Monthly Archives: February 2012


The ballet dancer.

Lithe. Supple. Sylph-like. Agile. Ethereal.

Immortalized in Edgar Degas’ famous sculpture of a ballet dancer and of his paintings, the image of a young White woman comes to mind when the words ballet dancer are mentioned.

Little Dancer of Fourteen Years, by Edgar Degas.

Danseuse, by Edgar Degas.

But, sadly, the image of a Black ballet dancer, man or woman, often fails to come to mind when people consider the subject of the ballet and its retinue. But, Black ballets dancers do exist.

The most famous of Black American ballet dancers is Ms. Lauren Anderson.

Here is her story.


Lauren Anderson (b. February 19, 1965)  American ballet dancer and a former principal dancer with the Houston Ballet.

Houston Ballet's Lauren Anderson became the first black prima ballerina in a major dance company in 1990. She retired in 2006 and now is an educational ambassador for the ballet. She will share her insights next month at the public library. Photo: Karen Warren / © 2012  Houston Chronicle

Lauren Anderson, Houston Ballet’s first black prima ballerina in a major dance company in 1990.

Photo: Karen Warren / © 2012  Houston Chronicle        SOURCE

Born in Houston, Texas, an only child of Lawrence Anderson, a school administrator, and Doris Parker-Morales, a classical piano teacher, she trained at Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy, from the age of seven. She graduated from Lamar High School, Houston, Texas  in 1982. She joined the Houston Ballet in 1983. She honed her skills early in life in performances that would lead her to the prestigious Houston Ballet corps.

THAT WAS THEN: At the age of 10, Anderson was the Nutcracker's lead soldier in 1978. Photo: LAUREN ANDERSON / HC

THAT WAS THEN: At the age of 10, Anderson was the Nutcracker‘s lead soldier in 1978. Photo: LAUREN ANDERSON / HC

Ms. Anderson  entered the Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy at 7, and was only 13 when she stepped onto the stage as Alice in the Houston Ballet’s production of Alice in Wonderland.

It was there she met with the subtle forms of racism in the world of the performing arts:

“Alice was really, really white,” Anderson said, “and I was really, really brown.”

She was sheltered from the more insidious aspects of racism while under the tutelage of the Houston Ballet’s director, Ben Stevenson.

In 1990, she joined the Houston Ballet as its principal dancer. She was the first Black American ballerina to become a principal for a major dance company. Her performance in the title role in Cleopatra gave her international recognition. Ms. Anderson originated the role of Cleopatra in the ballet of the same name created by Ben Stevenson, and her performance received rave reviews.

Lauren Anderson inspiring a new generation of dancers

Lauren Anderson inspiring a new generation of dancers

Houstonian Lauren Anderson as “Cleopatra” in a performance from the Houston Ballet.


She has performed works by Sir Kenneth MacMillan and George Balanchine.

She has performed many memorable roles as America’s first Black principal ballet dancer.

DANCING ON AIR: Anderson in Houston Ballet'sDon Quixote. Photo: DREW DONOVAN, HOUSTON BALLET / HC

DANCING ON AIR: Anderson in Houston Ballet’s Don Quixote. Photo: DREW DONOVAN, HOUSTON BALLET / HC

Lauren Anderson and Carlos Acosta perform in Benjamin Britten's Pas de Deux in 1998. Photo: JACK MITCHELL / HC

Lauren Anderson and Carlos Acosta perform in Benjamin Britten’s Pas de Deux in 1998. Photo: JACK MITCHELL / HC

Beloved in her hometown, and around the world, Ms. Anderson has shown that she has a light-hearted side to her when in November 2000 she was dubbed “The Pigskin Pavlova“.

After a lustrous career as principal dancer, Ms. Anderson in the Christmas season of 2006 performed her final role as the Sugar Plum Fairy of The Nutcracker.

Photo source: Jim Caldwell.

Her retirement was not easy for her:

“So for her, quitting dancing and leaving the Houston Ballet is infinitely more painful and personal than a career change: As she takes a breather between Nutcracker rehearsals, she reflects on her conflicting emotions. For a moment, the usually voluble, wise-cracking Anderson falls silent. “It’s almost like a death,” she finally says. “I’m in mourning. What’s wonderful about being a ballerina,” she explains, “is being able to tell a story without saying a single word. It’s magical and scary, all at the same time. You dissect yourself, you reach down deep inside yourself, and you’re so fragile afterwards. That’s what I’ll miss being the music. I can’t imagine anything better.


