Tuesday, June 23, 2015

'NYC Stands with Charleston' on 125th Street

“Black lives they matter here!” was the chant echoed amongst the crowd as New York stood in solidarity with Charleston during a vigil and rally organized by Millions March NYC on Monday, June 22 at 6:00pm.

The event, held at the plaza located on Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard and 125th Street, remembered the #Charleston9 that were slain on June 17 during a prayer meeting at South Carolina’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

“It’s really important to honor these peoples’ lives in the senseless murder that happened last Wednesday,” said Umara Elliott, Millions March NYC organizer. “I think with the media using things to distract us from this and really focusing the attention so much on Dylann Roof that people don’t even know the names of the nine people that were murdered, who they were, and what they did.”

The shooter claimed the lives of Cynthia Hurd, 54; Susie Jackson, 87; Ethel Lance, 70; Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49; Hon. Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74; Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45; and Myra Thompson, 59.

“It’s as if we know more about the murderer, the beast, the thug hurting these people, that we don’t know about these nine people,” Elliott added.

The vigil recounted the history of their lives and shared the impact that they had on those around them. Organizers welcomed anyone present to speak publicly about how they were personally affected by the tragedy.

“What we’ve been seeing over the last few months is that these vicious, race-related hate crimes have been happening everywhere,” added Elliott.

The crowd came together in support of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement and unified in casting down the ideals represented by the Confederate flag during the rally. The flag, the removal of which is currently being debated by South Carolina lawmakers, was said to be a symbol of injustice and an emblem of a oppression.

“They want us to go inside, they want us to be quiet, they want us to curl up, they want it to go back to slavery,” said a speaker at the mic. “That’s why they hold up the Confederate flag, that’s why they assert violence.”

“These are the things we need to be working on,” said Feminista Jones, feminist activist, addressing the crowd regarding the killing, race, policy, social issues and community building. “Find the candidates that are saying ‘black lives matter’ and support them.”

The rally closed with a circle formation reciting the words of Assata Shakur:

"It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains."

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Pryor Journey Unfolds in "Fried Chicken & Latkes"

Rain Pryor, daughter of iconic comedian Richard Pryor, debuted her solo show at the National Black Theater in Harlem on Thursday, June 11.

With a combination of humor, heart and honesty she shares her most personal moments of coming of age with a dual identity - being of Black and Jewish decent. During the time, America was continuing in its spirit of civil rights and black power movements as Rain was experiencing her own life in the spotlight in the midst of the clamor.

The on-stage journey engaged in a cabaret-style experience as it transported the audience through the drastically different decades of Pryor’s life.

“This is for those who come before us, and those who will come after us,” said Pryor onstage.

It chronicles the tumultuous '60s into the roaring '80s as each scene documents the situations that left a deep impact on her ideas of race, show business, loss, and identity. The comedian, singer, producer and actress filled the stage with moments of laughter, fond memories and heart-wrenching pain as she took on the roles of 11 characters who played crucial roles in shaping her life.

“The development of “Fried Chicken & Latkes” has been cathartic and this fully mounted version is the culminating event,” said Pryor.

The show is directed by Kamilah Forbes, who has worked on Broadway productions of “A Raisin in the Sun,” “Holler If Ya Hear Me,” and “Lucky Guy.” The live music band included sounds from musical director and pianist Isamu McGregor, Jerry Devore on bass and drummer, Russell Carter. Opening night concluded with a celebration in the lobby partly sponsored by Kitty’s Canteen.

“With Kamilah's vision and the talent of a top-notch creative team, the June premiere marks the first time the show is more than me, a black curtain and a couple of black boxes,” said Pryor. "Thank the ancestors for creatives!”

Fried Chicken & Latkes runs until June 28 with ticket prices between $20 and $50. For more information about the show visit www.nationalblacktheatre.org

Ailey Spirit Gala Celebrates Lincoln Center Residency

The Ailey Spirit Gala launched its two-week season at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater Thursday, June 10, 2015. Benefits from the Gala were directed towards providing scholarships for students of The Ailey School and supported Ailey’s innovative Arts in Education & Community Programs. DJ M.O.S. set the tunes for the party following the performance, which honored the Ford Foundation.

The special evening kicked-off the 15 nights of performances guided under Artistic Directors Robert Battle of Takademe, Matthew Rushing of ODETTA and Manuell Vignoule of Breakthrough, and Christopher Huggins of Annointed. Many performances feature an expanded performance of Alvin Ailey’s signature Revelations.

The performance included pieces by dancers of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ailey II, the Ailey School and AileyCamp.

Model and actor Tyson Beckford served as Honorary Chair for this year's Gala. Attendees included co-chairs of the Gala and guests such as Janet Mock, Tituss Burgess and Naturi Naughton.

“The Ailey Spirit Gala is the perfect New York night - a world class institution having a world class celebration for a great cause,” said Beckford. “Seeing Ailey is an unforgettable experience and I am honored and excited to be part of this very special evening.”

Each year the Ailey company hosts a series of engagements at Lincoln Center among other venues across the country. The Alvin Ailey Dance theater began in 1989 and is now lead by Artistic Director Robert Battle. For more information and tickets visit www.alvinailey.org.

The two-week full schedule:

6/10, 7:00pm - The Ailey Spirit Gala (includes Revelations)
6/11, 7:30pm - Toccata, After the Rain Pas de Deux / Exodus / Revelations
6/12, 8:00pm - ODETTA / Suspended Women, In/Side / Revelations
6/13, 2:00pm - Toccata, After the Rain Pas de Deux / Exodus / Revelations (Q&A session to follow)
6/13, 8:00pm - Bad Blood / Uprising / ODETTA
6/14, 3:00pm - ODETTA / Bad Blood / Revelations
6/14, 7:30pm - Toccata, After the Rain Pas de Deux / Exodus / Revelations
6/16, 7:30pm - Chroma / Grace / Takademe, Revelations
6/17, 7:30pm - Night Creature, A Case of You / No Longer Silent / Revelations
6/18, 7:30pm - Chroma / Grace / Takademe, Revelations
6/19, 8:00pm- Exodus / Suspended Women, Takademe / Revelations
6/20, 2:00pm - Toccata, After the Rain Pas de Deux / Exodus / Revelations (Q&A session to follow)
6/20, 8:00pm - Night Creature, A Case of You / No Longer Silent / Revelations
6/21, 3:00pm- Bad Blood / Uprising / ODETTA
6/21, 7:30pm - Exodus, Strange Humors/ No Longer Silent / Revelations