadership Awards Reception

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Welcome to the NNPA 2023 National Leadership Awards Reception
The post WATCH LIVE! — NNPA 2023 National Leadership Awards Reception first appeared on BlackPressUSA.




The post WATCH LIVE! — NNPA 2023 National Leadership Awards Reception first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

Continue Reading

#NNPA BlackPress

OP-ED: Delivering Climate Resilience Funding to Communities that Need it the Most

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Just last month, FEMA announced nearly $3 billion in climate mitigation project selections nationwide to help communities build resilience through its Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) national competition and Flood Mitigation Assistance program. In total, more than 50% of these projects will benefit disadvantaged communities, and in particular, 70% of BRIC projects will do the same.
The post OP-ED: Delivering Climate Resilience Funding to Communities that Need it the Most first appeared on BlackPressUSA.




By Erik A. Hooks, FEMA Deputy Administrator

We know that disasters do not discriminate. Yet, recovery from the same event can be uneven from community to community, perpetuating pre-existing inequalities. Recognizing these disparities, FEMA and the entire Biden-Harris Administration have prioritized equity when it comes to accessing federal programs and resources.

The numbers tell the story.

Just last month, FEMA announced nearly $3 billion in climate mitigation project selections nationwide to help communities build resilience through its Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) national competition and Flood Mitigation Assistance program. In total, more than 50% of these projects will benefit disadvantaged communities, and in particular, 70% of BRIC projects will do the same.

These selections further underscore the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to equity and reaffirm FEMA’s mission of helping people before, during and after disasters, delivering funding to the communities that need it most.

Building on this momentum and our people-first approach, FEMA recently announced the initial designation of nearly 500 census tracts, which will be eligible for increased federal support to become more resilient to natural hazards and extreme weather worsened by the climate crisis. FEMA will use “Community Disaster Resilience Zone” designations to direct and manage financial and technical assistance for resilience projects nationwide, targeting communities most at risk due to climate change. More Community Disaster Resilience Zone designations, including tribal lands and territories, are expected to be announced in the fall of 2023.

These types of investments have, and will yield a significant return on investment for communities nationwide.

For example, in my home state of North Carolina, the historic community of Princeville, founded by freed African American slaves, uses BRIC funding to move vulnerable homes and critical utilities out of flood-prone areas.

In East Harlem, BRIC dollars will provide nature-based flood control solutions to mitigate the impacts of extreme rainfall events in the Clinton low-income housing community.

While we are encouraged by these investments, we know more must be done.

Not every community has the personnel, the time or the resources to apply for these federal dollars. Fortunately, FEMA offers free, Direct Technical Assistance to help under-resourced communities navigate the grant application process and get connected with critical resources. Under the leadership of FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, this assistance has been a game-changer, reducing barriers and providing even more flexible, customer-focused, tailored support to communities interested in building and sustaining successful resilience programs.

In Eastwick, Philadelphia, FEMA’s dedicated support helped the city with outreach to multiple federal agencies. Together, we built a comprehensive community-led flood mitigation strategy. When applied and implemented, this will make this community more resilient to hazards like flooding, which was negatively affecting many neighborhood blocks.

In DePue, Illinois, we worked hand-in-hand with communities to improve their ability to submit high-quality funding applications for hazard mitigation projects. We are happy to share that DePue is the first Direct Technical Assistance community to be selected in the BRIC national competition. And, we know they will not be the last. Thanks to this assistance and their ambition, DePue was awarded more than $20 million to build a new wastewater treatment plant, which will reduce flooding and raw sewage back-up into the basements of homes.

In total, our agency is working with over 70 communities, including tribal nations, to increase access to funding for mitigation projects that will make communities more livable and resilient.

With extreme weather events becoming increasingly intense and frequent due to climate change, we must keep pressing forward and continue investing in ways to better protect ourselves and our neighbors. And we are encouraged that local officials are engaging with us to learn more about the benefits of the BRIC non-financial Direct Technical Assistance initiative—just last week, we saw hundreds of participants nationwide register for a recent webinar on this important topic.

