Newswire : The killing of George Floyd sparks continued protests, outrage across the nation

By Hamil R. Harris

George Floyd and Policeman Derek Chauvin with knee on neck of George Floyd

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Minneapolis Police Department Officer Derek Chauvin relaxed as he was suffocating George Floyd. His hands were in his pockets. He was looking around and his knee was on the neck of the handcuffed man for nearly nine minutes until he died.
It didn’t matter that the 46-year- old Black man cried out, “I can’t breathe!” and “They are trying to kill me!” Chauvin didn’t move. And when paramedics finally arrived, there was no attempt to perform CPR on Floyd.
And even though Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, it is too little too late. The incident has ignited protests, fires and destruction in cities across America from Minneapolis to Atlanta Georgia and from Los Angeles to New York City. Even the Corona Virus has taken a back seat to this incident as civil rights leaders, activists and politics speak about the horrendous act against Floyd.
In a tweet, President Obama said the Floyd case calls on the nation to “create a ‘new normal,’ in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions and our hearts.”
NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson called the murder of Floyd “an unspeakable tragedy,” and while some news outlets have focused on violence after his death, Johnson said, “The uprising spreading across the country is fueled by systematic racial issues that have been ingrained in the fabric of this country for decades.”
National Urban League President/CEO Marc Morial said in a statement, “Minneapolis has erupted in outrage. The primal scream of anguish – what Martin Luther King, Jr., called “the language of the unheard” – reverberates across the nation. We pray for those who have taken to the streets, that they will refrain from violence – and for the police who are responding, that they exercise restraint and de-escalate tensions.”
The officers who participated in the deadly assault of George Floyd were fired within 24 hours, and shortly after the National Urban League and the Urban League of the Twin Cities demanded their names, have been identified. They are Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng.
“These men no longer deserve the benefit of the doubt. Their word can no long be trusted. Their records – which, in the case of Chauvin and Thao, include a disturbing number of use-of-force incidents and civilian complaints – must be thoroughly examined for evidence of the racism and inhumanity they displayed during George Floyd’s deadly assault,” Morial said.
Rev. Al Sharpton said on his MSNBC show that he will go to Minneapolis to preach Floyd’s funeral. He interviewed Floyd’s brother who talked about the conversations he had with President Donald Trump, Vice-President Pence and former Vice-President Joe Biden.
Philonise Floyd said that he told Biden, “I never had to beg a man before but I asked [Biden] could he please, please get justice for my brother, please. Because I need it, I just don’t want to see him on a shirt like those other guys. Nobody deserves that.”
Floyd said his call with Trump was much briefer.
“It was so fast. He didn’t give me the opportunity to even speak. It was hard. I was trying to talk to him but he just kept like pushing me off like ‘I don’t want to hear what you’re talking about.’ I just told him I want justice. I said that I can’t believe that they committed a modern-day lynching in broad daylight,” he shared.
President Trump made comments about the incident Saturday following the historic launch of the SpaceX rocket with two astronauts aboard. It was the first manned launch in nine years.
