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Will Smith considering role of Genie in ‘Aladdin’ remake

Will Smith is reportedly in early talks to voice the character of the Genie for Disney's live-action remake.

BIGGER THAN THE ‘GAME’

By Rev. Earle J. Fisher, Special to The New Tri-State Defender



Sports changed the trajectory of my life. If it had not been for the game of basketball, I likely never would’ve made it out of Benton Harbor, Mich. I probably never would’ve landed in Memphis almost 20 years ago. As far back as I can remember sports have schooled me, teaching me about life. For years my mother would lecture me to, “Play basketball. Don’t let basketball play you.” Her insight was intended to direct me to see past the horizon of the lines and into the broader structures of life. I recall my freshman coach, Lou Harvey, philosophizing about how “the ball has eyes.” Later I find out that means there are certain things in life that don’t have to be forced, they just happen in their own way, in their own time. My junior college coach, Doug Schaffer, taught me the importance of sacrificing individual gains for team glory. I was the best scorer on my Junior College team, as well as the best passer and ball handler. This mandated me to have to focus more on getting my teammates involved, putting other people in positions to be most successful to improve the potential of my team winning. Legendary LeMoyne-Owen Coach Jerry Johnson (and his spunky assistant Curtis Hollowell) shared many insights with me that I am unable to repeat publicly without retribution. They are responsible for teaching me the need for a unique brand of competitive tenacity that is willing to go against even the most obvious odds. They also helped me to racialize the game enough to recognize how athletes have been conditioned to respond to white coaches differently than black coaches. Recently, a passionate, righteous and rage-filled response to a Game 2 loss by the Memphis Grizzlies at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs (arguably with a little outside help) has caused what I’ve learned about and lived from the game to resurface. Head Coach David Fizdale mounted the post-game-press-conference podium, and in 2.5 minutes, meticulously laid out clear and concise statistics contextualizing the disparities in officiating that gave an unfair advantage to one team over the other. All across the city we saluted this young African-American coach for his justifiable rage, passion and courage to speak out irrespective of consequence. Let the church say, “Amen.” Coach Fizdale exemplified the necessity of paying attention to the details. He implored all of us to raise our consciousness – to #StayWoke. He was providing for us a methodology describing how people will try to treat some human beings as if we are unworthy of fair and just dealings based upon where we’re from, how long we’ve been where we are, and, yes, even what we might physically look like. Coach Fizdale reminded me of the importance of using our platform in service of others and not simply in service of self. In this regard, he reminded me of why we advocate for social justice and black liberation all across the city. Ironically, most of us are ridiculed for our righteous indignation. But, “you’re not gone rook us!” Grizz fans didn’t allow a lackluster first half to compromise our ability to acknowledge injustice when we see it. Nobody cited blame black-on-black crime as the source for the officiating disparities. It was obvious. And the injustice in our communities is equally obvious. To paraphrase local activist Tami Sawyer, our city values the grit and grind of black bodies on the hardwood, but not the grit and grind of black workers who work full-time jobs but don’t make livable wages. One player for the Spurs shooting more free throws than the entire Grizz team is almost as bad as the top 20 percent of earners in Memphis bringing in more than half – 50.7 percent – of the whole city’s income. We’ve found millions of PRIVATE dollars for police departments and bridge lights, the city council is even considering a dog park...but we’ve given zero dollars to PUBLIC education. Take that for data. But, maybe Coach Fizdale and the Grizz can teach us something about The Movement for Black Lives and something about our own personal responsibility to be involved in the struggle for freedom. It is incumbent upon all of us to recognize the places where righteous indignation and visual resistance are the most adequate expressions and responses to injustice. We ought not be more readily embracing of those who advocate for justice for athletes than those who are a lot more unfortunate. Let’s find ways to affirm, resource and reconsider those who fight for justice at the grassroots level because we all have a duty to be informed and insightful. In this current climate it is just as bad to be loud and wrong as it is to be right and silent. Dr. King was right; injustice anywhere (even on the hardwood) reflects the threat to justice everywhere. And Malcolm X was equally righteous when he said, “I’m for justice no matter who’s against it. And I’m for truth no matter who’s speaking it!” (The Rev. Earle J. Fisher is senior pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church and co-spokesperson for the Memphis Grassroots Organizations Coalition.)

Education Policy Experts “Disappointed” by Some ESSA State Plans

By Stacy M. Brown (NNPA Newswire Contributor) Education policy experts have expressed serious concerns about some of the state plans submitted under the Every Student...
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Rihanna fans lash out after Chris Brown comments on photo

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Southwest and T-CAT Memphis partner to enhance automotive education and training

Southwest Tennessee Community College President Tracy D. Hall and Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Memphis (TCAT-Memphis) President Roland Rayner are beaming about a...

