All Articles Tagged "martin luther king jr"

“Respectable Black Community” Won’t Approve: Oliver Stone Cancels MLK Film

January 20th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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oliver stone cancels mlk film

A few months ago, we told you about the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. biopic set to star Jamie Foxx, directed by Oliver Stone.

Well, it’s looking like that’s not going to happen. According to Shadow and Act, Oliver Stone took to Twitter on Friday to confirm that the project has been canceled. He explained: (Read from the bottom up.)

Oliver Stone Cancels MLK Film

Source: Twitter


I’m conflicted on this one. I have my own issues with the respectable black community, of which I’m an occasional member. I know and understand the pressure and desire to appear perfect and unflawed in the eyes of the mainstream– white people. It’s a survival mechanism, really. If I can prove to you, white person, how “good” I am then maybe you’ll treat me properly, like a human being. If I exhibit any real human emotion like anger or rage or hell, just want to have fun and goof off, I’ll be seen as brutish, animalistic, foolish, unintelligent, subhuman.

I hate the respectable black community to which I belong because a racist is a racist is a racist. And I shouldn’t have to stifle my real, human emotions just to prove to you that I’m a human being, worthy of respect. But that’s the world in which we live.

And while I’m constantly striving to be my authentic self, good, bad and in between in front of all people, without worrying about their judgement, I also understand the interest of those who want to protect the “respectable” image of Dr. King.

After all, how many black leaders’ images have been tarnished in the media? Dr. King is perhaps the last man we can point to as our beacon of hope, righteousness, progress…essentially goodness. To many in the black community, he represents the best in us, the fact that we are worthy and do deserve respect. And while we know he was human and imperfect, he’s still ours to protect.

But then the other part of me worries that the respectable black community feels that Dr. King’s entire legacy could be tarnished by a single movie, a mere interpretation of his actual life. At this point, I wonder honestly who doesn’t know Dr. King had extramarital affairs? And while that sucks for he and his family, it doesn’t change the work that he did for the nation and even the world following his example.

I believe the more we know about the imperfections of our heralded leaders, the easier it is for today’s young people to look at themselves and know that while they are not perfect they can still make a significant contribution to the world. And hopefully at the end of their own lives, people will remember more of the good you did than your indiscretions.

Still, I don’t know if I all the way trust Stone and his motives. There’s no shortage of history of movie executives exploiting a story for financial gain.  I can’t say that was the case here but it’s probable.  And we want to be able to protect what little piece of shine white people readily recognize, even though it’s high time we stop waiting for their validation.  I wonder if the respectable black community would have received an Oliver Stone type of script if it had come from a black screenwriter, one who is more in touch with the responsibility we still feel to protect our leader after nearly 50 years since his passing.

UPDATE: Hennessy Apologizes For PR Fail For Martin Luther King Jr. Day

January 17th, 2014 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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via @HennessyUS

via @HennessyUS

MadameNoire received a statement from an executive in Hennessy’s consumer marketing department in response to this story, originally published yesterday. It reads: 

Hennessy deeply regrets the release of this unauthorized and inappropriate media communication. The tone and content of the communication are contrary to the core values of Hennessy. We are reviewing the incident to make sure that mistakes like this do not happen in the future.


January 16,2014

So Hennessy has lost their mind and suggested that since it’s too frosty outside, we can’t have barbecues or beach parties, so we should celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day indoors — with some mixed drinks of their signature spirit.

Hennessy shamelessly proceeded to list a selection of recipes that “MLK Jr. Would Be Proud Of.” And as you can imagine, according to LA Magazine, invoking the name of  the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to promote their booze wasn’t very well-received.

So Martin Luther King Jr. rallied up 250,000 people for The March on Washington, orated the I Have a Dream speech, and was assassinated in the name of civil rights, human dignity, and the betterment of mankind — and you’re telling us that the first thing MLK would be proud of is a damn cocktail? They tried it!

Here is the pitch, released by Pivotal — Hennessy’s PR firm — that ruffled our feathers:

“Monday is Martin Luther King Day, a day used to commemorate the work of the Civil Rights activist. In the middle of winter, beaches and BBQ parties are impractical for the majority of the country that are given the day off.  Check out these delicious Hennessy V.S specialty mixed drinks that are perfect for any indoor gathering to celebrate Dr. King’s life.”

One of the mixed drinks suggested by Hennessy is the “Introspective Moment,” made with cigar-infused Hennessy, ginger beer, bitters, coffee, and a cherry.

If only Hennessy could take an “introspective moment” and taste their words before they spit it out to the public. We highly doubt Monday’s memorial services  – commemorating King’s arduous fight for equal rights — will be partying it up with some “Henny” at hand.