“Yesterday, I spoke to George’s family and expressed the sorrow of our entire nation for their loss. I stand before you as a friend and ally to every American seeking justice and peace, and I stand before you in firm opposition to anyone exploiting this tragedy to loot, rob, and menace. Healing not hatred, justice not chaos are the mission at hand,” Trump said. “I understand the pain that people are feeling. We support the right of peaceful protests and we hear their pleas, but what we are now seeing on the streets of our cities has nothing to do with the memory of George Floyd.”
Also during the MSNBC interview, Floyd gave his thoughts about former officer Derek Chauvin and the other officers involved in the incident on nine-minute video, which shows Floyd’s brother screaming as he is dying.
“They all need to be convicted of first-degree murder, and given the death penalty because they didn’t care about what they wanted to do with my brother. He wasn’t a person to them, he was scum. He was nothing,” he told Sharpton. “I’m hurt, my family is hurt. His kids are hurt. They will grow up without a father. Everybody is crying and in pain right now. So if they could do anything please arrest those other officers.”
Hennepin County State’s Attorney Mike Freeman is prosecuting the case. At a recent press conference he said that his office is still investigating the case, but people in Minnesota and across the country are not waiting for him to speak out. Later in the week, Kieth Ellison, Minnesota Attorney General, who is African-American joined the prosecution.
“Being Black in America should not be a death sentence,” said Minister Russell Pointer of the Metropolitan Church of Christ in Minneapolis. His comments were part of a Zoom forum that was out on Facebook live by the Christian Chronicle.
From Minnesota to Washington DC, people are talking, protesting and demanding change at a moment because of the incident that has forced the nation to focus on something other than the COVID 19 pandemic.
On Friday night people in droves walked fast to Lafayette Square in front of the White House and shouted “No Justice No Peace. There were other protests in New York, Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles and on Saturday there protests in Baltimore that were mostly peaceful but turn violent after people starting throwing rocks in a park across from City Hall.
President Trump and his aides have consulted with the military and authorized the use of the National Guard in certain cities, many pundits are calling wondering how will this urban crisis end anytime soon.
But in a major speech delivered after he talked to the Floyd family, Biden said. “And once again we heard the words, and they heard them, ‘I can’t breathe’ — an act of brutality so elemental, it did more than deny one more Black man in America his civil rights and his human rights. It denied him of his very humanity. It denied him of his life, depriving George Floyd as it deprived Eric Garner of one of the things every human being must be able to do: breathe. So simple, so basic, so brutal.”
Biden continued, “You know, the same thing happened with [Ahmaud] Arbery, the same thing happened with Breonna Taylor, the same thing with George Floyd. We’ve spoken their names aloud. We’ve cried them out in pain and in horror. We’ve chiseled them into long-suffering hearts. They’re the latest additions to the endless list of stolen potential wiped out unnecessarily. You know, it’s a list that dates back more than 400 years. Black men, Black women, Black children.”
He concluded, “The original sin of this country still stains our nation today, and sometimes we manage to overlook it. We just push forward with the thousand other tasks in our daily life, but it’s always there, and weeks like this, we see it plainly that we’re a country with an open wound. None of us can turn away. None of us can be silent. None of us can any longer, can we hear the words ‘I can’t breathe’ and do nothing. We can’t fail victims, like what Martin Luther King called ‘’he appalling silence of good people.’”

