U.S. Postal Service Honors the Late Civil Rights Leader Rep. John Lewis with a Stamp
Civil rights giant and former U.S. Rep. John Lewis, who spent decades fighting for racial justice, will be honored with a postage stamp next year.
The U.S. Postal Service said the stamp “celebrates the life and legacy” of the leader from Georgia, who risked his life protesting against segregation and other injustices in the violent Jim Crow-era South.
“Lewis spent more than 30 years in Congress steadfastly defending and building on key civil rights gains that he had helped achieve in the 1960s. Even in the face of hatred and violence, as well as some 45 arrests, Lewis remained resolute in his commitment to what he liked to call ‘good trouble,'” USPS said in a news release.
In March of 1965, then-25-year-old Lewis led a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge from Selma to Montgomery alongside other civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr. The peaceful protest calling for equal voting rights came to be known as “Bloody Sunday” after Alabama State Troopers descended on the non-violent demonstrators in a brutal attack that left Lewis with a cracked skull.
His public service career spanned nearly 60 years. As a young student he joined lunch-counter protests; later, he became a member of the Freedom Riders; and at 21, he was the youngest speaker at the March on Washington. After serving on the Atlanta City Council, Lewis was elected to Congress where he spent more than 30 years representing the Atlanta area in the House of Representatives.
He died at age 80 in 2020 after suffering from advanced-stage pancreatic cancer.
USPS said the stamp features a portrait of Lewis taken by Marco Grob for Time magazine.
Senate Confirms Marine Corps’ First Black, Female Two-Star General
The U.S. Senate confirmed Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Lorna Mahlock to the rank of two-star general in December after President Joe Biden nominated her earlier that month. A two-star general typically commands a division-sized unit of 10,000 to 15,000 Marines.
Mahlock, 54, becomes the highest-ranking Black, female officer in the Marine Corps’ history.
A native of Kingston, Jamaica, Mahlock enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1985. In 2018, she became the first Black, female brigadier general. She currently serves as the deputy director of cybersecurity for combat support with the National Security Agency (NSA).
Rob Joyce, the NSA’s director of cybersecurity, said in a tweet after Mahlock’s confirmation that she is “an awesome leader” and a “great partner.”
According to the Department of Defense, just 9% of Marines are women and just three women in the branch’s history have picked up the rank of lieutenant general. But the Marine Corps’ highest-ranking officer, Gen. David Berger, unveiled in 2021 plans to increase diversity among the service.
Mahlock’s confirmation caps off a notable year as the higher reaches of the services become more open and diverse. In August, Capt. Amy Bauernschmidt became the first female commanding officer to complete the deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier. And in July, Lt. Amanda Lee became the first female jet pilot to join the historic demonstration squadron “The Blue Angels.”
On Hip Hop‘s 50th Anniversary, Here Are the Essential Museum Shows Celebrating the Movement‘s History and Enduring Legacy
The year 2023 marks half a century since DJ Kool Herc dropped the first breakbeat at a house party in the Bronx, inadvertently birthing the style, movement, and whole culture we now know as hip hop. In the following decades, hip hop has topped charts, shaped fashions, inspired visual arts, and powered social justice causes, all as part of its globe-dominating footprint. “Hip hop,” as Snoop Dogg once put it, “is what makes the world go around.”
This year, celebrations have naturally been lined up to commemorate hip hop’s 50th anniversary. For one, New York City, the genre’s birthplace, will partner with the Universal Hip Hop Museum to stage 50 special events over 50 days. Other museums are not sitting this one out either. Below are a handful of upcoming exhibitions that are opening in time to honor hip hop’s long, rich, and enduring legacy.
To trace hip hop’s trajectory from its origins as a community concern to its emergence as a global juggernaut, Fotografiska, in conjunction with Mass Appeal, will exhibit a trove of images documenting some of the scene’s most notable players and moments. Here, photographs of the history-making likes of Grandmaster Flash, Lil’ Kim, and Beastie Boys will sit across from those of fresh faces including Kendrick Lamar and Megan Thee Stallion—all lensed by legendary photographers from Janette Beckman to Ricky Powell.
From Kangol hats and Adidas Superstars to Dapper Dan jackets and Timberland boots—hip hop artists have made significant stylistic choices across generations, and in turn, transformed the fashion landscape. Through an assembly of more than 100 garments and accessories, the Museum at FIT will explore the role of fashion in hip hop. Over the decades, the movement has revolutionized streetwear and athleisure, used apparel to center Black pride and strength, and ultimately, shifted the luxury market.
