The clock struck 4:05 p.m. on Aug 26 in Orlando, and neither the Magic nor the Bucks were on the court for the tip-off of the fifth game of their playoff series.
Playing their home games just 40 miles from Kenosha, Wisconsin, it’s safe to say that the shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha police literally hit close to home for the Bucks players.
The Orlando Magic originally took the court for their game, but they decided to leave when it appeared the Bucks weren’t coming. That court was now empty aside from the NBA logos, the regulation markings and “Black Lives Matter” in bold text across the side closest to the scorer’s table.
Then, the tweet from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski came at 4:13 p.m. Orlando time saying that the Bucks officially decided to boycott the fifth game of the series.
It was the spark that started the fire, as basketball wouldn’t be played again until Aug. 29.
Bucks guard George Hill was one of the most outspoken players on the team regarding the shooting of Jacob Blake, making it very clear that he couldn’t continue to play basketball to distract from the reality of what’s happening in the United States.
The Brewers, the Milwaukee baseball team that plays its home games just a short drive from where the Bucks play, also decided to cancel their Aug. 26 game against the Reds.
Brewers star Christian Yelich said it was a unanimous decision from the team to not play.
“I think the Bucks spearheaded it for us,” Yelich said. “They started the discussion. It gave us a conversation to have. It was eye-opening for us, and we felt like it was the right thing to do.”
The NHL also joined in the protests, postponing games Aug. 27 and Aug. 28.
Later on the night of Aug. 26, Shams Charania reported via Twitter that the Lakers and Clippers, both of which are still contenders for the title, voted to boycott the rest of the season. LeBron James reportedly led the movement to cancel the season, which is no surprise given his history of fighting for social justice.
Giannis Antetokounmpo said the Bucks were able to get in contact with Blake’s father very quickly. Blake’s father was moved to tears by the gesture.
According to an article from ESPN, Antetokounmpo said, “Obviously, it’s gonna be games that you come in and score 30, 35, 50 or whatever the case might be, but that you’re going to remember. The way we felt, we’re going to remember the way we felt for the rest of our lives.”
The Bucks were eliminated from the playoffs Tuesday, which begs the question of how they will respond. Hill expressed disappointment that he had to be in the Orlando bubble instead of fighting for justice, so it should be interesting to see where the Bucks go from here.
Eyes are also shifting to the NFL, which starts Thursday. The entire nation will have its eyes on protests and social justice initiatives from a league that has been just as outspoken as the NBA.
Southern States Police Benevolent Association, Inc. (SSPBA) announced today that it is endorsing Donald Trump for President in the 2020 election. SSPBA board members and representatives met with Vice President Mike Pence in Raleigh today to announce the endorsement. SSPBA is composed of over 60,000 law enforcement officer members throughout the Southeast. This is the association’s first presidential endorsement in over twenty years.
“With the stakes as high as they are for the law enforcement profession today, we felt that we must speak up in support of the true law enforcement candidates,” said Chris Skinner, SSPBA president.
“President Trump has been unwavering in his support of law enforcement,” President Skinner continued. “He has shown time and again that he stands behind the men and women who put on their uniform and badge and go to work each day,” President Skinner said. “In these times when many are attacking the law enforcement profession, it is imperative that law enforcement officers know that they are not on their own as they face the dangers of their job. We believe that President Trump and Vice President Pence have demonstrated that they understand and appreciate the honor and sacrifice of serving as a law enforcement officer.”
“The number one priority of government is to provide for safety and protection of the citizens. We are convinced that President Trump recognizes the fact that law enforcement and law enforcement officers are vital to the strength and stability of our communities,” President Skinner added. “We support President Trump and Vice President Pence because we know that they are the candidates who will continue to support us.”
Southern States Police Benevolent Association, Inc. is a non-profit professional organization dedicated to improving the law enforcement profession. PBA members are active or retired employees of federal, state, county and municipal law enforcement and correctional agencies. This professional association provides legal, legislative, disciplinary and other representation to member officers as well as a salary replacement death benefit to members’ beneficiaries. The PBA prohibits members from engaging in or condoning any strike by law enforcement officers, electing instead to represent members through aggressive political action. For more information, please visit our website at www.sspba.org.
Recently, our team journeyed to Washington, D.C. for the National Action Network’s Commitment March. The August 28 march marked 57 years since the March on Washington where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his historic “I Have A Dream” speech. According to the National Action Network’s website, the goal of the march was to advocate for comprehensive police accountability reform, promote participation in the Census and motivate voters to cast their ballots in the upcoming Presidential election.