In 2007, Ms. Anderson became an outreach associate in the Houston Ballet’s education department, teaching ballet classes at Houston Ballet’s Academy, conducting master classes at schools in the Houston area inspiring a new generation ballerinas, as well as being in demand as a lecturer on the subject of ballet.

She comments on her life as a ballet dancer who blazed trails for others to follow and how life will be for her:

“……………..corns and broken toes notwithstanding, won’t it be hard to give up the thrill of being a prima ballerina the adulation, the bouquets, all that jazz for a more conventional life? “You betcha!” is the resounding answer. “I’m afraid of regular, I’m afraid of normal. I’m used to being special, and it all ends too damn soon. But I’ve had a great ride, and you know what? If I can make just one person enjoy this ride as much as I have, I’ll have accomplished something. And it ain’t over yet. It’s not finished. I’m blessed.”


We, your admiring and adoring fans, are blessed for all that you have given us.

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Published: February 22, 2012

Kay Davis, who wove her haunting soprano tones through many of Duke Ellington’s records in the 1940s, often using her voice as an instrument within the orchestra, died on Jan. 27 at her home in Apopka, Fla. She was 91.

February 23, 2012

William P. Gottlieb/Library of Congress

Kay Davis with Duke Ellington. The classically trained coloratura soprano sang with Mr. Ellington’s orchestra from 1944 to 1950.

Her death was confirmed by her son, Edward Lawson Wimp.

Ms. Davis performed with the Ellington orchestra from 1944 to 1950. As a member of a trio of female vocalists — the others were Joya Sherrill and Maria Ellington (no relation) — she offered the maestro an opportunity to reprise something he had long relished: wordless vocalization.

“She was a classically trained coloratura,” Phil Schaap, curator of Jazz at Lincoln Center, said in an interview on Tuesday, noting that Ellington had used “the high-register female voice as instrumental color” in the middle and late 1920s. Among the best-known wordless works was “Creole Love Call,” sung by Adelaide Hall in 1927.

“With Kay Davis, he returned to this practice,” including revisiting “Creole Love Call” in 1944, Mr. Schaap said. “And he took a work that featured the trombone, ‘Blue Light,’ renamed it ‘Transblucency,’ and blended trombone with her highest-notes coloratura voice.”

While “Transblucency” may be her signature piece in the genre, Ms. Davis recorded several other noteworthy wordless vocals — many accompanied by the renowned trombonist Lawrence Brown — including “Violet Blue,” “Minnehaha” and “On a Turquoise Cloud.”

Kay Davis was born Kathryn McDonald in Evanston, Ill., on Dec. 5, 1920, one of three children of Samuel and Katherine McDonald.

“As early as the age of 10 I knew I wanted to sing professionally,” she said in a 2001 interview with Northwestern magazine, published by Northwestern University, from which she received a bachelor’s degree in 1942 and a master’s degree a year later.

As one of only six African-American students enrolled in the school of music at the time, she was not allowed to stay in the residence halls. “We used to drool over Willard Hall, which was right across from the music building,” she said. “I had a good time at Northwestern, but there were those limitations.”

Ellington came to Evanston in 1944 and, after hearing Ms. Davis at a recital, asked her to join his band. She was soon singing alongside Ms. Sherrill and Al Hibbler. She and Mr. Hibbler handled the vocals on one of the Ellington band’s best-known songs of that era, “I Ain’t Got Nothin’ but the Blues.” A major moment in her career came on Nov. 13, 1948, when she sang Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life,” with Strayhorn at the piano, at Carnegie Hall.

Ms. Davis left the band in 1950 to marry Edward Wimp; he died in 1991. Besides her son, she is survived by a grandson.

“She had a purity of tone and accuracy of intonation that added another instrumental voice to the Ellington palette,” Richard A. Wang, a jazz scholar and an associate professor emeritus of music at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said.

“If one made a classical reference, it would be to the sounds in Sergei Rachmaninoff’s ‘Vocalise’ — also a wordless vocal,” he added.





