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Herb Boyd

Stories by Herb

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Diana Sands, talented actress and a founder of Third World Cinema

Last month, we lauded playwright Alice Childress for being the first African-American woman to direct an off-Broadway play.

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Trump faces fractious fronts at home and abroad

Trump was conspicuously absent from two major events in Paris and late for another. He was a no-show Saturday at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial in Northern France, where he was scheduled to lay a wreath in honor of the more than 2,200 soldiers and 251 unknown bodies that rest in peace.

Pianist/composer Don Shirley, jazz and pop with a classical touch

Given the preponderance of ads by political candidates this season during the midterm elections, perhaps you missed the trailer for the movie “Green Book,” which is slated for release later this month. Most folks knowledgeable about “The Negro Motorist Green Book,” a travel guide of safety for Black Americans venturing by car through the Jim Crow South, might wonder how a guide could become a movie.

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AG Jeff Sessions resigns

Hell hath no fury like a Trump scorned, and with his resignation Wednesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is the latest victim.

Democratic gubernatorial setbacks, House victory

The news wasn’t good for the two African-American Democratic gubernatorial candidates in Georgia and Florida. Andrew Gillum was defeated by Ron DeSantis in Florida, and Stacey Abrams has apparently lost to Brian Kemp in Georgia, although Abrams, unlike Gillum, has yet to concede as of Wednesday morning. “Across our state,” Abrams declared Tuesday evening, “folks are opening up the dreams of voters in

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Evelyn Cunningham, the grande dame of Black journalism

You knew from her regal bearing and the first words out of her mouth that Evelyn Cunningham was not a woman to suffer fools kindly, and that you had better state your purpose and not waste her time.

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Media to blame for the violent intolerance, Trump charges

In a nation reeling from an anti-Semitic massacre, prominent Americans targeted with pipe bombs and the right-wing animus of white men, for Trump the media is to blame. “A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News,” Trump tweeted.

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Lt. Colonel William Baker, a soldier of honor and distinction

I am deeply indebted to publications that have the interest and wherewithal to help us remember those often forgotten individuals in our history, and in this regard a special salute is extended to The New York Times and Sam Roberts, who has been tireless in his determination to keep us informed of the passing of many notables.

Engineer Raye Montague, a ‘hidden figure,’ improved submarines

With the recent passing of Raye Montague, another notable Black engineer and technician, a “hidden figure,” has emerged from the shadows of racism and sexism to claim her rightful place in history.

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Alice Childress, prolific playwright, novelist and actress

In tracing the life and legacy of playwright Lorraine Hansberry in his New York Times book review of Imani Perry’s biography, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins invokes a number of writers and playwrights who were beneficiaries of her monumental achievements and breakthroughs. Alice Childress is one that he mentions who has been “embarrassingly underappreciated.”

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Roger Robinson, an actor of brilliance and resonance

It is never too late or too soon to pay tribute to an artist whose career has left a remarkable record and etched an imperishable legacy. Such is the case with Roger Robinson, the Tony Award- winning actor who made his transition to that eternal stage Sept. 26 in Escondido, Ca., because of heart complications.

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Justice at last for Laquan McDonald

For nearly four years, the family of Laquan McDonald has waited for justice.

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Ed Clark retrospective at Mnuchin Gallery thru Oct. 20

It’s been nearly forty years since artist/painter Ed Clark has had a retrospective of his long and highly productive career.

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Along with Mahalia and Aretha, there was Clara Ward and her singers

Aretha Franklin’s passing created a flurry of tributes and memorials, which continues weeks after her death Aug. 16. The October edition of Rolling Stone weighed in with a lengthy reflection by Mikal Gilmore, with as much effulgence as all the other tributes combined.

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Bill Cosby, ‘America’s Dad,’ sentenced to 3 to 10 years

Bill Cosby, “America’s Dad,” was sentenced to 3 to 10 years in prison Tuesday by Judge Steven O’Neill in Norristown, Pa. After citing that Cosby was a “sexually violent predator,” O’Neill denied him bail during the pending appeals.