The National Action Network was founded by Rev. Al Sharpton in 1991. With nearly 100 chapters nationwide, the civil rights organization works in the tradition of Martin Luther King, Jr. to achieve “one standard of justice, decency, and equal opportunities for all people regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, criminal record, economic status, gender, gender expression or sexuality.”
The trip from New York to Washington, D.C. was made easy by taking Amtrak’s Acela service. Despite the higher price point, the Acela is newer and less crowded than regional trains. The express train eliminated the burden of tolls and stopped in only a few cities, arriving in D.C. after about three and a half hours. It can be stressful to travel right now, so it was a relief to see how clean the train was. The quiet car, basic free wifi and outlets on board provided the perfect environment to research and write articles on our tablets. We utilized our extra time to discuss with one another and prepare for our coverage of the march and our days in D.C.
The café offered coffee and various snack options, and the sliding glass doors made it easy for us to walk through the cars. The reclining seats were comfortable and allowed us to rest before our trip. There were also sections of four seats for those traveling in a larger group. Each passenger could bring two personal items weighing up to 25 pounds, and two carry-on bags weighing up to 50 pounds at no additional cost. Amtrak is currently offering reduced fares for two to six tickets purchased together where riders can save eight to 45 percent.
Luckily, we were able to call Amtrak in advance to ensure we could carry on our folding bicycles. With limited parking available in the city, electric bikes served as a great mode of transportation for many protesters. E-bikes such as the DYU Smart Bike and a custom scooter from Good Vibe Gliders were an affordable alternative to renting a car, and made covering and participating in the march much easier.
The Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks started early Friday morning. Participants marched through the National Mall, many carrying signs remembering those whose lives have been lost in acts of police violence. Others displayed “Black Lives Matter” on flags, shirts and masks.
Some participants created street art during the event, voicing their support through their work. At one point, a number of demonstrators stood together in the Reflecting Pool in front of the Washington Monument. Marchers reached the section of 16 Street NW that has become known as “Black Lives Matter Plaza” around 3:30 PM before dispersing for the day.
Organizers of the march upheld COVID-19 guidelines and regulations. The National Action Network placed multiple signs throughout the National Mall encouraging social distancing, and took marchers’ temperatures as they entered the area. Face masks were distributed to people who did not have one, and visitors from high-risk areas were urged to join virtually from their homes. There was also a testing booth on site, as reported by WUSA 9.
The march was co-convened by Sharpton and Martin Luther King III. Among the thousands of attendees who gathered on the National Mall were the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and Jacob Blake. Many members of these families gave speeches at the Lincoln Memorial, along with lawmakers from across the country. These congressmen and women pushed for legislation that would address cases of racial injustice.
Though she was not present, Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris shared her message to marchers via Twitter. In her speech, which was played at the event, she said, “…if we work together, to challenge every instinct our nation has to return to the status quo, and combine the wisdom of long time warriors for justice, with the creative energy of the young leaders today, we have an opportunity to make history, right here and right now.”
Yolanda Renee King took the stage to address the crowd, standing where her grandfather had led March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. In a video posted by CNN she said, “We stand and march for love and we will fulfill my grandfather’s dream.” She then led a chant of “Show me what democracy looks like; This is what democracy looks like!”
Friday was also the 65th anniversary of Emmett Till’s murder. The 14-year-old was lynched and thrown off a bridge while visiting family in Mississippi. He was abducted after “allegedly whistling at a white woman,” according to ABC 7 Chicago, and his body was found mutilated in the Tallahatchie River. Till’s family never received justice, as the two men responsible for his death were both acquitted. Till’s murder helped to spark the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s. Civil rights leader and former congressman John Lewis wrote that “Emmett Till was [his] George Floyd” in a New York Times essay that was published on the day of Lewis’ funeral.
The trip provided a meaningful experience to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as time to see local relatives. 360 President Vaughn Lowery visited his uncle Leroy Lowery, the former executive director of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, who raised over $120 million for the Stone of Hope.
Leroy Lowery is the son of the late Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, a civil rights leader who helped Martin Luther King, Jr. establish the Southern Christina Leadership Conference, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. Leroy Lowery attended the march with his father in 1963 and stated on Friday, “to see that we have to march [again] 57 years later is deflating.”
