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Janelle Monae to star In upcoming live action Disney movie

ROLLINGOUT.COM — Janelle Monae is set to provide new music for the live-action remake of a Disney classic.

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By Rollingout.com

Janelle Monae is set to provide new music for the live-action remake of a Disney classic.

The 33-year-old singer and actress already has a voice acting role as a Pekingese dog named Peg in the upcoming reboot of the 1955 Lady and the Tramp animated movie, but it has now been revealed she will lend her voice to the production’s soundtrack too.

According to Variety magazine, Monae will perform two original songs for the film, and her artist collective Wondaland is also “reinventing” the “Siamese Cat Song” from the original movie.

The song – which features the refrain “We are Siamese if you please / We are Siamese if you don’t please” – has long been considered an offensive representation of Asian culture, and will be reworked by Wondaland contributors Nate “Rocket” Wonder and Roman GianArthur for the remake.

Kaylin Frank, a vice president in Creative Music and Soundtracks at Disney, told Variety: “We’re dealing with Wondaland, her team of incredibly creative writers and producers that she works with. So our director has engaged with her in terms of what the storytelling [of] the song needs to be.”

She then added that although the film is set in 1910 and has a blues-ragtime vibe, Monae’s personal sound will be represented.

Lady and the Tramp is set to star Tessa Thompson as Lady and Justin Theroux as Tramp, as well as Yvette Nicole Brown, Benedict Wong, Kiersey Clemons, Ashley Jensen, Thomas Mann and Sam Elliott.

The movie will be available exclusively on Disney’s streaming service Disney Plus, shortly after the platform launches in mid-November.

This article originally appeared in Rollingout.com

Entertainment

#OscarsSoWhite 2021?

In 2021, nine out of the 20 acting nominations went to people of color.  It is an honor to be nominated and the honors need to be more racially diverse.

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photo courtesy Twitter

Six years ago in 2015, April Reign created #OscarsSoWhite.

She is a former lawyer and now a speaker and inclusion consultant.

In January 2020 Reign published a column for Variety, “#OscarsSoWhite Creator:  With a Mostly White Academy, What Could We Expect?”

According to Reign in 2015 the Academy membership was 92% white and 75% male.  In 2020 the membership was 84% white and 68% male.

In 2021, nine out of the 20 acting nominations went to people of color.  It is an honor to be nominated and the honors need to be more racially diverse.

There were notable snubs:  In the Best Picture category, only a nomination for “Judas and the Black Messiah.”  Nothing for Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods;” “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” or Regina King’s directorial debut, “One Night in Miami.”

King was also snubbed in the best director category.

Chloé Zhao became the first woman of color to be nominated for best director of “Nomadland”.

Chadwick Boseman was posthumously nominated for best actor.  One of three men of color.

Andra Day and Viola Davis were nominated for best actress.  It was Davis’ fourth nomination, making her the most nominated Black actress in the history of the Academy.

Black supporting actors grabbed three out the five nominations with both Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield for “Judas and the Black Messiah” and Leslie Odom Jr. for “One Night in Miami.”

The Academy’s diversity program doesn’t begin until 2024 and only the Best Picture nominations must meet a diversity and inclusion standard.

Anita Hill chaired a Hollywood Commission last year which found that white men had a 78% positive view of diversity within the industry vs. 47% of Black women.

Hill said: “[t]hat’s troubling in and of itself.  But it’s also troubling because we know that if you look at the leadership in entertainment, that we know that they look like the group of people who believe that we’ve made significant progress.  They don’t look like the people who have been marginalized historically.”

And a recent study from the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. found that the industry is losing $10 billion each year because of inequality.

The authors concluded: “[f]ewer Black-led stories get told, and when they are, these projects have been consistently underfunded and undervalued, despite often earning higher relative returns than other properties.”

The 93rd Academy Awards airs Sunday, April 25 from 5:00-8:00 p.m. on ABC, postponed from February 28 because of the pandemic.

It has been postponed three other times most notably and ironically in 1968 after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

The Academy is no Hollywood Foreign Press (Golden Globes) with no Black members, but needs to do better with racial diversity.

USA Today, and Variety.com were sources for this story.

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The California Towns Where Blacks Feared Sundown

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A scene from the HBO show “Lovecraft Country.”Courtesy from HBO publicity shot.

In the Aug. 16 premiere of the HBO show “Lovecraft Country,” created by Misha Green and based on the novel of the same name by Matt Ruff, the main characters drive past a sign that reads “[N-word]s, don’t let the sun set on you here. Understand?” Towns that banned African Americans in the mid-20th century would, either formally or informally, put up intimidating signs like that at the town limits to remind Blacks passing through that they were not welcome.  

These places, known commonly as “sundown towns,” existed across the nation. Many of them were in California, too.  

The memory of sundown towns re-entered our collective cultural conscience recently as incidents of police brutality have pushed people to speak out against racism. The book “Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism,” written by sociologist James W. Loewen, was originally published in 2005. 

