Who is Hakeem Jeffries? Meet the first Black leader of House Democrats
The Washington Post
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) has been elected House Democratic leader, the first Black lawmaker to lead a congressional conference in the United States and the first new leader for House Democrats in two decades.
The 52-year-old lawyer, hails from central Brooklyn, the epicenter of New York’s Democratic power. A self-described progressive, he was first elected to in 2012 and has forged relationships with Democratic establishment figures in Washington while navigating the ascending left in his backyard.
He was elected by unanimous voice vote Wednesday in a closed-door meeting of House Democrats. He succeeds House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the first woman to hold that position.
After Democrats did far better than expected in this year’s midterms but narrowly lost the House majority, Pelosi announced that she would step down as the top Democrat. The day after her announcement, Jeffries, who’s served as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, formally announced his bid for it and was unopposed.
For House Democrats the move signals a generational change from Pelosi, 82, and two other octogenarians who have led conference for most of her tenure. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) and House Majority Whip Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), both in their 80s, were replaced by Reps. Katherine M. Clark (D-Mass.), 59, and Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), 43, respectively.
Jeffries has been described by colleagues as thoughtful, disciplined and aligned with both the Democratic Party leadership and many liberal causes championed by the party’s activist base.
In an interview with the Atlantic last year, Jeffries described where he fit into in today’s political landscape, saying, “I’m a Black progressive Democrat concerned with addressing racial and social and economic injustice with the fierce urgency of now.” He added, “There will never be a moment where I bend the knee to hard-left democratic socialism.”
Dr. Danielle Pulliam Chosen as Badger’s Assistant Athletic Director for Diversity and Inclusion
Danielle Pulliam, Ed.D., began her tenure at Wisconsin Athletics in 2022 as the Assistant Athletic Director for Diversity and Inclusion. She leads the Badgers’ Diversity and Inclusion team.
Wisconsin Athletics is committed to an inclusive culture where every individual feels free to be their authentic self. The Badgers believe that our differences are our strengths and, together, our variety of perspective moves us forward. A member of DIECE (Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, Council of Excellence), Pulliam joined the Badgers to help continue operationalizing our vision for diversity and inclusion within the department.
Pulliam most recently served as the Assistant AD Student-Athlete Services; Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Designee at Loyola University (Chicago) where she was tasked with overseeing academic support services, student-athlete development, and implementation of diverse and inclusive practices related to athletics.
Prior to that, Pulliam spent two years as an Assistant Director of Academic Services at Indiana. She was responsible for providing academic support for wrestling, women’s soccer and women’s golf, and was also a member of the athletics department’s Anti-hate/Anti-racism Coalition, which worked to create and cultivate a more equitable and inclusive environment for student-athletes and staff.
A native of Indianapolis, Pulliam was a letterwinner on the women’s basketball team at Northern Illinois University where she earned both her bachelor’s (B.S. in Family Child Studies) and master’s degrees (M.S. Sport Management). Including a dissertation on “How do sport organizations ensure inclusiveness in the hiring process,” Pulliam also earned a master’s degree in Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Memphis and an Ed.D. in Global Sport Leadership from East Tennessee State University.
‘The Lion King’ hits a key milestone in its circle of life
In the summer of 1997, audiences in Minneapolis at the Orpheum Theatre saw something no one had ever seen before: leaping antelopes, fluttering birds and elephants lumbering through the orchestra seats.
“The audience started screaming so early. When the animals came down the aisle everybody shot up,” recalls director-writer Julie Taymor. “I burst into tears. We were just overwhelmed, and we knew we had something.”
They did, indeed. That show in a trial run in Minneapolis would soon transfer to Broadway and start a stunning streak that regularly lands it among the weekly top earners and becomes young people’s introduction to theater. It is “The Lion King,” and it turns 25 years old on Broadway in November.
