Here’s an introduction to a dude that you’ve probably seen before but don’t know too much about. LaVell Crump, aka David Banner, is the name, and here are a few attributes that warrant his notoriety.
First, he’s a Black man of intelligence—the type that won’t mind the adjective “Black” inserted before the noun, as he is proud to be both. As a testament to the claim, he’s a graduate of Southern University and pursued a master of education at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, two prominent historically Black institutions, before the lure of a prosperous career beckoned.
That career, while providing a temporary speed bump to his personal educational advancement, afforded him the opportunity to delve in philanthropic endeavors, which leads to a second significant quality—activism. Those efforts were recognized and solidified in the streets early on, but in 1996, national attention was garnered as he was given a Visionary Award by the National Black Caucus in recognition of his work in aiding the cleanup process after Hurricane Katrina. Eventually he’d go on to establish his foundation, Heal the Hood.
Of course, being altruistic would be counterproductive if profitable sound business structures weren’t in place, such as the company that that he developed and leads as CEO called A Banner Vision. A Banner Vision essentially serves as a multimedia platform that assists in the creative process of music and video production and content development for major international corporate brands. Think Mercedes-Benz, Pepsi, Gatorade and the World Cup. Yeah, it’s like that!
Last, and for some the most important, he’s an artist. Under the guise of his stage name, he can boast a modest level (being facetious here) of success as an actor, musician, producer and rapper. His latest venture affords Banner the opportunity to merge his attributes with a likeminded corporation, Aspire Television, in what should be a win-win scenario. Aspire announced earlier this year that he has been named as the new host of the network’s popular and first ever original series “ABFF Independent,” a weekly two-hour show that presents the best independent shorts and documentaries from emerging African-American artists.
“With our partner ABFF, we are thrilled to announce the bold fourth season of ‘ABFF Independent,’ with new host David Banner,” said Tina Thompson, director of programming at Aspire. “David has brought an invigorating energy and enthusiasm to the show. In the last three seasons, the series has exclusively debuted 130 short films and documentaries. We are proud to provide a continuing spotlight for these exciting independent projects.”
Jeff Friday, ABFF founder and Film Life founder and CEO, added, “‘ABFF Independent’ is an incredible vehicle for the American Black Film Festival and its alumni to have their stories brought to life in front of millions of television viewers around the country. Aspire’s commitment to diverse storytelling is of great value to us and the filmmakers whose voices they help elevate.”
This past Monday unveiled Banner in role as host and a few hours before the debut he shared, “I look forward to the things that this partnership with myself, ABFF and Aspire could accomplish and I’m grateful,” says Banner. “For them allowing me to wear my natural hair, dress the way I dress, just be me and speak to this amount of people as candid as possible is important from a cultural perspective. A lot of people don’t know that I’m a semester and thesis away from completing my master’s degree or that I’ve debated against Congress. I’ve never been able to show that aspect of my personality. So just being able to utilize my word count on television can be important for children.”
As fate would have it, Banner himself has a project included in the series. “I have a film called ‘Walking With Gods’ and that means a lot to me. It’s my concept, I executive produced, co-wrote and act in the project, and that was a difficult job to do. No different from the day-to-day with being a Black man where you have to worry your own people because of the colors you’re wearing or the police. I ask people all the time when does a Black person truly get rest? On a smaller scale, that’s how it was being a producer of the film. It was hard to get into character when I had to monitor timelines and budgets and things of that nature.
“That was the challenge, to take that extra noise away from the equation. It wasn’t the talent; we had that. Personally, I used transcendental meditation to help me slow my mind down.”
The personal success of this particular project is something that Banner hopes to use as an example to his peers. “With ABFF Independent, we hope to provide a home that directors, producers and writers know that they can come to and showcase their work until they get that movement,” he says. “But we also have to hold them accountable right now. If they’re going to use ABFF Independent and Aspire as a sounding board, we gotta make sure that these folks come back once they blow. They’re going to have to remember who was there when nobody else was looking or listening. Hopefully I can be one of the voices to express the need to help the platform grow as they grow.”
In parting, Banner offered, “Aspire is here to make money, let’s not be disillusioned by that. We can’t keep complaining about programming, but when we do get it, we don’t support. So if your cable provider doesn’t have Aspire, we got to let them know that needs to change.”
Over and out. Holla next week. Till then, enjoy the nightlife.