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Johnny ‘Wah Wah’ Hudgins, a burlesque comedian of renown

In researching last week’s profile on Fredi Washington, I stumbled repeatedly on Johnny Hudgins.

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‘Naturally 18,’ a heavenly occasion

That momentous occasion occurred 57 years ago and was reprised last Saturday at the Dwyer Cultural Center under the auspices of the Elombe Brath Foundation.

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Fredi Washington, a talented actress and devoted activist

When actress Regina Hall was asked to cite a Black woman who influences her career, she conjured Fredi Washington.

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Jack Whitten, sculptor, painter who released spirits

When it came to my attention that a fresh body of sculpture by Jack Whitten was slated for the Met Breuer, I hastened there, although the exhibit is scheduled to stand until Dec. 2.

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A Queen and her common folks: Aretha Franklin's homegoing

As only an admiring peon, I had no invitation to attend the homegoing of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.

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Octavia Butler, the doyenne of sci-fi

A few weeks ago at The Stone at the New School, flutist/composer Nicole Mitchell led her ensemble into the “Xenogenesis Suite,” dedicated to the author Octavia Butler.

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Mixed feelings about a ‘hero’ with blood on his hands

Praise and accolades are pouring in for the recently departed Sen. John McCain who died of brain cancer Saturday at age 81, many of them extolling him as an American patriot with flags across the country flying at half-mast—except at the White House.

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The intrepid Donald Cox, a Black Panther field marshal

Within a 24-year period, two books and one article centered on the year 1970, and while one, a novel by Bill Fletcher, Jr., only unfolded in that year

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White ex-cop convicted of murdering Black unarmed youth

The white, former police officer, Roy Oliver, who shot and killed Jordan Edwards in suburban Dallas last April was convicted of murder Tuesday.

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Dorothy Van Engle, a gorgeous and talented actress

Near the end of director/producer Oscar Micheaux’s film “Swing” (1938), Dorothy Van Engle delivers an intimidating look that dares a man to pilfer from her friend’s purse.

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Legal noose tightens on Trump

If Trump’s Twitter account has intensified and he seems a bit more agitated, blame the tightening legal noose, thanks to his current and former attorneys and consultants.

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Long live the ‘Queen of Soul,’ Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, will be remembered mainly for her heavenly voice, which Aug. 16, joined the angelic choir not too far from Mahalia Jackson and Clara Ward, the latter who mentored Franklin and was the companion to her illustrious father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin.

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William Leo Hansberry, noted authority of Ethiopian history and culture

Anytime the renowned playwright Lorraine Hansberry is mentioned, it invariably summons memories of the eminent historian and anthropologist, William Leo Hansberry.

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Who’s unhinged?

“Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House” is Omarosa Manigault Newman’s new book, and without the entire title we might be left to ponder who in fact is unhinged.

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Delilah Jackson, a treasury and repository of entertainment

Leafing through a book on the great vocalist Billie Holiday, I stumbled on a photo attributed to Delilah Jackson. That photo was just one of thousands from her immense collection, which included a trove of entertainment memorabilia piled and scattered throughout her apartment in lower Manhattan.

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Trump’s trunk

If Trump’s nose was like Pinocchio’s, which grew with each lie he told, it would be longer than an elephant’s trunk. Last week, in an attempt to rescue his son Donald Jr. from a mess, he further tangled himself in a web of lies about his son’s meeting with the Russians in his tower in Manhattan in June 2016.

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The unfazed fighter for justice, Ron Dellums, is dead at 82

Whether on the streets of Oakland, in the Marines or on the floor in Congress, Ron Dellums was a fighter. The same tenacity he demonstrated as a youth when he was assailed by a bully who called him a “dirty Black African” was part of his demeanor and attitude during 27 years as a representative from California.

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Boxing trainer extraordinaire John Clinton Grinage, passes at 89

John Clinton Grinage was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Nov. 19, 1928, at St. Mary’s Hospital to Luther and Viola Grinage. He was the sole offspring of that union. Grinage’s father was a professional boxer in Belize during the 1920s and exposed him to the sport at a very young age. He was around it constantly and it became a part of him. By the age of 10, Grinage had developed his boxing skills.