Published: February 21, 2012

Dick Anthony Williams, a prolific actor who created enduring roles in blaxploitation films during the 1970s while simultaneously securing his reputation on the New York stage with Tony-nominated performances and a Drama Desk Award, died on Thursday in Los Angeles. He was 77.


Dick Anthony Williams as a pimp in “What the Wine-Sellers Buy” (1974).

American Playhouse, via PBS

Mr. Williams as Malcolm X in “The Meeting.”

His death was confirmed by a family friend, Samantha Wheeler. No cause was given.

Mr. Williams was in the top rank of the first generation of black actors to find steady work in American film, television and theater. Though he was most often cast in supporting roles, his performances were invariably singled out by critics for their intelligence and subtlety.

In 1974 he was widely praised for his performance in Ron Milner’s “What the Wine-Sellers Buy,” the first play by an African-American produced by Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival.

His multilayered portrayal of a Detroit pimp, which won Mr. Williams the Drama Desk Award and a Tony nomination, was a cautionary version of the more flamboyant character he portrayed in the blaxploitation movie “The Mack,” starring Max Julien and Richard Pryor, released in 1973. Mr. Williams’s character, Pretty Tony, was a philosopher-pimp armed with a sword-cane, a figure said to have left its stamp on the pimp-centric worldview of hip-hop artists like Tupac Shakur and Ludacris.

In the early 1970s, Mr. Williams and the director Woodie King Jr. were co-founders of the New Federal Theater, an actors’ workshop open to professionals and amateurs, at minimal cost, at the Henry Street Settlement. The theater became a showcase for playwrights and actors including David Henry Hwang, Ntozake Shange, Amiri Baraka, Samuel L. Jackson, Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington. The New Federal Theater is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

Mr. Williams, who was born on Aug. 9, 1934, on the South Side of Chicago, spent four years of his childhood in a hospital being treated for polio. In an interview with The Chicago Tribune, he said being hospitalized had its advantages. It kept him safe, he said, and he “ate well.”

But, he added, “it’s very gratifying now to see an iron lung and not have to get into it.”

Mr. Williams began acting in Chicago while working as a member of a singing group called the Williams Brothers Quartet. He moved to Los Angeles, where he directed and starred in a production of Joseph Dolan Tuotti’s “Big Time Buck White.” Reviewing it for The New York Times when it played in New York in 1968, Clive Barnes praised Mr. Williams’s Buck, a Black Panther-like leader, for the “weary tolerance” with which he raises the consciousness of others.

In 1974 and 1975 he was nominated for Tony Awards for his work in the dramas “Black Picture Show” and “What the Wine-Sellers Buy.” He won acclaim for his portrayal of Malcolm X opposite Paul Winfield’s Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1978 NBC mini-series “King,” and again in several theatrical productions of Jeff Stetson’s play “The Meeting,” which depicted a fictional meeting between the two civil rights leaders.

In the early 1990s he was a regular on the ABC-TV series “Homefront.” He also had roles in many other television shows and in movies including “The Jerk” (as Steve Martin’s brother) and Spike Lee’s “Mo’ Better Blues.”

Mr. Williams is survived by two daughters, Mona and Mikah, and a son, Jason. His wife, the actress Gloria Edwards, died in 1988.

Mr. Williams ran actors’ workshops at the New Federal Theater from 1971 until the end of the decade. The workshops were free because he and the co-founder, Mr. King, wanted to develop new talent at a time when opportunities for black actors were increasing. “So we had no auditions,” he said in a taped interview for the theater’s anniversary celebration, “which was good and bad” for the program.

The free workshops attracted some street gang members and ex-prostitutes, he said. Some of them were talented, he added, chuckling, “but some of them just scared people off.”





Published: February 19, 2012

Jimmy Sabater, a singer and timbales player who was one of the architects of the hybrid Latin style known as boogaloo in the 1960s and ’70s, died on Feb. 8 at his home in the Bronx. He was 75.

Jack Vartoogian/FrontRowPhotos

Jimmy Sabater in 2007.

The cause was complications of heart disease, said his son, Jimmy Sabater Jr.

Mr. Sabater, at one point one of the most revered vocalists in Latin music, rose to fame as the “velvet voice” while working with the influential New York bandleader Joe Cuba.