We want to see even more communities take advantage of this initiative, and, ultimately, obtain grants for innovative and forward-looking resilience projects. To that end, FEMA recently published a blog with five steps to help local communities and tribal nations learn more about the benefits of this non-financial technical assistance to access federal funding. I hope your community will take action and submit a letter of interest for this exciting opportunity and increase meaningful mitigation work throughout the country.

With the pace of disasters accelerating, communities can utilize federal resources to reduce their risk and take action to save property and lives. FEMA stands ready to be a partner and collaborator with any community that is ready to implement creative mitigation strategies and help build our nation’s resilience.

The post OP-ED: Delivering Climate Resilience Funding to Communities that Need it the Most first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

Continue Reading

#NNPA BlackPress

Tale of Two Underground Railroad Communities

ARIZONA INFORMANT — Prior to the Civil War, many communities in the Ohio River Valley were a part of an elaborate system that provided resources and protection for enslaved persons from Southern states on their journey to freedom. Once someone crossed the Ohio River, they traveled along unknown terrain of trails to safe houses and hiding places that would become known as the Underground Railroad. 
The post Tale of Two Underground Railroad Communities first appeared on BlackPressUSA.




By Christopher J. Miller, Sr. Director of Education & Community Engagement, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Christopher J. Miller

Christopher J. Miller

September is International Underground Railroad Month.

This proclamation began in the State of Maryland in 2019, and now more than 11 States officially celebrate one of the most significant eras in U.S. history. With the signing of Ohio HB 340 in June 2022, Ohio became the 12th state to designate September International Underground Railroad Month.

Many history enthusiasts and scholars hope the momentum of the proclamation spreads to other states so that all our forebears of freedom are remembered.

Examining this era, you find that the Ohio River Valley is instrumental in the many narratives of freedom seekers. These stories are critical to our understanding of race relations and civic responsibilities.

Before the Civil War, many communities in the Ohio River Valley were part of an elaborate system that provided resources and protection for enslaved persons from Southern states on their journey to freedom. Once someone crossed the Ohio River, they traveled along unknown terrain of trails to safe houses and hiding places that would become known as the Underground Railroad.

Gateway to Freedom sign

Gateway to Freedom sign

The Underground Railroad was comprised of courageous people who were held to a higher law that confronted the institution of slavery with acts of civil disobedience by helping freedom seekers elude enslavers and slave hunters and help them get to Canada.

Many communities were a force for freedom along the more than 900-mile stretch of the Ohio River Valley, but I would like to focus on two significant communities.

Southern Indiana was a major part of this history. It was originally believed that there were from Posey to South Bend, Corydon to Porter, and Madison to DeKalb County, with many stops in between.

In further examination, the Underground Railroad in Indiana was a web of trails through the forests, swamps, briars, and dirt roads. The city that is often overlooked in reflecting on the history of the Underground Railroad is New Albany, Indiana.

By 1850, New Albany was the largest city in Indiana, with a population of 8,632. Free Blacks accounted for 502 of that population. Across the river, Louisville was Kentucky’s largest city, with a population of 42,829. A quarter of the 6,687 Black population were free in Louisville.

Town Clock Church (aerial view)

Town Clock Church (aerial view)

Louisville and New Albany would grow to become a significant region for Underground Railroad activity. People like Henson McIntosh became a prominent community member and major Underground Railroad conductor. McIntosh was one of approximately ten Underground Railroad agents in New Albany who used their wealth and influence to impact the lives of freedom seekers crossing the Ohio River.

The Carnegie Center for Art & History is an outstanding resource that continues to preserve New Albany’s role during the Underground Railroad era. Approximately 104 miles east along the Ohio River is another institution that plays a critical role in elevating the profile of the Underground Railroad on a national scope.

Inside Town Clock Church New Albany Indiana safe house

Inside Town Clock Church New Albany Indiana safe house

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is located on the banks of the Ohio River in Cincinnati, Ohio.

By 1850, Cincinnati would grow to be the 6th largest city in the Union, with a sizable Black population.

The Freedom Center is prominently located in the heart of a historic Black community called Little Africa. Although the community no longer exists, its legacy lives on through the Freedom Center.