Newswire : Black Press Exclusive: Dr. Lonnie Bunch’s African American Museum dream fulfilled

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Lonnie Bunch with Benjamin Chavis


Dr. Lonnie Bunch III, the 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, sat down for an exclusive interview with National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
The two discussed Bunch’s timely new book, “A Fool’s Errand: Creating the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the Age of Bush, Obama, and Trump.”
“I [initially] saw this journey to build a museum that could help bridge the chasms that divide us as a ‘fool’s’ errand,’” Dr. Bunch said.
The book outlines the multitude of challenges Bunch faced when pursuing the construction of the historical museum. Those challenges included choosing the location; architect; design team; and the collection of unique pieces of African American artifacts. He added that the museum was “an errand worthy of the burdens.”
Available from Smithsonian Books on the organization’s website and at Amazon.com, “A Fool’s Errand” is a tour de force of Bunch’s personal and political accomplishments.
During the intimate video-taped interview inside the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the two visionaries also tackled topics that ranged from the Transatlantic Slave Trade, their shared North Carolina families’ histories, the writing legacy of author James Baldwin, and the contemporary vitality of the Black Press of America.
“The relevance and inclusion of the Black Press in events such as this one, show the continued significance of the Black Press,” NNPA Chair Karen Carter Richards, said after the interview between Chavis and Bunch.
“The Black Press is alive and well, and we will continue to be the daily recorders of our history across the globe. Although we’ve seen many changes within our industry; these changes are bringing better opportunities for the Black Press,” Richards said.“So, we are honored that Dr. Lonnie Bunch has chosen to include us as a part of this important national media event,” she said.
While in graduate school, Bunch desired to write a dissertation about the Black Press, he said. However, naysayers told him the Black Press was unimportant. He said that theory quickly was proven wrong. “I knew it was,” Bunch said.
“I think the Black Press has always been the guardian of our community. It’s always been the place where facts are found that are not told in other places. It’s a place where you can understand the richness of the community.
“What I love about the Black Press today is that it’s a place that reminds people of the power of the African American community… the Black Press is critically important.
“What [The Black Press] does is it reminds us that there are many different lenses to understand a story. If you don’t have the lens to the African American community, where are you going to find your story? For me, the Black Press is crucial not for the past, but for the future,” Bunch said.
Bunch said he sought out to obtain a building that would reference the spirituality, resilience, and hope that have been key elements within the African American community. Elements he said that have shaped America’s identity in ways most Americans do not understand.
He said the revolution in South Africa reinforced his belief that history is an effective tool to change a country by embracing the truth of a painful past.
The museum opened three years ago to much fanfare, with former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, among others, in attendance. “To some, visiting the museum allows them to find hope … that the current poisonous political partisanship and racial antipathy will one day be overcome,” Bunch said.
A historian, author, educator, and curator, Bunch has enjoyed a career of near unapparelled success. Bunch has held numerous teaching positions, including American University in Washington, D.C. (Bunch’s Alma Mater); the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth; and the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Bunch was elected in 2017 to become a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He’s also the recipient of the President’s Award from the NAACP, and the Impact Leader Award from the Greater Washington Urban League.
Last year, the Phi Beta Kappa Society presented Bunch with the Phi Betta Kappa Award for Distinguished Service to the Humanities and the National Education Association honored him with the Award for Distinguished Service to Education.
Earlier this year, Bunch was appointed Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, the first African American to hold that position in the organization’s 173-year history. He oversees 19 museums, 21 libraries, the National Zoo, numerous research centers, and several education units and centers.
Now, with “A Fool’s Errand,” Bunch said he has a simple message to convey.“History matters,” he told Chavis. “You can’t understand yourself or the future without looking back. History is an amazing tool to live your life. More than anything else, it challenges you to be accurate,”
Watch the full interview between Dr. Chavis and Dr. Bunch here at BlackPressUSA.com.

Newswire: 400 Years in Virginia. 500 Years in Slavery.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia


In August 2018, the National Newspaper Publishers Association began a series on the transatlantic slave trade.

The series started in conjunction with the annual United Nations International Day of Remembrance. With the observance of the first African landing in America, some question whether it’s the 400th or 500th anniversary.

Historians point out that the 400th anniversary is the 400th year of the Anglo-centric history of Africans in the Americas.
“Dating the history of Africans in North America to 400 years ago reinforces this narrative of English superiority,” Greg Carr, the Chair of the Department of Afro-American Studies at Howard University, told Time.com.“Remembering the Spanish and indigenous sides of the history is more important now than ever as the people are closing the borders to those who are descendants from people who were here when you came,” Carr said.

In his 2013 PBS documentary, “The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross,”Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., said slavery was always an essential ingredient of the American experiment. Gates called slavery, “The supreme hypocrisy,” and “capitalism gone berserk.”

