It was a big weekend in the world of academia for actresses Angela Bassett and Taraji P. Henson. On May 6, Bassett announced she had received an honorary doctorate from Old Dominion University in Virginia. The “9-1-1” star received the degree the same weekend she served as the keynote speaker for ODU’s 2022 commencement ceremony. Meanwhile, on May 7, in Washington, D.C., my fellow Howard University Chadwick Boseman College of Fine Arts graduate, Taraji P. Henson, received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from our alma mater, and also gave the commencement address. “Blackish” star Anthony Anderson, who attended Howard years ago, but didn’t graduate, went back to school this past year, at the urging of his son. He received his bachelor of fine arts.
Janet Jackson was in Louisville, Kentucky for Derby weekend. The superstar songstress/actress performed with New Edition at a special show at Lynn Family Stadium on May 7. According to multiple reports, celebrities in town like Tyler Perry and Yvette Nicole Brown flew in to see the show. The previous night, Janet attended the Barnstable Brown Gala, which is the most prestigious of the horse race’s pre-parties. In other Jackson family news, Janet’s niece, Genevieve Jackson, who is Randy Jackson’s daughter, married Brandon Huguely in Los Angeles on May 7. Genevieve’s cousins, Paris and Prince Jackson, were part of her bridal party. Longtime Jackson family friend, Harlem publicist Steven Manning flew out to the West Coast for the nuptials.
Fashion designer B Michael escorted celebrity philanthropist/talk show hostess/author Jean Shafiroff to the prestigious Central Park Conservancy’s annual Frederick Law Olmsted luncheon, better known as the “hat luncheon” on May 4. Michael, who is one of the premiere Black designers in the world, also designed Shafiroff’s outfit and hat, as well as his own suit. He was wearing a pair of the late Nicholas Ashford’s shoes, which Valerie Simpson gave to him. According to reports, the event raised $4 million for charity.
Tongues are wagging that there is a viral movement going to save the Broadway show “for colored girls…” directed and choreographed by Camille A. Brown. Nominated for seven Tony awards, including Best Revival, the show, which opened to rave reviews, announced its final performance on May 22. But theater writer Ayanna Prescod’s offer of a free pair of tickets to the production to give people a chance to see the iconic work, has inspired others like theater veterans Chita Rivera, Tonya Pinkins, Joe Morton and Bebe Neuworth to give tickets, release videos or otherwise work to galvanize others in support of the show. “for colored girls…” is particularly timely, coming at a moment when women are under attack, yet also wielding great power. Support Black theater and colored girls everywhere!