On Friday, August 28, 2020, tens of thousands of Americans from all racial, religious and geographic backgrounds gathered in Washington, D.C. on the 57th anniversary of the historic March on Washington to recommit themselves to the fight for justice; a fight that calls for the eradication of systemic racism, police reform and full and open access to the ballot box in November’s presidential election and beyond.
Others joined virtually from cities and states across the world to show their solidarity and to call for longstanding change. You can watch the complete coverage here on C-Span.
The day was empowering. Reverend Al Sharpton issued a clarion call for the next steps. Between now and November, National Action Network will organize voting education brigades and train poll workers to work the polls on Election Day. Our vote will not be suppressed.
According to CBS News, “Sharpton first announced plans for the march during a memorial service for George Floyd, the 46-year-old father who died at the hands of police in Minneapolis in May.” After the unjust killing of Floyd at the hands of police, cases of police brutality against the black community gained media attention, sparking protests across the world.
Many of those families who had been dismantled because of this violence epidemic had the opportunity to speak at this year’s march, coined the “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” Commitment March on Washington. Philonise Floyd, George Floyds brother, and Tamika Miller, mother of Broenna Taylor who was killed in her home by police, both took the podium to speak to the crowd. NPR reported that Floyd told the crowd, “My brother, George, he’s looking down right now. He’s thankful for everything that everybody is doing right now. Our leaders, they need to follow us while we’re marching to enact laws to protect us.”
The March also hoped to bring attention to the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. According to the New York Times the bill would, “overhaul law enforcement training and conduct rules to try to limit police misconduct and racial bias.” Which comes after months of protest demanding the defunding of police departments and more education for those pursuing a career in law enforcement.
We will work tireless to push for the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020, named in honor of our beloved Congressman who recently passed away after a heroic battle with cancer. You can read more about these proposed pieces of legislation below.
More importantly, if you are not registered to vote, please do so today. Most states are offering mail-in and early voting. The 2020 presidential election may be the most significant election of our lifetime. Key issues that impact the civil rights community will be on the ballot. Additionally, you will want to make your voice known in your local elections, particularly on issues relating to education.
• Click here to find out deadlines for registering to vote.
• Call your Senators and urge them to support the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020.
Organizers originally estimated that there would be 100,000 protestors, according to the Washington Post; however, following a permit from the National Park Service that number was decreased to an allowed 50,000.. Organizers urged protesters to abide by COVID regulations by keeping social distance, causing some to step out into the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting pool in efforts to keep a six-foot distance.
Even with this cut, the immense power of the crowd was still felt. Protestors filled the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park holding signs painted with the faces of those who have been murder by police, calls voter registration and the dauntless reminder of the 8 minutes and 46 second George Floyd was pinned at the neck by an officer.
Martin Luther King III, King Jr’s son, spoke at the rally on the 57th anniversary of his father’s historical speech. CNN reported King III said, “If you’re looking for a savior, get up and find a mirror. We must be (our own) hero.” He reminded the crowd that quoting his father who died for this movement was not enough. King III stressed the importance of this generation of protestors to continue their activism and to vote in this upcoming election.
2020 has been a historical year engulfed by the flames of a pandemic and police brutality which both disproportionately affect black Americans. This years march served as a reminder that 57 years later, King’s dream has a long way to go and the fight for racial equality is still emanating through out America.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is the first-ever bold, comprehensive approach to hold police accountable, end racial profiling, change the culture of law enforcement, empower our communities, and build trust between law enforcement and our communities by addressing systemic racism and bias to help save lives. This bill addresses a wide range of policies and issues regarding policing practices and law enforcement accountability. It includes measures to increase accountability for law enforcement misconduct, to enhance transparency and data collection, and to eliminate discriminatory policing practices. The bill facilitates federal enforcement of constitutional violations (e.g., excessive use of force) by state and local law enforcement. Among other things, it does the following:
• lowers the criminal intent standard—from willful to knowing or reckless—to convict a law enforcement officer for misconduct in a federal prosecution,
• limits qualified immunity as a defense to liability in a private civil action against a law enforcement officer or state correctional officer, and
• authorizes the Department of Justice to issue subpoenas in investigations of police departments for a pattern or practice of discrimination.
The bill also creates a national registry—the National Police Misconduct Registry—to compile data on complaints and records of police misconduct. It establishes a framework to prohibit racial profiling at the federal, state, and local levels. The bill establishes new requirements for law enforcement officers and agencies, including to report data on use-of-force incidents, to obtain training on implicit bias and racial profiling, and to wear body cameras.