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Legendary baseball player, the speedy James ‘Cool Papa’ Bell

Cool Papa Bell was so fast, legend has it, that he could turn off the light and get into bed before the room got dark.

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Manafort to trial, Trump to Florida

For months now it seems Trump has been declaring “there’s no collusion” in reference to the possible ties between Russia and the Trump 2016 presidential campaign.

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Dr. Eileen Southern, classical pianist, historian and musicologist

A recent visit to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture was made all the more stunning with the discovery of a quote from famed musicologist and historian Dr. Eileen Southern.

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Obama lauds Mandela, lashes Trump

At the start of his speech in South Africa to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth, Barack Obama confessed that he didn’t come on his own, but at the “demand” of Mandela’s widow, Graça Machel.

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Dr. Price M. Cobbs, psychiatrist who co-authored ‘Black Rage’

There is no need for years to pass to enshrine Dr. Price M. Cobbs, who died June 25 in Philadelphia, where he had traveled to his grandson’s high school graduation.

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Diaspora meeting with our historic pioneers

It was a special day in Harlem, and 50 was the magic number June 25 when the same number of notable New Yorkers and our historic pioneers were respectfully invited by co-hosts, the Rev. Al Sharpton and Lloyd Williams, to a 50th anniversary breakfast summit of memory and celebration.

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Trump checkmated by Putin

It was generally agreed among pundits that the meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin would amount to nothing more than a photo op to shore up his leadership uncertainties. However, it was less predictable that he would use the occasion in Helsinki to excoriate Hillary Clinton and to accept the denials of Putin over intel from his own intelligence agencies.

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Mary Shadd Cary, journalist, lawyer, educator and abolitionist

In his narrative of the raid on Harper’s Ferry in 1859, Osborne Anderson, one of the five Black men (and the sole survivor) who rode with John Brown, provides an eyewitness account of the incident, and wrote this toward the end of the book: “From York [Pennsylvania], I wended my way to the Pennsylvania railroad,” Anderson explained after his escape from the battle.

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Andy Razaf—poet, lyricist and Black nationalist editor

Fats Waller, the prolific composer and pianist, was such a phenomenal musician and versatile entertainer that many believed he wrote the music and lyrics for such popular songs as “Honeysuckle Rose,” “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and “The Joint is Jumpin’,” but Waller shared these creations with Andy Razaf.

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Rep. Maxine Waters defies death threats

Controversy and heated discussions are no strangers to California Rep. Maxine Waters.

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Trump’s former attorney about to flip?

Michael Cohen, the president’s former personal attorney, told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News that his first loyalty was to his family and his country.

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Septima Poinsette Clark, innovative teacher and devout freedom fighter

When the roll call of civil rights icons is delivered, Septima Poinsette Clark should not be omitted.

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SCOTUS upholds Trump’s travel ban

By upholding Trump’s travel ban Tuesday, the Supreme Court has expanded the president’s executive powers.

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Let’s ostracize Trump

We are not at all surprised that our columnist Armstrong Williams has found it necessary to rush to the defense of a Trump administration staffer, specifically White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who was asked on June 22 to leave the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Va.

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Eston Hemings, an accomplished musician and cabinetmaker

All the fanfare surrounding the opening of the Sally Hemings exhibit at the Thomas Jefferson Monticello estate in Virginia last week finally gives recognition to the slave woman who was the mother of four surviving children by Jefferson.

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The Rev. Sharpton and civil leaders oppose the separation of families

About the same time members of Congress were conferring on a bill to keep immigrant families together who had been detained at the border, the Rev. Al Sharpton, along with several civil rights leaders, were voicing their objection to the children being separated from their parents.

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Dorothy Cotton was the personification of the brave civil rights activist

In the annals of the Civil Rights Movement, there is a photo of eight stalwarts in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Andrew Young, James Bevel and Hosea Williams. Only one of them is a woman—Dorothy Cotton.

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