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Recipes

Barack Obama taking vacation photo of Michelle goes viral

Barack Obama is out on vacation with his wife, Michelle, and like any good husband, he was sure to get a picture of her while cruising out on the ocean.

LATEST ARTICLES

TSDtv — History: Hidden in Plain Sight: The Tragedy That Launched the 1968 Sanitation Strike

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This journey into Memphis’ not-so-hidden history has been fascinating — both for what I’m learning and because of the amazing reception it’s gotten. Last week, we debuted the first two clips in our series, featuring The People’s Grocery Lynchings and the story of The University of West Tennessee, Memphis’ long-gone medical school for African Americans. I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from people and it’s nice that these nuggets of history are getting some love. Today, we’re going back to 1968 — before Dr. King was murdered, before his “Mountaintop” speech, before the sanitation strike that brought him to Memphis. The names of Echol Cole and Robert Walker are not as widely known as Rosa Parks, James Meredith or any others — and that’s because they weren’t civil rights activists. They were just two men working a very crappy job to provide for their families. It was a garbage truck malfunction that took their lives and galvanized their peers to strike. It’s fascinating how much history turns on such seemingly random occurrences. Here’s one that didn’t make it into the video clip: In late March of 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King had called for African Americans to stage a citywide work stoppage. Imagine it: Trash had already been piling up on Memphis streets for weeks. Now imagine no janitors, no seamstresses, no waitresses . . . it would have ground the city to a halt, and quite possibly might have been enough to force the city to meet the sanitation workers demands for better wages, work conditions and benefits. The work stoppage was set for Friday, March 22, 1968. And this is where I get fascinated by the details of history. Work DID stop on that day — but for unexpected reasons: Snow. According to a replica of the March 30 issue of The Tri-State Defender, winter weather pretty much shut down the whole city — sure, black folks stayed home, but almost everyone else did too, rendering the work stoppage something of a dud. A few weeks later . . . Dr. King went to the mountaintop. I do hope that these clips inspire people to dig into the local history of Memphis. In the meantime, we’ll keep bringing you History: Hidden in Plain Sight!  

Saying ‘romance’ with a trip to the Black Bridal & Beauty Expo

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Memphis’ inaugural Black Bridal & Beauty Expo set for Feb. 23-24 is envisioned as “a wonderful extension” of the Valentine’s Day Celebration. (Courtesy photo)
“…First comes love, then comes marriage. Then comes a baby in a baby carriage…” Some would remember this popular children’s rhyme 40 years ago. Today, love and marriage is something, altogether, different. The old rule doesn’t apply anymore. In fact, the new rule is “Anything goes.”   “Weddings and popular trends for planning a couple’s perfect day are as unique and varied as the individual couple,” said Cynthia Daniels. “Especially for the black bride. She knows what she wants, how she wants to look, and where she wants to be when she takes her vows.” Daniels, the CEO of Cynthia Daniels & Co, will facilitate Memphis’ inaugural Black Bridal & Beauty Expo for couples, best girlfriends, singles, and even older married couples who may be thinking about renewing their vows.” The affair is set for Saturday and Sunday, February 23-24, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Admission is free of charge, and 50 vendors will be on hand to help make bridal dreams come true. The expansive Pipkin Building, located on the grounds of the Liberty Bowl Stadium and Tiger Lane, will be the setting.  “Lovers and couples of all ages can come out and enjoy the bridal fashions, sample decors and floral arrangements, custom cakes, and all the other frills on display,” said Daniels. “It can be a wonderful extension of their Valentine’s Day celebration. Whether a date is set or not, everyone will enjoy seeing what brides are doing now.” Twenty vendors are wedding-related, 20 are beauty related, and 10 are wellness vendors.  “I have an excellent team, and we have put on specialty events and facilitated expos before,” said the Atlanta native. “But this is our first bridal expo. We welcome potential brides of all races, but I wanted specifically to address the fashion and planning needs for African-American brides. “I am still single myself, but I remember a couple of years back being asked to attend some bridal shows with friends who were getting married. There were a few things that were appealing, but there was really no representation of our culture and style. And I began researching the market for vendors who do actually appeal to African Americans. Seventy percent of my vendors are black. Millennials approach relationships and marriage quite differently than what has been traditionally acceptable. Many already have children, live together, and are sometimes continuing their education together. They know what they want, says Daniels, and the traditional model of marriage doesn’t fit their lifestyle. “Although quite a few of them move in together, they are still choosing marriage as a family model,” she said. “Engagements can be longer, multiple children may already be shared by the couple, and some purchase homes and vehicles as a family.” According to ThoughtCo online, Daniels’ assessment of young African Americans and marriage is strongly supported. Four myths about “blacks and marriage” persist, according to an article written by Nadra Kareem Nittle, entitled: “The Top 4 Myths About Black Marriage.” Myth 1:  Black women don’t get married. Fact: “75 percent of black women marry before age 35. Myth 2: Educated, black women have it harder. Fact: “Among black women, 70 percent of college graduates are married by 40, whereas only about 60 percent of black high school graduates are married by that age.” She cites a New York Times report for those stats. Myth 3: Rich, black men marry outside their race. Fact: “According to census data, 83 percent of married black men who earned at least $100,000 annually marry black women. Rappers and athletes are in the minority when they choose to marry outside the race. Myth 4: Black men don’t earn as much as black women. Fact: “Just because black women are more likely to graduate from college than their male counterparts doesn’t mean that they out-earn black men. Actually, black men are more likely than black women to bring home at least $75,000 annually. Plus, double the number of black men than women make at least  $250,000 annually. Because of pervasive gender gaps in income, black men remain the breadwinners in the African American community,” says Nittle. So despite negative crime numbers and single-parent statistics in today’s African-American community, marriage is still the predominant choice of couples, both young and old. Changing trends, however, make marriage look a bit different, said Daniels.  “You’ll see black wedding dresses, navy blue ones—colors that have traditionally not been acceptable,” she said. “Pastels and other colors are now more popular than white. Parks and private homes are also now popular venues of modern weddings. If you can imagine it, you can have it for your wedding.” Doors will open promptly at 11 a.m. during the two-day event.