The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act
This bill establishes new criteria for determining which states and political subdivisions must obtain preclearance before changes to voting practices in these areas may take effect. (Preclearance is the process of receiving preapproval from the Department of Justice or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia before making legal changes that would affect voting rights.)
A state and all of its political subdivisions shall be subject to preclearance of voting practice changes for a 10-year period if (1) 15 or more voting rights violations occurred in the state during the previous 25 years; or (2) 10 or more violations occurred during the previous 25 years, at least one of which was committed by the state itself. A political subdivision as a separate unit shall also be subject to preclearance for a 10-year period if three or more voting rights violations occurred there during the previous 25 years.
A state or political subdivision that obtains a declaratory judgment that it has not used a voting practice to deny or abridge the right to vote shall be exempt from preclearance. All jurisdictions must preclear changes to requirements for documentation to vote that make the requirements more stringent than federal requirements for voters who register by mail or state law. The bill specifies practices jurisdictions meeting certain thresholds regarding racial minority groups, language minority groups, or minority groups on Indian land, must preclear before implementing. These practices include changes to methods of election, changes to jurisdiction boundaries, redistricting, changes to voting locations and opportunities, and changes to voter registration list maintenance.
The bill expands the circumstances under which (1) a court may retain the authority to preclear voting changes made by a state or political subdivision, or (2) the Department of Justice may assign election observers. States and political subdivisions must notify the public of changes to voting practices.
The bill revises the circumstances under which a court must grant preliminary injunctive relief in a challenge to voting practices.
Leading national racial justice organizational leaders issued a joint statement on armed white militia violence and police camaraderie with militia members following the arrest of a militia member in connection with the killing of two police accountability protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“Tuesday night, two protesters who were advocating for accountability following the horrific police shooting of Jacob Blake were allegedly shot and killed by a 17-year-old associated with a white militia group. We are outraged by these killings. The ability of a minor to travel from another state at the urging of adult white supremacists organizing on Facebook highlights the corrosive and dangerous convergence of race, police violence, and the presence of these violent groups. That this volatile cocktail was allowed to develop led directly to one of the most violent nights in the city’s history. In light of the fact that the suspect apparently crossed state lines in order to commit this crime, the federal government should launch an investigation to determine whether he was involved in an interstate criminal conspiracy. “We are equally outraged by videos showing Kenosha Police Department Officers exhibiting camaraderie toward militia members – who were out in violation of the curfew before the shootings — and also seemingly ignoring protesters who tried to identify the shooter in this incident. Police solidarity with white militia members is abhorrent and intolerable – and it represents a highly dangerous threat to the lives and rights of people of color. In addition, the fact that Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis blamed protestors for the killings is another example of the racially disparate treatment that Americans across the country have been protesting against since May and for decades before. We call on Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul, to immediately investigate and prosecute these killings, the shooting of Mr. Blake, and the increasingly pervasive issue of armed white militia members confronting and attacking protesters demanding police accountability. They must also demand the immediate removal of Chief Miskinis.
“Finally, turning to Facebook, the prevalence of armed white militia groups organizing on the platform is not new. Facebook must also be held accountable for its inaction while these violent groups have been allowed to grow and organize. Facebook must take immediate steps to ensure that its platform is not used to foment violence and hatred — and to take immediate and comprehensive action to put an end to groups using its services to organize activities that perpetuate racism and cause harm.”
The following leaders signed the statement: · Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. · Reverend Al Sharpton, founder and president, National Action Network · Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Convener, Black Women’s Roundtable · Kristen Clarke, president and executive director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law · Vanita Gupta, president and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights · Derrick Johnson, president and CEO, NAACP · Marc H. Morial, president and CEO, National Urban League
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute (TMI) is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Follow LDF and TMI on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
National Action Network is one of the leading civil rights organizations in the Nation with chapters throughout the entire United States. Founded in 1991 by Reverend Al Sharpton, NAN works within the spirit and tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to promote a modern civil rights agenda that includes the fight for one standard of justice, decency and equal opportunities for all people regardless of race, religion, nationality or gender. For more information go to www.nationalactionnetwork.net. The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP), founded in 1976, is one of the most active civil rights and social justice organizations in the nation “dedicated to increasing civic engagement, economic and voter empowerment in Black America.” The Black Women’s Roundtable (BWR) is the women and girls empowerment arm of the NCBCP. At the forefront of championing just and equitable public policy on behalf of Black women, BWR promotes their health and wellness, economic security & prosperity, education, and global empowerment as key elements for success. Visit www.ncbcp.org and follow us on Twitter @ncbcp and Instagram @thenationalcoalition.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Now in its 56th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest to “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 220 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s largest and foremost grassroots civil rights organization. The mission of the NAACP is to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons. Members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights and social justice in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work by visiting naacp.org.