In the preface of the re-printed 2018 edition, Loewen noted that while sundown towns are on the decline, some former sundown towns have shifted from overt to systemic racism through policies such as “Driving While Black policing.” He cites the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., as an example. 

There is a widespread misconception that sundown towns were mostly concentrated in the Deep South and Midwest, as depicted in Lovecraft Country’s first episode of the series, which was set along the highway route from Chicago to Massachusetts.  

But similar sundown towns existed in the West as well, including in California up until the mid-20th century. The national sundown town database on Loewen’s website lists 112 possible sundown towns in California. 

These towns are categorized on the website as either possible, probable, or surely, as it is difficult to categorize “sundown towns” because of varying degrees of explicitness in their approaches to discouraging African Americans and other non-white visitors.  

California cities classified as “surely” sundown towns on Loewen’s website include Brea, Chico, Culver City, El Segundo, Fresno, Glendale, Hawthorne, La Jolla, Palmdale, San Marino and Taft. Cities that are now majority Black and Brown, including Compton and Inglewood in Southern California, previously barred Black residents. The list also includes some entire counties as surely sundown in the past. 

Evidence listed on Loewen’s website includes census records and anecdotes submitted by citizens or discovered through research. The anecdotes listed include alleged cross burnings and other threats towards Black homeowners, and alleged expulsions of entire ethnic groups. Though many sundown towns have strong oral histories, with residents and locals confirming their existence, sundown ordinances were usually not part of a city’s records. 

Loewen wrote, “I read at least 300 local histories — some of them elaborate coffee table books — about towns whose sundown histories I had confirmed via detailed oral histories, but only about 1% of these mentioned their town’s racial policies. In conversation, however, the authors of these commemorative histories were often more forthcoming, showing that they knew about the policy but didn’t care to disclose it in print.” 

In her book “Wandering in Strange Lands,” author Morgan Jerkins spoke with a woman named Rachelle, who shared her memories of sundown towns in Los Angeles County. “I can remember when a Black person had better not go to Glendale or Culver City and be there after five o’clock.” 

In addition to African Americans, other ethnic groups were also excluded from cities. In 1885, about 320 Chinese Americans were expelled from Eureka, Calif., after a Chinese man accidentally shot a city councilman.

According to an article in the North Coast Journal, multiple towns around Eureka followed suit, and Chinese Americans were expelled from an estimated 40 communities in Northern California in 1885 and 1886. 

According to Chapter 14 of Loewen’s book, “Sundown Towns Today,” California has integrated its communities more than other states with historic sundown towns, with many cities eliminating discriminatory laws and removing warning signs. 

In 2017, the National League of Cities (NLC) announced a collaboration with the Center for Social Inclusion to help local government officials advance racial equity in their cities. The mission of NLC’s Race Equity and Leadership Initiative is to “strengthen the knowledge and capacity of local elected officials to eliminate racial disparities, heal racial tensions and build more equitable communities,” according to their website. 

However, racial animosity still exists as shown by the multiple Black Lives Matter protests that have occurred in the state since May. In a time of civil unrest and calls for revolution, history is revealing and asserting itself. 

“Sundown towns have never gone away,” wrote Jerkins in a recent article. “As long as Black people have stories of what has happened to them or others for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and as long as White people terrorize Black people who move into their neighborhoods, or create laws to restrict them from living there in the first place, sundown towns will always be a part of the fabric of American culture.” 

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John Lewis: Civil Rights Lion Gets into Good Trouble in Dawn Porter Documentary

NNPA NEWSWIRE — On what would be called Bloody Sunday, Lewis, who at the time was Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) along with other civil rights lions like Reverend Hosea Williams (SCLC) continued on their march despite then Governor Wallace’s threats and were attacked by the police, sending 58 people to the hospital.

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Described repeatedly as courageous, Lewis’ energy now is not very different from the energy on full display in the footage of the marches and Freedom Rides. Lewis lives and breathes the pursuit of freedom and all around him know it. To be in his orbit, one must hold that value if you are to be a part of his universe. (Photo: Still from film, John Lewis: Good Trouble)
Described repeatedly as courageous, Lewis’ energy now is not very different from the energy on full display in the footage of the marches and Freedom Rides. Lewis lives and breathes the pursuit of freedom and all around him know it. To be in his orbit, one must hold that value if you are to be a part of his universe. (Photo: Still from film, John Lewis: Good Trouble)

By Nsenga K. Burton, NNPA Newswire Culture and Entertainment Editor

As long as I have breath in my body, I will do what I can. – Congressman John Lewis

Congressman John Lewis is known and revered worldwide for his social justice activism as a young man during the modern Civil Rights movement which sparked large scale civic and social change in America. Many have seen the horrible 1965 footage and photos of Lewis being clubbed in the head while attempting to march from Selma, AL to Montgomery, AL arriving at the Edmund Pettus Bridge to 150 police officers waiting to deliver violence and intimidation to the protesters marching for voting rights for Black Americans.