The first African to come to North America was a free man who accompanied Spanish explorers to Florida in 1513 – or 106 years before the 20 Africans who were kidnapped and brought to Point Comfort, Va., in 1619, Gates said.
“The father of our country was one of its largest slave owners,” Gates said in the documentary.
“Because of the profound disconnect between principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and the simultaneous practice of slavery, we’ve had historical amnesia about slavery,” he said.
Indeed, the slave trade began in the 15th century, said Boniface Chidyausiku of Zimbabwe. It was driven by colonial expansion, emerging capitalist economies and the insatiable demand for commodities – with racism and discrimination serving to legitimize the trade, Chidyausiku said.
Chidyausiku, then the acting president of the United Nations General Assembly, made the remarks in 2007 during the UN’s observance of the 200th anniversary of the end of the transatlantic slave trade.
“Fortunes were made, and financial institutions flourished on the back of human bondage…[so] today’s commemoration must encourage everyone to live up to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which says: ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, and to redouble efforts to stop human trafficking and all forms of modern slavery,’” said Chidyausiku, who is now 69.
Michael Guasco, a historian at Davidson College and author of “Slaves and Englishmen: Human Bondage in the Early Modern Atlantic World,” suggests it’s the 500th anniversary.
“There’s a Hispanic heritage that predates the U.S., and there’s a tendency for people to willingly forget or omit the early history of Florida, Texas, and California, particularly as the politics of today want to push back against Spanish language and immigration from Latin America,” Guasco told Time.

The fact that slavery was underway for a century in South America before introduction in North America is not widely taught nor commonly understood, Felicia Davis of the HBCU Green Fund told NNPA Newswire.
“It is a powerful historical fact missing from our understanding of slavery, its magnitude, and global impact. The knowledge that slavery was underway for a century provides deep insight into how enslaved Africans adapted,” Davis said.
Far beyond the horrific “seasoning” description, clearly generations had been born into slavery long before introduction in North America, Davis said.
“This fact deepens the understanding of how vast majorities could be oppressed in such an extreme manner for such a long period. It is also a testament to the strength and drives among people of African descent to live free,” she said.
Prior to 1619, “America had a system of discrimination and prejudice against all groups who were not identified as White Anglo-Saxon native,” said Walter D. Palmer, who started a Community Freedom School for children and adult learners in Philadelphia that would become the platform on which he built his social legacy.
“By the mid-1600s, America created the slave codes,” Palmer told NNPA Newswire.
During the country’s founding, many settlers learned from and lived close to Native Americans on the east coast, said author Cassie Premo Steele.
For example, it wasn’t until resources like silver were found on what was Cherokee land that Andrew Jackson ordered the removal that became known as the “Trail of Tears,” Steele told NNPA Newswire.
“Further genocides and removals took place in the West when similar resources and land were desired by white Americans,” Steele said.
“Similarly, slavery was primarily an economic system that was based upon the dehumanization of Africans. Dehumanization is in some ways even worse than hate since it is a denial of the humanity of a people,” she said.
The observance of the 400th anniversary of the first African landing at Point Comfort, Va., did bring about changes, according to Time. It was the type of race-based chattel slavery system that solidified in the centuries that followed was its unique American tragedy.

“To ignore what had been happening with relative frequency in the broader Atlantic world over the preceding 100 years or so understates the real brutality of the ongoing slave trade, of which the 1619 group were undoubtedly a part, and minimizes the significant African presence in the Atlantic world to that point,” Guasco said in a History.com interview earlier this month.
“People of African descent have been ‘here’ longer than the English colonies,” he said.

State of Alabama took 58 years to correct injustice to Alabama State University students and faculty involved in 1960’s sit-in; Gov. Kay Ivey remains silent

 