The National Urban League is a historic civil rights organization dedicated to economic empowerment in order to elevate the standard of living in historically underserved urban communities. The National Urban League spearheads the efforts of its 90 local affiliates through the development of programs, public policy research and advocacy, providing direct services that impact and improve the lives of more than 2 million people annually nationwide. Visit www.nul.org and follow us on Twitter and Instagram: @NatUrbanLeague.
In the most recent incident to incite protests against injustices across the nation this summer, a Black man has been shot in Wisconsin. Jacob Blake, witnesses said, was attempting to break up an argument between two women. Following this, he walked back towards his silver SUV this past Sunday, August 23rd while being trailed by a police officer involved in the confrontation. As three of his children watched from their vehicle, the police officer proceeded to fire seven times at Blake’s back and close range. One can only imagine the trauma for his sons. As of today, Blake remains hospitalized in serious condition, but is expected to survive.
The incident, caught on video, has gone similarly viral to other violent misconducts by the police over the course of spring and summer 2020. The officers involved in Blake’s shooting have been placed on administrative leave and have shocked the small city of Kenosha, Wisconsin. Protests across the city have motivated Governor Evers to call in the National Guard, though he attempted to assure constituents it was not in an effort to mimic clashes between protesters and servicemen in places like Seattle, Minneapolis, or New York. Minor confrontations have occurred over the past two days despite this.
Following George Floyd’s murder this past May, protests against the police and in favor of the movement Black Lives Matter have exploded across the country. Blake’s shooting has added fuel to the fire, inspiring renewed protests and calls to action all across the nation. The incident in Kenosha has furthered the call for cities to cut funding to police departments, restructure their legal practices, amongst other changes.
Governor of Wisconsin Tony Evers tweeted in support of Jacob Blake and in condemnation of the actions of police officers involved: “I have said all along that although we must offer our empathy, equally important is our action. In the coming days, we will demand just that of elected officials in our state who have failed to recognize the racism in our state and country for far too long. And we stand against excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging with Black Wisconsinites.” The Governor also signed an executive order into Wisconsin’s state legislature for a special session to pass legislation and police reforms for August 31st. The reforms are expected to be fought by the state’s Republican leadership.
Calls from the countries Democratic leadership have come again for immediate reform, including the voice of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as he “wakes up yet again with grief and outrage that yet another Black American is a victim of excessive force.” President Trump has not commented directly on the shooting, but Vice President Pence made a statement yesterday emphasizing the administration’s loyalty to their men and women in blue.
The situation involving the shooting of Jacob Blake and ensuing actions in Kenosha, Wisconsin continues to develop.
He makes a powerful statement with the song and the accompanying visual. The video proudly features and spotlights the achievements of over a dozen black entrepreneurs. It includes Issa Rae, Nipsey Hussle, Tyler, The Creator, Robert Hartwell, Six Sev, TyAnthony Davis [Founder of Vox Collegiate Junior High], Vincent Williams [Founder of Honey’s Kettle], Iddris Sandu, Beatrice Dixon [Founder of Honey’s Pot], Arthell & DarnellIsom[Founders of D’ART Shtajio], Neighbors SkateShop, Alrick Augustine, Denise Woodard [Founder of Partake Cookies],Chace Infinite [Founder of Harun Coffee Shop], Chef Alisa[Founder of My Two Cents], Debbie Allen [Founder of Tribe Midwifery], Angela Richardson [Founder of PUR Home], Miss Bennett Fitness, Black and Mobile, Trill Paws Dog Accessories, Third Vault Yarns, and “The First Black Valedictorian of Princeton” Nicholas Johnson. They all make cameos as title cards introduce their accomplishments. Over a slick and soulful bounce, Pharrell carries an uplifting and undeniable affirmation punctuated by his instantly recognizable high register. This anthem arrives at just the right time.
