Monday, August 08, 2005


John H. Johnson, publishing industry pioneer and founder of Negro Digest, Ebony, Jet and the Johnson Publications empire, died in Chicago at age 87. Johnson, who was born in poverty in Arkansas, founded his company in 1942 with a $500 loan on his mother's furniture, and built his company into one of the major Black-owned and operated businesses in the nation and world. His vital goal, of presenting positive portrayals of African-American culture and people, has helped to shape representations in the entertainment and media industries in general, and in society itself.

Musician Ibrahim Ferrer, one of the most famous and senior Afro-Cuban soneros, passed away in a Havana hospital at the age of 78. He was affiliated with the Buena Vista Social club, which returned to the limelight after Ry Cooder's documentary, a raft of CDs, and international concerts reawakened fans to their powerful music. Felix Contreras discussed Ferrer's "late rising star" on Ed Gordon's News and Notes radio program this morning.

Several other musicians, including jazz bassist Al McKibbon (he was 86, in Los Angeles), jazz saxophonist Lucky Thompson (81, in Seattle), and blues singer Little Milton (71, in Memphis) passed away. Italian abstract sculptor and art critic Pietro Consagro also died this past week in Milan.

One of the highlights of the past three days was NYC's Pride in the City, or annual Black LGBT Pride celebration, sponsored by Brooklyn-based People of Color in Crisis. Ocean of Brothaluvcafe has lots of photos of the events. Bernie of, however, asks whether some LGBT SGL folks feel they've aged out of such events, and of the youth-oriented (mainstream and Black) LGBT network in general.

As Keith Boykin notes on his blog, there have been a spate of bias-related attacks in New York City this summer. Among the most recent were the brutal attack by a pack of White youths on a young Black man in Mill Basin, Brooklyn; a duo's assault, complete with anti-gay epithets, on a Black man who was walking with a White friend in the Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan, an attack by a group of Black teenagers on gay Latino youths in Staten Island; and an array of protests and counterprotests (scroll down to Eltman's article) that have accompanied the intermittent attacks against and forced evictions of Latino immigrants in parts of Suffolk County.

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