Cardi B, Charlie Wilson among headliners for 2019 Beale St. Music Festival

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Early Wednesday, the talent lineup for the 2019 Beale Street Music Festival was announced, revealing that Grammy Award winning rapper Cardi B is heading to Memphis. In the afternoon, Memphis In May unveiled this year’s tribute poster. George Hunt has been producing paintings for the poster for 27 years. In celebration of the city’s bicentennial, the music festival has been supersized. A varied lineup also will feature many great regional performers and local artists such as William Bell, MoneyBagg Yo, Super Chikan and Blind Mississippi Morris. (Story Page 7) (Photo: Brian Ramoly)
Cardi B
Cardi B, who recently became the first female to receive Best Rap Album honors at the Grammys, will be among the first-time headliners at the 2019 Memphis in May Beale Street Music Festival. Fresh off of a record-setting 2018, the Memphis in May Beale Street Music Festival announced its 2019 lineup on Wednesday. The forty-third annual Beale Street Music Festival holds to tradition, presenting a varied lineup of rock, alternative, R&B, hip hop, indie, pop and blues. Festival favorites who are returning to headline this year’s Beale Street Music Festival include Dave Matthews Band, The Killers, G-Eazy, Charlie Wilson, Shinedown, and Gary Clark Jr. Joining Cardi B as first-time headliners are Khalid and OneRepublic. “The Beale Street Music Festival saw more than 102,000 in Tom Lee Park last year with attendees from all fifty states and twenty-two countries. We wanted to offer an even bigger lineup in 2019 as our city celebrates its bicentennial, and we feel like this may be our best lineup ever,” said James L. Holt, president and CEO of Memphis in May. “The 2019 lineup features current chart-toppers and returning fan favorites who consistently draw large crowds to our unique setting on the Mississippi River.” Other artists featured this year include India.Arie, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, Lord Huron, Flogging Molly, 6lack, Trippie Redd, Chvrches, Lil Dicky, Good Charlotte, Big Boi, Dirty Heads, In This Moment, Simple Plan, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Rodrigo y Gabriella, Moon Taxi, Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real, and Coin. With the cultural salute to Memphis this year, there’s a special emphasis on local talent with 40 percent of the performers coming from Memphis and the surrounding area. Aside from the lead guitarist for Shinedown, that includes rappers MoneyBagg Yo, Blocboy JB and NLE Choppa, along with Healy, Liz Brasher, Saving Abel, John Kilzer and the Scars, and Muck Sticky. Local talent in the Coca-Cola Blues Tent includes Stax legend William Bell, Southern Avenue, Ghost Town Blues Band, Will Tucker, Blind Mississippi Morris, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, Terry “Harmonica” Bean, Super Chikan, Brandon Santini, Gracie Curran and the High Falutin’ Band, Barbara Blue, Fuzzy Jeffries, Deak Harp & Quicksand, Sam Joyner, and Linear Smith. The 2019 Beale Street Music Festival is sponsored by Bud Light, FedEx and Coca-Cola.