Pharrell also joined forces with TIME for a very special cover project entitled The New American Revolution. He personally curated a series of essays and conversations between Black leaders that explore America’s oppressive past and visions for a more equitable future, with perspectives from Kenya Barris, Imara Jones, Naomi Osaka, Tyler, the Creator, and more. To bring this dialogue to the forefront, he unites the likes of Yara Shahidi and Angela Davis in once-in-a-lifetime interviews. Hank Willis Thomas contributed the cover art.
About the issue, Pharrell wrote, “In assembling this project, I asked some of the most qualified people I know in every field—from Angela Davis to Tyler, the Creator, to Representative Barbara Lee—to talk with us, and with one another, about the way forward. I wanted to convey a vision of a future filled with the artists, creators and entrepreneurs who can fulfill the promise of this country’s principles.”
Naomi Campbell returns with an exclusive episode of her popular YouTube series featuring special guest Cynthia Ervio.
International supermodel, activist and philanthropist Naomi Campbell welcomes Emmy, Grammy and Tony Award-Winning Actor, singer and songwriter Cynthia Erivo to “No Filter with Naomi” – a limited-time series beneath her highly popular “Being Naomi” YouTube channel. The intimate, live streamed series has invited fans to #stayhome and save lives during this critical time and has focused on in-depth, career spanning conversations between Naomi and a close group of her friends including: designers, musicians, actors, beauty gurus and media personalities.
The series debuted on April 6th and has since featured guests Cindy Crawford, Marc Jacobs, Nicole Richie, Ashley Graham, Pierpaolo Piccoli, Lee Daniels, Christy Turlington, Adut Akech, Sharon Stone, Paris Hilton, Serena Williams and Venus Williams, Karlie Kloss, Anna Wintour, Sean “Diddy” Combs and Jackie Aina.
The “No Filter with Naomi” series returned after hiatus on June 23rd and featured a select group of episodes focused on impactful conversations dedicated to #BlackLivesMatter, social justice issues, racial and human inequalities. These critical conversations, reflective of our times, included featured guests: Opal Tometi, Rev. Al Sharpton, Alphonso Reed, Cleo Wade, Bethann Hardison, Tyler Mitchell, Indya Moore, Chase Strangio, and Tori Cooper.
‘Superb. Reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s Remember The Time!’ – Vaughn Lowery, 360 Magazine
By Mina Tocalini
Beyoncé’s new film “Black is King,” a celebration of the “breadth and beauty of Black ancestry”, released on Disney+ today. Similar to Beyoncé’s 2016 film, “Lemonade,” “Black is King” acts as a visual album to her soundtrack, “The Lion King: The Gift.” Black Is King” explores the “timeless lessons” from Lion King in a visually rich modern journey of Black empowerment and resilience.
Beyoncé announced her excitement for the film’s release via Instagram, while further acknowledging the impact of its release and message: “The events of 2020 have made the film’s vision and message even more relevant, as people across the world embark on a historic journey… I believe that when Black people tell our own stories, we can shift the axis of the world and tell our REAL history.”
Beyoncé’s prideful film explores the Black experience and history through a young king’s story of “betrayal, love and self-identity.” Additionally, given the timing of its release, the film presents the necessity of honoring and telling stories from the Black perspective and that of any underrepresented community.
Simply put, the film is a celebratory visual journey of the Black experience. Initially the flow of the story seems interrupted and fast paced, but further on, it becomes clear that instead of following a linear narrative, it challenges the audience to find the connections within the short moments that frame each message.
Reiterating the same story we know and love is unnecessary, so rather, “Black is King” reinvents the Lion King through thematic experimentation intended to ignite pride in the Black identity. In a stunning collage of Afro-Soul music, narrative driven reflections and strikingly beautiful imagery, the film successfully expresses inspirational messages of hope, growth, love and community.
Some have critiqued the lavish presentation of Blackness via art, dance and fashion to be excessive and fast paced. Yet, this film’s message is focused on individuality and self love derived from the appreciation of Black culture. A culture of an entire continent and of Black communities around the world, it is anything but simple.
The immense detail in this film celebrates the complexity of Black beauty and the fast paced editing can not only be considered a reference to music video styles. It may originate from there, but can we not interpret it as being part of the overwhelming journey of defining your identity while struggling with the racial tensions in society.