Mr. Sabater’s raspy voice and intimate style drew as much from doo-wop and crooners like Nat King Cole as from Puerto Rican danza. The Joe Cuba Sextet, with which he spent more than 20 years, was one of the most commercially successful Latin acts of the early 1960s and reached an even wider audience after incorporating elements of soul and funk into its sound.

Mr. Sabater (pronounced sa-bah-TARE) sang in Spanish and English, a factor that contributed to the group’s appeal, and he and Mr. Cuba became symbols of the growing Nuyorican identity in New York, one rooted in a generation’s common urban experiences rather than in life on their parents’ island.

Jaime Sabater Gonzalez was born in the Spanish Harlem section of Manhattan on April 11, 1936, to parents who had migrated from Ponce, P.R. Among his neighbors when he was growing up were Tito Puente and the percussionist William Correa, professionally known as Willie Bobo, who lived next door to Mr. Sabater and started teaching him to play timbales drums using empty oatmeal containers.

Before long, Mr. Sabater was playing and singing with bands at local nightclubs in Harlem and at the Palladium Ballroom, the glamorous club on Broadway and 53rd Street that was a fulcrum for Afro-Caribbean music. He joined Mr. Cuba as a singer and timbales player in 1954.

The smooth ballad “To Be With You,” which became Mr. Sabater’s signature song, was one of the first of the Joe Cuba Sextet’s string of hits. It was on the album “Steppin’ Out,” which also featured another promising young singer, Cheo Feliciano, who went on to become a major salsa star but was already enjoying some attention on the Latin scene.

Hits like “Sock It to Me Baby” and the rollicking “Bang Bang” followed in 1967, cementing the band’s and Mr. Sabater’s crossover appeal by reaching a mainstream pop audience as well as Latino and black listeners. Mr. Sabater became the voice of the “bastard sound” of boogaloo, as Mr. Cuba called the style that his band pioneered, and his voice floated above stripped-down songs on which moving bass lines, vibraphone and piano replaced the traditional brass sections.

The Joe Cuba Sextet continued to move deeper into funk and disco (Mr. Sabater even resurrected “To Be With You” as a disco remix in 1976), and the boogaloo craze dominated dance floors until the late 1970s, when the emerging salsa movement began to attract bigger audiences.

Mr. Sabater left the group in 1977 after a falling out with Mr. Cuba, whom he accused of taking undue credit and royalties for some hit songs. He released several solo albums, including the genre-defying “El Hijo de Teresa/Teresa’s Son,” which contained traditional salsa numbers, heavy doses of funk and an Afro-Caribbean cover of Kool and the Gang’s “Kool It (Here Comes the Fuzz).”

He continued to perform until last year as the lead singer of Son Boricua, the critically acclaimed band led by the percussionist and bandleader José Mangual Jr.

Mr. Sabater’s marriage to Carmen Sabater ended in divorce. In addition to his son, he is survived by a daughter, Terry, nine grandchildren and a goddaughter, Debbie Garay.




Ed Ou for The New York Times

Anthony Shadid in Cairo for The New York Times, taking notes on top of a bus during the revolution in Egypt last February. More Photos »


Published: February 16, 2012

Anthony Shadid, the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent who died on Thursday at 43, had long been passionately interested in the Middle East, first because of his Lebanese-American heritage and later because of what he saw there firsthand.

Anthony Shadid’s Dispatches Since 2010

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Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post

Anthony Shadid filed by moonlight and satellite modem on a hotel rooftop in Najaf, Iraq, in 2003.

Ed Ou for The New York Times

Anthony Shadid, center, with residents of Cairo last February.

Mr. Shadid spent most of his professional life covering the region, as a reporter first with The Associated Press; then The Boston Globe; then with The Washington Post, for which he won Pulitzer Prizes in 2004 and 2010; and afterward with The New York Times. At his death, from what appeared to be an asthma attack, he was on assignment for The Times in Syria.

Mr. Shadid’s hiring by The Times at the end of 2009 was widely considered a coup for the newspaper, for he had been esteemed throughout his career as an intrepid reporter, a keen observer, an insightful analyst and a lyrical stylist. Much of his work centered on ordinary people who had been forced to pay an extraordinary price for living in the region — or belonging to the religion, ethnic group or social class — that they did.

He was known most recently to Times readers for his clear-eyed coverage of the Arab Spring. For his reporting on that sea change sweeping the region — which included dispatches from Lebanon and Egypt — The Times nominated him, along with a team of his colleagues, for the 2012 Pulitzer in international reporting. (The awards are announced in April.)