Grizzlies head into All-Star Break with 110-122 loss to Chicago Bulls

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By PATRICK ROSE, Associated Press CHICAGO (AP) — Otto Porter Jr. scored a career-high 37 points on 16-for-20 shooting, Robin Lopez added season-high 25 points, and the Chicago Bulls beat the Memphis Grizzlies 122-110 on Wednesday night. Lauri Markkanen added 21 points as Chicago ended a franchise-record 11-game home losing streak with their first win at the United Center since beating Orlando on Dec. 21. The Bulls also won for just the fourth time in 22 games. Avery Bradley scored 15 points for the Grizzlies, who lost for the second straight night. Porter scored at ease, getting the Bulls’ first six points in the third quarter and capping it off with a dunk off a pass from Zach LaVine. Porter later set up LaVine for a three-point play to give the Bulls a 80-66 lead with 7:21 left in the quarter. Bradley got Memphis to 109-101 with 4:48 left, but the Bulls answered with a 10-0 run. Markkanen made a 3 to give the Bulls a 118-101 lead with 2:33 left. Mike Conley was back in the Grizzlies’ lineup after missing Tuesday’s loss to the Spurs with an illness. He finished with 12 points. Porter, who was acquired last Wednesday in a trade with the Wizards, shot 8 for 9 from the field and 3 for 3 from 3-point range for 21 points in the first half. The Bulls led 67-62 at the half. Jaren Jackson Jr. and Jonas Valciunas each had 10 points for the Grizzlies and they each finished with 12 points.

TIP-INS

Grizzlies: C Joakim Noah, who received a nice ovation when he checked in the first quarter, played against his former team for only the third time. Noah was the 2013-14 Defensive Player of Year with the Bulls. “My years in Chicago were just so special and I feel I learned so much. In that 10-year span we were really going for it, we were going for a championship, and I thought there was a couple of years where we really had a chance,” Noah said. Bulls: Former F Bobby Portis indicated in a HoopsHype article the communication with the Bulls leading to his trade to Washington at the deadline wasn’t always direct. “I just don’t think it was done the right way,” Portis was quoted as saying. Coach Jim Boylen didn’t agree. “At this level, a lot of times you get out of something what you put into it. Bobby had a great experience here that he’s verbalized. Obviously, he’s with a different team now. We did offer Bobby a contract to be here and it’s his prerogative to choose to not take that deal, part of the league too. Everybody here is being treated with respect. I’m direct and honest with what I want, who we are, who I think we can be,” said Boylen. … G Kris Dunn didn’t play. He is out with a lower back contusion.

UP NEXT

Grizzlies: Bradley reunites with his former teammates when the Grizzlies host the Clippers on Feb. 22. Bulls: Travel to Orlando after the All-Star break to face the Magic on Feb. 22. ___ More AP NBA: www.apnews.com/NBA and www.twitter.com/AP_Sports