If they wanted to talk alcohol and Dr. King, they should have at least attempted to be historically accurate. According to Seattle Times, orange juice and vodka was MLK’s preferred mixed drink.

MLK’s Daughter, Dr. Bernice King, Speaks Out On Party Promoters Using Her Dad’s Image For Twerk Parties

January 14th, 2014 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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MLK party flier

What are you doing on Monday for Martin Luther King, Jr. day? Some might head to King’s memorial in the National Mall in D.C. Others might watch one of the many biopics/TV movies done on his life. But if you’re a party promoter, you might throw a very random and ratchet twerk party for teenagers. Seriously, this stuff happens.

Our writer, Charing Ball, spoke about the issue with using MLK’s image for an array of unauthorized things and just plain ol’ tacky things, including parties, in an essay last year. But in an interview with Fox 5 that aired last night, the daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr. Bernice King, spoke about her own disappointment with her father’s image being used for such juvenile stuff, as more MLK-themed “twerk” parties are scheduled to happen this weekend. One that is catching a great deal of attention is a shindig in Michigan this weekend called the “Freedom 2 Twerk” party, but quite a few went on last year too (including the “Bopping For Peace” party in Chicago and others in Alabama, Florida and even Ontario, Canada).

“I feel like we have failed to reach these (groups).

This imagery thing is just appalling, and it’s almost embarrassing. For me, as his daughter, it’s like ‘wow’, I lost a father who sacrificed everything for them to live a much more dignified and respectful life, and for it to come to this makes me sad.

It’s one thing if they want to party in celebration. Its another thing when you take his actual image and suggest he is down with it like that.

I’m sad, really, that it’s come to the point where there’s a generation that has no appreciation and understanding for what my father stood for. It suggests to me we’ve got a lot of work to do to reach them.”

And work is what Dr. Bernice King wants to do, suggesting that the King Center will contact activists and community organizers in the places that the parties are supposed to take place. She wants to have an open dialogue with them about what can be done to reach young people there so they know more about her father’s contributions to their freedoms, and in turn, take the day meant to honor his life more seriously.

What do you think about the party promotions?

Harry Belafonte And MLK’s Estate Duke It Out Over The Sale Of Dr. King’s Most Famous Speeches

October 16th, 2013 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Harry Belafonte

Source: WENN

Well, there appears to be more drama involving the family of slain civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. According to TMZ actor and social activist Harry Belafonte has some of Dr. King’s original speeches in his possession. He also has the notes that were in his late friend’s pocket when he was assassinated back in 1968 and the condolence letter written to Coretta Scott King by President Lyndon Johnson. Harry is looking to auction off the items, but Dr. King’s family isn’t really going for it.

Back in 2008, Harry tried to sell the items at a Sotheby’s auction, but the Kings objected and the auction was canceled. According to reports, Harry has been pretty angry about the way things went down and now he’s taking Dr. Martin Luther King’s estate to court. Now he’s not requesting money, but instead he’s asking for a judge to rule that he is the rightful owner of the items and that he has the right to sell them if he pleases. Oh, but there’s more. Sotheby’s is keeping the items until a judge rules on who the rightful owners are.

There’s no word on exactly how Harry acquired any of the items, but he and Dr. King were good friends. MLK frequently worked out of Harry’s New York City apartment and Harry offered him lots of financial support. It sucks that things have come to this. Hopefully they can settle this amicably.

Well, That Would Be Interesting: Jamie Foxx To Play Martin Luther King In New Biopic?

October 11th, 2013 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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According to Shadow and Act and Variety, Jamie Foxx will reportedly play Civil Right’s icon Martin Luther King, Jr. in a new biopic directed by Academy Award-winning director, Oliver Stone.

The movie will reportedly be brought to life by DreamWorks (along with Warner Bros.), who had major success last year with the film Lincoln. According to reports, both of the studios have been trying to get a picture on Martin Luther King, Jr. made for years now, dating back to 2009. The story would follow King from his early days as an activist and go all the way to his assassination in 1968. The script has already been put together by Kario Salem, and producers behind the project include Steven Spielberg, Suzanne De Passe, Madison Jones and Samuel Nappi.

As Variety pointed out, for both Oliver Stone and Jamie Foxx, biopics are pictures they do some of their best work in. Of course, Foxx picked up an Academy Award for his role as Ray Charles in Ray, and Stone is known for his biopics, including, JFK and W. 

As talented as Foxx is, do you think he would be a good fit for Martin Luther King, Jr.? Would you go see it? Or are you too through with the stream of biopics coming out these days?


