Posted in A Professor's Thoughts..., On the Desk...

Happy Juneteenth 2021!!

“Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.” ~Toni Morrison

Today marks the 156th year since the message of freedom was delivered to those enslaved in Texas, also known as Juneteenth (portmanteau of June and nineteenth)!! A celebration of emancipation, liberation, and Black Joy!!

And what is Juneteenth? Juneteenth refers to June 19th, 1865 the day when Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas to inform the 250,000 enslaved Black people that they were free. Keep in mind the Emancipation Proclamation (which ended slavery) had went into effect January 1st, 1863 (also the start of watch night services), so Texas would not get this memo for almost two and half years later. And people wonder why Black people cannot wait for change! Why we are persistent about consistent upward and forward movement! Why are Black people not quick to trust, because of past failures and screw ups like what happened in Galveston, TX. Nevertheless, the chains are breaking and the truth is being revealed.

In a way there has been this sudden awakening regarding the Juneteenth holiday. Much like how the message of freedom was delayed in its delivery to those enslaved in Texas, one could say there is a delayed recognition (on a larger scale) of the Juneteenth holiday. With all of the the national protests, police violence, and continuous murder of Black and Brown bodies of last year the U.S. would be reminded of past moments of resistance and endurance. This acknowledgement rebirth is what I like to think of as a memory survival. As Isabel Wilkerson writes in her amazing book, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, “The people from Texas took Juneteenth Day to Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, and other places they went.” And thank goodness the memory of Juneteenth will always be present, because we cannot afford to have any more delays, these are moments that we need right now and always!

So when did I learn about Juneteenth, I remember it being brought up during one of my summer classes as an Upward Bound student, and in passing from one of my aunts who lives in Texas. But I would really learn about Juneteenth while attending Clark Atlanta University (Atlanta, GA) and while out grocery shopping and a young man handed me a flyer for a Juneteenth celebration that was set to take place. Outside of the above-mentioned instances, I did not have any previous knowledge. Now I am not surprised by this, nor am I surprised that many other Black folks are only just now aware of what Juneteenth is and its significance. Even though I may not be from Texas, I take Juneteenth as my Independence Day/Emancipation Day, because clearly July 4th is not!!

Juneteenth is not only a day to celebrate, but also another day to inform the masses, continue speaking out on injustices, and always a day to remember! It’s also another excuse for me to celebrate my Blackness and create more ways to express Black joy and agency. This holiday is also an opportunity to instill values of self-improvement, racial uplift, and reclamation of the family unit. These values were personified through religious sermons and the singing of negro spirituals, reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, rodeos, and the preservation of slave food traditions and delicacies (ex. BBQ and soul food). Juneteenth is another holiday that allows Black folks to commune and fellowship and just be free with ourselves!! This freedom has been further expressed with the creation of various websites and the Juneteenth flag:

Created in 1997 by activist and founder of the National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation (NJCF) Ben Haith, the flag consists of a star, burst, arc, and the colors red, white, and blue. According to the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF) the star is a nod to the Lone Star State (where Juneteenth was first celebrated in 1865), but also stands for the freedom of every Black American in all 50 states, the burst represents an outline surrounding the star meant to reflect a nova— or new star—this represents a new beginning for all, and the arc represents a new horizon, fresh opportunities and promising futures for Black Americans. The colors are also reminiscent of the United States flag, this was intentional to show that the enslaved African Americans and their descendants are also free Americans. Even in our symbols there is always a deep, layered meaning attached.