As with New Albany, the community that resided along the banks of the river served an important role in the story of the Underground Railroad. Little Africa was the gateway to freedom for thousands of freedom seekers escaping slavery.

Although there were Underground Railroad networks throughout the country, Ohio had the most active network of any other state, with approximately 3,000 miles of routes used by an estimated 40,000 freedom seekers that crossed through Little Africa.

Despite the growth of enslavement leading up to the Civil War, communities such as Little Africa and New Albany reveal the realities regarding race relations and a model for the dignity of human life through their respective efforts to be kind and resilient friends for the freedom seekers.

For More Information:

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center –

Cincinnati Tourism –

Carnegie Center for Art & History –

Southern Indiana Tourism –

The post Tale of Two Underground Railroad Communities first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

Continue Reading

Subscribe to receive news and updates from the Oakland Post

* indicates required




Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: 800-334-0540


"For our children we lost, we are their voices, and their voices will continue to be heard here and everywhere around this nation,” Mattie Scott, the California chapter leader of the advocacy organization Mothers in Charge, said. “We will stop the killing and start the healing because this is for all of us or none of us.”
Antonio Thomas Stiles9 hours ago

Mothers in Mourning: Moms, Allies Protest Gun Violence in California

Bay Area10 hours ago

Writer Marc Spears Honored in Oakland

State Supt. of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.
California Black Media10 hours ago

Elected Officials, Faith Leaders Join State Ed Chief Thurmond to Discuss Antisemitism Solutions

“Fentanyl is a deadly poison ripping families and communities apart,” Newsom said in his announcement. “California is cracking down — and today we’re going further by deploying more CalGuard service members to combat this crisis and keep our communities safe.”
California Black Media10 hours ago

Crackdown: Gov. Newsom Adds Muscle to Fentanyl Fight by Increasing National Guard Presence at Border by 50%

Homeowners with enough space can build an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) to their property, either as an add-on to an existing building or a standalone building like the one above. Photo courtesy CBM.
California Black Media11 hours ago

California to Roll Back Grant Program That Helps Low- and Middle-Income Residents Build ADUs

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, wearing a pink hat, and California Attorney General Rob Bonta lead the Oakland Pride Parade. Photo by Gene Hazzard.
Barbara Lee11 hours ago

Black Women’s Group Holds Gov. Newsom’s Feet to the Fire on Senate Appointment

One of clockmaker Peter Hill’s works is on display at the National Museum of History and Technology at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. File photo.
Black History11 hours ago

Crafting Freedom and Time: The Life and Legacy of Clockmaker Peter Hill

CDTFA's Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate Office assists taxpayers who are unable to resolve a matter through normal channels, when they want information regarding procedures, or when there are potential rights violations in an audit or the collection of taxes or fees.
Business11 hours ago

California Department of Tax and Fee Administration Announces New Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate

Sofia Mbega received a $5,000 grant for her work in tech in Tanzania before she moved to California in 2018.
Business12 hours ago

Black Women in Tech Share Concerns, Hopes About Artificial Intelligence Industry

Jose Alejandro Zavala Aguilar. Courtesy photo.
Bay Area12 hours ago

Justice for Jose Alejandro Zavala Aguilar — Family Seeks Justice for Murdered Son

A complete uniform on loan from the Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum. Photo courtesy of Clifford Laube.
Black History12 hours ago

Civil Rights Exhibit Opens at Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum in New York

U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee & U.S. Sen. Bernie Saunders. Courtesy photo.
Barbara Lee13 hours ago

Barbara Lee Adds Bernie Sanders Political Staff to Growing Campaign Team

Larriah Jackson from ‘The Voice” will be one of the guest artists at the fundraiser for the Berkeley Black Repertory Group. Courtesy photo.
Arts and Culture1 day ago

Berkeley’s Black Repertory Theater to Hold Fundraiser for Youth Programs

March on Washington, August 1963
Black History1 day ago

Remembering the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

Common was honored on Hiero Day at by Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao and Deputy Mayor Kimberly Mayfield. Photo courtesy of Ariel Nava.
Art1 day ago

Oakland Celebrates Hiero Day 2023, Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Hip-Hop