Then Alabama Governor George Wallace had outlawed protests and marchers, who were raising awareness about the plight of Black Americans, who had been made to pay poll taxes, take literacy tests or flatly denied their right to vote by intimidation and the threat of violence at the ballot box. At that particular time, Black Americans made up 57 percent of the population of Dallas County, which is where Selma is located, yet and still only 2 percent of Black Americans were registered to vote.

On what would be called Bloody Sunday, Lewis, who at the time was Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) along with other civil rights lions like Reverend Hosea Williams (SCLC) continued on their march despite then Governor Wallace’s threats and were attacked by the police, sending 58 people to the hospital.

Lewis, who suffered a skull fracture during the attack, left the hospital the following week to testify before Congress about what had happened to the protesters, resulting in the passage of the Voting Rights Act by Congress which was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, giving Black Americans the right to vote and offering protections (National Guard) to marchers in pursuit of justice at the ballot box.

In Good Trouble, award-winning documentary filmmaker Dawn Porter (Gideon’s Army, Trapped, Spies of Mississippi) captures the many sides of John Lewis which are all connected to his quest for freedom. Porter shows his early desire to become a preacher eventually leading to a career in social justice and politics.

In the documentary, we see a young John Lewis from Troy, AL who aspires to be a preacher to such an extent, he preaches to chickens. His desires shift when at 15-years-old, the actions of Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King change his path, leading the civil rights lion to “Good trouble; necessary trouble to save our country, to save our democracy,” he says.

Lewis, who has been arrested 40 times, five of those times since being a member of Congress, allows viewers into the world beyond politics. Viewers learn how he met and fell in love with his wife, Lillian Miles Lewis, who died in 2012 and that he is still as heartbroken over the loss today as he was the day she passed.

Viewers see the fun side of Lewis, who loves to dance and crack jokes with his mentees and staff. John Lewis lights up any room her enters. Lewis is a man revered for his commitment to Civil Rights and viewers learn that all aspects of his life are tied to that pursuit. Lewis’ values as a human being are always at the forefront of every decision he makes in his personal and professional life.

Lewis’ major value is freedom. “When you lose all sense of fear, you’re free,” offers the activist who literally continues to traverse the country in pursuit of justice. Lewis, 80, who is battling pancreatic cancer stomps for Beto O’Rourke and Stacey Abrams during their high-profile bids for political change.

Colleagues and friends like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Congressman Jim Clyburn, civil rights icon Diane Nash and the late Congressman Elijah Cummings discuss Lewis’ legacy and impact today.

Described repeatedly as courageous, Lewis’ energy now is not very different from the energy on full display in the footage of the marches and Freedom Rides. Lewis lives and breathes the pursuit of freedom and all around him know it. To be in his orbit, one must hold that value if you are to be a part of his universe.

Underscored by a soulful and haunting soundtrack, the documentary also shows the difficult times and sacrifices that sometimes have to be made while in pursuit of justice for all, like Lewis’ damaged friendship with the late civil rights icon and politician Julian Bond. Their 1986 battle over a Congressional seat led to Lewis’ harsh words about one of his closest friends – painful words that Lewis could not take back.

Lewis won the seat and is now in his 17th term as a Congressperson but at what cost? Many of the people in the civil rights movement are passing on and Porter’s documentary begs the question of who will replace these pillars of democracy who are willing to sacrifice so much of themselves for a far greater cause?

Lewis lights up the room wherever he goes. Like Moses, seas of people part to make a clear path for Lewis, who strides to the podium with personal stories and political messages that people need to hear. Lewis clearly understands there are more years behind him than in front of him. He is pained by the strategic and dubious attempts by Congress and the Supreme Court to undo the work of he and his ilk in a supposedly post-racial society.

Lewis knows the stakes are high as he has “lived it” and is now witnessing the dismantling of the protections for no reason other than plain old racism. Like many Black Americans in the United States, suffering from seeing such hard-fought freedoms rolled back, Lewis is broken hearted but not bowed. The 2013 Supreme Court decision dismantling the Voting Rights Act of 1965, allowing nine states, to change their election laws without federal approval, was another symbolic blow to Lewis and his generation of change agents but they remain unbowed.

Lewis is obviously troubled by what is happening in society. “One of my greatest fears, is one day we wake up and our democracy is gone.” Chilling words coming from a man who has dedicated his entire life to protecting the rights of all Americans in an attempt to bring to fruition the ideals of democracy upon which America was founded. These are also profound words from a giant of change who even at this precarious time in his life, knows that the fight for justice is never over.

“As long as I have breath in my body, I will do what I can,” says the Presidential Medal of Freedom winner, reminding viewers our freedoms hang in the balance and there is more good trouble ahead.

Watch the trailer for the documentary here.

Good Trouble debuted Friday, July 3, 2020 OnDemand on multiple digital platforms.

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