In 2021, Juneteenth has become more than just a holiday, but in many ways a movement!! Not only are school curriculums slowly changing, but we are also becoming more informed about the holiday through popular media. A few examples include:

  • High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America [Netflix]: Episode 4, ‘Freedom’
  • Atlanta (FX Network): Season 1, Episode 9, ‘Juneteenth’ [Television]
  • Black-ish (ABC): Season 4, Episode 1, ‘Juneteenth’ [Television]
  • Miss Juneteenth (2020) [Film]
  • Juneteenth Jamboree [Austin PBS]

And as of 2020, according to the Congressional Research Service all states, except Hawaii, North Dakota and South Dakota, recognize/celebrate Juneteenth in some sort of fashion. This personally became significant for me because upon moving to Virginia on last year Juneteenth became a permanent statewide holiday (following in the footsteps of Texas, New York, and Pennsylvania). The fact that Virginia made this a statewide holiday is truly significant considering the states past history and the fact that the state is known as being the capital of the Confederacy…Interesting how tides are beginning to change!!

In the end when I think about Juneteenth I am optimistic…I am hopeful…I am excited. Optimistic that one day it will become a national holiday, and that it will truly get the recognition that it deserves. Juneteenth is a holiday even worthy of being acknowledged internationally. Hopeful that the celebration of this holiday is not just for a moment or season, but for an infinity of lifetimes. Excited because with each passing day more and more people are learning about the importance and significance of Juneteenth!! Even if this is your first year, make sure it is not your last!!

And just in case you need a few references for later reading and viewing check out the following link!!

Happy Juneteenth!!

~Dr. G

Posted in Conversations with Beloved & Kindred, On the Desk...

Summertime Conversations: ‘Feeling Good’: Juneteenth-Why Our Jubilation Matters!

In addition to my earlier thoughts on Juneteenth and the BFF Juneteenth Resource Guide, check out the video below: Summertime Conversations on “Feeling Good”Juneteenth: Why Our Day of Jubilation Matters! sponsored by Auburn Avenue Research Library with my fellow sista-scholar Dr. Kaniqua Robinson.

We had a great time talking about the Juneteenth holiday, traditions, and hopes for the future!!

Posted in New Trailer Alerts!!

New Trailer Alerts

Got another line-up of HOT trailers ready for you to watch!! Getting you ready for your summer binging or movie theater experience!!

Check them out below:

Bosch (Streaming on Amazon Prime June 25th)

No Sudden Move (Streaming on HBO Max July 1st)

Series Reboot Gossip Girl (Streaming on HBO Max July 8th)

Free Guy (In theaters August 13th)

Posted in New Trailer Alerts!!

New Trailer Alerts!!

Got some new season premieres, a documentary, a taste of mystery, and a film that will inspire! Check them all out below:

Season 2-Flack (Streaming on Amazon Prime June 11th)

Sisters on Track (Streaming on Netflix June 24th)

Roadrunner (In theaters July 16th)

Reminiscence (Streaming on HBO Max and in theaters August 20th)

Posted in On The Radar

New Trailer Alerts!!

Got some new show and film trailers for you, see what’s set to hit screens and theaters below:

The Upshaws (Season 1 streaming May 12th on Netflix)

Spiral: From the Book of Saw (In theaters May 14th)

Army of The Dead (Streaming May 21st on Netflix)

Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings (In theaters September 3rd)

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (In theaters November 11th)

Posted in On the Desk...

2021 Black History Month Features

Are you looking for an engaging documentary to watch with the family? Do you need a special report to share with you students? Or a digital platform that taps into your musical and/or intellectual interests? Well I have a few things that are airing this month in honor of Black History Month:

Television

  • Tuskegee Airmen: Legacy of Courage (History Channel)- Wednesday, February 10th at 8pm/ET…”In this one hour special, Robin Roberts explores the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, the legendary group of African American pilots including her father that served in WWII, revealing how these warriors for change helped end segregation in the military and pave the way for the civil rights movement.”
  • The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song (PBS)- February 16 & 17th at 9pm ET/8pm CT…An intimate four-hour series from Henry Louis Gates, Jr., The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song will explore the 400-year-old story of the black church in America, the changing nature of worship spaces, and the men and women who shepherded them from the pulpit, the choir loft, and church pews.
  • American Masters: How It Feels To Be Free (PBS)…“The inspiring story of how six iconic African American female entertainers – Lena Horne, Abbey Lincoln, Nina Simone, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson and Pam Grier – challenged an entertainment industry deeply complicit in perpetuating racist stereotypes, and transformed themselves and their audiences in the process.