Beyoncé did not create this to simply further enhance her image in a display of wealth, popular culture already associates her persona this way, we expect it and should not disregard the artistry for embracing it. She is simply using her power as a superstar to lead the unifying celebration, as should be done by those who can.
When people hear the word “Phoenix” they are reminded of the mythological story about the “Phoenix rising from the ashes.” Like most stories as legend would have it part of it is correct. Take the story of Nicholas Mayfield, if you’ve been involved in the world of fashion since 2009; Even now, you may recognize his work. His current day notables are pieces such as the extended t-shirts and the button ups to drop crotch pants and joggers just to name a few.
In recent times Nicholas Mayfield has been labeled as the designer from whom the couture brand Gucci has stolen his “strawberries” and “black faces” designs which are one of the many staples of his brand. The theft of the “strawberries” and “black faces” was the topic to L.A. Fashion Week on the Wonderland Artist 2nd Headlining Appearance, with his show “God Moves” in 2018 and in 2019 with “In The Dark There’s The Spark.”
The unique evolutionary visions of Nicholas’ mind captivate the audience to be engaged in the ideas that are the kaleidoscope of Nicholas ‘mind. As a designer Nicholas uses elements of urban everyday street life and couture fashion as the perfect combination to represent his influence on popular culture.
In the United States there are approximately 103 species of strawberries; Why do you believe Gucci bit off your strawberries and black faces?
Nicholas was contacted by well over 100 different followers, friends and clientele within 48 hours with his designs side by side with Gucci’s product. “I dropped born of an immigrant,” in 2017 a collaboration I did with barely broke on brown and black hard labor as in relevance to America’s Foundation; long before Gucci dropped their collection in 2019. Also, my strawberries are hand painted which creates the uniqueness individually personalized hand painted pieces which are done by my signature hand, the essence of my designs and style.” -Nicholas Mayfield
Growing up Mayfield
As a child Nicholas began drawing at the tender age of 5. He had aspirations of being a cartoonist and drawing comic books early in life. At the impressionable age of 7 years old, Nicholas had plans for a friend to spend the night, therefore his parents bought pizza, drinks and snacks and rented movies all in efforts for a great night. However Nicholas’ friend didn’t show up, Nicholas’ father saw the devastation and disappointment on his son’s face, as Nicholas went to the table and began to draw. Drawing had always been his outlet of expression. Nicholas’s father looked at him and said, “son keep drawing your characters, those are your friends.” The inspiration that Nicholas received in that moment from his father would allow him to trust in himself, and commit himself to his artistic endeavors.
People believe the Phoenix wings are on fire when it flies out of the ashes, yet the bird still soars. The mythological story beholds intrigue of supernatural phenomenon just like the characters Nicholas Mayfield drew as a child.
NM what has been up with you?
I am having a full circle moment right now, I feel like it is the 2006 Soulful Commando warehouse in Corona all over again; which began with just 5 t-shirt designs. I recently released my “Nicholas Mayfield Over Everything Collection”; which is a retrospective collection after years of designing I felt like taking it back to the drawing board of what created me to be me. I’m gassed with my first wave of hats and t-shirts being released. It’s like the art I first started doing, so it’s cool.
Has any of the social climate stemming from the murder of George Floyd by the police affected your creativity?
Oh absolutely I am a Black man of God first, not only that, “our now” is always a platform to express what is happening for the current time. I have the responsibility to let those coming after me know what the world looks like and to pay homage to those who came before me. While doing this I saw two of my brothers yesterday and what I love and appreciate more than anything is true success; it’s that we are men now, some of us are fathers; yet most importantly pillars in our community killing the Willie Lynch mentality. For God is in Us. When we were younger they called us dreamers, now they love our world that they are now apart of.
An unknown part about the Black Phoenix is that it gets burned over a funeral pyre (the burning wood for cremation). As the Black Phoenix rises it is completely renewed and a new life cycle begins
Nicholas Mayfield is a Black Phoenix. As the seasons change, his creative perspective is constantly evolving. The transformations of his interpretations of design remains progressive and renewed. His focus is to continue to “be” as it has always worked; Nicholas Mayfield continues to rise as delivers his style on a future wave. In fashion when your friend copies you, their unoriginal; When Gucci bites off of you, you’re a Trendsetter. As an independent artist Nicholas Mayfield was bent not broken as a Black designer he knows everything is earned and nothing is given. It is his unique originality that allows him to rise from the ashes, when a bird is meant to fly nothing can stop it. Not even getting burned.
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