- Created on 10 June 2013
(CNN) -- Cicely Tyson's return to Broadway after three decades earned the elderly actress a Tony on Sunday night.
Tyson's acceptance speech for best actress in a play was an emotional highlight of the American Theatre Wing's 67th annual Tony Awards broadcast live from New York's Radio City Music Hall.
Pop singer Cyndi Lauper won a Tony for writing the 15-song score for "Kinky Boots," which led the night with six Tonys.
Neil Patrick Harris didn't carry home a trophy, but he did carry the show in his fourth year as a singing-dancing host.
Harris' opening number included scores of performers from current Broadway shows -- and a cameo by boxer Mike Tyson, who stars in his one-man show "Undisputed," singing and dancing in a white tux.
His musical tribute to Broadway, which has been a trademark for Harris, including a disappearing trick straight out of David Copperfield's Vegas show.
"We sing live eight shows a week, check it," Harris sang. "We don't need close ups to prove we're singing live."
Harris did provide a gross-out moment by tongue-kissing Sandy, the dog from "Annie."
"You do know I'm in a relationship, right?" he said to the dog.
It appeared to be an unrehearsed moment spurred by Sandy's affectionate licking of Harris' face.
Harris ended the show with another trademark -- a closing "Tony hits lists" rap written as the show progressed.
Tyson's elegant acceptance was at the top of the list.
Her best actress Tony is for her portrayal of a widow returning to her hometown in "The Trip to Bountiful."
"It's been 30 years since I stood on stage," Tyson said. "I really didn't think it would happen again in my lifetime and I was pretty comfortable with that, except that I had this burning desire to do just one more. One more great role, I said. I didn't want to be greedy. I just wanted one more, and it came to me with no effort on my part."
She didn't miss a beat when the orchestra began playing "Give My Regards to Broadway" -- the musical cue that her 75 seconds was up.
"Please wrap it up, it says," she said. "Well, that's exactly what you did with me. You wrapped me up in your arms after 30 years and now I can go home with a Tony."
Tyson is 79, according to her official biography.. Some news reports put her age at 88.
Lauper's Tony win puts her in the exclusive "G.E.T." club of performers who have a Grammy, Emmy and Tony. "I can't say I wasn't practicing in front of the shower curtain for a couple days for this speech," she said. "I want to thank Broadway."
Lauper also performed "True Colors" while surrounded by candles for the show's "in memorium" tribute to theater veterans who died in the past year.
"Kinky Boot" star Billy Porter won best actor in a musical for his role as a drag queen in a shoe factory.
If it had been a category, Porter would also have won for most excited acceptance speech, in which he said seeing "Dreamgirls" as a child was a big inspiration for his career.
Two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks brought Hollywood star power to the theater, but his "Lucky Guy" role -- nominated for best actor in a play -- was not lucky enough to win.
Tony Letts, who already had a Tony as a playwright, won the category for playing George in the revival of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
While "Motown The Musical" lost out in all four categories for which it was nominated, the show likely gained fans with the musical medley performed by its cast during the Tony Awards. It included a spot-on replica of a young Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5.
- Created on 09 June 2013
(NNPA) – When Feona Huff, 38, was growing up, she pictured her ideal family.
“I always had the dream of having the husband, the dog, the house with a wrap-around porch,” Huff says. “Growing up in the church, I knew the importance of a strong family.”
Although she grew up seeing her grandparents thrive in a happy, fulfilling relationship, the dream never became a reality for Feona. When she became pregnant with her daughter at 25, she checked into the idea of being a mother and wife and her then-boyfriend checked out.
“I chose to be an active and involved parent from the time I was pregnant, he chose not to be as active,” Huff says. “It’s not like I said ‘I want to become a single mom and endure the struggles of being a single parent.’”
The Hampton Roads, Va., resident, however, is doing just that. She’s rearing her two kids, a daughter, 13, and son, 10, by herself.
Huff says although she’s “always busy” and “rarely sleeps” – going everywhere from track practice, to beauty pageants, to church events on any given day – she’s blessed to have her children.
“Not everyone is equipped to become a single parent,” Huff says. “I love my children. I know God gave them to me for a reason.”
Once a societal taboo, single-parenthood isn’t as rare as it has been in the past. In fact, 41 percent of all births in 2010 were to unmarried women.
A staggering 73 percent of Black babies were born to unmarried women in 2010.
Despite the normality of single-motherhood, a recent Pew Research Center analysis suggests the majority of Americans consider it a “big problem.” According to the report, 64 percent of all Americans have negative views of single-motherhood, including 56 percent of non-White Americans.