Look out for key fashions such as the Karl Kani pieces worn by Tupac Shakur, the Tommy Hilfiger bandeau Aaliyah once donned, tracksuits beloved by Run DMC, among spotlights on labels like FUBU, Rocawear, and Fenty launched by hip hop entrepreneurs themselves.
In this collaborative exhibition, the Baltimore Museum of Art and Saint Louis Art Museum will track the wide-ranging impact of hip hop on popular culture since 2000. In particular, the show examines how the movement has challenged dominant cultural narratives and structures, surfacing themes from sexuality to poverty to urbanism, via the urgent and essential works of Black creatives.
Dr. James E. West: Electret Microphone Inventor
National Inventors Hall of Fame
In 1962, James West and Gerhard Sessler patented the electret microphone while working at Bell Laboratories. The microphone became widely used because of its high performance, accuracy, and reliability, in addition to its low cost, small size, and light weight.
In the electret microphone, thin sheets of polymer electret film are metal-coated on one side to form the membrane of the movable plate capacitor that converts sound to electrical signals with high fidelity. Ninety percent of today’s microphones are electret microphones, and they are used in everyday items such as telephones, sound and music recording equipment, and hearing aids.
West was born in Prince Edward County, Virginia. While attending Temple University, he interned at Bell Labs during his summer breaks and upon his graduation in 1957, he joined the company and began work in electroacoustics, physical acoustics, and architectural acoustics.
West, who is a Fellow of IEEE and a recipient of the George R. Stibitz Trophy, is the recipient of over 200 U.S. and foreign patents. He has also been honored with the 2006 National Medal of Technology. West is also an advocate for science education, particularly among minority students.
Ava DuVernay Makes History as the First Black Woman on a Ben & Jerry’s Pint
Oscar-nominated filmmaker Ava DuVernay is making history as the first Black woman to have her image on a Ben & Jerry’s pint.
The beloved ice cream company announced on Tuesday that the 50-year-old — best known for directing popular blockbuster hits such as Disney’s “Wrinkle in Time” and “Selma” — is the face of a new flavor called Lights! Caramel! Action!
“Directed” and personally curated by DuVernay, the ice cream flavor features a mix of vanilla ice cream with salted caramel swirls, graham cracker swirls and gobs of chocolate chip cookie dough.
Available in both milk-based and non-dairy versions, the pints will begin shipping across the country next month.
“Ice cream is a simple joy of life. A comfort food that I’ve turned to on many days — making sunny ones brighter and dark ones sweeter,” DuVernay said in a statement, per Variety.
Calling the opportunity to partner with the long-running ice cream company a “thrill ride,” the primetime Emmy winner added, “I’ve long admired [Ben & Jerry’s] for their commitment to social justice. I had the opportunity to work with food scientists to create a flavor with all the ingredients that I personally love for a cause close to my heart.”
According to DuVernay, amplifying women of color is a major reason behind her team-up with Ben & Jerry’s.
Speaking to People, she explained: “There’s no women of color overall [on Ben & Jerry’s pints]. And so they understood that that’s something that they wanted to change, and I’m happy that I was able to be involved in being a part of that change.”
A monument to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King’s love
This past summer, workers at the Walla Walla Foundry, in the state of Washington, fashioned giant fingers, arms, hands, and a bracelet, to capture a shining moment in history. All the pieces are now assembled, and this Friday, one of the largest memorials dedicated to racial equality will be unveiled in America’s oldest public park, Boston Common.
It’s called “The Embrace,” and to design it, Hank Willis Thomas pored over hundreds of images of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his wife, Coretta Scott King. “There was an intimacy that I saw that wasn’t really highlighted often,” Thomas said. “Often when you do look closely at pictures, they’re holding each other’s hands.”
One photo in particular got the sculptor’s attention: the reaction when Rev. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. “I just love that image, him hugging her with such glee and such joy and such pride, and I saw the pride on her face. And I recognized that this was teamwork. And all of his weight in that picture is, like, on her.”
And so, rather than depicting whole figures, Thomas, along with architects from the MASS Design Group, decided to represent a specific moment of intimacy, depicting only their arms and hands.