Another King Family Squabble: Dr. Martin Luther King’s Sons Sue Their Sister

September 7th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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Bernice King & Martin Luther King III in 2009. WENN

Bernice King & Martin Luther King III in 2009. WENN

Martin Luther King Jr. is probably rolling over in his grave. The children of the revered Civil Rights activist have turned again to the legal system in the battle over his estate. Now, just as the nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s historic March on Washington and his famous “I Have a Dream Speech,” Dr. King’s sons are suing their sister.

According to WXIA-TV, Dexter King and Martin Luther King III, who run the King estate, have filed  a lawsuit against the King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, which is headed by their sister, Bernice King.

The brothers claim the King Center has mishandled historical documents, recordings, and even their father’s remains. The brothers allege that valuable items at the King Center are at risk of damage and theft.

Last month, the King Center was informed that its licensing agreement with the King estate was being terminated.

According to ABC News, on Aug. 28, King’s estate filed a complaint in an Atlanta court asking a judge to stop the King Center from using his image, likeness and memorabilia. This includes his writings, speeches, sermons and letters, as well as the remains and coffin in his crypt (!). Ironically, the date was the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. In March 2007 , the estate granted a nonexclusive, worldwide, royalty-free license to the center to use all of these items.

The estate says the relationship between the two entities  “has recently become strained, resulting in a total breakdown in communication and transparency.”

“After failed meetings and communications, the estate sent a letter to the center on Aug. 10 saying it would terminate the license at the end of a 30-day notice period, the complaint says,” reports ABC News.

The King Center could keep the license agreement if the Center put CEO Bernice King on administrative leave until the final outcome of the audit investigation; gave the estate power over the use, care and treatment of the memorabilia until another solution could be agreed upon; and removed Alveda King, the civil rights leader’s niece, and former Atlanta mayor and civil rights veteran Andrew Young from the center’s board of directors. The estate charged that Alveda King tried to impede the audit investigation and that Young infringed the estate’s intellectual property rights.

Stephen Ryan, a lawyer for Bernice King, said in a letter on Aug. 14 to The King Center’s general counsel that her brothers have disregarded their obligations to the nonprofit center in favor of their own financial interests, and their actions risk tarnishing and reducing their father’s legacy.

In 2008, it was Bernice King suing her brothers over the estate, claiming that Dexter wouldn’t open the books and refused to include others in the decision making.

This is ugly and sad. Thoughts?

Let Freedom Ring: Women Play Greater Role In 50th Anniversary Of The March On Washington

August 28th, 2013 - By Veronica Wells
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women play greater role

Source: Getty

As you surely know by now, today marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s legendary “I Have A Dream” speech. One of the major criticisms from that historic event back in 1963, was the fact that the women were completely left off the program. Dorothy Height, the woman who headed the National Council of Negro Women, was supposed to speak that day but something happened. Thelma Daley, director of Women in the NAACP, told the Washington Post they were waiting for her to speak: “We didn’t know the full story. We didn’t know the dynamics. We didn’t know the inner workings. She was too much of a diplomat to tell us.”

Though women weren’t on the program, their presence was still felt. Gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson encouraged Dr. King to deliver the most famous line from his speech that day: “I Have A Dream.” He had delivered the “I Have A Dream” line before in Detroit and his advisers didn’t want him to use it again. But Mahalia Jackson, who sang at the ’63 march, yelled out during his speech, “Tell ‘em about the dream, Martin.” And that’s when he started the iconic line with “I still have a dream…”

Today, in the program itself we saw just how far we’ve advanced. We still have work to do but this year, women were surely involved in the program. Check out the short listen of women who spoke at the #LetFreedomRing event.

Congressman And Civil Rights Leader John Lewis Debuts Comic Book Trilogy

August 15th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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via Twitter

via Twitter

U.S. Rep. John Lewis is already in the history books for his part in the Civil Rights Movement. And now he’s in the comics. The longtime activist tells his story in comic book form.

The Georgia Democrat’s March: Book One, was released earlier this week and was published by Top Shelf, co-written by Lewis staffer Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Eisner Award-winning artist Nate Powell, reports The Huffington Post.

According to Lewis, the 128-page volume will be part of a trilogy. The first installment focuses on his early life – from raising chickens in Pike County, Alabama, to meeting Martin Luther King Jr. and holding lunch counter sit-ins and civil rights protests in Nashville, reports HuffPo.

“It’s all there,” Lewis said, from his “growing up” to his discovery of the 1957 comic book “Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story.” He even writes about his time as a freedom rider and civil rights leader in the 1960s, during which he was severely beaten while marching for voting rights.

“It was very inspiring … and when I attended the nonviolence workshops in Nashville at a local church, we all had an opportunity to get a copy of this book we called the ‘comic book,’” Lewis told HuffPo. “We were able to digest the essence of the book as we studied and participated in those nonviolence workshops.”

Lewis has made the books more than affordable. They cost just 10 cents!

Do you think kids will read and learn from the books?

