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Monthly Archives: July 2014

“What I’ve Left Unsaid”: NPR’s Michel Martin On Balancing Career And Family As A Woman Of Color

Two months ago, NPR announced the cancellation of "Tell Me More," the daily news show hosted by veteran journalist Michel Martin. It is the third show developed for an African-American audience to be axed by NPR in the past decade. ("News & Notes" went off the air in 2009 and the Tavis Smiley Show departed in 2004.) On Friday, Tell Me More will broadcast its last show. Martin will stay on with NPR as a producer, along with Tell Me More's executive producer, Carline Watson. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Martin has worked for the Washington Post, ABC News and the Wall Street Journal as its White House correspondent. She won an Emmy for her Nightline reporting. In hosting "Tell Me More," she focused on religion, race and spirituality. In an interview with NPR's media reporter, David... Read More →

Why I Pushed My Children To Attend An HBCU

by Marilyn Williams Pringle I never wanted my three children to be sent into in an environment where they would be exposed to racism or be treated differently because of the color of their skin.  During the 1970s, when my sister-in-law went to Valparaiso University, a predominately white school in Northwest Indiana, she endured countless racial incidents that made me fearful as my own daughters approached college age. Once, a carload of young white students chased her and her friends, shouting at them and calling them the N-word until they reached the safety of their dorm.   The author and her daughter at her graduation from Bethune-Cookman University, an HBCU in Daytona Beach, Florida So while my children attended high school in Cleveland, I would tell them, repeatedly, "I don't... Read More →

Derek Walcott Documentary, “Poetry Is An Island,” To Premiere At Karamu House

Nobel laureate Derek Walcott in his home in St. Lucia "Poetry Is An Island," the new film directed by Dutch filmmaker Ida Does, presents poet and playwright Derek Walcott in his element: his home island of St. Lucia in the Caribbean. Place has proved central to the Nobel Laureate in his writings about the island, colonialism and beauty.  He won a Lifetime Achievement Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in 2004. "I wanted to feel and smell St. Lucia in the same palpable way that I experience Walcott’s poetry," Does said in a recent interview. "When I was there, it felt like I could literally touch Derek’s work, the heart of it." After an early screening, Walcott, 84, praised Does for doing a "beautiful and gentle job" with the film.    Now Northeast Ohioans can see for themselves... Read More →

The Beauty Of “Life Itself,” The Roger Ebert Documentary Brimming With Soul

“Life Itself” first appeared in 2011 as a rich memoir by Roger Ebert. Now, thanks to “Hoop Dreams” director Steve James, it is a documentary of the highest caliber. Roger Ebert and his wife Chaz on their wedding day, in 1992 One of its revelations is the late-life marriage between Ebert and Chicago attorney Chaz Hammelsmith.  Interracial love stories may not be in vogue in Hollywood, but this documentary lets viewers witness an exemplary match.  So does a 3,000-word essay, “Roger loves Chaz,” that Ebert published on his 20th anniversary.  In the documentary, the legendary film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times comes across as a consummate Midwesterner – unpretentious, but also funny, gifted and complex.   Five months before his death in April 2013, Roger and Chaz... Read More →

Wole Soyinka At 80: The Author Speaks On Politics, Contemporary Nigerian Culture, And Boko Haram

The magisterial Wole Soyinka turned 80 this week, and—once again—the world is listening. In London, the Royal African Society hosted "Wole Soyinka at 80," a retrospective on the life of the Nobel laureate and Anisfield-Wolf winner, exploring his influence in politics and letters.  As a young man, the Nigerian playwright and poet attempted to broker peace during the 1967 Biafran War, becoming a political prisoner and spending 22 months in solitary confinement.  He wrote “The Man Died” out of that experience. For the retrospective, Soyinka joined editor and critic Margaret Busby to reflect on his upbringing and the relationship between politics and culture. He has spent more than 50 fierce years campaigning against Nigerian despotism, often with a price on his head. Soyinka’s... Read More →

REVIEW: For The Benefit Of Those Who See: Dispatches From The World Of The Blind

In 2005, O, The Oprah Magazine assigned Rosemary Mahoney to profile Sabriye Tenberken, a German social worker who founded Braille Without Borders in Tibet. Mahoney immersed herself in the task, agreeing to an excursion with two students from the Tibetan school who led her around Lhasa blindfolded. Mahoney said she realized "how little notice I paid to sounds, to smells, indeed to the entire world that lay beyond my ability to see."  After finishing the assignment, Mahoney volunteered to teach English at an off-shoot of Braille Without Borders in Kerala, India, where she began to understand blindness as an identity, not necessarily a disease that needed a cure.  Mahoney's latest book, For the Benefit of Those Who See: Dispatches from the World of the Blind, collects and builds... Read More →

Can Reading For Fun Go Viral?

A quiet crisis in literacy has hold of Cleveland, Ohio. A staggering 80 percent of incoming kindergartners are unprepared for school. Twenty-five percent of residents over 25 lack a high school diploma. A full 40 percent of third graders are not reading at grade level.  "When we're out and we're talking about these numbers, people's jaws drop," said Robert Paponetti, executive director of the Literacy Cooperative, a small Cleveland nonprofit working to improve literacy.  "We really needed to have an answer when people asked, 'What can I do to help?'"  Here, a dad reads to his newborn as part of the #CLELiteracy social media campaign The Cooperative's top 10 list is a start. Released last month, it is an accessible call to action for Northeast Ohioans to commit to improving... Read More →

Review: Cristina Henriquez’ “The Book of Unknown Americans”

One word captures what motivates immigrants to venture to a new country: Better. Indeed, "better" is the catch-all for the immigrant families at the center of Cristina Henriquez' second novel, The Book of Unknown Americans. Gathered from various corners of Central America --- Panama, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Paraguay – her characters all make their home in a small, dank apartment building in a sleepy Delaware town.   In an interview with Bustle.com, the Chicago-based Henriquez said that she wasn't writing a political statement, but hoping to fictionalize the contemporary immigration debate. "The highest praise I’ve gotten so far is that somebody living in Delaware told me, after they read my book, they were driving down Kirkwood, which is where the families all live," she... Read More →
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