FedEx powering up its downtown presence

The vacant Gibson Guitar building now is on course to be filled with FedEx logistics operations employees. (Photo: Karanja Ajanaku)
by Dena S. Owens and Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell Special to The New Tri-State Defender On Tuesday, FedEx announced a plan to locate its logistics operations headquarters next to FedExForum, using the now vacant Gibson Guitar Factory building. With renovations expected to be completed by the spring of 2020, the move will initially create 350 new jobs and relocate 350 current employees, with the aim of adding up to 500 more in years to come.  In addition, the project includes contracting and subcontracting opportunities for minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) as guided by the Downtown Memphis Commission’s Equal Business Opportunity Program, which seeks to have at least 25 percent participation from minority- and women-owned businesses.  The FedEx announcement comes on the heels of the recent move by ServiceMaster to locate its headquarters in downtown Memphis. Repurposing vacant spaces is part of the city’s plan to tackle blight and build a more vibrant city core, and with two new global corporate giants housed downtown, more plans are in the works for nearby development.  Shortly after the FedEx news, Somera Road, Inc., the owner of the Gibson Guitar facility and adjacent parking lot, announced investment in the first major office tower in downtown Memphis in 20 years. Named “The Clipper,” the building will be constructed on the 385-space parking lot near Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and B.B. King Boulevard. The structure will house office space, a 250-room hotel, retail and restaurants on the first level and rooftop event space. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee was in Memphis Tuesday for the FedEx announcement and Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland was on hand to publicly thank Richard Smith, chief executive officer of FedEx Logistics and chairman of the Greater Memphis Chamber, “for making Memphis a priority.” He added, “Memphis has momentum. We will accelerate as a team, ‘keeping the pedal to the medal’ and building up and not out.” “Welcome home, FedEx!” said Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris. Referring to efforts to repurpose and reuse vacant buildings, he added, “Your decision is a sign that Memphis has turned a corner.”  Global importance in downtown Memphis is indeed attracting other corporations according to city data, which could add to the Memphis skyline and the city overall, making it more viable for the future workforce. FedEx Logistics and FedExForum in lights on adjacent rooftops will make a bold statement about the city’s economic intentions.  “Memphis is on a roll,” said Beverly Robertson, interim executive director for the Greater Memphis Chamber, while noting other new downtown developments, including Union Row, Riverfront Development projects and the relocation of the Brooks Museum. “Our amenities attract young urban professionals for jobs,” Robertson said.  Noting that his family is from Memphis, Lee said, “That is why it makes me so happy to announce that FedEx Logistics will be locating its corporate headquarters right here in downtown Memphis.”
Pictured (l-r): Mayor Jim Strickland, Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris, Gov. Bill Lee, Greater Memphis Chamber President Richard Smith, chief executive officer of FedEx Logistics, and Beverly Robertson, the chamber’s interim executive director. (Photo: Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell)
The $44 million project will add an additional 45,000 square feet to the 154,000-square-foot structure. “These are transformative times in Memphis, and I could not be happier to be a part of it. As a resident, I am excited to see my hometown succeed,” said Smith. He promised that the new headquarters would be “the coolest” FedEx headquarters anywhere, adding that economic expansion now happening will make his kids want to return after they finish school. In a brief interview following the press conference, Strickland was asked about the impact of the move and renovation on minority contractors and their level of inclusion on the project.  “FedEx Logistics will receive a PILOT from the city and county,” said Strickland. “To meet the requirements, there is a required level of participation to include women and minority contractors, or they will not qualify. So it is assured that there will definitely be minority contract participation.” The EDGE (Economic Development Growth Engine) awards a PILOT to stimulate, retain and attract new businesses. The PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) is a property tax abatement given to corporations that are building new structures or expanding and renovating existing ones. In return, the company agrees to contract with local small, minority- and women-owned businesses. The idea is that job opportunities would be created and sustained, thus stimulating the local economy.  FedEx Logistics, which presently employs 22,000 people, provides air and ocean freight forwarding, specialty transportation and supply, and e-commerce services. FedEx Corporation is the city’s largest employer with more than 30,000 working at various locations. The company employs 450,000 worldwide.   (To learn more about the bidding process for contracting and subcontracting jobs through the Downtown Memphis Commission, visit www.downtownmemphiscommission.com.)

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Deep Roots’ explores how slavery still shapes Southern politics

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Deep Roots: How Slavery Still Shapes Southern Politics by Avidit Acharya, Matthew Blackwell and Maya Sen Princeton University Press Hardcover, $29.95 296 pages, Illustrated ISBN: 978-0-691-17674-1
“Despite dramatic social transformations in the United States during the last 150 years, the South has remained staunchly conservative. Southerners are more likely to support Republican candidates, gun rights, and the death penalty, and southern whites harbor higher levels of racial resentment than whites in other parts of the country. Why haven’t these sentiments evolved or changed? “Deep Roots” shows that the entrenched political and racial views of contemporary white southerners are a direct consequence of the region’s slaveholding history, which continues to shape economic, political, and social spheres. Today, southern whites who live in areas once reliant on slavery—compared to areas that were not—are more racially hostile and less amenable to policies that could promote black progress.” Excerpted from the dust jacket William Faulkner is the only Nobel prize-winner born in Mississippi, which is where most of his stories are set. One of this preeminent Southern writer’s most memorable lines is, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” That quote comes to mind while reading “Deep Roots: How Slavery Still Shapes Southern Politics.” That’s because, after conducting painstaking research, authors Avidit Acharya, Matthew Blackwell and Maya Sen arrived at a conclusion (“History shapes contemporary political culture.”) which sounds like a paraphrase of Faulkner’s famous saying. Over the course of the 150+ years since Emancipation, the descendants of slave owners have continuously operated to prevent blacks from pursuing the American Dream. In the face of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, southern municipalities, cities and states passed Jim Crow laws denying African-Americans the right to vote, travel, buy land, possess a gun, get an education, and so forth. The punishment for even the slightest of infractions ranged from whipping to lynching in order to strictly maintain the region’s color-coded caste system. “Racial violence was an important component of the development of anti-black attitudes, even among poor whites.” Furthermore, “White children were often present… and, in some striking cases, they were also active participants.” So, is it any surprise that, “As of the 2016 election, all of the former states of the Confederacy had implemented some voter identification law” in an effort to deny as many black citizens as possible access to the ballot box? Advocates of Confederate monuments and memorials continue to claim the Civil War was waged over states’ rights, conveniently ignoring the assertion of the designer of the rebel battle flag that, “As a people, we are fighting to maintain the heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race.” A timely tome which explains why, from neo-Nazis marching in Charlottesville to Virginia politicians donning blackface, when it comes to the South, the more things change, the more they remain insane. To order a copy of Deep Roots, visit: https://www.amazon.com/Deep-Roots-Southern-Princeton-Political/dp/0691176744/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1549991450&sr=8-1&keywords=deep+roots+how+slavery+still+shapes+southern+politics