There are also a lot of statistics that show single-parenthood isn’t the ideal situation for a child. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention children born to unmarried women are a greater risk of dying in infancy and living in poverty than babies born to married women.
According to a report by Legal Momentum, a women’s legal defense and education fund, single parents in America are more likely to be low-wage workers and less likely to have health insurance for themselves and their children.
“Single parenthood is a double-edged sword,” says Chawn Jackson, 44, a single mom from Prince George’s County in Maryland. “I think there’s some validity to the statement that it’s bad.”
Jackson divorced when her now 10-year-old daughter was just three months old, and has been rearing her daughter on her own since she and her ex-husband split.
Like most single-mothers, and 40 percent of all households with children under 18 according to the Pew report, Jackson has been the primary financial provider for her daughter since birth. Of that 40 percent, 5.1 million are married women who make more than their husbands. About 8.6 million are single mothers.
According to Pew, the married mothers – who are disproportionately older and White, have a median income of $80,000, nearly four times the amount of single-mother-led households, which are disproportionately minority and young.
“[After her father left] we had to survive,” Jackson says. “He wasn’t providing, he made it clear he wasn’t going to, so I had to.”
Jackson considers herself blessed to be in a position where she can easily provide for her daughter; she does not receive child support from her ex-husband. However, she worries that because her father isn’t around, her daughter will not know what a healthy relationship looks like, as she grows older.
“A part of her is still in a fairytale world,” Jackson says. “She’s seen a lot of her friends with a mom and a dad and she wants that.”
“I try to do all I can to keep positive male role models in my daughter’s life,” Jackson adds. “We’ve lost a lot of our wholesome values as a society. I understand that it’s a different day and you have to be able to adapt and be fluid, but we have to keep those core values that African American families were raised with.”
JayVon Muhammad, a midwife based in the Bay Area of California, agrees.
“There is a decline of relationships and parental structures,” Muhammad, 41, says. “Women are having to do everything and become everything instead of making better decisions from the beginning.”
Muhammad has become a crusader against what she calls the “baby-mama epidemic,” which she says is destroying the Black community.
“I think that we have to recognize that what is happening to us and our families is not normal,” Muhammad says. “It’s not ok for a community to have 70 percent of their [babies] born to single mothers”
Muhammad had her first daughter at 17 to a man she says was a “drug dealer and a hustler,” the type of man she considered normal growing up in a low-income, Black community of San Francisco.
She calls the relationship she had with her baby’s father “dysfunctional,” and says she found herself, “willing to compromise my own happiness to make sure he was alright.” But she wasn’t alright as she struggled to raise their child while he spent his time in and out of jail.
When her daughter was 4-years-old, however, her life changed for the better when she married her current husband.
“The contrast was huge,” Muhammad says. “I went from having to do it all to having help.”
Muhammad speaks out against “baby-mamas” not because she’s critical of the situation, but because she wants women, especially African American women to want more for themselves and their families.
“Most women say they want love, they want a family where a man supports them but they can’t succumb to the feeling because they have to do it all,” says Muhammad, the founder of Sista Girl Midwifery.
“We have to start admitting that we don’t want to raise children on our own, that we deserve to have the option to stay at home so our children are safe,” Muhammad says. “If we don’t start taking the stance that’s least accepted but is best for our children, we’re going to die.”
Kia Smith, 31, a single mom in Atlanta, says that although her situation isn’t ideal, when you consider the stability she and her 13-year-old son have the positives outweigh any negatives.
“You can look at us on the outside and think it’s bad,” says Smith who had her son at 17, but graduated from Spelman College within four years. “But when you look at our lives, everything we’ve been able to do, can you really say that it’s negative?”
“Being a mom is the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” Huff says. “It’s not always perfect. I definitely have moments of feeling overwhelmed, but when I wake up and my children are on the side of me I realize I am so blessed.”
(Photo: Courtesy Creative Commons)
- Created on 07 June 2013
On Saturday, Atlanta will host a forum for the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) candidates vying for the organizations top offices. The forum will be held in the WSB-TV cafeteria and is being hosted by the Atlanta Association of Black Journalist (AABJ).
Attendees will hear the goals of the potential 2013 Board of Directors as they stump for the 2013 positions of president, vice president/print, vice president/broadcast, secretary and parliamentarian. College students vying for the opportunity to be the organization's student representative will also participate.
"Picking new leadership is a very important task and NABJ members should not take it lightly," said AABJ President Tenisha Bell. "Just think about the presidential race in this country, there are debates, forums, speeches and millions of dollars spent by the candidates to get your vote. Our NABJ candidates take their race just as serious. They could be the next leaders of this organization and it's up to us to put the right people in place to lead us."