“The Lion King” has been a model of consistency in its march through records. In April 2012, it swiped the title of Broadway’s all-time highest-grossing show from “The Phantom of the Opera,” despite “Phantom” having almost a full 10 years’ head start. With plans for ”Phantom,” to close next year, “The Lion King” jostles with “Chicago” for its crown of longest-running show on Broadway.
So established is “The Lion King” that it’s easy to forget its revolutionary origins. Audiences were seeing Asian-inspired puppets and masks telling an African tale with several African languages, using South African performers and a Black king.
Joyce Bryant, ‘Bronze Blond Bombshell’ of the 1950s, Dies at 95
The Washington Post
Joyce Bryant, an African American singer who became known as the “bronze blond bombshell” of the 1950s, electrifying nightclub audiences with her sultry voice and shimmering silver hair before she abruptly left entertainment in search of fulfillment in missionary work and later on the opera stage, died Nov. 20 in Los Angeles. She was 95.
She had Alzheimer’s disease, said her niece Robyn LaBeaud.
Ms. Bryant was a sensation in the 1950s, drawing rapturous audiences at nightclubs from the Copacabana in New York, where she said she was the first “identifiably Black” woman to perform, to venues in Miami Beach, where members of the Ku Klux Klan burned her in effigy to protest the appearance of an African American artist.
In an era of uncompromising racial segregation, Ms. Bryant was promoted to Black and White audiences alike as a sex goddess. Sheathed in cleavage-baring mermaid gowns so tight that she writhed more than walked, she had hits with the sensual numbers “Love for Sale” and “Drunk With Love,” both of which were banned from the radio.
Ms. Bryant used radiator paint to dye her hair silver during the early years of her career, achieving the signature look that decades later invited descriptions of her as the “Black Marilyn Monroe.” In her day, she was better known as “the Belter,” a reference both to the power of her four-octave voice and her habit — partly the result of her constraining stage wear — of thrashing her arms onstage like a boxer. She was said to have lost a pound or more in weight with every show.
Ms. Bryant grew up in California and gave her first public performance at age 14, when she ventured into a singalong club in Los Angeles. Her rendition of “On Top of Old Smoky” so impressed the audience that she received a two‐week contract for $125 a week. She got her true start when she was asked to fill in at Ciro’s club in Hollywood for singer Pearl Bailey, who had come down with laryngitis.
4 Largest Cities in America will be Led by Black Mayors
When Rep. Karen Bass was sworn in as Los Angeles mayor this winter, Black people will be leading the four largest cities in America.
“As Black mayors continue to win elections this cycle, we are excited that, for the first time, the four largest cities – New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago & Houston – are each led by an African American mayor,” the African American Mayors Association said.
Bass, a six-term congresswoman who represents south and west Los Angeles, will be Los Angeles’ first female mayor. She was sworn in on Dec. 12.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a retired New York Police Department captain, took his oath earlier this year. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was elected in 2019 and is currently running for reelection. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has been in office since 2016 and his current term concludes at the end of next year.
Phyllis Dickerson, CEO of the African American Mayors Association, said Black mayors bring a different perspective to public office and can identify not only problems they have experienced, like the need for public housing and food insecurities, but solutions to those issues. She believes having the four cities led by Black people will have a positive impact locally and nationally.
“When you have the top four cities at the table, with the administration, I think that the conversation is definitely going to land where it needs to be,” Dickerson said.
There are seven Black women serving as mayors of the nation’s largest 100 cities, according to the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers University, which tracks the progress of Black and other women of color in elected office.
They are Lightfoot in Chicago, Vi Alexander Lyles in Charlotte, North Carolina, London Breed in San Francisco, Muriel Bowser in Washington, DC, LaToya Cantrell in New Orleans, Tishaura Jones in St. Louis, Missouri, and Elaine O’Neal in Durham, North Carolina.
But that number will reach nine with Bass and Pamela Goynes-Brown, who was elected mayor of North Las Vegas.