Grizzlies scrap and scrape in razor-thin loss to Spurs

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Jonas Valancunius (17) had 23 points and 10 rebounds in his first game with Memphis. (Photo: Warren Roseborough)
With very little time remaining in Tuesday’s game against San Antonio at FedExForum, Grizzlies rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. had a chance to tie the game with two free throws. He missed the first, and, in attempting to miss the second, banked it in, giving San Antonio the final possession to run out the clock. “He helped us be in the position we were in,” Memphis coach J.B. Bickerstaff said of his 19-year-old forward. “This is part of his growth. He’s a rookie, and it’s going to take him some time and some experience. But you have to go through these situations to get better.” For the Spurs, the 108-106 victory ended a four-game losing streak. After a night of successful 3-point shooting for San Antonio, LaMarcus Aldridge took over inside in the closing minutes. Aldridge scored 22 points, including San Antonio’s final seven. Aldridge’s inside baskets to close the game were contrary to a Spurs offense that benefited from going 13 of 21 from outside the arc on the night, including 13 of 16 through the first three quarters. “When (teammates) are knocking down shots like that, it gives me space to play one-on-one on the block, and I can get to my moves,” Aldridge said. That is what happened down the stretch. Avery Bradley, who led Memphis, with a career-high 33 points, scored on a 16-footer with just under 4 minutes left for a 102-101 Memphis lead. Aldridge would then score on a tip-in, an 8-footer followed by a short hook to put San Antonio ahead to stay. Patty Mills also scored 22 for San Antonio while Davis Bertans added 17. Rudy Gay finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Jonas Valancunius — like Bradley — a trade deadline acquisition, had 23 points and 10 rebounds in his first game with Memphis. He brought a spark in the first half and finally slowed Aldridge after the Spurs forward muscled inside against a slimmer Memphis defenders. “He’s a big help,” Jackson said of Valanciunas. “Great size. Great strength. He uses his body effectively.” TIP-INS Spurs: The last time the Spurs held an opponent under 100 was on Jan. 9 in a 96-86 loss to Memphis. .The 62 percent success from 3-point range marked the fifth time this season, San Antonio shot better than 61 percent from outside the arc. Grizzlies: Starting G Mike Conley was a late scratch with “an illness.” Delon Wright, obtained in last Thursday’s traded with the Toronto Raptors, started in Conley’s place.  Valanciunas, also part of the trade with Toronto, played his first game after his immigration status was cleared earlier Tuesday. Bradley’s previous career-high was 32 on Nov. 3, 2014 at Dallas when he was with the Celtics. DREAM WEEPER “Down two, you know, is a classic ‘dream about it’. Just got to hit those (free throws). It’s on me really. I just got to hit them.” – Jaren Jackson Jr. on the free throws in the final second. UP NEXT Spurs: All-Star Break before facing the Raptors in Toronto on Feb. 22. Grizzlies: Travel to Chicago on Wednesday to play the Bulls. (This story is based upon the reporting of Clay Bailey.) ___ More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Legislation introduced to award Aretha Franklin with Congressional Gold Medal