By: Dr. Derryn Moten, Chair ASU Department of History

On May 10, 2018, fifty-eight years after Alabama Governor John Patterson and the Alabama State Board of Education expelled nine Alabama State College, ASC, students for “conduct prejudicial to the college,” and after the same state officials terminated ASC faculty member Dr. L. D. Reddick for alleged Communist sympathies, Interim State Superintendent of Education, Dr. Ed. Richardson expunged the records of both calling the actions taken by his predecessor in 1960, “unjustified and unfair.” The paternalism then was summed up in the 1961 appellees’ brief for St. John Dixon, Et Al, v. Alabama State Board of Education, Et Al., the landmark case that overturned the wrongful expulsions, “Alabama State College, Montgomery, Alabama, is a state institution for Negroes. It is under the supervision and control of the Alabama State Board of Education.” L. D. Reddick wrote the first biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. while chairing the history department of Alabama State College. Published by Harper & Brothers in 1959, Crusader Without Violence, as the April 30, 1959 MIA (Montgomery Improvement Association) Newsletter noted, “is more than the story of the life up-to-now of our leader; it is the social history of our time.” Now, a 60th Anniversary Edition of Crusader Without Violence: A Biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. has been reissued in spring 2018 by NewSouth Books. A new introduction explains the helter-skelter Alabama’s segregationist governor and government wrought on Alabama State College. Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. arrived in Montgomery, Alabama in 1954 to pastor Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, and Dr. Reddick arrived a year later. Both came to the Heart of Dixie for rather mundane reasons and neither imagined that history would conscript them, with others, in a battle royale to achieve full equality for Negroes. Dr. King’s stay in Alabama lasted six years. In that time, the city convicted him of violating the state’s anti-boycott law, originally, an anti-labor law. Alabama enjoined the NAACP from operating in the state.The governor criticized the civil rights organization with orchestrating the Montgomery Bus Boycott. In another case, the governor joined Montgomery’s mayor, and the City’s commissioners in a libel lawsuit against Dr. King, four other ministers, and the New York Times, based on a full-page Times ad that the plaintiffs argued falsely assailed city and state officials for mistreating King and ASC students . And Gov. Patterson signed extradition papers ordering Dr. King’s return to face trial for income tax fraud. The method of the governor’s madness was clear; he wanted to exhaust King and the NAACP, financially, mentally, and physically. On March 27, 1960, the Associated Press reported, “ASC President Trenholm Plans to Purge ‘Disloyal’ Faculty.” Dr. Reddick offered his resignation in March 1960, effective at the end of the summer term. Two other faculty members, Jo Ann Robinson and Mary Fair Burks—both members of the Women’s Political Council—took heed. In March 31, 1960, Burks wrote Dr. King, “Jo Ann, Reddick, and I expect to be fired. We are surprised it hasn’t happened. I believe we will be eased out quietly in May or at least by September. We would prefer being fired outright of course.” The friendship of Burks, Robinson, Reddick, and King went back to the Boycott. Addressing Mrs. Burks as “Frankie,” King replied, “I had hoped that Dr. Trenholm would emerge from this total situation as a national hero. If only he would stand up to the Governor and the Board of Education and say he cannot in good conscience fire … faculty members who committed no crime or act of sedition.” Governor Patterson impugned Reddick accusing him of helping foment the first “sit-down” demonstration in Alabama on February 25, 1960. Carried out by Alabama State College students, on March 2, 1960, ASC President Harper C. Trenholm expelled nine student sit-in participants and placed 20 students on probation “pending good behavior.” No hearing was held, and the students sued the college and state in St. John Dixon v. Alabama State Board of Education. Attorney Fred Gray, a 1951 ASC graduate, represented the students. Thurgood Marshall, Jack Greenberg, and Derrick