In its citation accompanying the nomination, The Times wrote:

“Steeped in Arab political history but also in its culture, Shadid recognized early on that along with the despots, old habits of fear, passivity and despair were being toppled. He brought a poet’s voice, a deep empathy for the ordinary person and an unmatched authority to his passionate dispatches.”

Mr. Shadid’s work entailed great peril. In 2002, as a correspondent for The Globe, he was shot in the shoulder while reporting in Ramallah, in the West Bank. Last March, Mr. Shadid and three other Times journalists — Lynsey Addario, Stephen Farrell and Tyler Hicks — were kidnapped in Libya by Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces. They were held for six days and beaten before being released.

Later that year, as the Syrian authorities denounced him for his coverage and as his family was being stalked by Syrian agents in Lebanon, Mr. Shadid nonetheless stole across the border to interview Syrian protesters who had defied bullets and torture to return to the streets.

“He had such a profound and sophisticated understanding of the region,” Martin Baron, the editor of The Boston Globe, for whom Mr. Shadid worked during his tenure there, said in a telephone interview on Thursday. “More than anything, his effort to connect foreign coverage with real people on the ground, and to understand their lives, is what made his work so special. It wasn’t just a matter of diplomacy: it was a matter of people, and how their lives were so dramatically affected by world events.”

Mr. Shadid was born in Oklahoma City on Sept. 26, 1968, the son of Rhonda and Buddy Shadid. The younger Mr. Shadid, who became fluent in Arabic only as an adult, earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and journalism from the University of Wisconsin in 1990. He later joined The Associated Press, reporting from Cairo, before moving to The Globe in 2001. He was with The Washington Post from 2003 until 2009.

Mr. Shadid joined The Times on Dec. 31, 2009, as Baghdad bureau chief, and became the newspaper’s bureau chief in Beirut, Lebanon, last year.

His first marriage ended in divorce. Survivors include his second wife, the journalist Nada Bakri; their son, Malik; a daughter, Laila, from his first marriage; his parents; a sister, Shannon, of Denver; and a brother, Damon, of Seattle.

He was the author of three books, “Legacy of the Prophet: Despots, Democrats and the New Politics of Islam” (2001); “Night Draws Near: Iraq’s People in the Shadow of America’s War” (2005); and “House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East,” to be published next month by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

In a front-page article for The Times last year, Mr. Shadid, reporting from Tunisia amid the Arab Spring, displayed his singular combination of authority, acumen and style.

“The idealism of the revolts in Egypt and Tunisia, where the power of the street revealed the frailty of authority, revived an Arab world anticipating change,” he wrote. “But Libya’s unfinished revolution, as inspiring as it is unsettling, illustrates how perilous that change has become as it unfolds in this phase of the Arab Spring.

“Though the rebels’ flag has gone up in Tripoli,” he continued, “their leadership is fractured and opaque; the intentions and influence of Islamists in their ranks are uncertain; Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi remains at large in a flight reminiscent of Saddam Hussein’s; and foreigners have been involved in the fight in the kind of intervention that has long been toxic to the Arab world.” He added, “Not to mention, of course, that a lot of young men have a lot of guns.”


At Work in Syria, Times Correspondent Dies


Anthony Shadid, a prize-winning journalist, was reporting inside Syria when he suffered a fatal asthma attack.

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Rockslide on Mars

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Bulletin at a Glance

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

Mars and Moon: Not Dead Yet?

February 24, 2012                                                                | The Martian and lunar surfaces were thought to be geologically dead. But twitches of recent activity are turning up in extreme closeups from orbiting spacecraft. > read more

In Memoriam, Star-style

February 23, 2012                                                                | Twenty-five years ago, a star exploded in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The first easily seen supernova since before astronomers turned telescopes to study the heavens, the explosion heralded a new age of astronomy. > read more

GJ 1214b: A Steam-Bath World

February 21, 2012                                                                | Ever since its discovery in 2009, an exoplanet orbiting a nearby, red-dwarf star has attracted lots of attention from astronomers. New Hubble observations confirm that GJ 1214b is most likely enveloped in a steamy, superheated atmosphere. > read more