He also noted how important it was to depict both husband and wife. After Dr. King was shot and killed in 1968, it was Coretta who continued his work. “I was not alive when he was alive,” he said. “She was the symbol. Her grace, her presence was palpable. And I thought that was a pretty powerful metaphor for their legacy, that she put his legacy on her shoulders and carried it for almost half a century.”
Boston is where King met Coretta Scott in the 1950s, and where he earned his Ph.D. in theology at Boston University. He preached in Boston, and in 1965, led a civil rights march from the Roxbury neighborhood to Boston Common, where “The Embrace” now stands. “It will be a symbol of Boston,” Jeffries said. “It will be a symbol of love, belonging and hope.
Fred White, Drummer for Earth, Wind & Fire, Dies at 67
The New York Times
Fred White, who as a drummer with Earth, Wind & Fire propelled some of the funkiest songs in pop history, helping to provide a soundtrack to the nation’s weddings, bar mitzvahs, high school reunions and any other function at which people of all ages dance, died on Jan. 1. He was 67.
His death was announced on Instagram by his brother Verdine White, the band’s bassist. The announcement did not say where he died or give the cause.
Fred White was a member of Earth, Wind & Fire during a pivotal period, from the mid-1970s to the early ’80s, when the group made much of its most beloved music. He played on “Let’s Groove,” “Boogie Wonderland” and “Shining Star” and, most notably, on “September,” which Spotify lists as having been played on its platform 1.18 billion times. The songs’ first few bars alone have long been known to move people to the dance floor.
Earth, Wind & Fire was founded and led by Fred and Verdine’s half brother, Maurice White. Though the band’s music was recognizable for its joyous horn section and smooth vocals, Maurice, in his 2016 memoir, “My Life with Earth, Wind & Fire,” described the group as “a band of drummers.”
Maurice was himself an accomplished drummer (he was for a few years a member of the Ramsey Lewis Trio), and it was not out of character for four percussionists to play all at once during an Earth, Wind & Fire concert. For two years, Fred White and Ralph Johnson both performed onstage with full drum kits.
Frederick Eugene Adams was born on Jan. 13, 1955, in Chicago. He shared a mother with Maurice, Edna (Parker) White, a homemaker. His father, Verdine Sr., was a podiatrist.
Fred began playing the drums at 9. (Maurice called him a “child prodigy.”) Fred, like Verdine Jr., changed his surname to White so that it would be clearer that he was related to Maurice.
Fred grew up “in the ghetto in Chicago,” he told Modern Drummer magazine in 1982, and gained a sense of purpose from the drums. He began playing gigs when he was about 13. By 14, he was in a band that appeared in nightclubs. At 15, he was playing with the soul singer Donny Hathaway and making up excuses when he could not attend a session because of school.
Artist Quanda Johnson Explores Black Beingness in New Exhibit
The Cap Times
In 2012, Trayvon Martin, a Black teenage boy in Florida, was walking home from a convenience store when George Zimmerman, a member of the community’s neighborhood watch, racially profiled and shot him. Martin’s death was one of the first of many that shocked Americans, exposing a culture of entrenched racism despite progress like the nation’s first Black president.
Many other Black men and women were killed in the years that followed — some at the hands of police — including Eric Garner and Michael Brown, both in the same summer, and Sandra Bland.
The dehumanization of these Black lives drew Quanda Johnson, a doctoral candidate in interdisciplinary theatre studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, to think about the psychological lynching of being subjected to trauma for centuries as a result of American slavery and systemic racism.
While she works in performance and visual arts, a course in 2015 prompted Johnson to explore how she could use visual art as a tool to disrupt assumptions about Blackness.
“Trauerspiel: Subject into Nonbeing” is Johnson’s new art exhibit at the School of Education Art Gallery, which interrogates three means of Black trauma: the white gaze, mob or vigilante violence, and violence within some “safe” Black spaces, such as the home. The exhibit opens Friday with a reception from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and includes light snacks and beverages.
With the exhibit, on display through Feb, 27, 2023, Johnson argues that there is a “beingness,” for the Black body and psyche beyond being a victim, and that there is a lived liminal space of trauma, resistance, adaptation and creativity.
Johnson organized the three pieces of artwork into a triptych, a work of art presented in three sections. These visual pieces are all extensions of the performative pieces that Johnson completed for her dissertation research. The three visual artworks within the exhibit are titled “In Search of Negroland: beauty suspended,” “The Ballad of Anthony Crawford: remix,” and like the overall, titular piece, “Trauerspiel: subject into non…being.”