Bell, Jr. of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund assisted as co-counsel. U.S. District Court Judge Frank M. Johnson ruled in favor of the state reasoning that there was no statute necessitating formal charges or a hearing before a student can be expelled by a college or university. The U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overturned Judge Johnson’s decision arguing that students at tax-supported colleges and universities should have a hearing as part of their due process rights before they can be expelled. The February 25, 1960 sit-in demonstration by Alabama State College students was the manifestation of “sit-downs” or sit-ins by black college students across the south who believed the efficacy of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case was that it refuted Jim Crow in totality. Judge Frank Johnson conceded as much in July 1960, writing, “The Court observes that maintenance of segregated publicly owned lunchrooms is in violation of well-settled law.” At the end of the year, the Associated Press would report, “Negro Sit-ins No. 1 Story of 1960s in Dixie.” In their A Statement by the Students of Alabama State College After Nine Students were Expelled on March 2, 1960, student leader Bernard Lee wrote, “We and the world must look upon the expulsion of these students … as punishment for our efforts to bring a little democracy to the Cradle of the Confederacy… We must practice at home what we preach abroad.” MIA President, Rev. Ralph Abernathy, a 1950 ASC graduate, told a city reporter, “The expulsion order was one of the greatest blunders in the history of education in Alabama.” A week later, ASC students marched near campus carrying placards that read, “1960 not 1860,” “9 down, 2,000 to go,” “Who’s President of ASC—Patterson or Trenholm,” Alabama versus The Constitution,” and “Democracy Died on March 4, 1960.” Students also held prayer services at local black churches including Abernathy’s First Baptist. South Carolina Gov. Ernest F. Hollins complained about “Negroes who think they can violate any law, especially, if they have a Bible in their hands.” The American Association of University Professors “condemned the willingness of some government bodies and private groups to sacrifice public education in order to maintain racial segregation.” A June 1960 NAACP memorandum counted fifty-two students expelled from black colleges; namely, Southern University, Alabama State College, Kentucky State College, and Florida A & M University. Praised for his “get tough” methods and his non-accommodation mentality, Gov. Patterson vowed to close Alabama public schools before he would allow them to be integrated. A staunch segregationist, governor-elect Patterson disallowed black marching bands, including the Alabama State College Band, at his inauguration. Like many others, Patterson preached the oxymoron of “separate but equal” emphasizing “separate” and seemingly caring little about “equal.” Dr. King offered a different message. At Holt Street Baptist Church on the eve of the 1955 Boycott, he told those present, “We are determined to apply our citizenship to the fullness of its meaning.” Alabama State College students in 1960 intended the same. Their collective faith in the U. S. Constitution was codified by the same faith held by their elders and ancestors. This faith was sermonized in the black church and elucidated in the black school. Dr. King professed that faith, a faith in a “Democracy transformed from thin paper to thick action.” More than a half century later in Montgomery, Alabama, Interim State Superintendent Dr. Ed. Richardson concurred, noting that those macabre days of 1960 “represent a time in the history of the State Board that must be acknowledge and never repeated. I regret that it has taken fifty-eight years to correct this injustice.” Initially, I had hoped that Gov. Kay Ivey would issue her own contrition in behalf of the governor’s office.  One of the governor’s staff members even offered to write a resolution but subsequently demurred.  Short of this, I would have liked for the governor to co-sign the May 10, 2018 letter by Dr. Ed Richardson since Gov. Ivey is the Ex-Official Chair of the Alabama State Board of Education. Presumably, Dr. Richardson had to have informed the governor of his intentions. But alas, Alabama’s state motto comes to mind, “We Dare Defend Our Rights.”