Venus and the Moon, February 25, 2012

Venus During the Day

February 23, 2012                                                                | The Venus-Moon conjunction on Saturday, February 25th, is an ideal opportunity to view Venus during broad daylight. > read more

See the 6 or 7 Brightest Night Objects

February 23, 2012                                                                | The night’s six or seven brightest objects are all visible simultaneously in late February and early March. > read more

Venus on the Rise

February 16, 2012                                                                | Noticed an exceptionally bright beacon in the evening sky? The planet Venus has begun its highest foray up the sky’s dome, surprising at least one casual observer as it prepares for its conjunction with the Moon and Jupiter in March.  > read more

Comet Garradd Stays the Course

February 7, 2012                                                                | A first-time visitor to the inner solar system is slowly returning to the evening sky after making a dramatic and beautiful pairing with the globular cluster Messier 92. > read more

Tour February’s Sky by Eye and Ear!

February 1, 2011                                                                  | The sky’s brightest planets, Venus and Jupiter, serve as anchors in a wintertime sky full of bright stars and familiar constellations. > read more

Jupiter: Big, Bright, and Beautiful

September 23, 2011                                                                | The “King of Planets,” which will dominate the evening sky from late 2011 through early 2012, is a captivating sight no matter how you look at it. > read more

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

February 24, 2012                                                                  | The Moon pairs up with Venus at dusk, then with Jupiter. Far to their lower right, Mercury is having its best evening appearance for 2012. > read more


S&T April 2012

Sky & Telescope April 2012

February 20, 2012                                                                | Sky & Telescope‘s April 2012 issue is now available to digital subscribers. > read more

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The Dark Cloud the Supreme Court Just Cast Over Affirmative Action

The Roberts court is uniquely hostile to affirmative action. And now that it has agreed to review a challenge to the University of Texas’s admissions program, all bets may be off. Victor Goode explains.

The Asian American Basketball Leagues That Helped Create Linsanity

In Southern California alone, roughly 14,000 Japanese Americans play in regular club tournaments. Some teams have been around for more than 50 years. Jamilah King reports.

5 Things Too $hort, XXL and All of Hip Hop Can Learn About Sexual Violence

Akiba Solomon explores how hip hop can regroup and do better after the debacle of Too $hort’s scary, rape-celebrating video.

An Artist’s Rare, Intimate Conversation About Black Masculinity A new video installation paints an engaging portrait of black masculinity by doing something revolutionary: asking questions. Jamilah King talks with artist Chris Johnson.

What America Hasn’t Learned 70 Years After Japanese Internment Feb. 19 marked the 70th anniversary of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, which led to the forced internment of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans.

How Economists Tally Unemployment—and Its Affect on the Black Jobless Rate January saw a remarkable three-point drop in black joblessness. Economists are skeptical it’s real. But why? Put on your data nerd hat, because we’ve got the explanation.

Court Slows Deported Dad’s Case as 20K Sign Petition to Reunite Him With KidsAfter’s investigation, a national campaign calls on Allegheny County, N.C., to ensure that Felipe Montes’s family is reunified.

Oakland Police Shoot Oscar Grant’s CousinMeanwhile, police decline to file charges in yet another shooting of a homeless man.

Easy Ways to Have Tough Talks With Kids About Race We may think that we’re protecting kids by not talking to them about race. But silence does more harm than good.

MSNBC’s ‘Up With Chris Hayes’ Features Kai Wright and ‘Shattered Families’ Editorial Director Kai Wright joined MSNBC’s Saturday morning news panel last weekend. The show delved into our ongoing investigation into children stuck in foster care as their parents are deported or detained.

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Man Arrested With Explosives Near Topeka Capitol Released

by Bill Morlin  on February 16, 2012

Investigators with the Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP) will seek criminal charges against a Florida man who was detained Wednesday after explosive material was found in his pickup truck, which was parked near the state Capitol in Topeka.

The suspect, detained in a publicly accessible tunnel on the Capitol campus, was released following questioning by KHP’s Capitol Police officers and detectives with the Topeka Police Department, KHP spokesman Patrick Saleh said today. Because the suspect wasn’t booked into jail, his name isn’t yet public record and can’t be released, Saleh said.

Highway Patrol investigators will meet Friday or Monday with Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor to review evidence retrieved from the man’s truck and items found when a search warrant was served at a Topeka home where he was living, Saleh told Hatewatch. “We’re hoping to have it done by the end of the week, but it may be Monday before our investigators meet with the district attorney,” Saleh said.