Popular Black Baby Names
Popular Black baby names are rich in meaning and often derive from Arabic and African languages. Some have Biblical sources, while others draw on faith and spirituality. Many of these names have become popular through African American celebrities and icons – including Aaliyah, Laila Ali, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jordan Peele, Kyrie Irving, John Legend, Carter G. Woodson, and Elijah Cummings.
Black baby girl names:
Black baby boy names:
Black unisex baby names:
DC’s ‘Hat Lady’ Dies at 103 After Half a Decade Designing Radiant Hats for Maya Angelou and Others
From working as an elevator operator in a hat store to later crafting some of the most sought-after designs, the owner of Washington’s most acclaimed hat and bridal shop has passed away.
Vanilla Beane, also known as “D.C.’s Hat Lady,” reportedly died Oct. 23, in a hospital in Washington, D.C.
According to The Washington Post, Beane was 103 years old, and her grandson, Craig Seymour, shared that complications following an aortic tear were the cause.
Beane was known for the radiant hats she designed and fabricated at the Bené Millinery and Bridal Supplies shop on Third Street, NW. Her creations drew the attention of African American women who wanted to purchase hats for special occasions like church, weddings, and funerals. Each design was one of a kind and offered a selection of hats that included tams, turbans, Panamas, sailors, and cloches.
Writer and poet Maya Angelou and Dorothy I. Height, founding matriarch of the U.S. civil rights movement, were some of the notable African American women to wear Beane’s fashions.
The outlet reported that Beane made her hats the old-fashioned way. Her technique included wetting a stiff cotton, called buckram, molding it, and decorating it with different fabrics.
Reportedly, D.C.’s “Hat Lady” worked six days a week for half a century, including her 100th year, turning her fingers rough and stiff.
Black Panther Wasn’t Marvel’s First Black Hero
Black Panther is easily Marvel’s premiere Black superhero, with the likes of Falcon, War Machine and Luke Cage being popular, as well. Though these characters may be well-known in superhero spaces, a more military-oriented hero was Marvel’s first Black hero. In fact, he was even in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, fighting alongside the first Avenger.
Gabe Jones might not be a superhero proper, but he was a staunch part of Sgt. Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos. Featured in Silver Age war comics, Gabe Jones predates the likes of Black Panther and Luke Cage by several years. However, sadly, he lacks half of their popularity and renown, leaving this landmark character overlooked.
Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Gabe Jones debuted in Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #1. One of the team’s members, his inclusion made the Marvel Universe far less racist than real life. There were no such integrated American military units in World War II, with the first coming about in 1948. Given that the first issue of Sgt. Fury (by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby) came out in 1963, it’s an example of the revisionist history that would be employed in Marvel Comics from time to time. Much like an angel of the same name, Gabe Jones was known for blowing a trumpet, with his musical talent allowing him to go to a prestigious music school, courtesy of the military. On the battlefield, the music he played was of a different tune, with his machine gun constantly crescendoing amid a symphony of Nazi organs.
Other early wartime missions had Gabe save a kidnapped baby in Wakanda, with the King of Wakanda offering him citizenship there. After the war, Gabe would have a successful career as a musician, though he reenlisted in the military during the Korean War. The heroism that he showed for his country was recognized by Nick Fury himself, who selected Jones and other Howling Commandos such as Dum Dum Dugan to help him form S.H.I.E.L.D. during the comics of the Silver Age. Though he lacked superpowers, Gabe and some of his allies would receive the Infinity Formula, granting him an exceptionally long life that was sadly ended after the events of Secret Invasion.
Debuting in March 1963, Gabe Jones joined the Marvel Universe’s publication history three years before Black Panther did. His introduction was almost a decade before Luke Cage’s, six years before Falcon’s and 16 years before Rhodey’s. His prominence in the early Silver Age was due to how popular war comics still were, with Sgt. Fury and DC Comics’ Sgt. Rock being frequent contemporaries on the shelves with the Fantastic Four and Superman.