‘BlacKkKlansman’ delivers critical and powerful message

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Contributor

Director Spike Lee talks with Denzell Washington, Jr. actor in film.

Even though “BlacKkKlansman” is set in the 1970s, the themes in the film are just as relevant today as they were back then, Anita Bennett, the managing editor and creator of Urban Hollywood 411, told NNPA Newswire. “We have a president who constantly attacks Black athletes, newscasters and politicians, and white nationalists marching in the streets,” she said.

“The racial climate in this country is toxic, [so] if Spike Lee can open just one person’s eyes to the systematic racism that African Americans face every day, then he accomplished what he set out to do,” Bennett said. The longtime entertainment journalist joined a chorus of other experts who noted that Lee’s latest film continues to receive positive reviews, with critics and fans alike celebrating it for sparking a much-needed conversation about the current political climate and the complex relationship between law enforcement and the Black community. Several critics and actors told NNPA Newswire that Lee has deftly used his platform to expose systemic injustice while advocating for African-Americans and other minorities. Bennett said it’s important that the Black Press continues to spotlight films like “BlacKkKlansman,” “Sorry to Bother You,” and “Blindspotting.” “The Black Press champions and helps spread the word about films from African-American directors and writers, as well as movies that focus on issues important to the black community,” Bennett said. “The Black Press – and I’m not talking about gossip websites – but industry-focused outlets like EUR Web, Blackfilm.com, and Urban Hollywood 411, write stories about these films and post interviews with the people behind him. We talk about the movies on social media and encourage Black audiences to go see them,” Bennett said. Actor, director and film producer Shiek Mahmud-Bey said the Black Press enables filmmakers like himself, Tyler Perry and Spike Lee, to remain relevant and provides a platform to tell the untold stories that are meaningful to African-Americans. “It’s a one-hand-washes-the-other thing,” said Mahmud-Bey, the CEO of 25th Frame Films. “Only the Black Press can tell our story the way it needs to be told and only Black filmmakers can put that story in perspective and deliver it to a wide audience on screen,” he said. “BlacKkKlansman” earned about $11 million during its opening weekend, making it Lee’s third best box office debut. Based on a true story, the film tells of undercover Black detective, Ron Stallworth, who manages to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan. It has earned positive reviews from audiences and critics with an A-rating on CinemaScore and a 97 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. “Spike Lee has always been socially consciously aware as a filmmaker, going back to ‘Do The Right Thing,’” said actress turned film critic, Carla Renata, who’s known for her website, “The Curvy Film Critic.” “As a filmmaker he uses the art of dialogue, the lens and his actor’s performances to illustrate his point of view on any given subject allowing the film to do the talking for him,” Renata said. “Given that ‘BlacKkKlansman’ is adapted from Ron Stallworth’s novel, Lee amplifies this former detective’s experience and puts his spin on it as only a Spike Lee Joint can do. ‘BlacKkKlansman,’ along with ‘Blindspotting’ and ‘Sorry To Bother You’ are the perfect films for the perfect climate that have infiltrated hate and Neo-Nazi behavior into our daily existence via our current administration,” said Renata, a graduate of the Howard University School of Communications. She added: “It’s no coincidence the film was dedicated and released on the anniversary of the Charlottesville attack and rally where Heather Hoyer was mowed down like a dog and murdered. It’s also no coincidence that the last image you see is the American flag fading to Black and White turned upside down. Perfect image analogy for where we are as a society.” Renata said also that she believes Black Hollywood has a love/hate relationship with Black Press. Most artists, actors, studios, publicists and films reach out to the Black Press at the start in order to get that word of mouth buzz happening, she said. “Once the artist, actor or film has been accepted by mainstream media, their marketing/publicity teams abandon the same Black media that helped them gain acceptance in some of those arenas,” Renata said. “We are almost treated like the ‘black sheep’ of the family that no one likes to talk about or acknowledge.  It’s sad…but true,” she said. Diarah N’Daw-Spech, the co-founder of ArtMattan Productions and the annual African Diaspora International Film Festival, said a number of Black filmmakers have used films to make social commentaries directly tied to serious issues in their communities. She cited Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembene whose film, “Molade,” served to denounce the mistreatment of women in his native country, particularly the practice of sexual mutilation, N’Daw-Spech said. “Film is a powerful social media and a powerful source and tool for change. It is important for filmmakers in general and Black filmmakers in particular to realize and use their power through their film making the way Spike Lee and Ousmane Sembene do and did it,” she said. N’Daw-Spech said the Black Press has always been a “natural ally” to Black filmmakers. “Black Hollywood is one of the important platforms available to Black talent. Black Hollywood can use its influence to tell meaningful stories the way Spike Lee does it. When it does, the Black Press should support and celebrate it,” she said. While “BlacKkKlansman” isn’t perfect, it’s insightful, timely and entertaining, Bennett concluded. “The movie raises some important issues about racism, police brutality and stereotypes in classic Hollywood films like D.W. Griffith’s ‘The Birth of a Nation,’” she said. “Spike Lee touches on a lot of hot-button issues, but he smartly sprinkles the film with humor, so that it’s not too heavy-handed. Can we talk about the ending of the film? It’s powerful, heartbreaking and will make you leave the theater thinking. I’ve encouraged everyone I know to go see this important film,” Bennett said.