YouTube, Website & Streaming Services

  • Your Attention Please (Hulu)-February 18th 8pm/ET…Your Attention Please is a TV series “that introduces audiences to Black innovators and creators who are working to leave the world better than they found it.”
  • Ailey Experience Atlanta-February 19th-21st…Ailey Experience Atlanta celebrates over forty years of a rich partnership with the city’s most prominent arts and civic organizations. This year, AEA teams up with AREA Atlanta to bring Ailey Experience online to the greater Atlanta area and across the country.
  • iHeartRadio’s Living Black! (iHeartRadio)-February 20th 6pm/ET…A first ever special event that features conversations that educate, inspire and celebrate the Black experience through a mix of custom tributes from artists and listeners across the nation. 
  • Black Renaissance (YouTube)- Friday, February 26th…A YouTube Originals special that will showcase the Black creators, artists, writers, storytellers, and history makers who have shaped our nation’s history; and the next generation of Black voices who are reimagining our future. The special will also feature dance, music, fashion, photography, literature, Afrofuturism, and art from Black Women and LGBTQ+ artists.
  • All Hands: Race Toward Inclusion (Cheddar.com)…”All Hands is a show about the minority stories that go untold. Each week, we peel back the layers of business stories that expose racial inequalities and are exacerbated by global phenomena like climate change and health crises. We also discuss the successes of minority businesses and communities, and examine how to talk about, and take action on, race-related topics. It’s an inclusive living room in which to have meaningful, difficult, and provocative discussions… *for* everyone.
  • A Most Beautiful Thing (Peacock)…Narrated by the Academy Award/Grammy-winning artist, Common; executive produced by NBA Stars Grant Hill and Dwyane Wade along with Grammy Award-winning producer 9th Wonder; and directed by award-winning filmmaker (and Olympic rower) Mary Mazzio, the film chronicles the first African American high school rowing team in this country (made up of young men, many of whom were in rival gangs from the West Side of Chicago), all coming together to row in the same boat. Based on the memoir by Arshay Cooper.
  • Freedia Got a Gun (Peacock)…“Devastated after learning that her brother was murdered, New Orleans bounce legend Big Freedia raises awareness about gun violence, an epidemic that continues to disproportionally harm Black communities.”
  • The Sit-in: Harry Belafonte Hosts The Tonight Show (Peacock)…“In 1968, entertainer and activist Harry Belafonte took over “The Tonight Show” for one historic week, introducing a fractured, changing country to itself alongside legendary guests like Aretha Franklin and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”

Get your popcorn ready!!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Posted in On the Desk...

On the Desk…

Let’s Go #Back2Wakanda !!

Aerial view of Wakanda

Looks like fans we will be able to revisit the Kingdom of Wakanda!

Check out what crossed my desk…just got word that acclaimed director Ryan Coogler (Black Panther, Fruitvale Station, Creed) is set to create a new Wakanda series for Disney+!!

As reported by Marvel.com, Ryan Coogler is set to develop a new drama for Disney+ that is based on the fictional society of Wakanda. The upcoming series is set to be a part of The Walt Disney Company’s five-year exclusive television deal in collaboration with Coogler’s multi-media company Proximity*.

So not only do we get to see the work of Coogler in film through the Black Panther sequel, but we will also get to see his magic play out on our television screens!! According to Bob Iger, Executive Chairman-The Walt Disney Company,

“Ryan Coogler is a singular storyteller whose vision and range have made him one of the standout filmmakers of his generation…With Black Panther, Ryan brought a groundbreaking story and iconic characters to life in a real, meaningful and memorable way, creating a watershed cultural moment. We’re thrilled to strengthen our relationship and look forward to telling more great stories with Ryan and his team.”