Martin Luther King, Jr. Biopic To Be Directed By ‘Middle Of Nowhere’ Director Ava DuVernay

July 12th, 2013 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Daniel Tanner/

Daniel Tanner/


From Essence

Middle of Nowhere director Ava DuVernay is taking over Lee Daniel’s Martin Luther King Jr. biopic. Selma, in which David Oyelowo will play the lead role, will focus on King’s 1965 voting rights campaign. Daniels was originally working on this and the Butler, but ultimately chose to complete the latter due to funding issues.

DuVernay is said to be finalizing the script. There’s no indication when filming will begin.

Read more at 

Should The Family Members Of Notable Figures Profit Off Of Their Image?

April 18th, 2013 - By Charing Ball
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Nelson Mandela Family PF

Talk about Mandela family values…

According to published reports, Makaziwe and Zenani Mandela, half-sisters and daughters of famed anti-apartheid leader and former South African president Nelson Mandela, are suing three former associates of their grandfather, for ownership of two investment holdings linked to the 94-year-old revered leader. In a dispute, which appears to be playing out in the press as much as it is in the courts right now, Tukwini Mandela, daughter of Makaziwe and granddaughter of Mandela, wrote an open letter to the Associated Press, accusing George Bizos, longtime Mandela associate and the accused in the case, of slandering the Mandela family name with comments he made that the Mandela children were only interested in gaining control of the companies so that they can have control of the money.

Of course, all of this was happening as the former president was in the hospital for a recurring lung infection. And according to the Canadian Globe and Mail, the latest public dispute over money has added fuel to an already growing chorus of disenchanted South Africans, who feel like members of the family are putting their own personal capitalistic interests over the Mandela name. Outside of the investment holdings, which is said to make money from the hand-printed artwork of Mandela, Makaziwe and daughter Tukwini are heading up the House of Mandela wine business, which produces vintage Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from various vineyards chosen by the Mandelas. Tukwini’s brother, Kweku, is a filmmaker, who has made films around the Mandela’s life and legacy. And then there is the reality TV show and the fashion clothing line – the latter of which was at the center of another well-publicized dispute, which resulted in ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and their two daughters, Zindzi and Zenani, boycotting his 90th birthday over not being properly consulted about the clothing line. All the public bickering and money-chasing has inspired one South African newspaper cartoonist to feature the family members in a cartoon where they are playing “Squabble – the Mandela Family Game,” on Mandela’s dormant body.

I am less interested in whether or not the family is right in their case against Mandela’s former attorney, mainly because I don’t know enough to speak on it, and while the public feuding is a mess, it is certainly not exclusive. You can throw a $20 bill in the middle of a circle of my family members and see if a free-for-all doesn’t happen. So I don’t expect anything different from any other family, just because they have a legacy attached to their names. But I do want to discuss this underlying question about whether or not the Mandela family should be profiting off of his image. Without it being expressed as much, I think that this is what is at the center of what irks people most about stories like these involving notable figures. Just ask the descendents of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The King family currently operates his foundation, which also serves as the intellectual properties management of all things Dr. King-related, including providing licensing for the use of his speeches. Most recently, the King family drew scrutiny for its refusal to allow the organization which helped to get the memorial statue built in Washington D.C. to continue to use King’s name. This occurred after the organization, which was called the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Foundation and is now called The Memorial Foundation, had already paid approximately $800,000 in licensing fees. In fact, the King family has a long history of profiting off of the slain civil rights leader’s name, including signing a multimedia publishing deal in 1997 with Time Warner reportedly worth $30 million to $50 million, and their selling of King paraphernalia in private auctions. Also, while the general public may have limited access to the “I Have a Dream,” corporations and media giants alike, those who can afford the King family’s licensing fee can reap the benefits of his legacy to sell things like cell phones.

Since King was a man of the people, folks assume that his image should forever be public domain. I mean, isn’t that what a man, who fought not just for racial equality, but against economic subjugation would have wanted? But it would behoove most to know that once upon a time – in December of 1963 to be exact – King sued Mister Maestro, Inc., a subsidiary of Twentieth Century Fox Records to stop the unauthorized sale of one of his recorded speeches, claiming copyright infringement. So at least it would appear that the patriarch of the family was well aware that his image had to be protected.

And I think that protection, including having a say over who and how an image is used, is probably one of the greatest reasons why family members should retain control. Also, so much of these people’s lives are up for public consumption. And while King or Mandela devoted themselves to the greater good, it probably didn’t lend much in the way of financial security for their family. And despite whatever worldly problems that exist, being able to provide and tend to one’s own household comes first. Therefore, while I may cringe at how the names are used, who am I to tell the family members how they should benefit from their own legacy? I mean, if the family doesn’t get to profit, than who?

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