Those who qualify and have been certified by the NABJ National Election Committee are allowed to run for an NABJ Board of Directors postition. The NABJ committee then announces the candidates.
So far, 15 candidates have confirmed their attendance for the forum. They are:
NABJ Presidential candidates Bob Butler and Sarah Glover
Vice President/Print candidates Errin Haines Whack and Denise Clay
Vice President/Broadcast candidates Lisa Cox and Dedrick Russell
Secretary candidates Corey Dade and Michael Feeney
Treasurer candidate Keith Reed
Parliamentary candidates Cindy George and Caleb Wilkerson
Student Representative candidates Alexis Rogers, Eric Burse, Ashleigh Atwell and Michelle Fitzhugh-Craig.
"Not everyone can make it to the convention so it is a great opportunity to see and hear the candidates vision," said Butler. "There is going to be a robust discussion during the forum about what is happening in NABJ and who is going to do what."
His opponent agreed about the importance of the forum.
"I'm sure the audience will consider all points of view and will have formed opinions and leave with knowing which candidates are the best to lead our great organization," said Glover.
Former NABJ President, Herbert Lowe will be serving as this year's moderator and members of the election committee will be in attendance.
The order of questions will start with candidates running for president and move down the line to vice president all the way to the students. Bell told the Daily World that each candidate would have equal time to answer each question.
"NABJ headquarters set forth very strict guidelines for the candidates forums and we follow those rules" said Bell. "By having this candidates forum we allow the candidates to make an impression upon the membership and convince us of why they deserve our vote. It allows our membership to ask them pertinent questions which will aide in their decision making process."
For candidates who cannot make it to the forum, a Google Hangout has been set up that is accessible from across the U.S. and they will be able to answer questions from the moderator.
"They can expect honesty, to hear what the candidates have to say and give," said Russell. "I'm pretty sure that they should be able to find out what the candidates have to offer to the position and the organization."
Members that are unable to attend the forum can access a live stream of the event at YouTube.com/AABJOrg or TinyUrl.com/AABJGoogle.
Members in attendance are encouraged to live tweet the event using the hashtag #AABJforum and ask the candidates questions by tweeting AABJ's official account @aabjorg.
WSB-TV is located at 1601 W. Peachtree St. NE. The forum begins at 11:30 a.m. and doors will close at noon.
- Created on 07 June 2013
(CNN) -- Federal prosecutors want former congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. to receive a sentence of four years in prison for misuse of $750,000 in campaign funds, which he used to cover personal expenses.
A government sentencing memo released Friday also calls for Jackson to pay back that money to the campaign and asks for the forfeiture of some of Jackson's assets to do so. His lawyers are expected to recommend a lighter sentence.
Jackson, a Democrat who represented Illinois, pleaded guilty February 20 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and false statements and admitted to years of using campaign money to pay for things like vacations, restaurant bills and Michael Jackson memorabilia.
His wife, Sandra Jackson, pleaded guilty to filing false tax returns. For her, the prosecutors recommend she serve an 18 month sentence and pay $168,550.01 in restitution.
Prosecutors are also recommending the Jacksons not serve their sentences at the same time because they have kids. The proposal suggests Sandra serve first.
The defense will file their own motions on sentencing, and the judge will make the final decisions.
Both Jacksons are scheduled to be sentenced on July 3.
- Created on 07 June 2013
The Honorable Cathelene "Tina" Robinson, also known as "The People's Clerk," is a lifelong Georgia native and has served Fulton County citizens for over 38 years.
As Clerk of Superior Court, Tina is responsible for the mandated duties of recording and safeguarding all criminal, civil, real estate and Board of Equalization records. What's more, she manages an annual budget of $16 million and a staff of over 200 Deputy Clerks.
Tina's office motto, "doing the right thing, the right way, each time, for every customer," illustrates her commitment to customer service and creating initiatives to help make our community a safer place for all to live, work and play.
Tina volunteers with numerous civic outreach programs and serves on a variety of task force boards. She is an alumnus of the former George Washington Carver High School and Atlanta Junior College. Tina is the proud mother of two daughters and one grandson.
Accomplished and fascinating women like Robinson are among 50 being honored by The Atlanta Daily World as "Women of Excellence" at an awards ceremony on Thursday, June 20 at 200 Peachtree from 3pm- 6pm. The public is invited to come to the event and meet them.
To purchase tickets to the event, call Michelle Gipson at 404-761-1114 ext. 11 or visit http://www.atlantadailyworld.com/upcoming-events and click on the "Women of Excellence" icon.