This is very exciting news, as viewers will get a chance to see Wakanda’s story continue to unfold, and in many ways create another branch that picks up from where we stopped in the 2018 Black Panther film. As a huge fan of Coogler’s work (directing, producing, writing), I can only imagine what he along with his Proximity team have in store for us! Through this television series and other potential projects, audiences will get the opportunity to dive deeper into the fantastical world and people of Wakanda. In addition, the creation of this series will also provide another platform to elevate and amplify Black diasporic talent and voices in front and behind the camera and television screen.

“We look forward to learning, growing, and building a relationship with audiences all over the world through the Disney platforms. We are especially excited that we will be taking our first leap with Kevin Feige, Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso and their partners at Marvel Studios where we will be working closely with them on select MCU shows for Disney+. We’re already in the mix on some projects that we can’t wait to share,” as stated by Coogler.

Nothing like watching the unveiling of Black Excellence!!

*Proximity is a multi-media company founded by Ryan Coogler, Zinzi Coogler, Sev Ohanian, Ludwig Göransson, Archie Davis and Peter Nicks with a mission to create event-driven feature films, television, soundtracks and podcasts that look to bring audiences closer together through stories involving often-overlooked subject matters. Proximity is committed to developing a wide variety of projects across all budget levels.

Posted in On The Radar

On The Radar

Just wanted to make sure I dropped a few upcoming jewels (television and movie premieres) in your inbox!

Malcolm & Marie (Netflix) … February 5th

Series Premiere-The Equalizer (CBS) … February 7th

Judas and The Black Messiah (HBO Max) … February 12th

Season 5-Queen Sugar (Own Network) … February 16th

Coming 2 America (Amazon Prime) … March 5th

Season 2-City on a Hill (Showtime) … March 28th

CITY ON A HILL season 2 Key Art. – Photo: SHOWTIME
Posted in Conversations with Beloved & Kindred

Conversations with Beloved & Kindred-Episode 1

So if you missed the live episode on Thursday, fret not we got you covered!! You can check out Dr. Robinson and I via YouTube (see below)!!

Our first conversation episode discusses Lovecraft Country Episode 1: “Sundown” & Episode 2: “Whitey’s on the Moon”!!

We had tons of fun and cannot wait for you to tune into the next one!!

Our next conversation will be on January 28th where we discuss the Netflix movie See You Yesterday!! You can get more information here!!

Posted in On The Radar

Monica Rambeau…WandaVision…I’m here for it!

So let me just start out by saying when I saw the flyer below I immediately felt like a kid in a candy store and they had all of my favorites right at the front door (yeah pretty excited)!! As a Black woman who studies and is a comic book fan this is quite significant and major! Even with the success of the 2018 Black Panther blockbuster (R.I.P. Chadwick Boseman) and I would even add the Dora Milaje and Shuri on the big screen, there is still a need for regular and consistent images in film and television (particularly in the comic book realm). Thus, this (re)introduction of Monica Rambeau into the WandaVision series on Disney+ is a major move!! Monica Rambeau is a force to be reckoned with in the comic book universe (at one point she helmed the title of Captain Marvel)!! And the fact that actress Teyonah Parris is in the role gave it extra cool points!! Glad to see that she is getting some just due as an actress, Ms. Parris got talent!

As you will see throughout my posts, I am very much an advocate for more diverse representation of Black women within the comic book medium. It is crucial that comics display a continuous diversity of characters!! Little Black girls and boys should not have to wait until they are adults before they see someone that looks like them within pop culture (and honestly society as a whole).

Now even in my excitement with everything about the series, I do have my reservations as I am hoping that Rambeau’s character (in particular) will not be surface-level and that she will have a long-lasting impact!! There is SO much potential and SO many opportunities with this character…

WandaVision premieres its first two episodes on today January 15th via Disney+!!

~Dr. G.

Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau in the new “WandaVision” on Disney+