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Oakland Actor Daveed Diggs to Portray Frederick Douglass in Cable Miniseries

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Oakland’s Daveed Diggs, as Frederick Douglass, in James McBride’s “The Good Lord Bird,” debut miniseries begins October 4, on Showtime cable network

Celebrated writer James McBride will see his award-winning book, turned miniseries, “The Good Lord Bird,” make its cable broadcast debut on the Showtime Network, starring Ethan Hawke, as slavery abolitionist, John Brown.

The story is told from the point of view of “Onion,” a fictional enslaved young boy (portrayed by newcomer, Joshua Caleb Johnson) who becomes a member of Brown’s family of abolitionist soldiers battling slavery in Kansas, and eventually finds himself in the famous 1859 Army depot raid at Harpers Ferry, an inciting incident of the Civil War.

Rounding out the series is Daveed Diggs (“Hamilton”); Orlando Jones (“Sleepy Hollow”); Hubert Point Du Jour (“Blindspot”) and Beau Knapp (“Seven Seconds”).

“The Good Lord Bird” is an irreverent and dramatic tale of Antebellum America and the ever-changing roles of race, religion and gender in American society.   The series begins Sunday, Oct.r 4th@ 9 pm ET/PT.

I spoke with Daveed Diggs, the beloved Oakland native–turned Broadway sensation and television star — about this high energy, high impact, and very stylized story by James McBride who wrote “The Color of Water.”  Diggs is cast as legendary African American abolitionist and orator, Frederick Douglass.

Sandra Varner/Talk2SV:  I found myself in rapt attention watching your interpretation of Frederick Douglass as portrayed in this James McBride story.  As such, Douglass knows the power of his human currency as a person of literal value; equally, the power and prowess of his persuasion as an orator. Did you see those aspects as characteristics you needed to draw upon?

DIGGS:  Oh, definitely, and that’s a great observation.  I think it was really necessary to portray a Frederick Douglass who was very aware of what he was capable of and what he was doing.  He had a sense of pride that could come off as overblown or pompous.  He was that good and that famous.  You don’t know very many people who become that famous and that good who don’t know it.

TALK2SV: So, in keeping with this reflection of Douglass, do you own the power of your prowess as an artist?

DIGGS:  It’s a conversation I’m having weekly with my therapist, laughter.  I don’t know that I do or at least, I haven’t found the same comfort in it.  Part of that, I think, is good because it keeps me trying new things, keeps me from thinking that I’ve figured it out; at times, it can be detrimental. I think sometimes I look for help. I look to offset the responsibility or agency (of my talent) and that’s not always the right thing to do. Sometimes, I actually am the adult in the room [laughter] and I’m trying to come to terms with that, but, it’s hard.

TALK2SV:  It is said of this story, that the slave uprising at Harper’s Ferry (in Virginia, October 1859), was the precursor to the Civil War. If allowed, I’d liken Frederick Douglass as the precursor to Martin Luther King, Jr.  Do you think the dots connect well between these two extraordinary men?

DIGGS:  I do.  I do. If you can attach a really powerful message with virtuosic writing and attach a person to that, you have a figure with the power to change culture and create culture. I think Frederick Douglass was aware of that [essence] and I think Dr. King was aware of that, too.

I grew up working with Youth Speaks (www.youthspeaks.org), a poetry organization in San Francisco, which focuses on teenagers writing poetry. A primary reason to teach Spoken Word to young people is it forces you to make Spoken Word sound pretty; forces you to take your very valid ideas and come up with a way to make people listen to you, even if they are not particularly conditioned to listen to you. That’s a really powerful tool for young people. And that’s the same rubric that I think MLK and Fredrick Douglass were working with–if my mouthpiece is strong enough, if I can work these words and perform these words in a way that will move people, spiritually and emotionally–that is how you get people on the side of a cause.

TALK2SV:  You have created a distinguished footprint, already.  Let’s let’s talk about your performance cachet, specifically, portability and transmutability.  You flow seamlessly between stage, television and film.  What anchors your performance arc that allows you to virtually transport us, the viewer, and go along with you in each format, no matter the character portrayal?

DIGGS:  Just trying to understand the mechanics, I’m still learning how to do that in the TV space and in the film space, too. I did so much theater coming up — I understand the mechanics of the stage, very well.  It’s the thing I fall back on, the technique of it; I know what reads to a (performance) house of various sizes. I’ve played in every size house there is.    So I have the technical ability to adapt.  The more I work in the TV and film space, the more I understand those technical elements along with the other part of it. I can’t remember who told me this, either a director I was working with or an actor but, they said 80% of the job is to understand the tone of the piece. I really do find that to be true. If you understand the spirit of the piece you are making, you can be successful, but it really has to do with looking at the totality of the piece. What is the world we want to be snuck into? Make all your choices and point back to them; when I do that, then, I find I am in better shape.

 

 

 

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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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