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Many of the tributes to Franklin since her passing have emphasized not only her musical talent but her role in shaping and empowering the role of women with songs that gave voice to life experiences from a decidedly female perspective.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA), Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, and Representative Brenda Lawrence (all D-MI) on Tuesday introduced bicameral legislation to posthumously award the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of her outstanding artistic and cultural contributions. The legislation was originally introduced in August 2018 in the wake of Franklin’s passing. The Aretha Franklin Congressional Gold Medal Act would honor Franklin’s role in shaping the nation’s culturally and socially relevant discography and highlight her life as an example of how one person’s talents can make a difference in the lives of millions of people across the globe. “Aretha’s songs were the soundtrack of my childhood, from listening to ‘Mary Don’t You Weep,’ to standing in the living room dancing to ‘Rock Steady’ over and over again, to hearing from the Queen herself how lucky I was to be young, gifted and black,” said Senator Harris. “Aretha was simply a legend. Her work and impact will be felt for generations to come, and it’s long past time Congress honors her with the Congressional Gold Medal.” “Aretha Franklin’s voice and soul were truly larger than life,” said Senator Stabenow. “Awarding her the Congressional Gold Medal would further celebrate her legacy and recognize her contributions to the arts, civil rights and the City of Detroit. She will never be forgotten.” “Aretha Franklin was a global icon and fierce advocate for civil rights, women’s rights and the City of Detroit,” said Senator Peters. “Awarding her the Congressional Gold Medal would be an appropriate tribute to a legendary talent who will continue to inspire artists and activists for generations, and I am proud to join my colleagues in this effort to honor the Queen of Soul.” “Aretha Franklin was soul personified and she gave us the gift of her voice, her truth and her unapologetic passion to demand compassion, love and R-E-S-P-E-C-T for women everywhere,” said Representative Lawrence. “An iconic entertainer, powerful civil rights leader and a beautiful spirit who I was privileged to call friend. She will be dearly missed, but never forgotten. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing legislation to honor her legacy with a well-deserved Congressional Gold Medal.” Aretha Franklin’s music served as a 1960s call to action that inspired thousands to join civil rights movements and still maintains a social context that resonates across these movements today. Beyond her contributions to music and arts, Franklin was a philanthropic individual who supported causes related to civil rights, human health, and gender equality, in addition to causes within the creative arts. Full text of the bill is available here.

WHAT I’M SAYING: TD means Tone Deaf in the NFL

by Howard Robertson —
Howard Robertson (Courtesy photo)
I watched the 2019 Stupor Bowl. I have been watching Super Bowls since I was fourteen years old back in 1967. That was the very first one, by the way. I don’t blame the Patriots or the Rams for their offensively anemic performances. Although I’m not a fan, I certainly don’t blame New England for doing their job and becoming Champions, yet again. I don’t even blame Gladys, Big Boi or young Travis for performing and doing their jobs. People, businesses and organizations are often tone deaf. My mother was a church organist and Lord knows, I’ve been around too many choir members that could not hear the right notes no matter how many times she played it. That’s ignorantly tone deaf. Conversely, there are notes that musicians dare not play together because they clash and create dissonance. But sometimes the dissonance is what the musician wants. That’s being intentionally tone deaf. That’s what the NFL has become. So, it’s Super Bowl Sunday in the ATL, one of the blackest cities in America, during Black History Month. Well of course, they’re going to recognize Dr. King and civil rights icons like Congressman John Lewis, Ambassador Andy Young and others. These were the soldiers who protested, marched, sat-in, broke laws, were bitten by dogs, beaten with nightsticks and buffeted by fire hoses. But thousands of other deserving souls weren’t honored that day because they were the nameless, faceless folk who were hung, burned alive, shot, castrated or died broke and broken. How is it that the NFL was intentionally tone deaf to the dissonance of rightfully honoring revolutionaries of the past while wrongfully castigating a current revolutionary named Kaepernick and others of like mind who didn’t break any laws or create any disruption? And what representation of Atlanta was made during the Adam Levine, Maroon 5 Halftime Show. Sure they trotted Big Boi and Travis Scott out for quick cameos to give the appearance of keeping it real. But there was no doubt whose show it was…topless, tats, intentionally tone deaf and all. But wait a minute. Maybe the NFL is crazy and tone deaf like a fox. We’re talking about a lot of money here. In 2017, the NFL grossed somewhere north of $13 billion (13,000 million dollars) with a workforce that’s about 70 percent African American. Last year, of the Top 50 television shows watched by the biggest audiences, 40-something of them were NFL or NCAA football games. Life’s really good right now for NFL Czar Roger Goodell and all the rich, old white dudes (and dudettes), average age of 70.1 that own pro football teams. Life’s going to stay good too…in the near term at least. For a symphony of reasons, the NFL’s future looks bleak. Studies show that fewer and fewer families are allowing their sons to play tackle football due to the potential for concussion and brain injury. That means fewer next generation players and fans are being created. While fewer middle and upper income kids are playing football, more lower income kids of color are playing football because it may be their ticket out of the projects, to college and beyond. Football is predicted to become a “Gladiator” sport…like boxing. But that won’t happen for 10, 12 or maybe 15 years. Meantime, they protect the brand. NFL powers just have to hold on, keep raking in that money and stick some of it in their ears while singing, “la, la la la la I can’t hear you.” They’ll remain intentionally tone deaf and they’ll keep playing to their base audience (not really us). They’ve done the math and they know, they’ll die before the National Football League does. (Howard Robertson is the co-host, along with Larry Robinson, of “R&R on Sports,” which is available on the Sirius XMnetwork, iHeart Radio, Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, Tune-in Radio and other podcast providers.)  