He wouldn’t comment on reports that the explosive material found in the suspect’s truck was quarter-sticks of dynamite. “I’d be speculating,” Saleh said. “I don’t know for sure.”

However, when investigators went to the Topeka residence where the man had been living, they found and seized other items, the Capitol Police spokesman said. “Items that would cause concern were seized,’’ he said.

The man was detained by police on the same day the Kansas Legislature was conducting hearings on a proposed, controversial anti-immigrant law – similar to nativist laws already passed in Alabama and Arizona. Such laws have become lightning rods for anti-immigration extremists.

Investigators determined the man who was detained has lived in Florida, but for “some time” has been in Kansas, Saleh said. He wouldn’t say if investigators have developed any links between the suspect and anti-immigrant groups. “It’s my agency’s hope that he will be charged after the district attorney reviews this case,’’ Saleh said.

A civil rights group representing immigrants released a statement Thursday suggesting there it likely was no coincidence that explosive material was found on a day that groups would be protesting hearings at the Topeka Capitol on anti-immigration laws.

The incident in Topeka “is clearly a reflection of the anti-immigrant syndrome eating away at society. Kansas is once again on the spotlight; this gives us an opportunity to take a different approach to this national problem,” Sulma Arias, executive director Sunflower Community Action, said in a statement given to Hatewatch.

“As an organization which represents immigrants, we understand that there is a problem with immigration in this country, but we, as a community, condemn acts of violence and will not resort to them in order to win dignity,” Arias said. “We, as most Kansans, want a more reasonable and rational discussion that leads to real solutions.”

The incident drew national media attention.

In Topeka, there appeared to be an initial jurisdictional questions over whether the Kansas Highway Patrol, the Topeka Police Department or the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would assume lead jurisdiction.

The ATF bowed out after it was determined the explosive material wasn’t assembled into a device that would easily allow federal jurisdiction. “This is pretty much a state matter at this point,” ATF spokeswoman Trista Frederick in Kansas City, Mo., told Hatewatch.



“Investigators with the Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP) will seek criminal charges against a Florida man who was detained Wednesday after explosive material was found in his pickup truck, which was parked near the state Capitol in Topeka.

The suspect, detained in a publicly accessible tunnel on the Capitol campus, was released following questioning by KHP’s Capitol Police officers and detectives with the Topeka Police Department, KHP spokesman Patrick Saleh said today. Because the suspect wasn’t booked into jail, his name isn’t yet public record and can’t be released, Saleh said.”

Okay, so let me get this straight.

-He was detained after explosives were found in his pickup truck;

-He was detained in a publicly accessible tunnel on the campus of the state capitol of Topeka, Kansas;

-His home was searched, and other items were found.

Yet…they released him.

As for this statement from KHP spokesman Patrick Saleh:

“He wouldn’t comment on reports that the explosive material found in the suspect’s truck was quarter-sticks of dynamite. “I’d be speculating,” Saleh said. “I don’t know for sure.”

….how can you not know for sure what you found in the man’s truck?

The Kansas Highway Patrol is either stupid, incompetent, or just a completely useless entity that has no regard for the welfare of the people of the Capitol or anyone else who may cross paths with this person. Their releasing him gives him more time to commit crimes, due to their gross negligence.

“Highway Patrol investigators will meet Friday or Monday with Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor to review evidence retrieved from the man’s truck and items found when a search warrant was served at a Topeka home where he was living, Saleh told Hatewatch. “We’re hoping to have it done by the end of the week, but it may be Monday before our investigators meet with the district attorney,” Saleh said.

In the meantime, this man can leave town, assemble more explosives, and possibly more deadlier materials into a bomb or exploding device, and then what will your reaction be, KHP?

As for the suspect’s release.

He obviously was not a Black woman.

If a Black woman had been stopped and found to have un-assembled explosive components in her vehicle, dollars to donuts she would be serving 599 years in prison with court costs totaling $1.2 million dollars after undergoing a one day trial.

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She was one of the first two Black students to integrate the all-white University of Georgia in 1961. She was the first Black woman writer at The New Yorker and a former reporter for The Times, for “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour” on PBS and for National Public Radio. She is an icon of the Civil Rights Movement when Black students took on the challenge to racial segregation.

