Insight News

Feb 08th

Discover your African roots

Discover your African rootsThis Spring, a television series called, “Who Do You Think You Are?” which is based on a popular BBC Television series of the same name in the United Kingdom, aired in the US further fueling the unquenchable thirst for knowledge about personal identity and family history.

The American version was the work of producers Sarah Jessica Parker and Lisa Kudrow.

An African American firm that specializes in DNA-based genetic research participated in the television series enabling Emmitt Smith, the football player and “Dancing with the Stars” contestant to trace his ancestry. Using DNA, was able to determine Smith’s family origins in a present day country on the continent of Africa.

Gina Paige is vice president and co-founder for and was my guest via telephone interview on “Conversations with Al McFarlane” on KFAI FM90.3.

Lena Horne: One of the greatest performers ever

Lena Horne: One of the greatest performers everIt is almost universally agreed upon that Lena Horne was one of the greatest performing artist ever to grace the American stage, screen, and television. Lena was a heaven sent multifaceted talent who mastered the crafts of song, dance and acting. To add to this, she was a great conversationalist. She was one of those rare spiritual types who understood and possessed the ability to articulate her journey. She put you there, making you feel a part of what she lived. The work, the days, ties, hopes, disappointments, challenges, and triumphs. Lena lived high and at the same time broad and low, close to the ground.

Her legend on stage and in show business is widely known: at 16, she was in the chorus line at the famed Cotton Club.

She was the first Black person to sign a long term contract with a major Hollywood studio. She endured some of the everyday snubs, slights and insults that great Black performers routinely put up with during the hey day of mad dog racism. Through it all, Lena Horne survived, and indeed, thrived as one of the great lights, bar none, in the history of American entertainment. In a word, Lena was the bomb, for all of her 92 years. The mention of her name brings great joy, pride, courage, hope with optimism, to people across generations and across the world.

There is also a side of Lena Horne's life that is less generally known, and for which she was less appreciated. It is the side of her human generosity and deep love for Black people. At the onset of her career in Hollywood, she was given the option of "passing" because of her mostly "non negroid" features. It was requested by the movers and shakers of that day that she change her name so that she could pass, not as white--but as Mexican or some other exotic type, that was "non negro". It was suggested that she change her name to perhaps Sanchez, Gomez or Rodriguez.

Just Right mix of love and basketball in sentimental sitcom

Just Right mix of love and basketball in sentimental sitcomJust Wright - Film Review

How do you make a movie that feels totally fresh despite the fact that it follows a fairly transparent blueprint for a romantic comedy formula? Ask Sanaa Hamri, for not only did she first achieve this same feat back in 2006 with her directorial debut, Something New, but she’s now done it again with Just Wright, a syrupy-sweet love story guaranteed to leave you in tears as the closing credits roll, even though there’s never a doubt about how it will all end.

The picture stars Queen Latifah as Leslie Wright, a physical therapist and lifelong New Jersey Nets fan. She’s obsessed with the team because she was taken to their basketball games as a child by her father (James Pickens, Jr.) who raised her like the son he never had. Consequently, today the 35-year-old tomboy still goes to see them play regularly, always wearing jeans and a Nets jersey.

On “Common” ground

On “Common” groundCommon - The Just Wright interview with Kam Williams

Common was born Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr. in Chicago on March 13, 1972 to Lonnie, Sr. a former pro basketball player, and Dr. Mahila Ann Hines, an educator. He started rapping while still in high school, forming a trio called C.D.R. which opened for acts like N.W.A. and Big Daddy Kane. He adopted the alias Common Sense by 1992 which is when he released his first CD, entitled “Can I Borrow a Dollar?” He shortened his name to just Common after a lawsuit by a band claiming to have the exclusive trademark for “Common Sense.”

A Game of Character

A Game of CharacterA Game of Character: A Family Journey from Chicago’s Southside to the Ivy League and Beyond - Book Review

“A fundamental teaching my parents always emphasized [was] that life happens to you, putting choices in your path that offer an abundance of opportunities as well as challenges, and that the best choices are usually the ones that require courage… Really, that’s what inspired me to write A Game of Character—not only to share what I’ve learned, but also to help reclaim the value of character that I believe is as intrinsic to basketball as it is to life. What’s more, as the pages ahead will elaborate, true character is a quality that can be found everywhere and anywhere, in some of the least likely places—including the Southside of Chicago.
-- Excerpted from the Preface (pg. xxvi)

America’s oldest incorporated Black town the scene of a NC mystery

America’s oldest incorporated Black town the scene of a NC mysteryIn 1999 when Hurricane Floyd washed caskets from the ground in eastern North Carolina, many people saw horror. M.E.B. Smith saw a mystery. “Watching those boxes float through a town that I know made the devastation of Princeville real for those of us seeing it on TV,” she says. “I love mysteries, and those caskets began to play like a movie in my head. From that, The Scent of Gardenia: A Killing in Princeville took form.”

The premise of her novel is this: In the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd, the bones of a white woman are discovered in one of the caskets that floated through town. She’s been murdered and secretly buried in a black cemetery over 30 years before. Her death becomes the intersection for a ritual killer who thinks himself sent by God, the death of a bisexual who knew her identity, and the downfall of the accomplice who unknowingly put her in the grave. Finding the truth becomes a matter of death and consequences for everyone in the killer’s path.

DVD features Morgan Freeman in Oscar-nominated performance as Nelson Mandela

DVD features Morgan Freeman in Oscar-nominated performance as Nelson Mandela Invictus - DVD Review

When Nelson “Madiba” Mandela (Morgan Freeman) became President of South Africa, part of his mission was to cultivate a collective consciousness among the populace in the wake of Apartheid. This proved to be no mean feat, for the nation had just finished a bloody civil war which left Blacks and whites very suspicious of each other.

Although Mandela himself had endured extreme hardships at the hands of the Apartheid regime, including 27 years of brutal incarceration as a political prisoner, he was determined to govern impartially, seeking to balance Black aspirations against white fears. Then, in 1995, with the country set to host the Rugby World Cup Championship, he seized on the idea of using the event to unite the people by encouraging everyone to rally around the Springboks, the South Africa national team. So, ignoring the skepticism of his closest advisors, Mandela announced that, “Reconciliation starts here!”
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