Study: Extra arts education boosts students’ writing scores — and their compassion

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When you’re the big fish, it’s not OK to pick on the little fish just because you can.
That’s an important lesson for everyone. But some Houston first-graders got a particularly vivid demonstration in the form of a musical puppet show, which featured fish puppets and an underlying message about why it’s wrong to bully others. The show left an impression on the students at Codwell Elementary, according to their teacher Shelea Bennett. “You felt like you were in that story,” she said. “By the end of the story they were able to answer why [bullying] wasn’t good, and why you shouldn’t act this way.” The puppeteer’s show was part of an effort to expand arts education in Houston elementary and middle schools. Now, a new study shows that the initiative helped students in a few ways: boosting students’ compassion for their classmates, lowering discipline rates, and improving students’ scores on writing tests. It’s just the latest study to find that giving students more access to the arts offers measurable benefits. And adding time for dance, theater, or visual arts isn’t at odds with traditional measures of academic success, according to the research — which amounts to one of the largest gold-standard studies on arts education ever conducted. “Arts learning experiences benefit students in terms of social, emotional, and academic outcomes,” write researchers Dan Bowen of Texas A&M and Brian Kisida of the University of Missouri. The study, released Tuesday through the Houston Education Research Consortium, looked at elementary and middle schools — which predominantly served low-income students of color — that expressed interest in participating in Houston’s Arts Access Initiative. There appeared to be significant need: nearly a third of elementary and middle schools in the district reported lacking a full-time arts teacher. Too many schools were interested, which was bad news for some schools but good news for researchers. They worked with the district to randomly assign some schools to participate, with about 5,000 students in each group. The schools in the program offered students nearly eight “school-community arts partnerships,” compared to just three at comparison schools. What that looked like ran the gamut. Schools were encouraged to provide some exposure to theater, dance, music, and visual arts, and that took the form of on-campus performances, field trips, artists in residence, and other programs outside of school hours. When the researchers compared the two groups of schools, they looked at academics but also responses to surveys that asked students whether they agreed with statements like, “I want to help people who get treated badly,” “School work is interesting,” and “I plan to go to college.” The positive effects on writing test scores, discipline, and compassion were small to moderate. Students’ disciplinary infraction rates, for instance, fell by 3.6 percentage points. But these results are particularly encouraging because the cost to schools was fairly small — about $15 per student. (This did not include costs borne by the program as whole or by the cultural institutions that donated time.) On other measures, the initiative didn’t make a clear difference. That includes reading and math scores as well as survey questions about school engagement and college aspirations. Still, the survey results were mostly positive, though largely not statistically significant. “It could have come out negative. It could have been, look, they did this extra stuff where they learned more in these other domains but their math scores went down, so here’s the tradeoff,” said Kisida, one of the researchers. “We don’t see evidence of a tradeoff.” That’s especially notable because some have feared that pressure to raise test scores has squeezed arts out of the curriculum in many schools (though there’s limitedempirical evidence on whether that’s actually happened). Other recent studies on field trips to the theater and museums have also found encouraging results, boosting students’ political tolerance, interest in the arts, critical examination of art, and, in one case, math and reading test scores. And since low-income children are less likely than their wealthier peers to access things like plays and art galleries over the summer, schools are critical providers of those cultural experiences and the accompanying benefits. The latest study came to a mix of conclusions about which group of students benefited the most from the extra arts education. Tiffany Thompson, another first-grade teacher at Codwell Elementary, said she’s seen the extra arts make a difference for struggling students. “Some students who don’t excel academically, they’re more engaged, because it gives them a different way to learn,” she said. One caveat to the study is that principals volunteered for the program. It might not be as successful in schools where there is less enthusiasm for the idea to start. Still, the results of the study hold national import as districts consider how much to prioritize arts education and as cities assess or expand their similar initiatives. “I really feel like people should know how much the [kids] do benefit from it,” Bennett said. “Normally they wouldn’t have this exposure.”