Her name is Charlayne Hunter Gault.


Charlayne Hunter-Gault (born 27 February 1942) is not well-known to many people, but, her contributions to America are tremendous.

The following New York Times article discusses her new book, “To the Mountaintop: My Journey Through the Civil Rights Movement”. Ms. Hunter-Gault, who currently lives in Massachusetts, is also the author of In My Place(1992), a memoir about her experiences at the University of Georgia.


In My Place by Charlayne Hunter-Gault (Paperback – Nov 2, 1993)



Children’s Books: A Civil Rights Journey

‘To the Mountaintop,’ by Charlayne Hunter-Gault

Associated Press

Alfred Holmes, left, escorts his son Hamilton Holmes, right, and Charlayne Hunter, center, to the registrar’s office at the University of Georgia, on Jan. 9, 1961.


Published: February 22, 2012

It is unsettling to think that for today’s high school students, the civil rights movement is as dated a historical moment as the sinking of the Titanic was for their parents. This makes a work of narrative nonfiction like “To the Mountaintop: My Journey Through the Civil Rights Movement” all the more crucial in helping make this ancient history palpably real. Especially when the issues involved remain so relevant today.


My Journey Through the Civil Rights Movement

By Charlayne Hunter-Gault.

Illustrated. 198 pp. A New York Times Book/Flash Point/Roaring Brook Press. $22.99. (Young adult; ages 12 to 18)


“To the Mountaintop” is the latest in a continuing collaboration between Roaring Brook Press and The New York Times. That partnership is very much in evidence in the book, in which each chapter is preceded by a visual reproduction of archival New York Times pages, with the text of the relevant articles reproduced in full in a kind of appendix at the back. Tellingly, the introduction begins with the front-page headline heralding the election of Barack Obama, whose inauguration the author describes attending.

And that author, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, is an excellent guide to the momentous changes decades earlier that led up to Obama’s election. The first black woman writer at The New Yorker and a former reporter for The Times, for “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour” on PBS and for National Public Radio, Hunter-Gault was also one of the first students to integrate the all-white University of Georgia in 1961, an occasion likewise documented on the front page of The Times.

Reminding herself that she was one of many young African-Americans who demonstrated in the South, Hunter-Gault ignored the jeers of white demonstrators as she entered the administrative offices to register. And when she heard the hateful epithets from the crowd, she found herself looking around for the one they might be aimed at, “since I knew it wasn’t me,” she writes. “I knew who I was. I was a queen.”

As a child growing up in fiercely segregated Atlanta, Hunter-Gault bought pig-ear sandwiches and fried pork skins from a food stand at her school while white children enjoyed meals in their own schools’ cafeterias. The effects of segregation defined daily existence for Hunter-Gault, as it also did for several generations of black Americans in the South, a point highlighted by the book’s extensive use of archival photographs along with those newspaper clippings.

But the story told here is largely personal, and Hunter-Gault’s experience elevates the book from the informational to the inspirational. “To the Mountaintop”  is decidedly more historical memoir than straight history.

Hunter-Gault’s accessible first-person narrative makes the events covered in the book (in the years 1959-65) engaging and moving. A current photograph of the author — who is clearly far from being an old lady — and her dynamic prose will help readers realize that the great questions she confronted, though they date back to a particular moment in history, are very much alive in 2012.


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“The language of our thoughts and our emotions is our most valuable asset. Multilingualism is our ally in ensuring quality education for all, in promoting inclusion and in combating discrimination. ”

Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO Message for International Mother Language Day 2012

2012 International Mother Language Day: Mother tongue instruction and inclusive education

International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November 1999 (30C/62).

Photo: Shaheed Minar, a solemn and symbolic sculpture erected in the place of the massacre. The monument is the symbol of Bangladesh Nationalism. SOURCE
On 16 May 2009 the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/61/266 called upon Member States “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world”.  By the same resolution, the General Assembly proclaimed 2008 as the International Year of Languages, to promote unity in diversity and international understanding, through multilingualism and multiculturalism.
International Mother Language Day has been observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.  The date represents the day in 1952 when students demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bangla, as one of the two national languages of the then Pakistan, were shot and killed by police in Dhaka, the capital of what is now Bangladesh.
Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.

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